An offense that wasn’t ready for prime time.
A defense that was entirely overmatched.
And a coaching staff that was completely dominated by their counterparts.
The Green Bay Packers had arguably their poorest performances of the Matt LaFleur-era Sunday and were routed by the New Orleans Saints, 38-3.
It marked the first time the Packers lost a season-opener since 2014. It also marked Green Bay’s biggest loss under LaFleur and the Packers’ largest loss in a game started by Rodgers.
Here’s the good, bad and ugly from Green Bay’s defeat. For obvious reasons, we’ll begin with the ugly.
AARON RODGERS: Green Bay’s quarterback had a rocky offseason in which he said he’d never play for the Packers again. Rodgers eventually returned, but he certainly didn’t look like the 2020 MVP against the Saints.
Rodgers, who didn’t play a snap in the preseason, was atrocious in his first action of 2021. Rodgers finished the day with a dreadful passer rating of 36.8, the third-lowest of his career in a game he started. Rodgers was 15-of-28 for 133 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns.
The Packers also didn’t convert a third down with Rodgers in the game. A year ago, the Packers led the league in third down conversions.
“We know we have a talented team, we know what the expectations are, we’re just focusing on accountability and holding each other accountable because regardless of what happens with any of our situations, this group will not be together the way it is now in years down the line,” Rodgers said last week. “So we’re going to enjoy this year for all that it has to offer.”
There wasn’t much to enjoy Sunday.
Green Bay trailed, 17-3, early in the third quarter and faced a second-and-7 at the Saints’ 9-yard line. With a touchdown, the Packers could have crept back into the game.
New Orleans rushed five, Rodgers stepped up in the pocket and threw left for Davante Adams who was running a crossing pattern. Rodgers’ pass was well behind Adams, though, and intercepted by rookie Paulson Adebo.
Green Bay’s defense was able to hold. On the Packers’ next series, though, Rodgers took a deep shot for Marquez Valdes-Scantling. But Rodgers’ pass was overthrown by 5 yards and intercepted by safety Marcus Williams.
The Saints scored three plays later and found the endzone on their next three possessions.
As the game slipped away, Rodgers eventually took a seat and was replaced by 2020 first round draft pick Jordan Love.
JOE BARRY: Green Bay ranked ninth in total defense a year ago. It marked the first time the Packers cracked the top-10 in total defense since their Super Bowl winning 2010 season.
The Packers also ranked seventh in passing defense and 10th in sacks.
Mike Pettine, the man who coordinated that defense, was shown the door last offseason. Pettine was replaced by Joe Barry, who had flopped in previous stints as the defensive coordinator in Detroit and Washington.
If first impressions are the most telling, it could be a long season for Green Bay’s defense.
Saints’ quarterback Jameis Winston was extremely efficient, throwing five touchdowns. New Orleans also ran for 161 yards and went 7-for-11 on third and fourth down conversions.
“I’m really proud of my scars,” Barry said this offseason. “I really am. I think in life, you’re hardened in life by tough experiences. Now don’t get me wrong, I think you can learn a lot from having success and being in a good place. But I think when true growth takes place, I think it’s when things are really, really hard.”
By the looks of it, things aren’t going to be easy for Barry and Green Bay’s defense.
TIME OF POSSESSION: The Saints controlled the ball, the clock and the game.
New Orleans held the ball a remarkable 21 minutes, 51 seconds in the first half and built a 17-3 lead at the break. The Saints had a 208-70 advantage in total yards in the first half and scored on all three of their possessions.
New Orleans’ terrific offensive line dominated Green Bay’s defensive front and seemingly wore the Packers out in the Jacksonville heat.
The Saints finished the game having the ball 34:36.
THIS AND THAT: The Saints averaged 4.38 yards per carry. … Green Bay’s Kylin Hill averaged just 14.5 yards per kick return. … Jordan Love was sacked and fumbled with the Packers in the red zone late in the game. … Deonte Harris ran past cornerback Kevin King for a 55-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. In many ways, it looked like the touchdown Tampa Bay’s Scotty Miller scored against King just before halftime in the 2020 NFC Championship Game. … New Orleans outgained Green Bay, 171-43, on the ground.