The Green Bay Packers had plenty of blame to assign following their humiliating 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 1, starting with veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers and head coach Matt LaFleur. But Rodgers won’t be laying the loss at the feet of his two rookie offensive linemen after what he considered to be solid NFL debuts.
Despite the Saints regularly pressuring him throughout their season opener and keeping the Packers offense stagnant with their two-shell defensive looks, Rodgers told reporters in the aftermath of the loss that he felt his protection overall was “really good” on the night. He was also complimentary of rookies Josh Myers and Royce Newman and how they handled their first reps in the NFL, as starters no less.
“I thought the line played good, I did,” Rodgers said in Sunday’s postgame. “I thought they held up good. I thought Josh did a nice job with the variance in cadence that we did. I thought he played well. I’ll wait and see what the film says, but I thought him and Royce did a nice job. The protection overall was really good. I gifted them a sack there on a keeper in the first half. Other than that, I thought the protection was really good.”
The latest Packers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Packers newsletter here!
What Numbers Say About Packers’ O-Line
Now, Rodgers did say he would “wait and see what the film says” before rendering final judgment on his line’s performance, but the numbers would seem to disagree with him a bit.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Packers allowed 15 total pressures with six quarterback hits and two sacks, including the strip-sack on backup Jordan Love late in the fourth quarter. Even with Rodgers taking the blame for the sack he withstood, that’s hardly an inspiring performance from last year’s top pass-blocking unit in the NFL. It also didn’t help that two of the Packers’ more experienced linemen — Lucas Patrick and Billy Turner — each allowed three total pressures with Turner giving up one of the sacks.
The rookies, however, were relatively solid against the pass rush. Myers, a 2021 second-round pick out of Ohio State, allowed just one pressure on 41 pass-blocking snaps and finished as one of PFF’s highest-graded offensive players for the Packers in Week 1. Newman also surrendered just two pressures; though, he made several other blocking mistakes, including completely whiffing on Cameron Jordan and allowing him to pressure Rodgers into a red-zone interception.
Unfortunately, there were no silver linings when it came to run-blocking. The Packers failed to accomplish much of anything with their rushing offense against the Saints, seeing their combination of Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Kylin Hill and Randall Cobb squeak out just 43 rushing yards on 15 carries. LaFleur and Rodgers both agreed the Packers’ inability to run the ball was a direct reason why the Saints were able to stay so effective against their passing game.
“Yeah, it wasn’t good enough,” LaFleur said in Sunday’s postgame. “We didn’t run the ball — we didn’t even attempt to run the ball enough. That’s my fault.”