For the most part, the Green Bay Packers got an excellent performance out of their special teams in Week 3’s win over the San Francisco 49ers.
Corey Bojorquez blew right past his season average of 48 yards per punt and ripped off three for an average of 54.7 yards, including one that traveled an impressive 63 yards. Kylin Hill showed off some of his agility and power while returning his only fielded kickoff for 21 yards. And topping it all of was Mason Crosby having a perfect night on extra points (3-for-3) and field goals (3-for-3), punching in his final one from 51 yards out as time expired to give the Packers a 30-28 victory.
The Packers’ return coverage, however, once again showed some holes. Both of the 49ers’ returners posted solid averages on punts and kickoffs alike, but the worst moment was easily when Trenton Cannon returned one of their kickoffs for 68 yards. It gave the 49ers good enough to score their first touchdown before halftime.
Fortunately, it also inspired Allen Lazard to volunteer himself to personally make sure the Packers never allowed such a return again.
“We gotta be better with our lane integrity,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said Monday of Cannon’s return, “I’ve gotta give Allen Lazard a lot of props. He went right to (special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton) after that and said, ‘Hey, that’s not going to happen again. I want in on the kickoff coverage unit.’ And you see Allen busting his butt and he’s the first one down every time, so I think that speaks volumes to what kind of team player Allen Lazard is.”
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Lazard’s Role Has Been Understated in 2021
To anyone who looks exclusively at receiving stats, Lazard might seem to be having an unexpectedly quiet start to 2021 for the Packers. He has caught just three passes for a combined 58 yards through the first three games, which is a far cry from the 13 receptions and team-high 254 receiving yards he touted after Week 3 last year. It is important to remember, though, that some of Lazard’s greatest contributions don’t show up on the stat sheets.
Lazard, who is 6-foot-5 and 227 pounds, has proven time and time again to be an essential blocker for the Packers in both the run and pass game. He helped clear the way for at least one of Aaron Jones’ touchdowns in Week 2’s win over Detroit. He sprung Robert Tonyan for a sizable gain in Week 3 against San Francisco, taking out a defender who otherwise would have stopped him. He has even regularly flown downfield and kept his head on a swivel, looking for ways to help the play.
“I like to call him our goon, and he’s an enforcer,” LaFleur said of Lazard in August, commending him for his willingness to put his body on the line for his teammates.
Lazard has also shown he can come up with a big play when called upon. While Aaron Rodgers only targetted him with one pass against the 49ers, Lazard secured it easily and gained another 18 yards after the catch before getting forced out of bounds. He might not be getting the love fantasy football owners want for him, but it isn’t hard to see why the Packers still consider him a valuable piece of their offense.