Matt LaFleur would never apologize for a win in the National Football League, but the second-year head coach was hardly pleased with the way the Green Bay Packers earned their Week 10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Packers maintain a multiple-game lead in the NFC North after Sunday’s 24-20 victory at home and are entering the back half of the 2020 season in contention for a first-round playoff bye and coveted home-field advantage. After two uninspired performances, though, Lambeau Field isn’t feeling like much of an advantage for the Packers right now.
“We’ve got to do a better job of bringing more juice, bringing a toughness mindset to game day, especially when we’re at home,” LaFleur told reporters in Sunday’s postgame. “I don’t know what it is about the last couple of games here at Lambeau, but it certainly hasn’t been our best and we’ve got to better.”
Even winning one out of two, the Packers have not been impressive at Lambeau in the month of November. They have twice now seen their offense fall flat at key moments over their past two home games, including the three consecutive three-and-outs that began Sunday’s game. They also committed three straight turnovers (fumble, on downs, interception) in the third quarter to allow the Jaguars to close the gap.
The flatness hasn’t been limited to the offense, either. The defense conceded 226 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns to Dalvin Cook in Week 8’s loss, looking porous and slow as the Packers lost at home for the first time since last September. Then, there’s the special teams unit this week, allowing Keelan Cole Sr. to break off for a 91-yard punt return.
All of it begs the question: What has left the Packers playing so devoid of effort and emotion on their home field these past few games?
“Well, if I knew … it wouldn’t be a problem, right?” LaFleur said. “So I’ve got to do some investigating obviously and look at myself first. But that wasn’t good enough, there’s no doubt about it in terms of the energy, the passion. We’re playing football, these guys are playing a kids game getting paid for it, man. It’s disturbing to me and, again, it starts with myself and our staff. We’ve got to bring more energy for these guys.”
Follow the Heavy on Packers Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
LaFleur Won’t Use No Fans as Excuse
The NFL is more than halfway through an unprecedented season with very few fans in attendance at stadiums across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At Lambeau Field specifically, no fans have been allowed to occupy the stands in any of the four home games played so far in the 2020 season (with the jury still out on the rest of the year).
At the same time, Lambeau Field not looking its usual mid-November self isn’t an excuse LaFleur plans on using for his team’s lacking energy.
“I get it, it’s a strange year,” LaFleur said, “and certainly we’re used to having fans to help bring that energy to our football team, and we don’t have that right now, unfortunately. That’s the situation and it is what it is. We’ve got to do a better job of supplying that juice internally and all we have is the men in the locker room.”
LaFleur Defends Defense on Swarming
The Packers defense has gone through some rough moments this season beyond just Cook’s rampage, but Mike Pettine’s defense played a sturdier game against the Jaguars than it might have seemed.
While rookie James Robinson was allowed to rush for 109 yards, the Packers held the Jaguars to just 260 total yards with their only touchdown coming on a second-quarter touchdown pass from Jake Luton. Jacksonville may have a below-average offense (ranked 25th in the NFL), but holding any opponent to 13 points or fewer gets the job done most of the time.
There were also some big individual moments for the defense, whether it was Adrian Amos picking off one of Luton’s passes to set up a field goal before halftime or the pair of drive-killing sacks from Rashan Gary and Preston Smith that secured the Packers’ win as the Jaguars attempted a comeback.
“I do think the effort was pretty good in swarming to the football,” LaFleur said of his defense on Monday. “We didn’t have any loafs, and that should be the standard every week.”