Thoughts From the Green Bay Packers at the Carolina Panthers (12/24/2023)
My thoughts from the Green Bay Packers' 33-30 win over the Carolina Panthers earlier today:
This was a little too close for comfort. It was essentially a repeat of last week's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers only with a win rather than a loss. The offense played well, the special teams didn't have any game-changing mistakes, but the defense was once again a liability. In fact, if it wasn't for some great clock management by the offense on the final scoring drive, there's no reason to believe the defense could have prevented the Panthers from tying or winning.
I know there are benefits to being in the booth but after seeing Matt LaFleur lighting up Devonte Wyatt following his second offsides penalty, I have a hard time believing the defense wouldn't be better with Joe Barry on the sidelines, where he can be part of the action. That said, part of me wonders if maybe things have deteriorated to the point LaFleur wants to keep him as far away as possible.
It might be worthwhile to shake things up on that side of the ball. I'm not a fan of coach firings for the sake of firing but this might be an exception. Even with the win, the Packers are a long shot for the playoffs, why not give one of the assistants a chance to prove themselves with a late-season promotion, especially since it seems like there is very little Barry can do to keep his job at this point, unless he has compromising photos of LaFleur or something.
On the flip side of things, you have to love what the Packers are doing on offense. Jordan Love still makes youthful mistakes but most of his throws are solid and quite a few are a thing of beauty. What makes the offensive success even more amazing is how they seem to be able to plug in just about any receiver, including a practice squad player like Bo Melton, and be productive. I know it was the Panthers but putting up 33 points with their two top playmaking receivers, Christian Watson and Jayden Reed out for the game and losing Dontayvion Wicks mid-game is impressive.
I'm still torn about running back Aaron Jones though. He's the veteran and big-money player on the offense and, when healthy, can show some real playmaking ability. However, the "when healthy" comment is a big one and he can't seem to maintain that playmaking for a full four quarters and even disappears for big chunks of time. My gut feeling is Green Bay will choose to move on from him at the end of the season and try to find a replacement.
The Packers are still in this but breaking their losing streak might be too little, too late. The Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons winning today makes their path to the playoffs complicated. Even if they win out, they will need a lot of help. At minimum though, fans got a Christmas gift with the win.