This game was a hard reminder of some basic fundamental football truths that I’ll run through really quick because I don’t feel like dwelling on this.
Practice Makes Perfect
Yes, the Packers are pros. Yes, they have a talented roster. Yes, you want to limit injuries in the preseason. But when one teams holds everyone out and another team plays their guys enough to shake the rust off and then the first team gets their teeth kicked in, it says something. It says that even the best players in the world need practice. I say it every preseason: play your starters in the preseason – just a little – to make sure they don’t come out and embarrass themselves like this. Play them a series and if things look great, sit them down. If they look rough, give them another series or two until they look like some semblance of a professional football team.
The Game Is Won And Lost In The Trenches
The Packers got their defensive line manhandled right off the bat. Then they got their offensive line manhandled right off the bat. The results were predictable. The Packers receivers and corners were way more talented than the Saints… and it didn’t matter because the line play determined who won, every single time. The Saints came in with a bunch of UDFAs at receiver and one of the best offensive lines in the game and just piled on points for 60 straight minutes. You don’t need elite receivers to win in this games, you need elite lines. This is why we don’t draft receivers in the 1st round.
Coaching And Mental Preparation Matter
When people talk about great players, they often forget how much coaching impacts the game. Sean Payton had his squad ready to absolutely rock. During the game, his playcalling seemed to surprise the Packers defense every drive. Meanwhile, the Packers had guys like MVS, Za’Darius Smith, and Davante Adams, among others, talking about how great they were all offseason. They walked into the game expecting to be able to go through the motions and skate to a win on raw talent. That’s not how this games works. Every single game is a mental and physical battle from beginning to end.
Offenses Need Balance
It seems like a lot of Packers fans forgot this lesson from 2011. The Saints came out and established the run. The Packers contained Kamara early, but they kept running, grinding out yards, controlling the clock, and opening up play action passes while wearing down the Packers defense. This was the whole game. The Packers came in looking to sling the ball around, never forced the Saints to adjust and bring extra defenders in the box to stop the run, and could stay in coverage all day without ever even having to think about defending the run.
All of these things are time-tested foundational concepts of football that we seem to get away from. Looking at fantasy stats and watching wide receiver highlights sometimes distract us from what’s important, but games like this remind us what really matters in the game of football.
Hopefully the Packers can dust themselves off, remember these things, and come home ready to execute on Monday Night Football against Detroit.
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