One More Thing the Packers Need to Figure Out During the Bye Week

The Green Bay Packers enter the bye week with a 9-3 record and a firm hold on first place in the NFC North. They also enter this week just a half game behind the Arizona Cardinals in the race for the top seed in the conference and the bye that goes with it. The Packers own the tiebreaker against the Cardinals, having defeated Arizona in Week 8.

The Pack will return to action on December 12th when they host the Bears on Sunday Night Football.

Matt LaFleur has accomplished a lot in his two-plus years as head coach in Green Bay. His teams have never lost two straight games since he took over and his overall record is an impressive 35-9, that’s a .795 winning percentage. However, LaFleur’s teams have not only failed to win after their bye weeks but they have also played some of their worst games of the season in those contests. And the Packers franchise has lost four straight games after their bye week.

In LaFleur’s first season at the helm in 2019, the Packers entered the bye week with an 8-2 record. They traveled to San Francisco to take on the 9-1 49ers in a key game that would have major tie-breaking implications in the NFC playoff race.

The Packers came out flat and were behind 23-0 at halftime in a game they ultimately lost 37-8. Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times and completed just 20 passes for 104 yards. The game was never close and the Packers were non-competitive. As a result, the NFC Championship Game was held in San Francisco that year and the Packers were beaten badly in that game as well.

In 2020, the Packers bye came early, after Week 4. The Pack was off to a strong start that season. They were 4-0 and had outscored opponents 152-101. Two of their wins came on the road against quality opponents.

After the bye, the Packers headed to Tampa Bay to face Tom Brady and the Bucs. Again, the Packers played their worst game of the season after the bye and lost to the Buccaneers 38-10 after taking an early 10-0 lead.

Aaron Rodgers threw interceptions on consecutive drives in the second quarter including a pick-six. The Pack allowed 28 points in the second quarter and the game was never close after that.

Rodgers had one of his worst days as a pro, completing just 16-of-35 passes for 160 yards, no touchdowns and the two interceptions. His quarterback rating was 35.4, well below his league-best ranking of 121.5 for the season.

So, in two seasons after the bye, LaFleur’s teams are 0-2 and have been outscored 75-18. Both games came against quality opponents on the road, but in both instances, the Packers faced that team again in the NFC Championship Game and lost to them. The blowout regular-season losses certainly didn’t help the team’s confidence come playoff time.

Going back further, Green Bay has no lost four straight games coming off the bye with the 2018 Packers losing to the Rams in Los Angeles 29-27 in a game that the team at least played well in, and the 2017 club falling at home to the Lions 30-17 in a game started by Brett Hundley because Rodgers was injured and unable to play.

The last time the Packers won after the bye was 2016 when after an early Week 4 bye, the Pack defeated the New York Giants at Lambeau Field 23-16 on Sunday Night Football.

It’s difficult to say why the Packers have struggled after the bye week in recent years and, especially under LaFleur. Does the week off break the team’s mental preparation? Disturb their rhythm? The team has played their worst game of the season in each of the last two seasons the week after their bye.

After the loss to the Bucs, both LaFleur and Rodgers said the team had a bad week at practice and it carried over to the game. “Got outcoached, got outplayed,” LaFleur admitted after the loss in Tampa Bay last October. “The Bucs had a good game plan and they really took to us. We've got to make sure we stick together.” He also added, “It starts with me first. Obviously, I didn’t get these guys ready to play and I didn’t do a good job as a play caller. That’s two problems in one.”

LaFleur had similar comments after the 2019 blowout loss to the 49ers after the bye. “I'm disappointed in myself with how we got outcoached and we got outplayed,” LaFleur said. “The bottom line it's unacceptable. We have to look at ourselves. There's a lot to correct if we want to be the team we want to be.”

The mark of a great coach is somebody who can learn from past mistakes and adapt. It is now up to LaFleur to do just that and have the Packers ready to play next week when they host the Bears on Sunday night. Hopefully, for LaFleur and the Packers, the third time after the bye will be the charm.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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10 points

Comments (23)

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Ya_tittle's picture

December 02, 2021 at 12:24 pm

Really odd that we've struggled after the bye recently, but then again we just played the Rams coming off a bye and they struggled.

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GilMartin's picture

December 02, 2021 at 12:36 pm

It's funny how some teams benefit from the week off and some are hurt by it. I wonder what the difference is? Attitude? Coaching? what do you think? Thanks for the comment, Ya-tittle.

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murf7777's picture

December 03, 2021 at 05:31 am

Gil, very good article and one that is puzzling. I hope MLF learns from his past starting next Sunday against Da Bears. Fortunately, its da bears because a Rodgers led team has owned them. Certainly, their chances are much better than a streaking 49’rs and a very good Tampa Bay team to break the after bye losing streak.

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Hematite's picture

December 03, 2021 at 08:09 am

The Packers have to break the post bye losing streak this year!!!
Losing to the Bears after the break would be a punch to the face!!

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Brockrice99's picture

December 02, 2021 at 12:32 pm

Tampa Bay was a Super Bowl Team and San Francisco was a Super Bowl Team and we were on the road. I think that is much different than the poverty Bears coming into Lambeau Field in December. But I agree hopefully we can come out hot and reverse this curse.

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GilMartin's picture

December 02, 2021 at 12:48 pm

Very true, Brockrice99. In fact, the last three teams the Packers played after the bye have all gone to the Super Bowl with the Bucs winning it all. I think the Bears will end that streak so hopefully the caliber of opponent will help a bit. It's also a home game as you said. Thanks for the comment.

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Brockrice99's picture

December 02, 2021 at 01:24 pm

Yeah and the last few years before MLF with Mike McCarthy were a disaster, so we've played Super Bowl Teams and had McCarthy at coach, the streak will definitely end and we will continue to own the Bears, I can't wait!

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gpt999's picture

December 02, 2021 at 12:33 pm

I believe that AROD and the Packers offense works best when they are in rhythm. Bye weeks can destroy rhythm. However, the situations of the past 2 years are different now for GB in that (1) GB is going to be playing a weaker opponent in the Bears vs the last 2 bye week opponents, and (2) Rodgers has been playing without any practice at all in the past weeks and is getting better, not worse. And playing at home? I'd say that the Pack will be reversing this trend against Chicago!

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GilMartin's picture

December 02, 2021 at 12:50 pm

I think there's a good chance you're right, gpt999. Hopefully, the 3rd time is the charm for LaFleur after the bye week. Thanks for the comment.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

December 02, 2021 at 12:52 pm

Gil, I have always been an optimist and I simply don't see that there is a chance in "Hades" that the Packers will come out flat when they are playing at home against their century long rival, the Bears. There has been no love lost between the players nor the fans for decades and beating the Bears is a top priority. I don't expect the Bears to exceed 10 points against our improved defense and Rodgers has historically played his better games against them. I'm looking for a 20 point victory in this one.

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GilMartin's picture

December 02, 2021 at 12:58 pm

I think that's very likely, Ferrari-Driver. The trend is disappointing but hopefully the slump ends this year. I agree, playing a division rival at home will be helpful for inspiration although facing SF and TB in big conference games on national TV should have also been enough to get the juices flowing. I think the fact that the Bears aren't as talented as the previous teams they've played should help as well. Thanks for the comment, always good to hear from you.

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wildbill's picture

December 02, 2021 at 01:44 pm

I hope your right but we tend to play down to bad teams and the Packer/bear games seem to be tight for the most part

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pacman's picture

December 02, 2021 at 12:54 pm

And don't forget the first game of this season - after a long 'bye' and we were totally flat. Ego's were way too high. Does this next have the same potential?

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GilMartin's picture

December 02, 2021 at 12:59 pm

I hope not. They clearly weren't ready for the season opener. Let's see what happens next Sunday. I hope it wasn't ego but whatever it was, it wasn't good. Maybe they were reading their press clippings? Thanks for the comment, pacman.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

December 03, 2021 at 09:47 am

You make a good point and I did think of that as I was writing. I feel that was an awakening and do feel the Packers were reading too much about how good they were going to be this year.

Fast forward to now: The lesson has been learned and they have demonstrated that they can not only be competitive with star players missing, but they can win also. They will be playing their bitter rivals and the last thing they want to happen is to be embarrassed by the Bears.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

December 03, 2021 at 09:47 am

duplicate deleted

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LambeauPlain's picture

December 02, 2021 at 01:36 pm

Interesting article, Gil. Hadn't even considered the "Game After Bye Week Blues'.

For the trend to continue, the bares would have to beat the Packers and then beat them in the NFCCG. I think we break this curse and it becomes the "Game After Bye Week Victory".

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Johnblood27's picture

December 02, 2021 at 01:50 pm

The bares are never to be taken lightly.

Sometimes we literally beat the stuffing out of them, but usually they play a tough hard nosed (re: dirty) brand of football vs the GBP.

After Rodgers I Own You rant in Chicago I expect some filthy shenanigans from duh bares in Lambeau.

The GBP better get ready and strap it up for a real old-fashioned grudge match at Lambeau. I feel like it's gonna be rock-em sock-em football for 60 minutes where we might want to have a 3 score lead and get AR and his hurt toe out of the game late.

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jannes bjornson's picture

December 02, 2021 at 08:19 pm

Open it up and put up the points. Never lower your standard to dinosaur ball. Pack by 14.

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Leatherhead's picture

December 02, 2021 at 02:08 pm

I think that the real, real season, started after Thanksgiving . That’s what Dad always said,. I remember when we were 6-6, then we won the last four and finished 10-6 and made the playoffs and advanced. I think that was 2003. And in 2016, we went on a tear that reached the Championship game.

Even now, most of the teams would make the playoffs if they won out. And of course, the best teams are playing for home field and the bye.

I expect/predict that the Packers will win out, but I also think that both AZ and Tampa could win out .

We’re playing Tampa in the second round of the playoffs. That’s what I think.

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Starrbrite's picture

December 02, 2021 at 07:23 pm

I think you are correct.

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BruceIrons's picture

December 02, 2021 at 07:45 pm

I'm not worried about this post-bye trend.

Under LaFleur, they had two games post-bye.

The first, against San Francisco, was a game where the home team was just flat out better prepared and executed better. That can happen at any time. A case can be made that the team was flat, but I think that has more to do with travelling west for a late game (a trend that seems to have more basis to it).

The second game, against Tampa, was another story. The Packers went into that game prepared and were off to a hot start. They took the ball, marched down for a field goal, forced a 3 and out, marched for a touchdown, then got another stop and had the ball up 10-0.

The problem was that Aaron Rodgers took a huge shot on the 2nd to last play of the previous drive. This was when he tried to run in and got lit up at the goalline (I also think this is why he didn't try running against this defense in the NFCCG).

He was shaken up and I think he had a concussion. He was never the same that game, throwing bad passes that were picked off in back to back drives, leading two 2 Tampa touchdowns.

The momentum swung and then Bakhtiari got hurt. With Rodgers off his game after taking that hit, and his blindside no longer sufficiently protected, the game turned into a route.

Injuries killed that game, not a post-bye hangover.

I expect the Packers to come out hot next week.

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Johnblood27's picture

December 03, 2021 at 08:21 am

Great detail recollection Bruce. Insightful comment.

It's little things like this that swing games and the end result is always due to factors which bear closer scrutiny.

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