That’s What Cheese Said - 2021 Week 8

Hear from key players and the head coach following Green Bay's 24-21 win against the Arizona Cardinals. 

There are officially zero undefeated teams remaining in the NFL, thanks to the Green Bay Packers. The Cardinals now sit at 7-1 following Thursday Night Football, just like the Packers, and Green Bay holds the all-important tiebreaker for playoff seeding. 

“I can’t say enough about that entire locker room,” said Head Coach Matt LaFleur. “The resiliency this group has, the character this group has, no matter what they have the mentality of ‘whatever it takes’ and that showed through tonight.”

It was an effort that took everyone. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for only 184 yards, but had two touchdowns to Randall Cobb. Running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon combined for 137 yards on the ground. Safety Henry Black and cornerback Rasul Douglas recorded their first interceptions in Packers uniforms. Special teams caused a turnover which gave the offense the ball inside the three-yard line. 

“I think we’re a gritty football team.” said Rodgers, adding that not many people probably expected them to win with the pieces they were missing, including three wide receivers in Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

Of course, for all of the good that came from beating an undefeated Cardinals team on a short week, the Packers still left Arizona with plenty to clean up on both sides of the ball. A big emphasis, though, being Green Bay’s red zone offense. 

“Those two red zone trips kind of eat at me. Where you’ve gotta come away with more points than that and when you don’t, it’s disappointing and it almost cost us,” said LaFleur. The Packers went 3-for-5 and got stopped twice inside the 10. 

Both LaFleur and Rodgers acknowledged the way the Cardinals defense played in the red zone, continuing to add “bigs” at the goal line, daring Green Bay to throw the ball. 

On a short week, already undermanned, the Packers lost both kick returner Kylin Hill and tight end Robert Tonyan during the game. It was later announced that both players suffered ACL injuries and would be lost for the season. That kind of adversity, unfortunately, is not new for the 2021 Green Bay Packers.

“That’s life in the National Football League. Every week you get new challenges,” said LaFleur. “Adversity is going to strike. It struck us again tonight. I mean, some other key players go out unfortunately. That’s just the unfortunate part of this game. Luckily we’ve got a great locker room and we’ve got a lot of depth and other guys just continue to step up and that’s what we’re going to need the rest of the way.”

So many of the players that made game-changing plays for the Packers on Thursday Night spent the offseason in a different uniform. Cobb, most recently with the Texans, hauled in two touchdowns as WR1. Inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, most recently with the Cardinals, had a sack on Kyler Murray. Douglas, who had the game-sealing interception, was signed off the Cardinals practice squad in-season to help a depleted cornerbacks room without Jaire Alexander and Kevin King. Punter Corey Bojorquez has given special teams a much needed boost after spending all of training camp with the Rams. 

“It just shows how good the team is. And that guys step up when their number is being called. Just like me. Practice squad, now I’m playing,” Douglas said of the team’s “next man up” mentality. “And that’s how we practice like everybody is a starter.” 

Part of the reason this team has been so successful is its “don’t blink” mentality, a mantra that came up multiple times in post-game interviews. 

“We didn’t blink at all. We went down early; we fought our way back, and that just shows the character of the guys in this locker room,” said left guard Jon Runyan Jr. 

“I think that’s what we all preach to each other is ‘don’t blink,’” added inside linebacker Krys Barnes, saying that even on the final drive he felt the team would be victorious. 

On offense, Green Bay dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 37:35. On defense, the Packers kept the Cardinals to only 4-of-10 on third down and limited rushing opportunities, with Arizona gaining only 74 yards on the ground all game. 

All of this happened without defensive coordinator Joe Barry, with passing game coordinator Jerry Gray taking over defensive play calling duties, and inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti relaying calls to Campbell on the field. 

“I can't say enough about how far we’ve come from Week 1 to where we are right now,” said LaFleur. 

The players know what this means moving forward, and what a win like this says about a team missing some of its biggest stars. 

“We have a good group of guys that, there's a different feeling to the team than even the last couple years. I’m not sure how it’s going to finish up, but I like the energy that we have in the locker room,” said Rodgers. 

The playoff implications certainly don’t hurt, either. “At the end, we want it to run through Lambeau,” Jones said with a smile. 

The Packers now have a “mini-bye” to get healthy before another road test against the Kansas City Chiefs. That game will kick off at 3:25 p.m. CST on Sunday, Nov. 7.

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

11 points

Comments (16)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Qoojo's picture

October 31, 2021 at 04:51 pm

As far as Red zone goes, I would have liked to see Dillion get it once from the one. He had a great avg YAC in the game, and I don't see them stopping him.

They definitely need to get healthy. I think Thursday night games should reserved for teams coming off byes.

7 points
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dblbogey's picture

November 01, 2021 at 12:53 am

When we have Bahktiari at LT, Jenkins at LG, and our Rookie center back, this offense should be noticeably more efficient. Just let them stay healthy.

5 points
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Houndog's picture

November 01, 2021 at 07:01 am

Bogey,
A few more healthy receivers wouldn't be a bad idea either.
With our three starters in the lineup, and our D playing as well as they did, Thursday night wouldn't have been nearly as close.

1 points
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Paxton57's picture

October 31, 2021 at 05:04 pm

I sure did hate to see Bobby Tonyan go down for the entire season..

8 points
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PeteK's picture

October 31, 2021 at 07:04 pm

Yes, Dequara will have to cover some of that slack, and should be an upgrade as a blocker. He showed soft hands and an ability to score TDs in college(13 in two seasons).

3 points
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dblbogey's picture

November 01, 2021 at 12:59 am

And the reality of the NFL is neither guy is guaranteed to return to 100%. Some do, some don't. I just hate ACL injuries. Think about what they are facing, 10 months of rehab, not knowing if you'll be the same player you were.

3 points
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Leatherhead's picture

October 31, 2021 at 07:29 pm

Minus Tonyan, we still are a [b]formidable[/b]offense. Deguara and Dafney will get a lot of those snaps. We will get Bakhtiari back, and we can move the ball on the ground.pretty well.

Near the goal line, I think you have to make people move laterally. I’m not sure Dillon is the answer, but it’s time to try this. And use some lineman as a lead battering ram.

We beat AZ, the Saints beat the Bucs…..nobody is out front in the NFC, but I don’t recall so many strong teams in the NFC. Rams, Cards, Saints, Bucs, Packers, Cowboys….what’s the combined record of those guys? This is shaping up to be an old school dogfight.

The Vikings and Cowboys are playing right now; I’m rooting for pulled hamstrings.😉

3 points
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ApplesAndTons's picture

October 31, 2021 at 07:34 pm

imagine winning with Love in AZ though? let's be optimistic but not shortsighted. it's all relative. always is. if love hasn't showed anything yet, and with Aaron having the leverage to bounce next year with OC, WR1, etc., plan for a social media and brand tarnishing if we don't figure this out. Gute didn't think ahead when he drafted Love but he can use this time and consider it precious

-8 points
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Oppy's picture

October 31, 2021 at 09:34 pm

All Gute was doing was thinking ahead when he drafted Love.
The plan was to get someone in place for when the Packers moved on from Rodgers.

That's what they're doing.

9 points
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dblbogey's picture

November 01, 2021 at 01:02 am

Agreed. And people seem to forget Rodgers was coming off 2 subpar seasons (for him) and getting older. I've always questioned if Love is the right guy, but the need for a QB was apparent.

5 points
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Oppy's picture

November 01, 2021 at 02:21 pm

Exactly- a Love may or may not be the right guy. It's always a crap shoot.
However, if you're not kicking tires now, you can get caught completely flat-footed later. It often takes time to assess what you have with a young QB. The sooner the Packers get a guy developed and see if he's an NFL starter or not, the sooner the Packers can either extend him if he is the solution, or move on to the next project if he isn't.

0 points
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Coldworld's picture

November 01, 2021 at 08:44 am

Imagine having a recognized full time receiver against AZ, and that might have been an interesting scenario, one that 3 games yesterday render more interesting I think.

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Leatherhead's picture

November 01, 2021 at 10:03 am

The notion that Gute didn't think ahead when he drafted Love...........

That's just beyond nonsense. It's lunacy. And here's why.

The Packers have a Board of Directors, and from this group, they select an Executive Board, which hires the President, who oversees the efforts of the Chief Financial Officer, the General Manager, and the Head Coach.

So there are quite a few successful, intelligent, people involved in the decisions that put Gutekunst in the GM chair. They've known him for years. And that's why they're comfortable paying MILLIONS of $$$ to Gute, every year, to think ahead and make sound decisions.

If he didn't develop alternatives/backups to Rodgers, he's derelict. The end.

As far as the leverage, that's just kind of backwards thinking, because leverage is about forcing something. There' is absolutely no reason that a solution they all are happy with can't be worked out. We could win the Super Bowl, then arrange for Rodgers and his sweetheart to go someplace they like. We'd get some compensation in draft picks or players, plus quite a bit of salary cap relief. Love starts in 2022 with a pretty strong team around him and we can see if we want to exercise the 5th year option and lock him up for a while, or not.

We are 33-7 and have been to the Championship game twice. We were one play away from the Super Bowl last year. We're 7-1 this season. Stuff like this makes me think that the Packer organization, including Gutekunst, thinks ahead and does a pretty good job of it.

0 points
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Oppy's picture

November 01, 2021 at 02:28 pm

There's millions of fans and talking heads and even supposed sports writers who seem to think the Packers didn't think things through when they drafted Love because anyone would have known it was going to make Aaron Rodgers upset, and who in their right mind would risk making Aaron Rodgers upset? That's their logic.

They can't fathom that after the 2019 season the Packers may have actually thought long and hard about selecting a QB in the first round of the NFL draft, and even thought about how it might make Aaron Rodgers unhappy, and went ahead and decided they were less concerned about keeping Aaron Rodgers happy than they were about making a decision they felt was in the best long term interests of the Green Bay Packers.

It completely blows their minds. These are all the same folks who are posting articles and comments about how it looks more likely that Rodgers is going to 'decide' to stay in Green Bay. It is outside of their ability to conceive that the organization might be interested in going a different direction.

0 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

November 01, 2021 at 10:51 am

Kind of curious to see Jaylon Smith as a healthy scratch for the Cards given Murray's running ability. Meanwhile Barnes is really struggling. Wonder why Smith can't crack the starting ILB spot along Campbell? Is Barry's D that complicated?

1 points
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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 02, 2021 at 03:19 am

Yup, it is curious.
Yup, Barnes is struggling.
Yup, several possibilities why Smith sat.

I hope Jaylon just needs time to learn the D.

0 points
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