Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 3: Saying sorry to Aaron Rodgers, Packers for not buying into offense – CBS Sports

Having to say you’re sorry is never fun, but it’s a necessary practice in just about any relationship or occupation. And if you’re a weatherman or an NFL writer — jobs where being right 60 percent of the time might make you elite — you get to used to saying it a lot. 

So let’s get started with some apologies three weeks into the season, fully understanding even this commentary has a chance to be completely incorrect by the time Halloween rolls around. 

And there’s no better place to start than Green Bay. 

Sorry, Packers

The main rule I preached ahead of 2020, over anything else, was consistency, consistency, consistency. The quarterback, the coach, the offensive line and the quarterback needed to be relative consistent for NFL teams to jump out to hot starts in a pandemic-filled offseason that erased OTAs, limited training camp and snuffed out the preseason. 

Except for some reason, when it came to the Packers, I was willing to make an exception. Most of the teams who are currently undefeated are, in fact, practicing consistency. The Chiefs, Ravens, Steelers, Titans, Bills, Seahawks and Packers all have basically the same setup as last year. Even the Bears are largely unchanged from 2019 to now (more on them in a minute). 

It was a wild Week 3 Sunday, and there’s a lot to go over. John Breech, Ryan Wilson and host Will Brinson break it all down on the Pick Six Podcast. Listen in the player below, and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness fired into your eardrums.

My premise for Green Bay coming back to the pack after a 13-3 season was pretty simple. They had an aging Aaron Rodgers who flashed at times last season but clearly was in the twilight of his Hall of Fame career. The Packers agreed! They drafted Jordan Love in the first round instead of a wide receiver. 

If trying to prove everything was Mike McCarthy’s fault couldn’t ignite an Eff You Tour from Rodgers, surely Love wouldn’t do it either. Whoops. Rodgers and the Packers offense have blitzkrieged their opponents through the first three weeks of the season, including a 37-30 win over the Saints on Sunday night. 

Green Bay has scored 35 points or more in its first three games, the longest 35+ point streak in franchise history. As our fantastic research team notes, Green Bay’s offense is more prolific than the 15-1 team from 2011 that featured a fire-breathing MVP in Rodgers at the peak of his powers.

W-L

3-0

3-0

Points/Game

33.0

40.7

Yards/Game

403.3

459.7

35+ Point Games

1

3

I’m not sure the Packers defense is great, but no one’s defense is great in the early goings of a season sans defense. What I am confident in is the Packers didn’t need to draft a wide receiver — Allen Lazard has emerged as a legitimate No. 2 in this offense, showing up in a big way without Davante Adams on the field. 

Green Bay is largely a pretty methodical running team (not a slight, they like to chew up clock) but Rodgers and Matt LaFleur spent the offseason trying to mask their vertical plays to look identical to their running plays. LaFleur comes from the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree, and it’s a staple there. If you can fool a defense into thinking you’re running the ball and suddenly Rodgers is rolling out with wide receivers streaking down the field, cornerbacks are in trouble. 

Rodgers finished the game going 13-of-17 with 160 passing yards and all three of his touchdowns coming on play-action passes. 

Lazard, who finished with six catches for 146 yards and a score on Sunday night, now has a catch of at least 20 yards in every single game this season, including a pair of deep balls against New Orleans. 

Add in Marquez-Valdez Scantling, who has also flashed this season, and the Packers have more than enough weapons at Rodgers’ disposal. The “Green Bay can’t win with just Adams” crowd is having a rough start to the season. So is anyone who wrote off Rodgers.

Sorry, Pete Carroll

I picked the Seahawks to make the playoffs but did not believe they would be the best team in the NFC West. Honestly, my thought process wasn’t even bad: I believed the Seahawks defense would struggle this year after several seasons of personnel attrition and due to a lack of pass rush. Seattle was going to stubbornly try to establish the run early in games and force Russell Wilson to do that magic thing he always does late in games.

But the Seahawks are not doing that. In fact, they have taken the pots, they have taken the pans, they have given Wilson the spatula and they are LETTING RUSS COOK. 

It was never more clear than in the first four possessions of the game against the Cowboys on Sunday: two of the first four Seattle drives ended with a wide-open receiver waltzing into the end zone with the football. The first was a first-down, play-action deep shot to a streaking Tyler Lockett who didn’t have a defender within 10 yards when Wilson’s pass landed in his arms.

The second didn’t actually produce any points because D.K. Metcalf pulled a DeSean Jackson and got Leon Lett’d by Cowboys rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs

But you get the point: another early down deep shot from the best deep-ball passer in professional football. This is not how the Seahawks operated last year. This is not Pete Carroll’s modus operandi. He has adhered to a philosophy of running the football early and often for several years now. The Seahawks now lead the NFL by a comfortable margin in terms of running on first down.

So credit Carroll and OC Brian Schottenheimer for recognizing the situation they’re in and changing up the game plan. Whether Russ leaned on them enough or whether the edict came from John Schneider, who knows? But the Seahawks have fully unleashed the true power of Wilson through three weeks and the results are pretty stunning. 

Wilson has the most passing touchdowns (14) of any player in NFL history through three weeks. He’s just the fifth player in NFL history with five passing touchdowns in back-to-back games. He’s the first player in NFL history with four passing touchdowns in each of his team’s first three games and just the fifth player ever with four passing touchdowns in three straight games. He’s the second player in NFL history with 450 passing yards in back-to-back games. Wilson is currently on pace to throw for 74 passing touchdowns in 2020. Yes, that would probably set the record. 

You no longer have to worry about scoring on the Seahawks, now you have to worry about outscoring them. 

Sorry, Mitch

One might consider this a good place for the guy who called the Bears “fraudulent” to apologize to Bears fans. NOPE. Consider this me doubling down on Chicago and just apologizing to Mitchell Trubisky for the tough way his 2020 is going. Who was the last starting quarterback to get benched in the middle of a game after starting a season 2-0?? Trubisky was replaced by Nick Foles with Chicago getting walloped by the Falcons on Sunday afternoon and then had to watch as Foles promptly stormed back to give the Bears a stunning late win. 

For Dan Quinn, this is a tough spot. He famously surrendered a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl a few years back and now has become not just the first coach in NFL history to give up multiple 15-point, fourth-quarter leads, but also the first coach to do so in back-to-back weeks. Will Arthur Blank fire him? I think it’s doubtful — the Falcons have the Packers next week and then a slew of easy matchups before their Week 10 bye. I think Atlanta will give him a shot to see what their record is going into the break. 

Not getting a shot? Trubisky, who has been replaced by Foles heading into the Week 4 game against the Colts, Matt Nagy announced. Nagy fired out some coachspeak after the loss, saying he hadn’t decided who would start, but this was always going to be Foles after that thrilling comeback victory. 

Making matters even more painful for Trubisky? Foles’ game-winning touchdown pass was the exact same playcall as the call that got Trubisky benched. 

I would personally venture a guess this isn’t the last time we see Trubisky under center for the Bears, but only because Foles doesn’t have a consistent track record of success starting in the regular season. He’s extremely streaky and a bad streak could give Mitch another window to start. 

But an underrated aspect of this competition was Foles’ knowledge of Nagy’s system through working with Andy Reid and Doug Pederson in Philadelphia (and later Reid in Kansas City). He’s not picking up an entirely new language or new playbook here. 

Does his presence make the Bears contenders? Maybe! I still think their bonafides as a 3-0 team are absolutely questionable. They overcame a 16-point, fourth-quarter deficit against Atlanta, which is the second time this season they’ve pulled that off. In 100 years of Bears football before this season, Chicago did that exactly once. This team should be 1-2. Credit where credit’s due for coming back, but Bears fans peacocking around trash talking anyone who doubted them are being ridiculous. 

If anything, doubting them was 100 percent correct. They were losing by 16 points in the fourth quarter! They should have been doubted. Doubting was accurate!! Stuff your sorries in a sack, mister.