Packers prepare for trip to London, hope to improve offense
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur is relying on his NFL overseas experience as his team prepares to play the first international game in franchise history.
After edging the New England Patriots 27-24 in overtime on Sunday, the Packers (3-1) began getting ready to play the New York Giants (3-1) at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. LaFleur has coached in London twice before and plenty of his assistants also have worked NFL games in Europe.
“It’s such an adjustment, and I think a lot of it is who handles this trip the best is going to be able to play to the best of their abilities,” LaFleur said Monday.
LaFleur was the Los Angeles Rams’ offensive coordinator in 2017 when they beat the Arizona Cardinals 33-0 and held the same position with the Tennessee Titans in 2018 when they lost 20-19 to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Although he’s adjusting the Packers’ schedule to help them prepare for the travel and the 6-hour time difference, LaFleur declined to go into specifics about those changes.
“The preparation’s going to be absolutely critical, especially the mental preparation because you’re going to be out of rhythm in terms of just your schedule, the practice schedule,” LaFleur said. “And you try to keep it as normal as possible, like (as) typical. But let’s face it, it’s anything but.”
The Packers also must make sure the London trip doesn’t have any carryover effect since they don’t have a week off afterward. The Packers opted to have their bye week later in the schedule. They’ll be hosting the New York Jets one week after their London game.
Because of that demanding schedule, the Packers understand they’re going to have to play better to maintain their impressive record.
New England was forced to rely on rookie fourth-round pick Bailey Zappe at quarterback Sunday because of injuries to Mac Jones and Brian Hoyer, yet the Packers couldn’t put the Patriots away until Mason Crosby kicked a 31-yard field goal in the final seconds of overtime.
The Packers are scoring 18.8 points per game, down from 26.5 last season and a league-high 31.8 in 2020.
Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers reached a career milestone by throwing his 500th career touchdown pass, a total that includes the playoffs. The only other players with more than 500 are Tom Brady (716), Drew Brees (608), Peyton Manning (579) and Brett Favre (552).
After the game, Rodgers acknowledged the offense needs to improve.
“This way of winning I don’t think is sustainable because it just puts too much pressure on our defense,” Rodgers said.
The defense produced four sacks and has 11 this season. ... Green Bay’s receiving corps showed signs of growth as the Packers adjust to life without All-Pro Davante Adams. Allen Lazard had six catches for 116 yards. Rookies Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson each scored, though Doubs also couldn’t maintain control of a catch that would have put Green Bay ahead late in the fourth quarter and Watson’s score came on an end-around.
WHAT NEEDS WORK
The offense still hasn’t put together a complete game. Green Bay lost 23-7 at Minnesota in its opener. The Packers had three second-half points in a 27-10 victory over Chicago and went scoreless after reaching the end zone on their first two drives of a 14-12 triumph at Tampa Bay. This time, Green Bay scored seven points in the first two periods before awakening in the second half and overtime. ... The defense allowed New England to rush for 167 yards on 33 carries.
OLB Rashan Gary had two sacks to increase his season total to five. Gary has at least one sack in each of the Packers’ four games. ... Aaron Jones rushed for 110 yards on 16 attempts. Jones is averaging 6.8 yards per carry. ... DT Jarran Reed had a team-high eight tackles and got his first sack as a Packer.
OT Yosh Nijman, who performed capably at left tackle when David Bakhtiari was recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, was on the field for three offensive snaps Sunday as Bakhtiari played virtually the entire game. Nijman has made enough of an impression that the Packers could explore trying him at right tackle and making other changes along the line. “That has definitely been something we’ve talked about,” LaFleur said. “Haven’t made a decision on it yet.”
S Adrian Amos left with a head injury in the first quarter. ... CB Jaire Alexander didn’t play Sunday after missing most of the Tampa Bay game with a groin injury.
785 — This was the 785th regular-season victory in Packers history, tying the Chicago Bears for the most regular-season wins by an NFL franchise. It was the Packers’ 250th regular-season win at Lambeau Field.
The Packers get ready to go overseas.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL