The Green Bay Packers' defense knows it's on them to shoulder the burden if the club is to turn the season around after falling to 2-3 heading into the bye week.
"I think at this point it's pretty obvious that the defense has to not give up any touchdowns," cornerback Jaire Alexander said after Monday night's 17-13 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. "I think that's the part of being self-critical of our defense because the offense is pretty young and they're still figuring out their mojo, so the defense, we gotta do more to score and stop them from scoring."
The Packers' defense certainly has had its struggles early this season -- see, Week 4 vs. Detroit -- but Monday's loss wasn't on Joe Barry's crew. Green Bay's defense held the Raiders to 17 points, allowed Davante Adams to earn just 45 yards, forced an interception, generated six sacks, and allowed 279 yards with 19 first downs. Generally, that's enough to win in the year 2023.
Not so much when the offense continues to sputter.
Green Bay scored three or fewer first-half points for the third straight game. Coming out of the gate like a tortoise has put pressure on Jordan Love to make plays. He's faltered.
Monday, he threw three interceptions on 16-of-30 passing with zero TDs and 182 passing yards. Maybe it's unfair to compare, but Aaron Rodgers never had a game with zero pass TDs and three INTs during his time with the Packers. The last Packers QB with zero pass TDs and three-plus INTs was Brett Hundley in Week 11, 2017, per NFL Research.
Love has thrown six interceptions in the past three games after avoiding one in the first two tilts. In the past three tilts, the Packers QB has generated a 57.7 passer rating. Only Mac Jones' 55.4 is worse over that span.
"It's tough. We had a lot of opportunities," Love conceded after the loss, per the team's official website. "We didn't do enough. I didn't do enough."
With Aaron Jones missing action, the Packers' offense is an amalgam of inefficient runs, Love heaving deep prayers that (mostly) fall incomplete, and the QB forcing balls into traffic. Nothing is easy for head coach Matt LaFleur's offense right now.
The early bye week may be good for the Packers as they attempt to stay in range of a playoff spot. LaFleur must take the week off to self-reflect on what he can expect from his young QB and how to build the offense to accentuate that moving forward.
"Obviously searching for a little bit of answers right now," LaFleur said. "I think this week will give us an opportunity to kind of go back and -- you know, I thought we did that over the mini-bye -- but we've got to find something to get us going, to jump-start us."