GREEN BAY, Wis. – How bad was the Green Bay Packers’ pass defense during its loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday?
It was mocked by the satirical newspaper The Onion.
The Packers were routed 34-20, with Baker Mayfield completing 22-of-28 passes for 381 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Under the NFL’s convoluted passer-rating formula, it was a perfect game of 158.3.
Mayfield made it look easy. Because it was easy. The coverage played so far off that the Packers became the butt of an out-of-this-world joke.
Despite a horrendous performance, Packers coach Matt LaFleur opted to stick with Joe Barry as his defensive coordinator.
“I know there’s some [calls] that Joe would like to have back, in particular some of those third-and-3-to-4-yard plays where we’re playing soft zone and they can easily get a free completion,’ LaFleur said. “Just like there were a couple of calls I’d like to have back in the red zone. And that’s football but, hopefully, we can learn from that and not make that same mistake twice.”
On third-and-1 to third-and-4, the Packers have allowed a 57.8 percent conversion rate on passes, according to Pro Football Reference’s Stathead. That’s the eighth-worst in the league. During Barry’s first two years on the job, the Packers allowed a 48.3 percent conversion rate on those third-and-short passes. That was the 10th-best in the league.
With Mayfield feasting on a Packers secondary that was without Jaire Alexander and Darnell Savage, he assembled one of two perfect-passer-rating in Lambeau Field history. The other was by Aaron Rodgers in 2019.
Mayfield carved up the Packers like a Christmas ham on third down. He was 7-of-9 for 135 yards and two touchdowns; a 10th third-down pass resulted in an 11-yard penalty for pass interference. All seven completions resulted in first downs. He was 4-of-5 on third-down passes requiring 4 yards or less. Many of those were gifts, with the Packers’ coverage softer than a fleece stocking.
“Everybody just doing their job, nothing special,” Mayfield said after the game. “It wasn’t like we were running brand-new plays. It wasn’t like we were scheming up or reinventing the wheel. Guys just did their jobs. A couple huge third-and-long conversions. Everybody doing things right, and that’s what it come down to. When you play on the road, take care of the ball and go from there.”
Over the last decade, there have been 14 quarterbacks with perfect passer ratings (minimum 20 passes). The Packers’ five sacks of Mayfield was the most.
“When I get a rush and I turn around and a guy’s running free, it kind of feels like maybe that’s scheme or execution,” outside linebacker Preston Smith said. “I don’t know what’s going on in the back end. I just hear coverage or I hear a rush.
“A lot of times on a drive, I just feel like we just weren’t executing. It came down to execution. And maybe they were calling some plays, they were scheming us up on defense, maybe they kind of were getting a bead on what we were in and what we like to run and they were calling some plays that were really helpful to them.”