What We Saw: Week 9

The What We Saw team recaps the action from a wild Week 9

Rams @ Packers

Final Score: Packers: 20, Rams: 3

Writer: Nick Beaudoin


Good friends, ex-neighbors and two disciples of the Shanahan coaching tree met in Lambeau Stadium today, with Matt LaFleur’s Green Bay Packers getting the best of Sean McVay‘s Los Angeles Rams.

Both teams struggled in a sloppy first half and came in with conservative, predictable game plans. The heavy rain affected decision-making, and both teams hoped to establish the run on early downs and not expose their young, inexperienced QBs to high-risk opportunities to make mistakes. The Packers played the field position game, forcing Brett Rypien to start multiple drives inside his own 10-yard line and made it extremely difficult to put points on the board. The rain caused field issues for many players, but none more significant than Rypien’s lost fumble in the second quarter, which led to a three-yard touchdown for Aaron Jones, the Packers’ first first-half touchdown since Week 2.

The Packers opened up the second half with two straight lost fumbles (one from Dontayvion Wicks and one from Aaron Jones). Unfortunately for the Rams, they were unable to capitalize on those opportunities, missing a field goal in the third quarter and throwing an interception early in the fourth. Their defense was able to keep them competitive for most of the game, but the Packers were able to wear them down in the end, cementing the game with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Luke Musgrave.

The Packers did everything in their power to lose this game, and against any NFL team with a starting quarterback and running backs who were not watching games from their couch two weeks ago, they would have. The Pack committed costly penalties in big moments, but in the end, they did just enough to walk away with the win despite losing the turnover battle.



Three Up

  • Aaron Jones – Jones was back in full force and finally “unleashed” with 24 total touches for 99 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. He is once again the clear alpha and most important piece in this offense.
  • Carrington Valentine – The Packers’ locker room was shocked by the trade of Rasul Douglas (PFF’s 17th-ranked CB) to the Bills this past week, but part of this move was the team’s confidence in what they’ve seen from their seventh-round rookie. Valentine played well in his promotion, making multiple plays early, and drawing an offensive PI call, negating a 16-yard catch for Puka Nacua in the third quarter.
  • Jaire Alexander – Claiming to be the “healthiest he’s felt all year,” Alexander played very well. Early in the fourth quarter, he read a play perfectly, abandoned his coverage on Tutu Atwell, tipped the football, and created a late-game interception.

Three Down

  • Brett Rypien – It’s unfair to blame this loss entirely on Rypien, but it was clear the coaching staff didn’t trust him until they had to. He ended the day with 130 scoreless yards, one interception, and a lost fumble.
  • Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua – One of the best receiving duos in the league struggled today due to heavy rain and an inefficient offense; they totaled a combined 80 yards with no scores.
  • Darrell Henderson and Royce Freeman – Against the 25th-ranked rush defense (who also lost Kenny Clark in the second quarter), the Rams were unable to get anything going on the ground, gaining just 51 combined yards.


Los Angeles Rams




Brett Rypien: 13/28, 130 Yards, INT, Sack | 3 Carries, 19 Yards, FL

Brett Rypien made the fourth start of his NFL career in the absence of Matthew Stafford, but unfortunately, the nephew of Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien never stood a chance. The Rams’ initial game plan revolved around the run, which made sense considering the Packers were previously allowing 130 yards per game on the ground. The Packers saw this coming, committed to stopping the run early, and forced the Rams into many 3rd-and-long, obvious passing situations; this is not an ideal scenario for a new, inexperienced NFL quarterback. Rypien coughed up an early fumble that allowed the Packers to score early and finished the first half just 3 of 8 for 48 yards (34 of which came on one play to Cooper Kupp).

The Rams did their best to open up the offense in the second half and gave Rypien a chance against an injured Packers secondary. They were able to string together a few plays and inklings of drives but were never able to finish. They missed a field goal in the third quarter and threw an interception in the fourth, essentially cementing the Packers’ win.

The Rams now enter their bye week, which couldn’t come at a better time. It feels safe to assume that we can expect this offense to get back into rhythm with Stafford back in Week 11. Go trade for Puka and Kupp now, if you can.


Missed Opportunities

  • His sole interception was a well-read play by Jaire Alexander, who tipped away a ball thrown in the direction of Kupp.
  • There was one instance where a CB Innis Gaines, who was just activated off the practice squad, entered the game to cover Kupp man-to-man with no help, but Rypien seemingly did not even look his direction.
  • He overthrew Kupp late in the fourth quarter for a potential deep touchdown.


Running Back


Darrell Henderson: 10 Carries, 19 Yards | 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 16 Yards

Darrell Henderson got the start and took three carries for 14 yards on the first drive. From that point on, he struggled to find running room and ended the day with 1.9 yards per carry. The Packers committed to stopping the run on early downs, putting the Rams into several 3rd-and-long situations, and challenging Rypien to beat them, which he could not do. Henderson and Royce Freeman alternated drives for the entirety of the game, with Freeman proving to be the stronger runner, but Henderson (once again) was more involved in the receiving game and finished the day with more yardage overall. Neither separated themselves with this performance, and there is no reason to expect anything other than a 50/50 split until Kyren Williams returns.



Royce Freeman: 12 Carries, 32 Yards | 1 Target

Royce Freeman came in on the second drive, alternating with Henderson throughout the game. Freeman is at his best when running straight downfield and was the go-to RB in short-yardage situations. Henderson has more burst to the outside and better receiving capabilities. It’s clear the Rams plan to leverage the strengths of these two players in a timeshare for the time being.


Missed Opportunities

  • He was stuffed on 4th and 2 on the first play of the first quarter and turned the ball over on downs in Green Bay territory.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Cooper Kupp: 7 Targets, 2 Receptions, 48 Yards

Cooper Kupp did not receive a target until four minutes remained in the first half when Rypien found him down the middle for a 34-yard gain. This would prove to be the biggest play of the day for the Rams, and it set up their only score. Kupp tied Nakua and Atwell for the team lead in targets, but could never quite get into rhythm with Rypien. He did have a chance to salvage his (fantasy) day in the fourth quarter but was overthrown on a potential touchdown late in the game. Better days are in store for Kupp with Stafford expected back after their bye week.


Missed Opportunities

  • Rypien’s interception was thrown Kupp’s way early in the fourth quarter. Jaire Alexander read the play perfectly and abandoned his coverage on Tutu Atwell to tip the ball into the arms of Anthony Johnson Jr.
  • Rypien overthrew Kupp late in the fourth quarter for what could have been a long touchdown.


Puka Nacua: 7 Targets, 3 Receptions, 32 Yards 

Puka Nacua looked like the favorite for Rypien early in the game, receiving three targets before Kupp saw his first, but finished the game with only 32 receiving yards. Despite the stat line, he still showed promise, creating separation and making a nice sliding catch on the outside in the third quarter. Just like Kupp, better days are ahead for Puka and this offense.

Missed Opportunities

  • Puka had a beautiful toe-tap sideline reception early in the third quarter, but it was called back on an offensive pass interference call.


Tutu Atwell: 7 Targets, 4 Receptions, 13 Yards

Although Atwell tied Kupp and Puka with seven targets, he was still the clear third option on this team, serving only as a low ADOT safety valve for Rypien outside the hashes.


Tyler Higbee: 1 Target

Tyler Higbee received his sole target late in the second quarter, but couldn’t hold onto the ball, taking a big hit to the chest and leaving the game early.


Austin Trammell: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 6 Yards



Green Bay Packers




Jordan Love: 20/26, 228 Yards, TD, 4 Sacks | 4 Carries, 7 Yards

Jordan Love’s stat line looks a lot better than his performance did today. However, he did enough to lead the Packers to their third win of the season, breaking his five-game interception streak in the process. The Packers leaned heavily on Aaron Jones in this one, but Love did a solid job spreading the ball around among his young receivers, focusing on short and intermediate routes mostly outside the hashes. Although he only had 68 yards passing at the end of the first half, he was able to make some big completions in big moments late, including a 37-yard bomb to Christian Watson on 3rd-and-11, and sealed the game on the very next play with a double fake screen that left Luke Musgrave wide open for the first TD of his career. The announcers reveled over the design of this play and how similarly it looked like a “Shanahan” design. I wonder where they got it from (scratches beard).

Although it’s easy to pick apart Love’s performances in his first season leading the team, this is an extremely young team in the midst of a rebuild. The Packers have the youngest roster in the league, and 9 of 10 of his wide receivers and tight ends are in either their first or second season. This is an extremely unfair position to put a young QB in, one that is likely to limit his ceiling this season.


Missed Opportunities

  • He took a deep shot to Christian Watson in the second quarter for what should have been a 40-yard touchdown, but underthrew the pass by about 10 yards. The next play resulted in a delay of game and then a punt.
  • On 3rd-and-2 from the 4-yard line, he was tripped up from behind by Aaron Donald, who broke a double team to chase him down outside the pocket. This led to 26-yard field goal.
  • He converted two separate QB sneaks on 4th-and-1 that were both called back on offensive penalties. Both resulted in punts.
  • Known for his athleticism, I would love to see him run more. There were multiple times he stood in the pocket and took sacks when he could have stepped up and taken off up the middle.


Running Back


Aaron Jones: 20 Carries, 73 Yards, TD, Fumble | 6 Targets, 4 Receptions, 26 Yards

Head Coach Matt LaFleur came out this week to confirm Aaron Jones’ health status and let the world know he was “ready to unleash” the running back. Although he did not set the world on fire, Jones appeared to be fully healthy for the first time since Week 1, taking 24 total touches for 99 yards and one touchdown. It is clear that Jones is the most important person in this offense, on and off the field. The offense is built around him, and being able to use him in motion creates confusion for the defense and opportunity for the rest of the supporting cast. He was used up the middle, on pitches to the outside, on designed screens, and in motion on a jet sweep. He was a leader off the field as well, shown talking up WR Dontayvion Wicks on the sideline after coughing up a fumble at the beginning of the second half. It is no coincidence that Jones’ return to health snaps the Packers’ four-game losing streak.


Missed Opportunities

  • After two straight ten-yard gains, Jones lost a fumble on a nice run up the middle and gave the Rams solid field position in the third quarter.


AJ Dillon: 9 Carries, 40 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 3 Yards

AJ Dillon was still heavily involved in this game, but he is the clear RB2 in this offense when Jones is fully healthy. Dillon benefitted from the return of Jones, as the team used both of them in the backfield, alternating motions and opening running room for each other. Dillon had a few solid gains up the middle, including a 12-yard gash in the second quarter. Dillon is a strong downfield runner but is nowhere near as versatile as Jones; it is also worth noting that Dillon also lost the goal line carry to Jones in the first quarter.


Missed Opportunities

  • He was stuffed on 3rd and 1 late in the fourth quarter, leading to a field goal.


Emanuel Wilson: 4 Carries, 43 Yards

UDFA Emanuel Wilson showed well in limited carries, but only in garbage time. He is not worth rostering in standard leagues.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Christian Watson: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 37 Yards

Many considered Christian Watson to be the WR1 of the Packers coming into this year, but that has not come to fruition so far, in part due to a lingering hamstring issue. He was mostly nonexistent on the day outside of two deep 50/50 balls. The first one came in the second quarter, where he had the defender beat for a TD, but was severely underthrown by Love, resulting in an incomplete pass and a punt. However, when the team needed it most, Watson came down with a 37-yard pass on a tough reception, allowing the Packers to seal the game on the very next play. It will be worth monitoring Watson’s status throughout the week as he left for the locker room after this catch and did not return.

Missed Opportunities

  • Love took a deep shot to Watson in the second quarter for what could have been a 40-yard touchdown, but he underthrew it by about 10 yards.


Romeo Doubs: 3 Targets, 3 Receptions, 36 Yards

There is no clear WR1 on this team, but in my opinion, Romeo Doubs seemed to have Love’s trust the most in important situations. He was not the leader in targets or yardage, but he was the go-to guy on multiple third downs. He displayed sure hands on a few impressive catches, including a double move comeback on 3rd and 18, and later beat man-to-man coverage on a grab on 3rd and 9.


Dontayvion Wicks: 4 Targets, 4 Receptions, 49 Yards, Fumble

Although he lost a fumble while untouched on the opening play of the second half, Dontayvion Wicks played well overall. He finished the day tied for first in targets and second in receiving yardage, displaying good chemistry throughout the game with Jordan Love.

Missed Opportunities

  • Keisean Nixon and the Packers opened the second half with a booming 51-yard return. On the very next play, Jordan Love found Wicks open for a ten-yard gain. However, as Wicks stretched for the first down, he lost the ball, which bounced right into the arms of Witherspoon.


Jayden Reed: 3 Targets, 3 Receptions, 19 Yards | 1 Carry, 21 Yards

Jayden Reed showed off his quickness with a 21-yard sweep in the first half, and proved to be a reliable receiving option for Love when called upon. He turned all three of his targets into receptions for a total of 19 yards.


Luke Musgrave: 4 Targets, 3 Receptions, 51 Yards, TD

Luke Musgrave’s number wasn’t called much until the third quarter when he beat his defender on a corner post, leading to a Packers’ field goal. Later in the game, he was able to score the first touchdown of his career on a neat double fake, sealing the game.



Josiah Deguara: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 7 Yards

Malik Heath: 1 Target




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