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Ryan Wood, USA Today Packers Reporter

JR Sports Brief / JR
The Truth Network Radio
January 18, 2024 7:02 pm

Ryan Wood, USA Today Packers Reporter

JR Sports Brief / JR

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January 18, 2024 7:02 pm

Ryan Wood joined JR to discuss how the Packers were able to turn their offense around and how the Packers could upset the 49ers. 

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Ryan, thank you for taking the time to hop on. Appreciate it.

Absolutely. How's it going? Listen, man, I don't got a complaint in the world.

You got anything to complain about? You know, it's really cold up here in the tundra. So if you want it, you know, we got 16 inches of snow right now. A lot of shoveling. But otherwise, no, we're good.

That's good exercise. No? Oh, you're just trying to be optimistic here. Well, something everybody in the frozen tundra is optimistic about is those Green Bay Packers. Ryan, we saw this team start off terribly, three and six. They won, I believe, like seven out of their last ten. Now they're on a four game winning streak.

Jordan Love has elevated himself into being one of the top quarterbacks in the damn game. What happened? What switch flipped? How did we get here? It's a great question, because it's not so much stunning how far they've come. They've come a far way. I want you to picture that offense that dropped over 40 points on the Cowboys last week. What you saw there, there was a time this season, J.R., this offense went five straight games without scoring a touchdown in the first half. Same offense, same season. But that's not the stunning part.

What's stunning, this all changed overnight. You go back to a mid-November loss in Pittsburgh, and it was another defeat. It looked like their season was over. Matt Lafleur felt like they saw something. He ended his press conference saying, I promise we stick to the process.

We're going to come out on the other side of this thing. Their next three games were Justin Herbert, a road game on Thanksgiving to Detroit, and then Patrick Mahomes in their own place. It looked like that was 0-3. There's no chance they're winning one of these games.

They win all three. There was no warning for that. There was no real, okay, there's something to be... From the outside, it happened overnight, and it's just been a night and day difference to where they're at now, where they're dropping 40-plus points on the Dallas Cowboys, a good defense at home. It's pretty stunning to see. And when it comes down to Jordan Love specifically, I know you've paid great attention and detail to how he's evolved as a passer and a quarterback.

What have you noticed? Just take this past game for an example. The big issue in Jordan Love's game, especially early in the season, was throwing the football downfield.

Anything in the short and intermediate, you could see the talent. He knew the offense well, very quick with his progressions, he got it to the right guy. But the deep ball just wasn't there. The last game, targeting 20-plus yards past the line of scrimmage, Jordan Love was 4-5 against the Cowboys for 126 yards, two touchdowns, and a perfect 158.3 rating. Now, part of that too is when you got these longer developing routes, when you gotta hold on to the ball a little bit more, you're gonna get rushed more. You're gonna get hit, you're gonna get hurried. For a young quarterback, that can be a big learning hurdle to get past. Against the Cowboys, Jordan Love in a dirty pocket, he's hit or hurried. He was 8 of 9 for 174 yards, two touchdowns.

That's a 158.3 rating. So we're talking about astronomical growth here. It's week after week, his development has been exponential.

And when you look at him and the team as a whole, and this is the youngest roster in the NFL, we don't know how good they are actually right now. Because of that exponential growth week after week, there might be another level that we haven't even seen yet, or there might not be. We don't know. There's no crystal ball to see what's next. But if you look at the way that this team's been trending the last two months, it's been straight north.

So we'll have to see. I mean, this is gonna be a formidable test, obviously, in San Francisco. As Matt LaFleur said this week, the 49ers are the classes of the NFC. This is an elite team in the NFL, both sides of the ball, but that defense is fierce.

It's nasty. But the Packers and Jordan Love, they've been handling good defenses. And in the case of Dallas, dropping over 40 points on their head. So it's been pretty stunning. Ryan Wood is joining us.

Packers reporter for USA Today is the JR Sport Reshow on CBS Sports Radio. When you talk about that matchup against the Niners, we know about the defense, we know about all of the talented weapons that they have on offense. What does Green Bay need to do to be competitive to try to surprise everybody and win this game as well? They need to start fast. You know, Matt LaFleur, one of the things that he's done to adjust to this offense and get them to start fast, when he's won the coin toss, he started to take the ball. You know, no deferring to the second half.

We want the ball and go try to score. They did that last week. They had their first drive ate up more than half the first quarter. They start with a 7-0 lead against the Cowboys.

This is going to be a really interesting first quarter because time and time again, not just Packers and 49ers, but you see this almost every year, that team that has the one seed wrapped up and maybe shuts down their starters the last week of the regular season, comes off the bye against a team that has been in playoff mode, not just when the playoffs start, but to get into the playoffs. The Packers don't win down in Carolina on Christmas Eve. Their season ends then.

They don't get here. They won four straight games and they've had to win all four of those games. So they've been in this playoff mode for a month now. And if they get a fast start, all of a sudden the Packers defense, it doesn't quite nullify the running game, but it's a lot different being up 7-0 against Christian McCaffrey than being down 7-0 against Christian McCaffrey.

Just what they can do. And the Packers know full well that this Kyle Shanahan offense, you give them a lead, they'll run it all day. 2019 NFC Championship game, Jimmy Garoppolo throws eight passes.

That's all he needs to throw. When they go to the soup bowl, they blow out the Packers by running the ball. This Packers team is very aware of what can happen if they don't start fast.

But the circumstances align for them to maybe get a fast start and that kind of changed the tone of this game a little bit. Ryan Wood is here with us from USA Today. You talk about this being the youngest squad in the NFL. We all know about Jordan Love. Are there other players of note on the offensive side of the ball and the defensive side of the ball that we should really pay attention to as they get ready to take on these Niners? Yeah, that's a great point because you look at the supporting cast around Jordan Love, not a single receiver has been in this league for more than two years. This is not just a first year starting quarterback.

It's the youngest roster in the NFL. That means the supporting cast, Jayden Reed, their rookie second round pick, the slot receiver, who's kind of like a rookie Deebo Samuel. I asked Jayden Reed today if Deebo Samuel is a guy that he's molded his game off of at all. And he's like, yeah, I've been watching film, studying film of Deebo Samuel since college because he's the type of guy that not only the routes that he runs out of the slot, the middle of the field production, but he can take a handoff and he can take it to the house. I mean, you can do a lot of different things with Jayden Reed, but his production this season, it's been statistically the finest rookie year of any Packers receiver in their history. And that's saying something because they've had some guys come through this organization at that position. He broke Sterling Sharp's rookie receptions record set in 1988. He's just, you know, Matt Leflore calls him a war daddy.

He's kind of that, he's got that toughness, not the biggest guy, but plays bigger than his size. And his production this season has been really good, but the Packers went the first 15 games this season without a 100 yard receiver. They've had a 100 yard receiver each of the past three weeks, and it's been a different receiver each of the past three weeks. It was Bo Melton in Minnesota. It was Jayden Reed against Chicago. Last week, Romeo Dobbs drops 151 yards on the Cowboys.

The depth that Jordan Love has in his skill set, it's as deep as I've seen here. Ryan, is it too late for me to get in on the action? I don't got no catches. I'm pretty young.

Is it too late for me to get down? You know, the thing about Jordan Love, he doesn't care who he throws it to. He runs the offense as is, which is a bit of a departure here than what the Packers and this coaching staff had in the past.

There's no going off script. It is Matt Leflore's offense. Jordan Love runs the offense. If you're open, you're getting the ball.

It doesn't matter who you are. You get the ball if you're open, and that's been a big part of their success this season. You know, Ryan, let me ask you this.

You talk about how there's even distribution of the ball. I get a lot of callers from Wisconsin who are also thrilled at the lack of distractions surrounding this team. How far in the rearview mirror is that guy named Aaron Rodgers?

Let's just put it this way. When you can get elite quarterback play, which is what they've gotten from Jordan Love in the second half of the season, his last eight or nine games, 21 touchdowns, one pick. That's as good as it gets. Without the elite quarterback headaches, that's a good thing.

Jordan Love, he's operated almost like a rookie. He doesn't say much. He can be kind of boring sometimes, but that's a relief. He's boring in the best way because there's not those off-field, oh God, what did our quarterback say on the Pat McAfee show again this week?

No darkness retreats, no darkness retreats. You get that elite quarterback play without the headaches that come from elite quarterback play, that's a good thing. Without a shadow of a doubt, what are your ultimate thoughts on this game this upcoming Saturday night? You know, the 49ers should be favored. They're the better team on paper, and again, Matt Lefler's absolutely right when he says this is the class of the NFC. Both sides of the ball, that's a juggernaut of a team.

I've seen this type of matchup. It was the same thing two years ago when the Packers were the number one seed in Lambeau Field, and they're hosting the 49ers who were coming off a wildcard win in Dallas, and their season ends there because they had to shake off this rust. The 49ers had been at the sixth seed in that playoff vote. I think, what's the line now? I know it opened at 10 points.

That's crazy to me. I love the Packers on the points. I think this is going to be a close game, and it's not because of the rust versus that playoff mindset. It's not a great matchup for the 49ers. I think it's going to be very interesting. If the 49ers start well, okay, they put the Packers in the rear view, but the Packers do start well.

There's some rust early in this game. I think it's going to be very interesting for four quarters. Okay, well we're certainly going to be intently watching and paying attention. Ryan Wood joining us from USA Today. Where can people keep up with you and all of your coverage with the NFL and the Packers?

Hey, everything is on packardews.com, and then make sure you check me out on Twitter at byryanwood. Hey Ryan, thank you for taking the time to hop on, and don't shovel too much, okay? Just let it pile up for a little while longer. Yeah, you got to keep that back nice and fresh, right?

Use your legs. It'll get done eventually. I hear that. Listen, be safe and be cool, all right? Thank you, Ryan. All right, take care.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-18 21:30:45 / 2024-01-18 21:36:02 / 5

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