Continuing our series of offseason breakdowns following the 2021 schedule release, theRams.com examines the Rams' Week 12 road opponent, the Green Bay Packers (Lambeau Field, Nov. 28, 1:25 p.m. PT, FOX).
The Packers began the season with a four-game win streak before falling to the Buccaneers 38-10 in Tampa coming out of their Week 5 bye. However, that Week 6 blowout road loss would not derail the rest of the Packers' season. They went 9-2 the rest of the way – the two losses were by six to the Vikings and by three to the Colts in overtime in Indianapolis – and entered the playoffs as one of the NFL's hottest teams.
However, much like Year 1 of the Matt LaFleur era, Year 2 saw their playoff run end with a loss in the NFC Championship game, one win shy of reaching the Super Bowl.
While Green Bay came up short of accomplishing its ultimate goal, it did finish with the league's No. 1 scoring offense (31.8 points per game). Quarterback Aaron Rodgers won the third NFL MVP award of his career; wide receiver Davante Adams led the league in receiving touchdowns (18), tied with the Cardinals' DeAndre Hopkins for second in receptions (115), and finished fifth in receiving yards (1,374). On defense, outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith's 12.5 sacks tied with the Panthers' Hasson Reddick for fourth-most in the NFL last year.
After finishing with the No. 9 total defense and No. 13 scoring defense, the Packers chose not to renew defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's contract, according to multiple reports. Pettine, who had held the position since 2018, was replaced by former Rams linebackers coach Joe Barry.
Green Bay also dismissed its special teams coordinator, Shawn Mennenga, at the end of its season, finding his replacement internally by promoting Maurice Drayton. Drayton spent the previous three seasons as the Packers' assistant special teams coach.
Other than re-signing running back Aaron Jones to a four-year deal and adding Blake Bortles to the quarterback room, it has been an uneventful free agency so far for Green Bay.
While the Packers used their first-round pick (No. 29 overall) in this year's draft on Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes, the overall makeup of their nine-man class leaned toward the other side of the ball 5-4. After Stokes, they used their next three choices addressing the offense with Ohio State center Josh Myers (No. 62 overall), Clemson wide receiver Amari Rodgers (No. 85 overall) and Mississippi offensive guard Royce Newman.
LaFleur enters his third season as head coach of the Packers, compiling a 26-6 regular season record through his first two years with the franchise. Green Bay qualified for the playoffs in each of those first two seasons, reaching the NFC Championship both times.
What to watch for
Rams defense vs. whoever starts at quarterback for the Packers
Unresolved quarterback situation, Part IV.
Again, it's based on where things stand in the offseason – things can change between now and the start of the regular season. Yet, as of right now, the uncertainty surrounding Rodgers' future with the Packers gives the Rams four teams with an uncertain quarterback situation, following the Bears (Week 1), Texans (Week 8) and 49ers (Weeks 10 and 18).
If Rodgers resolves his differences with Green Bay and returns, then Los Angeles' defense is preparing for the reigning NFL MVP and someone who tossed a league- and career-high 48 touchdown passes. That alone speaks for itself.
On the flip side, if Rodgers and the Packers move on from one another, the Rams presumably would be preparing for Jordan Love, the 26th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft whom the Packers traded up to acquire but has yet to appear in an NFL game. Even if Love hypothetically had 11 games under his belt, he's still a first-year starter with relatively limited experience.