Packers’ 2021 season opener reminiscent of heated start to 2016

By Brandon Carwile

The Green Bay Packers won’t just be battling the New Orleans Saints when they take the field this Sunday. Green Bay will also have to deal with the Jacksonville heat.

Luckily, this isn’t the first time some of these Packers players have operated in Florida during the month of September. Back in 2016, Green Bay opened their season in Jacksonville against the Jaguars in 90-degree heat. Temperatures on the field reached as high as 113 degrees, and it wasn’t much better in the stands. According to reports, the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department received 35 calls during the game that ended with hospitalizations due to heat stress.

The Packers struggled to put away a lowly Jaguars team as the final score read 27-23. The team’s performance evoked some strong words from Aaron Rodgers, who did not speak highly of the team’s offensive performance.

“I don’t think we played very well offensively,” Rodgers said. “But we won. It’s tough to win in this league. It’s tough to win on the road.”

Maybe it was the heat, or maybe it was the notorious slow start that always seemed to plague Mike McCarthy’s offense.

Green Bay has opened up their season away from home in two straight seasons under Matt LaFleur. In both cases, the game ended in a win against a divisional opponent on their own turf.

Sunday’s game is still technically a road game, which gives the Packers a shot to make it three road wins a row to open the season under LaFleur. The opener was originally scheduled to be played in New Orleans but was forced to relocate because of Hurricane Ida.

Travel and heat were the most likely contributors to the Saints’ decision to move the game to Jacksonville. Local weather reports are expecting a high of 85 degrees on Sunday with 76 percent humidity. LaFleur is urging his team to hydrate leading up to their heated meeting with the Saints.

“Certainly, every time they pee, you want it to look clear,” LaFleur said Wednesday.

Whatever it takes, Green Bay needs to be fresh and ready. Otherwise, the result will be another ugly performance in the same stadium that gave this team trouble five years ago.


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