Sorry, I’m a little late getting back to business. After a late night at Lambeau and a long day heading back home, I’m finally catching up. First off, I can’t even describe how awesome it was to be a part of a jam packed stadium, to see the energy all around the Titletown District and smell the bratwursts grilling at tailgate parties in every direction.
My only gripe, and maybe it’s a function of the fact that fans have been away for a year, was the constant scoreboard videos of Packer players reminding fans to be quiet when the team’s on offense. I mean it was literally shown every time the Pack faced a third down. Don’t we all know that we should save our craziness for when the team is on defense? I guess when you see a few bozos trying to start the wave while the Pack has the ball, we’re reminded that some people just don’t get it.
OK, on to the game. Like you, I’m still very concerned about Joe Barry’s defense. Sure, it’s only week 2 and everyone is still getting adjusted to the new scheme, but a few things are clear: with Za’Darius Smith sidelined, the pass rush is severely weakened. Jared Goff had entirely too much time in the first half–I mean, he didn’t have an incompletion. If Gary and Preston Smith can’t get pressure, Barry is going to need to dial up some blitzes and get more creative.
After Kevin King got torched early, it was great to see Eric Stokes take his spot on the outside and play a great game against the Lions’ below average pass catchers. King’s move inside to the slot may ultimately pay off for this secondary. Looked like he started to get the hang of it in the second half.
It’s pretty concerning that Matt LaFleur had to tell Barry to shake things up in the second half…move his athletic corners up to the line to play to their strengths–press coverage, rather than hanging back and allowing Goff to dink and dunk his way down the field. Still no sacks through two games and a total of two turnovers, though one was Goff mishandling a snap (that play was actually scored as a team sack). This unit needs to figure things out quickly, with the 49ers and Steelers up next.
The Pack moved Kenny Clark off the nose early and the results were disastrous. He looked like himself when he moved back to his usual spot in the second half. The Pack needs so much more from Keke, Lowry and Lancaster. None of them look like they belong on the field right now–it’s the roster’s biggest weakness. Keke looked like an ascending player in 2020. He looks lost right now. I’m ready to see rookies TJ Slaton and Jack Heflin get a shot. They can’t be any worse.
On offense, we saw what we figured we’d see, a group that looked a lot like the one that led the league in scoring last season. The Pack committed to the run, with 31 plays vs. 27 passes, and while the production wasn’t dynamic (just 3.1 YPC), it was enough to complement the passing game. Considering the entire interior of the offensive line has virtually no experience, I think the run blocking was solid. Josh Myers is the league’s highest graded rookie lineman so far and earned Rodgers’ praise after the game. Jon Runyan may end up replacing Lucas Patrick at left guard after a solid performance. Both tackles had very good games–but let’s be honest, we’ll learn a lot about how this is group is performing Sunday night at San Francisco.
What a night from Aaron Jones, who killed the Lions as a receiver, when Detroit played its safeties deep and dared the Pack to beat them underneath. He’s so dynamic with the ball in his hands and should continue to be lethal as a receiver against the tough pass rushers the Pack will face the next couple of weeks.
I’d still like to see Randall Cobb get more snaps; I’d like to see Rodgers and MVS get on the same page and for Allen Lazard to get some targets, but the offense will get better as the season goes along, as the young linemen get more comfortable. And Davante Adams still looks like the best receiver in the game–his 50 yard catch down the right sideline turned the game around.
The offense will be just fine. Once again, as always, the postseason fate of the Pack will rest with the defense. It’s as predictable as seeing the chumbalone trying to start the wave while the Pack is trying to convert a third down. And just as infuriating.