The Green Bay Packers moved to 8-2 with a win over the Carolina Panthers. Here are the 10 big takeaways from what we saw on the field.
It was a hard-fought game from start to finish but it is one that the Green Bay Packers were in control of for the most part. With some timely stops and turnovers from the defense, coupled with some fantastic performances from Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, and Davante Adams, the Packers were able to secure the win and move to 8-2 on the season.
So let’s take a look back and dive on into my 10 big takeaways from Sunday’s victory.
Aaron Jones is a top RB in the NFL
Since Aaron Jones was drafted, we had seen flashes here and there of the potential that he has, however, what was lacking were opportunities. But under Matt LaFleur, Jones has had plenty of chances and he has made the most out of them.
Against the Panthers, Jones would rush for 93 yards on 7.1 yards per carry with three touchdowns. On the season he has nearly 600 rushing yards, with another 350 through the air and 14 total touchdowns.
David Bakhtiari’s struggles continue
For the last few years, David Bakhtiari has been one of – if not the best – left tackle in football. And while overall he is still having a fine season, it isn’t up to the usual standards that we expect from him. After having just two holding penalties all of 2018, Bakhtiari already has five this season and leads the entire Green Bay Packers team with 10 penalties all together. Not to mention that on the play before halftime, he whiffed on his blocking attempt which led to the play being blown up in the backfield.
Still Too Many Penalties
Speaking of penalties, after a sloppy performance a week ago in Los Angeles, we once again saw this Packers team get flagged way too many times. In total, the Packers would have 10 penalties called on them – compared to only five for Carolina – for 64 yards and two of them were crucial offsides penalties on the final drive that gave the Panthers new life. Moving forward this has to improve.
Kenny Clark is just fine
There has been a lot made recently about Kenny Clark’s lack of production this season, and while his numbers are down – particularly when it comes to making plays in the backfield – he has still been playing at a high level. Clark has played an incredibly high percentage of the snaps this season, and since he is the focal point of opposing offenses, he is oftentimes double-teamed. However, Sunday against Carolina, we saw Clark getting after Kyle Allen on multiple occasions. His overall numbers may be down, but don’t mistake that for poor play.
Going for the TD before half was the right call
Although the play call and the execution was ugly, I was 100 percent on board with the Green Bay Packers going for the touchdown before half. They had the chance to blow the game wide open and they had been moving the ball fairly easily all half. However, I wasn’t a fan of Aaron Jones being on the sidelines and the predictable play call. And as I previously mentioned, Bakhtiari whiffed. But as Matt LaFleur said, “all gas, no brakes.”
Allen Lazard is WR2
Before the season began, many wondered who would step up and be WR2 behind Davante Adams, and I’m sure to the shock of many, that has turned out to be Allen Lazard. Since the Detroit game, Lazard has more targets, receptions, and yards than both Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison. He’s caught 75 percent of the passes thrown his way and it’s clear that he has the trust and confidence of Aaron Rodgers. It’s time to get him more involved.
Elgton Jenkins is Offensive Rookie of the Year
Given his position, there is about a zero percent chance that Elgton Jenkins actually wins this award but he has been one of the best rookies in football this season and was a fantastic draft pick by GM Brian Gutekunst. According to Pro Football Focus, Jenkins hasn’t allowed a sack or a quarterback hit this season in 311 pass-blocking attempts and his stellar play continued Sunday against Carolina.
What else can we say about the edge rushing duo of Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith? Yesterday, Preston recorded two sacks, which gives him a new career high of 10 on the season and there are still six games to play. Meanwhile, Za’Darius sits at 8.5 through 10 games and was constantly in the backfield against Carolina, chasing Kyle Allen from the pocket and making him uncomfortable.
Defense slowed Christian McCaffrey
Before the game even began, many of us expected Christian McCaffrey to be a problem for this Green Bay Packers’ run defense. And although he still put up 141 total yards, it didn’t feel like he was that dominant. McCaffrey is known for the big play, yet the Packers were able to hold him to a long of just 18 yards. This season it has been nearly impossible to stop McCaffrey but the Packers were able to slow him down and not let him dictate the game.
Red Zone Defense and Turnovers
It’s really been a roller coaster ride this season for the Packers’ defense but against Carolina they did what they’ve done all season, which is get red zone stops and force timely turnovers. Their fumble recovery at midfield led to a touchdown and an interception in the end zone by Tramon Williams ended a Panthers’ scoring drive. Then on Carolina’s final possession, they were able to keep McCaffrey from scoring. Bend, but don’t break.