We have the good, the bad, and the ugly from the Green Bay Packers Week 1 win over the Minnesota Vikings. And there was a lot of good.
While the Green Bay Packers won by nine points, from about the second quarter on the game, never felt that close. Led by Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, the offense dominated the game, and although the defense could have been better, per usual, they came up with stops and big plays when they needed it most.
As I did after every game last season, I’ll highlight the good, the bad, and the ugly from Green Bay’s performance. And we are kicking off the 2020 season with a lot of “good” as the Packers drop 43 points on the road to begin the year 1-0.
That was a vintage Aaron Rodgers’ performance that we witnessed on Sunday. The tempo was good, he took what the defense gave him, he knew when to take his shots downfield, and of course, there were a couple of “wow” throws as well.
When it was all said and done, Rodgers would finish the game 32/44 for 364 yards, with an impressive 8.3 yards per attempt and four touchdowns. After a “slow” start to camp for Rodgers, he went back and watched some film of himself from the 2010 season – you know, the year they won the Super Bowl – and whatever adjustment he made is clearly working.
From the time the game began to when the clock hit zero in the fourth quarter, Davante Adams was wide open and had his way with these young Viking cornerbacks. Adams hauled in 14 receptions – tying a franchise record – while totaling 156 receiving yards at 11.1 yards per catch with two touchdowns. The Rodgers-Adams’ connection was unstoppable.
The offensive line
No, the Green Bay Packers didn’t have to face Danielle Hunter, but given the injuries and the position changes that had to take place, they performed extremely well.
Over the course of the game, the Packers would lose Lucas Patrick and Lane Taylor, while Elgton Jenkins would move from right tackle to left guard, and Rick Wagner, along with sixth-round rookie Jon Runyan were called upon off the bench. As a group, the offensive line didn’t give up a single sack, gave Rodgers plenty of time, and created some big pockets for him to throw from.
Down 7-3, after failing to find the endzone of back to back red zone trips, Jaire Alexander turned the tide of the game as he came away with the safety off a corner blitz. It was a beautifully executed play that Minnesota never saw coming. Alexander would also add an interception a little while later.
Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Valdes-Scantling had two brutal drops, one of third down and another on a shot play, but he had some big plays as well. Meanwhile, Allen Lazard caught everything thrown his way. While much has been made about the lack of weapons the Packers have at receiver, the duo would catch 8/10 passes for 159 yards at nearly 20 yards per catch with two touchdowns.
I wouldn’t say the defense was awful by any means, but they weren’t good either. As they did on numerous occasions last year, they came up with some big plays, including Alexander’s safety, interception, and a fourth-down stop, along with forcing some key punts.
However, they struggled to slow the run, gave up three points before halftime that never should have happened, and the game was much closer than what it should have been after they allowed some easy scores in the fourth quarter. This unit has some buttoning-up to do over the next week.
Early red zone performance
Fortunately, things improved, but after putting together three solid drives where they were able to march the ball down the field, the Packers had only six points after three trips into Vikings’ territory. This includes being stuffed at the one-yard line, which is something we saw a few times last year as well.
As he should be, after the game, Matt LaFleur said that he was “very, very, very upset” about Green Bay’s early red zone performances. For as good as the offense was, there’s always something to improve upon.
I mentioned earlier the injuries that the Green Bay Packers had along the offensive line. This included a knee injury to Lane Taylor that sounds like it could be season-ending, or at the very least, keep him out for a significant amount of time. While Lucas Patrick left the game with a shoulder injury, although the severity is unknown at the time that I’m writing this. All of a sudden, the Packers’ offensive line depth is getting thin.
In addition to Taylor and Patrick, we also saw Kenny Clark leave the game with a groin injury. Clark has emerged as one of the best interior defensive linemen in the game, and for a Packer run-defense that has its issues, they simply can’t afford for Clark to miss significant time. Let’s hope for speedy recoveries for all.