Green Bay Packers v. Lions: Final Thoughts Heading into Week 2

Sep 20, 2020; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) looks to throw a pass in front of Detroit Lions linebacker Reggie Ragland (59) during the third quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 20, 2020; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) looks to throw a pass in front of Detroit Lions linebacker Reggie Ragland (59) during the third quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s time for one last in-depth preview of the Green Bay Packers’ upcoming Monday Night matchup with the Detroit Lions. I’ve taken a look at the big questions facing the Packers, X-Factors, and I’ve written several articles that look at specific elements of this game, but now it is time for my Final Thoughts.

– The Packers’ receivers really struggled to get open last week against New Orleans–the Saints’ cover-2 defensive scheme really gave Green Bay fits. This week, however, will hopefully be much different. Detroit lost CB Jeff Okudah to a season-ending injury, leaving them with Amani Oruwariye — who allowed five completions on eight targets and 16.4 yards per catch against San Francisco — as their top corner and rookie Ifeatu Melifonwu will be opposite of him. We need to see these Packers receivers find success this week, and they absolutely should.

– Unlike last week, we should see a heavy dose of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. For starters, a lack of a run game was a big reason why the offense struggled so much against the Saints, but on top of that, this Lions’ run defense can be taken advantage of. In 2020, the Packers rushed for 379 total yards against Detroit in two games. Last week against the Niners, the Lions allowed 5.7 yards per carry. Run the ball.

– While the Green Bay Packers receivers should find quite a bit of success, the Lions are incredibly thin at the receiver position–and with that, I hope we see the Green Bay cornerbacks playing more aggressively and closer to the line of scrimmage. They should not fear this Lions receiver unit.

– With that said, you can expect a lot of TJ Hockenson, D’Andre Swift, and Jamaal Williams. The trio combined to catch 24 passes on 31 targets for 218 yards with two receiving touchdowns. Fans should also be prepared for a heavy dose of Swift and Williams on the ground.

– With the Detroit running backs and tight ends playing such important and active roles, the Packers will need LBs De’Vondre Campbell and Krys Barnes to play well. While I saw some ridicule of the LB play against the Saints, I thought that these two were fine. Campbell and Barnes will never form a great duo, we know that, but they were steady.

– Can we get Kenny Clark some help yet? What a rough showing for the defensive front last week–Keke, Lowry, and Lancaster all struggled mightily. I’m hoping we see more TJ Slaton in Week 2 on early downs.

– The Detroit offensive line gave up 28 pressures last week to San Francisco, according to PFF ($$). This is good news for a Green Bay Packers defensive front that gave Jameis Winston all day to throw.

– As I recently wrote, positional depth can be tested quite quickly in the NFL, and we see that at edge rusher with Za’Darius Smith on IR. Of course, Preston Smith and Rashan Gary will see a majority of the snaps, but the Packers will now be relying much more heavily on Jonathan Garvin, Chauncey Rivers, and LaDarius Hamilton.

– And with Za’Darius Smith out, it is now Rashan Gary’s time. Gary had the second-most sacks and pressures on the team in 2020, despite playing far fewer snaps than Preston Smith, and he led the team in pressures against New Orleans, per PFF.

– When the Green Bay Packers lose under Matt LaFleur, it is ugly, but they also bounce back as well. Under LaFleur, the Packers have never lost back-to-back games, and they win that following game by an average of 14 points. Aaron Rodgers also has very impressive numbers following a loss.

– To put it simply, it’s time for Eric Stokes to see more snaps–eight just isn’t going to cut it. At this point, we know who Kevin King is as a football player, but the coaches keep putting him in similar positions that clearly don’t set him up for success. It’s time for a change.

– Now, just because we all want more snaps for Stokes doesn’t mean that King is going to be on the bench. Whether you like it or not, he is going to be a part of the defense this season.

– Just for the fact that last week’s defensive performance was so abysmal, I’m sure many of us expect that side of the ball to improve against Detroit, but it’s important to keep in mind that it is still a new system, and it will take some time. That, of course, doesn’t mean that performances like the one we saw against the Saints is acceptable, it absolutely isn’t, but this unit also isn’t going to turn around all of a sudden either. With Swift, Williams, and Hockenson, the Lions will find some success on offense.

It would appear that the Green Bay Packers will enter this game a bit thin at safety. Vernon Scott has already been ruled out, while Darnell Savage is listed as questionable.

– Lucas Patrick is also listed as questionable. He spent the week in concussion protocol but did return to practice on Saturday as a limited participant. If he can’t go, I imagine either Jon Runyan will take his place, or perhaps the Packers choose to move Billy Turner inside and start Dennis Kelly at right tackle.

– This Lions defense allowed 8.0 yards per play against the 49ers, which was the second-most in football during Week 1.

– The Week 1 final was the Lions putting up 33 points and losing to San Francisco by only one score. However, a majority of those points came when the game was already out of reach. At about the eight-minute mark in the third quarter, Detroit trailed 38 to 10 and would score two touchdowns in the final two minutes of the game.

– It certainly looks like this Lions team is going to fight all 60 minutes under Dan Campbell, and the Green Bay Packers need to be prepared for that.

– According to PFF, the Lions played primarily cover-3 against the 49ers, and last season, Aaron Rodgers was one of the best at picking apart that coverage. However, Detroit’s defensive coordinator, Aaron Glenn, coached under Dennis Allen in New Orleans for several years, so we may see more cover-2 from the Lions against Green Bay since the Saints were so effective with it.

– The Lions’ pass-rush didn’t generate much in terms of pressures against San Francisco.

– Hopefully, we see this Green Bay Packers offense get back to their ways — and I think we will — with pre-snap motion and more involvement of Randall Cobb and Amari Rodgers. This is an important part of the offense that keeps defenses off-balance.

– The Green Bay Packers bounce back very well under LaFleur; as we’ve already discussed, this game is at home, and they are the more talented team. The defense may still take some lumps, but the offense should control this game.

All stats courtesy of ESPN Game Summary unless otherwise noted