Green Bay can’t let Aidan Hutchinson be a ‘game wrecker’
As already alluded to, while the Green Bay Packers offensive line has held up quite well in pass protection, they have not yet faced a player of Aidan Hutchinson’s caliber, and they are also dealing with injuries at the offensive tackle position.
What we know right now is that David Bakhtiari won’t be playing, which means Rasheed Walker will again be at left tackle. Zach Tom, meanwhile, is questionable with a knee injury. If he can’t go, then Yosh Nijman will be on the right side. It was in Week 18 of last season that Hutchinson gave Nijman fits, which eventually led to him being benched for Tom.
In three games, Hutchinson’s 19 pressures are the most at the edge rusher position, according to PFF. He also ranks 12th in PFF’s pass rush win rate metric. Along with lining up in the traditional edge rusher role, Hutchinson has seen more snaps inside this season as well. So, on obvious passing downs, we could see him as a stand-up pass rusher against Josh Myers or Royce Newman.
It’s going to be tough sledding on the ground for the Packers offense. There may be opportunities for the Green Bay offense to take advantage of matchups with the Lions’ boundary cornerbacks, but that’s going to require Love having some time in the pocket. If he doesn’t, well, then moving the ball at all in this game is going to be a massive challenge.
"“He is a game wrecker,” said Matt LaFleur. “The guy is all over the place. The energy he plays with. Shoot, he rarely comes out of the game. He sets the tone, I would say.”"
Packers vs. Lions Final Thoughts
– Tight ends have been targeted heavily against the Lions and found success. Could this be a Luke Musgrave breakout game? Against the Saints, he was targeted much more consistently throughout the course of the game rather than just early on.
– The practice squad elevations will tell us a lot about the cornerback position, with Jaire Alexander and Carrington Valentine both questionable. If both were to be out, that would leave the Packers with only two cornerbacks on the 53-man roster, meaning both Corey Ballentine and Kiondre Thomas would have to be elevated.
– If Jones can’t go, the Packers will have to sign Patrick Taylor to the 53-man roster since he is out of practice squad elevations. But even if Jones can play, I expect Taylor to be added to the roster at some point, given the important role he’s played on special teams and what he’s shown as a blocker on offense. You can read more about that decision here.
– Lions’ rookie safety Brian Branch has been excellent this season. We will see him matched up in the slot with Jayden Reed, not to mention that he has been very good in the run game, flying around the field and making plays.
– Defenses have thrown a lot of cover-1 looks at the Packers, trying to take away the run and basically daring the Packers to push the ball downfield. I do wonder if Detroit continues with that trend or because the Packers have struggled in the run game and have also been willing to push the ball downfield if the Lions deploy more cover-2 to limit the explosive pass play and force Green Bay to pick up yards on the ground.
– I’m getting into the weeds here a bit, but with De’Vondre Campbell out, the Green Bay Packers could elevate linebacker Kristian Welch for Thursday’s game. He has played nearly 900 special teams snaps in his career and could provide some depth in that regard, with both Isaiah McDuffie and Eric Wilson taking on larger roles on defense.