With week 2 in the books and another division win for the Packers, there is a lot to unpack (no pun intended).
Will the offense get any better? Will the defense keep the pace? What can we expect for the rest of the season?
Let’s dive right in and see what Packers fans can learn from their Week 2 victory against the rival Minnesota Vikings.
Keep feeding Aaron Jones
Running back Aaron Jones needs to be given chances.
Last season, a point of contention for the fans was the lack of Jones’ use in the offense. He has proven he can carry the load, yet the running game was abandoned constantly. When it was used last season, he shared too many carries with Jamaal Williams.
Williams is fine in his own right, but serves the Packers better as a third-down and pass-catching back. Jones needs to be the workhorse in this offense and the Green Bay staff needs to be less afraid to use him.
In Sunday’s game against Minnesota, he already had five more carries than last year’s season-high. This is a move in the right direction, probably under the supervision of new coach Matt LaFleur. Possibly even under the insistence of Aaron Rodgers, who may want some of the pressure of carrying the offense alleviated.
Jones had 23 carries for 116 yards and one touchdown. He also caught four passes for 34 yards on the day. His highest rushing total last season also came against the Vikings, when he had 15 carries for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Keep in mind he did this against a very good Vikings front seven.
Hopefully, this game paints a very clear picture of the kind of things Jones can do if he is given enough opportunities. With Green Bay’s good offensive line he can continue to impress. Their first four games are against teams with great run-stopping abilities (Chicago, Minnesota, Denver, Philadelphia), but if the coaching staff can trust Jones the offense will thrive.
Just imagine all the things Rodgers can do if teams know they have to stack the box to stop the run. Let Jones run free, establish the run then watch the fireworks when Rodgers lets one loose.
Winning is good- being shut out in the 2nd half is bad
The Vikings have a stellar defense. Not as good as Chicago’s, but still formidable on all levels.
Questions have to be asked here. Were the Vikings simply not ready for the number of carries Jones would receive? Were the defensive backs unprepared for the new-look offense the receivers would be exhibiting? Or was Aaron Rodgers just being Aaron Rodgers?
All three of those things could be true in the first half. And whatever combination of those that were true resulted in 21 unanswered points, on one rushing and two passing touchdowns.
In the second half, however, the offense was pretty miserable.
The Packers managed just 100 yards of offense, while punting five times and fumbling once in the second half. That is a big come-down after 235 yards of offense in the first two quarters. They also scored three touchdowns (and fumbled once).
Much discussion was had after a poor offensive showing in the first game of the season against the Bears. Packers fans were promised an exciting new-look offense that would break out of the staleness McCarthy’s play-calling often exhibited. Those promises were not delivered upon against the stout Chicago defense.
But it seemed as if a switch had flipped during the first half on Sunday. Three touchdowns and 235 yards in a half are vintage Rodgers numbers. But it all came to a screeching halt after halftime.
Blame defensive adjustments, blame miscommunication, blame the play-calling, etc; but none of it takes away from the fact that the offense needs to show a killer instinct and deliver in all four quarters of a game.
Maybe the fact that the offense played well in half of the game instead of one quarter (as was the case last week) is a sign of progression. Maybe in Week 3 Packers fans will be treated to three or four quarters of spectacular play from that side of the ball.
Either way, the fact remains that the offense needs to finish the game. Super Bowl hopes are high in Titletown, and Rodgers and his crew need to put their foot on the neck of opposing teams to win in the playoffs.
Don’t worry about the defense- big plays happen
After surrendering only three points in Chicago during the home opener, expectations ran high. This defense seemed to be legitimate in a way Green Bay has not seen in almost a decade.
It was foolish to think, however, they would repeat the same feat against a much better Vikings offense.
The defense allowed two touchdowns and one field goal against a potent Vikings offense. This included a 75-yard rushing touchdown from running back Dalvin Cook. They also gave up a 61-yard completion to Chad Beebe and a 49-yard touchdown to Stefon Diggs.
But these kinds of breakdowns happen on the defensive side of the ball. It is truly inevitable. Someone may miss their spot, or take a bad angle on a tackling attempt, and the opponent is off to the races. Good defenses are made up of consistency and their ability to regroup. This unit has both.
Remember, in this game the Packers defense created four turnovers in the game. Two interceptions and two fumbles. The fumbles did come against the most fumble-prone player, not quarterback, in the league, but that is what great defenses do. They prey on opponents’ weaknesses.
The Packers delivered that and more. Do not panic because they gave up double-digit points. This unit is still for real, however early it is in the season.
Featured Image courtesy of Joshua Clark/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin via USA TODAY Sports
Check out Eli and Ben’s Podcast “Courtside Ramblings” on SoundCloud or iTunes — TGH Podcast Feed
“From Our Haus to Yours“