The Packers did what they should have done last night. They dominated a team at home that was less talented than they were, more beat up than they were and less prepared than they were. While it is very satisfying to beat the Minnesota Vikings 42-10, the game was not perfect by any stretch. The defense was dominant. Dominant in a way that I haven’t seen them in a long time. When the Vikings were forced to throw the ball the Packers pass rush was absolutely relentless and the talented Packers secondary played very well. Julius Peppers appears to be a revelation and a typical Ted Thompson signing.
All that considered, Tim Masthay punted 6 times. The Vikings were able to slow down Green Bay’s passing attack with effectiveness that I did not anticipate. All of the Packers offensive players that were interviewed intimated that they were not satisfied. At full strength, these two teams are a little bit closer, but not much. Vikings fans will complain about losing Peterson and Bridgewater, but the bottom line is that the last time they won in Lambeau Field without Brett Favre at quarterback was 2005. The Vikings don’t actually win this game, like ever.
The biggest concern for me coming out of the game is the health of Datone Jones. The ankle injury that he suffered during training camp last season may have hindered his play (although I think most defensive linemen should get a redshirt year). If he is lessened by this injury yet again, it could deter the progress he’s made this season, especially as a pass rusher (5 hurries, 2 hits, 1 sack). Not only was Jones coming on, but with the severity of Josh Boyd’s injury unkown and the uneven performance turned in by UDFA Luther Robinson last night the Packers are thin on the defensive line. Johnny Jolly is the only reinforcement left on the street with Ryan Pickett going to Houston.
1. Eddie Lacy- Lacy was back to his demoralizing self from a season ago. He averaged 8.1 yards a carry on just 13 totes. He brutalized Viking defensive backs after receiving quality run blocking (from everyone but David Bakhtiari) for the first time this season. Lacy created 3 missed tackles on brute force alone and of his 105 yards 50 of them were after contact. If this Eddie Lacy is “back”, the Packers offense is going to be a top 3 unit in the league and the team will win the division.
2. Pass Rush/Pass Rushers- Julius Peppers is just a phenomenal player. He really screws up what the other team is trying to do every single week. I always wondered why he had expressed for so long that he wanted to play OLB in a 3-4 and this is apparently why. Peppers is Pro Football Focus’s #1 pass rusher from the OLB position. His 11 hurries, 4 hits and 2 sacks playing just 70% of the defensive snaps have been precisely what the doctor ordered not only for Peppers, but also for the Packers. Not surprisignly, dropping a 6’7″ power forward that runs like a gazelle into coverage is working out as well. The rest of the pass rush was impressive also, registering 7 sacks, 10 QB Hits and 17 QB hurries. Mike Daniels is force of nature.
3. Corey Linsley- Linsley was dominant on Thursday. He didn’t allow penetration up the middle on pass pro and he would not let Linval Joseph off of him in the run game either. By the second half he was disregarding Joseph after strong blocks and moving up to the second level. If you really want to see what the difference is between the Packers and the Vikings, and between Ted Thompson and Vikings GM Rick Spielman, watch 5th round pick Corey Linsley, making $466,000 school Minnesota’s prized free agent Joseph, who they paid 5 years and $31 million to this offseason.
1. Datone Jones Injury- Jones was really coming into his own as a pass rusher. His injury might hurt and already paper thin defensive line. If he is out for the season or an extended period of time, I would hope the team would at least consider a veteran option. I personally would hope that that veteran option was the fresh legs of Johnny Jolly.
2. 3rd Down Offense- the Packers were 4-11 on 3rd down against one of the worst 3rd down defenses in the NFL. Considering that the team was effective in running the football, one would think they could have gotten themselves into some 3rd and manageable situations. The passing game seemed to be either dump offs or vertical routes, which is fine, but not as efficient they were against Chicago and not as efficient as they need to be going forward.
3. What in Theeeee Hell Was Clay Matthews doing in the Game Late in the 4th Quarter???????!!!- Seriously.