I’m still trying to catch my breath 2 days after the Green Bay Packers exhilarating win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. As with any close game there was a lot of good, and some bad, so let’s take a look at the biggest studs and duds of Week 1:
According to Pro Football Focus, Randall was the highest rated CB during the early games on Sunday. He played lights out, and had the biggest pass breakup of the game against Allen Robinson in the end zone on the final drive. Randall looks to be building off a very good rookie campaign and could be part of a very prolific duo with Sam Shields.
Rodgers is almost always a stud. His TD run was a thing of beauty (and the belt is back!), and his TD pass to Jordy was a perfect throw. However, every time I think A-Rodg couldn’t do anything more ridiculous, he throws a perfect pass while getting dragged to the ground. That TD changed the whole momentum of the game, and he managed to teach a lesson to rookie Jalen Ramsey about talking smack to a two-time MVP.
This is a grade based on expectations. Taylor was put in a no-win position, with many Packer fans concentrating on the LG position on every run and throw. He wasn’t spectacular, but he wasn’t a disaster either. He kept Rodgers clean, and he did his best in the run game.
Side note: Could the Packers stop running to the left side? David Bakhtiari was getting pushed into the backfield the entire game.
The first drop was bad, but I have to credit a guy who has received more than his fair share of criticism for stepping up when he had to be doubting himself. He reeled in a few big catches, the biggest of which was on the Rodgers miracle throw. Adams actually was able to separate himself from coverage, which will be a key going forward.
Nick Perry and Datone Jones started their retribution tour in a big way. The word bust has been thrown at both these guys, but they started to show what they can do when healthy. Both were keys in run stopping, and both made plays to push the pocket on Bortles. Clay Matthews was his usual terrific self, making plays all over the place. He did over pursue once to let Yeldon get loose, but I’ll take that play as a trade off for all the times he stopped the play in the backfield.
Rollins is a hugely important part of the Packers defense, and he was getting beat all over the field. There aren’t too many times when the Packers will face off against a receiving corp as good as the Jaguars, but there were too many times the 2nd year man got beat on the first move. If the Sam Shields injury news is bad, I would expect LaDarius Gunter to get the snaps on the outside with Rollins staying in the slot corner. If he continues to struggle it could be a long year for the Packers defense.
It’s difficult to be too harsh on a guy for one play, but that’s life as a specialist in the NFL. He shanked the most important punt of the game, and if the Jaguars had scored to win the game, at least some of the loss would have fallen on Schum’s right foot. He needs to step in the next game, or his time in Green Bay may be cut very short.
4th Down Defense
The defense was pretty good on the first three downs, but just could not get off the field in the 4th quarter. While the execution was not great, some of the blame has to fall on Dom Capers. He consistently brought the house on the blitz when his CBs were getting exposed. I like the blitz, but he needs to vary the playcalling to drop back into coverage occasionally (especially when four man rushes were still getting to Bortles). All is forgiven because they came up big when it counted the most. The all-out blitz certainly seemed to affect the playcalling on the final Jaguars offensive play, but if it wasn’t for a great effort to bring down Allen Hurns the Jags drive would have continued.
I have very high expectations for Burnett, and he played one of his worst games in the last few years. The pass interference call on 3rd and long was indefensible because there was no chance the receiver was getting any yards after the catch. He missed a few tackles and was caught out of position another few times. Burnett may be the single most important player for this defense to reach it’s potential.
Andrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a host of the Pack-A-Day podcast and a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig