Beginning the Twenty-Two Week Journey to Minneapolis:
After a long offseason program that brought many changes to the 2017-2018 Green Bay Packers roster, opening day finally arrived yesterday afternoon, and with it a fresh new start filled with dreams of winning a Superbowl, and the opportunity to realize that dream over a twenty-two-week journey. The sun shined brightly at Lambeau Field yesterday signaling this new beginning to a season, and optimism of completing the twenty-two-week journey to Minneapolis, Minnesota for Superbowl fifty-two.
The regular season opener pinned two familiar foes against each other for a possible NFC Championship game preview. Both the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks had been anxiously awaiting this opening week 1 clash to see where they measured up with an opponent of like-minded Superbowl aspirations. As expected, this highly anticipated opening day contest did not disappoint, as it was filled with drama, controversy, and a late season intensity.
Clipping the Seahawks Wings:
The first half saw both teams feeling each other out and both offenses shaking off the preseason rust. Seattle showed why their defense has been one of the leagues best units during the Pete Carrol era, and the Packers showed a much-improved defense that looked more aggressive and stout.
The first half saw the Packers control the time of possession on offense. However, due to the inconsistent play of the offensive line, a key turnover, and a lack of third down conversions, their offensive efforts were stifled and failed to provide them with first half points. The Green Bay defense proved to be the stars of the game and dominated Seattle’s offensive line, by keeping the Packers in the game despite the offenses slow start.
In the third quarter, the tide of the game turned with Mike Daniels’s forced fumble of Russell Wilson, which Kyler Fackrell recovered at Seattle’s 6-yard line. The Packers, on the very next play from scrimmage, scored a touchdown, with a 6 yard run by Ty Montgomery, which gave the offense a much needed shot in the arm. The offense used this turnover as a spring board, scoring a touchdown, a field goal, and engineering a six-minute drive that ended the game in the victory formation, capping off a hard fought 17-9 Packers victory.
3 Early Take aways from Week 1:
1. The improved defense:
The Packers front seven looked dominate in the week 1 win against the Seahawks, showing intensity, energy, and the ability to get to the quarterback. The ability to rush and apply pressure to the passer took pressure off of the secondary by minimizing the time they had to cover the opposing receivers. Mike Daniels and Nick Perry shined in the winning effort, by penetrating the Seahawks offensive line, stifling the run game, and putting Russell Wilson on the ground. Perry and Daniels accounted for 3 sacks, 6 quarterback hits and 4 tackles for loss.
2. Justin Vogel and the coverage team:
Aside from the opening kickoff of the game, The Packers coverage team held their own against the dynamic Seattle Seahawks special teams unit. A key reason for the success of the coverage team was the outstanding play of Justin Vogel. Vogel netted a 43.8-yard average on 5 punts but gave the coverage team time to cover and contain the Seahawks return game with the superb hang time that he displayed on his five opportunities.
3. The strong finish on offense:
After the first half inconsistencies on the offensive side of the ball, the Packers finished strong on their last four offensive possessions scoring two touchdowns, a field goal, and a game icing six-minute drive. Despite an inconsistent first half, the Packers offense was still able to move the ball and dominate the time of possession. The Packers were able to accumulate 26 first downs and amass 370 yards of total offense against one of the leagues highest rated defenses.
Wrapping up Week 1:
The Packers showed that they can compete and defeat the best that the NFL has to offer. The defense showed signs of improvement that the coaching staff can build upon moving forward. The key to prolonged defensive success is to continue to emphasize both the fundamentals, as well as their consistency in the pursuit of the ball and the pursuit of the quarterback.
The offense can take many positives from the strong week 1 finish and continue to work on their continuity and consistency on third down efficiency to be able to sustain more drives which will lead to more positive results next week in Atlanta. The eventual return of Brian Bulaga should help to stabilize the offensive line and more practice and game reps should give Aaron Rodgers and his offense the opportunity to steadily improve and familiarize itself with its new members throughout the coming weeks.
Star of the Game:
????Mike Daniels: 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2.5 tackles for loss, 7 tackles (5 solos)
Looking Ahead to Week 2:
There is not a reason to believe that the Packers upcoming forecast for their rematch in Atlanta should be nothing other than bright. The defense has shown vast improvements from last year, and if the offense can build upon the strong second half performance against the Seahawks, I expect a similar week 2 outcome.——————
David Michalski is a recent college graduate from Princeton New Jersey who has been a life long Green Bay Packers fan. Like the great Vince Lombardi, he values God, family, and the Green Bay Packers in that order. You can follow him on twitter at @kilbas27dave