Early Bird Breakdown Week 3 – Green Bay @ Washington
Hello and welcome back to Early Bird Breakdown. It’s the third week of the season and the Packers travel for their first road game to Washington. Before diving into the breakdown, let’s look at the recap for last week’s thrilling game.
Last week the Packers hosted their division rival Vikings and going into the fourth quarter it looked like even hobbled Rodgers was going to lead the Packers to a key victory. However, the Vikings came storming back and the defense made some mistakes to let the Vikings back into the game. Then, the Packers made a game winning interception only to have it called back by penalty which breathed new life into the Vikings. Able to capitalize and tie the game the Vikings sent the game into overtime. However, the Vikings (now former) kicker Daniel Carlson missed three field goals, two of which in overtime, and both teams left the game disappointed coming away with a tie.
Packers’ Offense vs Washington’s Defense:
Washington’s defense is off to a good start through two games, however one of those games was against Arizona which will make any defense look good. Last week Washington held the Indianapolis Colts to only 281 total yards but the Packers offense should not be too concerned. Last season Washington was the 21st ranked total defense and that was before trading arguably their best corner (at least according to PFF rankings) to Kansas City for quarterback Alex Smith. While corner back Josh Norman very well could cause issues for Davante Adams to have a big game, no one else on this defense could cause a matchup issue and Rodgers should have open options in Jimmy Graham, Randall Cobb, and the continued emergence of Geronimo Allison.
The Packers to start the season have not been able to really establish the run, tied for the seventh-fewest rushing yards in two games. The Packer offensive line should get a decent push for running backs Jamaal Williams and returning starter Aaron Jones from his suspension, but if they are able to capitalize we will have to wait and see.
Packers’ Defense vs Washington’s Offense:
Washington’s biggest play maker is tight end Jordan Reed and in the previous two games the Packers have played Washington he has been pretty well kept in check, being held to only 97 total yards between both games and only one touchdown. If Green Bay can hold him again, the defense will be in a very good spot to prevent Washington from scoring.
However, Reed should be given more looks with new quarterback Alex Smith who throughout his career tends to prefer throwing to his tight end as his number one option even above the number one wide receiver. Smith has been impressive these last few seasons and likely will not turn the ball over so the Packers cannot rely on big play turnovers, they will need to consistently make stops on third down or else risk being worn down by Washington.
Washington also has a new running back to go along with their new quarterback, one who has caused problems for the Packers for many years: Adrian Peterson. Peterson certainly has lost a step at his age but still is a difficult to bring down back. The offensive line for Washington is one of the better units in the league, so Mike Daniels and company along the front will need to be focused to disrupt the runs and force Alex Smith into longer third down scenarios by stuffing Peterson.
Washington will be at messy conditions, with expected showers and an expected 62 degrees at kickoff.
On a talent standpoint, Green Bay should be favored in this game as on paper they have more talent offensively and defensively and I think it will show. Washington was held to only 9 points by the Colts last week and while I expect them to find the endzone this week, they will not make frequent trips. Conversely, while the Redskins defense has been impressive and they will be able to likely remove a receiver of choice with Josh Norman, I am not confidant they have any way to cover Graham or the other pass catchers Green Bay can mix, match, and throw at the defense. The Packers should come out on top of this one and Green Bay wins 27-17.As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University