Coming into tonight’s affair against San Francisco, the team is reeling and in big-time need for a win to right the ship. Having struggled to a record of 2-2-1 through the first five games has all the makings of another down year.
However, facing off against a 49ers team that lost its two top offensive playmakers, QB in Jimmy Garoppolo and RB Jerick McKinnon, earlier in the year has the makings for a statement game for Green Bay.
Here are some areas that if capitalized upon, could lead to Green Bay’s third victory of the season.
Shore up the pass defense
Even though backup QB CJ Beathard is under center, the passing attack has still been the team’s go-to offensive plan. One of Beathard’s biggest weapons is tight end George Kittle, who leads the team in multiple offensive categories.
Across the season, Kittle has established himself as the security blanket for both Garoppolo and Beathard, as he has received, at a minimum, four targets per game. While only having one touchdown on the season, Kittle’s lone presence in the lineup is enough for Mike Pettine and company to gameplan to limit his impact.
Kittle is marked as questionable for tonight’s tilt with a knee injury he suffered last week against Arizona, but he practiced throughout the week. With other offensive contributors not suiting up Monday, Kittle could become the number one receiving option.
Pressure Beathard early and often
Our coverage skills, while lacking, have the potential to become borderline shutdown if the unit’s health improves and the self-inflicted wounds disappear. While these are both areas that have plagued this unit for years, Pettine has the squad the most focused it has been for a while.
Pettine’s beautiful blitzing schemes and gap-filling techniques could provide fits for Beathard, who has one turnover in every game he has attempted a pass in, with two-plus mistakes in half of those games.
Out of Iowa, Beathard is no world-beater, but he is capable of running Kyle Shanahan’s offense well enough to keep the team in games.
Today marks his third start of this season after Garoppolo’s injury, so Beathard is still fresh into breaking out of the game-manager mold as a backup. Look for Pettine to mix in box safety schemes (hopefully finally using Josh Jones how he needs to be) and alignment quirks to throw Beathard off his game.
Can we please use Aaron Jones more?
What is it going to take to finally get Jones the snaps he deserves? Even Aaron Rodgers has been asking (through the media) for an uptick in Jones’ snaps.
While game flow determines the usage of the three backs that comprise the cheesehead committee, Jones is the most well-rounded of them. His vision, cutback and north to south running abilities all make him stand out from both Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams.
Not to be overlooked, Jones is solid in the passing game, as his pass-blocking skills (which for some reason were brought into question lately), as well as his hands, makes him the prime candidate for 30+ snaps per game.
With the injuries we have faced in the receiving core lately, by using Montgomery out into the slot makes for a matchup nightmare against a less-agile linebacker, a tactic that McCarthy should be using more to help take some pressure of the not-so-healthy number 12.
Williams is the downhill, between-the-tackles physical specimen that knows how to finish runs. While he has some receiving capability, he should earn snaps in short yardage and goal-line situations.
These are just some of the more important facets going into tonight’s contest that if Green Bay can capitalize on, then they have a good chance to come away with a win.
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Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23