What a game Sunday was. Even with the result not being in Green Bay’s favor, let’s take a moment to revel in the fact that we actually kept pace with (arguably) the best team in the league.
That’s long enough, now to Green Bay’s bright spots.
Jaire Alexander can flat-out ball
What an absolute showing from Alexander, coming back from his time on the shelf with his injury. Following Brandin Cooks across the formations is one thing, but being successful at it is another.
While three catches for 74 yards doesn’t scream that he was shut down, having eight targets and only reeling in three does. Alexander blanketed Cooks for the vast majority of the game, following him to the slot and then pressing him on the boundaries when needed.
Alexander’s potential is sky-high, and this game helped showcase that type of excitement Packer fans have had since we used our first-round selection on him. He finished with seven solo tackles and five passes defended, a huge game for the rookie out of Louisville.
He continues to make plays, enough to the point where he is being trusted to opposing team’s number one receivers, a huge responsibility for a first-year player. Not requiring safety help over the top either means he has a lot of support from Mike Pettine, opening up more coverage options.
Offensive line kept us in the game
Only allowing three sacks in the entire contest was a huge way that the offensive line contributed to keeping this game close. Giving Aaron Rodgers time in the pocket to dissect the Wade Phillips-led defensive unit put the pressure on the defense and took it off Rodgers’ shoulders.
They constantly handled both Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh throughout the contest, bottling those two up in the trenches and holding their own against the Rams’ front four. While they did allow three takedowns of Rodgers behind the line, the pressure never forced any sort of an offensive turnover.
Specifically, Byron Bell at right guard had his hands full the most in the contest, and even though his gaffe of allowing the rush to get through and force the late second quarter safety, he overall held his own against both Donald and Suh. He was able to last long enough, whether by himself or with help, for Rodgers to look downfield and move the ball.
Aaron Jones finally receives lion’s share of carries
Why did it take seven games into the season for Jones to take on lead-back responsibilities?
Regardless, his 12 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown was a bright spot that helped alleviate Rodgers shouldering the entire offensive attack. With the Rams being stout against the run, Green Bay used their size and physicality advantage to push the trenches forward and give Jones some room to work.
Jones was slippery at times Sunday, but he overall was a north and south runner and plunged forward, not dancing in many situations. His long run of 33 yards was his touchdown, which marked the longest run of the season for Green Bay.
If Mike McCarthy has finally decided to listen to Rodgers’ public plea, as well as a plea from the fans, then hopefully his 12 carries Sunday marks the least amount of touches he garners for the remainder of the season.
Jones brings the sense of allusiveness to the backfield, and his pass-blocking abilities also are key to him earning more snaps. While Jamaal Williams is more of a physical back, Jones’ elusiveness is more suited for a regular back role.
Also as a side note, Ty Montgomery’s decision to take the ball out of the end zone was definitely a questionable one, to say the least. However, I can definitely say I understand why he did it. Trying to jumpstart the offense for their two-minute drive starts with a good kick return, and just settling for a start at the 25 sometimes just doesn’t work.
I understand that take will get a bunch of flak and criticism, but I stand by it. While it obviously cost us the chance to win the game on that drive, I don’t think I can blame Montgomery for taking that approach.
Want to talk about what could have been, what happened or why you think my take on Montgomery is utterly wrong? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!뿓뿓뿓
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