The Green Bay Packers are 3-0.
That’s pretty awesome.
Matt LaFleur is streets ahead of the other first-time head coaches, helped in part by the impressive defensive additions general manager Brian Gutekunst scored this offseason. LaFleur is the only Packers head coach besides Vince Lombardi to open his tenure 3-0. That may just be a fun coincidence, but it’s still cool. You know what would be even cooler?
But to do that, the Packers must defeat the Philadelphia Eagles on a short week.
The Green Bay defense has carried the team through its initial three games, a rarity during the Aaron Rodgers era. Despite the domination of the defense, the quarterbacks the team has faced aren’t, like, good. This week, that changes, as Carson Wentz is significantly better than Trubisky, Cousins, and Flacco and provides a stronger challenge. Even with DeSean Jackson likely out, the defense has a tough opponent. Thanos will tell you balance is important, and in order for the Packers to keep winning, the offense needs to do its part. Thankfully, tonight’s game against the Eagles is the perfect chance for the offense to show its teeth.
The Packers offense has shown flashes of brilliance but hasn’t put in a full game yet. The first quarter against Minnesota showed what can happen when this offense is firing on all cylinders. Diverse formations, the illusion of complexity on display, healthy run-game balance, and of course some wizardry from Aaron Rodgers led to a beautiful 21-0 lead. But as the game went on, mistakes were made and the sky-high offense plummeted back to earth. Rodgers hard count TD against Denver was another example, showing peak Rodgers. This offense is getting better every week and is so close to glory.
After facing three stingy defenses in Chicago, Minnesota, and Denver, the Packers will now face a battered Eagles’ secondary, fresh off of a loss to Detroit. While Philadelphia has one of the most talented rosters in the league, injuries have not been kind to these birds. Star pass rusher Fletcher Cox has dealt with injuries and has been invisible. DTs Malik Jackson and Timmy Jernigan are out for the season.
The 2019 Eagles are the 22nd ranked pass defense and 20th overall DVOA, according to https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/teamdef/2019/. They also have had just two sacks.
Top cornerback Ronald Darby is out for tonight’s game, leaving Philadelphia with just three corners on the roster, none of whom have the same pedigree or experience. The Lions took advantage of this last Sunday, and Rodgers should be able to exploit these matchups. Expect Davante Adams, who’s been shadowed by top corners and often double or triple-teamed, to feast in this matchup. MVS’s speed should be put to good use.
While a short week means a simplified playbook, this week’s matchup is ideal to get young players like Big Bob Tonyan, Danny Vitale, and Darrius Shepherd some significant snaps. Utilize the physicality the Packers have stockpiled and keep Rodgers’ jersey clean for another week and this offense should do more than enough damage to earn the win.
Depleted It seems like a lifetime ago, but don’t forget that the Run the Table stretch in 2016 started against a Carson Wentz-led Eagles team. Let’s hope the team can channel some of that mystic energy and come out of Lambeau with their heads held high as a 4-0 team.Matt Hendershott is a Packers fan and Miller High Life enthusiast from Northwest Ohio. He has a Master of Arts in Media and Communication from Bowling Green State University. You can follow him on Twitter @MattHendershott.