The offense put to rest (at least for the moment) any debate of whether the Packers’ roster improved after their 13-3 season. Lafluer had the Vikings off balance and running in circles, Rodgers was aggressive and accurate and the run game was efficient.
However, the defense’s 4th quarter performance was reminiscent of the 2016 Packers who gave up over 25 points per game. Jaire Alexander was the lone bright spot as his play in the first half was all offense needed to pull away.
I am going to go through each phase of the offensive and defensive side of the ball and determine whether that aspect of the Packers is due for regression or progression in week two.
Aaron Rodgers – 32-44 364 yards 4 TDs
Davante Adams – 14 receptions 156 yards 2 TDs
The arm strength that people say diminished in 2019 was back with a vengeance in week one, as Rodgers went 5-10 for 186 yards and two touchdowns on passes 20+ yards downfield. One important thing to point out from Rodgers’ performance was the inexperience of the starting corners for Vikings. Not to take away from Rodgers, but this is what a player of his caliber should do when their division rivals trudge out guys like Mike Hughes, Cameron Dantzler and Holton Hill as their starters.
Looking ahead to week two, Rodgers and Adams seem poised to repeat their dominant performances against a depleted secondary. Desmond Trufant and Justin Coleman are unlikely to play in week two, which means first-round pick Jeffrey Okudah will match up with Adams. The Lions played the most man-to-man coverage in 2019, and stifled the Packers in both of their matchups. The resurgent Rodgers will have another prime opportunity to attack the Lions man coverage and put up big numbers to his all-world WR.
It will take quite the performance to top his week one effort, but Rodgers’ ‘I told ya so’ tour continues in week two, and Adams is the main beneficiary.
Aaron Jones – 16 rushes 66 yards 1 TD
Tyler Ervin/Allen Lazard – 4 rushes 57 yards
The Vikings, trying to contain Aaron Jones, played the majority of week one with an eight-man box. The yardage totals for Jones and co. were not spectacular, but the five yards per carry was the catalyst for the offense. Ervin and Lazard had four rushes for 57 yards and four (4!) first downs. Not only were those rushes big gains, but they also helped slow down the pass rush and helped Rodgers interpret the defense pre-snap.
The Lions defense was stout against the Bears for three quarters before completely imploding. So, no one knows what to expect from their defensive unit in week two. I would expect them to load up against the run and make Rodgers beat their promising rookie over the top.
While the numbers were missing, the Packers rushing game was still really solid in week one. But, the Lions and Matt Patricia will look to control the game by limiting the Packers running game.
Jaire Alexander – INT, Sack/Safety
ZaDarius Smith – Sack
Rashan Gary – 2 QB hits
The defense settled in after surrendering a touchdown on the Vikings’ opening drive, allowing just three points in the next two and a half quarters. Jaire’s incredible first half gave the Packers the lead and they never looked back.
Then came the 4th, where prevent defense and the lack of Kenny Clark allowed the Vikings offense to rack up some statistics. Clark will miss week two and his absence will challenge the rest of the defense to step up.
Without Clark disrupting everything in the middle the Smith Bros’ job will be twice as hard. I expect Stafford and the Lions to move the ball through the air between the 20’s, but the Smith Bros and Gary will make some big plays to keep the Lions out of the end zone.
Christian Kirkey – 12 tackles
Krys Barnes – 7 tackles, 2 for loss
Dalvin Cook was his usual self in week one, and the Packers’ rush defense could not stop him. Undrafted rookie Krys Barnes and veteran free agent Christian Kirksey played admirably against the Vikings, but the Packers continually found themselves making plays on Cook downfield.
Without Clark to cause penetration I expect the Lions three-headed rushing attack, lead by Adrian Peterson in week one, to have success against the Packers.
Kirien is a big fan of the Packers, Beer, and Battlestar Galactica. You can follow him on twitter at @KirienSprecher.