The Green Bay Packers (3-2) host the New York Jets (3-2) at 12pm CST in Lambeau Field tomorrow afternoon. The Packers look to get revenge against the teams of New Jersey after falling to the Giants last Sunday in London. Meanwhile, the Jets are winners of two straight, their last game against the Dolphins, defeating them 40-17.
There’s a lot of hype going into this game for Jets fans, as they finally feel they might have something with this 2022 team. An emerging group of young talent has found ways to be competitive and Jets Coach Robert Saleh appears to have the culture buy-in from his players Jets fans were hoping for. Speaking of Saleh, the best-man at his wedding was Packers HC Matt LaFleur. Speaking of Matt LaFleur, his younger brother Mike is the Jets offensive coordinator. So yeah, you could say this game has some very interesting connections.
In Packerland, things aren’t quite as optimistic. While fortunate to have a 3-2 record, the Packers disjointed play on both sides of the ball have been cause for concern. Thankfully, it’s only mid-October and the type of football that’s played now isn’t as important as the football being played in late November or early December. With that said, every game counts the same and the Pack are by no means a “sure thing” to make the playoffs, especially with the product we’ve seen on the field thus far. Packers fans are hoping for a bounce back at home to see the team improve to 4-2.
In order for that to happen, here are 3 keys to the game for the Packers to pick up a win.
1) Let the Defense Ball
The Packers have been underwhelming this year on defense given the before the season expectations. In their two true home games at Lambeau Field, they’ve allowed a combined 360 rushing yards at a 5.78 yards per carry clip. Those were against the Bears and the Bailey Zappe lead Patriots. Yuck Yuck Yuck.
In the secondary, anyone who’s watched has seen the poor communication and inability to cover crossing routes. Additionally, we’ve seen Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry align his star cornerbacks 10-12 yards off the line of scrimmage against practice squad wide receivers, among other things.
Last week against the Giants, it was Darius Slayton, Marcus Johnson, Richie James and David Sills who beat them. No offense to those players but they “beat” the Packers secondary of Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, Rasul Douglas, Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage. The whole team should be upset about that.
When I say “Let the Defense Ball”, I’m talking to Joe Barry and the coaches. As so many Packers fans and media members have stated, the coaching staff isn’t putting their players in the best position to succeed. Joe Barry owns a Ferrari but drives it like a Prius. The Packers “bend but don’t break” defense is limiting the on-field product. Green Bay’s defense has 7 first round picks on that side of the football. As Mark Wahle said on Andy Herman’s Pack-A-Day Podcast, it’s time to let the 1st round picks play like 1st round picks.
So what does it mean to “Let the Defense Ball” from a football standpoint? More man coverage and challenging receivers at the line of scrimmage. More blitzes. More safety in the box. A little more creativity and spunk.
All of this said, the players still need to own some of their poor performances. The secondary in particular needs to find a way to come together and play more as a unit, opposed to looking too much like individual pieces on a chess board. I don’t have the answers but they need to find them. They are way too talented to look as lackluster as they’ve been.
Instead of the Giants cast of receivers, the Packers welcome Corey Davis, Elijah Moore and Garrett Wilson. Those dudes can ball and the Packers need to prove to themselves more than anyone that they can hang. It’s time to let the secondary Compete opposed to sitting in zone coverage and reacting. If the Packers incorporate the above into tomorrow’s game, it will help secure a win.
2) K.I.S.S. on Offense
In other words, “Keep it Simple, Stupid”. For as poor of a performance the defense displayed last week, the Packers win that game if they just keep running the ball in the second half. 8 carries for 41 yards was the second half rushing stat line, compared to 12 carries for 53 yards in the first. Four carries doesn’t seem like a drastic number but it really is – especially looking at it situationally (i.e. – the Giants went on a 15 play, 91 yard, 8 minute touchdown drive to tie the game at 20 in the 4th quarter and the Packers responded with 3 straight incomplete passes on the ensuing possession).
The running game has worked in 4 of 5 games this season, the only exception being Tampa Bay. The Jets run defense is 15th in the league, average. Packers RB Aaron Jones might be playing the best football of his career right now, based on the eye test. If it ain’t broke, there’s nothing to fix and for whatever reason, the Packers tried to fix the unfixable in London, which cost them a win.
A lot of football is situational and I realize the Packers can’t hand the ball off every play. However, even on passing plays, the offense needs to go back to picking and choosing to take their shots and schematically creating more easy completions and positive plays, especially when they need them most. We knew going into the season that the offense would be a work in progress through out the year. We also cannot forget that Sammy Watkins and Christian Watson are still not playing. The Packers, right now, need to put their offensive line in a good position to be successful (especially against Jets DT Quinnen Williams) and to put it bluntly, be efficient. Efficiency should be the word of the week, if not the year, for the Packers offense. Don’t Plaxico Burress yourself and unnecessarily shoot your own leg.
The Packers use last week’s embarrassing loss as motivation all week and come out hot on both sides of the ball. They jump out to a 10-0 lead before the Jets score a touchdown to make it 10-7. The Packers kick a field goal and it’s 13-7 going into the half. In the second half, the Packers defense intercepts Zach Wilson which leads to points for the offense as the score goes to 19-7, go for 2 and convert. With a 21-7 lead, the Jets are forced to be more pass-happy and eventually fail a 4th down attempt in Packers territory. The Packers add a late field goal in the 4th quarter while the Jets finish the game with a late, inconsequential touchdown to make the final score:
Packers 24 Jets 14——————
Alex grew up in a family of Chicago Bears fans in the suburbs of Chicago but was always a Packers guy. Alex\'s AIM name when he was in elementary/middle school was PackerAlex. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee and you can follow him on twitter at @Alex_Mayer93.