The Green Bay Packers defeated the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday in what ended up being a decisive 20-3 win. Even while missing Rudy Ford, Darnell Savage, Eric Stokes, and with Rasul Douglas being traded, the Packers still did more than enough in the secondary to guarantee a win. A big part of that defensive showing was lockdown coverage by seventh-round rookie Carrington Valentine.
Some fans had a good feeling about Valentine’s potential back in August during training camp, and that potential may already be coming to fruition.
Valentine vs. the Rams
Valentine recorded 3 pass breakups against a cast of very talented wide receivers, including veteran Cooper Kupp, and the record-setting rookie Puka Nacua. Of course, Brett Rypien was in at QB for the Rams on Sunday, but that doesn’t take away the coverage Valentine played, nor the valuable confidence that he gained from such a dominant performance.
Valentine’s teammate, All Pro CB Jaire Alexander, had some encouraging words after the Packers’ dominant defensive outing. “Man, 37 played like a top-tier corner in the league and it’s exciting to see,” said Alexander, “I can’t be more happy to play alongside somebody like that.”
Carrington Valentine had an allowed passer rating of 39.6 on 8 targets against the Rams. This means that throwing the ball into Valentine’s coverage on Sunday netted Brett Rypien the same passer rating as if he would have simply spiked the ball into the ground on every play.
What does this mean going forward?
Carrington Valentine may well be a very talented cornerback who is on his way to a great career. He shares a common story with his teammate Jaire Alexander with both of their breakout games coming against the Los Angeles Rams. Going forward, what could it mean for the Packers if he continues to play at a high level?
It would certainly mean that Eric Stokes doesn’t need to be rushed back from injured reserve, not that that was a real possibility anyways, with the Packers employing arguably the most conservative medical staff in the NFL. Nonetheless, it means they have three solid corners for now with Alexander, Valentine, and Keisean Nixon.
Valentine’s breakout could also mean that Nixon gets to be saved more for his role as a returner, especially once Stokes returns. Nixon is electric as a punt and kickoff returner, but has been used more as a nickel cornerback this season.
The last thing Valentine’s breakout could mean for Green Bay is the possibility to move on from more veterans. Obviously Valentine needs to put more on tape before this possibility is considered, but if he continues to play at this level, one shouldn’t expect Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes to both be rostered by the Packers for the next several years, despite any success they may have going forward.
Overall, having a lot of good cornerbacks is a good problem to have, and with the Rasul Douglas trade earning the Packers a third-round pick in next year’s draft, they can now see what they have in their talented young rookies.——————
Zack is a college student and cheesehead from California. When he’s not in class or writing, you can find him talking about the Packers on Twitter at @Zack_Upchurch.