Pack vs. Skins: Timing Is Everything

You've probably heard a few times this week that the Pack has never reached the playoffs when opening 0-2. That 0-2 teams reach the post-season just 12% of the time. Then you look at this week's opponent: Washington, defending NFC East champs, and you think, 'be careful.'

But as we fellow NFL devotees know, usually it's not who you play, but when you play them. And the Packers are fortunate to get the Skins and their explosive young QB, Robert Griffin III in week two. If you watched RGIII on Monday night you saw that he's nowhere near the all-purpose threat he was before tearing his ACL in the playoffs.

After being held out of the preseason, Griffin and his offense was beyond ugly in the first half against the Eagles. They were better in the second half, but clearly RGIII, whose game is based on his ridiculous athleticism, is not going to beat you with his legs--yet. He may get back sometime this season, but it won't be this weekend and that's all we care about.

The timing thing swings even further the Packers' way when you throw in the shorter work week for Washington. It's the first of two straight weeks where the Pack takes on a team that played the previous Monday night. We'll take it.

So with Griffin's running less of a concern, the Packers need to contain Alfred Morris, last year's surprise (he finished second to AP in rushing yardage). The offense will revolve around him if the Pack allows it. He only got 12 carries on Monday night, primarily because the Eagles jumped out to a big lead and Washington was playing from behind. The Pack needs to show that the effective job they did stopping the run in San Francisco is a sign of things to come this season.

Slowing the Skins' passing game should be easier than what the Packers faced last Sunday. For one thing, safety Morgan Burnett should be back (if his hammy holds up). We saw what he means to this defense. The team has nothing behind him--it's the most worrisome position on the roster. Washington's skill guys are below average: Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss are veteran, if unspectacular. Young Leonard Hankerson had a strong game on Monday, but his hands are James Jones pre-2012-like.

Offensively, Aaron Rodgers should have a big day. I thought the offensive line did very well in pass protection against the NFL's best front seven. David Bakhtiari gets a solid 'B' from me and should be better this week. Washington's front seven is also their strength. Linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are stars in the making--joining veteran leader London Fletcher in a unit that can cause havoc. But their secondary is atrocious and is still wondering what hit them in the first half on Monday night. De'Angelo Hall is still serviceable, but Josh Wilson is below average and their nickel back, David Amerson is a rookie. Their safeties are even worse than ours: they start a rookie sixth rounder and a converted safety.

Success through the air should bring with it the coming out party for Eddie Lacy. The Eagles' up-tempo breakneck speed offense carved up the Skins' defense on the ground and the Packers would love to have similar success with their talented rookie. Lacy was nervous last week, and who wouldn't be, but ball security is mandatory or we will be force fed more James Starks.

The biggest concerns heading into this one is the team's health. As I write this, Burnett looks to be on track to play. He practiced on Thursday and seems to be ready. But we thought that was the case last week, as did the coaches. When he was a late scratch, the defense wasn't ready for it. Josh Sitton is dealing with a back injury (maybe that's why he was flagged three times) and Jermichael Finley injured a toe early in the game. Both missed some practice time this week, but both appear likely to play. If these three guys are limited or out, it swings the scales closer to even.

But I like much of what I saw agains the Niners. The team was physical, angry and ready for a boxing match. The penalties and turnovers need to go away and I think they will, with the team playing in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field.

It will be a record crowd for the home opener (with the new seats) and the Packers will be ready to show what the 2013 version is all about. And as far as week two is concerned, timing is everything.

Packers 31 Skins 17


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