Three 'Rs' Carry Pack to Opening Win: Rodgers, Randall and Run DPosted:Sep 12th, 2016 3:06 am
The Packers' season opener looked and felt like a week 1 game on many levels. There were inexcusable communications errors that caused delay penalties and blew up a key late third down play near the goal line. But as we've learned over the last quarter century, when you have a Hall of Fame quarterback, you always have a chance to make up for those transgressions.
This wasn't a vintage Aaron Rodgers performance by any means. After an early pick gave the Pack a short field and the first score of the game, the offense bogged down until the middle of the second quarter. Rodgers and McCarthy pushed tempo and went no huddle and finally Rodgers and the offense looked like the Packers again.
The signature play of the game came near the end of the half, when Rodgers somehow got the ball off while being hauled to the ground. The catch by Davante Adams was just as breathtaking, making up for an earlier drop. The play gave the Pack a 21-17 lead at the half. A half where the offense seemed mostly sluggish and out of sync--yet they had 21 points on the board.
Defensively, the run defense was outstanding all afternoon. The Pack caught a break when Chris Ivory was a late scratch. They completely shut down YJ Yeldon, who averaged less than two yards per carry. The pass defense was less effective. We know they'd be in for a test against the talented Jaguar receivers. But they contained Allen Robinson for most of the day. Damarius Randall gets the credit for that. He was outstanding all afternoon and was the highest rated corner by Pro Football Focus in the early games.
Quentin Rollins did not fare as well in the slot, giving up big plays to Julius Thomas and Alan Hurns. He got pulled in favor of Ladarius Gunter for a while but came back in and made a couple of plays late. Yes, the Jags came to life late, but the Pack was without Sam Shields, who suffered another concussion.
It was a big day for both Clay Matthews and Nick Perry--both registered sacks and two tackles for loss. Morgan Burnett also shined, with a team leading nine tackles, along with a sack and a tackle for loss. They did give up a 300 yard passing day, but kept Bortles off balance for most of the day. They need to get better at giving up big plays--there were too many that went 20+ yards.
They allowed the Jags to convert their first four fourth down attempts--as Gus Bradley was aggressive all afternoon and knew his team needed to score a lot of points and keep Rodgers off the field. But they stopped the Jags' final fourth down play and that sealed the game.
The Packers will have to be better next Sunday night if they want to spoil the Vikings' opening night party. But they won't face a passing attack like the Jags and if they stop the run like they did in the opener, the Vikes will be hard-pressed to keep up with the Pack.
Lane Taylor passed his first test, as did rookie Blake Martinez and punter Jacob Schum (though his final effort was nearly disastrous). It wasn't always pretty, but the Pack did what champions do: find away to win a road game. Week 2 figures to be the toughest game of the season. Let the hype begin.