Monday, September 12, 2016

Packers (1-0) Beat The Jaguars in Jacksonville, 27-23

It wasn't the easiest win, as the Green Bay Packers fell behind in the first half, re-took the lead before halftime, and were able to match field goals with the Jaguars in the second half to hold onto the win. As I was watching it, I was thinking about how it would have been a huge let down to lose to an 11 loss team in what might be their easiest road game of 2016. But the Jaguars are better now and one game isn't going to make or break their season.

An early INT by Blake Bortles turned out to be his only turnover of the game, and some big pass plays to Allen Hurns, Marcedes Lewis, and Julius Thomas led their offense. Anyone who plays fantasy football knows the Jaguars have some legitimate offensive weapons. Also the Jaguars have spent a lot of money on their defense in free agency (mostly to Malik Jackson) and used a Top 5 draft pick on Jalen Ramsey (who's feeling a bit cocky at the moment). If they had put more pressure on QB Aaron Rodgers (zero sacks) then they might have had a shot at shutting down the Packers' offense. But they couldn't stop Eddie Lacy (4.4 ypc) and Rodgers finished with the 4th highest QBR in Week 1 (so far).
Packers offense: So above is one of the plays that'll be on the short list for plays of 2016. His offensive line played great, though they would have been even better with former LG Josh Sitton. Bob McGinn had a great article about how the front office blew it with Sitton, though his loss is still not going to be a season changing mistake. His replacement, LG Lane Taylor, probably had the lowest grade of their five lineman according to PFF by surrendering three QB hurries (I recall one play when ILB Paul Posluszny ran right past Taylor) but his run blocking appeared strong and he didn't allow a sack.

WR Jordy Nelson was back, and Rodgers again focused in on his top three receivers. This time it was Davante Adams joining Nelson and Cobb, and those three were targeted on 24 of his 33 attempts (73%). It was a big surprise that TE Jared Cook was only targeted twice, and he might have been a help early in the game when Rodgers struggled to get the ball to Nelson and Adams (3 straight punts in the first half). Rodgers barely played this preseason, Nelson didn't play at all, and everyone's timing looked bad as they shook off the rust in the first half. I was ready to give up on Adams after he missed two catchable passes on 3rd downs but he redeemed himself later.

Mike McCarthy started the game by calling a lot of running plays, but that faded as the game went on, and Lacy ended up with only 14 carries. I'd like to see a lot more from Lacy but he'll probably just remain a complementary weapon.

Packers defense: Speaking of players who barely played this preseason, the defense featured two of them, with only one of them being a success story in Week 1. The success was ILB Jake Ryan, who was held out for most of the preseason with a hamstring injury. Against Jacksonville, he was second on the team with 7 tackles and he was very active in the middle of the field, usually tackling T.J. Yeldon for a short gain. The entire defense did a great job against the run (Jags only had 1.8 ypc) and Ryan was a big part of it. The bad news was Morgan Burnett, who had an impressive stat line (9 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss), but committed two penalties (both led to 1st downs) and he looked a step slow in coverage. While Ryan was able to play in their final preseason game, Burnett's back injury (which kept him out for most of the preseason) might still be bothering him.

The front seven did a great job against the Jaguars offensive line. Bortles did a good job of getting the ball out as quickly as he could before the pass rush came, but the Packers still had 3 sacks and shut down the Jaguars' running game. Nick Perry was great against the run and he spent a lot of time in the Jaguars' backfield (1 sack, 2 tackles for a loss) while Clay Matthews missed a couple tackles and Julius Peppers didn't record a single stat. Joe Thomas grabbed the lone INT and he was in on the final stop to end the game. It was a quiet game for Mike Daniels (hopefully it wasn't an SI cover jinx) but that was mostly because he faced a bunch of double-teams.

The secondary was a mixed bag. Burnett struggled and CB Quinten Rollins allowed a TD pass. On the other hand, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was great and Damarious Randall had the top defensive grade from PFF. I was worried about Randall after a bad playoff game and a poor preseason (in limited playing time) but he's bounced back.

Next up is a big game, Sunday Night Football to open the Vikings's new US Bank Stadium on September 18.

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