Green Bay Packers

First Four Thoughts on the Green Bay Packers

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It’s the fourth installment of our First Four Thoughts series. The Green Bay Packers will provide us with weekly content that we’ll deliver to you as our first four thoughts of the week every Monday.

We’re looking at tonight’s home opener against the Detroit Lions. Both teams are coming off losses and looking to rebound against a familiar foe. We’ll address tonight’s game and more in today’s First Four thoughts.

1. What aspect of the game you will be paying attention to tonight?

Mike – Rodgers playing in rhythm. Rodgers exhibited some of the bad habits he built up over the past decade last Sunday after winning the 2020 MVP due to playing in rhythm and taking what the defense gave him.

On several plays (including the Packers’ first 3rd down), Rodgers held the ball and tried to force throws that weren’t there when he had open receivers underneath who could have run for extra yardage.

Getting Rodgers back to delivering the ball on time and in rhythm with the offense will help get the unit back on track.

Isaac – I highlighted it during my key matchups on Saturday. In order for the Green Bay Packers’ defense to have success tonight, they’ll have to rally to the football and limit production after the catch. It’s likely that the Lions will lean on the short passing game as they try to find an identity on offense. Though, the short-game may in fact be their identity.

2. Which issue from Week 1 are you most confident in the team addressing quickly?

Mike – The pass protection was overall solid last Sunday, but sprung some untimely leaks. I expect rookie Josh Myers to continue to take control of the line calls and add to his situational awareness as he records more snaps under his belt.

Fellow-rookie Royce Newman had his ups and downs at RG but should polish his game as the season rolls on. His whiff in pass-pro against Cam Jordan was due to being overaggressive in his pass set.

The unit may need 2nd year G Jon Runyan Jr. to step in for starting LG Lucas Patrick if the latter misses the Week 2 game due to still being in concussion protocol, but Runyan played well when pressed into duty last season.

Isaac – The Green Bay Packers have three of the most talented defensive backs in the division and arguably the most talented in the league in Jaire Alexander. They’ll need to solve the problem at CB2 but I have faith Joe Barry and Jerry Gray will invent a formula that works for this defense. The passing defense could get back to form as soon as tonight.

3. What problem are you worried will be a season-long issue?

Mike – We’ve only seen one game but the Green Bay Packers didn’t do much to prove that this year could be different than the past decade on the defensive side of the ball. No, the offense didn’t do them any favors and left them sucking air as early as the 2nd Quarter, but the defense allowed Saints receivers too much cushion. They let Jameis Winston get comfortable in the pocket, and missed tackles when they had chances to force negative plays.

The unit should look better once the offense gets on track and the team can play with a lead, but you’d like to see this side of the ball at least provide resistance to opposing offenses.

It’s early, but so far this unit doesn’t look much different from the defense of the past two seasons. My main concern here is that even though they changed Defensive Coordinators, the personnel did not change much outside of the addition of De’Vondre Campbell and rookie 1st Round pick Eric Stokes.

Any improvements will need to come from within, and the unit also suffered another setback losing Za’Darius Smith to IR due to the back injury he struggled with during the preseason.

Isaac – Inside linebacker has and will continue to be the least talented position group for the Green Bay Packers. There isn’t a player on the two-deep that the Packers can trust to defend both the run and the pass with consistency.

De’Vondre Campbell was a solid preseason pickup and will assist against the run, but he’s a liability in pass coverage. Meanwhile, the green-dot-wearing second-year-starter Krys Barnes has yet to develop into a consistent defender. Potential is there but Barnes needs work.

The question is… can Joe Barry do what Mike Pettine couldn’t? Develop a defensive scheme that can mask the Packers’ deficiencies in the middle of the field.

4. Which player are you expecting a big game from vs DET

Mike – I’m going with my Wolverine, Rashan Gary. Gary was close to a couple of sacks in Week 1 and will be facing touted rookie Penei Sewell and 2nd year Matt Nelson on the edges, so I expect Rashan to make his share of plays, especially in what should be additional snaps with Za’Darius Smith going on IR this week.

Isaac – Aaron Rodgers. He’s clearly in the midst of a midlife crisis but Rodgers is the reigning MVP and one of the most gifted players in the NFL. He’ll bounce back to ‘his version’ of average tonight.

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