The Green Bay Packers may try to downplay the importance of their Week 2 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, but the win stands as an important early moment in the team's 2015 campaign. Already, the Packers hold a tiebreaker over their chief conference rival, as well as a two-game lead in the overall standings. The Seahawks will recover from their 0-2 start, but the task of overcoming their deficit to the Packers appears herculean. Part of that is the tremendous play of the reigning MVP.
The offense can survive any injury so long as it has Aaron Rodgers
Heading into the weekend, the Packers were already down top wide receiver Jordy Nelson and starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga. Early in the game, they lost Eddie Lacy and Davante Adams to ankle injuries, though Adams did return during the second half.
And it didn't matter. For the second straight week, Aaron Rodgers carved up his opponent with surgical precision, completing nearly 76 percent of his passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns. The throw he made to Richard Rodgers for a two-point conversion during the fourth quarter stands out more than any play he's made in the young season, as the quarterback fit the pass into a window barely larger than the ball itself.
Green Bay doesn't get any reprieve in the coming weeks. The Kansas City Chiefs (Week 3) and St. Louis Rams (Week 5) possess two of the top defenses in the league. Still, as long as the Packers have Rodgers under center, they remain the favorites to win those matchups.
Dom Capers shows why the Packers kept him
After the departed Shawn Slocum, perhaps no Green Bay coach has received more vitriol from fans than defensive coordinator Dom Capers. When the veteran assistant has produced top defenses (2009 and '10), many choose to ignore his contributions. When his units have faltered (2011, 2013), "#FireCapers" begins trending on social media.
However, despite some of the inconsistent defenses he has overseen, there's a reason the Packers have never publicly waivered on their commitment to him. Against top-flight opponents such as the Seahawks, Capers usually finds a way to give his team the chance to win. The defense held All-Pro Marshawn Lynch to just 41 yards on 15 carries, and yielded few big plays in the passing game. Seattle's offense never got in rhythm for more than a few plays, and the scoreboard reflects those struggles.
Looking beyond the Seahawks, the defense has improved at several key spots. Nose tackle B.J. Raji looks better than he has since his second season. His rejuvenation, along with the pending return of Letroy Guion, should help Green Bay improve its run defense. As for its pass rush, perhaps the answer has already declared itself.
Jayrone Elliott has earned a bigger role on defense
While Rodgers rightly garners most of the credit for Sunday night's victory, second-year linebacker Jayrone Elliott helped secure the win. The linebacker played a pivotal role in both of the team's takeaways, confirming that the prowess he displayed during the preseason was no mere anomaly.
Jayrone Elliott's breakthrough performance may never have occurred without Lacy's ankle injury. When Green Bay's star running back went down, James Starks was forced into fulltime action on offense, taking him off of special teams. The Packers elected to use Andy Mulumba to fill Starks' void, which meant fewer snaps for the third-year linebacker on defense. Those snaps, of course, went to Elliott, who used them to intercept a pass, force a fumble another and generally wreak havoc on Seattle's offense.