Every time the Green Bay Packers lose a game, there is always a despondent feeling among fans. There’s an intense focus on the negative and how it will impact the team going forward. It’s only natural after all plus the coaches will be doing the same thing.
There are also positive things to take away from a defeat, even one as lopsided as the one Green Bay suffered Sunday night. There are silver linings in everything bad.
The silver lining for the Packers Sunday night was their top draft choice, cornerback Kevin King.
At a time when the Green Bay defense was getting torched by the Atlanta Falcons, King rose up in the first meaningful NFL action of his career and held his own.
In fact, he shut down the Falcons’ offense when they came his way. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was 0-4 when targeting King, and the rookie even broke up two passes — one intended for Julio Jones, the same player who embarrassed Green Bay’s defense in January.
That’s the exact reason the Packers drafted King and the team is thrilled with the early returns on their selection. He is the tall, athletic cornerback the Packers need to keep up with the likes of Jones, and King clearly aced his first big test. Head coach Mike McCarthy has said “(King) has earned the right to potentially play more.”
Don’t let the word “potentially” in that quote fool you. He’s going to get his chance, especially if Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins continue to struggle. According to Pro Football Focus, the third-year duo was targeted 11 times and allowed 10 catches for 148 yards on Sunday.
The thought was that King would get his shot with the starters at some point in 2017, but this early, especially after a loss to the defending NFC Champions? Not many though that would happen. NFL coaches will always play their best players and King is slowly working his way into that category on the Green Bay defense. Rollins and Randall are helping King’s case as well, but King earned more time by playing well, more so than being given it due to poorly performing teammates.
Of course, first impressions are important and skeptics will point to King’s struggles in the preseason.
Don’t forget that he is a rookie and a rookie taken in the second round too. He’s going to take his lumps and won’t turn into Richard Sherman overnight. Learning and adapting to the speed of even average NFL receivers, never mind the likes of Jones, takes time. Packers fans looking for the immediate second coming of Charles Woodson will be disappointed, but they should be patient.
King faced what will likely be the toughest test of his rookie season and played well. While it would be great to talk about his play in context of a victory, the final score should not take anything away from how well the rookie from Washington played.
He will only get better as the season progresses, and Randall and Rollins should be on notice.
The King is coming.