The Green Bay Packers’ offense did not look particularly sharp in their 22-0 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, but there are reasons for optimism moving forward. It appears that the unit has found its #4 wide receiver, as rookie Marquez Valdes-Scantling stepped up his snap count with Randall Cobb inactive for the game. He may have only caught one pass, but it was indicative of his impressive skill set and will hopefully earn him some more opportunities in the future.
Meanwhile, with a bit of a banged-up cornerback group, the Packers turned to defensive back Jermaine Whitehead for a hefty number of snaps on Sunday, particularly with him lined up as a slot corner. Whitehead has continually increased his role on this defense and is starting to play a role similar to the one Micah Hyde had in Green Bay — part safety, part slot corner, and occasional dime linebacker. That versatility should continue to get him on the field even as Josh Jones has returned from injury.
Here’s a look at the playing time from Sunday.
OFFENSE (76 plays)
Aaron Rodgers 76
Once again, Rodgers looked a bit improved over the previous week in terms of his mobility. He ended up finishing the game with five rushes for 31 yards, including a long of 15. He appears to be feeling better with the knee, or at least it is not giving him too much trouble when he moves around in and out of the pocket.
As far as his passing numbers, Rodgers was pedestrian by his standards, missing a few throws that he typically makes in his sleep. He finished the game just 22 for 40, with 298 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. That was good for a passer rating of just 76.9.
Aaron Jones 29, Jamaal Williams 28, Ty Montgomery 20
Sure, Jones got the plurality of the snaps among the three backs, but Packers fans continue to clamor for more snaps and carries for the Packers’ most elusive runner. Jones carried the ball 11 times for 65 yards and a score, adding one catch for 17 yards on a screen pass. By contrast, Williams also had 11 carries, but had less than half of Jones’ yardage with 27. Montgomery’s big play was in the passing game on a wheel route that went for 43 yards.
Davante Adams 76, Geronimo Allison 56, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 54, J’Mon Moore 11
With Randall Cobb out, MVS got the start and clearly demonstrated that he is the #4 receiver at this point. The Packers used Adams in the slot a lot, and he finished the game with eight grabs on 14 targets for 81 yards. Allison fought through a couple of ugly drops but racked up 80 yards on six catches. MVS’ only catch was a gorgeous out-and-up route for a 38-yard gain. However, he drew Rodgers’ ire when failing to come back and attack the football on a short route that was a dropped pick-six. Meanwhile, Moore played sparingly, only seeing the field for a snap or two prior to Allison leaving the field with a possible concussion.
Jimmy Graham 54, Lance Kendricks 35, Marcedes Lewis 17
With no Cobb, the Packers finally did use a little more 12 personnel, but they largely did so with Kendricks lined up in the backfield as a fullback — or motioning him into that alignment. He had another bad drop on a target that should have gone for a first down, ending the day with one catch for five yards.
Graham finally found the end zone on a short pass into the flat, and he caught half of his six targets for 21 yards. Lewis was not targeted all day.
David Bakhtiari 76, Lane Taylor 76, Corey Linsley 76, Byron Bell 76, Bryan Bulaga 76
The line did a largely marvelous job against a fearsome Bills pass rush that obliterated the Vikings’ line a week earlier. Bakhtiari in particular shut down Jerry Hughes’ pass rush moves, holding him without a sack and largely without pressuring Rodgers. The rest of the unit held up well also, despite missing starting right guard Justin McCray.
DEFENSE (58 plays)
Kenny Clark 47, Dean Lowry 36, Mike Daniels 35, Montravius Adams 5
If Clark isn’t a Pro Bowler this year, there’s something wrong with the system. He had another stellar game, including a forced fumble and recovery on a Josh Allen scramble. Lowry was active in the run game, while Daniels was his typical pocket-collapsing force. For one Sunday at least, this unit did not seem to miss Muhammad Wilkerson.
Clay Matthews 37, Nick Perry 33, Kyler Fackrell 26, Reggie Gilbert 25
For all the heat that Fackrell takes from Packers fans, he earned one of our game balls this week for a stellar performance. His three sacks on Sunday now give him the team lead ahead of Perry and Gilbert, who each have 1.5. Two of those came in the last three plays of the game with Buffalo trying to get on the board.
It was really the best performance from this group as a unit all season, though, as every one of these four players recorded at least a half-sack. Matthews led the way with five total tackles.
Blake Martinez 58, Oren Burks 20, Antonio Morrison 10, Korey Toomer 3, James Crawford 1
As usual, Martinez led the team in tackles with nine, including one of the team’s seven sacks plus another tackle for loss against the run and a second hit on Allen. Burks pitched in with three tackles on defense (plus one on special teams). The plan looks to be to continue bringing Burks along gradually, but expect him to continue to get more snaps as the season goes along.
Kentrell Brice 58, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 58, Jermaine Whitehead 39
Notable in his absence from this list is Josh Jones, who played only on special teams (16 snaps) in his season debut. Instead, the Packers used a lot of Whitehead as a slot cornerback, particularly when rookie cornerback Jaire Alexander missed time with a groin issue. Whitehead responded well, with his lone tackle coming on a sack of Allen on a blitz from the slot.
Clinton-Dix had an excellent game on Sunday, and he made one of the better plays in his career on his interception. He was aggressive in diagnosing a throw by Allen towards the sideline and attacked the football, coming up with the pick. Brice only had a pair of tackles, but one was a key stop in the run game on a third-and-short on the first drive of the game.
Tramon Williams 58, Josh Jackson 49, Jaire Alexander 37, Tony Brown 3
Alexander left for a period of time late in the game, but he was having a stellar contest and he recorded his first interception (that counts) late in the first half on a desperation heave by Allen. According to Pro Football Focus, Alexander was trageted seven times in coverage but allowed just one reception for a passer rating against of 7.7.
When Alexander left the game, Jackson shifted out to the boundary from the slot. He struggled a bit in this contest, getting flagged twice for facemask penalties. Still, he had a pair of pass breakups, including one marvelous play late in the first half along the right sideline.