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Packers Friday Musings: Aaron Rodgers poised for big day against battered Lions CBs

Standout performances from Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams in Week 1 provide optimism against a diminished Lions secondary.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

In one of his finest performances in many years, Aaron Rodgers was in vintage form in the Green Bay Packers’ opening-week win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Showcasing a more mechanically sound approach and the ability to make throws in anticipation, Rodgers was as precise as some throws previously outlined from 2010. On a day in which a Tom Brady-Drew Brees matchup stole headlines and Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson garnered Player of the Week honors, Rodgers provided uplifting optimism of his own to the Packer faithful.

Could Rodgers follow up a highlight-reel Sunday with another this week?

Today’s article looks into that possibility and other notable musings after the first week of the 2020 campaign.

A banged-up Lions defensive backfield could give Aaron Rodgers an even better statistical output in Week 2

Heading into last week’s game against Chicago, Detroit was already minus Jeff Okudah, its top draft pick at corner, with a hamstring ailment. By the end of the game, the Lions had additionally lost Desmond Trufant and Justin Coleman from the unit. While there is some optimism that Trufant and Okudah may play versus Green Bay, Coleman was placed on injured reserve.

The Packers’ offense should be licking its chops in light of the Lions’ injuries. Both Trufant and Okudah still figure to be on the mend heading into the game and this would be Okudah’s first NFL action in itself without any preseason snaps. While Darryl Roberts earned a standout performance from Pro Football Focus in relief, even he sat out of practice earlier this week. That leaves the Lions with Tony McRae and Amani Oruwariye as the team’s healthiest cornerbacks. Despite the loss, Detroit held the Bears to just two conversions on 11 third-down opportunities last week, but Rodgers and the Packers offense could prove to be tougher customers.

If injuries were not a factor, the Packers would still appear to have a favorable matchup on paper with Davante Adams against any of Detroit’s corners. Allen Lazard also made some key receptions against the Lions in last year’s regular season finale. Rodgers’ Week 1 showing was phenomenal, but his Week 2 performance could be even more eye-popping.

Will the Lions’ fourth-quarter collapse linger another week?

A Chicago-dominated 21-0 final quarter of play doomed the Lions last weekend. Offensively, Detroit put itself in four third-and-long situations of between seven and 17 yards and averaged only a little over four yards per pass. Not surprisingly, the Lions converted on just one of those attempts and Matthew Stafford’s passer rating, according to Pro Football Reference, was an abysmal 34.7 in the fourth quarter. Adding to the offense’s woes was a game-turning drop at the goal line from D’Andre Swift on the second-to-last play of the game that would have secured the victory.

Although secondary injuries played a role, the Detroit defense did not fare much better in the fourth. The Lions forced the Bears into only two third-down situations and were burned for three passing touchdowns. While Stafford’s rating was low, Mitchell Trubisky’s was a whopping 143.3 and the only blemish was a long sack on one of those third downs. Perhaps the only rating better than Trubisky in the fourth quarter last weekend may have been that of Aaron Rodgers (157.7).

If the Lions cannot put their troubling final 15 minutes behind them quickly, the Packers could pounce quickly in the first quarter.

Krys Barnes surprises and makes some splash plays in debut

Injuries were plentiful for the Packers before and throughout Week 1 and one of the bigger storylines that emerged in Sunday’s win against Minnesota was the undrafted rookie Barnes. The odds makers in Vegas could not have predicted Barnes to make the Packers’ first tackle of the 2020 season. While he still only logged 15 snaps, Barnes was named the starter over Oren Burks (who only received three snaps himself) and Ty Summers (zero defensive snaps).

It was not a bad debut for Barnes, who was elevated to the active roster from the practice squad only one day prior. In fact, he had a role in four tackles on the very opening drive. On a couple of plays over the course of the game, the rookie showed the ability to read and react in bringing down Dalvin Cook. The first was an early-drive stop in which Barnes shredded a block to stop Cook after a chunk-yardage run play that may have otherwise reached the end zone. The second play, late in the third quarter, was perhaps the most impressive when Barnes shot into the backfield to stop a short pass to Cook for a loss.

When Kamal Martin was lost to injury recently, it was expected that Summers and Burks would benefit the most from the lost snaps. In retrospect, it was Barnes who received the most action at inside linebacker outside of Christian Kirksey and the one who may prove most valuable over the first half of the season.