Jordan Love’s first start is in the books and the Green Bay Packers hope that will be all for now.
As fans await news of a potential Aaron Rodgers return this Sunday afternoon against the Seattle Seahawks, they can take some comfort in the Packers’ defensive performance against Kansas City. In many respects, Green Bay was the better team last weekend and a few special teams miscues, along with first-game jitters from Love, prevented the Packers from stealing a win in a tough road venue. However, the Packers will get a chance to right the ship when they return home.
In fact, the team’s recent home-field advantage over Seattle in wintery conditions should give fans plenty of optimism. Today’s musings recap some of those recent successes, while reviewing a few notable individual performances from last week’s game.
Lambeau Field, in the cold, has been a positive theme for the Packers against the Seahawks
The early forecast for Sunday in Green Bay is calling for morning snow flurries and a high of 39 degrees. While the weather could certainly change between now and then, it figures to be a colder day at Lambeau Field when kickoff arrives in the mid-afternoon. In recent history against Seattle in cold weather games played at home, the Packers have had plenty of memorable success.
Most recently, the Packers defeated the Seahawks, 28-23, in the divisional round of the playoffs during the 2019-2020 season. But the Packers also rolled to a 38-10 victory in December 2016, a 48-10 win in December 2009, and a 42-10 postseason win in 2007 on a snow-filled field. They also won their previous January games against the Seahawks in both 2006 and 2004, the latter involving the infamous Al Harris pick-six. Playing in Seattle has, of course, carried its wide variety of negative memories for Packers fans. But in the colder months at home, Green Bay has had a fairly long stretch of wins.
The Packers and Seahawks are waiting to find out for sure if either or both of their starting quarterbacks will be able to suit up on Sunday. But will the frozen tundra provide Green Bay with its home-field advantage once again?
In a loss, Chandon Sullivan held his own against the Chiefs’ passing attack and pre-snap motion
The final pass play of the Packers’ loss to Kansas City last week featured a brilliant improvised throw from Patrick Mahomes to Tyreek Hill for a game-clinching first down. On the play, a shifty Hill was able to cut and slash enough to get Chandon Sullivan off balance and create separation after several seconds of coverage. While an unfortunate result, the play should not overshadow the performance Sullivan had last Sunday.
For most of the game, the Packers’ slot corner held Hill in check. The All-Pro receiver finished with just four catches for 37 yards on a whopping 11 targets. While he was not the only one responsible for slowing Hill, Sullivan played a large role against him and fellow receive Mecole Hardman. Some of his best plays occurred outside of coverage itself.
Sullivan helped in run support, with one of his standout plays coming toward the end of the third quarter on an end-around toss to Hill who sprinted to the right side. Sullivan was not fooled by pre-snap misdirection movement and took away the boundary from Hill, forcing the speedster back toward the middle of the field and an eventual multi-yard loss. Before halftime, Sullivan’s pre-snap instincts showed themselves again. On fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line, Hardman went in motion across the line, only to sprint back to the right side in similar fashion as Davante Adams’ touchdown that fooled the LA Rams and Jalen Ramsey last postseason. Lined up across from Hardman, Sullivan initially followed Hardman but recognized the play and was able to communicate with Adrian Amos to switch assignments. The switch caused a slight delay from Mahomes on the snap and a false start that resulted in a Kansas City field goal instead of a touchdown attempt.
Green Bay’s defense played very well last Sunday and its injury-riddled secondary, in particular, held up against a formidable passing attack. Sullivan was a large part of that effort.
Quick-hitter observations from last weekend...
- For the most part, the switch from JK Scott to Corey Bojorquez has been a positive one on punts. However, one unintended consequence of the swap has been the change in holder on field goal attempts. The lefty Bojorquez struggled mightily last Sunday to spin the laces on the ball. It has been an inconsistent kicking season and the blame is not all on Mason Crosby.
- Green Bay may have found a long-term contributor in fifth-round pick TJ Slaton, who was forced into extended playing time with Kenny Clark’s injury. Slaton’s energy is notable on the field as a defender, but his blocked kick added extra value on Sunday.
- The Packers have done a solid job lately on defense to force pressure up the middle in their pass rush. It has led to many uncomfortable moments for opposing quarterbacks and could be a key against Russell Wilson again this week, who often escapes through the middle. Clogging the interior of the line could lead to increased sacks for the edge rushers, particularly Rashan Gary who is coming off a great outing versus the Chiefs. Wilson’s injury could make him leery of taking additional hits.
- On a final special teams note, it will be interesting to see if the Packers make a change in punt returner this week or at some point soon. It has been a rocky road for rookie Amari Rodgers throughout the season, who has struggled to put together lengthy returns, muffed a few punts, and failed to fair-catch punts that have led to awful field position. Could Randall Cobb be in play?