THAT was more like it!
Well, mostly anyway.
The offense looked much more like itself with Aaron Jones scoring four touchdowns and gaining over 100 total yards. Playing at Lambeau Field without his late father in attendance for the first time, Jones crafted a beautiful tribute and showed why he belongs in conversations about the best running back in the league.
Aaron Rodgers was sharp as well, completing 22 of 27 passes and throwing four touchdown passes (three to Jones). It was a performance much more indicative of the offense of 2020, a welcome sign after the dud in Week 1.
Defensively it was a much different story, at least in the first half. Jared Goff (Jared Goff!) victimized Kevin King multiple times and a non-existent pass rush made things all too easy for the Detroit offense and the Lions actually had the lead at halftime 17-14.
Joe Barry’s group turned it around and cranked the pressure up and got two turnovers that helped seal the game. While that could be interpreted as a positive sign, head coach Matt LaFleur revealed after the game that it was he who told Barry to either up the pressure and go into coverage as whatever they were doing wasn’t working.
An offensive minded head coach telling his defensive coordinator how to, well, coordinate the defense is probably not a good sign and will be something to monitor going forward.
On the positive side, Eric Stokes finally replaced King and the rookie had multiple pass breakups including a critical fourth down. Guess we could say King has been dethroned.
Meanwhile, the Packers are at 1-1 and should feel much better about themselves overall. Through two games, the NFC North appears weaker than expected and that includes Green Bay thanks to a porous defense. They still look like the cream of the crop, and to borrow a phrase from a former coach, everything is still in front of them.
That said, the defense will (once again) be this team’s ultimate undoing unless they can find a stronger pass rush for four quarters. If not, the offense will have to bail them out.
It’s 2011 all over again. Let’s just hope for a better outcome.
The good news? Stokes looked more than competent. Throwing the rookie in the fire during training camp looks like it is paying off, even if the Lions were missing their best receiver. Same for Jon Runyan Jr, who may have taken away a starting job from Lucas Patrick.
Jones will be playing with a heavy heart all season and even wore a chain containing his father’s ashes under his uniform. That chain was lost but eventually found after the game, for those wondering. Packers fans should be grateful he’s on their team.
The defense rose to the occasion in the second half and even special teams looked at least average. They have a decent punter in Corey Bojorquez and Kylin Hill provided a spark in the return game.
While the win over Detroit showed several steps in the right direction, the game Sunday night in San Francisco will be the true barometer of how good this Packers team really is.
Know where it ISN’T illegal? Wisconsin. Strong beer doesn’t make us flinch. Only the Packers’ defense does that.