The Green Bay Packers earned a 35-14 victory over the Chicago Bears on Thursday night, but injuries remained a major storyline as the Packers saw several notable players leave the field once again. Four players left and did not return: running backs Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams, wide receiver Davante Adams, and linebacker Joe Thomas.
The way the Packers adjusted to those injuries is illustrated in the snap counts, but the running back position is the most questionable group moving forward. Both Montgomery and Williams are likely to miss some significant time, which may necessitate the acquisition of another tailback to back up Aaron Jones and Devante Mays.
Meanwhile, poor play by third-year corner Damarious Randall appeared to land him on the bench through the second half, a week after it became clear that the Packers do not trust Quinten Rollins as a slot corner either. It has been a brutal few weeks for the team’s top two draft picks from 2015, but it is at least encouraging that the team has been able to plug in rookie Kevin King and second-year pro Josh Hawkins and maintain decent coverage on the boundary.
Here is how the snaps broke down on Sunday, courtesty of the NFL’s official stats.
OFFENSE (55 plays)
Aaron Rodgers 52, Brett Hundley 3
Rodgers ceded one series to Hundley late in garbage time, as the Packers had established a three-touchdown lead with six minutes remaining in the game. Rodgers had few big gains in terms of yardage, averaging just 6.9 yards per attempt, but that was due in part to the short fields afforded him by the defense’s four turnovers. All told, he went 18/26 for 179 yards and four scores.
LT Lane Taylor 55, LG Lucas Patrick 55, C Corey Linsley 55, RG Jahri Evans 55, RT Justin McCray 55
For the third game this year, the Packers’ starting five made it through a game without any player missing a single snap during the game. The challenge has just been to find a starting five that works and can stay together, given the injuries to David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga.
Taylor deserves kudos in particular, as he admitted after the game that he had taken just one rep at tackle in his life before this week — back in his sophomore year at Oklahoma State.
Aaron Jones 30, Aaron Ripkowski 13, Jamaal Williams 12, Ty Montgomery 5
Montgomery left on the first series of the game, officially with a chest injury. However, reports indicated that the injury involves broken ribs, an injury which could keep him out a long time. Not long after, his backup Jamaal Williams went down on the Lambeau Field turf, clutching his left leg. On Friday morning, Ian Rapoport reported that Williams’ injury is a strained knee, and that he will miss time. However, that injury probably will not land him on injured reserve.
Those injuries paved the way for length action by Aaron Jones, who responded with 13 carries for 49 yards and a touchdown. He showed nimble feet in the backfield, particularly on his touchdown run, and tied Montgomery for the longest run by a Packer running back this season as each of them broke off a carry for 11 yards in the game.
Jordy Nelson 51, Davante Adams 40, Randall Cobb 33, Geronimo Allison 16, Trevor Davis 3, Jeff Janis 1
The breakdown of receivers was pretty predictable until late, when Adams took that brutal hit to the head from Danny Trevathan (a hit that is reportedly being evaluated for a suspension by the league office). Nelson led the way in targets with seven and had the big 58-yard gain to set up the Packers’ third touchdown, while Cobb caught all four of his targets for 44 yards and a score.
Allison came on in Adams’ place late after getting little action early on as the Packers stuck with their top three wideouts through most of the game.
Martellus Bennett 43, Lance Kendricks 18, Richard Rodgers 10
This snap breakdown appears to be pretty consistent so far, and is what you should expect moving forward. Bennett will play about 75% of the snaps with Kendricks at about a third and Rodgers around 8-10 snaps total. Bennett caught six of seven targets in this game, including a great gain of 26 yards on a Rodgers rollout to the right.
DEFENSE (68 plays)
Dean Lowry 47, Kenny Clark 46, Quinton Dial 33, Ricky Jean Francois 23
The Packers used more of a base 3-4 defense in this game than at any other point this season, clearly done with the aim of stopping the run and daring Mike Glennon to beat the Packers with his arm. He did not do so. They used their base mainly early in the game, switching out to their more typical nickel when the offense got out to a big lead.
Lowry, perhaps surprisingly, out-snapped Clark by one, but those two were stout through most of the game. Dial and RJF contributed significant snaps as well, and the Packers averaged 2.2 linemen on the field per play.
Clay Matthews 45, Ahmad Brooks 37, Nick Perry 33, Kyler Fackrell 24, Chris Odom 8
The Packers appeared to take it easy with Perry, keeping his snaps to about half of the defense’s total in his first game back from hand surgery. With that plan, Brooks took the second-most snaps while Fackrell played quite a bit in the second half.
Matthews had the Packers only sack, on the first defensive play of the game when he jarred the ball out of Mike Glennon’s hand. That sack gives him the Packers’ career sack record.
Blake Martinez 45, Jake Ryan 42, Joe Thomas 5
The Packers clearly wanted to use their conventional inside linebackers heavily in this game rather than stick too much with the Nitro package, as they started with Martinez and Ryan inside for much of the first half. This was clearly in conjunction with aligning more in a base 3-4 defense. Joe Thomas went down early in the game, and he did not return. Martinez also left the field in the third quarter to be evaluated for a concussion, and when he went out the Packers were forced to use safety Josh Jones at linebacker next to Ryan. Thankfully, Martinez returned to the field after a short time in the locker room.
Kevn King 61, Josh Hawkins 40, Damarious Randall 29, Quinten Rollins 1
Perhaps the most notable lineup decision was Randall’s benching. Hawkins took a few snaps here and there in the first half, but after Randall’s abysmal coverage led to a touchdown on the final series of the second quarter, he was relegated to the bench and Hawkins manned the left side boundary corner position. King played nearly every snap, only taking a few plays off, while Rollins once again was left essentially to special teams duty only. It’s clear that the Packers now prefer to use their safeties in the slot, a move which has so far paid off through the last two games.
Morgan Burnett 65, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 61, Josh Jones 51, Kentrell Brice 45, Marwin Evans 8
Speaking of those safeties, Burnett was all over the field once again, lining up primarily in the slot and at safety. Jones saw some slot and safety action as well, but was forced into duty in the Nitro linebacker spot when the Packers had multiple conventional inside linebackers leave the field due to injury. Brice’s return to the lineup after a one-game absence relegated Evans to primarily a backup role.