One week ago, it looked like Bryan Bulaga was going to be out for a while. The Green Bay Packers’ right tackle suffered a right knee injury last week against the 49ers, costing him all but nine plays in Green Bay’s ugly loss. He has missed time for plenty of knee injuries in the past, so even when the diagnosis came back as a sprained MCL, it was unlikely that he would return within a week.
However, Bulaga was able to play on Sunday against the New York Giants, doing so after practicing both Thursday and Friday. He lined up on every meaningful play at MetLife Stadium, keeping Aaron Rodgers clean throughout the contest. It was a big plus for a team that was bordering on panic mode with questionable plans to back him up, and hopefully he will be able to make it through the rest of the season with no issues.
While Bulaga’s availability was key, the rest of the team’s playing time decisions stuck to pretty common trends. Here are the snap count numbers from Sunday.
OFFENSE (67 plays)
Aaron Rodgers 64, Tim Boyle 3
Rodgers had a stellar first quarter thanks in large part to his connection with Allen Lazard on two deep balls — in fact, he had 103 yards on seven passes in the first 15 minutes, one fewer than the 104 yards he had all game last week in San Francisco. Rodgers would finish 21-for-33 for 243 yards and four touchdowns, good for a passer rating of 125.4. It was Rodgers third-best game this year by passer rating, and he crossed over the 3,000 yard mark for the season.
Boyle came on in garbage time and handed off once before kneeling twice.
Aaron Jones 39, Jamaal Williams 28, Danny Vitale 12
In the first half, the Packers’ backs ran the ball just eight times in 23 total plays, with Jones getting just three carries for 19 yards. He finished 11-for-18 on the ground as the Giants’ defense swarmed to the football in the run game and the Packers’ offensive line got no push off the line. Jones also caught four passes for 13 yards. Williams had the better day, going 10-for-41 with some tough running late in the game and adding 26 yards on four catches.
Davante Adams 52, Geronimo Allison 42, Allen Lazard 37, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 18, Jake Kumerow 14
The Packers’ passing game got moving early as mentioned previously, but the team used a rotation of receivers opposite Adams on the first drive in 12 personnel. Kumerow, Lazard, and Allison each got a rep on that series, with Lazard’s play going for a 43-yard bomb to set up the opening touchdown. Lazard finished with three catches on three official targets for 103 yards and a score, though he did seem to get crossed up on an audibled WR screen and lost some snaps later on.
Adams caught six of ten targets for 64 yards but had two big touchdowns, including one on a 17-yard pass off a free play. Allison caught two of three targets for 20 yards, including a big conversion on 4th-and-10, while MVS was shut out on two targets.
Jimmy Graham 28, Marcedes Lewis 27, Robert Tonyan 20, Jace Sternberger 16
Rodgers finally got the “Big Dog,” Lewis, his first Packers touchdown in the fourth quarter with a one-yard score, his only catch on the day. Graham caught his only target for 16 yards on a nice route over the middle. Sternberger moved around the formation a bit and was largely used as a blocker, while Tonyan could not haul in his one target.
David Bakhtiari 67, Elgton Jenkins 67, Corey Linsley 67, Billy Turner 67, Bryan Bulaga 64, Alex Light 3
While the Packers’ line had a good game in pass protection — Rodgers was not sacked and took just two official hits all game — they were consistently beaten when asked to drive forward in the run game. The Packers’ running backs averaged less than three yards per carry, and six of Jones’ 11 carries went for one yard or less (four were losses or no gains).
Perhaps the best sign of all, however, was the fact that Bulaga made it through the entire game healthy, a shocking result considering the MCL sprain he suffered just a week earlier. At this rate, he should be in solid shape in two weeks when the Packers play the Bears and he likely faces Khalil Mack for much of the game.
DEFENSE (67 plays)
Kenny Clark 52, Dean Lowry 42, Tyler Lancaster 23, Kingsley Keke 15, Montravius Adams 6
Clark has quietly begun stepping up his play in recent weeks, as he had a few plays with good penetration including a big tackle for loss on the Giants’ first drive. He brought Saquon Barkley down for a loss of three on third and one to force a three-and-out, and had a solid overall performance with four total tackles.
Lowry also had a nice game, with a TFL and six total tackles of his own. As usual, the Packers used primarily a two-man line, with each of the other three players recording a single tackle.
Za’Darius Smith 58, Preston Smith 57, Kyler Fackrell 28, Rashan Gary 12
For the entire first half, it seemed that Za’Darius Smith was harassing Daniel Jones constantly. He had four hits on Jones before the break and finished with five total and four tackles. Surprisingly, the Packers never managed a sack — they did take down Jones behind the line on a broken play, but it went down as a run instead. Fackrell had some nice rushes and dropped Jones for the Packers’ other two QB hits, while Gary got most of his run late in the game with the backups on the field.
Blake Martinez 59, B.J. Goodson 15, Oren Burks 8
With the Packers in a big dime or big quarter look for most of the game, Goodson and Burks saw little playing time until the Giants’ final drive down 18 points. Martinez totaled 10 tackles, while Goodson had two, including a great close on a tight end in the flat to hold him to a short gain. Burks did make a pair of special teams tackles as well.
Adrian Amos 67, Darnell Savage 67, Ibraheim Campbell 33
Amos had a critical pass breakup in the end zone in the first half, and he finished with seven total tackles. Savage was in position to haul in a badly overthrown Jones pass in the third quarter for the Packers’ second interception of the day, and had four tackles of his own. As usual, Campbell played the dime linebacker spot, but had just a single assisted tackle.
Jaire Alexander 67, Kevin King 48, Tramon Williams 44, Chandon Sullivan 28, Josh Jackson 8
The Packers went DB-heavy despite the snow, especially late in the game when the Giants got down big. King allowed an early touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard — though it was a tremendous throw from Jones — but came back with an interception on the next drive and another pass breakup later on. Alexander and Sullivan each broke up a pass, and Williams cashed in for the Packers’ third pick with an excellent play on the football up the sideline.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS
Oren Burks 17, Ty Summers 17, Ibraheim Campbell 14, Josh Jackson 13, Mason Crosby 11, Jake Kumerow 11, Tremon Smith 11, Chandon Sullivan 11
Good news! Tremon Smith returned a punt for positive yardage! He had one return for three yards in the game, bringing the Packers’ total for 2019 up to minus-8 yards. Also, JK Scott had a bounce-back game, averaging 46.7 yards gross and 42.7 yards net on three punts. He was remarkably consistent as well, with his kicks going 46, 47, and 47 yards, plus dropping two of them inside the 20 — and one at the five.