The Green Bay Packers defeated the Minnesota Vikings 21-16 on Sunday afternoon, and they did so in an unusual manner: jumping out to a big lead then eventually finishing off the win with a running game and big plays from the defense. This is an encouraging sign for the team if Aaron Rodgers can find and sustain the success that he had on the first three series of the game, all of which ended in touchdowns for the Packers.
There were a few wrinkles in the breakdown of the team’s playing time, most notably on the offensive line. There, Elgton Jenkins got to spell Lane Taylor for a few series at left guard, getting his first taste of regular season action. Meanwhile, the defense used a heavier dose of base personnel, with Tyler Lancaster and linebacker B.J. Goodson seeing significant snaps in the victory.
Here’s the breakdown of playing time. (Note that due to an error in the NFL’s tracking system, one Packers punt was labeled as an offensive play rather than a special teams snap, so a few offensive players’ snap counts may be off by a play.)
OFFENSE (74 plays)
Aaron Rodgers 74
Rodgers’ day mirrored that of the Packers’ offense overall; stellar through 20 minutes but ugly thereafter. He had a perfect passer rating through three drives, completing nine of ten passes with a pair of touchdowns. However, his final stat line went 22 of 34 for 209 yards, an average of just 6.14 yards per attempt.
Aaron Jones 43, Jamaal Williams 35, Danny Vitale 8
The Packers got a career day from Jones in terms of workload, as the third-year back set career highs in carries (23) and total touches (27). He also totaled 150 yards from scrimmage, second in his career to only last year’s Miami game when he had 172.
Williams added 28 yards rushing on nine carries and three receptions for 13 yards, including the Packers’ first touchdown.
Davante Adams 71, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 65, Geronimo Allison 34, Jake Kumerow 6, Trevor Davis 4
Green Bay used 11 personnel on around 40 percent of their snaps on Sunday, likely looking to attack the Vikings’ depleted secondary with their wideouts. Adams did not find the end zone, but he had his first big game of the year with seven catches on nine targets for 106 yards.
Of the rest of the wideouts, only Allison (4 catches for 25 yards and one touchdown), MVS (three for 19) and Kumerow (one for 12) were targeted in the passing game.
Jimmy Graham 54, Marcedes Lewis 31, Robert Tonyan 21
The Packers’ tight ends were shut out in the passing game on Sunday, with no receptions on three targets. The team also continues to insist on using Graham as a blocker, as he was responsible for whiffing on Danielle Hunter on a third-down sack in the third quarter, and he also got a flag for offensive pass interference on what would have been his only reception in the game.
Bryan Bulaga 74, David Bakhtiari 74, Billy Turner 74, Corey Linsley 74, Lane Taylor 56, Elgton Jenkins 18
After Taylor apparently won the starting left guard job in training camp, the Packers began to work Elgton Jenkins into the lineup on Sunday, giving him a few series in that spot. Jenkins looked solid in his playing time, however, and he will probably be in the starting lineup at some point in the relatively near future.
The line had a better day run-blocking against Minnesota than they did in week one, helping pave the way for a steady if not explosive 144 yards on 33 carries. They also only gave up one sack of Rodgers, with the second being on Graham.
DEFENSE (65 plays)
Kenny Clark 56, Dean Lowry 43, Tyler Lancaster 32, Montravius Adams 19, Fadol Brown 6
Clark continues to get the bulk of the work on the defensive line, and he ended up landing the Packers’ only sack of the game — which resulted in a forced fumble and a turnover as Dean Lowry recovered. Lowry was consistently around the quarterback, as the Vikings seemed incapable of blocking him, though he had just three tackles and a pass breakup.
Lancaster saw significant playing time, even more than Adams — again likely due to the team’s focus on defending the run.
Preston Smith 57, Za’Darius Smith 56, Kyler Fackrell 21, Rashan Gary 14
The Packers got a total of four hits on Cousins from this group — one each from the Smiths and a pair from Fackrell. However, Fackrell’s day was a disappointment, as he had a couple of clean shots at players in the backfield and could not bring them down. Za’Darius Smith finished the day with six tackles while Preston had two stops and an interception. Gary played more than he did in week one, but recorded no official stats. Stay tuned to see if he had any pressures once some advanced stats are announced.
Blake Martinez 65, B.J. Goodson 38, Raven Greene 15, Will Redmond 12
Martinez was his usual stalwart self, and against a run-heavy team his presence was felt with 13 total tackles in the game. Greene left the game fairly early with an ankle injury and did not return, leaving more snaps for Goodson, who played a fair amount thanks to the heavier run and base personnel focus. When the team did go with a hybrid DB/linebacker late in the game, Redmond was the guy, though he did not appear on the stat sheet.
Darnell Savage 65, Adrian Amos 65
There were no surprises here, as the Packers’ starting safety duo lined up on every snap. Savage did take a cleat to the leg on the last play of the game, but the team does not appear to be concerned about his status moving forward. Savage’s stat line finished with six solo tackles, a pass breakup, and a forced fumble (on Kirk Cousins), while Amos had three tackles (one for a loss) plus a fourth on special teams.
Jaire Alexander 65, Kevin King 64, Tramon Williams 21, Josh Jackson 1
With the Packers focusing more heavily on base alignments thanks to the Vikings’ focus on the running game, the team tended to use far fewer three-cornerback sets. Williams was the one who lost out on snaps in those situations, as Alexander and King took practically every snap at the boundary positions.
Alexander had a pair of pass breakups in the first half, but allowed a touchdown pass to slip through his fingers as he lost it in the sun. However, he was consistently there with tight coverage on Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Meanwhile, King recorded an interception in the red zone to effectively clinch the win for the Packers.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS
Kyler Fackrell 25, Danny Vitale 20, Trevor Davis 20, Ty Summers 20, Tony Brown 20, Robert Tonyan 16, B.J. Goodson 16, Will Redmond 16, Jamaal Williams 12, Josh Jackson 12