If licking your wounds after a hard loss was an actual thing, the Packers would be suffering from a bad case of cotton mouth by now. Coming off a brutal second half versus the Seahawks, the Packers dust themselves off for their 2014 home opener against the Jets this week. With a loss, the Packers would fall to 0-2, which would most definitely cause the local HOT TAKE machine to overheat.
That said, it kind of feels like we're due for an Aaron Rodgers everybody-shut-the-hell-up-I-got-this type of game. It's been a while since we've had one and considering the Jets secondary is nowhere near what the Packers faced last week, it's entirely on the table. That said, Skinny Rex Ryan ought to have his defense ready to play so this one will be far from a gimmie. Here are 5 things to keep an eye on.
Playmakers actually playing?
I put a question mark here because I'm not actually sure if it'll be possible to watch something that doesn't happen. Consider this: Davon House, Mike Pennel, Sean Richardson and Jayrone Elliott were four of the Packers biggest playmakers during the preseason. And how many snaps did they play collectively last week? Zero. Ze-ro. Pennel will almost certainly see time this week after Letroy Guion and Josh Boyd got mugged playing nose tackle against the Seahawks. But will the others? That remains to be seen. Judging on last week's overall defensive performance, one has to ask - why not?
Speaking of which, the run defense was the main culprit in last week's collapse. As it's been pointed out, the Packers made an effort to increase the athleticism up front by going to a smaller front defensive line (even adding the elephant position to mix things up). The result? 207 yards allowed on the ground. The Jets don't exactly have Marshawn Lynch, but their offensive line is solid and even Chris Johnson's rotting corpse can still bust one for 80 yards if you're not careful. There are plenty of storylines to look at this week, but the game will almost certainly be decided by how well the Packers play the run.
Mental mistakes on the offensive line
It's week two of the NFL season which can only mean one thing: The Packers are already playing whack-a-mole with their offensive line. Bulaga's probably (maybe?) out. Tretter's definitely out. And while Corey Linsley played pretty fantastic last week, it's important to remember that this is still a young offensive line (save the two guards) going against a Rex Ryan defense. Say what you will about Ryan's boisterousness or the unforgivable fact that he once had a Mark Sanchez tattoo, the man can draw up a defensive scheme, making life for offenses really, really difficult.
Conservative play by the offense
During the off-season, Mike McCarthy stressed "emptying their guns" on defense, but during last week's game against Seattle, it was the offense that seemed bland and uninspired. No doubt, that had something to do with the Seahawks defense, but I'll be interested if seeing Percy Harvin running amok through the Packers defense gave McCarthy any ideas for Randall Cobb. I get that you don't want to subject your second best wide receiver to a ton of abuse, but the Jets defense is no slouch, meaning that the Packers should do whatever they have to do in order to move the ball.
Wide receivers not named Nelson or Cobb
Last week, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb were the only wide receivers who caught passes from Aaron Rodgers. Think about that. A superstar QB who prides himself on spreading the ball around connected with two - TWO - wideouts. Quite simply, that's got to change for the offense to thrive. Jarrett Boykin ought to have more impact now that he's not being hounded by Richard Sherman. But even if it's not him, the Packers need to find a way to get Davante Adams and Richard Rodgers involved on offense. And if Ryan decides to focus his defense on locking up Nelson and Cobb to make "the other guys" beat them, they should have plenty of opportunities.
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