Week 1 is all wrapped up and the teams are focusing on their Week 2 match ups. The Green Bay Packers have a very important match up this week as they host the New York Jets as they attempt to bounce back from Week 1’s resounding defeat to the defending champion, Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks handled the Packers in all three phases of the game but with 10 days in between games, the Packers have time to make the appropriate corrections.
Getting a win this week has a higher sense of importance for multiple reasons with the first being getting back to .500 in the division. In a division that figures to be close, the Packers don’t want to fall too far behind the division leaders with a 0-2 start. Additionally, with 3 straight division games, two of those being road games at Detroit and Chicago; to follow, the Packers need a solid home victory before heading out on the road.
As we look closer at the Jets matchup, here are 5 things the Packers must do to come away victorious:
- Protect Aaron Rodgers– The Jets bring with them a strong pass rush, one of Rex Ryan’s specialties, so keeping Rodgers upright is of upmost importance. If Bryan Bulaga can’t go, all eyes will be on Derek Sherrod as he will be looking to improve from last week’s performance. Against the vaunted Seahawks pass rush, he looked alright at times and completely lost at others, the most forgettable being the sack that led to a fumble when Michael Bennett blew right past him. While it is fair to say he has some rust to shake off, it isn’t unreasonable to be nervous, the initial sample size was less than desirable. In addition to Sherrod stepping up his play, a strong repeat performance from Corey Linsley is equally important. Linsley will be making only his 2nd start and while he will be in the comforts of Lambeau Field, the Jets will try and find ways to take advantage of Linsley’s inexperience. If Linsley can continue his strong play, Sherrod can avoid the really bad plays and if the rest of the offensive line can stay solid, that will give Rodgers time to shine.
- Tackle, Tackle, Tackle– To say the tackling was poor on Thursday night is a bit of an understatement, Marshawn Lynch and his Seahawks teammates were consistently making the first man miss and gaining additional yards after contact. If the Packers are to win Sunday, they need to prevent Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson from gaining additional yards after contact. The Jets are going to want to control the clock and keep Geno Smith in manageable down and distance situations so one way the Packers can help control that is by not giving up extra yards by missing tackles.
- Bench Brad Jones– This is more of a “hope” than an actual key to victory, but in all honesty, anyone else on the bench could potentially provide better play than what Jones did last Thursday. Besides two costly defensive holding penalties, he had 3 missed tackles and at times looked lost or overmatched. This isn’t to say the likes of Jamari Lattimore or Sam Barrington are going to be an improvement, but at this point, there is no harm in at least taking a look at the other options.
- Rookie Growth– As discussed above, Corey Linsley played a solid game and didn’t look like a guy playing in his first game. Along with Linsley, the Packers need their other rookies to continue to step up and help out. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix showed his athletic ability and seemed to be around the ball quite a bit, picking up a sack and a pass deflection during the game. On the other side, he also had a few missed tackles and was fooled on a few plays. Seeing continued growth out of the Packers 1st round draft pick will be essential to their success on defense. On the offensive side of the ball, Davante Adams, Jeff Janis (if active) and Richard Rodgers need to become more involved in the offense to give Aaron Rodgers more weapons. Adams was seemingly non-existent on Thursday and while Richard Rodgers started, his name was only said sparingly. Part of that had to do with the Seattle defense but it also was partly due to them just not getting open.
- Win the Time of Possession- The Jets are going to want to slow the game down and keep the Packers offense off of the field, if the Packers want to win Sunday, they need to control the time of possession as well as the tempo of the game. Forcing Geno Smith to have to throw a lot by playing from behind is exactly what the Packers want to do. If the Packers struggle defensively and give the Jets a chance to run the ball and milk away the clock, that could lead to a upset win for the Jets. On the offensive side of the ball, the Packers need to stick with the no huddle but mix in the run with Eddie Lacy (if healthy) James Starks and Dujuan Harris to control the clock. The Packers offense has traditionally been able to score fast but the long, methodical drives that end in touchdowns are the backbreakers for a defense. Control the clock, and win the game!
Make sure to check back later this week for a game prediction and to cover any other news-worthy items heading into Week 2 vs the Jets.
Give me a follow on twitter @mkhawk21 to talk all things Packers and more. Also make sure to follow @packers360 for Packers talk before, during and after the games.