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The Detroit Lions make their lone scheduled primetime appearance on Monday night. The Lions travel to Green Bay to face the 0-1 Packers, who entered Week 2 with the NFL’s worst point differential after getting smoked by the Saints, 38-3, in Week 1.
The unexpected Packers outcome last week draws up some interesting questions for the Cheeseheads. To help figure out some of those answers, I turned to Packers Wire editor Zack Kruse for a few questions about Green Bay and what the Lions can expect to see on Monday Night Football.
Week 1 did not go the way anyone expected. How confident are you that Aaron Rodgers bounces back from his uncharacteristically bad day? Was it rust from not playing, bad chemistry or just an off night?
I think it was just a bad day at the office. The Saints took a big lead early, got the Packers out of their stuff on offense and played really well in coverage. Rodgers had a drama-filled offseason, but he was sharp during training camp and there’s nothing to suggest he’s lost any arm talent. I think the Saints did a terrific job of making him hesitant, and when Rodgers isn’t playing on time from the pocket, he’s far less accurate and effective.
I’d bet the Packers run the ball more effectively and Rodgers’ life as a passer is a little easier on Monday night, but it’s also possible this group is going to need a few weeks to get everything running right.
Lions fans have unkind memories of Joe Barry as the defensive coordinator during the darkest times of the Matt Millen era. How is Barry being received initially in Green Bay?
Barry was an uninspiring hire back in February, largely due to his uninspiring past as a coordinator, and no one is feeling much better about the change after one week. The Packers got run over on defense in the season opener, but it’s fair to wonder how much was on the players and how much was on the coordinator.
It’s tough to run a defense in the NFL when the players are consistently losing the line of scrimmage and failing to create negative plays. Barry and the Packers want to take away big plays and make offenses be perfect over long drives to score. The Saints had two 15-play scoring drives in the first half. It could be death by a thousand paper cuts unless the Packers can create more disruption on defense.
With David Bakhtiari out in Week 1, Elgton Jenkins looked impressive at LT. The Lions have a similar situation with Taylor Decker out and Penei Sewell impressing in his spot. How does this play out for the Packers?
Elgton Jenkins will keep playing left tackle for at least the next five games or until David Bakhtiari returns. It’ll be interesting to see how the Packers configure the offensive line once Bakhtiari is back. Does Jenkins go back to left guard, where he was a Pro Bowler last year? Or does he slide to right tackle, where the Packers could maximize his value as one of the NFL’s top offensive linemen?
There’s no chance Jenkins stays at left tackle, but it must be nice to have two great options.
What do you see as the biggest matchup advantage for the Packers in the game?
Good question. It has to be at quarterback. Do the Lions have the pass rush or the coverage talent to keep Rodgers from moving the ball up and down the field? I will say, the Aaron Glenn factor does fascinate me. He was an assistant under Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen for a long time.
The Lions’ first-year coordinator might have a trick or two up his sleeve for this Packers offense. But I do think Rodgers and the Packers wide receivers should have a big advantage over the Lions secondary in this contest, especially after Detroit lost Jeff Okudah.
Who are a couple of Packers players who deserve more recognition outside of Green Bay?
You already highlighted Elgton Jenkins, who was excellent at left tackle in Week 1 and is probably the most versatile offensive lineman in the NFL. What he’s done at guard, center and tackle during his first three NFL seasons is incredible. Outside of Jenkins, I’d say safety Adrian Amos, who is such a consistent player, and edge rusher Rashan Gary, the former Michigan star. The Packers need Amos to keep T.J. Hockenson covered this week, and Gary is an important player now that Za’Darius Smith is going on IR.
Who wins and why?
The Packers win, but I won’t be surprised if this is an ugly football game that comes down to the last few possessions. The Packers are still working through some things on offense, and the defense is a huge question mark. The Lions would need to dominate the line of scrimmage and get a big night from Jared Goff to win. It’s possible but certainly not likely. I’m expecting the Packers to bounce back after the disaster in Week 1. Remember: Matt LaFleur is 6-0 after regular season losses as Packers coach.