In their 23-7 Week 1 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, the Green Bay Packers did a lot of things that made no sense. Chief among those things was the decision to keep cornerback Jaire Alexander, the Packers’ best player at the position, away from Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson, who may well be the NFL’s best receiver.
Jefferson went off for nine catches on 11 targets, 184 yards, and two touchdowns, because defensive coordinator Joe Barry thought it would be a good idea to put everybody but Alexander on Jefferson.
This week, leading up to Sunday’s rematch, Alexander made it clear that he would prefer a different strategy.
“He don’t jump into no supersuit, get dressed and go outside, you hear me,” Alexander said, via our friends at Vikings Wire. “I don’t either sometimes, but he human is what I’m saying. We ain’t putting too much on him, he’s a really good receiver by the end of the day. I’m a really good corner, we’ve got really good corners, we’ve got really good linebackers you know, D-line whatever it is. You don’t want to put too much focus on that one person cause, like, the first game that was a fluke.”
It appears that it was just that. This time around, Barry had Alexander on Jefferson to a locked-on degree, and things went very differently.
This caused no end of frustration from Jefferson, who let Alexander’s physical style of coverage get quite a distance up his nose.
This was probably pass interference, but you know how it goes… if the refs don’t call it, it apparently didn’t happen.
Not that Alexander was the only Packers defender playing Jefferson tightly — on Darnell Savage’s 75-yard pick-six with 5:17 left in the first quarter, it was cornerback Rasul Douglas who broke up the Kirk Cousins attempt, giving the ball to Savage. Bonus points to Douglas for recovering quickly, and getting downfield to block receiver Adam Thielen.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, the Packers were up 41-10, and Jefferson had one catch on five targets for 15 yards. Amazing what putting your best guys on their best guys can accomplish!