By: Bill Tewes
The Green Bay Packers survived a late push from the Blake Bortles led Jacksonville Jaguars to take a win on the road 27-23. The Packers came out sluggish in the dead Jacksonville heat today, but picked up and showed signs of offensive excellence at the end of the first half and throughout much of the 3rd quarter. So what can we take away from the very first game of the 2016 season? Here are my offensive and defensive takeaways.
The Packers offense was looking like a replica of last year’s struggles until they turned it around mid-way through the second quarter. Jordy Nelson hauled in a touchdown and looks to have good burst after suffering an ACL tear last year. Then the play of the game came just before the end of the first half when Aaron Rodgers was being pulled down by Jalen Ramsey and threw a muscled dart to Davante Adams, who hauled it in for the touchdown. Impressive catch from Adams who previously failed to make a difficult catch earlier in the game. The offense finished up with 294 yards and we have to hope as the season progresses, Aaron Rodgers and company being to click and we can capitalize on more scoring opportunities instead of settling for field goals just outside of the red zone.
The offensive line play was solid throughout the entire game. Many questions surrounded Lane Taylor and whether or not he would be an adequate replacement for Josh Sitton. So far, so good! Taylor did not commit any penalties. The o-line gave up only one sack (which was on a play where Rodgers held onto the ball too long and was sacked just short of the line of scrimmage) and looks like they will be pretty effective in both pass and run blocking. The line cleared out a huge hole for Lacy on his longest run of the game and constantly out-muscled the likes of Malik Jackson and Jared Odrick.
Green Bay’s run game was not as effective as the Packers’ probably had hoped it would be. While Eddie Lacy had some nice runs, he was held to 61 yards on 14 carries (4.4 yards per carry). It seemed like Green Bay abandoned the run in spots where they could have continued to pound the rock, especially when their aerial assault began to falter. With more opportunities, Lacy should have no problem cracking 100 yards every game this year.
Quinten Rollins’ season got off to a rough start as he got burned multiple times. After having an impressive breakup on Joe Thomas’ interception, he would later give up a touchdown to Julius Thomas and was eventually replaced by Ladarius Gunter. Rollins was forced back into the game when Sam Shields went out with what looked like a concussion. He had a nice break up on what would have been a go ahead touchdown for Jacksonville. on Allen Robinson While Rollins had a rough day, there is still a lot to like about his game and I expect him to turn in some excellent games throughout the season.
Nick Perry had an impressive game and is already making an impact all over the field. Perry had a crucial sack late in the 4th quarter which forced Jacksonville to kick a 50-yard field goal when they were threatening to tie the game. The run defense was superb today and only allowed T.J. Yeldon to 1.9 yards per carry. The defense finished up with three sacks, but will need to get more pressure on opposing QBs. They allowed Bortles to throw for 320 yards after pass defense was supposed to be their strong suit this year. Green Bay did however do a sufficient job of containing Jacksonville’s top weapon in Allen Robinson, holding him to 72 yards on six receptions.
The Packers head to Minnesota next weekend for Sunday night football in Minnesota’s brand new stadium. It will be interesting to see who Minnesota chooses to start at Quarterback and if Rodgers can throw on Minnesota’s staunch secondary.
All stats per ESPN.com