Before week one of the NFL, there was much talk surrounding the young recieving core of the offense and the new additions to the defense of the Green Bay Packers. The Packers were projected to be a top 10 defense of the league,yet their deflating play didn’t live up to the standard. A mix of poor scheming from Packer’s defensive coordinator, Joe Barry, and smart reads from Vikings quarterback, Kirk Cousins, led to a strong win against the Packers.
The Packer’s rushing defense at times had positive notes and things to look forward to with deep penetration from Kenny Clark and the strong presence of Jarran Reed which led to little or no gains on some runs. But in the same game, they often ended up being pushed around and Dalvin Cook took complete advantage to storm off for a first down.
Passing plays didn’t fare much better either. The Packer’s defense couldn’t consistently cover Justin Jefferson nor generate pressure towards Kirk Cousins. Most of the game the Packers either played a five man rush with deep umbrella coverage, and if pressure was generated Kirk’s accuracy dropped which is something we have seen in the past. However if the blitz was picked up a short route to Justin Jefferson was guaranteed. Another problem came from standard four man rushes which mainly generated little to no pressures, allowing plays to develop and again Justin Jefferson to break free of coverage for a long gain.
Mismatches were another weakness that the Vikings took advantage of. Without pre-snap motions cornerback Eric Stokes was left to guard Justin Jefferson, who proved even in his second year with his speed that he is no match for. When Jefferson was set in motion it left the defense audibly confused at the play snap. These pre-snap motions led to adefensive breakdown occurred where neither safeties Adrian Amos or Darnell Savage knew who to cover Jefferson, or where after good pocket presence from Kirk Cousins Jefferson was left wide open, or best of all when outside linebacker Preston Smith was left to guard Justin Jefferson all by his lonesome.
Worst of all were the injuries sustained to the defense. Before the season there were questions regarding how deep the Packer’s defense will be. Quay Walker, first round pick in the recent draft, had himself a strong game with eight tackles before leaving with a shoulder injury. Cornerback Keisean Nixon also left with a shoulder injury after making an open field tackle, and inside linebacker Krys Barnes needed an aircast to leave the game which has now been identified as an ankle injury. On the current active roster, the Packers have no replacements for Rasul Douglas, Jaire Alexander, and Eric Stokes at the cornerback position. They will almost certainly raise a practice squad player, but it still begs the question of the Cornerback strength of the defense. Isaiah McDuffie, who had a good preseason will be the next man up after linebacker De’Vondre Campbell.
With the injuries and a negatively eye opening experience, we can only wait and see what Joe Barry and the defense schemes for Justin Fields and Chicago Bears in Week Two.