2020 Week 2 - That’s What Cheese Said

Hear from Matt LaFleur and some key players from Week 2's win over the Detroit Lions.

Another week, another NFC North victory for Head Coach Matt LaFleur and the Green Bay Packers. LaFleur is now officially 8-0 against the division, and the Packers sit tied for first in the North at 2-0 awaiting Sunday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints.

“We put a lot of emphasis on our division,” said LaFleur. “I think it always starts there, because if you can take care of your division, you can get into the dance and then anything can happen there.”

While Green Bay got off to a slow start against Detroit, the Packers finished strong, putting up 31 unanswered points during a stretch and finishing with over 40 points for the second straight week.

For a run defense struggling without interior lineman Kenny Clark, the Packers only gave up 80 yards on the ground, but that’s likely a testament to playing with a lead the entire second half. Part of that lead came on the first play of the game in the third quarter, with running back Aaron Jones scoring a career-long 75-yard touchdown.

It was Jones’ best game as a pro; he finished the day with 236 yards from scrimmage, with 168 rushing and 68 receiving yards and three total touchdowns. 

“Definitely missed the fans,” Jones said smiling when asked about his Lambeau Leap in an empty stadium. “The pats on the helmet, the pats on the back, them screaming. But I mean, any time I get into the end zone I like to Lambeau Leap. It’s a tradition we have here.”

As a whole, Jones pointed out that the offense has an added comfort in general being in Year 2 of LaFleur’s scheme. 

“This is our second year in the offense so we’re able to go out there and play comfortable.”

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers echoed those thoughts. “It’s my second year in the offense, I’m feeling comfortable with things. Everybody is, which allowed us to do definitely more than we could last year two games in.

“I really felt better about my feel within the offense and kind of what we on paper had talked about doing. A lot of the stuff has played itself out in the first few weeks.”

The same is true for the defense, with some players already in their third year under defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. 

For former first-round draft pick Rashan Gary, being in his second season is making a huge difference in his ability to make plays for his team. 

“My second year, just being more comfortable, knowing my role in the defense and knowing what I have to do.”

Knowing what he had to do was critical in the third quarter when Gary was able to pressure Lions quarterback Matt Stafford enough for nickel corner Chandon Sullivan to snag an interception and return it seven yards for a touchdown. Gary currently leads the defense in quarterback hits through two games with four, and his 1.5 sacks on the season trail only Za’Darius Smith’s two. 

For Sullivan, he said the defense wasn’t pleased with its performance in the first half, and the players knew they wanted to make an impression early in the second. As for Gary, Sullivan knew those types of players were coming from the second-year edge rusher. 

“He’s just been working extremely hard all offseason,” Sullivan said of Gary. “He promised our defense he was going to be a difference-maker on defense, and he was able to get pressure last week and get pressure this week.”

In fact, Gary’s performance through two weeks was a topic of conversation in most post-game pressers, with LaFleur also heaping praise on the former 12th overall selection. 

“We know we’re going to get his best day-in and day-out,” LaFleur said of Gary. 

But for Gary, that’s just who he is as a player. “I can’t not put my best foot forward, because when I look to my left and look to my right, I got two brothers with me that’s ready to go to war,” he said. 

As much as the praise can be motivating, Gary isn’t worrying about any individual stat lines. Instead, he’s got a bigger motivation. 

“I’ve just been focused on the ultimate goal, and of course that’s going to the Super Bowl and winning,” he said. 

While there’s a lot of good football on film, the Packers also have plenty to clean up, namely the drops on offense.

“We dropped obviously a few too many balls today,” Rodgers said, but added that Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard also stepped up to make big plays when needed. 

Star receiver Davante Adams played only 52% of snaps on offense due to a hamstring injury sustained mid-game, but by all accounts, he remained on the sideline as a precautionary measure only. 

In his absence, Rodgers remained focused on spreading the ball around, with eight different players (including Rodgers himself) catching a pass at some point in the game, though Rodgers’ came on a deflection. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jones ended up leading the team in receiving yards with 68 off four receptions, while Valdes-Scantling finished close behind with 64 yards on three grabs. 

“We scored 41 and 35 on offense the last two weeks,” said Rodgers, adding the nine points from the defense. “That’s been really exciting for sure.”

After last week’s electric performance, Rodgers still had a strong outing against Detroit, throwing for 240 yards and two touchdowns for a rating of 107.6. 

One player Rodgers turned to Sunday was tight end Robert Tonyan, who’s earned the trust of his veteran quarterback despite dropping a key reception early. Tonyan finished the day with two receptions for 25 yards and a key touchdown in the second quarter. 

“I have a lot of confidence in him,” Rodgers said of Tonyan. “Smart players are the best players to play with, and he’s a very smart player.”

For Jamaal Williams, it’s evident his quarterback is more comfortable with the running game and its ability to take some pressure off of Rodgers as a passer. 

“I feel like he does have confidence in us running the ball and I feel like he can see that we just want to just help him take the pressure off of him for him passing the ball,” Williams said. “It makes it harder when defenses have to worry about running the ball and defending the pass. That’s just all we want to be is we want to be balanced, we wanna be able to make plays from everywhere, and everybody can be a weapon.”

There are plenty of weapons on defense, too. Cornerback Kevin King called the play-making energy “contagious” in that everyone wants to be a part of the next big play. 

“We have the players, we have the coaches, we have the scheme and all that, so we’re just putting it all together,” he said. 

The Packers face perhaps their biggest challenge this season traveling to New Orleans for Sunday Night Football against a 1-1 Saints team coming off a brutal loss and short week.

“We’re two games into this thing. There’s a lot of football left in front of us, and you’re only as good as your last performance, so certainly we’ve gotta make sure we continue and play at a high level throughout the duration of the season,” said LaFleur. 

Still, the Packers are riding momentum and camaraderie early, and there’s plenty of evidence to indicate this will be another close-knit locker room like it was in 2019. 

“I think everybody’s bought into one another, bought into what we’re trying to get done, and ultimately, they put in the work throughout the week,” said LaFleur.

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV, podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said, and hosts a weekly live show called Happy Hour through Game On Wisconsin. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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Comments (8)

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Archie's picture

September 22, 2020 at 02:02 pm

Pack making Maggie very happy.

Defense picked it up a little this week and everyone on offense continues to contribute. NAWLINS did not look like NAWLINS last night. They will be snarly at home but I think we will beat them.

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ricky's picture

September 22, 2020 at 02:20 pm

Everything is easier when you win. The run defense still needs a lot of work; the drops are concerning; and if Rodgers is hurt, goodbye season. Just tying to keep a balance here.

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Spock's picture

September 22, 2020 at 03:09 pm

Maggie, I loved the way you ended the article: ""Still, the Packers are riding momentum and camaraderie early, and there’s plenty of evidence to indicate this will be another close-knit locker room like it was in 2019.

“I think everybody’s bought into one another, bought into what we’re trying to get done, and ultimately, they put in the work throughout the week,” said LaFleur.""

I think for a young coach like MLF to get his players buying into everything and being a close knit locker room is a huge accomplishment and bodes well for the season.

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canadapacker's picture

September 22, 2020 at 09:24 pm

After watching the Saints play, I now think that we do have a chance. Especially without all the noise that usually is in that park. If Thomas cannot go then we will really need to focus on stopping Kamara as he is really shifty. Think that we can get pressure on Brees. Offensively they seem to take a lot of penalties - they grab a lot on the receivers and hopefully we can force them to do it as long as Adams is a go. They seem to have a couple of guys in the middle and once past them the Raiders made them look bad - really bad.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 22, 2020 at 09:54 pm

I'll take Rodgers over Brees at this point in time.

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PatrickGB's picture

September 22, 2020 at 10:50 pm

I recently read that they actually will allow fans in the stands in New Orleans.

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cheesy_buffalo's picture

September 23, 2020 at 06:57 am

This might be the week we get to see Raven Greene a lot on defense playing that nickel LB spot. If we can put him out there as a better matchup on Kamara then it should bode well for the defense. As you alluded to, Thomas being healthy will change everything for NO much as not having Clark will change everything on defense for GB.

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Rudedawg67's picture

September 23, 2020 at 10:35 am

Well tons of accolades goes to the offense I am still concerned about the defense. They have given up 55 points and the opponents only had the ball 44 minutes total. Hopefully we can get Clark and Martin back and find another run stuffer. If the D can get it’s act together and we beat the Saints, there is a legitimate chance to go undefeated. The two toughest games left on the schedule would be Tampa Bay and Indianapolis away.

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