Maggie's Pre-Game Six Pack - 2020 Week 6

Maggie gives you six things to consider for Week 6, Packers vs Buccaneers. 

The Packers are fresh off a bye week and traveling to Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium, the site of Super Bowl 55. If all goes according to plan for the currently undefeated Packers, this won’t be the team’s only visit to Tampa this season. Here are six things to look for heading into Sunday’s matchup: 

1. The Other Jones and Williams 

We’re used to talking about the tandem of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, but what about Ronald Jones and Jamaal Williams? “RoJo” will be a familiar face for one Packer in particular on Sunday, as he’s Williams’ training partner in the offseason. He also currently leads the league in yards after contact with 221 through five games. 

This is the first time in his career that he’s posted back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, going for 111 yards against the Los Angeles Chargers and 106 yards against the Chicago Bears. While Green Bay tightened up its run defense Week 4 against the Falcons, allowing only 78 yards on the ground, Jones poses a new challenge. He averaged 6.24 yards per carry on the ground last Thursday against the Bears. 

Sharing a backfield with Jones is former first-round draft pick Leonard Fournette, with the pair averaging 5.0 yards per carry combined. It’ll be another test for the Packers run defense on Sunday.

2. Like Father Like Son?

Antoine Winfield Sr. played 14 seasons in the NFL, splitting his time with the Buffalo Bills between 1999-2003 and the Minnesota Vikings from 2004 until he retired in 2012. During his time with the Vikings (in 2009 to be specific), Winfield snagged an interception from Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. 

Winfield’s son, Antoine Winfield Jr. was drafted by the Buccaneers in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and he already has three passes defensed, one forced fumble, two sacks, three quarterback hits, and 30 tackles to his name in only five games. 

If Winfield Jr. is able to pick off Rodgers, it would make NFL history. But we’ll talk about why that might not be so easy in No. 3. Still, it’s not often a father and son duo get the opportunity to face off against the same player in their careers, and that isn’t lost on Rodgers, noting in his presser earlier this week this is the first time he’ll have played against a father and son. Read Doug Farrar’s excellent piece with Touchdown Wire for a deeper look into the historic outing. 

3. Aaron Rodgers Remains Interception-Free

Sometimes the cheese really does stand alone. Rodgers is now the only quarterback in the NFL that hasn’t thrown an interception yet this season. And yes, I’m knocking on wood as I type this. Rodgers is boasting some impressive numbers early in the season, and most would be career-highs if they were sustained all year. 

To start, he has a completion percentage of 70.5%, his highest since becoming a starter. He also has a current quarterback rating of 128.4, which again would be the best in his career, beating his 2011 MVP season rating of 122.5. The season is early, but Rodgers deservedly sits atop the MVP conversation. 

The goal was to not bring Tom Brady into this piece at all, but Brady and Rodgers have a mutual respect for one another as two of the league’s all-time greats. While they won’t take the field at the same time on Sunday, it’s still only the third time Brady and Rodgers have faced off. The future first-ballot Hall of Famer (Brady, because Rodgers is, too) had kind words for Rodgers during his press conference yesterday. 

“Everyone always is pretty much in awe of how he makes it look so easy,” Brady said. “The throwing motion, the velocity of the ball, the placement of the ball...he basically doesn’t throw interceptions.”

Hopefully Brady is correct on Sunday and the interception-free streak continues for Rodgers. 

4. First Rounder or Undrafted - Players Make Plays

If Packers fans weren’t part of the “draft a wide receiver” camp this past offseason, they were almost certainly on the “draft an inside linebacker” train. I say this as a passenger on that train, calling Patrick Queen my ideal selection for the Packers in the first round. 

Why am I bringing this up now? Because Queen won AFC Defensive Player of the week for his Week 5 performance against the Bengals. His arrow is pointing straight up. And while it’d be foolish to compare Queen to an undrafted player like Krys Barnes, Barnes does deserve ample credit for the role he’s played on this Packers defense through the first four games of the season. 

Barnes was released on roster cut down day only to be signed and elevated to the active roster for Week 1 starting opposite veteran Christian Kirksey. The undrafted linebacker from UCLA has yet to miss a tackle this season, per Pro Football Focus, and we know tackling is something this Packers defense has struggled with through four games. What’s more, he’s also currently second on the team in tackles with 23, despite playing only 35.1% of snaps so far on defense. 

Here at Maggie’s Pre-Game Six Pack, we give credit where credit is due, and Barnes is looking like an absolute player through the first quarter of the season. With Kirksey on injured reserve, expect to see Barnes and Ty Summers splitting time again this week wearing the communication helmet on defense. 

5. Vita Vea Big Loss for Bucs

Defensive tackle Vita Vea was having an excellent start to 2020 before suffering a season-ending leg fracture against the Bears. He had already registered two sacks and three quarterback hits through five games, with three sacks being his previous career high in a season. 

He also was a key contributor for the league’s top rated run defense, with the Buccaneers allowing only 58.4 yards per game and 2.7 yards per carry on the ground. On Thursday Night Football last week, the Bears were held to an abysmal 35 yards rushing, the fewest yards allowed by Tampa Bay so far this season. 

With Tyler Ervin unlikely to play on Sunday after missing practice this week with a wrist injury, we could finally see more of A.J. Dillon on the field. Whether or not that’s the case, expect LaFleur to line up Jones and Williams in a variety of looks to take advantage of this stout Buccaneers front seven. 

6. Bring Em Out

I miss being at Lambeau Field, hearing “Bring Em Out” pulse through the stadium as the Packers run out of the tunnel for warmups. By all reports, the Packers are ready to bring out two of their best players, with Davante Adams and Kenny Clark both expected to play on Sunday in Tampa. 

The Packers staying undefeated without two of their best players was no small task, but now Rodgers has nis number one weapon back on offense, and the defense will get a much-needed boost on the interior. 

This might impact Preston Smith more than anyone else, as Clark’s return will shift some of the attention off Smith and allow him more opportunities for free runs at the quarterback. A front five of Clark, Kingsley Keke, Smith, Za’Darius Smith, and Rashan Gary is enough to give me chills. Bring ‘em out and get after Brady, who remains largely immobile in the pocket.

 

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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 (26)

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PeteK's picture

October 16, 2020 at 12:23 pm

I believe our run D will improve because of Clark's return and the rise of our young players. However, the Bucks will still have a decent game running the ball (120 tot) as they have a talented duo. Our pass rushers are rested and ready to go, which spells trouble for Brady.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:09 pm

As long as LeFleur keeps the pressure on Pettine to keep sound gap discipline and stay out of prevent, this D may start ascending. He has to utilize the talent. Let Lancaster cover nose and give Clark some 3 tech looks.

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PatrickGB's picture

October 17, 2020 at 03:42 pm

I have thought that myself. Lancaster has done pretty well at NT In Clark’s absence. He can’t pass rush as well as KC so it might be nice to have them both on the field as run defenders.

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Lphill's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:26 am

If the Packers defense doesn't play well against the run in this game that will set the tone for other teams when playing the Packers , because there is no solution to improving the D on the roster . everyone here knows this especially with Clark back in .

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:10 pm

Go heavy up front and let the DBs play press/man. Let it rip.

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Guam's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:33 am

It will be interesting to see what impact Clark's return has on Lancaster. Lancaster has played well as a NT during Clark's absence and Clark's return will slide him back out to DE where he has been less impactful. Hopefully Lancaster can raise his game as a DE to the same level he played at NT and give the Packers some stoutness against the Buc's rushing attack.

If the Packers can make the Bucs one dimensional, Brady's immobility will work against their passing game. I would love to see the Packer D rise to the occasion.

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PeteK's picture

October 16, 2020 at 12:32 pm

Clark might be on a pitch count, which will give Lancaster some playing time at NT. Also, looks as if Keke has taken snaps away from Lowry. This could give us about 5 mill in cap relief next year if we trade or release him.

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mnbadger's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:45 am

very important to get ahead early to try to move bucs off the ground and into the air. if tb12 has lost arm strength, maybe some run blitzing. Great time for RGary to break out and spend quality time in the backfield. Pack wins 37-27. GPG

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Coldworld's picture

October 16, 2020 at 12:20 pm

Be interesting to see who plays opposite to Alexander if, as looks likely, King is out. I can see Brady peppering that player.

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PeteK's picture

October 16, 2020 at 01:04 pm

Probably Sullivan. That often injured tag is rearing its ugly head again for King.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:13 pm

Attack Brady all day. He cannot move it to the deep ball. He's on a 2.5-2.8 count.

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Hematite's picture

October 16, 2020 at 09:26 am

I would definitely like to see more of Dillon on the field.
It's time to have a good look at this kid.

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PeteK's picture

October 16, 2020 at 12:58 pm

As long as Williams is on the roster, we'll see little of Dillon and putting him in on short yardage is putting a bullseye on his back. Then again , he might be the type of back that will gain yardage even if the whole stadium knows that he's getting the ball.

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ricky's picture

October 16, 2020 at 09:45 am

Just curious, but why is it "foolish" to compare Queen and Barnes? Being a first round pick is meaningless if you can't play, and there are a lot of examples to back up that statement. Would it be "foolish" to consider Allen Lazard as good as highly drafted WR's in the league? It's not where, or even if you you get drafted, it's your ability to make plays on the field that determines your true worth to a team. I don't want to come off as harsh, but this is just a particular pet peeve/bee in my bonnet.

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Guam's picture

October 16, 2020 at 10:40 am

Good post Ricky. You find players where you find them. I am sure Bahktiari is not as good as many left tackles in the league because he was only a fourth round draft choice......

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CoachDino's picture

October 16, 2020 at 12:42 pm

IMO It's about being able to criticise Gute.

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PeteK's picture

October 16, 2020 at 12:45 pm

I think she's trying to say that comparing the two right now is not fair to Barnes because Queen is on his way to being a force.

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MaggieLoney's picture

October 16, 2020 at 12:58 pm

Thanks Pete! Absolutely this. More or less me saying I don't want Barnes to be held to the same standards we'd hold a first round pick to as a UDFA this early. Not that he isn't capable of having the talent.

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CoachDino's picture

October 18, 2020 at 05:01 am

I get what your saying and see the point.....

With Barnes actually out performing Queen I think its a positive for the Packers. Also confirms the reason why they don't draft ILB high, they figure they can find them low - What was Blake a 5th? Now the odds of finding them lower are not as good as picking early. I believe and hope that Queen rely excels. It;s more to the point of when comparing all 22 positions on the field plus special teams and multiple formations, ILB doesn't rate high on the Packers list "in general" of weighted positional value vs draft position success variance....

I think we all already knew that but I was still surprised to a point they didn't take Queen.

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ricky's picture

October 17, 2020 at 07:06 am

So is Barnes when he's on the field. If they had the same number of snaps, who would be more dominant? Hopefully we'll find out by the end of this season, and many more to come.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:16 pm

Barnes started three years for the Bruins, Queen one with some fili-in work in 2018. How will Queen hold up when the running games start going full guns? Barnes is a solid LB.

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CoachDino's picture

October 16, 2020 at 12:48 pm

I figured the Pack would draft Queen if there or the OT Hunt so I'm not anti queen. He also is a rookie and 90% of rookies take time to get their game in line with their potential. That said Queen, after his great game is ranked 62nd out of 74 overall and 72nd out of 74 in coverage.

I need to say though when looking into him he is doing well in Run defense which was the biggest concern for him coming out of college. Where he has excelled is pass rush. Something the packers haven't done much with their ILB.

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CoachDino's picture

October 16, 2020 at 12:49 pm

.

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tincada's picture

October 16, 2020 at 01:24 pm

"The Packers staying undefeated without two of their best players."

So what? They have a 4 - 0 record against one team with a winning record so far. May I remind folks that last year they were 3 - 1 at this point beating (drum roll) the Bears, Vikes and Broncos . Losing to the Eagles. All heavy hitters......NOT

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Somedumbname's picture

October 16, 2020 at 03:28 pm

I see your point about the quality of our opponents, but your last year's comparison does not make sense considering we were 13-3 last year.

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Norm's picture

October 16, 2020 at 08:23 pm

They can only play who’s on their schedule. You might just as well complain they’re only 4-0 and not 5-0 at this point.

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