Maggie's Pre-Game Six Pack - 2020 Week 9

Allen Lazard, missed tackles, and lengthy injury reports? Here are six things to consider tonight.

The 5-2 Green Bay Packers are on the road this week taking on the 4-4 San Francisco 49ers. Here are six things to keep an eye on heading into Thursday Night Football: 

1. They're…Still Playing?

On Monday, the Packers had one positive COVID test in the facility which turned out to be running back A.J. Dillon. After thorough contact tracing, both running Jamaal Williams and inside linebacker Kamal Martin were added to the COVID/Reserve list and were automatically ruled out for Thursday’s game. 

While Green Bay had no new positive tests the rest of the week, the 49ers had a player test positive on Wednesday. On their end, contact tracing ruled out wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, along with starting left tackle Trent Williams. 

Despite the recent positive tests from the 49ers, the Packers still flew to San Francisco and, by all accounts, the game will still kick off at 7:20 p.m. CT tonight. 

2. Missed Tackles Remain Issue

According to Pro Football Focus, through seven games this season, the Packers have already missed 63 tackles. That’s an average of nine tackles per game, and helps to illustrate why the defense is getting gashed so regularly on the ground. 

In his post-game press conference, Head Coach Matt LaFleur reiterated his team’s need to start gang tackling, with 11 players getting after the ball at once. 

“We had too many missed tackles, We’ve gotta make sure that we have 11 hats rolling to the football, playing relentlessly with that intent on every play,” said LaFleur. 

Both the head coach and defensive coordinator understand what opposing teams plan for facing this Packers defense, and it's up to them to quickly figure out how to stop it. 

3. Red Zone Defense Inexcusable

It’s no secret this Packers defense has had its share of struggles compared to 2019. They’re not generating nearly as much pressure, they lack turnovers and negative yardage plays, but perhaps the most startling statistic is that Green Bay is allowing scoring on 100% of trips to the red zone.

Per Ben Fennell, opposing offenses have made 23 trips inside the red zone thus far in 2020, and the Packers have given up 17 touchdowns and six field goals. That’s a touchdown on 73.91% of trips, or 28th in the league.  

For comparison’s sake, the Chicago Bears have the league’s best red zone defense when it comes to touchdowns, allowing only a 40% touchdown rate in the RZ. 

What’s more, in 2019, the Packers only allowed touchdowns on 53.70% of trips inside the red zone. Just like the missed tackles, this is something Mike Pettine will need to address quickly. 

4. This Isn’t Last Year’s 49ers

While much of the narrative all offseason revolved around the Packers’ inability to hang with the 49ers, the team Green Bay will face tonight doesn’t look anything like the team that beat them in the NFC Championship Game. 

The 49ers are decimated by injuries to the point that the roster we’ll see tonight is almost unrecognizable. Earlier in the season, San Francisco’s defense suffered two significant losses when both defensive end Nick Bosa and defensive tackle Solomon Thomas were added to injured reserve on the same day with season-ending ACL injuries. A few weeks later, defensive end Ezekiel Ansah suffered a biceps injury, subsequently ending his season, too. Cornerback Richard Sherman is out with a calf injury, but he should return in Week 10. Defensive end Dee Ford is also out with a neck injury, but he’s likely to return Week 12.

On offense, the 49ers are missing running back Raheem Mostert, who Packers fans will remember as rushing for 220 yards and four touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game. They’ll also be without running back Tevin Coleman, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and tight end George Kittle, and that’s not even the full injury list. 

The Packers, on the other hand, have already ruled out safeties Vernon Scott and Will Redmond along with cornerback Kevin King. Left tackle David Bakhtiari remains questionable, and it sounds like running back Aaron Jones will be a game time decision. 

5. The Pack Shine in Prime-Time

Today’s Thursday Night Football game will be Green Bay’s third prime-time contest of the season. So far, the Packers are 2-0 winning against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night Football and the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football. 

Green Bay’s last two prime-time appearances both come on Sunday Night Football, with the Chicago Bears in Week 12 at Lambeau and again at home in Week 16 against the Tennessee Titans.

6. The Lizard King Returns?

Whether Jones is able to play tonight after missing two weeks with a calf injury remains to be seen, but the Packers could activate receiver Allen Lazard off injured reserve for the game. He traveled with the team to San Francisco, which he hadn’t done from injured reserve previously. 

Getting Lazard back would be a big boost to the offense, as he’s clearly WR2 behind Davante Adams. In his three starts this season, Lazard has hauled in 13 receptions for 254 yards and two touchdowns with a long of 72 yards. He’s also got a catch percentage of 76.5 and he remains one of Rodgers’ favorite targets on third downs.

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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Comments (8)

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

November 05, 2020 at 11:13 am

"They're…Still Playing?"

It's very risky when they can just push back the game to Sunday with little impact on the schedule.

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egbertsouse's picture

November 05, 2020 at 11:54 am

But it has a big impact on revenue as the network can charge much more for advertising in a prime time slot than it can on Sunday afternoon. The more revenue the networks get, the more they can pass throughto the NFL and we all know the number one concern of Rodger Goodell and the NFL. That’s right, player safety.

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Archie's picture

November 05, 2020 at 12:41 pm

All hail the lizard king!

If Smith bros. + Amos continue to play like this, I vote to ditch them at season's end and sign our own FAs that deserve it.

If Gary & Savage don't dominate tonight vs scrubs then we can regard them both as the latest in a 10 year streak of wasted top draft picks on defense.

We need TOP = 40+ mins so as not to expose our "can't tackle-can't set an edge" defense. We have the softest front 7 in football. Pettine must go.

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Lphill's picture

November 05, 2020 at 01:24 pm

Tramon Williams at Ravens for a look, he sure would look good at safety for the Packers right now !

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Coldworld's picture

November 05, 2020 at 02:34 pm

He wasn’t particularly good for us at S two years ago

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Lphill's picture

November 05, 2020 at 03:29 pm

So you are good with the play of Savage and Amos ?

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PatrickGB's picture

November 05, 2020 at 04:28 pm

Amos yes, Savage...not so much.

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mnbadger's picture

November 05, 2020 at 06:23 pm

Defense is a mess. MP must go. Pack 33-30 against 2nd and 3rd stringers. GPG

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