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Packers vs. Vikings: Rants & Raves

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Packers vs. Vikings: Rants & Raves

The Green Bay Packers have known they would be the Minnesota Vikings' first opponent in their new home at U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis.  When the schedule came out, many circled this game as one of the most intriguing and challenging for the Packers in 2016.  Over two weeks ago, the landscape of this game changed when the Vikings lost starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for the season to a knee injury.  The Vikings offense isn't the same whether it's Shaun Hill or recently-acquired Sam Bradford (Bradford took first team reps this week in practice).  But their defense is what won them their week one game and while it was "just" the Tennessee Titans, the Minnesota defense turned in a very good day at the office.  The Vikings defense against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense is going to be the key to this game.  Let's look at the upside and downsides for this game.

Rants

Packers Secondary

Last week's win over the Jacksonville Jaguars wasn't the most complete nor prettiest the Packers have turned in, but they still found a way to close it out.  They battled the elements (heat), a road environment and the loss of starting cornerback Sam Shields to get into the win column.  

Quinten Rollins struggled mightily in stretches last week and with Shields highly unlikely to play in this game, will see quite a bit of action on the outside opposite Damarious Randall.  This will prove a test to Rollins's ability to let go of last week and focus on the Vikings.  Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt has proven one of the best in the league and should have Q ready to go.  The Vikings have talent at wide receiver, but I'd list it currently as equal to the Packers secondary, even with Shields out.  Stefon Diggs is Minnesota's top receiver with an eye on first rounder Laquon Treadwell to eventually take over that role.  If the Vikings have an edge anywhere, it's speed and we've seen both Randall and Rollins fall prey to a good double move.  LaDarius Gunter likely sees some time as well and needs to turn the corner (pun intended) in his ability to contribute in spots.  Minnesota's offense couldn't generate a touchdown last week and with Bradford still learning the playbook, look for Minnesota to try and catch the Packers sleeping early.  Taking advantage of the less-experienced corners, a deep ball off play action to ignite the offense seems in order.

Veteran safety Morgan Burnett had a bad holding penalty that negated a game-clinching interception by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.  In watching the replay it was a move many veterans try to get away with and many probably do, but the timing of it could have proven critical as that penalty gives the offense an automatic first down.  As the elder statesman of the defensive backfield, he has to be smarter and aware of the situation.  Chris Banjo is still nursing a hamstring injury and undrafted rookie Kentrell Brice is expected to see more extended action in this one so we may get a chance to see just how ready for the big show he is after impressing during the preseason.  

The moving parts in the secondary could prove to be important in the game's outcome.

Game Management

This is an issue every week for the Packers, it seems and whether they win or lose.  With the no huddle that the offense runs and with Rodgers having full ability to change the call at the line, the communication seems to break down two or three times a game.  Far too often the Packers are forced to use timeout's earlier than they'd like to avoid delay of game penalties.  This has been the case for years so I don't expect a big change but they're going to be in a very loud and energetic environment on Sunday.  Whether that noise is all real or partly manufactured, the Packers have to deal with it and have their communication set.  Hopefully J.C. Tretter and Rodgers have spent some time talking about the snap signal on a silent count.  

The audible to a run on the goal line in Jacksonville turned into an utter disaster when the offensive line was pass blocking.  Typically the center echoes the call and gets the line set so whether it was Tretter who didn't pass along the memo or not, the line has to be in tune with Rodgers.  It's not their first rodeo in a system that reads the defense and adjusts accordingly based on the personnel on the field.  In this game's environment it will be key that the line at least knows whether they're setting and reacting or plowing.

The loss of those time outs can also factor into the Packers' ability to challenge plays and if it's a tightly contested game, there will likely be one or two that they want to review.  This is Rodgers' and head coach Mike McCarthy's ninth season together with Aaron as a starter.  I expect more from their communication by now.  Sure, even Bill Belichick has his struggles but this is why teams spend so much time preparing and with this being a consistent issue, I'd like to see this area cleaned up.

Packers Run Game

Yards on the ground will likely come at a premium for Green Bay.  The Vikings held the Titans under 50 yards and running back DeMarco Murray to just 42 yards on 13 carries.  Murray is no slouch so this bears watching.  The Vikes allowed under three yards per rush last week.  That won't generate much help to the Packers offense this week, but they have to stick with the run game.  Against a stout defense, one key is keeping them on the field.  Between Eddie Lacy, James Starks and Randall Cobb, the Packers should ideally turn in around 25 carries.  This is, of course, as long as they don't get behind early.  Jacksonville's defense is up and coming, but Minnesota's is more complete and experienced so the sledding gets tougher this week.  Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd is out with an injury, which could give Green Bay just a bit more breathing room.

Kick Coverage

Vikings return man Cordarrelle Patterson has broken some big returns against the Packers in the past.  Save for a fumble caused by kicker Mason Crosby, Patterson has done some damage and needs to be a key.  The Packers struggle in coverage and it seems at least once a game, the opposition gets a big return.  The strategy needs to be "kick to daylight" for Crosby and boot every single one out of the back of the end zone.  A Vikings start at the 25 yard line is a safer bet than what we know to be the alternative.

Raves

Run Defense

We'll see quickly in this game just how good the Packers run defense is.  They held the Jags to 48 yards rushing last week but that was T.J. Yeldon.  This is Adrian Peterson and he's pissed after a terrible performance last week.  Even if he doesn't go off, Peterson is good for one or two runs a game that he makes with pure grit and determination.  Ball security has been an issue for Peterson against the Packers so the defense may want to channel their inner Peanut Tillman in this game.  To me, containing Peterson is the biggest key to the game.  I know this because that's been the plan for nearly a decade and it's no different now than it was in 2007 when Peterson burst onto the scene as a rookie.  He's had some of his best games against the Packers and Green Bay needs to make sure this one isn't among the highlights.

Dink & Dunk

With cornerback Xavier Rhodes out, the Packers may find some success near the sidelines and on shorter routes.  The slant hasn't been much of a thing for the Packers since the days of Brett Favre, but with the Vikings active linebackers and safety Harrison Smith lurking, Rodgers and his receivers may want to spend some extra time working on the slant combos a bit more this week.  Last week, Jared Cook had just one catch but this week could prove to be one where his contribution to the offense becomes key.  Jordy Nelson will still draw more attention on his side and the Vikings can't count on Davante Adams to drop everything so they'll need to spread the wealth.  This could leave spots open in the short and underneath range for Cook and I expect a much better showing for him this week.

Hit The Quarterback

With Minnesota's offensive line still gelling with each other and Bradford's lack of mobility, the Packers pass rush could find themselves in the pocket quite a bit on Sunday.  Clay Matthews got his first sack of the season and spent more time on the outside against Jacksonville, where he turned in a very good day.  Datone Jones and Nick Perry also had good games as well.  Add in a jacked up Mike Daniels and (hopefully) a motivated Julius Peppers and Bradford may get very familiar with U.S. Bank's new surface.  If starting left tackle Matt Kalil (questionable) can't go, Matthews could have a field day and spend most of the evening outside.

Quarterback Play

Duh!  This can be a section here every week.  Rodgers clearly brings more to the table than both Bradford and Hill combined.  Aaron looked mobile and sharp against the Jaguars.  The offensive line gets a big test with Everson Griffin and Linval Joseph up front for the Vikings.  Rodgers will undoubtedly be on the run as he always is but hopefully it's by design and not a reaction to a sea of purple in his face.  If Minnesota struggles to get a pass rush, the Packers could put this one away sooner than later, although I predicted a down-to-the-wire thriller for a second week in a row.  Hey, it's still a road game and the Vikings will be as jacked up as they can be to open their new home.  They also want to send a message to the rest of the league that last year wasn't a fluke.  

 

 

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Pulse of the Pack podcast.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (37) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"Rodgers and his receivers may want to spend some extra time working on the slant combos a bit more this week."

That would be great, but I'm not going to have any expectations for this to actually happen.

Nick Perry's picture

Lacy has always ran well against the Vikings, even last year when he was pushing the maximum he ran for 100 yards. The Packers need to run Lacy more than 13 times. Last season the Packers gave the ball to Lacy 17 times or more 5 times, he gained 85, 90, 100, 105, and 124 in those games. The game in Minnesota he gained 100 yards on 22 carries. This whole offense is much more effective when Lacy is involved.

I agree with Jeremy above...My God what happened to the slant route in this offense? When I watched Pittsburgh's offense Monday they run so many different combinations when they bunch 3 WR's together. Would like to see that with Abby, Nelson and anyone else. Hell if Janis can play without the club (Not sure if removed but I read he's off the injury report) I'd really like to see Janis run some slants. Bet he'd take it to the house.

Tundraboy's picture

I think we are going to see a return of our old O this weekend. GPG. Avoid the momentum changing turnovers and we roll over Vikings in prime time, no less. Than we will have to hear Vikings fans blame it all on their injuries.

Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

Duuude, where have you been? Missing me some RipCowski. I haven't felt like hurting myself for some time now.

al bundy's picture

those passes require a lot of practice time. This is a run team so they spend more time practicing run blocking and run schemes then anything else. No time for passes to the backs or quick slants. take that out fo the equation as our competitors do and its pretty dam easy to defend. Two games and no separation at all like last year

croatpackfan's picture

I will say - to many fear.Vikings without offense? What are you talking about. Titans were awful, really, really awful - Jags are 10 times better than Titans. Still Offense did not produce much, 3 FG!
What we are talking about? If we have to afraid of Sam Bradford's Vikings, than we can spill this season immediately! It is OK to respect opponent, but if we fear them, we already lost the game...

The TKstinator's picture

"but if we fear them, we already lost the game..."
I respectfully disagree.
"We" aren't on the field. The players are.

Does somebody need some time in the Fear Chair? It's right next to the Worry Chair.
But it is slightly less comfy.

Go Pack!

EdsLaces's picture

I'd like to see some more action involving Abby and Cook if so we could watch an offensive explosion by the pack....if....

mrtundra's picture

Abbrederis and Cook could be huge for the Pack especially if slant passes reappear in the play calling Sunday night. Cobb could see a lot of action in the short passing game, as well! GO PACK, GO!!!

Ibleedgreenmore's picture

I do wonder why the slants are not being used. They seem to work well, did all of a sudden they decide they were no good.

Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

Don't forget Ripkowski out into the flat. Bet we see that one and it goes for at least 17.

Allan Murphy's picture

Simple RUN the ball and STOP the Run you win ........

Duke Divine's picture

I think it would be smart to play Gunter in the outside and Rollins in the slot. Play to their strengths

johngalt's picture

Are you having a stroke?

ray nichkee's picture

No, but he must be stroking it. I guess posting here gets him off.

Samson's picture

Why even say it here?
The homers live in this tent.
No one will believe that AR is now past his prime.
Blame TT for lack of SBs since 2010.
For the Pack --- It's another cross your fingers season.

Nick Perry's picture

Wait, isn't the a little ridiculous coming from a Vikings fan? I'm not what you would call a "Staunch TT Supporter" and have even thought AND expressed the same thoughts they should have more than one under TT. But even with Thompson's "Way of doing things", the Packers have been in a position every year, even last year with Abby and Janis leading the way. ABBY & JANIS!!!

You're a fan on a team who's never won anything, never won a championship, never has been 1st. Yet you come here year in and year out and spout off the same ole same ole.

I'm curious of something Samson, in the big ass stadium what "Banners" can the Vikings possibly hang? So who's the "Homer in the Tent"?

croatpackfan's picture

Welcome back superstition guy! What about injuries you were predicting?
What player is injured by your prognoses?
"I said he will be injured for the 1st season game...." Hahahahahahaha

WKUPackFan's picture

This is so futile, but with nothing better to do during the early Sunday morning hours:

"Vikings are the better coached team". Really? With Norv Turner's 90s style offense? With Zimmer's failure to keep AP quiet instead of seemly having a quote about something every day?

Zimmer himself talks a good game. He's been overly hyped as some plain speaking, no nonsense guy. Granted, having a GM who would rather have 3 1st round picks every year than depth doesn't help any Vikings coach. However, it remains to be seen whether Zimmer can deliver more than just talk. He was a lifer assistant for a reason.

WKUPackFan's picture

I also recall a certain multi-stomached creature yakking about how Spielman was building such a better roster than TT. Let's see how that has worked out so far:

Khalil - Essentially a swinging gate after a decent rookie season.
Patterson - Traded up for, is a review even necessary?
Hanging on to Chad Greenway? (Maybe AJ balances that one out)
Back to the offensive line: Phil Loadholt for years? Ugh.
Josh Freeman.
Trading a #1 pick for Sam Bradford? That alone is all the necessary information.

Yeah, that Spielman is a genius. Of course, the cud chewer also thought Kaepernick was better than AR and that the 49ers were the next dynasty. And i thought Jaworski was more selective about who he hung out with.

The TKstinator's picture

"I am leaving this site"
"I think GB blah blah blah..."

ANY credibility anywhere?
I say not.

MarkinMadison's picture

We used to have this really great passing offense based on timing. I haven't seen that in a while. It seems like we're all about #12 scrambling around to make something happen.

Still, the Vikings are overrated. Packers 24-13

The TKstinator's picture

Good point.
I'd like to see more of that crisp stuff too!

cheddarhead's picture

The bovine is a Johnny rain cloud.
The pack should roll over the queens as long as we don't turn over the ball. The first two games are like

cheddarhead's picture

Preseason.

Oppy's picture

Packers need to stack the box on early downs, and bring serious pressure culminating in serious hits on 3rd and long opportunities to welcome Bradford to the Vikings. Once Bradford gets happy feet, Wouldn't mind seeing some creative zone blitzes to try to catch him off guard and disrupt the passing lanes/intercept a nervous, premature dump off pass to a shallow back or TE on pressure release.

Risk/Reward. Might get burned, but I think the Packers pass rushers can get in Bradford's head. It's already got to be spinning somewhat. My guess is that the Vikings are going to keep the playbook basic for Bradford and put the onus on AP, so it's up to the Packers D to play the run conservatively and complicate the passing downs to confuse Bradford.

Might leak a big play or two (draws on passing downs under a heavy pass rush could burn us) but overall, I think the Packers D can make this game really difficult for the Vikings.

egbertsouse's picture

I'm hoping that MM comes up with one of his creative game plans this week. He does it about once every 2-3 years. If this is his standard, "Lacy runs left, Lacy runs right, everybody run as far as you can while AR scrambles" game plan, we won't put up more than 17 points. Then it will be up to the D.

egbertsouse's picture

I'm hoping that MM comes up with one of his creative game plans this week. He does it about once every 2-3 years. If this is his standard, "Lacy runs left, Lacy runs right, everybody run as far as you can while AR scrambles" game plan, we won't put up more than 17 points. Then it will be up to the D.

WKUPackFan's picture

I'm hoping that trolls come up with more creative posts, especially if we have to read them twice.

jh9's picture

Excellent game analysis, Jason.

sheppercheeser's picture

I feel that AR should keep the audibles to a minimum- it's very hard for the OL to hear, especially in a raucous stadium like MN. I don't think the Vikes can beat us on long routes, it's the short over the middle ones that worry me and how our LB's cover. Offensively, I'd love to see Cook have a career game, though it might be a little early to have those aspirations.

Tundraboy's picture

Cook career game. Wouldn't that be nice. That would give a lot of teams something to worry about goung forward.

Palmer Cottrell's picture

Three things will determine the outcome of this game.

1. Do we get a pass rush? We will need on with our secondary.
2. Can we run the ball and or get good yards on first down. If no one is open or Rodgers gets gun shy again, trouble.
3. Ball control and no mistakes.

If we can accomplish these things we win. Go Pack.

stockholder's picture

I'll tell you why this team is always in Question. 1. A-rod keeps trying to go to Adams and he drops the ball. Lacy and Starks are just to slow, and want a hole as big as a truck. We get rid of an All-pro guard for a second stringer. We use up players like Raji, Woodson, Hawk and Barnett, with no support. We're like the pillsbury Doe boy in the center. There is NO push up the middle in passing situations. We no longer use The TE's like a threat. It's more important to keep a draft pick and play them first. Trouble sum Tackling over time. To many big plays against the packers in clutch situations. This team needs more SPEED!

Oppy's picture

Let me know when you want to sell that stock hanging on your wall.

I'll sell it back to you once MM/TT/MMac are gone and you can finally feel like everything is good again.

stockholder's picture

Not for Sale. I was only making reference to the comments. I know the good of the 60's, the bad years before Wolf , and the years of TT. I was wishing for a little more. Painful as it is.

Lphill's picture

All the Viking fans here and there are many will be calling in sick tomorrow after watching the Packers earn the first win in the house that Prince built.

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