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Packers Young Corners Will Be Tested by Vikings

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Packers Young Corners Will Be Tested by Vikings

Aaron Rodgers stole the show against the Chicago Bears last Sunday, leading the Packers to a 24-23 come-from-behind victory. But outside of Rodgers' greatness, another huge key was the play of the Green Bay secondary. 

The safeties played well, both Kentrell Brice and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix made key plays, but the guys that really stood out were the corners, especially the young guys like Kevin King, Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson. 

Chicago quarterback Mitch Trubisky started hot but finished the game completing just 23-of-35 passes for 155 yards. The completion percentage was solid but four yards per attempt is pretty meager. The Packers secondary also didn't give up any touchdown passes and limited the Bears to 7-of-17 on third downs and 0-for-2 on fourth downs.

And make no mistake, the corners were a big part of that effort. Jackson totally shut down Chicago tight end Trey Burton and outside of a play here or there, all three young corners stood out. Tramon Williams also had a stellar performance and that was all part of limiting the Bears to three second-half points.

However, this week, the Green Bay defense and the corners in particular face an entirely new challenge and that's the Kirk Cousins led Vikings, who just happen to have one of the best wide receiver combinations in the game.

Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have definitely become a nightmare for opposing defenses. Last week, Thielen caught six passes for 102 yards against San Francisco, while Diggs added three catches for 43. The bigger point though is that both wideouts already seem comfortable with Cousins. And because of that, the Packers are going to need to be at the top of their game if they are going to slow down the Minnesota passing game.

On the defensive side of the ball, it might be the most important matchup for the Packers. Diggs has always given teams trouble with his speed and it will be interesting to see who draws the assignment. Alexander could be one option, but Kevin King could be too. Williams and Jackson both seem better suited to deal with Thielen, but either way, Green Bay has four capable corners, who all have the ability to cover pretty well in one-on-one situations.

Last week, Green Bay thrived in those situations, especially down the stretch. The Bears receivers couldn't get open and even when the ball was thrown their way, often times they were blanketed. 

This week, the challenge will be much greater. The pass catchers are better and so is the quarterback. Yet, if the Packers can just get a draw, that would be a huge victory. The defense doesn't need to dominate for Green Bay to win. All it needs to do is hold the Vikings to 20 or less and a good day from the cornerbacks could be huge in making that a reality.

If the defense can do that, on one leg or not, Aaron Rodgers will do the rest. 

 

__________________________

Chris is a sports journalist from Montana and has been blogging about the Packers since 2011. Chris has been a staff writer for CheeseheadTV since 2017 and looks forward to the day when Aaron Rodgers wins his second Super Bowl. Follow him @thepackersguru

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (52) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Handsback's picture

IF Green Bay can stop the run and make the Vikes pass.....it will be good to see. If they start running, it will open the passing lanes and make for a long afternoon.

Clntgrne's picture

Honestly, I think it’s going to be the opposite. I think Pettine has shown he is far more interested in defending the pass – let them have all the short yardage runs underneath but prevent anything over 10 yards. Seemed to be a winning formula for him in the past.

Chris Peterson's picture

I agree and I like that. I do think you have to stop the run to a point. But I am much more worried about limiting to big plays to WR than the running game. Pass rush will be key but at least with some of these corners, the pass rush isn't the only defense. Jackson, Alexander and King are all very good cover guys and Tramon has lost a little but he has such good instincts, he's still really effective. I really think this defense will be the best Green Bay has had since at least 2014. But this game will be a big test. We should find out a lot in this game on both sides of the ball.

cheesycowboy's picture

Cook should present more problems as a receiver out of the backfield rather than rushing yards from scrimmage from game 1 observations. I expect any kind of pass rush will keep Cousins under 6.8 YPA. Sincerely,

TheKanataThrilla's picture

I think we should have Clay playing ILB on running downs and Gilbert on the Edge. That should hopefully limit Cook.

On passing downs we switch out Clay for Burks if he is healthy to play.

Dash Riprock's picture

"On passing downs we switch out Clay for Burks if he is healthy to play"

Boy, that would be a humiliating kick in the crotch for Clay. I'm in.

FTS Messamore's picture

Hopefully MM will use Lewis as an extra blocker and hit jimmy graham in the middle. Vikings had trouble with the 49er TE all game.

SJ EC's picture

Definitely excited to see the play of our secondary in this game... this will be a pretty good test for them to see how well they can hang with the more seasoned QBs of the league. Also, an increased pass rush should help our guys on the back end - let’s hope that interior can collapse the pocket a bit and get Kirk off his rhythm

Kb999's picture

We need a pass rush. We havnt seen that in quite some time.

Otto's picture

3 sacks against the Bears isn't bad. Vikings O-line isn't as good as the Bears. Should make for a good day for the front 7.

RCPackerFan's picture

Packers actually had 4 sacks in the game.
Honestly that was a quiet 4 sack game.

I do think Pettine has some schemes up his sleeves for this game.

Also the amount of trick plays the Bears had kind of kept the defense honest a bit.

I also think that after seeing the rookies perform last week he might feel better about them for this week.

Point Packer's picture

I'm actually most concerned about Kyle Murphy. Hoping Pettine sticks Josh Jackson on him. Diggs is a tough, but good match-up for Alexander. Tramon on Thielen.

RCPackerFan's picture

I'm really wondering how they choose to defend Cook out of the backfield. Hopefully Burks can play as he has the speed to cover Cook.

Minniman's picture

Chris, I would say that all of the Defense is going to need to be on it's game on Sunday.

if the front 7 doesn't at least create pressure against on o-line that is spotty, then the rookie corner's (as much potential as they have) will make a couple of rookie mistakes and be exposed.

Bo Hunter's picture

You mean Kyle Rudolph Point Packer?

Point Packer's picture

Ha! yeah....Though I wouldn't mind if Kyle Murphy was suiting up for the Vikings. If so, we may be able to get an edge rush..

PAPackerbacker's picture

Good coverage by the secondary will lead to some sacks. A good pass rush will lead to a few sacks or some quick passes and throw off Cousins rhythm. Cousins isn't a mobile QB. Any combination of a good pass rush or pass coverage should result in more opportunities for the Packers offense. I don't see Cousins picking up first downs with his legs. I think the DB's match up well against the Viking receivers. It's the short passes to the TE's and RB's by the Packer LB's that will be a challenge for the Packers.

4thand1's picture

Trusuckski was leaving the field taunting the crowd in the 2nd quarter. He left at the end of the game staring at his shoes......................priceless! We didn't make a so so QB look good for once, big improvement on the back end. Jackson is the real deal and a steal in rd 2.

GVPacker's picture

That's an awesome post 4thand1 very satisfying watching da Bears CHOKE!

Samson's picture

Another typical ridiculous Packer Fan response.

Gloat all you want.
Trubisky is a 2nd year QB still learning the game.
The Bears were a 5-11 team in season 2017.

The Packers were lucky as $hit to have won the game.
The Vikings are a way better team.

4thand1's picture

Oh go throw stones at Lambeau Field.

HankScorpio's picture

Yes, it was incredibly good luck the way Robertson-Harris landed on Rodgers knee, forcing him out of the game. And you just don't see Aaron Rodgers play as well as he did in the 4th all that often. It was quite the stroke of luck, for sure.

And there is no comparison between the quality of the 6-10 49ers and 5-11 Bears. Clearly the 49ers QB with fewer career starts than Trubisky is a well-establish stud that only truly exception teams can beat. All those missed throws and drops were caused by Viking defenders using The Force. It's good to have some jedi on the team that can do that. No luck there at all.

Oppy's picture

It's not luck when you come back from a 20-0 deficit and dominate an entire half of football.

That's not luck. That's making your fortune.

cheesehead1's picture

Cook is a very good RB. IMO, you have to stop/slow down the run. If the Vikes get a lead, then a good running game eats up the clock. I didn’t think our run D was very good in game 1. Want to see our team come out fired up. Against the Bears I thought we came out flat on both sides of the ball. Looking forward to hearing from Gutekunst. Has he made any comments since the Bears game? So far I’ve been impressed as to his availability for press conferences. Go Packers!

ricky's picture

Heard on Mad Dog Radio this morning that Cousins is like Jay Cutler- at least a couple times a game, he's going to throw at the defense. IF the defenders can catch those errant throws, that could make a big difference in the game. Cousins doesn't really impress me. He has good stats, but doesn't have that "IT" factor.

Lare's picture

I don't think it's a big secret that the weakness of the Packers defense is the linebackers. I would expect the Vikings to come out with plays to exploit that until the Packers show they can stop them. Hopefully Burks is healthy enough to play this game, covering the running back out of the backfield will be important early.

PatrickGB's picture

Lare, you may be right. Yet, Pettine often plays his DBs as if they were LBs. In fact, even the linebackers are smaller. I don’t expect much of a pass rush from the OLBs. Instead I expect it to come from the secondary. My only concern is that we may be a bit light in the pants against a heavy run game. But it’s better to give up a few yards to the run than to give up big plays against the Vikings passing game.

4thand10's picture

Stopping the run is huge, because they have a good defense. They can literally run the ball 6 minutes a possession and their defense does the rest. Stopping the run and containing Diggs, Rudolph is going to be big.

Otto's picture

The Vikings averaged 3.6 yrds/rush (Cook 2.5 yrds).
49ers lost 4 turnovers.
Vikings only put up 24 pts.

This is not an offensive juggernaut.

Give AR12 4 extra series, the Packers would've had 40 pts.
The Vikings D deserves respect. Their O, especially their line, not so much.

Daniels and Clark will be in their backfield all day.

HankScorpio's picture

Kenny Clark is an incredible player. He's rapidly becoming one of the best defenders on the team. And he's a few weeks shy of turning 23.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I had Clark as our best last year--and he's just a kid.

Wow.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Predictions:
(Last week I said we'd lose 24-19. We won 24-23, though if Allison's pushoff had been called, we would have lost 23-17)

DEFENSE:

1. Secondary will struggle. Minnesota's passing game will be elite this season.

2. Burks will play and wage exciting battle with Cook.

3. Daniels will play more and factor heavily. Adams (surprise!) will also get some action. Problem is, the ball will be coming out too quickly to make much difference.

4. Matthews will play much better.

OFFENSE:

1. Kizer will start, and given he's playing a Top 3 defense, will play pretty well. As game gets out of hand, he'll press and turn ball over.

2. Montgomery will be called upon to inject life in running game. It won't work--nothing will against Minnesota's front 7.

3. Graham will either adjust to being hit off the line, or fade to insignificance. I believe he'll adjust. He has to. Lewis will also play more.

4. WR's will struggle with too little time for running routes. If Adams can't play, expect more from MVS--at least to stretch defense a little. Minnesota has no one who can run with him. Perhaps this opens space underneath for remaining TE's and WR's.

FINAL SCORE: Minnesota wins, 27-13.

croatpackfan's picture

Last week I down voted you, so I did it again... Not to mess with your idea!

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Your group always downvotes me, Croat. It's a tradition. I'd start doubting myself if that ever changed.

I'll get plenty of games wrong--we all do--but outside of Allison's flagrant pushoff not being called, I had by far the closest prediction on this site in Week 1.

Oppy's picture

There is no "group" conspiring to down vote you. We all know there's one guy who consistently down votes you.

Anyone who predicts a lop-sided Packers loss to the Vikings on this site is bound to collect down votes. Let's be reasonable.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Nope, it's a group, and I'm fine with it. And who said you were "conspiring?" Anyway, several others have even commented how I'm pretty much guaranteed a batch of downvotes, even if I just post happy thoughts.

Rak47's picture

Stop with the "if the flagrant push off had been called nonsense" ALP. There is something going on every single play on both sides of the ball. If if if! If Rodgers hadn't got hurt, if Kizer had held the ball tighter, if Fuller hadn't dropped that pick, if Callahan hadn't over run Cobb on Cobbs TD. If if if, if I wake up 2morrow and publisher's clearing house is at my door I may just see you at the game Sunday. You can't cherry pick one play out of over 100 and say " if " when the conjunction " if " can be used at least 11 times after every single play on the field.

Oppy's picture

Packers will run better than expected, because that's the kind of non-sensical thing the Packers run game does. I also believe it will be a point of emphasis simply because it keeps Rodgers out of harm's way, and if they can gain traction in the run game, it slows down the Vikings from just tee'ing off on Rodgers when he does drop back.

Kizer is nowhere near an NFL QB, and I hope he's nowhere near the field.
I'd rather see Boyle out there if Rodgers doesn't play, and he's not ready either.. but he's not Kizer, and that's something. I just hope Rodgers plays.. The Packers don't have a back up QB in 2018.

The young secondary may learn some lessons this season- I'd expect them to- but I don't believe they will look over-matched this Sunday.

I don't know if the Packers pull out a win, but I think this game is way closer than most believe it will be.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

You're right that the Packers somehow run when they're not supposed to be able to--that's very true.

I like Boyle, but he's less ready than Kizer. You're more down on Kizer than anyone else--we all have our fixations--but I don't think we'll lose because of him. We'll lose because Minnesota is a much better team right now.

Oppy's picture

Kizer is bad news, man.. Bad news.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

You and I should be two drunks at the end of a bar. You can mutter in your beer about Kizer, and I'll mutter in my beer about McCarthy.

Then we'll pass out and get tossed.

HankScorpio's picture

You had me at "two drunks at the end of a bar"

Oppy's picture

I'm way ahead of you on this one.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Ha! :)

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I'm counting 3 drunks at the end of the bar. I'm not much of a drinker anymore, so I'll volunteer to be the designated driver.

RCPackerFan's picture

This will definitely be a strong test for the young CB's.

The group will be tested for sure. Both WR's are hard to cover and they run a scheme that helps get those guys open more.

I do feel we finally have a group that can matchup with most teams WRs. This is the first time I have felt this way in a long, long time. Basically since we had Woodson, Williams and Shields as our CB's.

Don't be surprised if Alexander and/or Jackson make a game changing type of play. Alexander likely would have had an interception against the Bears had Martinez not deflected the pass.

HankScorpio's picture

Last year at this time, the Packers were hoping that Davon House could anchor the coverage unit. This year, he's the 'break glass in case of emergency" option.

I look forward to seeing how the year unfolds with the CB group. King is a year older and more healthy. Alexander and jackson have shown lots of promise. And Williams is there to show them all how to prepare like a pro and translate that prep to the field on gameday.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Williams looks good, but if these kids keep learning from his tutelage, he may find himself at safety--and dominating.

RCPackerFan's picture

Last year the 2nd game against the Vikings our starting CB's were House and Hawkins. Lenzy Pipkkins was our 3rd CB.
This yer House is like you said our Emergency break glass CB at #5. Hawkins and Pipkins didn't make the final 53.

Our CB group is so much better this year!

Also.. Ahmad Brooks and Fackrell were our starting OLBs.

Our defense held the Vikings to 16 points.

HankScorpio's picture

The Vikings have a scary offense all the way around. Their skill position group scares opposing DCs. Their OL scares Kirk Cousins. Put it together and you have an inconsistent overall unit that is capable of both explosion and implosion.

RCPackerFan's picture

I agree!

I do think we are more equipped to go against their offense now. Not saying we will defend them well or anything. I just think we have better players that can compete with them more.

Oppy's picture

I don't know how anyone could have any real idea how Pettine's defense might approach this game.

I feel like it's going to be at least week 6 before this defense even knows for itself who and what they are, much less before some schlubb like me has any idea.

If it's true that Pettine is a guy who runs a defense that molds to the talent (instead of vice-versa), we certainly can't rely on what he's done elsewhere.

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