This was definitely a tale of two halves. At first it looked like the Packers might be upset by the Bengals but also a blow out at home. Then they came back in the second half and dominated. Was a good team win and puts the Packers in a three way tie for first place in the NFC North.
Good: Packers resiliency
The Bengals saw a surge after replacing their offensive coordinator this week. They jumped to a 21 to 7 point lead, in part because of some injuries to key players. We have seen packers fail to overcome early deficits in the past. Rodgers was 1 and 35 when his team entered the second half down by multiple scores. It’s good to see them not fold and to keep fighting. They held it together and only allowed a field goal in the second half. Then went on to shut down the Bengals offense in overtime.
Bad: Martellus Bennett
It was the second week in row that Bennett dropped a key pass on a 3rd down play. He was also outperformed by tight end Lance Kendricks, who had a great game with a touchdown and 52 yards receiving. On the season he has 8 catches for 90 yards and no touchdowns. I know it’s early and he will most likely prove me wrong but so far he hasn’t looked like the stud tight end he is. According to pro-football-reference.com, he has 47 percent catch rating. Hopefully he can turn it around soon, if not we may have been better off resigning Jared Cook. Although, Cook also took time to contribute and build a rapport with Rodgers.
Good: Josh Jones
Josh Jones. Have a day young man! Games like today are exactly why the Packers took him in the second round in the 2017 NFL Draft. He is basically a younger version of Morgan Burnett. You can use him at safety and linebacker, the latter of the two in the now popular Nitro package used by Dom Capers defense. Jones led the entire defense with 12 tackles, three of which were for a loss, and two sacks! One of those sacks came on a key third down in Packer territory. Two of his solo tackles came during the Bengals offensive drive in OT. He needs more playing time going forward, he is one of the bright spots in the Packers secondary. With the new Nitro package, it should give guys, like Jones, more playing time in the future. For now, celebrate a good game Mr. Jones, Packer Nation has high hopes for you.
I guess this is something we did not think would be an issue when the season started, but it must be brought up now. I know we haven’t had a healthy offensive line so far this year, and with the short week coming up, I doubt we will have a healthy one versus the Bears, but the offensive line has to protect Aaron Rodgers better. Rodgers is the franchise, and as 2013 told us, without him, we are not that great of a team. Soon enough, he will be hurting from all the hits he has taken. If we want to win a Super Bowl this year, we need to have protect Rodgers so he can sling the ball around and win, it’s as simple as that.
Bad: Offense Inconsistency
The game was really a tale of two halves. Besides the first drive the Packers played awful on both sides of the ball, which included giving up the Bengals first three touchdowns of their season. Aaron Rodgers also threw his second pick six of his career and it was ugly. What I thought was bad were the drops. It was really a problem throughout the entire game even during their comeback coming from guys like Lance Kendricks, Davante Adams multiple times and Geronimo Allison multiple times. It doesn’t make Rodgers life any easier especially since he got sacked six times. Another issue they had was leaving players on an island to cover AJ Green often. Green finished with 111 yards receiving, a touchdown and he was truly the sole person carrying that Bengals offense and he should’ve been double covered more.
Good: Wide Receivers
Jordy Nelson had two touchdowns, Davante Adams received for 60 but Geronimo Allison looked like a star. He had 122 yards receiving and huge catches during the Packers comeback including the big 72-yarder in overtime. He was truly the second biggest part of that comeback behind Rodgers and if Rodgers can get Allison more involved in that offense they won’t look like what they played like in the first half. Mason Crosby is also a top-5 kicker and easily criminally underrated among the ranks of the NFL.
Good: Ty Montgomery
The Ty Montgomery train was near it’s top capacity Sunday against the Bengals. He carried the ball 12 times for 35 yards. Obviously a 2.9 yards per carry isn’t great, but with the holes he was working with, it was a pretty impressive performance. Dipping and diving for two yards at a time was frustrating, but he turned probable tackles for loss into positive plays. He was also the teams most targeted receiver. The second year running back was thrown the ball 12 times, catching eight passes for just 15 yards. One play of particular note, was Rodgers attempting a long back shoulder pass to Montgomery in the back of the end zone. If they can get the timing right, that could become an absolutely deadly play for Green Bay.
Bad: Ty Montgomery in Pass Protection
He was less impressive in pass protection, failing to help the back up tackles on multiple plays. If Rodgers is going to be healthy entering the post season, the team needs to do a better job of keeping him on his feet, with the limitations of the offensive line, the tight ends and running backs need to be great.
Hunter Van Asten
Of all the positive takes from the game, the most prominent one should be the play of Josh Jones and Kevin King. The pair of second-round rookies looked anything but, as they were arguably the two best defenders on the field for the green and gold. For the second week in a row, King lined up across from one of the game’s best wideouts, this time tracking AJ Green across the field. Green compiled an impressive 110 yards and a touchdown on 10 catches, but that isn’t to say King didn’t play well. King didn’t allow any backbreaking plays to what is often a gamebreaking player. If he can compete and use his long frame to his advantage, he could hold the top cornerback slot in Green Bay for quite some time. Jones, on the other hand, was finally the player he was hyped to be during training camp. He ushered in flashbacks of Charles Woodson circa 2009. Totally 12 tackles, including 2.0 sacks, Jones was a difference maker in coverage, in run defense, and as a pass rusher. He gives the defense the speed and tenacity it definitely needs over the middle. While the defense hasn’t been markedly better than a year ago, Jones and King should give fans some hope for the future.
When thinking of the Packers so far this season, I’m reminded of Dennis Green’s famous rant, “They are who we thought they were!”. Through three games, Green Bay looks one dimensional on offense with just one star, that being the incredible Aaron Rodgers, and they’ve looked like a low level defense on the whole once again. After two putrid offensive showings, the Bengals came into Lambeau and looked as if they hadn’t remotely struggled early in the season, moving the ball with relative ease by air and by ground. Granted, the Packers are banged up on both sides of the ball, leading to less than ideal lineups early on in the season. Despite all these errors, in the end Green Bay proved enough. Ugly as it may have been, a win is all that matters.