Once again, the Packers received great help from the young players in their program. The Packers defense was being thrashed in the first half, but settled in and gave the Packers a chance to close the gap. Despite giving up a nine minute touchdown drive, allowing Dallas to take a 31-28 lead with 1:18 left. The defense only gave up seven points over the last two and a half quarters, allowing Rodgers to point at the letters on his back.
Jamaal Williams: The rookie running back was moved to third string this week, after spraining his knee against Chicago. Williams only received one carry for a yard, which may have been due to the break out performance of the Aaron Jones, or his knee just wasn’t ready for action.
Kevin King: King went down with a concussion in the first quarter. He was matched up with Dez Bryant, who was very physical in the first half. Bryant did most of his damage early in the game, before Devon House and Damarious Randall slowed him down. Bryant was quite a match up for the rookie, so I’m not too concerned. King is still a tad raw, he’s going to make positive plays this season, but the negative plays will probably be there too. Just like basketball, if we see growth this season, it’s all good.
Josh Jones: The rookie had a quiet game, recording three tackles. Much like Kevin King, I’m hopeful for his future. He’s made enough plays to make me confident he’ll become a good to great player for the Packers.
Josh Hawkins: The Eastern Carolina product didn’t get as many snaps as I expected this week. The team gave Randall and Rollins another chance, which worked out well. When Hawkins did get in the game, he continued to produce. He broke on a Prescott throw, coming from about five yards away, and got his hand in there. He uses his speed very well, and always seems to have an idea when the ball is in the air. Much like Aaron Jones, Hawkins just keeps making plays. It’s going to become difficult to keep him on the bench.
Damarious Randall: He had his back against the wall with the organization and fanbase this weekend. Sometimes that’s the best place a guy with Randall’s personality can be. He stepped his game up, picking off Dak Prescott’s tipped pass, and taking it to the house. He then, continued his rhetoric, and toss the ball at Dak like a piece of fruit he was disgusted with. Luckily for Randall, he dimmed that memory by breaking up a deep pass off a free play, turning a likely touchdown into a five yard offsides penalty.
Geronimo Allison: For the second consecutive week, the week three hero didn’t catch a pass. He’s only been targeted twice since his overtime catch and run, both coming in Dallas.
Quinten Rollins: Rollins received playing time after Kevin King went down with the concussion. He gave up a couple of passes, allowing the receiver a comfortable gap off their cut. He needs to be better in coverage, but he recovered another fumble. A positive to note: Rollins is very good blitzing the quarterback. He hasn’t recorded a sack yet, but he’s good at avoiding blockers and collapsing the pocket. He’s made tackles in the run game this season. If he can clean up his coverage skills, big if, he’d still be a very useful cornerback.
Blake Martinez: The Stanford standout led the Packers with 12 tackles on Sunday, and added a deflected pass. He was all over the line of scrimmage Sunday, attacking the ball, instead of reacting to the ball. Inside linebacker has been a position of concern, but Martinez is playing like a gladiator. This defense needs to play with attitude, and he has the heart to provide it.
Jake Ryan: Ryan received his most playing time of the season Sunday, as the Packers wanted to get a little bigger to slow down Ezekiel Elliot. He played well, ending the game as the Packers second leading tackler, with seven. The Michigan product can make plays, but the defense is going for speed more times than not. It’s a good sign that he can play well in a less expansive role.
Youngin’ of the Week:
Aaron Jones: The rookie running back got his first career start in the NFL, and look at that, he continued to make big plays. Jones ran for 125 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Last week, I talked about what a plus he could be for the passing game, and the rookie came up big with a nine yard diving snag, giving the Packers first and goal. Hopefully, they set him up with run and catch opportunities in the future. Every time he touched the ball, he moved the ball down the field, even if it was just for half a yard. The biggest play on the day may have been his draw play on the final drive, giving the Packers 12 yards, while getting out of bounds to stop the clock. There is already talk of the rookie displacing Ty Montgomery as the starting running back. I think that’s a bit premature, but the rookie has certainly proven he deserves to touch the ball every game. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen for the Bears may be a nice comparison for how I’d like them used.