The Packers have started off 3-0 on the season for the first time since 2015. Looking at the last decade that is not a surprising statement, but the surprising part is how they are doing it. The Packers have been dominating on defense while their offense has been underwhelming at best. Even with the offense still trying to figure itself out, Matt LaFleur is the first rookie head coach for the Packers to start 3-0 since Lombardi himself. He is pretty good company. The Packers have a home game against an injured Philadelphia Eagles team and to improve to 4-0 they need to excel in these 3 areas.
Stop Giving up Big Plays:
The Green Bay Packers defense is one of the greatest surprises of the 2019 NFL season. The team spent over $100 million this offseason in defensive free agents and also used two first round picks to help turnaround the usual below average defense Green Bay is known for. Many experts and even fans thought the Packers may have overspent Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Adrian Amos or the draft picks were too risky, but through three weeks the Packers defense is proving them wrong. They are performing at a level they have not in years. Here is how they compare to the 2018 defense through just three weeks.
In 2018 they had 5 sacks compared to 12. In 2018, they forced only 3 turnovers, but already have 8 in 2019, and in 2018 they allowed 83 points and only 35 points have been allowed so far in 2019.
The defense is playing at a high level, but they need to stop the big plays. Against the Bears there was really one big play the whole game when Rodgers hit Marquez Valdez-Scantling deep down the middle, but the Bears did have a big play called back by penalty. Trubisky hit Gabriel on a 50 yard bomb, but was called back for offensive pass interference. The defense caught a break there, and did its part to limiting the Bears offense besides Allen Robinson, who had over 100 yards receiving. Against the Vikings, the Packers gave up three big plays. Dalvin Cook had a 75-yard touchdown run after Darnell Savage took a bad angle, Stefon Diggs had a 45-yard touchdown reception because Jaire Alexander lost the ball in the sun and Chad Beebe had a 61-yard reception after a couple missed tackles that allowed the Vikings to kick a field goal. Those three plays were worth 181 yards of the Vikings 421 total offensive yards. They tallied up 43% of their yards on three big plays. Against the Broncos, Packers’ cornerback Kevin King missed a tackle behind the line of scrimmage that allowed Lindsay to turn a checkdown pass into a 30 yard gain. The next play he was beat by Cortland Sutton, but thankfully for him Flacco missed the throw on what surely would have been a touchdown.
The Packers defense is dominant, but they have proven to be inclined to give up big plays. It is only week three and that is bound to improve, but it is enough to make fans worry. The Packers need to limit that against an Eagles offense that can be explosive even with the injuries they have.
Get Davante Adams Involved:
Through three weeks Davante Adams has not had the impact many were expecting. He has not scored a touchdown in the first three weeks, which has not happened since 2015. In 2018 he had 204 yards and 3 touchdowns going into week for compared to his 0 touchdowns and 198 yards. The yardage hasn’t dropped off too much, but to be held scoreless is a surprise to most fans. The Packers have said they want to get him more involved and give him opportunities to make the plays they know he can make, but it has not happened yet. He was held to under 40 yards week one and only had four receptions week three. He has faced great defenses in the Bears, Vikings and Broncos, who at times were using double and even triple coverage to minimize his impact. Even with the defenses focusing in on Adams, the Packers still can do more to get him the ball. If the Packers want to turn around what has been a disappointing offense they need to get their top playmaker the ball.
Take Advantage of Turnovers:
The Packers are leading the league in turnovers this season. They have forced eight turnovers in three weeks and have a +6 difference. The defense is doing everything they can to put the offense in short field situations and put points on the board. The Packers have scored 21 points off turnovers, but can still do better. The offense ranks 29th for punts per game, and some of those have come after creating a turnover. Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur have been vocal that they need to improve on offense and one area to start is capitalizing on the amazing job the defense is doing. The Packers will create turnovers against the Eagles because that is just what they do in 2019. If they can turn them into points, they may be unstoppable this season.