While the Detroit Lions are one of the last teams to start the 2014 NFL season on Monday Night Football, their division rivals the Green Bay Packers were the first. Kicking off against the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks, the Packers had a chance to create some early distance in the division by taking down an extremely formidable foe in the reigning champs. Not only did they fail to do so, but their sloppy play in all three facets of the game could open the door for the Lions to gain some ground early in the season.
12th Man Rising
The Seattle Seahawks have a stout defense, but they were facing off against arguably the best Quarterback in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers looked anything but the best, however, as his throws were consistently off target and rushed, in part due to a porous (To use a generous term) offensive line.
Whether it was Rodgers himself or head coach Mike McCarthy, someone was terrified of throwing to the right side of the field against All Pro Richard Sherman. The Seahawks capitalized on the Packers limited play calling and smothered them in both the passing and run game.
2014 Offensive Rookie of the Year Eddie Lacy didn’t show up well on the stat sheet, but that’s somewhat misleading as he actually looked very intimidating as a runner. He broke tackles with ease and danced around like a back half his size.
The Seahawks were just that good with putting multiple defenders in his area and Lacy never had any space to work with. Unfortunately, Lacy suffered a concussion in the game. His second concussion in a calendar year is bad news for the talented back, but he’s unlikely to miss an extended period.
All Pro Josh Sitton was his usual self while rookie Center Corey Linsley played far better than most expected. The same cannot be said for the rest of the line; especially the tackles where Bryan Bulaga looked serviceable at best before receiving yet another potentially season threatening injury.
He was relieved by former 2011 first round pick (and forgotten man) Derek Sherrod. Sherrod would go on to have one of the most disastrous performances of any debut, and any teams that face off against the Packers should rightly be licking their chops at that opportunity. Sherrod gave up a costly strip sack that became a safety in the second half in a series that would ultimately define his entire game.
Defensively, the Packers weren’t quite the mess their offense was, but it still wasn’t pretty. It was essentially Clay Matthews and then a bunch of other guys who were taking turns trying to out-bad each other. Rookie 1st round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was one of the biggest culprits, missing several tackles and dropping what should have been an easy interception on an underthrown Russell Wilson pass. Expected to be a difference maker in this defense, that difference has so far not been a positive one.
Linebacker Brad Jones probably won the worst-performance battle, however, as he was laughable in coverage against the Seahawks and just as silly against the run. These two, it should be noted, will often cover Detroit Lions rookie tight end Eric Ebron, who looks like he’ll eat plenty.
With Marshawn Lynch leading the rushing game, the Seahawks ended with a very healthy 5.6 YPC, with nobody netting less than 4 YPC. The Packers were especially vulnerable to Percy Harvin, who was able to move around the formation and do damage out of the backfield. While he won’t be rushing any time soon, the Lions use Ebron in a similarly unique manner to most offenses, so this is another sign the rookie should eat against the Packers.
The Packers have long been the class of the NFCN, carried by the arm and legs of their top-tier quarterback, deep receiving corps, and recently credible running threats. Their defense under Dom Capers, one of the great defensive geniuses in the NFL, has at times been a strength and liability.
In 2014, the Packers look extremely vulnerable on both sides of the ball. It’s only one game, but the Packers offensive line looks shakier than it has ever been while their defense is weak at almost every position. A week ago I laughed at some of the national pundits that had the Packers 3rd in the division. Today? How many wins can Aaron Rodgers get by himself?