Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Packers down Jaguars 27-23 in season opener, look ahead to Minnesota

So, Packers fans...what do you think of the team's season-opening win? Was it a bit of a "Whew!" feeling at the end? Oh, yeah. But it was a win, albeit one which came down to the defense's only 4th-down stop of the day. Better late than never.

As we said in our game preview and prediction, "Expect some rustiness, some blown plays, and probably more penalties than we'll see later on in the season." Yes, it was all of that, although more so for the first two than the latter.

Rustiness exhibited itself from the start when it took a while for QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Jordy Nelson to get back on the same page; but they did. Blown plays exhibited itself on several key occasions, admitted to by Rodgers, when miscommunications at the line on two occasions perhaps caused the Packers to miss two touchdown possibilities. On one play, the line (or at least a portion of it) blocked in the opposite direction from the run. On another, half the line thought the play was a pass and the other a run. Not. Good.

Then there was the late 4th quarter fiasco when the Packers just needed to get some first downs and run time off the clock. They wound up having to call a timeout because players couldn't get lined up properly. After the timeout, there was confusion as to who was supposed to actually be on the field for the play. Rodgers called a second time out. But guess what? You can't call two consecutive timeouts. So, the Packers were assessed a 5-yard penalty. The result a play or so later was having to punt, which resulted in the only mediocre punt of the day for new punter Jacob Schum.

Sloppy? In the extreme. But, again, first game stuff. Fortunately, the defense was able to make a stop when it mattered most. End result: victory for the Packers 27-23 over the Jaguars. We called it 27-20 in our preview and prediction...so, not bad, eh?

The play of the game: the Packers defense stops Jacksonville on 4th-and-1 in the final seconds of the game, preserving a victory.
Photo: Rick Wood, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Lane Taylor does his job
After the surprise cut of Pro Bowl left guard Josh Sitton, many were left to wonder how this would all work out now that fourth-year pro Lane Taylor was named the starter. Well, at least for this first game, Taylor proved he could handle the job. He was solid, as expected, on run blocking and with one possible exception also held up while pass blocking. So far so good.

Secondary needs to tighten up
Our game preview stated that the secondary would likely be the strength of this defense. We still believe that. But in this first game? Not so much. The secondary gave up big plays all day long, with receivers in many instances wide open. Now, let's be honest: the Jags receivers are good. Two each had more than 1,000 yards receiving last season. Plus, QB Blake Bortles can certainly do damage when given the time. It is an explosive offense and, for that reason, some felt this could have been a game the Packers could lose. After all, it was on the road, against this explosive offense, and in the heat and humidity of Florida. The Pack not only overcame all that but their own blunders, as well. That bodes well for the future.

Next up: the ViQueens in their home and stadium opener
Minnesota asked to play the Packers in the first regular season game in their new stadium. Remember that old adage: Be careful what you ask for? Let's hope that comes true Sunday night. We're guessing it will. Make no mistake: the Vikes have an excellent defense. In fact, it was in large measure due to the defense's two scores on Sunday that Minnesota emerged victorious in its game on Sunday. With the loss for the season of QB Teddy Bridgewater, the quarterback situation is a bit unsettled. Veteran Shaun Hill played Sunday. But it's possible the Pack may see Sam Bradford under center. That doesn't matter. The game plan should be to hold RB Adrian Peterson to as few yards as possible (a-duh!) and force either King or Bradford to beat you.

The Packers are currently 2-point favorites over Minnesota. Let's hope it's not that close. Just remember how you felt about that 4-point victory of just a few days ago. Yowza!

We'll post our game preview and prediction closer to game time.

For now, we'll just close with the breaking news that LT David Bakhtiari has reportedly signed a four-year contract extension with the Packers. To which we say: Yay!