With week one officially in the books for the Packers, let’s take a look at who stood out, and who struggled against the Vikings.
After a long offseason with so much back and forth debate about how the Green Bay Packers will look this season, and what their future will look like, it was fun to watch the Packers come out and take care of business against their division rival.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at some players whose stock rose and fell in Week 1.
Loser: Christian Kirksey
Now, I have been on the record all offseason saying that Kirksey will be an upgrade over the departing Blake Martinez. After yesterday’s performance, there were some good things along with some bad.
Kirksey was one of two players to play 100 percent of the snaps in Sunday’s game.
With health being one of the worries with Kirksey, this was a nice thing to see, especially with how weak Green Bay’s MLB position already is. While Kirksey did get involved in 12 tackles, he didn’t do much else out there.
The rush defense picked up right where it left off last year, getting gashed by Minnesota. Including a play where Kirksey couldn’t chase down Kirk Cousins. Kirksey was flagged for a face mask at one point in the game which does happen but you still don’t like to see it.
I don’t think this performance is cause for concern, and there were certainly other factors on why the rush defense was so bad. However, I was still expecting a bigger impact for the newcomer.
Winner: Jaire Alexander
Alexander turned in a fantastic game and in my opinion, was easily the MVP of the defense. Alexander has been a legit number one corner since the Packers drafted him in 2018. Some people have been pegging Jaire to be an All-Pro this season, and Week 1 was a great way to start.
Alexander got himself an interception and this beautiful sack for a safety where he read Minnesota perfectly.
Alexander is still very young and does still get beat at times. Adam Thielen had a great game going for over 100 yards and two touchdowns, but this was still a great performance by the young corner.
Loser: Mike Pettine
Now it must be stated that I am a big fan of Pettine for the most part. After taking over for Dom Capers in 2018, I think Pettine has installed a great culture in the defense and it seems like the players like him as well.
However, his absolute refusal to stop the run can be frustrating. The Vikings rushed for 134 yards as a team, and for all the good the Packers offense was doing, the defense was allowing Minnesota to stay in the game. An early injury to Kenny Clark doesn’t help things, but it seems Pettine doesn’t adjust his game plan at times and is okay with teams running all over his defense.
Good teams will use this to their advantage, and both 49ers games from last season are evidence of this. It will be interesting to see going forward how Green Bay handles strong rushing teams.
Winner: Wide receivers
With all the talk throughout the offseason about how the Packers didn’t draft a wideout, it was a pleasant surprise to see the current WR room go out and have strong showings. Davante Adams balled out with 14 catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns. Adams is one of the best receivers in the game today and took advantage of these young Minnesota corners.
Moving onto Allen Lazard, who had some expectations coming into this year as the clear cut number two WR. Lazard had a nice day as well going for 63 yards, on four catches, and a touchdown. Lazard also got a really nice 19-yard run on an end-around which was awesome to see.
Finishing up with Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who had four catches, 96 yards, and one touchdown. After taking quite a bit of criticism for his play last season, MVS came out ready to play Sunday, putting his 4.3 speed on full display.
Of course, it must still be stated that even with the good game for MVS, he did still have two drops. One of them would’ve been a 60-plus-yard catch.
Winner: Aaron Rodgers
Moving onto my final winner and MVP of the entire game, Aaron Rodgers. Aaron looked locked in today going for 364 yards, four touchdowns, and zero picks. Rodgers over the last few years has been accused of being past his prime and looking uninterested.
In yesterday’s game, I think it’s fair to say that was not the case. Rodgers arguably had his best game in the last few years with that stat line he put up. He looked like he was having a lot of fun out there and was zipping some balls. I already talked about his throw to MVS, but I think this throw to Lazard in the end zone was my favorite of the day.
Rodgers was on point all game and was looking like his younger self. If he can keep it up all season, expect the Packers to be a tough opponent each week.
As stated, it was great to see Green Bay pick up a win against Minnesota. Here are some other things that stuck out to me:
In limited playing time, UDFA Krys Barnes played well and should be playing next to Kirksey going forward. Somewhat of a quiet day for Aaron Jones, though he still was solid going over 60 yards and a TD.
I thought the offensive line played great and they only allowed one pressure.
Elgton Jenkins looked good while playing multiple positions in yesterday’s game. A couple more shoutouts to Tyler Ervin who was such a great find last season and continues to prove he belongs, and to rookie Josiah Daguara, who looked okay in limited playing time. He only had one catch but was all over the field with his blocking ability.
One last note, it would’ve been nice to see more from the pass rush. Za’Darius Smith got one sack but was otherwise kind of quiet. Preston Smith, we didn’t hear much from at all and didn’t even make the stat sheet.
Next: 5 standout Packers performances in Week 1