The Green Bay Packers have been a model of consistency that is rare in the NFL. Since 1992, they’ve had just four losing season, won 13 division titles and a couple of Super Bowls. They enter the 2020 season with that same elite mentality, coming off a 13-3 season that was one game short of the Super Bowl.
However, they also come with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. Their loss in the NFC Championship game was downright embarrassing, leading many to believe they were not nearly as good as their record indicated. They’ve been tagged all offseason as a team most likely to regress. And to make matters even more intense, Green Bay went out this offseason and indicated their future at quarterback could change in the next couple years.
So let’s take a look at the Detroit Lions’ Week 2 opponent and how they got here.
Green Bay Packers
13-3 record (1st in NFC North)
15th in points scored, 9th in points allowed
Overall DVOA: 9th (8th on offense, 15th on defense)
Key free agent additions: LB Christian Kirksey, OT Rick Wagner,
WR Devin Funchess (opted out)
Key losses: OT Bryan Bulaga, LB Blake Martinez, TE Jimmy Graham, LB Kyler Fackrell, LB B.J. Goodson
2020 NFL draft picks:
Round 1: QB Jordan Love
Round 2: RB AJ Dillon
Round 3: TE Josiah Deguara
Round 5: LB Kamal Martin
Round 6: G Jon Runyan
Round 6: C Jake Hanson
Round 6: OT Simon Stepaniak
Round 7: S Vernon Scott
Round 7: DE Jonathan Garvin
Promoted: Jason Vrable promoted to WR coach, Luke Getsy promoted to quarterbacks/passing game coordinator
Despite all the noise about the Green Bay Packers becoming a prime candidate to regress in 2020—due to things like crazy turnover margin and an unsustainable record in close games—their offseason strategy appeared to be: stay put. This has long been the identity of the Packers—make splashes in January, not March—but general manager Brian Gutekunst had bucked that trend in 2019.
Things got even more interesting during the draft, when Green Bay decided not to go needs based, and, instead, plan for beyond 2020. Jordan Love is a guy that likely won’t see the playing field at all this year, and second-round pick A.J. Dillon joins an already crowded and talented backfield. In Week 1, he played in just five snaps.
So from an outsider perspective, this is pretty much the same team we saw in 2019. Many believe, then, that Green Bay could see a significant decline this year and maybe even fall off the top spot in the division.
2020 season thus far (1-0)
Week 1: Beat Vikings, 43-34
- 1st in points scored, t-25th in points allowed: t-25th
- 17th in DVOA: 7th on offense, 30th on defense, 12 on special teams
The Packers made a huge statement in Week 1, obliterating the Minnesota Vikings on the road. The offense was especially dominant, which was a sight to see considering how well Minnesota has played defense for the past decade or so. Green Bay’s defense is obviously a concern—giving up 24 points in the fourth quarter is never a good thing—but the Packers had only allowed 10 points at the half, so some of their issues were simply “garbage time” results.
Key injuries: RT Billy Turner (knee), G Lucas Patrick (shoulder), G Lane Taylor (soon-to-be IR), DL Montravius Adams (toe), DT Kenny Clark (groin)
Much like the Lions, the Packers are a bit beat up, too—and at specific positions. The offensive line entered Week 1 shorthanded with right tackle Billy Turner missing the Vikings game with a knee injury. After the game, though, they had lost both starting guards to injury. The good news for Green Bay is that left guard Lucas Patrick is probable to play this week. The bad news is that right guard Lane Taylor suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Green Bay’s offensive line already had some big question marks after losing Bryan Bulaga this offseason, but now they’ll have to rely on some unproven depth.
Additionally, Kenny Clark could be a big loss for Green Bay this week. His status, currently, is unknown, but Clark is one of the best interior defenders in the league, coming fresh off his first Pro Bowl.
Biggest strength: Quarterback
Aaron Rodgers had a lot of doubters coming into 2020, as the past two seasons haven’t been quite as dominant as we’re used to seeing. Let’s see how Rodgers responded against a presumably talented Vikings defense:
Week 1 PFF grade: 96.0 (1st)
Passer rating: 127.5 (4th)
QBR: 92.9 (2nd)
TD passes: 4 (1st)
It doesn’t seem to have mattered that the Packers didn’t go out and add a bunch of weapons for Rodgers. He made stars out of Marquez Valdes-Scantling (4 catches, 96 yards, 1 TD) and Allen Lazard (4 catches, 63 yards, 1 TD). Then, of course, there’s the forever-underrated Davante Adams, who pulled in a league-leading 14 catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1.
Biggest weakness: Secondary
While Jaire Alexander is a stud, the Packers are really still trying to figure out the rest of their secondary. Second-year safety Darnell Savage is still going through some early-career struggles, although he may have a bright future after notching two interceptions his rookie season. Next to him, Adrian Amos is... fine, I guess? And opposite Alexander, Kevin King continues to go through some serious issues in his young career.
Admittedly this is a bit nitpicky, because the Packers have a well-balanced roster, but if there’s a position to exploit, this may be it. After all, Kirk Cousins didn’t have that much trouble throwing against Green Bay on Sunday, completing 76 percent of his passes for an average of 10.4 yards per attempt and a passer rating of 118.6—though there was some stat-padding happening in the fourth quarter.
Vegas line for Sunday: Packers by 6.5.