“Thursday Night Football” at
Lamborghini Lambeau Field this early in the season would seem like a treat near the quarter pole of the NFL season, but it’s been a stark reminder of how this schedule is a war of attrition, as both of these teams are working to get key players back on the field for this divisional showdown between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.
As always, we would never pass up the opportunity to get some intel from the opponent’s perspective. We called on Justis Mosqueda from AcmePackingCompany.com to give us a look into these new age Green Bay Packers ahead of this Week 4 matchup between the Lions and Packers.
The Packers, like the Lions, are dealing with quite a few injuries to key players on offense in the lead up to this Thursday’s game. First of all, how annoyed are you with this divisional game getting the “Thursday Night Football” treatment, and second, which of those players Green Bay has been missing–Aaron Jones, Christian Watson, David Bakhtiari–do the Packers need the most to see their offense get back up to speed? Pick one and forever hold your peace.
I’m more annoyed at the circumstances than the fact that it’s a divisional game. The Packers are so young and banged up right now that they really couldn’t afford to be on a short week right now, but I guess the good news is that they’ll only have one game in 20-something days between the rest from TNF to MNF and the bye week following the Raiders game. I think Jones is the biggest X factor, as far as the injuries go. AJ Dillon has not been good this year. His long last week was actually a backward pass, so he averaged something like two yards per carry against the Saints.
Another injury situation to keep an eye on is cornerback. Jaire Alexander and Carrington Valentine were out at the end of the last game, forcing Corey Ballentine (a practice squadder) into a starting outside role. Eric Stokes is still on the PUP list and Keisean Nixon only plays in the slot, so he was really the only option there opposite Rasul Douglas. Ballentine might get called up off the practice squad again to start.
It’s still incredibly early and there’s no room to draw any conclusions, but I feel like there’s a lot of people getting out ahead of their skis on Jordan Love and writing him off. Maybe it’s because he’s been with the Packers since 2020, maybe it’s because their last two quarterbacks are all-time greats, maybe there’s both of that going on and a lot more.
What have been your early takeaways from Love’s first season as the team’s starter, and where can you see him being a different quarterback by Thanksgiving when the two teams play each other again?
I’ve actually felt the opposite. People seem really excited about Love and have been a little higher on him than I’ve been so far. He has really incredible flashes, but the team is trying too many low-percentage shot plays with him right now because of how bad their run game is. They just can’t sustain drives right now. He’s going to be a good player, but he’s still going through the motions of a first-year starter right now. There’s a lot of little details that just aren’t there yet. The biggest example you can probably point to was the sneak attempt that he had against the Falcons when he gave the wrong keyword so the ball never got snapped.
Last year, Rashan Gary suffered his ACL injury against the Lions in their first matchup on November 7, but he’s already back and making a big difference for this defense with 3.5 sacks on just 45 pass rush snaps according to PFF. That’s some wild and insane efficiency, so how much longer until they take him off a “pitch count,” has he mostly been utilized as a pass-rushing specialist this year, and what kind of workload are you expecting from him against Detroit on Thursday?
They keep talking about making season-long decisions with Gary, so I assume that he’s gonna stay on a pitch count for a short week. Expect him to be on the field for every third and fourth down, though. That’s how they’ve generally been playing him. He’s been as good as his numbers suggest. He and Kenny Clark are really the only guys you have to worry about upfront.
The Lions are certainly holding out hope they can get David Montgomery back on the field to shore up their rushing attack because all it took was one game against Atlanta to see how important he is to how they want to set the tone on offense.
Where do the Packers excel in run defense, where are there still question marks, and how confident do you feel in the Packers backend after not facing much of a challenge between Justin Fields, Desmond Ridder, and Derek Carr/Jameis Winston?
The Packers excel on run defense? That’s news to me!
In all seriousness, safety Darnell Savage has been playing better as of late, but they have two 2022 backups now starting on the 2023 defensive line and Gary on a pitch count. The spine of the defense was always going to be the weakness of this team, with how free agency and the draft played out. Something like 55 percent of the Packers’ cap space wasn’t on the field last week, due to injuries and dead cap accounting. This team was always going to be thin somewhere, and it’s clearly the run defense.
I feel good about the coverage, but we’ll see how Corey Ballentine holds up — if he ends up starting at cornerback this week. Carrington Vallentine is a seventh-round rookie but was probably the star of the preseason for Green Bay. There are high hopes there, even if Jaire Alexander can’t play.
What’s one nugget of Packers’ intel that a gambling Lions fan would find useful for their bet slip this weekend?
Dontayvion Wicks anytime touchdown [currently +700 on DraftKings Sportsbook] has been my bet for two weeks now. They haven’t really been able to get Wicks the ball as much as they’d like, because a lot of those Jordan Love “learning moments” have come on plays designed for him to get open, but Wicks is consistently getting open on film. I think he has a real chance to finish the season as the team’s leading receiver, depending on how healthy Christian Watson can stay this year.