The Green Bay Packers have their home opener at Lambeau Field this week and after last week’s drubbing in Seattle, “Home Sweet Home” certainly applies. The Packers are 4-2 in home openers under head coach Mike McCarthy, with the last coming during the 2011 season.
I normally handle “Keys To The Game” but we’re going to change the format a bit this season. I’ll now be doing this “Saturday Scoop” piece and my colleague Adam Czech will put out his new “5 Reasons” piece on Sunday’s. The Scoop will be a free-form narrative on any last-minute news leading up to the Packers’ latest game and what kind of shape the team is in, both physically and mentally.
The New York Jets
The Jets beat the Oakland Raiders in week one but did anyone really expect the Raiders to be that much better this season? Everyone is talking about New York’s stout defensive front and how they don’t let other teams run the ball. Granted, the Raiders have Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden at running back and they were held to 25 collective yards on the day.
What not many are talking about is the Jets’ secondary, which is marginal, at best. Yes, the Packers passing attack was anything but offensive last week but that was against the best secondary in the NFL, by a long shot. Whether it was truly about the matchups or if the Packers were just flat-out avoiding Richard Sherman, the Jets don’t have anyone that will keep Green Bay from using the entire field on Sunday. Expect to see more opportunities and open receivers.
We all know about Jets head coach Rex Ryan, who joked with the media on Wednesday and said he hopes that Rodgers “gets sick” on Sunday. He’s witty and entertaining, but he also has had some good success in his past and likes to mix it up. After watching what the Seahawks did with Percy Harvin last week, expect to see the Jets try to give the Packers some unscouted looks. Will we see a fair share of quarterback Michael Vick?
The Green Bay Packers
The Packers have been saying all of the right things this week. That they’re looking past the Seattle game and aren’t discouraged about their season. It’s really not fair to be after just one game and for the team’s sake, I hope it’s true. Emotion is a big component in football and has propelled teams to big wins in some improbable situations before. Green Bay needs to come out hot, hungry, fired up and ready to hit somebody.
The Jets, under Ryan, are a scrappy team who like to get physical. They’re fully aware that the Packers have some inexperience and rust on the offensive line and they will do everything they can to exploit it. It’s great that tackle Derek Sherrod knows he needs to play better and just be more sound technically. It’s the “doing it” part that has me worried. I just don’t think he can, even on grass and against not-Seattle. I hope I’m wrong. Green Bay will probably end up sliding help his way, which takes a man away from another area of the offense that could provide some production elsewhere.
Defensively, the Packers will likely activate rookies Mike Pennel and Jayrone Elliott on defense this week and hopefully they can provide a small boost. Julius Peppers needs to step up into his role and be more disruptive. He was nearly absent last week. Datone Jones, where are you? The Packers need you, NOW!
Middle linebacker has been a hot topic and defensive coordinator Dom Capers steered clear of saying that Brad Jones will start this week. He very well might, but it seems as though the support for him is waning. Jamari Lattimore and Sam Barrington, have your helmets nearby. That said, don’t expect any immediate better play in the middle with either of the latter two in there. That would likely take time and some regularity to develop and have us all confident that they know where to be on the field.
Look, the Packers won’t win this game on desire and fire alone, but if they want to establish a dominance at home and for this 2014 season at all, it has to start now. Making everyone forget about opening day in Seattle is paramount to the Packers getting their mojo back and having opponents dread facing them.
It’s time to play the game and, hopefully, get back on track for the Packers. Corey Linsley has his first NFL game and start under his belt. Sherrod knows he’ll be playing quite a bit, possibly even starting at right tackle. Running back Eddie Lacy has a good chance to get cleared and test that Jets’ front.
The Packers have a lot of reason to believe that this week goes much better than last week did. Any visible improvement should be easily attained after what was the second half last week. A win can right the ship and start this team towards the type of season they hoped for at the outset. A loss, while not catastrophic from a mathematical standpoint, will likely cast further doubt from around the NFL circles and certainly cause a meltdown within the talk radio realm.
These AFC/NFC games always seem to take on a life of their own and I foresee this one being no different. While many would like to see a healthy beatdown of the Jets, this one could come down to the wire. The Packers have to be prepared to play 60 minutes. Hopefully they’re dialed in, but loose. They were too tense in Seattle and it showed.
Get your bloody mary bar ready and your Miller Lite in hand, there’s football at Lambeau Field once again!
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: