Packers vs. Vikings: Knee-Jerk Reaction

Aaron Rodgers vs. Vikings

The Green Bay Packers haven’t had to play that hard, for that long, in almost a month.  After losing to the New Orleans Saints in late October, the Packers had their bye week followed by two big-time wins over the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles.  Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers didn’t see any action in the fourth quarter of either of those two wins.  Today, on the road, the Packers faced adversity and overcame it to get a big divisional win and are alone in first place in the NFC North.

We knew it wouldn’t be easy every week but I’m not sure we saw today’s performance by the Vikings coming.  Minnesota, led by new head coach Mike Zimmer, dialed up a good game plan to eliminate the big pass plays and forced the Packers to muscle out their yards.  Minnesota ran cover-2 most of the day and the Packers had just two pass plays of 20 yards or longer.  Rodgers was mostly accurate but benefited from a dropped interception by Vikings safety Harrison Smith and avoided a big turnover.

With Minnesota choosing to take on the Packers up front and play the run and underneath passing game, the Packers offense was up to the task.  Running back Eddie Lacy went over 125 yards and had two touchdowns.  Lacy was reportedly not feeling well but played anyway and showed some amazing grit.  It was Lacy with some big runs at the end of the game to drain the clock and prevent the Vikings from one last possession to try and tie or win it.

I’m sure some of you are thinking that I’m overlooking all of the mistakes the the Vikings made today that could have changed the outcome of this game and that I’m unaware that a really good team isn’t going to bail Green Bay out like Minnesota did.  I’m not.  The overthrows and the drops didn’t go unnoticed.  Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater did reel it in in the second half and was more on point, offering a stiffer challenge for the Packers secondary.  This same secondary that has been making plays at a steady clip over the past two weeks looked very average today.  With Tom Brady and the Patriots coming next week, the Packers need to find “elite status” and fast.

Here are some knee-jerk bullet points from today:

  • Eddie Lacy runs well late – Lacy put the Packers on his back last season when Rodgers went down and appears to be running well so far in November.  This is what the Packers were hoping Lacy would be when they drafted him:  a gritty back who could take advantage of a worn down opposing defense late in games and eat clock.  Lacy has been so much more.  Having found success in the passing game too, Lacy has become a legitimate weapon from start to finish that has opened things up for the Packers offense.  With Rodgers at the wheel, opposing secondaries have to know that if they slip up at all, Rodgers will exploit it.  But what do you do when #27 is in the backfield as well and capable of picking up big chunks of yards on his own?’  The shovel pass touchdown was a nice bit of running by Lacy, who clearly hates being tackled.
  • Rodgers can be good without being great – 19/29 for over 200 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.  Not stellar, especially when you compare that to the past few weeks, but Rodgers is clearly Green Bay’s MVP and still very much in the conversation for his second MVP award this season.  Minus the near interception by Smith, Rodgers was on point today.  After trying to throw for a first down when he could have easily walked for the needed yardage, Rodgers settled in and took what the defense gave.  Minnesota tried to blanket Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb and Nelson still managed eight receptions while Cobb added four.  One of Cobb’s grabs, a 29-yarder early in the game, was a vintage Rodgers throw.  It was right where it needed to be against near perfect coverage.  There was only one place that ball could have been for Cobb to catch it and Rodgers found it.  I guess that “place the ball in the small net downfield” drill in training camp is paying off.
  • This team can’t afford any injuries – There simply isn’t the type of depth at most positions to sustain success if a guy goes down.  Yes, there’s a reason starters start and backups don’t, but the drop-off is considerable in some areas such as guard with Lane Taylor and defensive back with Demetri Goodson.  Every time T.J. Lang or Josh Sitton are down on the turf, my heart palpitates.  I see a toughness this year that I have not seen in the past and hoping that continues as this team hits the home stretch of the season.  Lacy playing through illness and Lang returning after tweaking his back are just two signs.
  • Inside linebacker struggles returned – I’m no film expert nor particularly adept at breaking down scheme but I’m curious as to why Brad Jones was out there in favor of Jamari Lattimore.  Jones has done very little to garner a lot of playing time and it’s only a matter of time before his lack of play making ability costs this team.  Beside him, A.J. Hawk is just plain slow.  He can’t stay with anyone in the passing game and the early catch by Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph was evidence enough.  After making the catch, Hawk took a deep angle that allowed Rudolph to pick up close to 20 yards on a play that should have maxed out at 10.  Glad Hawk knows he has no speed, bad that he has no speed.  I’ve supported Hawk but the reality is clear:  the Packers need to replace him after this season if they want more production from the middle of the defense.
  • This week’s game is a huge barometer for the Packers – The New England Patriots have won seven straight games and rolled on offense despite facing the Detroit Lions’ league-leading defense.  If they can manage that type of production against Detroit, they’ll cut through the Packers’ defense like a hot knife through butter if Green Bay doesn’t clean up what ailed them today.  Different team, different scheme, but the Packers are in for some tough love if they can’t get to Tom Brady and don’t cover tight end Rob Gronkowski next week.  You can throw out all of the stats, trends and good vibes the Packers have enjoyed at home this season.  They’ll need to be near-perfect if they want to come out a winner.

Enjoy the win and that we don’t have to look at #15 for Minnesota’s mug again this season!



Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on

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31 thoughts on “Packers vs. Vikings: Knee-Jerk Reaction

  1. “I’ve supported Hawk but the reality is clear: the Packers need to replace him after this season if they want more production from the middle of the defense.”

    Welcome aboard the Hawk-replacement train, it has a whole lots of passengers.

    However, given that AJ has been a huge liability in the middle of the D for 3.5 years, I really question whether TT will ever replace his highest-ever draft pick.

  2. Meh. They gutted out a win on the road against a divisional opponent with nothing to play for except their jobs. This was Minnesota’s super bowl. And for the first time in awhile, GB beat a team playing 2 deep safeties. I’ll take the win.

    Plus, I wonder how much GB wanted to show on either side of the ball in advance of next week. It should be a GREAT game!

  3. AJ has stunk from day one. Now he’s just an embarassment. A reminder of how fallible and stubborn and bull-headed TT is.

    1. We’d much rather have Speileman (sp?). Then we could waste all our draft picks trading back into the first round for studs Kalil and Patterson. Heck, the best WR the Vikings had on the field was a TT 7th rounder.

      1. I agree. Again, MN steals one of Ted’s guys. This time though they win. Charles Johnson is going to be a stud. Reminds me of Dez Bryant. I think he’s already their top receiver. Bridgewater obviously loves the guy because he constantly looks for him.

        Just a shame TT is so good at stocking players that we couldn’t keep him at the time due to not having enough room. Those basturd bottom feeder Vikings always stealing our players. Jennings they can have but them having Charles Johnson really pisses me off!! He’s much better than Davante Adams is. Oh well, what can you do?

        1. A little fast on the trigger on Adams don’t you think? Johnson is a primary target on the Vikings because their other receivers suck. Adams is the third receiver on the Packers and is after thought after Nelson and Cobb. Time will tell but I think the kid deserves a chance.

          1. No, I am not. I like Adams but after watching Charles Johnson the past two games the Vikings got themselves a steal. Johnson is bigger, faster, and stronger than Adams will ever be. He’s got the entire package that’s all I am saying and yes, he reminds me of Dez Bryant. He’s going to be a handful going forward.

            As for the Vikings receivers sucking, I disagree. They have a lot of talent. Jennings and Patterson are extremely talented, they just don’t have a reliable qb throwing to them like the Packers have with Rodgers.

              1. It was a piss poor pass. I know he had some drops. I don’t care. I am going by what I see and this kid is as talented as they come. TT took a gamble but unfortunately it paid off for the Vikings instead. Those a holes!!

            1. C. Johnson 3 receptions 52 yds 1 td 11 targetted

              That’s his stat line… 3 for 11. That would sink you deep on the Depth Chart in most teams and send you to the practice squad for the Packers.

          1. He’s just getting started in his career. He’s only played a few games and he looks the part is all I am saying. He looks like a prize race horse physically. Dez Bryant didn’t look like Dez Bryant when he first started out.

            I am a considered somewhat of a guru when it comes to talent evaluation. Mock me all you want but none of you can deny this Charles Johnson has some talent. I remember vividly all of Packerland being upset when Cleveland stole him off our practice squad last year. I never forgot it and yesterday his talent was on display. Tramon could not cover that guy. He was open constantly.

            The kids going to be a star and yes it pisses me off because he would easily be our no. 3 this year with no. 1 ability. Adams is ok but he’s not Charles Johnson. Charles Johnson has Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson type ability. I can see why TT went after him.

  4. Nice to read a positive column after an imperfect, yet entertaining, game. Eddie would have had 50 more yards if not for the penalties. Zimmer’s game plan wouldn’t have looked near as goog if the officials hadn’t let Minnesota’s secondary play like Seattle’s last year.

    I actually feel bad for Zimmer, seems like a good coach and good guy. Minnesota wasting so many draft picks trading into the 1st round and poor FA signings have resulted in poor roster that will take years to improve.

    While TJ and Sitton were toughing it out Bakh was getting abused on some plays.

  5. I’m normally a positive guy, but I don’t see how the Packers are going to cover Gronkowski.

    1. I’m with you on that, Chad. And throw in the rest of the NE offense. Week to week in this NFL so we’ll see what kind of game plan Capers comes up with. Last time they had a legitimately tough barometer game against the Saints, it got ugly (albeit with Rodgers’ hamstring issue thrown in). This one is at home but even that won’t help a ton against a top-tier squad like the Pats. Just hoping they don’t embarrass themselves.

      1. Why don’t they just put CM3 on him one on one all game? He’s just as big and fast as Gronk…. Peppers/Neal/Daniels/Perry can handle the pass rush.

        Other than Gronk who scares you on their offense? Verreen coming out of the backfield is the only real one I can think of. Perhaps the Gray/Blount power game? But IMO Tramon/Sam can handle LaFell and Edelmann no problem.

        I actually think (other than Gronk) that GBs D matches up very well with the Pats. Better than they did with the Eagles. Better than they did with Lions and Bears too. I’m not an expert in any sense, but to me the simplest solution is often the best one…

        1. Agreed. It’s not a secret, but knock Brady off his spot and NE becomes much more manageable. Jonas Gray (assuming he shows up on time for practice this week) and Blount could be a problem.

    2. No team can cover Gronk all game. Nobody could cover Finley either pre-injury. Graham’s a little different but a tough cover also. It’s what makes the super athletic TEs so valuable.

      1. “No one could cover Finley”… until he dropped 4 passes in a row, then got one first down on the 5th one and did that stupid shark fin thing… smh… Finley could have been SO great but injuries and his own ridiculousness got in the way.

  6. Hawk has been nothing but a mediocre LB at best all he is good for is reliability and putting the defense in the right place…he has been around so long he knows how to read offenses but as for his play pfffffffffft is all i got to say!

  7. I’m not surprised in the defensive performance. A lot of injuries, Packers suck against mobile QBs, and the Vikings have some solid RBs which they utilized to great effect.

    I was surprised at Mike McCarthy looking completely unprepared to face the Cover 2. The Vikings’ used their RBs to great effect but McCarthy seems to be completely avoiding pass-to-run strategy unless it’s the occasional screen to Lacy.

    Don’t get me wrong – Lacy is a beast and he played great. But the offense sorely needs pass-friendly RBs and TEs vs. teams like Minnesota (and Seattle). I know I’m a fan of the guy but it continues to boggle the mind why DuJuan Harris isn’t used in the pass game, especially when McCarthy supposedly planned a lot of the offense around the guy in 2013.

    The offense needs reworking down the road. Not because it’s not good, it is, but because in the playoffs and in lieu of a questionable defense, it needs to be great.

    1. You need to forget about DuJuan Harris Wagszilla. Whatever he did we’ll never know but the only thing we do know is Harris will never get a meaningful snap unless Starks or Lacy get injured.
      At this point they need to start increasing Lacy’s carries. He was getting 13 to 15 carries and today he finally got 25 and looked like the pro bowler he is. Lacy needs the ball in his hands more not less now. I hope they increase his load. Again, forget about DuJuan, not going to happen. I like him too but it’s futile to worry about him anymore. It is what it is. Whatever it is only MM knows.

      1. I was nodding in agreement, Ted, until I remembered that Starks got benched fast today. He might be in MM’s doghouse, so maybe Harris has a chance to see the field.

        1. You would think Reynaldo but look what MM did. Starks fumbles and didn’t play much after that. I think he had one or two carries only. He was clearly in MM’s doghouse but what did they do to counter that? Instead of giving DuJuan those reps they just increased Lacy’s workload so no, I don’t see DuJuan getting any carries. If he would have done it, it should have been this game. I have given up hope because like some of you, I would love to see what DuJuan can do in the screen game.

    2. I heard the game on radio and got the impression early on this was going to be closer than many thought.

      I agree that MM shouldn’t have been surprised by the Cover 2. The Bungles have played the Packers well since MM has been in GB. Where did Minny get their new HC…from Cincinnati! MM has no logical reason to be surprised by a Mike Zimmer defense.

  8. OK! Packer played one of those bad, bad games… Now everybody is down, Patriots are unbeatable (maybe they are), main question is how to avoid embarrassment against Patriots.

    I still think, that game will be all different. Maybe Patriots will play cover 2, maybe not, maybe Tom Brady will have time to throw, maybe he will be pressured? Who knows.

    This very bad game against Minnesota comes at right moment. As Mike Daniels said: “If anybody was getting a little too high on themselves, it brings them back down to reality. Any given Sunday, Monday or Thursday you can be beat, so we have to continue to make the necessary improvements we need to do so that these games don’t have to be this close.”

    I think we will see different Packers squad for the Patriots game…

    1. I read an article at one point that said that what the Patriots coaching staff does best is figure out the one thing you need to do to be on your game and take it away from you. Once the core of your game plan is gone, you’re scrambling. I fully expect the Pats to try to take away everything downfield and make the Packer offense grind out every one of its yards, and with Wilfork in the middle, that plays against Lacy and the Packers strength running the football.

      Meanwhile, the Packers have no idea what the Pats are going to throw at them. Brady has been awfully good recently, but they haven’t been afraid to take the ball out of his hands against teams that struggle to stop the run…they ran very little against the top-ranked Lions run D while the game was still in doubt. I expect the opposite against the Packers: I expect a lot of run calls early to put the Packer pass rush on its heels, and then Brady to take shots down the seam. The Pats are not an over-the-top team. They get their big plays mostly on seam routes and catch-and-run plays. This might be the week where Sean Richardson gets some play for the Packers…line up your corners one-on-one with the WRs on the outside and clog the middle with safeties to take away the deep seam routes. Force the Patriots to throw under and try to run for first downs (which they also do well).

      If there’s an elite team at this point, it’s New England. The Pats are nigh unto unbeatable at home, but they’ve also been very good on the road and beaten some very good teams away from Foxborough. If the Packers win this week, they might belong in the elite discussion.

  9. I’m a little bit surprised by the amount of negative reaction to this game. Yeah, it’s nice to win by 30, but let’s be realistic…

    1) It’s difficult to beat a team the second time in the same season, especially when that second game is on the road. This was a rivalry game, on the road, in the division. Take the win any way you can get it, go home and be happy.

    2) Maybe the Vikings aren’t as sucky as you think. Minnesota’s losses this year have come against GB (twice), New England, New Orleans, Detroit, Buffalo and Chicago. The combined win-loss record of these teams is 46-29. That’s killer. Seriously, how many NFL teams would have a winning record after playing those seven teams?

    3) There’s nothing wrong with a hard fought “character win” once in a while.

    1. Agree with marpag. This was going to be a much tougher game then most thought. I thought we played well against the run and just ok against the pass. Penalties were a killer and the offense was a little out of rhythm. Lacy should get more carries.

  10. If we have to play Hawk, then must never ever pair him with Jones. I am guessing but have a hunch MM threw him in so that when NE watches yesterday’s game they will be overconfident.

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