Tue, 27 Oct 2020

O'HARA'S SCOUTING REPORT: Green Bay Packers

Detroit Lions
18 Sep 2020, 20:25 GMT+10

Mike OHara

The old sheriff is still patrolling the NFC North, and he seems as determined - and able - as ever to maintain the division's order.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers came out firing on opening day. His flawless performance in the Green Bay Packers' 43-34 road win over the division rival Minnesota Vikings sent clear messages about Rodgers and the team he has led since becoming the starter in 2008.

For Rodgers, there was no hangover effect from a controversial offseason, sparked by the Packers' surprising decision to draft quarterback Jordan Love of Utah State in the first round.

Rodgers had what teammate and top receiver Davante Adams said was "laser focus" for the game. Rodgers completed 32 of 44 passes for 364 yards and four touchdowns. He did not have an interception.

And for the Packers as a team, winning the opener on the road against a division rival was a statement that they remain the team to beat in the NFC North after finishing first in 2019 with a 13-3 won-loss record.

Next up for the Packers is Sunday's home game against the Detroit Lions, who are coming off a crushing 27-23 loss at home to the Chicago Bears.

Defending Rodgers is never easy, and the injuries the Lions have sustained at cornerback make it more difficult.

"We've got a good fight on our hands this week," said Lions defensive coordinator Cory Undlin.

"It's all hands on deck this week. I talk about the wideouts, and I think the wideouts are a direct reflection of the quarterback. We've got to bring it. We've got to be at our best, and if we're not, it will be a long day."

Defending Rodgers is not the only challenge facing the Lions.

Adams' status as Rodgers' top receiver, the run game, and the pass rush the Packers generated last season are issues for the Lions, as follows:

Lions at Packers practice report: Sept. 16 NOTEBOOK: Okudah a full participant in practice Week 2 opponent: What the Packers are saying

Rodgers: Despite the Packers' 13-3 record and his personal performance last year, there were signs that Rodgers was slipping in his status as an elite quarterback.

Adams told reporters after Sunday's win that he could tell during the practice week that Rodgers was primed for a big game.

"I saw that laser focus come the beginning of the week," said Adams. "He's always focused. There's a certain type of look in his eyes he has. He definitely had that."

Whatever Rodgers' mood was during the week, it changed on game day as part of his role as the team leader, Rodgers said in his postgame interview.

"I think he probably saw some fires this week in practice," Rodgers said of Adams. "I wanted to bring the energy and let the guys know this is an amp up - amp-up time. Things are going to be moving faster.

"It's not training camp anymore. This is the real deal. Even without fans, it counts. Every game matters. Part of my role as a leader is to bring that energy and bring that focus.

"As focused as I was during the week, game day is all about calm and getting in that flow state. I was there from the beginning."

Offense/Davante Adams: He had 14 catches against the Vikings, one short of the franchise record held by Hall of Famer Don Hutson, for 156 yards and two TDs.

The Packers rushed for 158 yards, led by Aaron Jones' 66 on 16 carries. The offensive line allowed only one sack and two hits on Rodgers, and his passing lanes were so clean that the Vikings had just two passes defended.

Defense: The Vikings had the ball for only 18:44, leaving little time for the Packers to pile up big stats.

Second-year cornerback Jaire Alexander had a big game with five tackles, a sack and an interception.

The linebacker tandem of Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith, acquired last year in free agency, got on the board with one sack by Za'Darius.

There's more to come from them. Za'Darius had 13.5 sacks in 2019, and Preston contributed 12.

2019 rewind: The Packers won both games - 23-22 at Lambeau Field in Week 6, and 23-20 in the final game of the season at Ford Field.

Both games were won on field goals on the final play of the game.

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