Another week, another primetime game for the Kansas City Chiefs. Due to all the injuries and questions following the win over the Broncos, it feels like the Chiefs haven’t played in a month. There is still many questions without concrete answers as we head into this week’s contest. As this week, the Chiefs will host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night football.
The Packers look to be for real under new first year head coach Matt LaFleur. Aaron Rodgers is back to looking like Aaron Rodgers again. Last week, he trounced the Raiders for six touchdown passes. However this week, instead of giving my own point of view on the Green Bay Packers, we will get answers from FPC Packers Managing Editor Kyle Senra. We have asked Kyle eight different questions surrounding the Green Bay Packers. So now, let’s get to know this week’s Chiefs opponent. From behind enemy lines, here is a look at the Green Bay Packers.
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A lot has been made about the Rodgers/LaFleur connection. How has it been so successful?
KS: The short answer is that Aaron Rodgers has bought in. The Matt LaFleur offensive system utilizes a lot of motion and some plays take time to develop pre-snap. These type of plays do not lend themselves to the ability to audible and change plays at the line of scrimmage. Rodgers has trusted the play calling and looks for the quick read when it is there. Once plays break down, or if the primary target isn’t open, then Rodgers does his improvising and extends plays. For LaFleur’s part, he does give Rodgers freedom to change things, but his play calling has actually been quite good and the quarterback has benefited.
With Davante Adams out, who has stood out the most at wide receiver?
KS: Against the Lions, the wide receiver who really stood out was Allen Lazard. When others were struggling to get open and with the timing on back shoulder throws, Lazard presented himself as an open target. In that Detroit game, Lazard caught four passes, all in the fourth quarter. The touchdown was obviously key. But on the winning goal drive, Lazard caught three passes for first downs and kept the clock running. This was important as the Packers used that drive to kill the clock and kick the go-ahead field goal as time expired.
Meanwhile in the Raiders game, it seemed that everyone stepped up. I believe that Rodgers played just as well against Oakland as he did against the Lions. The only difference was that seemingly every receiver made plays in that victory over the Raiders. Six different Green Bay receivers caught at least one pass of 20 yards or more. This showcased not just their ability to catch, but to gain extra yards after the reception.
What area has surprised the most for Green Bay?
KS: Several rookies have stepped right into the Packers lineup and have performed very well. Specifically, two stand-outs are 1st round safety Darnell Savage and 3rd round offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins.
Savage has missed the last two games with an injury. Before that however, he was playing 100 percent of the defensive snaps. The pass rush gets all the glory, but the secondary has also been key to the team’s success. While Savage was primarily used as a free safety, he has been tasked with several different elements, such as blitzing, run defense and coverage. Even though defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was putting a lot on his plate, Savage always seemed up to the task.
As for Jenkins, he did not begin the season in the starting lineup. Initially, Lane Taylor was the starting left guard. While he was not horrible, it did seem as though he was the weak link of the line. Once Taylor went down with an injury, Jenkins was thrust into a starter’s role. Not only has he matched Taylor’s level of play, but Jenkins has arguably surpassed his teammate. He has been creating holes in the run game and has been a great pass protector. Once Taylor is healthy again, he may not regain his starting role.
What area has been the most disappointing for Green Bay?
KS: The easy answer here is the run defense. However, given the lack of draft capital or free agent investment at inside linebacker and the offseason release of Mike Daniels, it is no surprise teams have been able to run all over the Packers. Oren Burks‘ pre-season injury has certainly not helped matters. There is also the late offseason acquisition of BJ Goodson, who had arguably his best game of the season last week against the Raiders. If either Burks or Goodson can become a competent linebacker, than Blake Martinez won’t have to do it all himself on the second level of run defense. The run defense struggles were expected, at least by me.
As for a surprising disappointment, I look to a specific player: Geronimo Allison. Really, the idea here is that secondary receiving options have been inconsistent in Green Bay. I expected Allison to step up and be that guy. In previous seasons, even without an abundance of playing time, Allison had demonstrated good timing with Rodgers, especially on deep routes. More importantly, Allison had some catches on some of Rodgers’ trademarked extended and improvisational plays. That type of connection led me to believe that Allison could see upwards of 90 targets as the clear #2 option on the Packers. That has not been the case, but even worse, nobody has stepped up to the plate and taken on that role.
What weakness could the Chiefs exploit the most against the Packers?
KS: Once again, it’s back to the run defense. While it may seem cliché, it’s the truth. Considering the Patrick Mahomes injury, the Chiefs would be wise to adopt a more run-heavy approach. LeSean McCoy has looked explosive at times, and still possesses that quick cut ability to make defenders miss. A heavy dose of McCoy, as well as both of the Williams, could go a long way into keeping the Packers offense off of the field and would help protect Matt Moore against the pass rush.
What weakness could the Packers exploit the most against the Chiefs?
KS: As much as it is a great unit, the Packers could exploit the turnover on the offensive line that the Chiefs have withstood this season. An injured Eric Fisher has certainly not helped things, but losing Mitch Morse to free agency is arguably bigger, especially in this matchup. In the two games that the Packers defense did not produce any sacks, they played teams with elite level centers on the offensive line. That was key as both Jason Kelce and Rodney Hudson were able to block defensive tackle Kenny Clark one on one. This allowed more protection to be allocated toward the outside pass rushers. At times in the Eagles and Raiders games, both Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith were double teamed and they could not get to the quarterback. If the Chiefs are forced to double team Clark in the middle, than the Smith’s will be more easily able to wreak havoc from their edge rusher spots.
What Packers player could jump off the screen and surprise the most in this game?
KS: Even without Patrick Mahomes throwing the football, the Chiefs still have dangerous playmakers on offense. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are the Packers primary concerns from a coverage standpoint. In all likelihood, Adrian Amos will be tasked with covering Kelce, while Jaire Alexander will draw Hill as his assignment. Both players have been excellent defenders this season. There have however, been moments where each of them have gotten burned. Most notably, Darren Waller went off last week against Amos and Amari Cooper had a career best performance with Alexander covering him for most of the game. Outside of the Cowboys game, Alexander has been among the best shutdown corners in the league. He will have a chance to redeem himself against an elite talent in the form of Hill. If he is able to cover Hill for the most part, then Alexander will certainly jump off the screen in many viewers eyes.
Is Green Bay’s best defensive performance behind them, or could it resonate again?
KS: The Packers have not exactly looked great on defense over the last few games. Certainly in the Raiders contest, there were several blown coverages and communication problems with the defense.
Alluding to an earlier point, Darnell Savage’s absence is probably a major factor. Once he returns, along with Oren Burks, than the unit will be complete for the first time this season. Additionally, Burks has slowly been eased into the lineup over the last few weeks. So no, I do not believe the Packers best defensive days are behind them. However, I am not sure if the coverage issues that were so noticeable last game will be fixed in one week.
Thank you to Kyle for providing an insight on the Packers. Give him a follow, and check out his content with all things Packers and fantasy football. Be on the lookout for the game preview later on this week. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.