Round 4 of the Green Bay Packers key 2020 match up series pairs wide receiver Devin Funchess and cornerback Janoris Jenkins. This key NFC game, with potential playoff seeding, is scheduled to take place down in New Orleans during week 3. The Saints are always a tough out on the road and the Packers will need to bring their best performance to get the win. While the Funchess vs Jenkins matchup does not include the top names on these star-studded rosters, their individual performances will have major impacts on this heavyweight battle.
The 26-year-old Devin Funchess is entering his sixth season in the NFL. The 2020 season will also mark his third team in as many years. Funchess was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the 2nd round of the 2015 NFL Draft. While he contributed right away, he had his biggest year in 2017 when he racked up 840 yards with 8 touchdowns. Funchess then went to the Colts in 2019 but his season came to an end week 1 due to a clavicle injury. The Packers claimed Funchess this offseason on a one-year prove-it deal.
Funchess is a big body wideout that could be confused as a move tight end. He uses his 6’4″ 230-pound frame to his advantage. Funchess will never run away from other players or create separation with his explosiveness. He will however use his size to box out defenders and win the contested catches. Funchess has the big target size to let quarterbacks throw him open. He seems to have a nice feel for finding the soft spots against zone coverages and for being a true possession type of receiver.
Furthermore, his size can also be a plus in the red zone. In the past, Funchess has been knocked for not having the greatest hands but he is serviceable. Overall, I would not claim that Funchess is WR 1 material but that’s ok. As a role player, he has the size and game to be a productive player when paired with a star like Davante Adams.
The 31-year-old Janoris Jenkins is a well-seasoned vet entering his ninth season in the NFL. Like Funchess, Jankins is also on the third team in his career and was also drafted in the 2nd round. After four seasons with the Rams, he signed with the Giants. Last year, Jenkins fell out of favor with some off-field issues and was moved to the Saints. New Orleans has reworked his deal and he will be the starting cornerback opposite of Marshon Lattimore.
Jenkins is feisty and highly competitive. At 5’10” and 190 lbs, he is an average size corner with big-play ability. Jenkins is pretty steady at finding the ball with 23 career interceptions and 106 passes defended. His big-play ability comes in play when he has the ball in his hands, as his 9 career touchdowns demonstrate. At times, Jenkins can be over aggressive and get beat. However, like any good corner, he shows a short memory and doesn’t get rattled often.
Until landing in New Orleans, Jenkins was always his team’s top cornerback. That meant his task was regularly to cover opponents’ best wideouts. Now running with Lattimore, they can move Jenkins around and use him to their advantage. While he isn’t necessarily great in any area, he is well versed and not a liability in any aspect. Jenkins can play tight sticky coverage and can easily remain in a receiver’s hip pocket. He has also played off man and zone where he can read and attack either the ball or ball carrier. He has shown he is a solid tackler and has made plays around the line of scrimmage. There are not a lot of holes in Jenkins’ game.
The Saints will more than likely want Lattimore to pair with Adams in this game. That will give Jenkins the ability to move around and cover the other Packers’ wideouts. With Funchess in the mix, he and Jenkins could line up against each other often. This should be an interesting battle within the game. With Funchess having the basketball forward size and Jenkins being a savvy vet, both will try to use their strengths to impose their will. Assuming that the Saints deploy different coverages throughout the contest, and Adams probably getting extra attention, Funchess and Jenkins could often be entrenched in 1-on-1 matchups.
Funchess Wins If:
He can use his size to box Jenkins out. I think the sidelines and back shoulder throws will be big advantages for Funchess. If he and Aaron Rodgers can find their timing, they should be able to pick apart Jenkins with quick outs and work the sideline. Also, if the Saints are in zone coverage, Funchess can find the soft spots and sit down in front of Jenkins for easy yardage. At some point in the contest, using Jenkins’ aggressiveness against him, the Packers may want to try a double move or some deep shots to burn the corner.
In the big picture, Funchess doesn’t need to light up the stat sheet. The Packers are not reliant upon a career outing from him in order to win. They will be successful if Funchess can be counted on to pick up the occasional 1st-down and maybe catch a jump ball in the end zone if needed. Any time teams have to worry about pass catchers other than Adams, Green Bay is sitting pretty.
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Jenkins Wins If:
He can bait Rodgers into throws on which he can jump the route. As a wide receiver, Funchess does not have elite quickness. Therefore, Jenkins doesn’t have to worry about the separation and giving up the big plays over the top. He can also afford to take some risks if the Saints are playing off man or a soft zone. His biggest goals should be tackling Funchess if the wideout gets the catch or having tight enough coverage that the 50-50 balls don’t get converted. Jenkins does not need to try and pitch a shutout by any means. He can win this matchup if he can hold Funchess in check and be trusted without any help. However, the red zone war will be a big challenge for Jenkins. He needs to stay tight on Funchess to force Rodgers elsewhere.
Who has the Edge?
This should be a good battle but Jenkins has a slight edge. His track record along with his ability to stay with wide receivers will be a handful for Funchess and the Packers. Jenkins is on a solid defense that has talent all over. He knows he can blanket Funchess and the pass rush won’t force him to be in coverage for long periods. Funchess will get his opportunities though and needs to make the most of them. There will be times in the game where the Packers will need him to make a play. This 1-on-1 matchup will be interesting to watch. Who can rise to the challenge? Again, the smart money would be on Jenkins, but Funchess could surprise.
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– Jesse Hall is a writer for Full Press Coverage Packers. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @hall_jhall1212 Follow @FPCoverage and Facebook. – Kyle Senra is the managing editor for Full Press Coverage Packers. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @nyama_ks Follow @FPC_Packers and Facebook.