The Green Bay Packers start the 2020 NFL season with a victory over the division-rival Minnesota Vikings on the back of a vintage Aaron Rodgers performance and a dominant Davante Adams. But those major points aside, what other takeaways are there from game one for Packer fans? Here is the Week 1 Recap of the Packers 43-34 victory over the Vikings.
Let’s start on a positive note: the offense, despite a ton of production from Davante Adams, did not rely solely on him. Allen Lazard showed once again how he can be a solid safety valve option for Rodgers, especially in the red zone, catching all 4 of his targets, one for a touchdown. The rushing attack came from all directions, with Aaron Jones, Tyler Ervin, Jamaal Williams, A.J. Dillon, and even Lazard getting the ball and producing positive gains. Jones and Williams were active in the receiving game with 4 receptions each. Marquez Valdes-Scantling showed there is reason to have faith with 4 catches for almost 100 yards and a touchdown.
Stars Played like Stars
Jaire Alexander had a sack for a safety and an interception right before half that led to a touchdown. David Bakhtiari kept Rodgers’ blind side locked down with a stellar performance. Za’Darius Smith had a couple of drive-halting tackles for loss. I already referenced the monster games from Rodgers (4 TDs, almost 100 QBR) and Adams (franchise record-tying 14 receptions, 156 yards, 2 TDs). The top guys from last year produced again in the first game of 2020.
Despite the win, the margin of victory doesn’t properly represent how dominant the Packers were for most of the game. The offense regularly got into the red zone but was unable to come away with touchdowns. Notably, the first three drives for Green Bay all ended inside the Vikings’ 10 but they managed only 6 offensive points cumulatively. Valdes-Scantling, despite his successes, could have had an even bigger day. He dropped a wide-open third-down pass as well as a deep ball that would’ve surely ended with him waltzing into the end zone. He must cut down on the drops if he expects to stay on the field in big moments.
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Two possibly major injuries occurred on Sunday. New big-money defensive tackle Kenny Clark left right before half and didn’t return with a groin injury. Afterward, Lane Taylor got carted off with a knee injury. There is optimism that Clark will be able to play again as early as Week 2, but there is concern that Taylor’s injury may end up season-ending. That would open a massive gap in an offensive line that was already questionable on the right side before Taylor’s injury. Offensive line depth took a further hit with Lucas Patrick leaving the game.
The Vikings were in the game early on largely because of their success running the ball. Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison were a guaranteed 4 to 5 yards every time they were handed the ball, a trend that is unsustainable. The run defense got bailed out by the offense letting them play from ahead so the Vikings couldn’t afford to run the clock. Letting Kirk Cousins get 34 yards on scramble plays by breaking contain is also unsustainable, especially when Cousins is far from the most elusive quarterback the Packers will face this season. Losing Clark in the 2nd half was a huge problem, and losing him for any extended period would be immensely problematic for an already-poor run defense.
There were some notable issues with the Packers’ performance in Week 1. The defense gave up several big plays and the run defense was porous. The offense struggled to convert in the red zone early on. They moved the ball efficiently and generated a good number of chunk plays as well. Meanwhile, The defense made big plays that halted drives and directly generated points. The team won the turnover battle and avoided drive-altering penalties for the most part. Despite the big drops, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Lafleur trusted Valdes-Scantling enough to keep him involved in the offense, and he repaid their faith with a promising performance. Bottom line, the Packers are 1-0 with a division victory, and there are plenty of positives for the Packers to build on moving forward. On to Detroit.