The Buffalo Bills turned out to be a great slump buster for the Green Bay Packers last weekend. After losing, and looking down right uninspiring, against the Washington Reskins the week prior, the Bills came to town at a perfect time. Although quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn’t happy about the offense’s output, the Packers defense stepped up and led the Packers to a victory over the Bills. The Green Bay Packers secondary especially stood out. But things will be a lot different for the Packers this week against the Detroit Lions.
Green Bay Packers Secondary Faces a Tough Task on Sunday
Beating up on the current Bills offense is the equivalent of winning a fight against a member of a boy band. It isn’t anything you would brag about to your buddies, but it does boost your confidence.
The Packers secondary held Bills rookie quarterback to Josh Allen to just 151 yards passing. They also picked off the rookie quarterback twice. The unit was finally helped out by a consistent pass rush. The pass rush, which had struggled going into the game, registered seven sacks this past Sunday. The pass rush flustered Allen and made him get rid of the ball quickly, which benefited the Packers secondary.
The Bills receivers didn’t help Allen out much either. The top receiver for them was tight end Charles Clay who had four catches for just 40 yards. The Packers cornerbacks did a great job against the Bills wide receivers as well. The top leading wide receiver for the Bills was Zay Jones who had four catches for just 38 yards.
What was even more impressive for the Green Bay Packers secondary is that they did it without starting cornerback Kevin King. King missed his second consecutive game this past Sunday when he sat out because of a groin injury. But it appears that King will be back in action this weekend against the Lions. His return couldn’t come at a better time with having to face an underrated Lions wide receiver corps this week.
Jaire Alexander Playing With Brashness
If King is limited this week, the Green Bay Packers secondary will turn to their most recent first-round pick to step in. Jaire Alexander stepped in last week for King and didn’t look anything like a rookie. With his ability to line up in the slot as well as on the outside, Alexander is giving defensive coordinator Mike Pettine some options in the Packers secondary. Although not blessed with the type of height most NFL teams want for their cornerbacks (5’10”) he makes up for that with superior athletic ability. But as athletic as Alexander is, he is also bringing something that the Packers secondary has been missing for many seasons.
Alexander is bringing a brashness to the Packers defense. Defensive tackle Mike Daniels has been bringing an outspoken style of play to the defensive line since he joined the Packers back in 2012. But the Packers secondary has been missing that type of outspoken brash style, until now with Alexander.
Last week against the Bills, Alexander not only got into it with Allen but also with veteran wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. To speak a good thing is one thing, but Alexander is also backing it up with his play on the field. With King returning, this will allow Alexander to move inside, which will be a vital this week.
Last season, Lions wide receiver Golden Tate was a Packers killer from what he did from the slot. In the Lions two games against the Packers in 2017, Tate combined for 14 catches for 217 yards with one touchdown. For the Packers to slow down the veteran receiver, the Packers are going to need for Alexander, who has the quickness to cover Tate, to be at his best. If Tate is allowed to match up against either of the Packer safeties, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Kentrell Brice, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford will find the mismatch and exploit it. Both safeties will need to provide help for the rookie cornerback, but if either is matched up alone, it will be a long day for the Green Bay Packers secondary.
But the Lions aren’t just dependent on Tate for their passing game. Marvin Jones is a big fast target from the outside. Just like with Tate, Jones was just as devastating against the Packers last season. He combined for 11 catches for 188 yards with three touchdowns. King and veteran Tramon Williams will both see time matched up against Jones and both will need to be physical and make sure to disrupt his pass patterns.
Joining Jones and Tate is second-year wide receiver Kenny Golladay. At 6’4” and weighing over 210 pounds, Golladay also provides a tough matchup for the Green Bay Packers secondary. He is off to a very strong start. Entering this game, Golladay is the second leading receiver for the Lions with 23 receptions for 330 yards and two touchdown receptions. If King’s injured groin flares up in this game, rookie cornerback Josh Jackson might see some time for the Green Bay Packers secondary on Sunday, matching up against Golladay.
Packers Pass Rush Will Need to Show Up
The best way to slow Stafford and the rest of the Lions passing attack is to create a pass rush. The Packers defensive front is coming off a very strong showing last week. But the Lions offensive line is superior to what the Bills have on their offensive line and the task will be much tougher.
Entering this game, the Lions offensive line has only allowed Stafford to be sacked six times. Lions tackles Taylor Decker and veteran Ricky Wagner have done a nice job protecting Stafford from edge pass rushers. The interior of the Lions offensive line has been just as good. That group is led by former Packers standout T.J. Lang who is healthy and is playing like most Packers fans remember him.
Outside linebackers Clay Matthews and Nick Perry will need to make their presence felt right away. If Stafford is allowed to get into a groove, the Packers defense, especially the Packers secondary, will have a very difficult time.
Matthews and Perry, along with Reggie Gilbert and Kyler Fackrell, aren’t the only pass rushers that will need to step up. Defensive linemen Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels will need to create a push up the middle. Clark has been a standout so far this season while Daniels is coming off a very good game against the Redskins.
The matchup between Daniels and Lang might be the matchup of the game. Both know each other very well from their days of facing each other as teammates in practice. Daniels has the quickness while Lang is a mauler, who can dominate an opposing pass rusher with his strength.
How Good They Truly Are
The matchup between the Green Bay Packers secondary and the Detroit Lions wide receivers might determine this game on Sunday. If the Packers secondary can show that last week wasn’t a fluke, the Packers should be able to take home a victory. Taking away nothing from the groups of wide receivers the Packers secondary has already faced, but the Lions wide receivers arguably have the best depth at that position. The cornerbacks, as well as the safeties, will need to show that they are able to handle the Lions speed and size.
Clinton-Dix might be the key for the Packers secondary. He leads the Packers with three interceptions this season. If he is able to create some turnovers, it will only make winning for the Packers much more possible.
It will be an interesting and fun match up. This should show Packers fans how good their defense truly is.