Week 1 Game Recap: Green Bay Packers 3, Detroit Lions 17
What you need to know
First and foremost, WR Javon Walker has apparently torn is ACL and is gone for the year. This is the biggest fantasy story from this game so I bring special attention to the issue. Hopefully you received Footballguys.com’s email regarding the situation as it arose Sunday, but at the very least if you own Javon Walker (or wish to trade with Walker’s owner in your league) make plans right away. Once again here is the story: http://www.jsonline.com/packer/rev/sep05/355026.asp
The Packers’ offense was not much healthier than their star WR. Green Bay struggled to get first downs, let alone score points. The Packers had six drives of three plays or fewer (omitting a kneel down before halftime). Green Bay was kept out of the end zone for the first regular season in nearly five seasons (78 games), and this lackluster performance was the worst scoring output since Favre became the starter in 1992.
Ahman Green carried just 12 times for 58 yards. The ineffectiveness of the Packers’ running game and the rush to catch back up in the second half limited the run game and made Green Bay quite one-dimensional. All but 13 of Green’s yards came in the first half.
QB Brett Favre spearheaded the passing game, connecting 27 of 44 times for just over 200 yards (201). Favre did all he could to keep his team in the game, but the Packers' offense stalled with the entire Detroit defense looking for a pass virtually every play of the second half.
Both RB Green and WR Robert Ferguson were cramping up in the second half.
Despite all the touches, Jones never was able to break a long run, finishing with a seven yard rush as his longest run.
QB Joey Harrington led his new array of offensive weapons into Week 1 knowing that the starting QB role was his. The loss of backup QB Jeff Garcia for 4-6 weeks left Harrington as the unquestionable huddle leader. Harrington played with a relaxed demeanor, opening up the game with completions on five of six first quarter passes. Harrington led the Lions to their first touchdown on the second drive, a pass to TE Marcus Pollard. Harrington finished with modest numbers, going 15 of 28 for just 167 yards, but he did produce both touchdowns through the air.
TE Pollard was targeted often by Harrington throughout the game. Pollard snagged five of the seven balls that came to him, including a score. Pollard was targeted twice in the end zone.
Harrington favored his new TE as a safety valve across the middle, especially in scoring territory.
WR Roy Williams received the most targets of any Detroit receiver, getting 10 targets in the contest. Williams’ opportunities were far fewer than ten, as many of the passes were uncatchable. Williams was also given the opportunity to score on an “Alley Oop” pass in the red zone, but the pass was well defended by Green Bay.
RB Kevin Jones was productive but not spectacular. Jones had 25 carries, but finished with just 87 yards. Jones often pounded the middle, gaining as many yards between the tackles as were available. Despite all the touches, Jones never was able to break a long run, finishing with a seven yard rush as his longest run.
Jason Hanson apparently hurt himself on a kickoff in the first half. Hanson grasped the back of his leg after making contact with the ball on the kickoff, and early speculation was a hamstring injury. Hanson battled through the injury, kicking on the sideline and taking extra practice kicks at halftime. Hanson converted two short kicks after the injury, converting an extra point and a very short 21 yard field goal.
The Lions’ defense kept Green Bay off the field, creating six “three and out” possessions for Green Bay in the second and third quarters. Entering the fourth quarter, the Lions pinned their ears back and came after QB Favre, which produced three second half turnovers.
Detroit kept an opponent without a touchdown for the first time since 2000 (New England).
What you ought to know
|QB Brett Favre, Pass: 27 - 44 - 201 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0|
Favre attempted to get the Packer offense in gear, but he just could not connect for the long pass he kept trying to hit all afternoon. Favre used nine different receivers, spreading the ball around to everyone. The longest completion was on a RB screen to Ahman Green where he dashed for a 20 yard rush for a first down. In the third quarter, Favre appeared to throw an incompletion from the pocket as the ball squirted out of his hand, but the field officials ruled it as a fumble which Detroit recovered. The fumble led to three additional points for Detroit, making the score 10-3 at the time. With the clock running down and the lack of a running game, Favre tried to force the game towards a Packers’ victory. Favre pushed until the end of the contest, attempting many passes that are difficult at best to complete. The result was that the final two possessions for Favre resulted in his second and third turnovers, the only two interceptions in the game.
Rodgers played well in his first NFL start by making few mistakes and completing a high percentage of his passes. He fumbled a snap early in first quarter but fell on it to maintain possession. On the team's third possession Rodgers hit Greg Jennings on a deep 66 yard pass – taking advantage of CB Charles Gordon who was playing in place of recently-injured CB Cedric Griffin. A few plays later, on third and goal from the one yard line, Rodgers moved to avoid a hit and then threw a laser to a diving FB Korey Hall for a touchdown.
He also moved well in the backfield, avoiding sacks and running for first downs when able throughout the game. He looked poised and composed, showing very little evidence that this game was his first NFL start.
|RB Ahman Green, Rush: 12 - 58 - 0, Rec: 5 - 34 - 0 (7 targets)|
Green struggled to get any sense of rhythm running the ball throughout the game. Green tried both the inside and outside, but only finished with 58 yards on 12 carries. Much of the load came in the first half as Green had eight carries and 45 yards at halftime. Green contributed to the passing attack by catching many screens and flat routes. Green looked better in space, able to run, but Green was unable to gain more than ten yards on any given reception.
Fisher was the safety valve check down receiver for QB Brett Favre and was kept rather busy in the second half. Fisher caught a short six yard pass at the beginning of the second quarter, but Fisher’s six other targets all were after halftime. Fisher looked solid physically, but a few mental errors nearly cost Green Bay severely. Fisher dropped one of his targets, right off of his hands, and also fumbled after a short run and catch play in the third quarter. Fortunately for the Packers, the fumble skipped off of numerous players until it reached and rolled out of bounds.
Henderson made the most of his three targets, catching them all for a total of 20 yards. Henderson grabbed passes of four, ten, and six yards in the third quarter, gaining two first downs for the Packers.
Davenport remains the clear backup to Ahman Green, as he had the only running back carries outside of Green. However, Green Bay was trying to catch up for most of the second half, and Davenport’s three carries were his only touches in the game. All of Davenport’s carries came before halftime.
Grant failed to get the ball in the end zone despite having four carries within five yards of the goal line in the second quarter. The next time the Packers were at the goal line, he did not receive a carry. Grant made an important long run in the fourth quarter, hitting a big hole through the right side and then making a beautiful juke move at the ten yard line before being taken down at the two for a 57 yard run.
Rookie running back Eddie Lacy made his debut on Sunday and it was equal parts "good" and "bad". In terms of the positive, Lacy showed some great speed and vision as he ran, including on a 31 yard catch and run late in the first quarter. On the play, Lacy lined up as the single back in the backfield. After seemingly staying in to block, Lacy squirted out for a short dump pass behind the defensive line which was sucked in towards Rodgers. As Rodgers released the ball, both guards and the center broke off from blocking and formed a wedge to help clear Lacy's way. The rookie then slipped a pair of tackles, turned the run outside and accelerated upfield before getting tripped up on the five yard line. Lacy was briefly benched in the second quarter after a costly fumble. On that play Lacy was held up at the line of scrimmage and just didn't seem ready for the defensive linemen to start grabbing at the ball - not an unusual thing at the pro level, if not as common in college. Lacy didn't touch the ball again that quarter as James Starks got reps in his place. Lacy was back in the third quarter, and the Packers worked hard to keep the ground game going. In the third quarter, it was hard for Lacy to gain many yards as he was often hit at or near the line of scrimmage. However as the game reached the fourth quarter he started to gain more and more yards. Though he never broke a super-long run he seemed to wear at the Niners' defensive front. Lacy ran very hard and didn't shy away from contact and then capped off his day with a leaping touchdown from two yards out to give Green Bay the lead though they didn't hold onto it.
James Starks was the more impressive of the two Packers running backs, showing good explosiveness out of his cuts and excellent balance on several runs. A patient runner, Starks showed on more than one occasion how decisive he can be when choosing the seam to run through. His touchdown run was down in large part to the great blocks by his offensive line at the second level; Starks did the rest, lowering his pads and bulling his way into the end zone. His pass protection is not what Ryan Grant’s is, but as the more talented back, I expect his opportunities to increase at some point.
Driver now becomes the primary option in the Packer passing game due to the injury to WR Javon Walker. Driver had opportunities in all four quarters, and he caught all four passes that were catchable passes. Driver caught balls for nine, 17, ten and 12 yards respectively. Driver’s output was not spectacular, but as a possession receiver Driver showed his abilities. It remains to be seen if Driver can handle the increased responsibility of replacing Walker.
Walker clearly came into this contest as the primary option for QB Brett Favre, getting seven chances in less than three quarters. Walker drew a pass interference call for an additional 12 yards in the first quarter. Walker also caught four short passes before catching a 55 yard deep ball in the third quarter that was nullified by offensive pass interference. Walker was tackled awkwardly and fell to the ground in a heap. Walker clutched his leg and was carted off of the field. Reports at this time have Walker out for the remainer of the season with a torn ACL.
Ferguson did not line up for a pass until the fourth quarter, as the entire WR corps of the Packers were all promoted due to the injury to WR Javon Walker. Ferguson finished the game with just one four yard catch in the fourth quarter.
Chatman was elevated in the WR group after the loss of WR Javon Walker for the game or longer. Chatman caught one pass for 11 yards and a first down in the final quarter. His other targets included one drop where he could have ran for a first down, and the others were either defended on uncatchable.
Despite Davante Adams’ issues with being consistent, Abbrederis saw very little action. He didn’t have much luck getting open and Rodgers didn’t look his way often.
Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers seemed to have a few issues getting on the same page Sunday, as their timing was definitely off. After a rough first few throws though, they were able to get in sync and Adams made a few nice catches. One of the best was a low catch he made along the sideline early in the third quarter. On the play, Adams was well covered downfield, until he stopped short and turned. Rodgers’ pass was low and out of bounds where only Adams could reach it, which he did, making a nice catch before falling out of bounds. While James Jones got the touchdowns, Adams actually got more targets (8 compared to Jones’ 4), so he was very involved in the offense, it’s just a matter of getting into a better rhythm with Rodgers.
Randall Cobb lined up primarily in the slot in this game, but that was where he did his damage with his electric touchdown catch. Rodgers signalled to Cobb prior to the play to run a particular route as Rodgers anticipated a blitz from New Orleans. Cobb ran a quick slant route into the zone coverage and ran to daylight, delivering a stiff arm to a defender on his way to his first NFL touchdown. Cobb also returned a kickoff for 108 yards and a score later in the game, somehow maintaining his balance after it appeared he was down. The Houdini act was very impressive and a good indicator of what kind of open field skill Cobb has.
Jordy Nelson saw the field in Week 1 mostly as a kick returner, returning five kickoffs in Week 1 as compared to his one catch for just seven yards.
Franks remains a favorite target of QB Brett Favre. Favre often will check down to Franks or look towards him in the red zone. Franks caught four balls for six to eight yards each, and also gained a pass interference call for six more yards and a fresh set of downs for his team.
After a very nice preseason which seemed to indicate Cook was going to see a lot of work from Aaron Rodgers, he saw very little work. Cook has consistently disappointed in the past and if we’re to take anything from Week 1, it may be that it’s going to happen again.
As is often the case in Green Bay, tight end Richard Rodgers did a solid job but wasn’t heavily targeted. While nobody beyond Davante Adams saw a surplus of passes thrown their way, Rodgers was clearly a dump-off or deep progression option. Only once, on a deep crossing route for a first down, was Rodgers really the key target on a play. That might change but as long as James Jones and Adams play well, likely Rodgers will be sporadically targeted this season.
Longwell made his only official field goal attempt, a 50 yard try that sailed on a line to the uprights and through. Longwell’s long kicks are rather low and have a higher propensity for getting blocked than most other kickers with similar power. Longwell officially did not receive credit (good or bad) for a field goal attempt from close in, roughly 22 yards, that failed on a bad snap.
The Packers kept RB Kevin Jones from breaking any long runs, and they also were able to hold him under a four yard average. The Lions were only able to get two first downs on the ground.
Green Bay kept pressure upon QB Joey Harrington, allowing him to complete just over half of his passes. Most of the offense for Detroit, however, came via the pass, so while the defense was adequate, it was not good enough to stop Detroit when it mattered most.
Harrington came out of the chute with a strong start, hitting five of six passes in the first quarter. TE Marcus Pollard provided a large target across the middle for Harrington, and as a result Pollard was targeted on three of the six attempts. Pollard nearly scored on his second target, but the pass was batted away at the last moment. Harrington had six to eight attempts per quarter, just enough to have a balanced attack within the Lions’ offense. Harrington hit eight different receivers, and most were for short range passes to control the ball and clock and also to keep the Packers’ defense guessing as to what was coming next. Harrington spread his passes around evenly, aside from Pollard. All of the other receivers had just one or two catches.
Stafford was down two touchdowns after having taken only three snaps from center, a tall order against a veteran defense led by an aggressive coordinator. Stafford did show a strong arm and good accuracy early, hitting Calvin Johnson in stride on a quick hitter then showing good balance and touch on a screen to Kevin Smith. Things began to come apart as the Saints turned up the pressure, however, and Stafford began to throw off his back foot and rush throws on timing patterns during the second quarter. Stafford’s footwork and mechanics completely came apart in the second half. His accuracy suffered as a result, overthowing sideline passes and leaving deep passes short of their mark or behind their intended receivers. He would be intercepted three times and nearly picked on a number of others.
|RB Kevin Jones, Rush: 25 - 87 - 0, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (2 targets)|
Jones carried the ball 25 times for 87 yards, a workman like effort. Jones protected the ball and kept the clock moving during the game, allowing Detroit to have a balanced offense throughout the game. Jones carried the ball at least five times every quarter, but was never able to break a big run. His longest run was for a meager seven yards, hardly illustrating breakaway speed. Jones also caught two passes, one for 14 yards in the first quarter and another for a five yard loss in the third. A solid but not spectacular effort.
|RB Shawn Bryson, Rush: 3 - 1 - 0, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (2 targets)|
Bryson served two main roles – one was as a third and long backfield specialist, and another as someone to relieve Kevin Jones when necessary. Bryson had three carries for minimal yardage, and his two targets resulted in a catch for seven yards and a penalty on a deflected pass.
Smith was targeted once in the third quarter and twice in the fourth. Smith helped the Lions gain one yard with a pass interference call on his second target, and then Smith caught the final pass for eight yards and a first down.
If there was one thing to get excited about on the Detroit offense, it was easily rookie running back Ameer Abdullah. He routinely gathered positive yards, but the more impressive take-away was his tantalizing vision and shifty lateral moves that allowed him to break away from defenders and pile up yards after.
On Calvin Johnson's most notable reception of the day, Abdullah displayed his pass protection skills while picking up a linebacker up the middle and allowing Stafford time in the pocket. On one of Abdullah's more notable runs, he ran patiently to the right, allowing a gaping hole to develop on the left as the line shifted right. Abdullah cut up-field and juked the free safety to score on a 24 yard run.
After a bad snap, Stafford utilized Abdullah running out of the backfield for a quick check-down. From the sideline, Abdullah cut inside twice to avoid defenders and finished the reception for a 36 yard gain. Also utilized significantly on inside runs, Abdullah didn't shy away from the play or contact.
Taking further advantage of his skills, Detroit used Abdullah as a kick returner. His skills translated to 105 return yards on three kicks. The one gaffe on Abdullah's pristine day was a fumble on an inside run that he quickly recovered on the ground. Outside of that, Abdullah did much to impress and brings a very exciting element to the Detroit offense.
Calhoun was met in the backfield on both his carries.
Harrison saw limited action as the change of pace back for Jahvid Best. At the start of the third quarter, Harrison had two back to back carries up the middle, good for nine and seven yards respectively. He also saw action primarily at the end of third and fourth quarters, where the Lions were trying to run out the clock. His most impressive run came late in the third quarter when he tried to go off tackle, was stopped, but he bounced it outside and ran away from the defenders for a nice seven yard gain. He was effective at both running up the middle and bouncing to the outside, but he is still the #2 back on the team behind Best.
Logan is the primary kick and punt returner for the Lions, but he also saw a little action in the backfield as a change of pace back. His one carry came on a pitch early in the second quarter and he was immediately tackled for a two yard loss.
Morris was in for only a few plays for this game, and was totally ineffective at running the ball. He had a nice reception out of the shotgun formation late in the first half that he broke for a 15 yard gain. Aside from that, he was a non-factor.
The playing time did not materialize for Riddick in the opening game against the Giants. He finally got into the game for a carry in the fourth quarter to spell the two incumbent starters Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. Riddick made a solid jump cut for interior yards, and then was back on the sidelines. Even with a healthy lead for much of the second half, Riddick saw minimal playing time. Without an injury in to Bush or Bell, Riddick does not look to have a significant role in the crowded offense.
The rookie runner from Central Florida averaged three yards per carry and scored his first NFL touchdown in the second quarter. He also caught four passes for 32 yards. Smith looks comfortable in the backfield and has tons of upside. He sets up blockers and isn’t afraid of contact.
Washington carried the ball twice in the game, both from the half-yard line. On first down, Washington took the carry and went nowhere as the Colts stacked up the short yardage play. However, on second down, Washington got the ball and ran with power behind his pads and got into the end zone for the touchdown.
Zach Zenner saw early action, rushing for 6 yards on two carries. He did not see the ball following that action.
Johnson caught two passes on the afternoon, both for first downs. Johnson had a 25 yard grab in the first quarter then added a 13 yard catch in the second quarter. The third pass that came his way fell short and was uncatchable.
Roy Williams officially had ten looks from QB Joey Harrington, but many of then were uncatchable. He caught the first pass thrown his way for 11 yards and a first down in the opening quarter. Roy Williams also caught another pass on fourth down and four in the second quarter but only gained two yards. Williams was targeted in the end zone once on an “Alley Oop” style pass, which was well defended by the Green Bay secondary. Williams was also wide open in the third quarter for 10-15 yards plus more yards after the catch, but Harrington missed him badly.
Rogers got just three looks, all on deep routes. Harrington tried to get Rogers the ball in the second and third quarter, but each time overthrew him. They finally connected in the fourth quarter on a nice deep ball for 31 yards and a first down.
Mike Williams did not get involved until the second quarter, as he was the intended recipient on pass in the second quarter that was overthrown by QB Harrington. The two players connected later in the fourth quarter for a three yard touchdown strike to finish the scoring for the game.
Drummond wasn’t utilized much in the passing game, but was used on an end around on the opening Detroit drive.
Early in this contest it looked like Jones was struggling to separate from the Colts defenders and he was having a hard time in contested catch situations, but he did make some huge plays in this game. He beat the Colts with a crossing route that went for 27 yards and was helped by Stafford's throw being right on the money and not causing Jones to stop his feet to adjust on the ball. He also beat Colts cornerback Antonio Cromartie down the right sideline for 32 yards with a great adjustment on an underthrown ball. Jones and Stafford looked to have developed quick chemistry in the preseason but they were a touch off in this game. Jones was targeted 10 times, but only converted four into catches. He finished with 85 yards because of his ability to stretch the field, both before and after the catch.
Involved in stat line for only one reception, Lance Moore caught a tough crossing route for 22 yards across the middle of the field.
It was a slow start for Tate against the Giants despite the offensive fireworks in the first quarter. Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush were the preferred targets early. Tate found room to operate in the second half with a long reception down the sidelines to convert third and long. On the second half catch, Tate got behind the zone-playing cornerback and did not get picked up by the safety. Tate made the catch as he backpedaled down the field and turned to face Matthew Stafford. The 40+ yard gain fueled his stat line. Tate’s overall usage was similar to his role in the preseason: the goal was to get Tate the ball early and allow him to make return game-like moves after the catch.
Young’s rookie debut was uneventful as he finished the game with only one target and no catches. The one pass thrown his way came late in the third quarter. Stafford rolled out and threw it deep down the field as a jump ball for Young in single coverage. The pass was a bit underthrown and Young couldn’t come up with it. He was also flagged for an illegal shift near the end of the first half that negated a 12 yard run by Maurice Morris
Pollard was a large and friendly target for QB Joey Harrison, catching five of the seven balls that came his way. Pollard caught two of three passes in the first quarter including a nine yard touchdown grab across the middle. The incompletion was also an end zone look from Harrington. Pollard caught three more intermediate routes in each following quarter, which added up to the most productive receiver for Detroit on opening day at 58 yards.
Pressed into service when Campbell and Gaines were injured, Fitzsimmons made his only target count for a one yard pass and six points.
Ebron was on the field early and often against the Giants. While his routes in the preseason where generally as an outlet receiver, Ebron worked the deep seam regularly. In addition to a traditional tight end alignment, Ebron was also a split out receiver, in motion, and in the backfield throughout the game. Ebron’s best opportunity came when he shook free from defensive back coverage in the end zone, but Stafford’s throw was off-target – an easy touchdown missed there. Joseph Fauria and Brandon Pettigrew were on the field often as well with the consistent personnel changes, leading to on-and-off usage for the 2014 first round pick.
Pettigrew saw a significant number of snaps, but he was used primarily as an extra blocker. He rarely went out in pass patterns and was not targeted against the Saints.
Hanson made his only field goal attempt, a 21 yarder in the third quarter, and added two extra points. Hanson strained his hamstring on the kickoff after the first touchdown, and tried to take it easy for the remainder of the day. Punter Nick Harris handled the kickoff duties but apparently was not comfortable kicking field goals or extra points.
The Lions kept RB Ahman Green from establishing much of a running game, holding him to 45 yards in the first half. Once the Lions extended the lead in the second half, Green Bay focused almost solely on the passing game. The Lions only surrendered one first down on the ground to Green Bay.
Detroit kept after QB Brett Favre, and they were able to disrupt his timing and get to him before he could establish any deep routes. Favre was forced into three turnovers, two interceptions and a fumble. Despite 44 pass attempts, Favre finished with just 201 passing yards. The Lions held long enough and created just enough turnovers to ensure the victory.