The Buffalo Bills will continue their road trip on Sunday, taking on the Green Bay Packers. The Bills will be looking for their second win of the season while the Packers are looking to bounce back from a loss against the Redskins. We talked to Jason Hirschhorn from Acme Packing Company, who gave us a scouting report on the team ahead of this match-up.
How hurt is Aaron Rodgers and should the Packers just bite the bullet and rest him for a week?
Over the past two weeks, Aaron Rodgers hasn’t run or broken the pocket as frequently as usual—a sign that the knee injury affects his approach. At the same time, Rodgers has looked fairly fluid and quick when he does scramble. That suggests that the injury boils down to a pain-tolerance issue rather than something more critical.
The Packers have one of the most conservative medical staffs in the NFL, so while playing Rodgers with his knee injury carries some risk, it doesn’t represent enough of a deterrent to sit him. For the foreseeable future, Green Bay will roll with its starting quarterback.
Are these roughing-the-passer penalties getting in the head of Clay Matthews?
I have no idea. Certainly, the NFL’s contact rules have drawn the ire of players, coaches, and fans, but we have no way of knowing how these things impact individuals. Perhaps Matthews becomes more cautious when rushing the quarterback and his play suffers. Maybe he continues on his current path and, if the league doubles down on its regulations, receives more penalties. How it all plays out remains to be seen.
What do you think the Packers need to get better at?
Offensively, the Packers need to start running the ball more efficiently. That process might have already begun with the return of Aaron Jones this past week, but the team needs to get him onto the field more frequently moving forward. Jones doesn’t have the pass-protection savvy of Jamaal Williams nor the receiving skills of Ty Montgomery, but he has consistently produced the most as a runner. Utilizing Jones more regularly could open up the offense, especially with Rodgers still limited by his knee injury.
As for defense, the Packers need to generate more interior pressure from their defensive line. That task became harder after Muhammad Wilkerson suffered a likely season-ending ankle injury this past weekend, but the team still has Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark. If Green Bay can start crashing pockets from the A- and B-gaps, that will take considerable pressure off the edge rushers and the secondary.
Rodgers has been lacking a great running back behind him, do you think the Packers should pursue Le’Veon Bell?
While few running backs in the league compare to Le’Veon Bell, I don’t see a trade as a viable move for Green Bay. Despite the lack of a top-shelf ball carrier, the Packers haven’t struggled on the ground. The team ranked third in rushing by DVOA last season, and now with Jones off suspension, the offense has all the major pieces from last year’s backfield. Bell could certainly help that group, but perhaps not as much as many perceive.
But the financial aspects of Bell make this a nearly impossible acquisition. As the extension deadline for players on the franchise tag has passed, the Packers cannot negotiate a long-term deal nor can they reduce his humongous 2018 cap number (just under $12 million after accounting for weeks missed). Green Bay has less than $8 million in available cap space, meaning the team would have to make additional roster moves to fit Bell under the cap.
Furthermore, because Bell has already received two franchise tags, the Packers effectively cannot apply a third. Given the resources likely required to pry Bell from the Steelers and the possibility of him leaving in free agency next offseason, it just doesn’t make sense.
Who has been a player flying under the radar on the Packers?
Since emerging as the Packers’ No. 3 receiver, Geronimo Allison has been one of the key pieces of the offense. He currently leads the team in receiving yards (209) and is second in touchdown catches (two). Opposing defenses naturally gravitate towards Davante Adams, Jimmy Graham, and Randall Cobb, but they’ll have to begin accounting for Allison. When they don’t—as Washington failed to in Week 3—he can produce big plays such as his 64-yard touchdown.