The Packers opened their regular season with a loss for a third straight season last week, with problems evident in all three phases of the game. This week’s home opener against a mediocre Jets team on Sunday seems to be the ideal recipe for correcting course, though New York does pose some threats to Mike McCarthy avoiding his first 0-2 start as Packers head coach.
New York committed heavily to the run game on offense against the Raiders in Week 1 – and for good reason. A backfield equipped with Chris Ivory and newly-added Chris Johnson chewed up the Raider defense for 212 yards on 34 carries. With the Packers missing both B.J. Raji and Brad Jones on Sunday, it would seem likely that the Jets stick with this run-first mentality.
There is no way around it: Green Bay will need to do a better job tackling this week. This is essential in preventing New York from controlling the tempo of the game the way the Seahawks did in second half of the season opener. One player that I have my eye on is rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who may get his first NFL start this week. Clinton-Dix flashed pro-level tackling ability during the preseason but was flat-out embarrassed on more than one occasion in Seattle.
Clinton-Dix will be looking to prove himself against fellow rookie safety Calvin Pryor of the Jets, who was selected just picks before him in April’s draft. Pryor adds physicality to a strong New York defense across the board. However, the Packers’ greatest concerns will be up front, where they are missing three starting-caliber linemen. Under the assumption that tackle Bryan Bulaga is not cleared to play, Green Bay will be looking for the unpredictable Derek Sherrod to rebound from a subpar performance last week in Seattle.
The Packers’ last meeting with the Jets in 2010 featured a drastically different defensive unit that bailed out the struggling offense for a 9-0 victory in the Meadowlands. This year’s defense makes shutting out a high school offense seem like a tall task. Realistically, the Packers may not need that type of performance out of Dom Capers’s unit. A healthy Eddie Lacy and improved play from the offensive line should set the stage for 30-plus points in the Packers’ home opener.