Looking to bounce back after a disappointing 38-3 loss in their season opener last Sunday, the Packers hosted the Lions. They were aiming to extend their five-game home winning streak on Monday Night Football under quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Deadlocked through one half of play, the game’s opening 30 minutes would see Joe Barry’s defense struggle to get their opponent off the field. Rattling off scoring drives of 10:36 and 7:22, Dan Campbell‘s group was able to mix up the run and pass effectively to stymie Green Bay’s front.
Ultimately carrying a 17-14 lead into the break, Detroit would quickly fall apart during the second half. Seeing quarterback Jared Goff toss an interception while also losing a fumble, the Lions set up the Packers with short fields. Finding the end zone on three consecutive drives to help close out the game, a one-yard touchdown plunge by Aaron Jones would extend the lead to 35-17 while giving the newly signed running back his fourth score of the day. Moving their record on the year to 1-1 with the San Francisco 49ers waiting in the wings next Sunday, here are my Detroit Lions vs Green Bay Packers: 3 Studs and Duds.
1. Aaron Jones
Playing in his first game at Lambeau since his father tragically passed away in April, Jones was a man on a mission on Monday Night. He amassed 76 total yards and two touchdowns in the first half. He would finish the night off with 115 yards and two more scores while averaging nearly four yards per carry. The Lion’s defense played in cover-2 shell for the majority of the night to help their young cornerbacks on the outside.
This allowed Matt Lafleur and company to eat up yards with their pro bowl rusher on run downs while also getting him matched up with a linebacker or safety on passing downs. Becoming the first Green Bay running back to haul in three touchdown receptions since Andy Uram in 1942, the night belonged to Jones after a poor showing in week one.
Go crazy, @Showtyme_33 fantasy owners.
That’s his 4th score!
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— NFL (@NFL) September 21, 2021
2. Aaron Rodgers
Stop me if you have heard this before, but Rodgers was again able to bounce back after a loss and lead Green Bay to a victory the following week. Starting off slow in the first half of play, with Detroit not allowing the veteran quarterback to hit anything deep, he was able to orchestrate two touchdowns drives. Finding Jones in the end zone to cap off both scores, the 37-year-old finished the first 30 minutes of play 8-10 for 75 yards and two passing scores.
Opening things up in the second half, Rodgers would make two vintage throws to help Green Bay begin to step on the gas. Finding Davante Adams for 50 yards on third and 12 on the first drive of the third quarter, he also threaded the needle to tight end Robert Tonyan to give the 27-year-old his first touchdown reception of the season. Finishing the night off 23-27 for 255 yards and four touchdown passes, he was able to silence his critics.
Rodgers is heating up…
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— NFL (@NFL) September 21, 2021
3. Third Down Efficiency and Forcing Timely Turnovers
Slow starting out of the gate once again in the beginning part of the game, the Packer’s defense allowed the Lions to go on two long scoring drives. Unable to muster any pressure on Jared Goff, the former number one overall pick completed 13 of his 16 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns while helping his team average more than six yards per play.
Making adjustments during the halftime break, Barry and company were able to generate more pressure on Detroit during the final 30 minutes of play by bringing more blitz looks. Ultimately forcing two turnovers with a fumble and a late interception by De’Vondre Campbell, the Green Bay defense helped lay down their pay to victories during the 2021 season, by taking the ball away from their opponent and winning the turnover battle.
After going a miserable 1-10 on third downs last Sunday vs the New Orleans Saints, Lafleur and the offense entered Monday Night with a much better plan. Able to get ahead of the sticks on run downs to set up more manageable plays for Rodgers, the group finished a respectable 5-9. Bailed out by the reigning MVP on a few opportunities, he found both Adams and Tonyan on third and long opportunities to help extend drives and put up points.
Picked off by @Came_Along_Way!#DETvsGB | #GoPackGo pic.twitter.com/vxDpXH4OeM
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) September 21, 2021
1. Lack of Consistent Pass Rush
Without their best pass rusher in Za’Darius Smith, the Packers failed to generate any pressure on Goff early on. Sticking with just a four-man rush in the first half, the Lions quarterback was able to slice and dice the Green Bay secondary from a clean pocket. This led him to fire just three incompletions while controlling the football to limit the possessions for Rodgers and company. Opting for a more aggressive scheme down the stretch, Barry elected to send more pressure at the 26-year-old signal-caller.
Largely due to the game script, after pulling ahead by a few scores late, the team knocked Goff off his spot on a few plays. However, after only mustering up one sack, they need to find a consistent pass rush with Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo waiting in the wings.
2. Weapons Outside of Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, and Robert Tonyan
Running through Adams, Jones, and Tonyan on the offensive side of the ball again, the team struggled to get production outside of their two primary playmakers. Targeting Marquez Valdes-Scantling four different times on the night, the deep threat could not haul in any balls from Rodgers. Needing to get back their chemistry that saw the wideout lead the league in yards per catch in 2020, Allen Lazard is also off to a slow start to begin his 2021 campaign.
Failing to record a catch on Monday night, the former undrafted free agent was not targeted. While Randall Cobb made a few catches late to help move the chains and eat up the clock, the Packers need their other young wideouts to step up and make plays if they hope to find playoff success again.
3. Run Defense Woes
A continuous theme through two games, the defense was unable to slow down the Detroit ground attack. Allowing over four yards per carry, the Lions were able to chew up the clock during the beginning parts of the game, leading to just three first-half possessions for the Packers. Along with this, after letting Jameis Winston break contain and move the chains with his feet last Sunday, Goff was also able to keep drives alive with his legs as the quarterback rushed four times for 46 yards.
Finishing the night with 108 yards on the ground, Detroit strayed away from the ground game late. However, with 279 rushing yards allowed as a team through two games, run defense remains a primary concern for the unit to clean up.