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Week 4 Preview: New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
2 months ago at 5:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

Week 4 Preview: New England Patriots at Green Bay PackersJeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay comes into this game with a 14-game home unbeaten streak.  It’s third to two Patriots records of 16 and 18 games.  They are the 13th team to have three straight 13+ win seasons.

Base Offense 3WR 1 TE

Aaron Rodgers is the stirrer that makes this cocktail delicious.  Rodger is the 5th player in league history to win back-to-back MVPs.  Through 3 games Rodgers has thrown 68 completions out of 94 attempts (72.3%) for 684 yards, 4 TDs, and 2 INTs.  He has a 98.2 QB Rating and an average of 228 yards a game.  Only three times has a QB not named Rodgers thrown 500 passes and had 4 or fewer Interceptions.  As Rodgers goes so don’t the Packers.

Don’t sleep on the two-headed monster running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon.  Jones is off to a great start on 32 carries he has 217 yards for 6.8 yards per carry.  Add to that 9 catches out of the backfield for 76 yards and 8.4 yards per catch.  Dillon the former BC Eagle is also off to a great start.  In 40 carries he has 138 yards for 3.5 yards per carry.  Toss in 8 receptions for 58 yards and a 7.3 yards per catch and you have no drop-off when he is in the game.  Sometimes they play both at the same time.  This way defenses can’t key on one or the other.

The wide receiver group is one of the worst Rodgers has had.  He lost his longtime binky in Davante Adams.  Now Rodgers throws to the open receiver.  After three games rookie, Romeo Doubs is the leading pass catcher with 14 catches on 16 targets.  That was for 137 yards, 9.8 average, and a TD.  Next is Randall Cobb with 7 on 8 targets for 108 yards and a 15.4 average per catch.  Sammy Watkins was 7 of 8 for 111 yards and an 18.5 average but he is on IR now. Rookie Christian Watson has been off to a slow start with 5 catches in 2 games.  He is listed as Questionable for Sunday.  Veteran Allen Lazard leads the team with 2 TD catches in 2 games.  He has 6 catches in 9 targets.

At Tight End, Robert Tonyan has been Rodgers’s favorite target with 11 catches on 14 targets for 84 yards and a 7.6 average.

The Offensive line was decimated with injuries last year, but they are all back this season.  David Bakhtiari is the anchor of the O-line, entering his tenth season as Green Bay’s Left Tackle.  When Bakhtiari was out of the lineup, Green Bay suffered.  He has been 1st team All-Pro twice and 2nd team All-Pro three times.  Right Tackle Elgton Jenkins also missed time last year. The 5th year Mississippi State product has locked down the right side.  That’s a pair of formidable tackles.  The Left Guard is 4th year player out of Michigan John Runyan Jr.  He isn’t as big as his father who played in the league for 14 years mostly with Philadelphia. He is a road grader just like his dad.  Right, Guard, has Royce Newman manning the position.  A 2020 4th round draft pick of the Packers, Newman played in the SEC for Ole Miss.  Rounding out the O-line, Josh Meyers is the Center.  The Patriots were said to have an interest in Meyers, the Ohio State Center.  I loved the two O-linemen they drafted, Zach Tom of Wame Forest and Sean Rhyan of UCLA.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or both starting by the year’s end.  I really like fourth-rounder Tom and he just might be the steal of the draft.

 

STARTER 2ND 3RD 4TH
QB Aaron Rodgers Jordan Love
RB Aaron Jones AJ Dillon Q Patrick Taylor Kylin Hill O
WR Allen Lazard Q Christian Watson Q Sammy Watkins IR
WR Romeo Doubs Amari Rodgers
WR Randall Cobb Samori Toure
TE Robert Tonyan Marcedes Lewis Q Tyler Davis Josiah Deguara
LT David Bakhtiari Q Yosh Nijman Rasheed Walker
LG Jon Runyan Zach Tom
C Josh Myers
RG Royce Newman Jake Hanson Sean Rhyan
RT Elgton Jenkins Q Royce Newman Zach Tom Caleb Jones Q

 

Base Defense 3-4

This per Warren Sharp “Kenny Clark has been the rock in the middle of the Green Bay defensive line for years and his 2020 extension has him under contract through 2024. Last season, he ranked 13th among defensive tackles in pressure rate, per SIS. Clark played 72% of the defensive snaps, but the biggest concern was who was lining up next to him, which wasn’t much.  Jarran Reed was brought in as a free agent on a one-year deal. With the Chiefs last season, Reed was 50th among defensive tackles in pressure rate at the position but he’s been able to be a disruptive force inside throughout his career. Dean Lowry has been the other constant on the interior and had a career-high five sacks in 2021 but 2022 is the final year of his contract.”

The big Georgia DT Devontae Wyatt was the best interior lineman I saw in the draft and at the Senior Bowl.  Daniel Jeremiah had him in his top Ten players at the Senior Bowl.  He is presently listed as a backup but that won’t be for long.  Rashan Gary had a breakout season last year.  It is a progression of improved play over three seasons that now has him playing 68% of the defensive snaps (Sharp).  Gary ranked sixth in pressure rate among edge rushers per SIS. Preston Smith ranked 50th among edge rushers in pressure rate and spent more time rushing the passer than he had in previous years with a 90% rush rate. Smith is locked in through 2026 with a four-year extension just signed this offseason. Fifth-round pick Kingsley Enagbare could slide in as a rookie.

De’Vondre Campbell was a pleasant surprise in a breakout season that had him playing at an All-Pro level. After coming in on a cheap one-year deal, the Packers re-signed Campbell on a five-year contract. Campbell was 23rd among linebackers in yards allowed per coverage snap while he played 91.6% of the defensive snaps. The Packers played dime at the sixth-highest rate in the league (24%), which kept Campbell on the field and lessened the load on other linebackers. Krys Barnes has flashed when he’s been on the field and can be a serviceable No. 2. That role now is likely to go to first-round pick Quay Walker.

The secondary is ranked #1 in the league by Sharp.  Jaire Alexander missed a significant amount of time last season and only played 20% of the defensive snaps in the regular season, but was still a plus corner when he returned. Alexander has been a top corner and his versatility to play inside adds another element to his game that opens up possibilities for the rest of the secondary and received a massive extension this offseason. Eric Stokes played well for a rookie corner, something that is difficult to do. Stokes was 44th among 93 qualified cornerbacks in Adjusted Yards allowed per coverage snap last season. He should continue to develop in Year 2. The biggest surprise was the play of Rasul Douglas, who wasn’t signed until October. Douglas ranked fifth in Adjusted Yards allowed per coverage snap last season and he was re-signed for three more years.

Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage have formed one of the better safety duos over the past few seasons and neither of them comes off the field. In 2021, Amos played 97% of the defensive snaps and Savage played 96%. Backup at Safety may be a bit shaky.

 

STARTER 2ND 3RD 4TH
LDE Dean Lowry Devonte Wyatt
NT Kenny Clark T.J. Slaton Jonathan Ford
RDE Jarran  Reed Devonte Wyatt
WLB Preston Smith Jonathan Garvin Tipa Galeai
LILB De’Vondre Campbell Krys Barnes IR
RILB Quay Walker Isaiah McDuffie
SLB Rashan Gary Kingsley Enagbare
LCB Jaire Alexander Q Rasul Douglas
SS Adrian Amos Dallin Leavitt Tariq Carpenter
FS Darnell Savage Rudy Ford Vernon Scott IR
RCB Eric Stokes Keisean Nixon Shemar Jean- Charles

 

Special Teams

Mason Crosby has been as consistent as they come, especially since he kicks in Green Bay where the elements can be a huge factor.  The Packers went out and got Amari Rodgers to return kicks and he has delivered so far ranking 13th in the league with an 8.3 average return.  Pat O’Donnell has started the year off showing a big leg, punting for 49.2 yards a kick, good enough for 8th.  Overall the Packers Special Teams are ranked 22nd in the league.  The Patriots are ranked #4.

 

STARTER 2ND 3RD 4TH
PK Mason Crosby
P Pat O’Donnell
H Pat O’Donnell
PR Amari Rodgers Romeo Doubs
KR Amari Rodgers Romeo Doubs Christian Watson Q Kylin Hill O
LS Jack Coco

 

Leftovers from the Sunday’s Notebook

  • Josh Uche just got 5 snaps in the game. Uche stopped in his pursuit of Jackson when he should have had a sack.  I wonder if that play had anything to do with his lack of playing time.
  • The Patriots are -4 in the Takeaway/Giveaways. That is ranked 27th in the league.  So unlike a Patriots Bill Belichick-coached team.
  • Pro Football Focus has Jonathan Jones ranked as the #1 cornerback in the league with an 85.6 rating. His pass coverage rating is 90.4.
  • The Patriots and the Falcons are tied with the highest Yards Per Play at 7.1
  • Per Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal, Mac Jones has averaged 262 yards passing (I know a small sample size) per game for the 1st three games. Only 9 2nd year QBs in NFL history have thrown for more.
  • The Offense is ranked 10th in yards but 25th in points scored
  • The Defense is ranked 11th in yards but 22nd in points. This is completely the opposite of Patriots teams.
  • Mike Reiss had some issues with the officiating, stating the two calls on Isaiah Wynn were ticky-tac calls (lining up too deep from Line of Scrimmage and a hold). Yet they let Baltimore hold Matthew Slater on the big Devin Duvernay Punt Return.
  • Campbell should have been called for roughing the passer on the play Jones was hurt on. The rule states “A defensive player must not unnecessarily land on top of a passer who is in a defenseless posture with all or most of his body weight.”

 

Morse’s Morsels

Brian Hoyer will sub in for Mac Jones after his high ankle sprain.  As of this writing, Wednesday, Mac Jones was at odds with the Patriots on how to proceed on his injured ankle.  Dr. Jessica Flynn has chimed in with an opinion that Jones needs the surgery and that he has a tear.  I have confidence in Hoyers’ ability to manage the team and give them a chance to win.

Davante Parker had 5 catches for 152 yards, his best output of the season.  However, he was only 5 catches on 10 targets and is 6 for 14 on the season.  He is directly involved in 4 of the 5 Jones interceptions.  It appears that he ran the wrong route on the INT in the end zone.  Mac Jones can be seen seething on the bench yelling “it’s cover 4”.  Parker ran under his defender blowing up the play.  Personally, I think Jones should have seen Parker blanketed inside and out and gone to another receiver.  On that play, the Slot Cornerback blitzed.  Jones didn’t recognize this pre-snap and hit the hot receiver Agholor who was open on a slant.  The play may or may not have resulted in a TD, but it would have given the team a chance to score an FG.  Jones has had a big problem with pre-snap reads this season and I put the blame on the position coach Joe Judge who is not helping him.

 

Injury Report

Patriots

Jones         DNP

Guy            DNP

Bledsoe      Limited

Cajuste       Limited

Dugger      Limited

Godchaux  Limited

McMillan    Limited

Meyers      Limited

Mills          Limited

Philips      Limited

 

Packers

Jenkins    DNP

C. Jones   DNP

Alexander  Limited

Bakhtiari    Limited

Dillon         Limited

Garvin        Limited

Lazard        Limited

Lewis         Limited

Watson     Limited


Posted Under: Patriots News

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