Oren Burks¡¯ potential return from injury can mitigate Josh Jones absence For once Mike Daniels Jersey
, the Packers come into a season at or near full health. With just Jake Ryan missing, 21 preferred starters will be healthy when the Bears come to Lambeau Field on Sunday night, but one key sub-package player won¡¯t suit up. Josh Jones will miss the game with an ankle injury, leaving Green Bay potentially vulnerable in sub-package situations in which Mike Pettine might be inclined to deploy three safeties. Especially in a game with versatile non-receiver weapons like Trey Burton and Tarik Cohen, having athletic defenders who can match them will be key. But that¡¯s why Brian Gutekunst traded up to get linebacker Oren Burks from Vanderbilt. In his first preseason game, Burks struggled in some of his run responsibilities and was slow to disengage from blockers. As a cover player though, he thrived in man and zone responsibilities. Against the Steelers, he once again showed his knack for coverage as a former safety, but looked much more comfortable firing his guns, coming downhill and making plays against the Steelers ground game. A shoulder injury derailed his development, but after practicing this week, he appears to be a go for Sunday night¡¯s tilt. Officially he was listed as questionable on Friday, but if he plays, he could just be the key to slowing down Chicago on Sunday night. Expect Burks, assuming he stays healthy through the game, to play nearly every snap for Mike Pettine¡¯s defense and provide the type of athleticism the team will need against a revamped Bears offense. In nickel situations, Pettine has been taking a pass rusher off the field and replacing him with a defensive back. Depending on the situation Authentic JK Scott Jersey
, that extra player is either a cornerback or a safety. Given how often the Bears will likely be in 11 personnel with three receivers ¡ªAllen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Anthony Miller or Kevin White ¡ª that player will often be fellow rookie Jaire Alexander to play in the slot. Last year, the Packers were one of the best teams in football defending the run out of nickel personnel on defense and the addition of Muhammad Wilkerson should make them even more stout in that area.Consider how effective they were in that area even when Morgan Burnett was playing de facto linebacker at 6-foot-1 and 209 pounds. The ability to play a true nickel with two linebackers without sacrificing anything in coverage should make Pettine¡¯s nickel defense even more effective in the run game, while also leaving capable cover men on the field. A rookie against Cohen or Burton may not be ideal on a regular basis, but Jones hadn¡¯t exactly become an elite cover safety in his own right. It¡¯s not at all safe to assume that keeping Jones off the field, even without an injury, in favor of Burks is actually a downgrade. In fact, there¡¯s evidence to suggest the opposite is true given how effective Burks has played in preseason.Expect growing pains with the rookie linebacker. He¡¯s still fooled with play action and misdirection, two staples of the Andy Reid offense Matt Nagy brings to the Bears this season. But he¡¯s also a heady, instinctive player with tremendous physical tools. Lining him up against Burton isn¡¯t the mismatch it would be against Jake Ryan for example. Burks gives this defense a shot to defend those athletic tight ends.Losing Jones does take another personnel grouping off the table for Pettine, who loves to mix and match players and front to keep the offense perpetually off balance. But in terms of the skillset and what Jones does best, Burks replicates many of the in-the-box skills Jones would otherwise bring to the table.In an offseason of remaking and reshaping, Gutekunst added a major influx of talent and depth to this Packers defense. Instead of an undrafted free agent coming in to replace Jones, as may have been the case in years past under Ted Thompson, the Packers get to turn to a rangy, athletic day-two draft pick with a pedigree and a wealth of SEC experience. Burks and Jones may not play the same position Youth Antonio Morrison Jersey
, but that¡¯s the payoff of filling the roster with elite athletes boasting diverse skill sets.Pettine will also get an opportunity, already in Week 1, to prove his reputation about his ability to adapt to changing personnel. But a player like Burks should make that job much easier.Washington loss continues Packers¡¯ troubling trend of slow starts Every week, some analyst on a football broadcast will wax poetic about a coach¡¯s insistence that his team start fast. Just once, I¡¯d love to hear him say, ¡°You know, the coach told me he thinks starting slow is the way to go for us.¡±Mike McCarthy has been the coach in question most of his career, and when this team is at its best, the fast starts have looked easy. But they¡¯ve been too few and far between lately, and that¡¯s not just a 2018 problem. Green Bay had to fight its way back last season even with a healthy Rodgers, and before QB1 went full en fuego during the Run The Table stretch in 2016, the Packers struggled to get off to good starts. The continuity and ease of this offense gave way to stagnation and wonky playcalling. Rodgers was off early in 2016, but turned it around. Even so, this trend is too obvious to ignore.If we exclude RTT from 2016 (this has a purpose), include the early-season Rodgers play before the collarbone injury in 2017, and add the three games from 2018, that span is 18 games. Green Bay was down at halftime in 12 of those games Kentrell Brice Jersey
, down by double-digits in seven. Luckily for the Packers, they had Aaron Rodgers and still managed to go 9-8-1 in those games despite the deficits at halftime, but just take a look at that record. Barely over .500 is not where a team with the best quarterback in football should be.Let¡¯s go back to 2016, when the Packers win eight straight (including a pair of playoff games) as part of the now-famous stretch run in 2016. In those games, here were the halftime scores. 14-107-021-310-1028-1310-1414-621-13 It¡¯s a lot easier to go 8-0 when leading at halftime in seven of those games. This isn¡¯t rocket science. The longer a team holds the lead, the later in to the game it retains that lead, the more likely it is to win.In three games this season, the Packers have gone down 10-0 and 14-0 in first quarters. Last season, the Packers trailed 24-7 and 21-7 at halftime in two of the first three games. Such deficits reflect failures offensively and defensively. While Mike Pettine¡¯s defenses have stiffened after early runs, Green Bay¡¯s offense was unable to counter early enough to maintain any semblance of balance. This problem is two-fold: the offense hasn¡¯t scored early in games, and the defense has allowed early scores. That¡¯s about as bad a combination as a team can have. Miracles from Aaron Rodgers aside, that part of this team has to get fixed.Joe Philbin¡¯s return, so far, hasn¡¯t sparked the offense. Jimmy Graham is being asked to block in-line, Lance Kendricks plays ahead of Marcedes Lewis for ... reasons, and the offense refuses to play with four receivers or, God forbid http://www.packersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-david-bakhti ari-jersey
, five. Mike Pettine¡¯s defense appears more creative and multiple, but hasn¡¯t been consistently effective enough to this point. That can and likely will change as the players get more comfortable with it, but the obvious holes in personnel remain. But with worse personnel and more ineffectual coordinators, the Packers did win a bunch of games at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 thanks to Rodgers. We¡¯re seeing now, just as we did in the second half of last season, how reliant Green Bay is on Rodgers to be otherworldly in order to win games. It reflects McCarthy¡¯s inability to make things easy for his offense when the quarterback isn¡¯t operating at peak levels of efficiency. His defense has been getting killed early with unscouted looks and scripted plays. Where is the offensive guru we saw for so long early in his career, where opening drives were automatic and double-ups were the norm?The defense will coalesce and play more consistently. Rodgers will presumably get healthier, Aaron Jones will get the carries he deserves, Kendricks will drop his way into more snaps for Lewis. This offense can and will play better. Geronimo Allison has been a revelation and Davante Adams is legitimately really good. Had Randall Cobb not left his hands in his hotel room, the Packers very well may have pulled out another game it had no business winning on Sunday in Washington, but there have been too many of those of late. Sunday¡¯s loss represents an institutional failure, one that runs from the top of the organization to the bottom, from the front office to coaches and players. Everyone has to do a better job or this will be yet another lost season, one wasting the talents of the league¡¯s best player.