Welcome back to the weekly expectations for the Packer offense. Last week the passing game was awoken from the slumber and diced up the Eagles depleted secondary albeit in a loss. The result of the game was determined not by one absent pass interference or the last-minute interception. Green Bay had plenty of opportunities to take control of the game and failed to have success in the red zone when it mattered most. The unfortunate loss was magnified by injuries to Davante Adams, Bryan Bulaga, and Jamaal Williams. As expected, Packers fans have responded with extreme poise and confidence moving forward after the loss. The never-ending optimist in me is prepared to convince you of how the Packers can continue their dominance in AT&T Stadium.
Aaron came out firing against Philly and took what the defense presented him. He was confident in his throws and maneuvered the pocket to secure passing lanes that he took advantage of to the sum of 422 yards on 34 completions out of 53 attempts. This week’s opponent will not offer such easy looks in the passing game especially with the confirmed absence of Davante. Rodgers was able to make plays with his legs running for the team-high in rushing yards and escaping a relentless pass rush that only got better as the night went on without Bryan Bulaga in the game.
It seems as though the Packers are facing a gauntlet of feared pass rush teams through the first five weeks of the season. Dallas boasts an impressive tandem at defensive end in Robert Quinn and Demarcus Lawrence with elite linebackers in Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. If Rodgers is going to have any success, he will need to trust his playmakers in tight windows as they’ll see impressive coverage from confident cover corners.
The Dallas defense has only allowed 3 passing touchdowns, tied for 2nd best in the league so far – albeit against Eli Manning, Case Keenum, Ryan Fitzmagic/Josh Rosen, & Teddy Bridgewater. None of those names tend to scare defensive coordinators nor do any of those offense have solid running games besides the Giants with Saquon. Aaron Rodgers has been the boogeyman for the Dallas Cowboys and Jerry’s World. I expect Aaron is able to do what he does best and elevates the talent around him. LaFleur and Rodgers will go into Dallas prepared to be without DA and my expectation is the Packers play heavier sets with tight ends and focus on the run.
Expectation: Rodgers throws 275 yards and 2 TD
Aaron Jones has had a rough couple of weeks since Minnesota’s smashing performance. Jones has settled for 19 and 21 yards the last two games while going against aggressive run defenses. Jones was able to find production in the passing game against Philly and will be relied on for additional targets going into Dallas.
The Cowboys have surrendered 24 receptions to RBs which is 24th in the league while allowing 177 yards on those catches, ranking them 21st in the NFL. Aaron Jones and LaFleur have to be developing a plan to get the ground game moving beyond the stagnant force it became without Jamaal Williams in the game. Dallas has limited opposing rushers to a total of 307 yards over the first four weeks of the season.
Packer fans aren’t encouraged by those stats although as we said earlier, the Cowboys have played a cupcake schedule leading up to this historic rivalry game. The Cowboy defense will destroy the running game if LaFleur focuses on running the stretch/toss plays as their athletic linebackers have the ability to cover sideline to sideline. Expect the Packers to heavily involve Jones between the tackles in heavy formations.
Expectation: 15 rushes for 75 yards 1 TD and 5 catches for 65 yards
The reason MVS gets the nod as the go-to receiver is, he has consistently seen the most targets from Rodgers even with Davante in the game. MVS has 28 targets on the year compared to the next highest receiver which is Geronimo at 11. Marquez is going to be relied upon for stretching the field with his top-end speed although he will be facing corners that haven’t conceded many yards to wideouts. Despite poor pass interference calls, MVS failed to wreck the depleted Eagles secondary and looks to bounce back in Week 5. Cowboys are allowing only 544 yards to WRs over the 4-game stretch putting their secondary at 6th best in the league in that respected category. MVS trails Davante by 33 yards with 344 yards which sets optimism for him to replace the production during Adams’ absence. MVS will be expected to make up for the RAC that makes Davante one of the leagues scariest receivers to cover.
Expectation: 8 catches for 95 yards and a TD
Much to the disdain of his critics, Jimmy Graham was a successful part of the offense last Thursday. He was able to find the soft spots in coverage and accumulated 6 catches for 61 yards on 9 targets. As we discussed on Monday’s podcast recap, he was a vital figure in the offense between the twenties, and magically he was only able to bring one of his arms up to attempt catches. Jimmy has to be reliable this week if the Packers are to have consistent drives. Similar to Geronimo, I assume he will be productive but will not shine as the focal point of the Packers offense despite Dallas being in the bottom 5 of the league in receptions and targets to tight ends.
The writing is on the wall for Jimmy to be the go-to target with Davante out it just depends whether he is capable of capitalizing. The expectation is Jimmy makes clutch catches in the sit down over the middle and not much more as he lacks the consistent athleticism to create plays down the field. Jimmy’s statistical success versus Dallas will be dependent on a touchdown to make or break his day.
Expectation: 6 catches for 35 yards and 1 TD
Geronimo came up clutch for the Packers before half in the Philly game with two monster catches. My expectation isn’t that Geronimo puts up a major stat line day on Sunday but rather he is a reliable target out of the slot that Rodgers can look to on 3rd downs and checkdown plays. The Cowboys are ranked 3rd in the NFL against slot receivers allowing only 8.58 points per game. Geronimo hasn’t yet earned the reputation for steady route running and separation against defenders. Allison is on my low expectations list until he puts together a string of performances that can outweigh matchup battles.
Expectation: 5 catches for 40 yards
Allen Lazard, Darius Shephard, Marcedes Lewis and Bobby Tonyan will be required to fill in snaps for the injured players. Marcedes is the most polished player of the bunch giving him the best upside for production. Allen Lazard has been utilized in the run game and was given a prime look at the endzone that resulted in a pass interference call. Shephard and Bobby Tonyan are wildcards that have made plays in their limited opportunities albeit in preseason games or spare regular season snaps. I don’t anticipate that one of these four players will carry the load individually.
Originally when I reviewed this game on the Pack to the Future podcast, I was nervous of the ability to replace Davante’s production. I predicted a 17-13 Packers win but with injuries on both squads and a clash of young offensive minds altered my thought process throughout the week. Rodgers seems to find another mode when he enters Jerry’s World and he’ll look to build on that success on Sunday afternoon. After deliberating the opportunities for both teams, the outlook shifted to add a couple more TDs in this competitive game with an outcome favoring the Packers in a 24-20 win.