The Packers put up an offensive explosion week 1 –putting up 43 points and 522 total yards– but they still have room to improve. On the other hand the defense looked like they still had some rust to knock off from the NFCCG vs. the 49ers. Week 2 is the Packers home opener and they face a hungry Lions team that has played them very well in the past and are looking to bounce back after a heartbreaking loss vs. the Bears. The Packers have a number of players that either had great games or disappointing games last week, and my eyes will be on them to see if they can continue their trends of success or have a bounce back week.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling: Valdes-Scantling (MVS) has been nothing short of extremely inconsistent since he was drafted in 2018. At his best he is a major deep threat and a thorn in defenses sides. At his worst he looks like a borderline practice squad player cursed by his hands. Week 1 MVS went for 4 rec, 96 yards and a TD on 6 targets. He had 2 big drops but other than that he was as sharp as ever. He is on the watch list to see if he can fix the drop issue and build on the positives of week 1 and turn into a consistent threat in his third year.
Josiah Deguara: Deguara –drafted in the 3rd round this year– was seen as a confusing draft pick to many fans but showed his worth week 1. In 24 offensive snaps, Deguara had one target missed –a wheel route overthrown by Rodgers– and another 12 yard reception, but he made his presence felt with his blocking. The most notable block was on a 19 yard run by Allen Lazard where he took out 2 Vikings with one block and extended the run another 10 yards. Deguara is on the watch list to see if he can continue his great blocking and maybe see more targets this week when he isn’t guarded by one of the best coverage LB’s in the NFL.
Jace Sternberger: Sternberger was hyped up all offseason to have a major breakout year in 2020, unfortunately week 1 didn’t show a lot of that hype. Sternberger saw the lowest number of snaps of all TE’s on the active roster (12) and, only saw one target on a wheel route guarded by Eric Kendricks. Jace did have a good day blocking but he is on the watch list because if he wants to get back on track to eventually be the Packers TE1, he has to show improvements in the passing game and attack the middle of the field where he can really have some success.
Rick Wagner: Rick Wagner was brought in this off season and was widely expected to be the day 1 starter at RT with Bryan Bulaga leaving. A shortened training camp and some bugging injuries limited Wagner’s ability to be truly ready to start week 1, and LG Elgton Jenkins ended up making the start at RT. After Lucas Patrick went down with a shoulder injury, Wagner made his Packers debut and he played a very quality game. The reason Wagner is on the watch list is that after RG Lane Taylor is now out for the season with a knee injury, Billy Turner is still questionable for week 2, and Lucas Patrick is still banged up from Sunday. All of those injuries point to Wagner making his first official start with the Packers. Hopefully we will see the week 1 Rick Wagner for an entire game and not 2019 Rick Wagner who was average at best with the Lions.
Christian Kirksey: The Packers brought in Kirksey –after Blake Martinez left in Free Agency to headed to the Giants– to be the new number one ILB and to do things –attacking the line of scrimmage, play in coverage– that Martinez couldn’t do. Kirksey had a nice game week 1 –hauling in 12 tackles– he was all around the ball and he was decent in coverage. There were times where Kirksey looked slow sometimes trying to get sideline to sideline and sometimes in coverage, he also left a few tackles on the field last week. Kirksey is on the watch list to see if he can continue his tackling volume in the right way –not 7 yards down field like Martinez did– and to see if he can be better sideline to sideline and in coverage or if its just a weakness in his game.
Darnell Savage: Savage started out last year on fire before going down with an injury. Since then, he hasn’t been much more than a decent starting FS and that trend continued last week. He did fly around the field and was always there to help make a play but unfortunately he made a number of mistakes too. Savage gave up a touchdown in coverage and had multiple missed tackles –some bad angles and some were broken– and it accumulated to a flawed game for him. Savage is on the watch list to see if he can get back to his pre-injury 2019 form and build off of that, or if he has really just taken a step back in his progressions.
Preston Smith: Smith didn’t necessarily play bad Sunday but he did not make his presence felt –recording 0 stats across the board– even though he had a lot of success last year against the Vikings. Preston was noticeably better at home last year than away games –7.5 sacks at home to 4.5 sacks away– so hopefully this is just a quirky trend for him and not a real concern of his game play. The quiet week 1 game is why Smith is on the watch list, he needs to have a bounce back game here or he could be on the short list of cap casualties next offseason.
Whoever we play at DT: The last player to watch isn’t a player at all, at least not yet. Kenny Clark went down with a groin injury early in the game Sunday and we still don’t know the severity. I would assume at best he won’t be 100% for the game and plays limited snaps. With Za’Darius Smith coming in and playing a lot of stand up NT last week when he went down, I think its safe to assume the Packers will look to bring in another DT to fill his role. The likely candidate is bringing up Daylon Mack –DT on the Packers practice squad, brought in September 9th– to the active roster. Willington Previlon is another practice squad defensive lineman who could get the call. The least-likely option is signing an a current free agent –with limited days to learn the defense and be ready to play– the only option that I could see doing all of that and getting the start is Damon “Snacks” Harrison.