Week 4 Highs and Lows– Philadelphia Eagles
Welcome back to my weekly expectations for the Packer offense. Last week was my inaugural article with Pack to the Future and I wanted to thank everyone who took the time to read and comment. Luckily for me I was able to attend the Bronco game at Lambeau and am excited to say I will be at the Philly game as well. There is something magical about 1265 Lombardi Ave, so much so, that I am writing this from outside Lodge Kohler so that I can look at Lambeau whenever a Danny Vitale sized writer’s block gets in my way. My aim is to provide a weekly report with the expectations and then having a recap given out early in the week. With the short turnaround this week, I have included the recap for week 3 within this article.
Sunday’s performance was frustrating from the offenses point of view. We saw limited production from the passing game and a staunch Broncos defense held the running backs to a combined 78 yards rushing. My prediction for last week was Aaron Jones would have 12-65-1 with minimal opportunity for receiving success. It seems Coach LaFleur wasn’t bluffing when he meant Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones would be splitting carries with Jamaal accruing 12-59-0 compared to AJ’s 10-19-2.
My other expectations for the game expected deep shots to MVS and Geronimo Allison while taking advantage of the mismatches in coverage for the TE group. Marquez Valdes-Scantling erupted Lambeau with his intelligent adjustment to go deep on the free play that Aaron Rodgers has made a signature part of his game.
As for the Tight End group, I fan girled the coming out party for Bobby Tonyan and we were within outstretched arms of me declaring him the second coming of Antonio Gates. With 3 targets, Tonyan was only capable of 1 catch for 4 yards. The other TEs that had an impact were Marcedes Lewis who accounted for 19 yards on 1 catch from 2 targets and arguably Vitale’s 27-yard play action wheel route down to the half yard line. The obvious dud of the week was Jimmy Graham, despite fighting through injury has essentially wiped himself out of the offense with halfhearted routes resulting in him going without a catch in the game. Predicted a 27-21 game and possibly discounted how vicious the pass rush would be against Flacco and the rain but nearly hit on the 27-16 final score.
High Expectations –
Aaron Rodgers –
Aaron’s performance is being criticized as leading a stagnant offense and allowing the defense to carry the Packers offense. Meanwhile the Packers QB1 is putting up middle of the road stats with a respectable 96.5 QB rating. He is performing to the flow of the game and although fans are outraged at the throwaways, he hasn’t turned the ball over and continues to survive to play another series. With the defense capable of delivering turnovers, the offense has capitalized on the advantageous field positions. As Nathaniel Hackett explained in his interview on today (9/25/19), the offense is making the most of their opportunities. He went on to say the offense is focused on cleaning up the mistakes and developing a rhythm to avoid 3rd and long. Aaron Rodgers has made a career out of efficient play and its positive to see him and the offensive coordinator holding an expectation to convert over 40% of 3rd downs after starting the first three weeks with a 3rd worst in the league at 25%.
Expect Aaron to find mismatches in the Eagles secondary. Ronald Darby is already declared out for the game and that should provide plenty of opportunities for Aaron Rodgers to sling the rock. The Eagles are ranked 27th in passing yards allowed and TDs allowed, all with a healthy Ronald Darby. Rodgers has to be licking his chops ready for the breakout game cheeseheads are dying for. Philadelphia will also be without defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and potentially starting defensive end Derek Barnett who is listed as questionable with an ankle injury. An ailing Eagles defense that struggles against the pass, on the road, during a short week. Expect fireworks.
Prediction: Aaron gets his first 300-yard 3 TD passing game of the season. Start him everywhere you can.
Davante Adams –
What can I say that isn’t abundantly clear to the entire NFL? Davante is an elite route runner that is able to create separation from the leagues best coverages and will regularly receive volume targets from Rodgers. Unfortunately, the Packers offense is going to eventually need consistency out of WR2 and WR3 in order to keep defenses honest against Adams. Lucky for the Packers, this week’s mismatch in the secondary will gift plenty of opportunities for everyone to showcase their potential. The Eagles defense ranks in the bottom 10 in the NFL in receptions, yards, touchdowns and targets to wide receivers. As we said earlier, Ronald Darby is out for the week so it will be up to Sidney Jones to follow Davante or risk leaving Adams to feast on Rasul Douglas on the left side and Avonte Maddox in the slot. All things considered; I expect Adams to come out with a dominant performance with 8 catches for 135 yards and 2 TDS.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling –
MVS had a stellar Sunday against Denver where he was capable of rallying in 6 catches on 10 targets for 99 yards and the deep touchdown. MVS benefits from being the clear WR2 in a potentially potent offense that gave him 87% of the offensive snaps the last two weeks compared to Geronimo with 45% in both weeks. The performance Sunday only cements his position and as we discussed within the Adams segment, the opportunities for big chunks of yards will be plentiful. I expect 5 catches for 85 yards a TD
Toss Up: Geronimo
Depending on how Philly rolls the coverage towards Adams, Geronimo may be able to make a couple impact plays and cut into the production of the top two as long as he capitalizes on his opportunities unlike last week where he had 3 targets resulting in 1 catch for -1 yards. He needs to establish he has the ability to routinely create separation with his size advantage over most defensive backs. I’m optimistic he can produce throughout the season but I have a hard time signing off on him as a viable fantasy option or stat producer week to week. Based on the matchup, Geronimo is likely to produce a 4 catch 40 yards stat line on Thursday.
RB group –
Much to the dismay of fantasy footballers and analysts; Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are in a full split in the backfield with Jamaal actually receiving 61% of the offensive snaps compared to Aaron’s 39%. Jamaal’s productive day versus Denver with a 4.9 ypc average versus Aaron’s 1.9 only solidifies the gameplan going forward. Feels like a scene right out of Freaky Friday, Jamaal had a dismal YPC throughout his career and Aaron has benefitted from gutting defenses unprepared for his athletic quickness. Unsure if this load share is to guarantee Jones is healthy down the stretch but it is encouraging to see Jamaal make the most of his opportunities and provide the Pack with two valuable assets at RB for the expanded use of 21 personnel.
However, this weekend I assume the Packers struggle to gash the Eagles defense on the ground. Philadelphia has established themselves as the 4th best defense against rushing yards allowing 167 yards through three weeks and only 1 rushing TD. If the Packers running backs are to gather yardage it will be via the pass as Philly has given up 150 yards receiving and 1 TD to pass catching backs with a catch rate of 73.9%.
TE Group –
Jimmy Graham has seen himself go from week 1 saving the Packers offense in the redzone to being chased out of town by the Packers twitter mob. He continues to act like a WR rather than an asset as TE. He is being asked to block on a limited basis and still can’t seem to give decent effort. His routes have been lackluster and at this point, hard to keep rolling him out there when he either hurt or disinterested. Jimmy Graham’s injury/play saw his snap percentage drop from 73% to 42.1% where most of those snaps were eaten up by Vitale rising from 10.8% to 33.3% which adds another layer of grit for the Cheeseheads. Tonyan and Lewis are getting looks but not at a rate that makes them reliable stat producers especially against the Philly defense. Philadelphia ranks in the top 15 in all receiving categories against tight ends while posting a catch rate in the top 5 allowing only 61.9% completion percentage. I expect TEs to struggle to find open space unless Philly sacrifices everything to stop Davante and MVS. The Eagles have surrendered 6 TDs to wide receivers compared to just 1 to tight ends.
Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense could make this interesting but based on their performance against the Lions, which deserves respect for Detroit, I am fully confident that Green Bay runs away with this game and lands at 4-0. The injuries in the Eagles secondary nearly guarantees the offense gets rolling this week and silences the critics. Eagles have an array of weapons on offense to test the Packers elite defense. I expect multiple sacks and an aggressive aim at turnovers with Darnell Savage and Jaire Alexander having a knack for finding ways to steal opponents lunch money.
Packers win 34-20
Thanks for reading!