Green Bay Packers v. Saints: Final Thoughts

On Mondays here at Cheesehead TV, I'll be doing my Behind the Numbers series throughout the course of the season, while on Fridays, I'll be putting out my final thoughts before each game.

These Final Thoughts articles will mirror the few that I did over the course of the season, where it is essentially a brain dump and me sharing just about every thought that I have about the upcoming matchup.

I enjoy putting these types of articles together as I can bounce from one topic to the next, and I appreciate all of the positive feedback. So, without further ado, let's dive in and look at Green Bay vs. New Orleans.

- It's quite amazing how little concern there seems to be about the Packers being without David Bakhtiari. It's quite the testament to just how good Elgton Jenkins is. But keep in mind, he has only 29 career snaps at left tackle, and Green Bay will be up against a very good edge rusher group, led by Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport.

- Sticking with the offensive line, it's going to be a tough test for rookies Josh Myers and Royce Newman. This Saints defensive front -- which is without a few of the interior players that they had a season ago -- allowed the third-fewest rushing yards, and they came away with the fourth-most sacks. As Matt LaFleur said, there will be "growing pains"--and he's right. But Aaron Rodgers was also right when he said these two rookies will need to play like veterans.

- Sunday could be a very big day for Rodgers and the Packers' wide receivers -- especially Davante Adams -- as this New Orleans cornerback group is dangerously thin. At the moment, they only have four CBs listed on the depth chart, with Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley -- their top-2 corners -- on the injury report. The other two candidates for snaps are rookie Paulson Adebo and Desmond Trufant, who was recently cut by Chicago. Safeties Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and PJ Williams can play corner if needed, and of course, there are several players on the practice squad, but this Packers offense could very well spend the afternoon picking these cornerbacks apart.

- With Jaire Alexander locking down his half of the field, I'm sure we can expect a lot of targets going Kevin King's way. This was also the case in 2020, and King came away with zero interceptions.

- At the end of the game, there are a few specific snap counts that I'll be taking a close look at:

1. How much playing time Eric Stokes sees.
2. How many snaps and carries do both Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon have?
3. Rashan Gary and Preston Smith's snap count breakdown.

- I alluded to it above, but the name of the game is keeping Aaron Rodgers upright and giving him time. The Packers' offensive line will have a difficult task this week against the New Orleans defensive front, but if they can keep Rodgers clean, he should have a big day against those cornerbacks. 

- It's also going to be important that the running game get going as well behind that offensive line. As good as this offense is, we've seen how that unit can struggle when the run game struggles--exhibit A was the Packers' Week 6 matchup with Tampa Bay last season. And for reference, Green Bay rushed for only 98 total yards against the Saints in 2020, but we will see if the interior defensive line can hold up as well as they did in 2020.

- Za'Darius Smith has been back at practice this week -- which is a good sign -- but in a limited capacity. Do we see him on the field this Sunday?

- Turnovers are likely always going to be a part of Jameis Winston's career, but do we see a toned-down version of that with the Saints? He's had a year to learn from Drew Brees, and with Sean Payton as his head coach, Winston will likely be put in better positions to succeed. With that said, if Green Bay can put consistent pressure on him, it should lead to a turnover opportunity or two. 

- I've talked about it quite a bit this summer, but I'm excited to see if Kenny Clark is moving around more. Moving him away from the nose tackle role should create more one-on-one opportunities, which should lead to more big plays from him. 

- This Joe Barry defense and the Packers' tackling abilities are going to be tested right away against Alvin Kamara. Last season, Kamara had 195 total yards and a pair of touchdowns against Green Bay. Tackling is going to be at a premium this game if the Packers hope to contain him. And if it isn't, then Kamara absolutely has the potential to wreck this game. 

- On the flip side, if the Packers can slow him -- I don't think you can stop Kamara -- it should make moving the ball very difficult for the Saints' offense as they will also be without star wide receiver Michael Thomas. 

- There are two key items worth noting with the game being moved and played at Jacksonville. The first is the heat and how well the Packers handle it. The second is the fact that Green Bay doesn't have to play in the dome with what is a very real home-field advantage that the Saints have. Ultimately, I believe the change in venues benefits the Packers more.

- What do we see from the Joe Barry defense? We all have an idea with the light boxes, five-man fronts, and two high safety looks, but what wrinkles are added? And most importantly, how do they perform? The odds are that early on this season they are going to take some lumps--it is a new system, after all. 

- DBs coach Jerry Gray told us that Darnell Savage, Jaire Alexander, and Chandon Sullivan were the three candidates to fill the 'star' role. My prediction all summer has been that both Savage and Alexander will see more snaps there this season, but it will be Sullivan who takes the bulk of those slot snaps. Let's see how it plays out Week 1.

- Hopefully, we don't have to see Corey Bojorquez too often, but let's see what that leg and hang time are all about. Bojorquez led the NFL in punting average last season, while special teams coach Maurice Drayton noted how impressive his hang time was. Drayton would also mention that Bojorquez being a lefty could cause some issues for the returners.

- And overall, how does the special teams unit perform? I know they struggled during the preseason, but as I said a week ago, try not to read too much into that as many of Green Bay's special teams contributors were sitting out. Let's hope they prove me right, but if you're not feeling very optimistic, I understand. 

- Key stats to know during the game: turnovers, red zone success, and third-down efficiency. 

- As good as this offense was in 2020, leading the NFL in scoring, Aaron Rodgers recently told Larry McCarren that Year 3 is where things can really begin to click in an offense--and that should terrify opposing defenses. Watch out for 12 again this season.

“Third year in the offense really helps too,” Rodgers told Larry McCarren. “I remember my third year in the West Coast offense was when it really felt like I took off. I think you’ve seen a nice progression from Year 1 to 2 and now 2 to 3, things are completely sunk in, and I feel really at ease with the offense and what we’re trying to accomplish.”

- The Packers Week 3 matchup with New Orleans in 2020 was the game that Allen Lazard got hurt and missed the next several weeks. However, it was also the game that he went nuts, catching six of his eight targets for 146 yards and a touchdown. Green Bay was also without Davante Adams that week as well. 

- During his meeting with reporters on Thursday, Nathaniel Hackett mentioned that the Saints blitzed Rodgers last season more than they did any other quarterback. This is something to keep our eyes on, especially with two rookies starting along the interior. 

- Expectations are that this Barry defense should free up the linebackers more to make plays with those five-man defensive fronts. I'm excited to see if that's the case. I think the duo of Barnes and Campbell can give the Packers a more impactful linebacker unit than what they've had in the past.

Prediction: Alvin Kamara will probably have a big play or two, and the rookies on the offensive line will experience some growing pains, but the Packers are the more talented team. It also doesn't hurt that this isn't a true home game for the Saints. I expect a big day for Rodgers and his receivers, and we will probably see a Winston interception or two as well. Packers win, 34-24. 

---------------------

Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

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11 points

Comments (34)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Postman's picture

September 10, 2021 at 12:38 pm

I am wondering how many snaps TJ Slaton takes freeing up Clark to move around.

11 points
11
0
flackcatcher's picture

September 10, 2021 at 01:01 pm

(Sigh....) First off, offensives rule in the first game, that side of the ball is always ahead of the defense during the first 4-5 games of the season. Last night Thursday's season opener is a case in point. High scoring games are the norm. (Brady. Again!) The lost of Mike Pettine hurts more than most sports pundits (or fans) will admit. It's going to take time to put whatever Barry has in mind on the field. Expect this defense to give up points till mid-season. At that point there will be enough video of the other team's offense to counter. Either way, we will be seeing a lot of track meet football early on. The good news is this Packers defense has the talent to overmatch most offensives in the league. The bad news is the rules favor the offense. (Have I said how much I hate Roger Goodell....) The only other question is how quickly the Packer's offense will gel. And will QB 1 show the discipline needed to run Matt Lafleur offensive scheme. On the flip side, Lafleur needs to show the maturity that the Head Coach needs in running an elite team. In other words, has he grown up. It will be an interesting season nonetheless. Superbowl or Bust!

-9 points
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12
jannes bjornson's picture

September 10, 2021 at 10:35 pm

How was that first half performance by Pettine in the play calls, pressures and CLEAR Communication during the last 7 seconds of the NFC CH Game on their Home Turf??

4 points
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Bure9620's picture

September 11, 2021 at 06:31 am

It wasn't good. But was that last play of the half on Pettine? Or Kevin King being a dumbass?? Maybe both. But if Pettine had a deep prevent call to keep everything in front then that is on Kevin King....

0 points
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1
MarkinMadison's picture

September 10, 2021 at 01:01 pm

Jenkins - you took the words right out of my mouth. I don't know why no one is nervous about Jenkins at LT. I can't remember ANY OL who was a true 5-position player. I'll be thrilled if the Saints don't find something to exploit. If he doesn't give up anything, then, damn, back up the truck folks and pay that man his money.

The Packers have had the uncanny ability over the years of making third string CBs look competent. I don't know why. I just know it is true. If Rodgers is under pressure a lot the Packers will be forced to go more to the running game and quick throws, and then the box gets crowded and life gets easier for the Saints' CBs. This is going to be a chess match all day long.

Winston is going to Cutler his way through this game.

My wife is still sulking about JK. I'm looking forward to Mr. Bojorquez.

8 points
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PhantomII's picture

September 10, 2021 at 08:46 pm

Jenkins does not allow sacks...College or Pro. He will be fine if he doesn't feel he is also covering LG.

5 points
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Swisch's picture

September 10, 2021 at 02:19 pm

A lot depends on Aaron Rodgers getting the ball out quickly.
From what I saw last night, the Cowboys' offense did a good job of outmaneuvering the Bucs' defense by throwing a creative array of passes over and around the linemen and linebackers -- largely taking them out of the game, as Cris Collinsworth seemed to say.
Rather than expect too much out of an offensive line with two rookies, and only one of the five in the same position as last season -- plus no time together on the field during the preseason -- let's play it smart to protect Rodgers and move the ball.
Even if the offensive line does well for the most part on Sunday against the Saints, there's a greater possibility of an occasional breakdown in blocking due to miscommunication and lack of coordination as a unit.
Let's be ready for that with such things as swing passes and safety valves, plus emphasizing to our QB to just throw the ball away before too long.

-1 points
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7
SanLobo's picture

September 10, 2021 at 07:18 pm

Talking the game last night, we need to give credit to where it’s due. Dak played great and McCarthy schemed up a great offensive plan to neutralize the strength of the Tampa Bay defense.
If I’m New Orleans I will attack the GB O-line over and over and over again because if GB has a weakness in its offense, it will show up there…plus the NO defense is weakest 8 yards behind their D-line and back.
For NO on offense…just run the ball. Keep Rodgers off the field and wear out the GB defense in the Florida heat and humidity and make them prove they can stop the run for 4 quarters.
If the D can slow down the Saints run game, we win. If we can occasionally stop it, we win big.

6 points
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2
LayingTheLawe's picture

September 10, 2021 at 08:41 pm

When a team's big weakness is its corners I agree this is totally the way to go. And the Saints have big problems at corner right now. So quick plays to make those corners have to cover and not let the defensive ends and safeties make plays.

4 points
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BradHTX's picture

September 10, 2021 at 03:03 pm

“Sticking with the offensive line, it's going to be a tough test for rookies Josh Myers and Royce Newman. This Saints defensive front -- which is largely the same as it was in 2020…”

Actually, not the case. DT David Onyemata, their #3 pass rusher last year, is suspended for the game. That’s good news for Patrick/Myers/Newman.

8 points
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LayingTheLawe's picture

September 10, 2021 at 08:38 pm

Saints very beat up inside - I copied this from a Saints article:

Defensive tackle could be a potential concern for this defense, especially early in the year. Star DT David Onyemata is suspended for the first six games and promising DT Jalen Dalton was lost in preseason with a season-ending injury.

The team had already lost tackles Sheldon Rankins and Malcom Brown this offseason.

Former undrafted players Shy Tuttle, Malcolm Roach, and Christian Ringo will get the bulk of interior snaps, with DE Tanoh Kpassagnon sliding inside on some alignments. An underrated strength of this team previously was its interior depth.

7 points
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jhtobias's picture

September 10, 2021 at 04:01 pm

Next person who comments on preseason performance for defensive ability to tackle giving us a great insight into the regular season performance needs to be banned from this and all sights.

Not one starter on defense except barnes played and it was like 3 snaps. So if you use preseason as a measuring stick you are not the brightest bulb.

1 points
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Matt Gonzales's picture

September 10, 2021 at 04:22 pm

Yes and no.

Starters or no, there were players who played quite a bit in the PS that will be on the field, either in a reduced role, or in a larger role if necessary due to injury.

These players also all went through the same camp, and with any aspect of the game, the team largely is what the coaches emphasize in camp and in practices. Some teams clearly emphasize tackling more than others and it shows up on game day.

Of course the starters are better than the players we saw starting in the PS or they wouldn't be starters. But tackling seems to be a regular challenge with the GB defense and the preseason didn't do anything to assuage those concerns.

0 points
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4
LambeauPlain's picture

September 11, 2021 at 10:57 am

Don't know why you got down votes for your comment, Matt....makes sense to me.

Good tackling is a function of technique, mindset and "want to". You are what you practice and frankly, the Packers under MM or ML do not practice it, avoiding risk of injury at all costs.

Conversely, the Ravens under Harbaugh do, and it shows. The packers do have good tacklers though...Clark. Z, Gary, Barnes, Amos, Black, Savage hit with determination and wrap up. Too many others on D and STs rely on arm tackles and drag downs.

Barry comes from a D culture in LA that had a swarming hard hitting scheme and I hope it is being welcomed in GB.

1 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

September 11, 2021 at 08:51 pm

Aw, jht, please don't make it so easy, man. Even those who aren't the brightest bulbs still enjoy the sights. Banning someone from CHTV is one thing, but to take away their ability to enjoy all sights? You, sir, should be cited for cruelty and taken to a secure site.

0 points
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Ferrari-Driver's picture

September 10, 2021 at 05:27 pm

Paul's quote:
"It's quite amazing how little concern there seems to be about the Packers being without David Bakhtiari."

Well, while I have the upmost respect for Jenkins and I'm thankful that we have him on our team, I would feel a WHOLE lot better if we were facing the Saints with our Pro Bowl Guard playing his normal spot and our Pro Bowl Left Tackle, Bakhtiari playing his.
Losing Bakhtiari for the game against Tampa Bay last year greatly diminished the performance of our team and I fully believe we would have scored more points had he been healthy and playing in that game.

I fully realize that injuries happen and we are suffering the consequences. However, I do agree with the decision to place him on pup and allow him an adequate amount of time to fully recover because it's vitally important to have Bakhtiari healthy and operating a full capacity for our anticipated run to the Super Bowl.

5 points
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2
PhantomII's picture

September 10, 2021 at 08:51 pm

I would have felt a whole lot better if Jenkins was LT in NFCC game.....so Dumb.

3 points
5
2
Lphill's picture

September 10, 2021 at 06:13 pm

Kevin King will be tested early and often .

4 points
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LayingTheLawe's picture

September 10, 2021 at 08:35 pm

by who? Lil Jordan Humphrey and Deonte Harris? Adam Troutman?

I agree its who I would go after, but the Saints ain't got no one.

5 points
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dobber's picture

September 11, 2021 at 08:30 pm

...and it's not as if teams didn't go after him and Sullivan last year, too. This is nothing new.

1 points
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LayingTheLawe's picture

September 10, 2021 at 08:43 pm

The Packers playing two rookies inside on the Offensive line get to play a totally decimated inside defensive line in their first game out. THe Saints have lost a lot inside and are playing undrafted players inside.

With this week's injuries and suspensions, I count the Saints only having three cornerbacks ready to play on Sunday. I would guess they have to activate Ka'dar Hollman off the practice squad just for a body. A rookie who sat out last year will have to start as well.

The Saints receivers are also totally decimated. The three starting receivers for this game have like 25 career catches between the whole group.

The Saints have a good O line and two good D ends, but unless the Packers melt in the heat they should really dominate this one.

7 points
7
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jont's picture

September 11, 2021 at 09:23 am

Interesting aside in there: Ka'dar Hollman, cut by GB, lands on the Saints practice squad, could be playing week one for NO.
This month has been quite a roller coaster for the kid.
I can't help thinking about these young men chasing their dreams, staying focused, packing and unpacking suitcases, and then finally to walk out onto the field in front of a packed stadium.
I wouldn't know him if he walked into the room right now but I hope he makes a couple plays.

3 points
3
0
dobber's picture

September 11, 2021 at 08:34 pm

You're right: the fact that the Saints are playing a defensive interior as inauspicious as this might be a blessing for breaking in the Patrick-Myers-Newman combo. The best of the OL on the outside gets the best of NO's DL. Wouldn't be too surprised to see the Packers attacking that interior in the run game early to try to get those guys some confidence.

1 points
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LayingTheLawe's picture

September 10, 2021 at 08:48 pm

Christian WIngo and Montravius Adams may need to play significant time inside for the Saints. And Hollman outside. A regular reunion game.

7 points
7
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LayingTheLawe's picture

September 10, 2021 at 08:56 pm

If Lancaster is hurt does that mean Slaton and Heflin get a lot of run in this one? Hot and sweaty and need to keep running new bodies in the trenches.

5 points
5
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Bure9620's picture

September 11, 2021 at 06:40 am

I have to correct something in this article..."A Saints defensive front which is largely the same as 2020"

The Edges are but No it is not the same at all on the interior. Sheldon Rankins is gone. In fact the most recent Saints depth chart is very peculiar. Christian Ringo is listed as a starter at RDT (4-3) next to Malcolm Roach. Montravius Adams is his backup....whom has been cut twice this season....2 Packer draft picks...

2 points
2
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Johnblood27's picture

September 11, 2021 at 10:24 am

Saints are woefully thin at corner, who dat chasing Packer receivers? Gonna get roasted.

Pack gonna lean on saint DL in 3rd and 4th Qs and run effectively.

GBP D will have growing pains with "new" scheme. FG instead of TD is key.

Pack 41-23.
Pack 7 scores - 5 TD, 2 FG
Saints 5 scores - 2 TD, 3 FG

3 points
3
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PewAuKeeFan's picture

September 11, 2021 at 08:24 am

Johnny B, I see that you have the Packers going for 2 four times out of five...

2 points
2
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Johnblood27's picture

September 11, 2021 at 10:25 am

Grazie!

Im no math major...

0 points
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Johnblood27's picture

September 11, 2021 at 10:25 am

dupe post

0 points
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LayingTheLawe's picture

September 11, 2021 at 07:43 pm

Lattimore now downgraded to questionable so they might have to chase Adams with the rookie who sat out 2020.

0 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

September 11, 2021 at 11:03 am

With the strength of the Saints being its DEs, expect Big Dog is going to play alot on Sunday as a 3rd Tackle.

Also expect alot of 12 and 22 personnel.

2 points
2
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LayingTheLawe's picture

September 11, 2021 at 07:49 pm

With the corners the Saints are going to have out there, only sending out 4 targets and keeping 6 in blocking does not seem like a terrible idea.

0 points
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Slim11's picture

September 12, 2021 at 08:05 am

I'm also looking to see how Boroquez does too...especially if he's the holder for XP/FG attempts. I always preferred a punter, or TE/WR to hold for me. I don't know who the emergency holder would have been if Scott wasn't holding last season. It might have been Boyle.

0 points
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