Dec 11, 2011; Green Bay, WI, USA; General view of statue of former Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers Preview: What's In A Name?

Aug 23, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Overall view of Lambeau Field during the second quarter of the game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday afternoon the 0-1 Green Bay Packers host the 0-1 Washington Redskinks NFL football team at historic Lambeau Field in what will be the Packers home opener. I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that one of these two teams will come away with their first win of the season. That’s what sports journalism is all about kids…making the tough calls seem easy.

RG III. The phenom who can do it all. The one-man wrecking crew who cannot be stopped or contained. Hyped. Respected. Well-liked, even universally so. Does lots of commercials anyway. The second read-option QB the Packers will face early this season. A bona-fide challenge to prepare for and defeat.

 

Sep 8, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) prepares to throw a pass against the Green Bay Packers in the second quarter at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Before we get too deep into that, let’s remember that read-option QB number 1 didn’t beat the Packers with the read-option. Not hardly. He beat the Packers by throwing from the pocket for a gazillion yards against an injury-depleted Packers secondary. So how will RG III attack the Packers defense? There are lots of things Washington can try…but why mess with what works? Because egos are in play, and Washington coach Shanahan’s is as big as they come. I think Washington will play their game. It’ll be up to the Packers D to stop them.

It’s early in the season. Both of these teams are winless, but 0-1 and winless don’t really carry the same weight. The Packers need to play better on both sides of the ball than they did in week one to come away with the win.

It won’t necessarily be easy because they probably won’t get anybody who was out for the 49ers back for this game and they might end up without LG Josh Sitton due to a back injury. Sitton, CB Jarrett Bush, and S Morgan Burnett are all questionable with Hayward definitely out. Only TE J-Mike Finley and LB Nick Perry are listed on the injury report as probable for the game. Looks like it’s next-man-up time again for the Packers, which means rookies G Lane Taylor and S Chris Banjo should have some opportunities to excel. It’s worked before. Here’s hoping it works again this week.

Here are some things I’ll be looking for while I watch the game:

Packers offensive line. Run. The. Ball. The Packers have to be thinking they want to get Eddie Lacy as many carries as possible in this game. They’ll have to do it with a makeshift patched-up offensive line but that changes nothing. One thing is for certain. Lacy will get his carries as long as he doesn’t drop the rock. It’ll be up to the O line to make those carries successful. I’ll be watching closely to see if the big guys up front are up to the task. If not it could be a long afternoon. If LG Sitton can play I sure hope he doesn’t have the kind of penalties he had against the Niners!

Sep 8, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) carries the ball against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Packers run game. Run. The. Ball. Repeat. Get the run game rolling and everything else in this game is easier. I’m not sure the Packers would know exactly how to handle that. After all, they have little to no experience with being an effectively balanced offensive football team. M.M. will keep the attempts in the game plan and he will call plenty of run plays. No doubt about that. But effective attempts are what matters, run plays that gain yards, and it sure would be awesome to see some of those. I’ll be watching to see the offensive line make them happen and Lacy, Starks, and Franklin (and Kuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhnn) pick up the yards while maintaining ball security. Especially if the weather guessers are right about rain for the game. And if you haven’t signed the petition against the use of WR Randall “Cobbernicus” Cobb as a RB please do so at your earliest inconvenience.

Packers passing game. The Packers passing game should be the most stable part of the offense. WRs Nelson and Cobb had great games last week. WR James Jones is poised for a breakout this week. I’d like to see some screens or short passes to the RBs this week. TE Finley needs to work the middle of the field and ensure he’s doing more good than harm. All of the receivers need to catch the ball first and foremost. YAC was excellent against the 49ers. I’ll be watching to see how much YAC is there and how much is gained against Washington.

Aaron Rodgers did about as much as he could to win last week’s game. This week he’ll need to keep drives alive with his arm and his feet and be accurate with his throws. It might take five or six TDs to win this game. I’ll be watching to see how 12 manages the game. By lighting that scoreboard up!

Aug 17, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin (11) is tackled by Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Nick Perry (53) and free safety M.D. Jennings (43) during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Packers defensive line / LBs. Another week, another mobile QB. Last week it wasn’t so much that the defense was able to contain Kaepernick (even though they did). It was more about the 49ers game plan not being based on the read-option. RG III might not be as cooperative this week. Between RB Morris and RG III the D line and LBs will have to be both stout at the point of attack and mindful of the fakes and misdirection Washington builds into their plays. Again…if all the emphasis on defending the read option offense this past off season was time well spent, the Packers D should be up to the task. I’ll be watching to see how RG III holds up when smacked around some (legally of course) and how he handles pressure when unable to escape the pocket. RG III was sacked thrice and picked off twice last week. I’d love to see that kind of stat line, or even worse, against the Packers.

Packers DBs. Once again missing both CB Hayward and potentially S Burnett for this game, the remaining members of the Packers defensive secondary will need to perform better against the Washington offense and especially RG III. He’s not above serving up a potential pick, sometimes several, during the course of a game. The DBs will have to capitalize on those opportunities. I’ll be watching for the DBs to cover well, coordinate their efforts effectively, tackle well, and come up with at least one big takeaway in this game.

Dec 11, 2011; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (2) is congratulated by Tim Masthay (8) after kicking a field goal against the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field. The Packers defeated the Raiders 46-16. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Packers special teams. Mason Crosby was perfect last week. He needs to be perfect again this week.  Tim Masthay did a solid job kicking off and punting last week. He also made a couple of tackles. I’d like to see the guys with the big boy pads on make those tackles for him though. Important in this game will be the handling of the ball by Masthay as well as the returners because the weather may get wet.  I’ll be watching for a big special teams play from the Packers.

The Bestest With The Mostest:

Best Uniform Tradition. Packers. I’m not alone here. Interviews, scientific experiments, referendums, exit polls, questionnaires, and all kinds of other methods were used to determine that the Packers uniforms are the most stable, consistent, and simply awesome togs in the NFL. The green and gold color combination is one of the most easily recognized and associated schemes on this or any other planet. And I like them too.

Best Home Field Advantage. Packers. Where else? The Packers are 21-3 at home over the last three seasons. That’s the statistic, but all you Packers fans out there know that Lambeau is the best place to tailgate before a game, the best place to watch a game, and legitimately the most hallowed ground in the NFL. Nothing else comes close. Another tough call made to look easy? Nope…some calls are easy.

Most Awful Politically and Racially Polarizing Team Name. Washington. I grew up on the New Jersey shore. As a kid my parents gave me a toggle coat for which I made no effort to hide my dislike. But then they pulled out the hole card. They told me it was a Redskins coat. Of course it wasn’t, but it was maroon and looked a little like the coats they wore on the sideline and so I bought it hook, line, and sinker. Even back then I was a Packers fan and I knew Lombardi was coming to coach the Redskins. See? Redskins. The name comes out easily enough when talking about my youth. I typed it twice without really even thinking about it. But now? Thanks to the latest media blitz the burgeoning outrage over the name has reached proportions previously only associated with other racial slurs by now more or less removed from polite conversation. I think it might be time for a change Washington. Me? I really can’t get too caught up in it. I’m German and Welsh, not at all racist, root for the Packers, and live in Texas. It all feels a little bit too political from here. And I know owner Dan Snyder will make several metric tons of money off the merchandizing of a Washington team with a new name. Seems like a no brainer to me.

Fearsome Predictions:

DISCLAIMER: The writer assumes no responsibility and claims no expertise in the area of predicting random occurrences during sporting contests. If something accidentally occurs that the writer predicted, it is entirely coincidental and not the fault of, nor can credit be attributed to, the writer. Blah-blah-legalese-blah.

Aug 23, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

- Aaron Rodgers will throw for four touchdowns with no picks.

- Eddie Lacy will lead the Packers in rushing yards.

- James Starks will be the second leading rusher for the Packers.

Dec 2, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones (89) during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. The Packers defeated the Vikings 23-14. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

- James Jones will lead the Packers in receiving yards.

- Ross will have over 60 return yards.

- Rodgers will be sacked once.

- Finley will drop one ball, but it will be a drive-killer.

- Finley will make a spectacular catch.

- Mason Crosby will miss a kick but only one and not a game-changer.

- RGIII will be sacked four times. Matthews will have two of them.

- RG III will be picked twice. Williams will get one of them.

- Johnny Jolly will bat at least one pass down and have three tackles.

- Datone Jones will get his first NFL sack.

- The Packers will have fewer penalty yards than Washington.

- The Packers will have more first downs than Washington.

- The Packers will have more time of possession than Washington.

- The television audience will be treated to multiple replays of Bad Clay’s OOB tackle of Kaepernick last week…especially if he is called for any kind of aggressive penalty against RG III.

- The television audience will be treated to at least one mention of Clay’s somewhat inane “awesome player” comment about the fine resulting from the OOB tackle of Kaepernick last week.

- The television audience will again be mistreated to the usual Aikman quips, trips, and complaints. During this game Troy’s mistreated brain will compel him to say at least two “I don’t think that should be a penalty / I don’t see a penalty there / I don’t agree with that call” calls and a couple of “that was a textbook tackle / that was outside the rules / he didn’t lead with his helmet” laments as well. Why did Fox assign Aikman and Buck to this game anyway? Oh…I know. Because there’s no second game on Fox this week. And RG III is in town.

- The television audience will be treated to mentions of Lombardi moving from Green Bay to Washington after the three-peat in the late 60s, the entire chronology of RG III’s return to the field, and in general much more prepared content about Washington than about Green Bay.

- The television audience will be treated to several prepared segments about the controversy over the Washington NFL team’s name.

Because the game will be played early Sunday afternoon and won’t be televised locally here in Southeast Texas, we’ll repair to our favorite local hangout (Tailgators!) to watch the game with Packers fans and friends. Also present will be a bunch of boisterous Texans fans, unruly Cowboys fans, purple-wearing Vikings fans, obnoxiously overzealous Bears fans, overwhelmed Redskins fans, and one Browns fan whose dish cratered. All in one room. Should be interesting if not actually fun. We’ll be making plenty of noise, wishing we were at the game, and rooting for a Packers victory!

I’ll be tweeting random thoughts and observations of the game and the telecast to all those who dare to follow at @PackersTX.

Watch LombardiAve.com for the post game analysis.

Packers home opener! Bring it Washington! Go Pack GO!

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