Following the Green Bay Packers’ Week 3 win, here are the positives and negatives.
The Packers scratched and clawed their way to another ugly win against the Broncos to remain unbeaten on the year.
Here are the biggest positives and negatives from the win over Denver:
Positive: Preston Smith
It is absolutely remarkable that the Washington Redskins chose not to pay Preston Smith. Through three games, an argument can be made that Smith has been the best outside linebacker in the entire league.
He’s been the team’s best pass rusher and has provided consistent pressure down after down on the quarterback. Add to that his absolutely impenetrable run defense, and the Packers found themselves a real star in free agency.
Smith, as of now, is proving to be worth every single penny of his deal he signed in free agency. His performances against the Bears on opening night and the Broncos were incredibly refreshing for a team that held out for Clay Matthews and Nick Perry for way too long. Za’Darius Smith has gone down a couple of times with minor injuries, but his job is made easier with Smith having an All-Pro type season so far.
Negative: Kevin King
As they have done so many times, the Packers drafted a bad cornerback right before future stars heard their names called on draft night. The Packers had a shot at Dalvin Cook, but took Kevin King instead. They also had chances at Alvin Kamara and JuJu Smith-Schuster in that same draft, but took Josh Jones instead. King has at least managed to stay on the team, but that doesn’t mean he’s ever been able to stay on the field.
It’s incredibly strange to see King completely healthy for more than one game at a time, but he’s managed to keep himself upright for now. That doesn’t mean he’s been any good. The third-year cornerback dropped an easy interception against the Bears on opening night, and got absolutely abused against the Broncos.
He also gave up a bomb to Stefon Diggs for a touchdown in Week 2. The Packers still don’t have their true starter opposite of Jaire Alexander. Tramon Williams is too old to play every snap on the outside, and Josh Jackson doesn’t have the confidence of the coaching staff. The team has laid out the red carpet for King to take the job and run with it, but he just hasn’t delivered.
Positive: Jamaal Williams
Jamaal Williams isn’t all that talented of a player, but he has quietly been very solid for the Packers so far this year. Aaron Jones is finally carrying the ball more frequently than he ever did under Mike McCarthy, but Williams has made the most of the opportunities he’s had.
The Packers need both of their running backs to stay healthy, as Dexter Williams isn’t ready to make much of an impact quite yet. Jones has had some troubles staying on the field, but Williams has been more reliable health wise.
The Packers should never expect outright greatness from Williams, but his ability to spell Jones and pass protect at a very proficient level have been encouraging so far. He seems to be one of the only Packers who has settled in to his role in the new offense rather seamlessly.
In the event that the Packers lose either Jones or Danny Vitale, Williams could become a serviceable stopgap starter. Matt LaFleur and Nathaniel Hackett should not be afraid to involve Williams more in the lineup.
Negative: Jimmy Graham
Brian Gutekunst has had a very good start to his tenure in Green Bay, but the signing of Jimmy Graham doesn’t appear to be his best calculation. For the second straight week, Graham was completely absent from the offense. His groin injury surely had something to do with it, but there is almost no question that Graham is less than satisfied with his lack of targets, and Aaron Rodgers‘ inability to get him the ball.
Add to his lack of receiving production his absolutely atrocious blocking. It was always common knowledge that he was a poor blocker, but he has outdone himself so far this year. Time and again, Graham has completely embarrassed himself trying to contain edge rushers.
The Packers coaching staff shouldn’t ask him to block or even chip one more time the rest of this season. Graham will almost certainly not be on the team after this season.
Positive: Bryan Bulaga
The Packers’ marriage to Bryan Bulaga has been a bit strange over the years, as he has undergone three different season-ending injuries and was even asked to take a pay cut by management.
After making such a hefty splash in free agency, Bulaga seemed like an obvious cap casualty, but the team decided to keep him. Gutekunst and the front office got this one right. Bulaga has been a wall at right tackle so far this year despite facing some really stiff competition.
In Week 1, Leonard Floyd and Khalil Mack did cause some problems, but mainly inside against Lane Taylor and newcomer Billy Turner. The Vikings didn’t pull any punches with Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen, not to mention Von Miller and Bradley Chubb the very next week.
Bulaga is having arguably his best season, and should have the Packers thinking about potentially re-signing him after this season.
Aaron Rodgers doesn’t really look all that different. Packers fans have become so accustomed to seeing Rodgers drop back to pass, not find anyone open, and eventually throw the ball away before shaking his head and cursing at his coach on the bench.
Week 3 against the Broncos was no different. While any new scheme is going to take time, and a new coach and offensive coordinator are still in the installation process, the Packers should be at least be showing some signs of progress through three weeks.
The Packers have a huge game against the Eagles on Thursday night. With hardly any time to get the offense in order before facing the Eagles, the Packers will again have to rely on their defense to get them over the hump at home.
If they can squeak out another win against the Eagles and get themselves to 4-0, then they will be in good shape heading into their Week 5 matchup where they will have 10 days to heal up and get ready for the Cowboys on the road.