There were both positives and negatives to be taken away from the Green Bay Packers’ Week 4 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Packers suffered their first loss of the year against the desperate Eagles.
Here are some positives and negatives from the defeat:
Positive: Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay’s quarterback was as spectacular as ever against the Eagles, throwing for 422 yards and hitting receivers left and right. Only after an unlucky ball caromed off of Marquez Valdes-Scantling‘s chest did he register his first interception of the season. For the first time under Matt LaFleur, Rodgers looked similar to his 2011 MVP form, particularly outside the pocket.
The Packers offense is completely different when Rodgers is able to use his legs in and out of the pocket. Time and again against a ferocious pass rush, Rodgers was able to slide and slip out of the pocket in ways few have ever been able to. If Rodgers keeps this level of play up, virtually any defense is going to struggle against him.
Negative: Kenny Clark
The Packers keep looking at Kenny Clark as the anchor to the defense. But once again against the Eagles, Clark was nowhere to be found. The Packers need to be extremely careful about giving Clark a massive long-term contract as he offers next to nothing as a run defender. As a pass rusher, Clark can be a force from time to time, but his ability to set the tone for the rest of the defensive line has never been there.
The Eagles showed absolutely no concern going up against Clark. Doug Pederson trusted that his offensive line would simply bully him and Dean Lowry for big chunks of yardage. If the Packers defense is ever going to be truly elite, Clark needs to actually become that superstar so many have already called him.
Positive: Jimmy Graham
Jimmy Graham still has something to offer this offense. After being completely silent for two weeks, Graham hauled in six balls for 61 yards and a touchdown.
The offense had an excellent night through the air on the whole, as Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison, and Valdes-Scantling were all involved. Matt LaFleur and Nathaniel Hackett appear to be making better adjustments than Mike McCarthy was ever able to make.
Graham’s first season in Green Bay ended the way it started. Game after game, Graham was hardly ever even targeted by an offense that had no clue what it was doing despite having one of the greatest ever under center.
LaFleur and Hackett made it a point to get him the football, and Graham responded. He may not be what he was in New Orleans, but Jimmy Graham can still be really, really good.
Negative: Special teams
Some things just don’t change. Among them, are the Green Bay special teams unit. Yet again on Thursday night, the coverage unit surrendered a long kick return which gave Carson Wentz a short field and got the Eagles back into the game. Shawn Mennenga’s coaching appears to be no different than Ron Zook or Shawn Slocum. Thursday night looked like a classic Green Bay special.
Aaron Rodgers, despite all his heroics, still lost because of poor defense and awful special teams. If the Packers really have a shred of a chance at a Super Bowl, the special teams will have to be considerably better.
Too many things continue to go wrong for the Packers in situations where they seem to shoot themselves in the foot and deprive them of a winning formula. Thursday was no exception.
Positive: Kevin King
Kevin King needed to have a big game in the worst way. After an awful showing against the Broncos, and up-and-down performances in Weeks 1 and 2, King had the best night of his career matched up against Alshon Jeffery.
Mike Pettine took a gamble, placing his far better corner, Jaire Alexander on Mack Hollins, and the taller King on Jeffery. If the Packers get a performance similar to that from King the rest of the way, they will have a tremendous overall secondary.
King’s long speed has never been what it was at Washington for whatever reason. Injuries and inconsistency have plagued him over his time in Green Bay, but Thursday night was exactly what the team spent the first pick of the second round on in 2017. King’s coverage ability could enable Mike Pettine to send some more rushers at the quarterback and trust Alexander and King to hold up on the back end.
Negative: Blake Martinez
The Packers defense did not have a good night, but Blake Martinez had a different kind of night. His performance against Philadelphia was embarrassing. Left and right, Martinez missed practically every assignment he was tasked with both in the running game and pass game. The Eagles feasted on him throughout the game, and it only got worse by crunch time.
The Packers, as of the current moment, should not be planning on re-signing the mediocre Martinez after this season. Having already committed large sums to Dean Lowry, Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Adrian Amos, re-upping Martinez is not fiscally responsible with other free agents looking for new deals.
The Packers defense has been plagued by Martinez’s poor play before, but not to the extent they were Thursday night.