Packers positives and negatives: Offensive line makes a difference

Strong performances by Aaron Rodgers and the offensive line lifted the Green Bay Packers to a dominant victory in Week 7.

The Packers looked very impressive during their Week 7 win over the Raiders to improve to 6-1.

Here are some positives and negatives from the win:

Positive: Offensive line

The Packers should be prepared for almost any pass rush that they face this season. So far, the unit has played the Bears, Vikings, Lions, and Cowboys, and held their own each time. While the Oakland pass rush isn’t quite as imposing, the protection for Aaron Rodgers was there from wire-to-wire. Both tackles have been tremendous all season, and Elgton Jenkins looks like an eventual star.

The Packers are going to face some tough units, assuming they can get into the playoffs. The San Fransisco 49ers look unstoppable upfront, as do the Saints led by Cameron Hayward. The Packers will have their hands full come playoff time, but the offensive line will not be a liability. Aaron Rodgers will have time to throw in the postseason.

Negative: Mike Pettine

Mike Pettine, while justifiably deserving of praise, has a lot to prove as the defensive coordinator. Some of the same issues are showing up again and again, especially in the front seven. Pettine’s group has not gotten any better against the run, and got absolutely scorched by Darren Waller of the Raiders. Without Tyrell Williams on the field, the Packers should have been much more prepared for the breakout tight end than they were.

The defense is tantalizingly close to being an elite group, but the team still gives up too many big plays. The defense cost the Packers the game against the Eagles, and allowed both the Cowboys and Raiders to have a pulse despite a big deficit. Pettine and his staff need to get a number of things cleaned up and fast.

Positive: Jimmy Graham

Jimmy Graham has hardly done anything during his two years in Green Bay, but his game against the Raiders was exactly what the team needed. Four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown might finally get Graham out of the doghouse and back onto the field. While the Packers should absolutely still be looking for wide receiver help, Graham has got to step up.

Graham has also quietly done a decent job recently as a blocker. He threw a couple of great blocks for Aaron Jones against Dallas, and helped seal the edge multiple times against the Raiders. While he’ll never even be a decent blocker, at least showing he can do it from time to time is important.

Negative: Josh Jackson

Josh Jackson isn’t going to be on the Packers for very long. The former second-round pick can hardly get on the field, and was completely overmatched even in garbage time by Darren Waller. In the event that the Packers have to resort to their bench, Ka’Dar Hollman might deserve a look over him. Jackson simply isn’t athletic enough to keep up in the modern NFL.

Jackson’s lack of production is strange considering how well he played during the preseason of his rookie year. Unless something changes very, very soon, Brian Gutekunst will have to part ways with his second ever draft pick. One does wonder what Jackson’s value on the open market could potentially be as the trade deadline nears.

Positive: Aaron Rodgers

Don’t look now, but Aaron Rodgers has slid into the MVP race. With Patrick Mahomes missing time and Russell Wilson losing to the Ravens at home, the Packers might have themselves the eventual MVP at quarterback. Rodgers looks as comfortable as ever in the pocket and has proven countless times that he can throw the ball anywhere he wants to still to this day.

The Packers can win a Super Bowl with this version of Rodgers. He’s back to his 2011, 2014 self. The defense may be somewhat revamped, but Rodgers is the reason the Packers can get to where they want to go. Matt LaFleur and Nathaniel Hackett have proven to be solid offensive minds, and Rodgers is carving up defenses like we’ve grown accustomed to seeing him do.

Negative: Wide receiver help

The Packers appear to have missed the boat at wide receiver. Mohamed Sanu was traded to the Patriots for a second-round pick, while Emmanuel Sanders was shipped to San Fransisco. A.J. Green appears to be the only receiver left who can help the Packers immediately offensively. The Bengals have reiterated countless times that they remain disinterested in moving him.

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The Packers cannot continue like this at the position. Even after scoring 42 points without Davante Adams, the team simply can’t stress defenses enough, and won’t be able to in the playoffs. Jimmy Graham is a shell of his former self, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard can only do so much. Should an opportunistic situation arise, the Packers have to pounce.

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