Packers positives and negatives: Elgton Jenkins continues to impress
By Evan Siegel
Rookie Elgton Jenkins continued to impress in the Green Bay Packers’ Week 10 win over the Carolina Panthers.
The Packers improved to 8-2 after a thrilling win over the Panthers.
Here are some positives and negatives from the win:
Positive: Elgton Jenkins
Elgton Jenkins‘ name has hardly been mentioned throughout his rookie season, proving just how good he’s been. The Packers have drafted a rookie guard and plugged him into the offensive line, a move many teams ultimately regret. But Jenkins has been awesome at left guard for the Packers.
Billy Turner‘s season has been good enough, but Jenkins has been the bigger star between the two guards. The Packers should be thrilled with the early results they’ve gotten out of Jenkins, as he and David Bakhtiari continue to protect Aaron Rodgers‘ blindside exceptionally well.
If the Packers are going to go far in the playoffs, the strength of their offensive line as a unit will be a big reason why. Jenkins has also been a dominant player in run blocking, helping plug holes for Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. The Packers might’ve found themselves a perennial Pro Bowler in the second round.
The Packers have got to rebuild the middle linebacker position after this season. Year after year, the defense has been plagued by poor play at the position, this year led by Blake Martinez and B.J. Goodson. Countless missed assignments, blown coverages, and slow sideline-to-sideline movement have continued to set back a defense that has lots of talent across the unit.
GM Brian Gutekunst has almost completely remade the defense. Two new starters at the safety position along with three new pass rushers have made the unit an opportunistic group that can create turnovers, but still give up astronomical amounts of yards.
Both Martinez and Goodson are free agents at the end of the season, and neither should be retained. With so much cap space tied up in other positions, the Rams might have a tough time hanging on to All-Pro Cory Littleton, who should be at the top of the Packers’ list in free agency.
Positive: Ibraheim Campbell
The Packers have been extremely high on their backup safety for a while now, and Sunday against the Panthers might have shown why. Ibraheim Campbell made several nice plays against a fast, twitchy offense in poor footing as the snow fell. Campbell helped bust up a screen intended for one of the toughest running backs to stop in the open field in Christian McCaffrey, and had three other solo tackles.
With Raven Greene out, Will Redmond had been the one filling in at backup safety. Redmond had done a serviceable job in relief, but clearly Campbell is at the top of the team’s list. Gutekunst has done a very impressive job of rounding out the bottom of his roster with players like Campbell who the coaching staff clearly trusts.
Negative: Wide receivers
Aaron Rodgers is still having to hold onto the ball for way too long. Davante Adams is getting closer to 100 percent, but still doesn’t have a receiving touchdown on the year. Marquez Valdes-Scantling didn’t have a catch against the Panthers and was only targeted once throughout. Even though the coaching staff has done a good job of getting different players involved to this point in the season, it is obvious that there is something lacking in Green Bay’s offense.
Defenses can still bank on shutting down Adams and taking their chances with everybody else. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams will have to continue to run the ball effectively in order to give the Packers offense what it needs to remain balanced. Jimmy Graham has proven that he can’t be the same receiver he used to be, while Marcedes Lewis is still mostly in a blocking role. Come playoff time, the lack of playmaking at wide receiver is going to be on full display.
Positive: Adrian Amos
The Packers’ new safety had a great game against the Panthers. Adrian Amos has done what the Packers have needed him to do all season. Always in position, hardly ever missing tackles, and breaking up passes in the end zone, Amos has lived up to the contract Gutekunst awarded him with. The Packers still need more playmaking as a whole from their secondary, but Jaire Alexander and Kevin King are getting some needed support from their safeties.
Darnell Savage‘s job has also been made easier with the arrival of Amos to the defense. Going forward, the Packers are going to be in good shape at safety as Savage develops. The defense still has a lot of problems, but safety is not one of them.
Against an inexperienced quarterback with so-so receivers and a banged-up offensive line in harsh conditions, the Green Bay cornerbacks still didn’t do their job. Jaire Alexander has shown flashes of superstardom, but consistency remains a bit of an issue for the second-year pro. Kevin King is as up and down as a yo-yo, and Tramon Williams remains 36 years old.
The aforementioned safeties are helping limit some of the damage, but the cornerbacks have got to be better, otherwise they will be torched by the high-flying offenses of the NFC in the playoffs. Sean Payton, Kyle Shanahan, and Pete Carroll won’t have too hard a time scheming against Green Bay’s so-so defense.