Aaron Jones and Adrian Amos both put in strong performances in Week 14.
The Green Bay Packers got win number 10 in an unconvincing effort against the Washington Redskins.
Here are some positives and negatives from the win:
Positive: Aaron Jones
Aaron Jones all but sealed a Pro Bowl appearance after another great game against the Redskins. Jones finished the day as the team’s leading receiver and rusher, and was easily the best player on the field for either team. The Packers offense has been extremely inconsistent throughout the season, but Jones has been nothing short of spectacular under a new head coach.
Jones has been the only player on the offensive side of the ball that defenses have not really been able to figure out yet. Each week, he continues to repeatedly gash defenses both through the air and on the ground. Davante Adams has not had a good season, and the other receivers have failed to develop miserably. Jones is the team’s best offensive option by a mile.
Negative: Marquez Valdes-Scantling
The second-year receiver out of South Florida has disappeared from Green Bay’s offense. An ankle injury suffered against the Lions may still be hampering him, but Green Bay’s supposed number two receiver has caught two passes since October 27. GM Brian Gutekunst deserves praise for a variety of moves he has made as general manager, but not trading for a wide receiver at the deadline was inexplicably bad.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling has been completely erased by any defense he faces over the second half of the season to this point. Aaron Rodgers has been far from his former MVP form, but Valdes-Scantling’s mysterious withdrawal from the passing game has further complicated matters. The Packers are going to face some incredibly stingy defenses in the playoffs, forcing one of the team’s other poor receivers to finally make something happen.
Positive: Adrian Amos
The former Chicago Bear earned a hefty four-year contract with the Packers in free agency after playing four strong years with the Bears. He has never been known as much of a playmaker, and is much more fundamentally sound then a flashy hard-hitter. Amos had been taking that style of play to a noticeable extreme to this point in the season.
Against the Redskins, Amos had his best game as a Packer. He led the team with six tackles, intercepted Dwayne Haskins at the end of the first half and registered a sack on Washington’s first series. Darnell Savage has flashed brilliance but is still learning the ropes of the position. The Packers need just a little more pop out of their new signing at safety to secure the middle of the field, something Green Bay’s linebackers will undoubtedly fail to do.
Negative: Mike Pettine
Green Bay’s second-year defensive coordinator has been incredibly disappointing after almost two seasons. Green Bay forces a good amount of turnovers, but they give up an absolutely unsustainable amount of yards both through the air and on the ground.
The Packers currently rank 22nd in yards per game and are on pace for yet another year outside the top 10. The Packers added a hefty amount of personnel to the unit in the offseason, giving Mike Pettine some the horsepower he needed.
So far, it just hasn’t happened for Green Bay. Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith have both been ferocious pass rushers, but it hasn’t translated to many stops. Kenny Clark has not helped himself in contract talks, and Blake Martinez is a liability.
But with two new starting safeties and mostly good injury luck, Pettine’s defense has been exactly no better than the units under Dom Capers. It continues to be the same ‘ol Green Bay defense, just with different players and another overrated coordinator.
Positive: Tyler Ervin
Green Bay’s punt return game was on its way to being the worst in NFL history statistically before Sunday’s game. Tyler Ervin, who the Packers claimed off of waivers during the week, had a pretty unremarkable day all things considered, but compared to what the team had been getting from Tremon Smith, Ervin looked like Desmond Howard returning the ball.
Ervin registered 51 yards on four punt returns against the Redskins, helping give a dysfunctional offense good field position throughout the game. The Packers may have found something, anything just to make it look like they have an actual returner on the roster. The Packers have not returned a kick of any kind for a touchdown since 2016. Ervin is just hoping to go forward with the ball.
Negative: Super Bowl chances
The Packers are 10-3, and still leading the NFC North division race. After Sunday they currently sit in the second seed behind only San Fransisco. But it is painfully clear how unprepared the Packers are for a playoff run. While the Packers have not played an easy schedule by any means, it is worth noting that the team’s victories this season as a whole are not that impressive.
The Packers have defeated the 7-6 Bears, the 9-4 Vikings, the 5-8 Broncos, the 6-7 Cowboys, the 3-9-1 Lions, the 6-7 Raiders, the 9-4 Chiefs (with their entire team injured), the 5-8 Panthers, the 2-10 Giants and the 3-10 Redskins.
That is not a record worth boasting about. Against physical, defensively-minded teams, they have been completely overmatched. Green Bay should be able to get and win a home playoff game, but it is not unfair to say they will get blitzed by the truly elite teams of the NFC, again.