The Green Bay Packers were nothing short of a disaster in a highly anticipated week one match-up against New Orleans. Many expected the Packers to win this game in blowout fashion. What actually happened was an ole fashioned ass kicking — losing the opener 38-3.
New Orleans dominated the time of possession and took care of the football, something the Packers usually hang their hat on, but not on Sunday. The Packers turned the ball over three times and failed to establish any kind of rhythm.
Here are my takeaways from the ugly loss to New Orleans.
Elgton Jenkins was phenomenal at left tackle
The Swiss-army knife that is Elgton Jenkins shifted out to left tackle in the absence of all-world lineman David Bakhtiari, who is still recovering from a torn ACL. In the previous two seasons, Jenkins has shown that he’s capable of playing all five spots on the offensive line, and play them at a high level.
On Sunday, Jenkins looked like a natural out at left tackle. Jenkins impressed in the run game even if nobody else did. He held up well in pass protection and shut down a talented pass rusher in Marcus Davenport.
As I’ve noted before, I believe Jenkins’ permanent home is going to be at right tackle. With an extension just around the corner, if he continues to perform like he did on Sunday, he’ll assuredly get paid like a young ascending tackle. The Packers would be foolish to keep one of their best players from playing at a premium position in the future.
Two rookies started on the offensive line, only one showed up
The two rookies starting on the offensive line in week one were second-round pick center Josh Myers and fourth-round pick guard Royce Newman. Both made an impression in the preseason and earned the starting roles vacated by Corey Linsley, and the hole left from David Bakhtiari’s injury.
Only one player made an impression after their first real NFL action, and that’s Myers. He wasn’t a world beater by any means but he looked the part of a starting center in the run game and held up well in protection. New Orleans doesn’t have a very good defensive line, but it was a promising debut for the rookie out of Ohio State.
Royce Newman, on the other hand, had a forgettable pro debut. Newman struggled in the run game and allowed three total pressures, one of which contributed to Aaron Rodgers’ first interception because of how badly he got beat. It’s just one week, but Newman is going to have to show a vastly improved effort next week if he’s going to remain the starter at right guard.
Eric Stokes should be playing more of Kevin King’s snaps
This has less to do with Eric Stokes (who has a chance to be a good player), and more to do with the fact Kevin King looked terrible on Sunday. King allowed two completions for 72 yards, including a 55-yard TD to Deonte Harris. He looked stiff and over-matched against a below-average receiving corps.
The fact that King played 56 snaps (90 percent), and Stokes played just eight (13 percent) is hard to wrap my head around.
Stokes is an elite athlete that the Packers invested significant draft capital in. I acknowledge that rookie corners traditionally struggle, but trial by fire can’t be much worse than what we saw from King. It’s hard to envision King with the Packers beyond this season, so a reduced role in favor of additional snaps for Stokes makes the most sense.
OLB4 looked like a black hole
Jonathan Garvin and Chauncey Rivers played a combined 38 snaps on Sunday due to Za’Darius Smith’s injury and the need to rotate pass rushers because of the extreme heat.
In those 38 combined snaps, it was hard to find a noticeably productive rep from either player after watching the game multiple times. Finding an improved fourth pass-rushing option should be something the Packers keep their eye open for in the coming weeks — it’s hard to imagine doing any worse.
Aaron Rodgers looked unrecognizable
After a highly publicized off-season, many, myself included, expected Aaron Rodgers to come out and light New Orleans on fire to prove a point to the organization. What we saw was quite possibly one of Rodgers’ worst games of his career, posting a stat line of 15/28 for 133 yards passing and two interceptions.
It’s just one week, but that wasn’t the 12 we’ve become accustomed to seeing. I expect him to return to form in week two.