Packers: Defensive question marks remain despite week two victory

Green Bay Packers, Darnell Savage - Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinApc Packvseagles 1206201287
Green Bay Packers, Darnell Savage - Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinApc Packvseagles 1206201287 /

The Green Bay Packers secured their first win of the season on Monday night against the Detroit Lions. In an important bounce-back game, the Packers came alive in the second half to secure a 35-17 victory.

The story of the night was Aaron Jones’ dominant performance, tallying four touchdowns with 115 total yards. Aaron Rodgers once again found his rhythm, completing 22 of his 27 pass attempts for 255 yards and four touchdowns. Certainly, the offense was firing on all cylinders once they found their rhythm.

However, the same can not be said for the Green Bay defense. While the defense did well by holding the Lions to only 17 points, it would be outrageous to say there aren’t any question marks surrounding new defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s defense.

With that being said, let’s take a look at some concerns in the Packer defense.

Packers pass rush nowhere to be seen in Monday night’s victory

Following a report that Za’Darius Smith would be heading to the IR earlier in the week, there were already some question marks surrounding what the Packers’ defensive front would be able to do. However, no one expected the pass rush to look as poor as it did.

To give credit where it is due, the Lions’ offensive line played at a very high level and did an excellent job protecting Jared Goff. Goff had plenty of time in the pocket and even when the pocket collapsed, he was able to buy time.

To put in perspective just how poor the Packers’ pass rush has been, according to Pro Football Focus’s Mike Renner, the Packers are now the fifth defense since 2010 to not have a player register a sack in the first two weeks of an NFL season. While the Packers did a better job of collapsing the pocket and making Goff throw on the run in the second half, the struggles were very apparent in the first half.

In the absence of Smith, the Packers will certainly need to take a step up in their pass rush. Rashan Gary will be taking the bulk of Smith’s workload, and we can hope to see some strides from the third-year pro.

The pieces are there to have success in their pass rush with Preston Smith and Rashan Gary. Now, all that matters is execution.

Kevin King is once again riddled with question marks surrounding his play

Kevin King has faced plenty of scrutiny during his tenure in Green Bay. The former 33rd overall pick has struggled mightily despite securing six interceptions in his four-year career. After giving up a touchdown and a costly penalty in the NFC Championship game last season, it seemed that King would be on his way out looking for a new team. However, King was brought back on a two-year deal.

Since then, King has continued to struggle. With Jaire Alexander on the opposite side, King certainly has a tendency to be picked on by opposing quarterbacks. King gave up a long touchdown in week one against the Saints. On the first drive against the Lions, he gave up a 46-yard reception. While King had a nice play later in the game, his underperforming has caused many fans to see rookie Eric Stokes take his place.

In the second half, the Packers made some defensive adjustments. One of those adjustments was moving King into the slot and moving Stokes to the outside. Stokes played 44 snaps in Monday night’s game and provided two pass breakups in that time.

Despite the limited sample size, Stokes provided sound defense despite one play that resulted in a touchdown. It remains to be seen if the Packers will continue to have Alexander and Stokes on the outside with King in the slot. However, due to King underperforming, it may be an adjustment that needs to be made.

King is a polarizing figure in Green Bay, to say the least, but he may be well suited in the slot. If King earns that spot, he will still have plenty of competition with Chandon Sullivan right behind him.

All in all, King needs to make some strides in his game going forward to continue to earn snaps. Currently on a two-year deal, he will need to convince the Packers to give him another chance.

With his current play, his future is certainly up in the air.

Kingsley Keke continues to struggle

Kingsley Keke, a third-year pro, has provided depth for the Packers at the defensive tackle position. However, after seeing an uptick in his snap count, Keke has been struggling in the trenches.

Keke has struggled against the run, as evident by Green Bay’s lackluster run defense, and he has found it difficult to get pressure. Now, he is still young and has taken on a larger role in his third year. However, his struggles have been apparent, and some question marks have been raised around his play.

The Packers certainly have limited depth behind their star defensive tackle in Kenny Clark. With players such as rookie TJ Slaton, undrafted rookie Jack Heflin, and Tyler Lancaster rounding out the rotation, it is tough to say that any of those players would be better suited in Keke’s spot.

A player who makes the case is Slaton. Despite the limited sample size, Slaton was efficient. In his six snaps on Monday night, he produced one solo tackle. On the season, Slaton has 24 snaps with three solo tackles. Again, there is a limited sample size, but Slaton has brought efficiency that is needed in Green Bay’s front line.

Keke has underperformed, but he has the ability to pick it up. He was dynamic in his college years, and he needs to bring back some of that magic to keep earning his snaps.

All in all, the Packers looked shaky on defense. While the offense contributed and allowed the defense to get a breather, the question marks are still there. Going forward the Packers and Joe Barry will need plenty of adjustments to put up a fight against some of the league’s best teams down the road.

The Packers will face off against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night for their week three matchup. Look for some adjustments on the defensive end as they go toe-to-toe with a well-rounded team next week.

Next. Six things we learned from Packers' Week 2 win. dark