Green Bay Packers-New York Jets Week 2 game preview
Today, Four Downs previews the late Sunday afternoon home-opener between the Packers and Rex Ryan and the New York Jets at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
1. Rex Ryan usually says whatever he’s thinking. So sometimes, when a stream-of- consciousness flows out in the form of a prediction or boast – pick your favorite Super Bowl/Mark Sanchez bit here – and (shockingly) doesn’t pan out, he can appear the silly type of delusional to those who’ve watched the Jets do what can only now be described as Jets Things for seasons. Ryan’s thoughts can be boisterous proclamations from a big personality, but sometimes not much more.
He’s entertaining as heck, we’ll give him that. And despite a trust in the Sanchize gone too far, Ryan is pretty good at coaching football. He’s innovative and smart, especially on the defensive side, which is his baby like Mike McCarthy’s are offense and regional cellphone commercial acting.
Ryan’s teams have identities: They ground and pound and play a physically-imposing style of defense that starts up front with an underratedly nasty line and works back from there – in more ways than one. Ryan knows what he’s doing, and if that style of play sounds familiar, like Week 1 familiar, it’s because the Jets are like the Seattle Seahawks in enough ways to scare us just a little bit. Ryan isn’t dumb, and will probably see if the Packers can stop a similar version of the same thing on Sunday.
2. That means the read-option because, at this point, if you are playing the Green Bay Packers and have a quarterback that has A) ran once before in his life and B) would consider doing it again, you should probably at least be thinking about doing it a few times. New York, with Geno Smith and bulldozing Chris Ivory and speedy Chris Johnson in the backfield, have the players to cause the confusion and hesitation necessary for a devastating-enough read option.
But it’s also a lot simpler than that. Seattle’s offensive line paved open lanes for Marshawn Lynch that were this smooth: Lynch averaged three yards per carry before contact last Thursday, per Pro Football Focus, and 6.5 yards per rush on 12 carries between the tackles. That’s bad news facing a coach who’s totally cool with running, keeping the ball and limiting Packers possessions, thus shortening the game altogether. If Green Bay doesn’t stop the run the Jets probably won’t stop doing it, and that’s the easiest way to see how this home-opener could turn into a tight, dicey affair.
3. But the Jets aren’t all half-shadows of the Seahawks, either. There are major reasons why Green Bay should handle this. Aaron Rodgers and the offense could absolutely torch this Jets secondary, is specifically what we’re saying, and an ability to go faster offensively, with more control in the friendly and quieter confines of Lambeau, means conditions should be better for a passing offense that only faced one of the game’s best all-time defensive backfields last week.
It’s still a major identity clash, here. Green Bay will again have an opportunity to impose will on a team that wants to establish a very different type of football, so it will be interesting to see how that goes at home versus the Jets compared to against the Seahawks on the edge of an active volcano. Yes, you can say it’s a lesser opponent, but it’s not a bad place to start rebuilding the structure for what the Packers want to be in 2014 – starting now in Week 2, like after you blink in a staring contest and reset the game.
4. Green Bay’s defense miiight have some long-term problems with power offenses. That said, there should be some chances facing Smith and New York for morale-boosting turnovers and other impact plays.
One key will be getting the young quarterback out of the soft comfort zone directly around him: In Week 1, ESPN’s Mark Simon notes that Smith completed 17-of-19 throws that went no more than five yards in the air. Despite that efficiency Smith still threw a pick – to a player named Charles Woodson who must be good or something – and lost a fumble. Smith is improving, just listen to any soundbite this week from any Packers defender, but making him skittish could present chances.
And that’s the other key: Taking advantage should said chances arise. Green Bay missed the few they got in Seattle in Week 1 and paid dearly. They could potentially, with the rebound we’d presume to see out of Rodgers and the offense, miss more and still come out on top. Eventually, though, the defense will have to change for us to believe it can.
In a way, it’s like Rex Ryan is here to help things along, here to challenge and make the Packers better. That’s the way we want to see it anyway, because if Ryan and the Jets end up doing more than that on Sunday in Green Bay, we’re going to need a lot more help than we thought.