No matter how much the NFL changes the rules to favor the passing game, running the football and stopping the run will always play a vital role in determining the outcome of games. The Packers, who struggled to stop the run against Seattle learned that lesson in Week 1 and if they want to get their first win of the season Sunday at Lambeau Field against the New York Jets, stopping the run will be key.
Last week, against the Oakland Raiders, the Jets dominated on the ground, rushing 34 times for a whopping 212 yards. New York’s starting running back Chris Johnson carried the ball 13 times for 68 yards. His backup, Chris Ivory did even better, picking up 102 on 10 rushing attempts, highlighted by a 71-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter of the Jets’ 19-13 win over the Raiders.
The Jets dynamic duo is likely licking its chops at the prospect of facing a Packers defense that surrendered 207 yards on the ground to the defending champion Seahawks in Week 1. Green Bay definitely missed starting nose tackle B.J. Raji, who was lost for the season with a torn bicep. But Raji is not coming back and it appears the Packers are content to move forward with their current personnel.
That means something will need to change in Week 2 and one simple thing that can be improved by the Packers is tackling, which was atrocious against the Seahawks. Arms tackles did not suffice against the Seahawks, who broke 17 tackles, and they won’t against the Jets. The talk all offseason was about how this Packer defense was going to be tougher and more athletic but against Seattle it was the same sorry looking group we have seen for the past three seasons.
Now with Green Bay staring an 0-2 start in the face, the defense needs to put its money where its mouth is.
“I know the guys in this locker room will all bounce back,” Datone Jones said to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “What you saw last week won’t be the upcoming story for this week’s game.”
Jones, the second-year defensive end from UCLA, better be right, otherwise, the Packers promising season could be in jeopardy just two weeks in the 2014 season.