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Where the Packers go from week 1

Stephen O'Brien, Packers contributor

Photo: Image by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Where the Packers go from week 1

CREATED Sep. 10, 2013

The Packers are in great shape after their first game, even as it was a loss to the 49ers.

Sure, there were frustrating plays and it seemed like they were incapable of stopping Boldin on Sunday, but there were so many positives and improvements to marvel at.

Firstly, their defense look more-than-solid at the line of scrimmage.

A by-product of scheming against the read-option all summer is the fact that the players react quickly at the line and were incredible at stopping the run.

With such dynamic players like Frank Gore and Colin Kaepernick as opponents, to hold them to a measly 1.7 yards per carry is astonishing.

In fact, the Packers averaged three yards per carry against one of the best run stopping defenses in the league. The fact the Packers outplayed the Niners in this regard is mind-boggling.

They face the Redskins next, and their threat on the ground is menacing.

Robert Griffin III can punish defenses with his Olympic pace, and Alfred Morris is coming off an explosive rookie year last year.

The Packers' ability to stop the run will mean that offenses will be forced to pass the ball and be reluctant to ground-and-pound for short yardage.

This will increasingly make opponents limit their offense and become one dimensional.

The Packers' secondary needs to improve.


Another by-product of being so good at stopping the run is the fact that opponents will end up heaving the ball downfield.

If their secondary is weak, they are effectively forcing the offense to throw to their weakness.

The coverage in the secondary is mostly zone to allow the safeties to get to a QB should be decide to run, and this zone coverage allows an accurate QB to target wide receivers in open space.

The Packers need to trust their linebackers to stop the run and the read option and man cover the WR and TEs in the secondary to choke the opponents offense.

RGIII was the most accurate passer out of all QB's last year, so the Packers need to tighten the coverage and limit his options.

The offensive line played outstanding against the Niners.

Aldon Smith is one of the best outside linebackers in the NFL today and rookie David Bakhtiari was an absolute hero for most of his debut performance.

He kept Smith quiet much of the day and did a better job than most veterans against the explosive young player.

Bakhtiari should use this performance to build confidence and will definitely improve as the season rumbles on.

There were times in the Niners game when Aaron Rodgers had so much time to throw and the reshuffled o-line did a fantastic job.

The Packers run game is also looking promising.

To say that the Packers had a better run game on Sunday than the Niners is surreal.

Lacy had a few blistering runs against a very tough defense, and this looks fantastic for the rest of the season.

Some of Lacy’s runs were cancelled out by penalties on the o-line, but once the Packers iron those penalties out, Lacy will make those runs count.

It is all about experience for the rookie RB and his ball protection.  Gap reads and yardage will all improve with increased use and exposure.

The Packers should look to utilize the elusive big back as much as possible in the next few games. Lacy gaining experience now will give him the battle readiness he needs to make a difference in those games of the season that really count close to the end of the season and in the playoffs.

Jermicheal Finley had some drops on Sunday (one leading to an interception), as did a few of the Packers' receiving core.

The Packers should look to iron out the school boy errors, and when the ball is placed on the numbers, which the best QB in the league tends to do, they need to make that catch and set off to the races to pick up some monster yardage.

All in all, the Packers look in fantastic shape after week one.

They have no further injuries except for Nick Perry's stinger, Rodgers is as good as ever, his line is affording him time, the defense is looking mean with run stuffers like Johnny Jolly playing sensationally, and as long as the secondary pick up the pace on defense, they have exactly the right tools to stop RGIII’s dynamic style of play.

Read more from Stephen O'Brien of UK Packers (@packers_uk on Twitter) for which he is a co-founder and editor.


 

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