5 Players Who Will Stumble for Green Bay Packers in Week 2
5 Players Who Will Stumble for Green Bay Packers in Week 2
The Green Bay Packers (0-1) host the Washington Redskins (0-1) in their home opener this weekend, and Rant Sports has taken the time to highlight (and low-light) some notable Packer players heading into Sunday's game.
Packers safety Jerron McMillian (pictured above) struggled in the season opening loss at San Francisco, as 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick torched the back-end of the Packers defensive secondary for a career-high 412 passing yards. Additionally, 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis combined for 19 receptions, 306 yards and three touchdowns.
McMillian's playing time on Sunday will be pending on the health of safety Morgan Burnett (hamstring), and the play of young safety Chris Banjo. With Burnett possibly returning to the team and Banjo possibly stealing some of McMillian's playing time, McMillian did NOT make the list for the five players who will most likely stumble for the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 2.
On Wednesday, Rant Sports highlighted five players who should star on Sunday. In return, Rant Sports looks at the other end of the spectrum, and focuses on five players who will most likely stink against the Redskins. The Packers defense will likely have an easier time preventing the Redskins zone-read option rushing attack from making an impact, as Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is obviously still healing from offseason ACL surgery.
Offensively, the Packers will face a similar style of defense which was seen in Week 1 in San Francisco, as the pass protection for Aaron Rodgers could struggle against Pro Bowl outside linebacker Brian Orakpo. So who should fans expect to struggle for the Packers on Sunday? Click through our slideshow for our predictions on who should have a rough course ahead in Green Bay's home opener.
LB A.J. Hawk
Inside linebacker A.J. Hawk is in his eighth season with the Packers, and he hasn't been anything more than a solid linebacker throughout his professional career. Hawk, who is best suited for defending the run, often struggles when playing in space and defending in pass coverage.
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan loves running the West Coast style of offense, meaning he loves having his quarterbacks dump off short-to-intermediate passes throughout the course of a game. With Shanahan's philosophy, these passes increase the likelihood for a higher pass completion percentage and receivers have numerous opportunities to gain yards after the catch.
With Washington's West Coast style and athletic tight ends Fred Davis and Jordan Reed, Hawk will most likely be responsible for defending either Reed or Davis in the middle of the field throughout Sunday's game. Hawk is a notoriously poor defender in space and in pass coverage, and the Redskins' likely gamplan is a recipe for disaster for the veteran linebacker.
LB Brad Jones
If one of the Packers inside linebackers is bound to struggle on Sunday, then why not put other starting inside linebacker Brad Jones on this list as well? Jones led the Packers in the season opening loss at San Francisco with 10 total tackles, and he is arguably the most versatile player of all the Green Bay linebackers.
If Jones is such a versatile and athletic player, though, then why is he on this list? Jones is on this list because his health isn't quite 100 percent. Jones nearly did not play against the 49ers this past weekend because of a hamstring injury and he and Hawk will likely be the Redskins two most targeted players this weekend.
Last week, Jones was responsible for defending the run and being more of a quarterback spy on Kaepernick in San Francisco. Against the Redskins? He will have to be everywhere on the field, as his responsibilities will be to continue playing as a QB spy against RG III, stopping the run, making plays in pass coverage and in space. The Packers likely are going to ask for a lot out of Jones on Sunday and I wouldn't count on a guy with a bad hamstring to excel on Sunday.
OT Don Barclay
Second-year offensive tackle Don Barclay has been nothing but a great surprise to the Packers offensive line since arriving in 2012. The Packers signed Barclay as an undrafted rookie free agent from West Virginia in 2012 and Barclay made the team's 53-man active roster at the end of training camp. Later in the 2012 season, Barclay started a right tackle in place of injured veteran Bryan Bulaga.
In Bulaga's absence, Barclay was arguably the Packers best offensive tackle as an undrafted rookie, as he failed to make any alarming and serious mistakes as a starter. Barclay also had a solid performance in the season opening loss at San Francisco... so why is HE on this list?
Packers Pro Bowl left guard Josh Sitton has a back injury which could hold him out of Sunday's home opener against Washington. If Sitton is deactivated for Sunday's game, Barclay would most likely have to fill in for Sitton at left guard.
Don't get me wrong, Barclay is a very good player, but Barclay will most likely have many mental mistakes at left guard. Barclay has never played the offensive guard position at the professional level, and the Redskins' defense is very complex to defend in pass protection. If Barclay starts at right tackle, expect similar mental mistakes. The Redskins' defense is very complex, and it could be a very rude awakening for the Packers young offensive lineman on Sunday.
CB Tramon Williams
Packers veteran cornerback Tramon Williams struggled to defend 49ers veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin on Sunday, and he could face similar troubles against Redskins top receiving target Pierre Garcon. Boldin has been one of the pro football's most consistent wide receivers throughout his career, but his speed isn't quite what it used to be.
Nevertheless, Williams was the primary defender on the 49ers receiver and Boldin had a career day in the season opener, catching 13 passes for 208 yards and scoring one touchdown. Garcon is not the same physical-brute force as Boldin, but his speed and six-foot frame could present a match-up problem for the 5-foot-10 Williams on Sunday.
If the Packers defensive front can pressure RG III throughout Sunday's game, it will dictate Williams' success for Sunday. Williams is best at making late break plays on the football, but RG III proved as a rookie how smart he is as a pocket passer. He only threw six interceptions as a rookie, meaning if his offensive line gives him enough time in the pocket, Garcon will be his top target, and Williams will be targeted a lot by the Redskins' offense.
OT David Bakhtiari
Packers rookie offensive tackle David Bakhtiari has been impressive since the first days of training camp, but he is due for a let-down this week. Bakhtiari replaced offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga at left tackle after the veteran suffered a season-ending ACL injury before the team's first exhibition game. Since replacing Bulaga though, Bakhtiari has been impressive in live-game action for the Packers.
49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith recorded two sacks on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the season opener, but only one sack was figuratively Bakhtiari's fault. Rodgers said after the loss to the 49ers that Bakhtiari was "excellent" in pass protection for Rodgers. Smith, who has 35.5 career sacks in 33 regular season games, was challenging enough for the rookie left tackle... so why is HE on this list?
It is because Bakhtiari will have to primarily square off against Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, who is one of the league's most underrated pass rushers. Smith may have a size advantage over Orakpo, but Orakpo uses his strength to his advantage. Smith has an outstanding combination of speed and strength off the edge for the 49ers, but Smith primarily uses his closing speed to his advantage.
Bakhtiari has proven he can handle speedy pass rushers since preseason because of his quickness and unheard of excellent footwork for a rookie. Orakpo, though, will use his strength to disrupt Rodgers and the Packers offense. If Packers veteran left guard Sitton is unable to play on Sunday, pairing up Bakhtiari with second-year offensive lineman Barclay on the left side could be disastrous.