The team that bettered the Seahawks in the rushing department: the New York Jets, who get their crack at the Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field. The Jets rushed for 212 yards in their season-opening win against the Oakland Raiders and surely will try to replicate that against the Packers' shaky-looking run defense.
.The last time these teams met, four years ago in the Meadowlands, it was a defensive slugfest won by the Packers 9-0.
Jets reporter Rich Cimini and Packers reporter Rob Demovsky of ESPN’s NFL Nation discuss the matchup:
Rich, considering how well the Jets ran the ball last week against the Raiders and how poorly the Packers defended Marshawn Lynch and Co., how could Rex Ryan's game plan be anything other than to try to run it down the Packers' throats?
Cimini: The Jets' best chance to win this game, maybe their only chance, is to pound the rock, hoping to duplicate what the Seahawks did to the Packers. The Jets certainly have the personnel to pull it off. Chris Ivory has been described as a poor man's Marshawn Lynch, a physical, tackle-breaking runner. Chris Johnson was overshadowed by Ivory in the opener, but he still has to be taken seriously. He won't break tackles like Ivory, but Johnson still has vertical speed. Unfortunately for the Jets, they don't have a Percy Harvin-type player to run a Jet Sweep, although it wouldn't shock me if they try Johnson or wide receiver Saalim Hakim (this dude can fly) in that role. The Jets are creative when it comes to their rushing attack, using the zone-read, the Wildcat and, yes, even a little wishbone.
Demovsky: So what you're saying is the Packers had better solve their run defense problems and do it fast? That would have been a major point of emphasis by defensive coordinator Dom Capers anyway, but it sounds like they will have their hands full with Ivory and Johnson. The Packers have refocused on tackling after missing 18 of them against the Seahawks. That is far too many for any defensive coordinator's liking. The problem is, it's hard to work on tackling in practice with the limited amount of contact that is allowed these days. Maybe that is not what the Packers need to fix the problem anyway, considering coach Mike McCarthy said it was more of a footwork issue. The Packers can't have defenders leaving their feet to try to make tackles. That won't work against anyone, and it certainly won't work against dynamic running backs.
.Cimini: The Packers will have to prepare for a Michael Vick package, which worked as well as the old Tim Tebow package. In other words, it was a waste. Vick was used for three plays last week, taking a direct snap in the Wildcat and lining up twice as a slot receiver. He got the ball on an end around and threw into the end zone, missing a wide-open Eric Decker. Frankly, I think they got too caught up in the gadget stuff. All it did was disrupt the rhythm of Geno Smith and the offense. I don't think Vick is a fan of it, either. The only upside, I suppose, is that it will force opponents to prepare for it, taking time away from other preparations. I will say this about Vick: At 34, he is no longer a freak-of-nature athlete, but he is still dangerous with the ball in his hands.
Speaking of freak-of-nature athletes, the Packers had all kinds of trouble with Percy Harvin last week. What did that expose in their defense?
Demovsky: Probably their lack of speed more than anything else, although Harvin wasn't the first one and probably won't be the last to expose that. The Packers tried to get quicker up front on defense this offseason by going to lighter, more athletic defensive linemen, but at least in the opener it did not have the desired impact.
Cimini: The patchwork secondary came away from the opener feeling pretty good about itself, but I think they're in for a reality check against Aaron Rodgers & Co. If Dee Milliner sits out again with a high-ankle sprain -- he is a question mark -- the starters will be Darrin Walls and Antonio Allen, a converted safety whose experience at cornerback consists of 48 preseason snaps and one regular-season game. Allen is a big, physical player, a terrific tackler, but he will struggle against a polished route runner like Jordy Nelson. Ryan is a clever defensive coach, but he will have to pull a rabbit out of his hat to slow down the Packers' passing attack.
Demovsky: That passing attack looked far from dangerous in the opener, but that might have had more to do with the Seahawks' Legion of Boom defense and perhaps the crowd noise at CenturyLink Field than anything else. Either one or some combination of both rendered the Packers' no-huddle offense virtually ineffective. When you see Rodgers with an average of just 5.7 yards per passing attempt, you know something is off. This is a quarterback who in 2011 averaged 9.2 yards per passing attempt. They are going to want to get back to that this week, so expect them to take more shots down the field with Nelson and Randall Cobb.