Defense has its share of solid performers
The Green Bay Packers were dominant on defense and frustratingly inconsistent on offense during Sunday’s 22-0 win over the Buffalo Bills at Lambeau Field.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers called the offense “terrible” but said the defense was championship worthy. It was an accurate description of the two sides collectively.
Individually, the Packers had several standouts Sunday. Here are the many studs and the one dud from the shutout victory:
Studs LT David Bakhtiari
Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes came into the contest tied for the NFL lead in total pressures. Bakhtiari erased him from the game, often with no help. The Packers have total confidence in their left tackle, regardless of t he matchup. It was pure comedy when the Bills replaced Hughes with second-year defensive end Eddie Yarbrough, who didn’t have a chance against Bakhtiari. The Packers left tackle is quietly enjoying another All-Pro season.
DL Kenny Clark
You can’t truly appreciate Clark’s dominance until you go back and watch him on every snap. He can’t be blocked one -on-one, especially by centers, and he’s becoming a more skilled passrusher. Clark is particularly dangerous when stunting to the outside. He’s quick but also patient. He caused a turnover Sunday by chasing down Josh Allen from behind and knocking out the football. The Packers’ third-year defensive lineman is way overdue for a breakout game sacking the quarterback.
LB Blake Martinez
Martinez was in on at least five tackles within two yards of the line of scrimmage and two pressures, including one sack on a perfectly-timed blitz and another resulting in Allen’s interception into the end zone before the half. He set the tone early when he stuffed LeSean McCoy after a short gain on the second play of the contest.
RB Aaron Jones
His skill set is just so well-rounded. It looked like he was shot out of a cannon on his 30-yard run in the first half. Later in the drive, Jones somehow kept his balance and spun his way to the first down, helping set up his touchdown, which saw him run over a defender at the goal line. In the second half, he used creativity and quickness to turn a broken play into 11 yards. Jones even cut down a blitzer in pass protection.
S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
The Packers used Clinton-Dix to cover the deep half of the field, but he also was a big part of Mike Pettine’s blitz package. His best play arrived early in the second half when he recognized a combination route, read Allen like a book and attacked the football, creating his third i nterception i n as many games. The few times Allen went deep, Clinton-Dix was nearby.
OLB Kyler Fackrell
Credit Fackrell for a career-high three sacks, even if he lucked into one and then beat an overmatched backup right tackle late in the game. He played most of his 26 snaps in the second half and looked quick off the ball and strong enough at the point of attack. On one rush, he beat the tight end off the line and forced a holding penalty. The blocker had to tackle him from behind to prevent a big hit on the quarterback.
DL Dean Lowry
In the Packers’ first game without Muhammad Wilkerson, Lowry was very good. On the Bills’ first series, he held strong at the point of attack and helped stop back-to-back run plays, setting up a punt. He even contributed as a pass-rusher. On one rush, he backed the right guard into Allen and forced an errant throw. Later, he used a quick swim move inside to beat the block and take down Allen, who was attempting to escape the pocket.
OLB Reggie Gilbert
At l east three plays from Gilbert stood out. In the first quarter, he hustled back into the play to help stop LeSean McCoy after he cut back to the middle of the field on a screen pass, possibly preventing a big play. His third-down sack was a combination of dipping under the offensive tackle, winning around the corner and working into the pocket, where he met Allen for the takedown. Later, Gilbert covered about 50 yards on a punt and took down the returner immediately. Two other pressures from Gilbert helped produce a throwaway and an interception.
S Jermaine Whitehead
The Packers’ least-talked about defensive back is versatile in coverage and a terrific blitzer. He covered running backs, tight ends and receivers Sunday, mostly from the slot, and he disguised at least two of his blitzes perfectly in the second half, resulting in one sack and one missed sack. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine i s using Whitehead all over, especially in obvious passing situations, and he’s delivering.
CB Jaire Alexander
His first career interception was a gimmie after Josh Allen heaved a prayer into the end zone late in the first half, but the Packers’ first-round pick was sticky in coverage before leaving the game with an injury in the second half. Allen targeted him six times but found only one completion.
Duds WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Sure, he hauled in a 38-yard catch on third down to set up the Packers’ final field goal, but the rookie was in over his head for most of the afternoon Sunday. Aaron Rodgers wasn’t happy with him twice: Once on a short pass to the flat where Valdes-Scantling ran a sloppy route, and again in the fourth quarter when he was weak at the top of the route and failed to come back and fight for the ball on fourth down, nearly resulting in a pick-six. He also missed a block that likely negated a big-play opportunity for Jamaal Williams.
Packers linebacker Reggie Gilbert sacks Bills quarterback Josh Allen in the third quarter Sunday.