De­fense has its share of solid per­form­ers

Packer Plus - - NEWS - Zach Kruse

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.

DAN POW­ERS / USA TO­DAY NET­WORK-WIS­CON­SIN

Pack­ers line­backer Reg­gie Gil­bert sacks Bills quar­ter­back Josh Allen in the third quar­ter Sun­day.

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