Putting the spot­light on sev­eral in­di­vid­ual per­for­mances

Packer Plus - - News - Zach Kruse

Sev­eral ter­rific in­di­vid­ual per­for­mances weren’t enough for the Green Bay Pack­ers to es­cape Los An­ge­les with a sea­son-al­ter­ing win over the un­de­feated Rams on Sun­day.

Two big mis­takes – a safety that ig­nited the Rams’ rally, and a fum­bled kick­off re­turn that robbed the Pack­ers of a fi­nal op­por­tu­nity to win – led to a 29-27 de­feat and a third loss in seven games to start the 2018 sea­son.

Here are the studs and duds from the Pack­ers’ loss to the Rams:

STUDS CB Jaire Alexan­der

The rookie cor­ner­back be­came the first Pack­ers de­fen­sive back with five pass breakups in a sin­gle game since 2005. He cov­ered Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods all over the field, blan­ket­ing deep routes, in­ter­me­di­ate tar­gets and short stuff from the slot. He played in­side and on the perime­ter, took on two play­mak­ers with­out he­si­ta­tion and made plays ev­ery­where. The Pack­ers’ firstround pick added seven tack­les, in­clud­ing an im­pres­sive open-field stop on Cooks on a jet sweep in the fourth quar­ter.

DL Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels

They’re bunched to­gether be­cause Sun­day was ar­guably the best game they’ve ever played to­gether. The Pack­ers were able to sur­vive against the run and con­sis­tently pres­sure Jared Goff largely due to Clark and Daniels dom­i­nat­ing the line of scrim­mage on ev­ery snap. While Aaron Don­ald and Ndamukong Suh were great for the Rams, Clark and Daniels were as good or bet­ter Sun­day. Clark pro­duced two sacks, nu­mer­ous other pres­sures and five tack­les at or near the line of scrim­mage, while Daniels con­sis­tently won at the point of at­tack or col­lapsed the pocket, in­clud­ing at least two plays where he bull-rushed All-Pro left tackle An­drew Whit­worth into the quar­ter­back and cre­ated pres­sures for oth­ers.

WR Da­vante Adams

Adams was un­der­used Sun­day, re­ceiv­ing only seven tar­gets de­spite con­sis- tently win­ning routes against All-Pro cor­ner­back Mar­cus Peters. He still pro­duced five catches for 133 yards, mark­ing his third straight 100-yard re­ceiv­ing game. He beat Peters with a dou­ble move for a 48-yard com­ple­tion, set­ting up the Pack­ers’ first touch­down. Later, he smoked Peters on the post for 41 yards, set­ting up the Pack­ers’ fi­nal touch­down. Both big plays came on third down. Over the last three games, Adams has 24 catches for 405 yards and three scores. He’s on pace for 119 catches and al­most 1,600 yards this sea­son.

OLB Clay Matthews

Matthews will likely never be an ev­ery­down dis­rup­tor again, but he is ca­pa­ble of pro­vid­ing a few big plays ev­ery game. That’s ex­actly what he pro­duced Sun­day. He forced a throw­away from Goff with an in­side rush and a hit on the quar­ter­back in the first half; he crashed down on the tight end and caused a tackle for loss on third-and-short to force a punt; and he worked back to the quar­ter­back to take down Goff on third down in a key spot late. If the Pack­ers can get three im­pact plays from Matthews ev­ery week, they’ll be in good shape.

RB Aaron Jones

Jones con­tin­ues to be a spark plug any time he re­ceives op­por­tu­ni­ties. He pro­duced 45 yards on his first seven touches and was on the field for both touch­down drives in the sec­ond half, in­clud­ing one he fin­ished on his own with a 33-yard score on a draw play. When he’s on the field and get­ting chances, the Pack­ers move the foot­ball and score points.

LB Blake Mar­tinez

Clark and Daniels kept Mar­tinez clean for most of the af­ter­noon, al­low­ing him to fly into gaps and make plays in the run game. He was also mostly solid in cov­er­age, with sev­eral stops on Gur­ley in space af­ter short catches. Mar­tinez fin­ished with a game-high 12 tack­les and one sack, which he de­liv­ered in the first half by beat­ing vet­eran John Sul­li­van and tak­ing down Goff on third down, forc­ing a punt.

WR Mar­quez Valdes-Scantling

The rookie re­ceiver con­tin­ues to de­velop on the fly. He played 31 snaps, sec­ond only to Da­vante Adams at re­ceiver. Trust is build­ing. And why wouldn’t it? Aaron Rodgers trusted him on a short pass while backed up near their own end zone, and he went back to him in a piv­otal spot in the fourth quar­ter when Valdes-Scantling beat the press and re-stacked the cor­ner on a go-route (which Rodgers said he asked for on the side­line be­fore the se­ries) for a 40-yard touch­down pass. Ev­ery week, the rookie gets a lit­tle bet­ter.

DUDS S Jer­maine White­head

Mike Pet­tine’s plan was to use White­head as a third safety on the field to com­bat the Rams’ pass­ing game and help cover dy­namic run­ning back Todd Gur­ley. The NFL’s best of­fense and best play-caller even­tu­ally found ways to ex­ploit the idea. Gur­ley beat White­head on a 32-yard catch up the side­line late in the first half and then got lost in the shuf­fle when White­head didn’t rec­og­nize Gur­ley’s cross­ing route, re­sult­ing in a 30-yard TD. Later, Goff found Josh Reynolds for a TD be­tween White­head’s zone cov­er­age. A pre-snap penalty bailed him out on a missed cov­er­age on Ger­ald Everett. RB Ty Mont­gomery

He car­ried two times for 6 yards, caught one pass on two tar­gets for 2 yards and made two huge mis­takes. On the first, Mont­gomery failed to help pass pro­tect when Aaron Don­ald came scream­ing in­side, re­sult­ing in a third-down sack with just un­der seven min­utes to go. Then, of course, he took the fi­nal kick­off out of the end zone and fum­bled away Rodgers’ fi­nal chance to win the game. For­get whether he was told to take a knee or not; a vet­eran HAS to know the sit­u­a­tion and HAS to hold onto the foot­ball.

G Lane Tay­lor

Ar­guably no player on the ros­ter had a tougher as­sign­ment than Tay­lor, who played 60 min­utes against the best de­fen­sive player in foot­ball. The left guard won some bat­tles but Aaron Don­ald scored a de­ci­sive vic­tory. Late in the first half and into the sec­ond, Don­ald dom­i­nated the con­test, con­sis­tently dis­rupt­ing the pocket or redi­rect­ing the run game.

P JK Scott

It was his 25-yard punt late in the fourth quar­ter that di­rectly con­trib­uted to the Pack­ers’ col­lapse. The shank es­sen­tially handed the Rams three points.


Pack­ers line­backer Blake Mar­tinez sacks quar­ter­back Jared Goff on Sun­day. Mar­tinez led the team with 12 tack­les.

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