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Wayne Larrivee's Packers-Lions pregame primer II: When Green Bay has the ball

Wayne Larrivee's blog
Posted: 12:00 AM, Sep 24, 2016
Updated: 2016-09-24 01:00:54-04
Wayne's pregame primer II: When GB has ball
Wayne's pregame primer II: When GB has ball
Wayne's pregame primer II: When GB has ball
Wayne's pregame primer II: When GB has ball
Wayne's pregame primer II: When GB has ball
The vaunted Packers offense has failed to gain 300-plus yards of total offense in either of the first two games of 2016.  The Bears and Rams are the only other teams that have failed to gain 300-plus yards in either game.
 
All that means to me is, the Packers are due!
 
This week they face a Lions defense that may be without playmakers like defensive end Ezekiel Ansah and outside linebacker DeAndre Levy.
 

Tight end week
 
Let’s cut right to the chase: the Green Bay tight ends should excel in this game.
 
As mentioned in my earlier blog, the Lions defense has been torched by tight ends in the first two weeks of the season. Look for Aaron Rodgers to get tight ends Jared Cook and Richard Rodgers isolated on the vulnerable second level of the Detroit defense.
 
Part of the reason the Lions struggle to contain tight ends is the way they play defense.  Under coordinator Teryl Austin, they are an outside leverage defense that funnels everything to the middle. 
 
More often than not, tight ends have been open.  In the Lions first two games at Indianapolis and against Tennessee tight ends, caught 14 passes, 172 yards and four touchdowns. 
 
Good matchup:  Darious Slay, the best cover corner of the Lions, against Jordy Nelson who is still rounding into form.
 
They’re trying; Nelson has played more than 80% of the Green Bay offensive plays in the first two weeks.
 
Speed
 
Everyone is saying the Packers need more speed on the field in their passing attack. That speed factor could be coming in the person of Trevor Davis (the rookie who is now healthy), Ty Montgomery in a variety of roles, and - eventually when they get the cast off his hand after this week - Jeff Janis.
 
They could provide a dimension to the passing game the Packers have not had so far.  As they say in TV, stand by. 
 
The Lions' line
 
One thing to keep an eye on: the Lions defensive line is the focal point of this defense. They are very active, get their hands up to deflect passes and sack the quarterback.
 
Since 2010, the Lions rank second in the NFL in sacks by defensive linemen with 204. Last year Detroit was 7th in the league in sacks with 43.
 
What helps the Packers this week is the absence of Ansah due to a high ankle sprain.  He is a big part of what the Lions do up front.  
 

Run to win
 
It would not surprise me to see Mike McCarthy invest heavily in run calls in the first half against Detroit. Take out Rodgers’ seven scrambles and the Packers have only run the football 41 times in the first two games of the season.
 
They need to get Eddie Lacy 15 to 20 carries this week against a Lions front that could be without Ansah, Levy and outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy.
 
Lacy has been effective when asked to run the ball with 111 yards on 26 attempts a 4.3 yard average. 
 
The quarterback
 
Everyone is concerned with the play of quarterback Aaron Rodgers who has gone 14 straight games without a passer rating of 100.
 
I am not qualified to comment on his mechanics (I’m not a sports radio talk-show host), but there is no question his numbers are not what they have been in the past.
 
For the most part, the pass protection has been sound, but his receivers are not getting separation “early” in the play and that’s important. When that happens, the timing is thrown off and Rodgers has to scramble to buy time.
 
Many thought the return of Jordy Nelson would solve all of the problems in the Packers receiving corps. But in all honesty, Jordy is trying to round into "game” shape.  He was unable to do much of anything through the off-season program and most of training camp as he rehabbed from his knee injury.
 
It might be another week or two before he is the Jordy Nelson we all know and love.
 
Check out more Sunday, including Wayne Larrivee's final pregame thoughts, on WTMJ.com.