D-lightful Start To Season

The Packers’ defense often resembles the Bad News Bears, but it usually looks like the ’85 Chicago Bears against Seattle. Sunday was no exception as Mike Daniels and the front seven dominated and helped hold quarterback Russell Wilson and the rest of the Seahawks’ offense to 9 points and 225 yards.

There’s no question the defense will be better this season. The line with new additions Ricky Jean Francois and Quinton Dial is much deeper and last year’s No. 1 corner (LaDarius Gunter) is now fifth on the depth chart. How much better will be determined in the weeks and months to come – starting next Sunday night. Shutting down Seattle at Lambeau is one thing; slowing down the Falcons in Atlanta is another thing.

Will the Packers be able to get enough pressure on MVP quarterback Matt Ryan to keep wide receiver Julio Jones from running free through the secondary like he did in the NFC championship? That remains to be seen, but at least for one week, the men on defense can feel good about themselves because they were the reason Green Bay won on Sunday. And how many times have we been able to say that in recent years?

Here are a few more quick observations from Sunday’s 17-9 season-opening win over the Seattle Seahawks:

-What made the strong defensive effort even more impressive was how little the Packers got from their rookies. General manager Ted Thompson used his first four draft picks on defensive players and none of them made any impact. Kevin King only saw the field when Damarious Randall left briefly with cramps, Josh Jones was relegated to special teams, Montravius Adams was inactive and Vince Biegel is on the PUP list.

-Justin Vogel had an impressive debut. The rookie from Miami averaged 43.8 yards (42.4 net) and did exactly what a punter is supposed to do. Only one of his five kicks was returned – for a mere 7 yards – and he flipped the field with a booming 57-yarder in the second quarter. It’s only one game, but Vogel could be the best punter the Packers have had since Jon Ryan, who ironically was on the other sideline Sunday.

-He won’t catch too much grief because the Packers went on to win the game, but coach Mike McCarthy’s clock management at the end of the first half was atrocious. He cost his team three points by calling a timeout with 43 seconds left. There was absolutely no reason to stop the clock at that point – unless his goal was to let the Seahawks score a field goal. McCarthy has been around way too long to do something so foolish.

-The Packers spent $100M to re-sign Daniels and Nick Perry, and they were worth every penny on Sunday. The two veteran defensive players overpowered Seattle’s offensive line all day. Daniels seems determined to finally get some postseason recognition and Perry is out to prove last season was no fluke. So far so good.

-Ty Montgomery had 93 yards of total offense and looked like a No. 1 back, but questions about his durability will persist after he left the game in the fourth quarter with a leg injury. And while he did return to action a short time later, it seems as if he can’t get through a game without hobbling off the field. Montgomery touched the ball 23 times against Seattle. It might be a good idea to lessen his load a bit going forward.

Michael Rodney

Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.

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