Green Bay – Justin Jefferson had eight receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Adam Thielen had eight receptions for 82 yards and one touchdown. green Bay Packers? He had a game tape to learn from next time.
When the Minnesota Vikings beat the Packers 34-31 in their first two games last season, it was accompanied by a mighty offensive attack. The Packers won the second game in December, but the November defeat is serving as a lesson 10 months later as Green Bay prepares to open their season against divisional rivals Sunday.
“We had a lot of chances to win the game. I had one on the way back, Sav (Darnell Savage) dropped two picks,” cornerback Rasool Douglas said on Monday of the November 2021 game.
Douglas said that Jefferson and Thylen both burned the Packers secondary in that game, which was in large part due to miscommunication.
“We didn’t, as a defense, we didn’t communicate,” he said. “There were some dramas where Justin Jefferson walked a route and went to the safety and a corner both thelane and Justin Jefferson was wide open. They didn’t communicate and told each other who was guarding whom. This short The thing is you can’t do that.
“Another one, Thielen scored. It was supposed to be a certain coverage where we were about to be out and Kev (Kevin King) got stuck inside and (Thylen) ran it out and scored. So little stuff, we took our Didn’t communicate well on call and how are we supposed to run stuff.
“We all watched (the tape), like, we can’t make these mistakes again.”
Some of those mistakes will work out on their own naturally, thanks to a corner unit that has time, experience, and chemistry together.
“We all played with each other now,” Douglas said, “so we’re starting to see things how we want to see it.”
Although Jefferson and Thylen are just two parts of the three-headed monster. The front seven are tasked with closing down a fleeing unit led by Dalvin Cook. The defense was able to upset Cook in their rematch of the 2021 season, helped in part by quarterback Kirk Cousins’ exit with COVID-19 and a willingness to attempt a passing attack to the Packers’ backup, Sean Manion.
But Cook had 22 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown and 115 total yards, a reminder of the danger he could be in for a defense that is not prepared. So as the Packers begin their preparation work for the Vikings this week, they’ll shine a light on the parts of Cook that can ruin a game plan.
Linebacker D’Vondre Campbell said, “He’s totally trailing. He doesn’t have many weaknesses in his game and it always makes it tough, you know some guys, you don’t know their pace and power and whatnot. Like he has a whole toolbox of things he can do. So that just as a defense makes it hard for us to prepare for him, especially with his new offence.
“He has elite speed, elite power, change of direction. There’s not much he can’t do… When you’re dealing with that kind of player it just depends on who Wants more of it. He can do it all so you just have to read your keys and play ball.”
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The Packers will use Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to game plans for their familiar foe. With a divisional game set to begin the season, a new head coach (Kevin O’Connell) in Minneapolis and a new offensive coordinator (Wes Phillips), the wanted Green Bay defense will get the first test of their talent.
With the November 2021 mistakes still on tape, one of only three losses in the regular season for the Packers, the plan for what to do right appears clear.
“He’s got some talented players, you know, even in the quarterback position,” Campbell said. “Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback and knows how to get the ball out of his hands quickly, so it’s going to be a tough challenge. Like I said, especially with the new offense, we don’t really know what to expect So we just have to go outside to read our keys and just play ball.”
Douglas said: “It’s definitely going to be a good opener. Good but good.”