This week the Packers take on the 0-1 Buffalo Bills at home. It will be interesting to see how the Packers offense adjusts with the notable absence of running back Ryan Grant. Running-back responsibilities will shift to fourth-year back Brandon Jackson and fifth-year man John Kuhn. Jackson will be our fancy footwork man, while it seems as though we'll turn to Kuhn when we're nearing the end zone to pound through. Jackson rushed for 63 yards on 18 carries last week against the Eagles, while Kuhn posted 53 yards and a TD on 13 carries.
Here's what coach Mike McCarthy had to say in recent press conferences:
"Brandon Jackson played extremely well in both the run and the protection, and had the two catches. We had four explosive runs, which is outstanding and that's a big credit to Brandon," McCarthy said. He added, "John [Kuhn] has done a very good job with his limited opportunities," McCarthy said. "Every time you put the ball in John's hand he's been productive, and we feel very good about him."
It will be interesting to see what this shift in the running game will do to quarterback Aaron Rodgers passing game. Rodgers was self admittedly off last week--we'll chalk it up to season opener jitters--but hopefully this week, at home, he can return to his usual groove of last season. One thing that Rodgers certainly has going for him is his third down passing rating. No other quarterback threw for as many yards (1,710) or touchdowns (14) on third down as Rodgers. I'll be the first to admit that in Rodgers's first season as a starter, I was worried about his ability to perform on the field under pressure. One thing Packer fans always had going for us with Brett Favre was that we believed in last minute miracles (Favre had that tendency to pull out miraculous touchdown passes--along with the occasional soul crushing interception). But as Rodgers continues to develop his skills under pressure, his reliability and dependability, in my mind, is drastically increasing.
Linebacker Clay Matthews put up big numbers last week, and one can only hope that the home field advantage will him to more big tackles. Last Sunday he recorded a career-high nine tackles and matched his career best with two sacks. AS Dom Capers works to utilize the many talents of his skilled defense, keep your eye on Matthews, as well as linebacker AJ Hawk and star cornerback Charles Woodson.
In other news, Mason Crosby, our much-discussed kicker (especially last season when his performance was subpar), was named NFC special teams player of the week. Crosby had two field goals and three PATs in the Packers 27-20 win at Philadelphia. His franchise-record 56-yard field goal not only did wonders for my fantasy football team, but it also erased any and all doubt that fans had about Crosby from last season.
Here's hoping that when the game is on the line, he can still hit it.
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