Redskins vs Packers: Takeaways from Green Bay's 38-20 Win over Washington
The Green Bay Packers cruised to a 38-20 win over the Washington Redskins in Week 2 of the NFL season. After scoring the first 31 points of the game, the Redskins showed a little life, but it was not nearly enough to make a complete comeback.
There were plenty of positive takeaways from the Packers' first win of the season—most notably the incredible play of running back James Starks.
Let's take a look at Starks and the other takeaways from Green Bay's win over Washington.
*All statistics courtesy of NFL.com.
Aaron Rodgers Is Still the Best in the Business
After Peyton Manning threw for seven touchdowns and the Green Bay Packers lost to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1, people started to debate whether Aaron Rodgers was still the best quarterback in the league.
Well, Rodgers ended that debate pretty quickly with his Week 2 performance, as there isn't an adjective in the English language to describe just how phenomenal Rodgers was against the Washington Redskins.
He finished the game by completing over 80 percent of his passes for 480 yards and four touchdowns, and his quarterback rating was a ridiculous 146.0. While the statistics are certainly impressive enough, the way that Rodgers did his damage was even more impressive.
He made impressive throw after impressive throw. Rodgers also did a fantastic job of spreading the ball around to his receivers. Both James Jones and Randall Cobb went over 100 receiving yards, and Jordy Nelson recorded two touchdowns.
It was a brilliant performance from Rodgers, as he proved to the rest of the league that he still deserves the title of "The Best Quarterback in the NFL".
Where Did James Starks Come From?
When Eddie Lacy went down with a concussion early in the fist quarter, it didn't look good for the ground game of the Green Bay Packers. However, James Starks came out of nowhere to have one heckuva game.
Starks finished Sunday's game with 132 rushing yards and a touchdown on only 20 carries. As pointed out by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, he became the first Packers' running back to rush for over 100 yards since Week 5 of the 2010 season, a span of 45 games.
While losing Lacy is certainly a blow to the Packers offense, Starks took full advantage of the opportunity. If he can continue to play at this level, Green Bay shouldn't have any trouble at all putting 38 points on the board, each and every week.
The amount of talent that the Green Bay Packers have at wide receiver is simply ridiculous.
Last week, we saw Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb lead the way, while James Jones didn't catch a single pass.
This week, Jones and Cobb combined for 20 receptions and a whopping 306 yards. And while Nelson only had three receptions for 66 yards, two of those receptions were for touchdowns.
We also can't forget about tight end Jermichael Finley and his six receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown. Even better was the fact that none of the receivers made key drops like they did in Week 1.
With so many options for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, there isn't a secondary in the league that can slow them all down. Don't be surprised if multiple Packers' receivers have career years this year.
The Offensive Line Is Improving, but There Are Still Concerns
There were a lot of good things that the offensive line did in Week 2 for the Green Bay Packers. However, there were also a handful of bad things we saw from this unit.
One of the good things we saw was the 139 total rushing yards put up by Eddie Lacy, James Starks and Aaron Rodgers. They consistently opened up holes and got to the second level, which allowed Starks to pick up a number of huge gains.
The bad thing we saw was the fact that Rodgers was sacked four times, including three times in the first quarter. While they eventually settled down and played much better, that is still way too many times for Rodgers to be getting hit.
All in all, the young offensive line is improving in Green Bay. It'll never be the strength of this team, but as long as they can become a solid unit, the Packers should be just fine offensively.
Mike McCarthy Has Some Gonads
There have been times when head coach Mike McCarthy has been more conservative than fans would have liked. However, McCarthy proved in Week 2 that he has some major gonads.
Facing a fourth-and-three late in the first quarter, McCarthy put his high-powered offense on the field instead of settling for a long field goal or playing the field-position game. The result was a 35-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb to give the Green Bay Packers a 10-point lead.
It was a risky call by McCarthy, but when your quarterback is the best quarterback in the league, it's OK to be risky from time to time.
There Needs to Be More Pressure on the Quarterback
Overall, the Green Bay Packers played pretty defense against the Washington Redskins. They held the Redskins scoreless through two-and-a-half quarters, and they only starting giving up points after the game was pretty much over.
However, if there is one area where Green Bay needs to improve as they head into Week 3, it lies in the team's ability to create pressure on the quarterback. The Packers recorded only one sack against the Redskins, and it wasn't by a defensive lineman or linebacker; it was by cornerback Davon House on a designed blitz play.
The lack of a pass rush puts even more pressure on Green Bay's secondary, which is definitely the weak spot of the defense. If the Packers want to do more than play in offensive shootouts, week after week, they'll need to create more consistent pressure on the quarterback.
The Secondary Looks a Little Better
The Packers' secondary was undoubtedly its worst unit in Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers. They gave up over 400 yards to Colin Kaepernick and just looked flat-out lost all game long.
While they still gave up 320 passing yards and three touchdowns this week, they did look a little better as a group. Safeties Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings didn't give up nearly the amount of big plays they did last week.
Even better was the fact that most of those yards came once the game was already won by the Packers; it was easy to see Green Bay take its foot off the gas defensively when they were up by 31 points early in the second half.
The fact that Green Bay looked even a little better and were still without starters Casey Hayward and Morgan Burnett is good news. Look for this unit to continue to improve once Hayward and Burnett return, and expect the secondary to eventually become a strength for the Packers.
The Read-Option Has Been Figured out
The read-option absolutely destroyed the Green Bay Packers last year. That's why matchups with Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III were rather frightening matchups to start the 2013 season.
While the Packers are only 1-1, they've proven that the read-option shouldn't be a problem any longer. They kept Kaepernick to 22 yards on seven carries in Week 1, and they shut down RG3 this week by holding him to only one yard on four carries.
It's only two games into the season, but it's definitely a good sign that the Packers have been able to hold two of the best running quarterbacks in the league to a total of 23 rushing yards this season.
The Packers Have the Best Offense in the NFL
Yes, the Green Bay Packers are only 1-1, and it's only the second week of the season, but there is no doubt that the Packers have the best offense in the NFL.
For starters, no team can say they have as many offensive playmakers as Green Bay does. From Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb to James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley, it's a non-stop barrage of weapons in Green Bay.
Furthermore, backup running back James Starks looked absolutely fantastic in Week 2, making this offense even more explosive. The offense totaled 580 yards of total offense this week. While the Washington Redskins certainly don't have an elite defense, 580 yards is still a ton of yards.
When the Packers play offensively like they did this week, there isn't a defense in the league that is capable of slowing them down.