3 Takeaways from Packers' Week 1 Loss

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxCorrespondent ISeptember 12, 2022

3 Takeaways from Packers' Week 1 Loss

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    Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (David Berding/Getty Images)

    Last season, the Green Bay Packers claimed the NFC's No 1 seed with a January victory over the rival Minnesota Vikings. On Sunday, the Vikings got a little revenge by embarrassing Green Bay in a 23-7 game that wasn't even as close as the score might indicate.

    This was not how the Packers hoped to begin the 2022 season.

    The final margin was bad, but it could have been much worse. Green Bay had no answer for wideout Justin Jefferson, who finished with nine catches, 184 yards and two touchdowns. The offense had few answers for Minnesota's pass rush, which left Aaron Rodgers scrambling throughout the game.

    Minnesota marched into Packers territory on six of its 10 possessions but came away with only two touchdowns. With just a little more efficiency, the Vikings could have turned this into an even bigger blowout.

    It's only Week 1, though, and the Packers have been here before. They got the conference's No. 1 seed after being blown out 38-3 by the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 last season. Green Bay can and probably will rebound, but it should have legitimate concerns.

    Here are our three biggest takeaways from Sunday's loss.

The Secondary Needs to Regroup Quickly

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    Vikings WR Justin Jefferson (Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    On paper, the Packers should have one of the best secondaries in the NFL. Jaire Alexander is a Pro Bowl-caliber corner, and Rasul Douglas emerged as a turnover machine in 2021. Eric Stokes was a 2021 first-round pick, and safeties Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos are more than serviceable.

    However, the secondary was a sieve against the Vikings passing attack—and it wasn't all Jefferson.

    Plenty of defenses are going to struggle against Jefferson, who will vie to be the league's best receiver in 2022. However, Kirk Cousins hit seven different pass-catchers en route to a 23-of-32 performance that yielded 277 yards and two touchdowns.

    Still, the fact that the secondary couldn't contain Jefferson when it was clear that he was getting the ball—he caught nine of 11 targets—is extremely concerning. He's far from the only elite receiver Green Bay will see this season.

    Pass-catchers like Mike Evans, Stefon Diggs, CeeDee Lamb, A.J. Brown and Cooper Kupp are on the slate this year. If the Packers can't contain top receivers, getting that No. 1 seed again will be difficult.

    And the next time the Packers see Jefferson and the Vikings (Week 17), double coverage must be more than just a suggestion.

The Receiving Corps Is Lacking

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    Packers WR Christian Watson (Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    The Packers traded star wideout Davante Adams in the offseason, and it was fair to wonder how effective Rodgers could be without him in the lineup. The receiving corps lacks a true No. 1 target, and newcomers like Sammy Watkins and rookie Christian Watson have yet to prove themselves in Green Bay.

    On Sunday, Rodgers didn't perform well. He finished 22-of-34 for 195 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.

    It didn't help that returning receiver Allen Lazard was inactive with an ankle injury. It also didn't help that Watson dropped a would-be 75-yard touchdown on Green Bay's opening possession. However, these weren't the only issues.

    "Obviously, it'd be great to have a 75-yard touchdown to start the game," Rodgers said, per ESPN's Rob Demovsky. "But drops are going to happen. It's part of the game."

    The bigger issue is that Green Bay's receivers struggled to consistently get open. When Rodgers was under pressure—and he was often—he struggled to find an outlet. When he needed to make key plays, there was no go-to receiver.

    Getting Lazard back will help, and things should improve as the starting offense gets more time together—now is a good time to point out that Rodgers didn't play in the preseason. Until the new-look receiving corps jells, though, Packers fans won't see the potent passing attack to which they are accustomed.

It's Far Too Early to Panic

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    Packers RB Aaron Jones (David Berding/Getty Images)

    It wasn't all bad for Green Bay on Sunday. The running game worked well—Aaron Jones averaged a ridiculous 9.8 yards per carry—and rookie fourth-round pick Romeo Doubs (four catches, 37 yards, 11 rushing yards) flashed repeatedly. Tight end Robert Tonyan (three catches, 36 yards) appears healthy after last season's torn ACL.

    The Packers should find some positives upon which to build, and it's far too early to ring alarm bells in Wisconsin.

    Green Bay was in a similar spot last season and rebounded nicely. The Packers didn't have a full roster against the Vikings, either, as Lazard, left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) and right tackle Elgton Jenkins (knee, pectoral) were inactive.

    These three absences heavily impacted the passing game, and, again, they didn't get any preseason work together with Rodgers. The result was a sloppy early performance and a lopsided loss.

    As players get healthy and Rodgers develops more chemistry with his new receivers, we should see better efficiency in the passing game. Coupled with a strong ground game, the Packers should have an offense that is well above average.

    Will it be good enough to carry Green Bay on a deep postseason run? That remains to be seen. However, fans should expect a much better performance next Sunday night against the Chicago Bears. If they don't get it, then it may be time to panic.

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