Packers vs. Jets: 3 things to watch

Weston Hodkiewicz
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Run defense must rebound

Run defense will be an emphasis as long as the Packers sit at the bottom of the NFL in the category. And the Jets' offense has many of the same qualities of the Seattle ground attack that scorched the Packers for 207 yards a week ago. The Jets excel at down blocking and aren't afraid to kick out a fullback or tight end to help against a four-man front to clear passage for Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory. The Jets also like to occasionally run the read-option with quarterback Geno Smith, a package that's given Dom Capers' defense fits in recent years. For starters, Green Bay's outside linebackers must do a better job of setting an edge to counteract that. Clay Matthews got too far upfield too often against the Seahawks, allowing Marshawn Lynch a sizable gap to burn the Packers' defense. Veteran Julius Peppers also was frozen on a few Percy Harvin jet rushes. The Packers' defensive line has to avoid getting washed out, which is easier said than done when playing a more aggressive style. They must maintain gap presence to rebound from last week's letdown.

Offense must air it out

The Packers' offense is predicated on its ability to throw the ball downfield. Last week, it wasn't able to do it. Aaron Rodgers was 3-for-11 for 50 yards and an interception on passes of more than 10 yards, according to Pro Football Focus. The Packers cut the field in half by not throwing in Richard Sherman's direction, resulting in only three receivers (Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Andrew Quarless) catching passes. The Packers must get more people involved to exploit the Jets' unproven secondary and prevent their big defensive front from pinning its ears back. The presence of Eddie Lacy in the backfield should help keep the defense honest. If Rodgers gets the ball out early and presses deep, the rest should take care of itself.

Who will it be at right tackle?

The Packers have to decide whether a less-than-100-percent Bryan Bulaga is a better option at right tackle than 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod, who'll be in line for his first NFL start if Bulaga can't go with a sprained MCL. Based on last week, it might not be a bad idea to stick with Bulaga if he's ready and willing. Sherrod's second-half struggles against the Seahawks buried any hopes of a comeback and illustrated Don Barclay's value the past two seasons shadowing Bulaga, who missed 23 consecutive regular-season games with hip and knee injuries. Regardless of who starts, the Packers might have to keep an extra running back or tight end in the backfield to assist in pass protection. It also will be interesting to see whether the Packers keep their run game geared to the left side.

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