3 things to watch vs. Chiefs on Monday
When the Green Bay Packers shifted Ty Montgomery to the backfield during a fourth-quarter series in Sunday’s 27-17 win over Seattle, the Seahawks weren’t the only ones seeing the look for the first time. It actually was the first time the rookie receiver has lined up there since Green Bay drafted him in May.
The Packers frequently use fifth-year receiver Randall Cobb (5-foot-10, 192 pounds) in that role when they switch into a no-back set, but chose to use the similarly built Montgomery (6-0, 216) for a handful of snaps instead. They felt it gave the offense some favorable matchups and it’s tough to disagree.
Rodgers was a perfect 8-of-8 for 78 yards on the series, which put the Packers ahead 24-17 with a little more than 9 minutes remaining. Second-year receiver Davante Adams is probable to play through the ankle injury he sustained against the Seahawks, but Montgomery’s four-catch, 37-yard performance Sunday garnered Aaron Rodgers’ praise. If the Packers need to lighten Adams’ workload, they could turn to Montgomery.
He certainly adds to the uncertainty of the no-back set, which preys on mismatches.
“I think it presents them a challenge,” quarterbacks/receivers coach Alex Van Pelt said. “They have to defend a lot of different looks. The more creative we can be, but stay within our scheme, the better. Who knows, you might see them both back there one time. Who knows? It’s a work in progress for that package. It does present some matchup issues.”
Alone with Kelce
The Packers never have faced Jamaal Charles in a regular-season setting, but defensive coordinator Dom Capers need only turn on any film over the last eight years to see how the all-pro running back can hurt you. Charles isn’t the only weapon the Packers need to worry about, though.
As the NFL is quickly realizing, Travis Kelce is becoming one of the NFL’s most dynamic tight ends. The 2013 third-round pick doesn’t test through the charts, but he has developed into one of Alex Smith’s favorite weapons.
After catching 67 passes for 862 yards and five touchdowns last year, the 6-foot-5, 260-pound tight end has shaken off the sprained ankle that bothered him in training camp to nab 10 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns. The two scores came on Kansas City’s first two series in its 27-20 win over Houston in Week 1.
After giving up five catches for 55 yards and a touchdown to the Bears' Martellus Bennett, the Packers used linebacker Clay Matthews almost exclusively at inside linebacker to aid the containment of all-pro running back Marshawn Lynch (14 carries for 51 yards) and tight end Jimmy Graham (one catch for 11 yards).
While Capers wants to keep Matthews rushing the quarterback, he could opt to go in a similar direction this week with Charles and Kelce representing two possible game-breakers. His importance is amplified with Morgan Burnett missing his second game in three weeks with an aggravated calf strain.
“Kelce’s right in there with Bennett and Graham,” Capers said. “He’s an impressive guy when you watch him on tape. He’s a very good receiver, good with the ball after the catch, very good hands. They have three good receiving tight ends and they utilize them. You’ll see three tight ends in the game at the same time.”
Rodgers and Smith each take a lengthy streak into Monday night’s game.
For Rodgers, it has been more than 1,000 days since he threw an interception at Lambeau Field. You have to go all the way back to the Packers’ 23-14 win over Minnesota on Dec. 2, 2012, to find the last time it occurred. He has attempted 545 passes at home with 43 touchdowns in that span.
His 133.2 passer rating last season broke his own NFL record, which was previously set at 128.5 in 2011. When asked if he could recall his last pick at home, Rodgers said he didn’t remember. It’s tough to blame him. He has played in 18 consecutive home games since Vikings safety Harrison Smith intercepted a deep pass to Greg Jennings off a flea-flicker.
“That's what it was? Shouldn't have called that play,” Rodgers deadpanned.
So have the Packers called a flea-flicker since?
“Probably not,” he retorted.
Smith owns his own improbable streak on the opposite sideline, though it’s far less glamorous — he hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass to a Chiefs receiver in a regular-season game since a 45-10 win over Washington on Dec. 8, 2013. That’s a span of 659 days.
Last year, Kansas City became the first team since the 1964 New York Giants to go an entire season without a touchdown pass to a receiver, according to Sporting News.
“I really don’t get caught up in all that. It’s a pretty good streak, though,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “If you’re counting streaks, it’s a pretty long one, but I’m sure it will be broken.”
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