4 Downs: Packers safety Marwin Evans making his mark
Every week I’ll share four observations the day after the Green Bay Packers' game. Here they are after the Packers’ 27-24 overtime win over Cincinnati on Sunday:
One of the reasons defensive coordinator Dom Capers could go with Josh Jones playing in the front seven of a new nitro package Sunday was safety Marwin Evans. Though starting safety Kentrell Brice (groin) didn’t play, Capers was able to use Jones and Morgan Burnett as linebackers/slot corners in the nitro because Evans is good enough to start at deep safety across from Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. If Evans wasn't capable, then either Burnett or Jones would have had to play deep, and in fact that’s what happened when Evans left the game briefly because of cramping. Burnett then moved back to safety, and cornerback Quinten Rollins came in to play the slot. Evans didn’t have a big day statistically (four tackles, no other stats) but the undrafted second-year pro is a reliable player with plenty of talent. Who knows? If Brice misses another game or two, he might have trouble getting his job back.
Punt returner Trevor Davis made a big mistake when he called a fair catch on the Bengals’ final punt at the end of the first half. The punt was relatively low, and he had a lot of green in front of him but called the fair catch and turned down a good chance at a return. He clearly wasn’t going to make that mistake again. This might not have shown up on TV, but on his next return Davis at first picked up the ball, then clearly lowered his head and took a long look at the coverage players coming at him, before picking up the flight of the ball again. He didn’t fair catch and gained eight yards on the return. For the day he averaged 14 yards on five returns.
Martellus Bennett had another big drop Sunday. Last week the tight end had four drops against Atlanta. On Sunday he had another, a drive killer on a third down in the fourth quarter with the Packers trailing 21-17. Drops weren’t at all an issue with Bennett in training camp, and I don’t remember ever reading or hearing about them as being a problem in the other stops of his 10-year NFL career. But the Packers brought him in to make clutch plays on third down and in the red zone, so he needs to deliver.
Aaron Rodgers threw another of his no-look, Magic Johnson-type touchdown passes in the red zone. On a third-and-goal from the 1 in the third quarter, Rodgers scrambled to his right and looked like he might try to run the ball in. Rodgers appeared to be looking straight ahead as he scrambled, so Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick came off Jordy Nelson in the middle of the end zone to play the run. Then without appearing to look at Nelson, the quarterback threw across his body to the wide-open receiver in the middle of the end zone for the gimme score. Kirkpatrick didn’t have a chance.