4 Downs: Packers will need more from Dean Lowry, Montravius Adams
Every week I’ll share four observations the day after the Green Bay Packers' game. Here they are after the Packers’ 31-17 loss Sunday at Washington:
Dean Lowry and Montravius Adams will have to become important players if defensive coordinator Mike Pettine wants to keep using three defensive linemen regularly. That has been a big part of Pettine’s defense so far this season — he’s been lining up three defensive linemen not only in the base 3-4, but also in one of his nickel packages that he has deployed liberally. The question is whether Muhammad Wilkerson’s ankle injury changes that. Wilkerson’s injury was so bad he was taken to the hospital during the game, so it’s a good bet he’s out for the season. One of the reasons Pettine liked the three defensive linemen package was that Wilkerson, Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels were three of his best defensive players, and this was a way of getting them on the field together to stop the run even when Pettine also wanted an extra defensive back for coverage. Pettine will have to decide whether to use Lowry or Adams in Wilkerson’s place or to deploy that package less often now that he’s lost one of the players that made it work in the first place.
Do we need any more reason to think Aaron Jones should get a lot of touches? Coming off his two-game substance-abuse suspension, Jones didn’t get into the game until the very end of the first quarter, then proceeded to rip off 18 yards on back-to-back carries. He finished with 42 yards rushing on six carries and clearly is the Packers’ quickest and most explosive running back. Jamaal Williams is a much better pass protector, and Ty Montgomery is a much better receiver, but Jones is a threat to produce a nice gainer every time he touches the ball. It will be a shocker if coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t give Jones’ playing time a big bump this Sunday against Buffalo. There’s probably no better way to protect a gimpy Aaron Rodgers then the threat of Jones’ running. “We’ve got to run the ball better to start some of the (play) action stuff,” Rodgers said after the game.
Seventh-round pick Hunter Bradley’s hold on the long-snapping job could be getting tenuous. He had two bad snaps Sunday, both low. Holder JK Scott couldn’t handle Bradley’s low snap on Mason Crosby’s 61-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half and had to abort the play. Then in the fourth quarter Bradley's snap on a punt was at Scott’s toes, but Scott plucked the ball and got off a clean punt. Long snappers have to be almost perfect in today’s NFL, so even one game like this, especially for a rookie, can put a job jeopardy.
Washington really does have a home-field problem. The official game book listed the attendance as capacity filled (82,000), but there were a lot of empty seats, especially in the upper deck, even with the Packers in town and their fans accounting for close to half the crowd. But what really jumped out was how quiet it was when Washington clinched the victory on Rodgers’ fourth-down incompletion with 54 seconds left. Normally, a game-sealing play like that would draw a wild celebration from the home crowd, but this was one didn’t even elicit a roar. I don’t remember a quieter reaction from a home-team win in my 26 seasons covering the NFL.