Aaron Jones' huge day powers Packers past Lions 42-21 for second straight win
GREEN BAY - If this continues, pity any defense tasked with stopping the Green Bay Packers' offense.
It’s clear now that the Packers' offense is better in its second season under head coach Matt LaFleur. How much better remains uncertain. Such measurements can’t be accurately made in two weeks. But if the first two weeks of the NFL season are any indication, the Packers have a potential juggernaut to take on the rest of the NFC.
The Packers exceeded 40 points for the second straight week in their 42-21 win Sunday against the Detroit Lions at an empty Lambeau Field. Their 42 points were one fewer than they had last week against the Minnesota Vikings, which had been the most they’ve recorded early in LaFleur’s tenure.
It’s the second straight year the Packers started 2-0, but 2020 feels different. Sunday was the first time since 2014 the Packers posted at least 40 points in consecutive games. That was the last time Aaron Rodgers was named league MVP.
Here are five observations from Sunday:
Aaron Jones breaks out
Through three halves, about the only thing the Packers offense hadn’t seen yet was a home run from Aaron Jones. It took only one play into the third quarter to check that one off the list. Jones rushed almost untouched 75 yards up the middle for a touchdown, the longest run of his career. Jones was somewhat held in check Week 1 at the Minnesota Vikings, but Sunday was different. He finished with a career-high 168 rushing yards on 18 carries and added 68 yards on four catches. His 236 yards from scrimmage were a career high. Last season’s NFL touchdowns leader also found the end zone three times, increasing his season total to four. The biggest difference with Jones isn’t his production, but the opportunities. There seem to be no real limitations on Jones’ touches early in his fourth season. After sharing snaps and touches with Jamaal Williams early in his career, Jones has emerged as the unquestioned lead tailback in the Packers run game.
Rodgers back in form
Rodgers looks really comfortable in this offense. MVP comfortable. Rodgers was 18-of-30 for 240 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions against the Lions, a 107.6 rating. It was his second straight blistering performance. Rodgers through two games is 50-of-74 for 604 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions, a 119.43 rating. He was 40-of-64 for 412 yards, three touchdowns and a 96.61 rating through two games last season. Most striking Sunday was that Rodgers picked apart the Lions' defense without overly relying on top receiver Davante Adams, who had just three receptions on three targets for 36 yards. Adams had 14 catches on 17 targets in Week 1. On Sunday, Rodgers spread his completions across eight different receivers, surprising depth for an offense whose skill positions were in question throughout the offseason.
While the offense has been dominant, the defense has looked much like it did throughout last season. Which is to say something less than dominant, but Mike Pettine’s defense has sprinkled in more than enough playmaking to be effective. The big play Sunday came on cornerback Chandon Sullivan’s interception returned 7 yards for a touchdown, breaking open the game with a 31-10 lead. Outside linebacker Rashan Gary set up the interception with a wicked inside move to pressure Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who had to bail and threw to the flat. That’s where Sullivan waited, and he could practically fall into the end zone for a score. The Packers defense left plenty to be desired Sunday. For the second straight week, it allowed an opening-drive touchdown. It allowed 135 yards in the first quarter, helping the Lions race out to their 14-3 lead. But a big-play defense is a nice complement to an offense that appears to be firing on all cylinders.
MVS regaining form
For the second time in as many games, Marquez Valdes-Scantling had a 40-yard reception Sunday. There might not be a better indicator of his revival early this season. MVS, whose 6-4 length and 4.3 speed makes him a big-play threat, hadn’t had a 40-yard reception since October last season. Before then, he was practically a 40-yard machine, recording a 40-yard gain in roughly one-third of his games early in his career.
What punting game?
JK Scott might be the best gauge to indicate just how much the Packers offense has grown early this season, particularly compared to this point last year. In the Packers’ first two games last season, Scott punted 17 times. He has punted three times in two games this season. Just three. What a difference one year makes.