4 Downs With Dougherty on Packers' win
Every week I’ll share four leftover observations from the Packers game the previous day. Here they are after the Packers’ 27-23 win over Jacksonville.
First down: Lane Taylor’s debut as Josh Sitton’s successor at left guard was like a good baseball umpire in that you really didn’t even notice him. It’s hard to imagine it being like that every week, but I thought he’d have a rougher first game than he did.
“Honestly didn’t even think about him,” right guard T.J. Lang said. “Just knew he was going to go in there, fight and get the job done. He’s a guy that’s shown it in practice, through the preseason. We didn’t change our offense when we put him in there, we just kept doing what we were doing. We trusted him, we knew he was going to get the job done.”
Second down: If there’s a pass route that second-year cornerback Damarious Randall covers best, it’s a go-fade along the sidelines. That’s where his abilities to turn and run and then jump to play the ball all come together. I can remember him making a spectacular leaping, one-handed interception on that kind of play as early as in his first training camp as a rookie. He had a similar interception in the preseason this year on a deep ball to Oakland’s Amari Cooper. And on Sunday against Jacksonville, he broke up a long pass on which he ran with 6-foot-3 receiver Allen Robinson stride for stride and looked like the intended receiver when he nearly intercepted the pass as the two fell out of bounds.
Third down: The Packers gave at least a glimpse of how they plan on using 36-year-old Julius Peppers this season, though it’s hard to know how the extreme heat played into it also. Peppers played only 29 of the Packers’ 72 defensive snaps (40 percent), and for the first three quarters he played almost exclusively as an inside rusher in the dime package. Then in the fourth quarter, he mixed in a little more liberally as an outside rusher in the nickel. It sure looks like the Packers were trying to keep him fresh for the fourth quarter, when the game probably would be on the line. The same theory holds for the season as a whole — they want to make sure he’s at his best at the end of the season when the money is on the line. Maybe if it hadn’t been so hot he would have played a bit more early in Sunday’s game — we’ll see on that over the next few weeks — but the Packers definitely went with the less-is-more theory with Peppers on Sunday.
Fourth down: Looking at the final stat sheet it would be easy to say new tight end Jared Cook was a non-factor (two targets, one catch for seven yards). And it’s not like he had a big day. But he made one of the most important plays of the game when he drew a 30-yard pass interference penalty near the end of the second quarter when he beat safety Jonathan Cyprien down the middle seam. It came on the first play after the Packers got the ball back with only 1:09 left in the half. The play flipped the field and set up Aaron Rodgers’ spectacular 29-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams with 13 seconds left in the half that put them up to stay, 21-17.