Studs and duds from Packers’ 32-18 win over Rams in divisional round
The Green Bay Packers reached the NFC title game on Saturday at Lambeau Field with an impressive 32:18 win over the Los Angeles Rams.
The beauty of the win was the combination of the expected production from star players and the numerous contributions from role players up and down the list from Matt LaFleur's team.
Here are the bolts and duds of the Packers Divisional Round victory:
OLB Rashan Gary: The Edge Rusher in the second year took advantage of its opportunities again. Gary only played 32 snapshots, sat in a pair of sacks, and had a team pressure of seven. His best moment was a third sack when he defeated veteran Andrew Whitworth with speed and power inside and then tracked down Jared Goff with the help of Kenny Clark. He plays faster and the physical gifts begin to create a consistent production. Mike Smith's esteemed student is slowly becoming a legitimate differentiator.
WR Davante Adams: Nine catches for 66 yards isn't a “wow” number, but Adams was still impressive. He made Jalen Ramsey gasp with devastating inclination in the first half. He later had the chance for an explosive game with a perfectly executed double move, but Aaron Rodgers didn't throw him a great ball. Matt LaFleur's brilliant playcall and Adams' crafty pre-snap move made the touchdown.
RG Lucas Patrick: A major concern on Saturday was that the Rams found ways to isolate all-world defender Aaron Donald from Patrick, especially in the passing game. Since Donald was limited by a rib injury, Patrick had no problems. In fact, he ran out of most of his matchups. The Packers ran relentlessly and effectively within the zone. Patrick, Corey Linsley, and Elgton Jenkins did all the heavy lifting. On Aaron Jones's 60-yard run early in the second half, Patrick's one-on-one seal block created the alley.
RT Rick Wagner: Leonard Floyd could have been a big challenge, but he held up against the former Bear and was great in the game. Although everyone up front was good for the Packers, Pro Football Focus had Wagner as the only offensive lineman to turn off pass protection. It was a stroke of genius by Brian Gutekunst to sign the veteran to replace Bryan Bulaga for a fraction of the price.
OLB Preston Smith: His pass rushing production remains inconsistent, but the seasoned outside linebacker still finds various ways to influence the game. He raised his hands twice and drew down a pass. The first came third in the opening series. He read Goff's eyes, got into the fast lane, and knocked her down to prevent a likely completion. Functionally, the passport separation was as good as a sack. He met Goff once and helped force a field goal by hitting a block and scraping the line to stop Cam Akers in 3rd and 2nd place in the first half.
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling: The Packers can attribute a drop in the first series end zone to him. It was a hard ball thrown over his head, but it wasn't a competitive catching situation and he got two hands on it. Even so, MVS was solid. On a comeback, he made a hard catch of his body and sped 12 meters past the defender on the first run. The rams had to respect his speed. He later made a clever take on the scrambled eggs and opened up late over the middle for a first down catch. His late defensive maneuver against John Johnson prevented an interception to end the first half. With a typically accurate throw from Aaron Rodgers, he would have scored a 92-yard touchdown in the third quarter. He cooked the cornerback with a double pull and was clear, but Rodgers sailed the ball beyond its limits. His most meaningful game took place in the fourth quarter when he spun on a bubble screen and worked his way past the sticks for an important first down.
RB Jamaal Williams: He ran tougher than any other competition in his NFL career on Saturday. When he moves downhill and lowers his shoulder, the pile moves. Six of his 12 runs made initial runs and he gained 44 yards on contact per PFF. Three of his runs turned third downs.
LB Krys Barnes: Coaches probably won't appreciate Akers carrying him into the end zone from five meters away on the Wildcat run. You will likely appreciate almost anything else. Barnes played with a throw to protect an injured hand, never missed a tackle in 10 attempts and was active across the field. Late in the game, he took a great break on an outroute and would probably have picked up Goff with two good hands. He can be manipulated in reporting as a midfielder, but his game seems to be constantly improving.
LS Hunter Bradley: Two of his snapshots weren't even close. The first, fired three feet inward, resulted in the botched extra point attempt. Later he almost skipped a snapshot of the lawn on a boat. JK Scott did a good job catching the two snaps. Bradley was way too inconsistent in 2020.
RB A.J. Dillon: The fiddling could have been a groundbreaking moment. The exchange between the rookie and Rodgers was not clean. It didn't cost the Packers, but it's the kind of game that LaFleur snaps at Dillon late in the games.
CB Kevin King: He tackled well, maybe at the highest level of the season. But the Rams still found five deals and three different first downs against his coverage. Robert Woods beat him twice for early losses and rookie Van Jefferson hit all three of his goals with King for cover. The teams rarely throw at Jaire Alexander, so King is tested. Quarterbacks still find it too easy to find chain-moving degrees under King's cover.
DL Damon Harrison: The Packers only had him on the field for three games. It was washed out by all three, so Dean Lowry and Tyler Lancaster did most of the work the rest of the way. The Packers may have been uncomfortable having Harrison against the Rams' quick looks in the field.
6 takeaways from the dominance of the Packers division round against Rams
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