Think you know the Green Bay Packers? Well, maybe you do but there is always more to learn. So, let’s turn to Jason Hirschhorn of SB Nation’s Acme Packing Company to some insight into Sunday’s New York Giants opponent. Jason answers our “Five questions” this week.
Ed: It's stunning to me to see the Green Bay offense near the bottom of the league in yardage. Is that misleading, or do the Packers have issues on offense?
Jason: This is partially the result of a small sample size this season. The Packers struggled offensively through the first two weeks of the season, especially during their matchup with the Vikings' lock-down defense. However, Green Bay broke out in Week 3 in a major way, producing 31 first-half points and generally resembling the offense that led the league in scoring just two seasons ago.
Still, Week 3 represents just a third of all the Packers' games thus far in 2016 (they had their bye this past week). At least until the team gets some more contests in, their overall numbers will remain skewed towards the bottom of the league.
Ed: You're prepping a scouting report on the Packers FOR the Giants. How would you attack Green Bay, both offensively and defensively?
Jason: Trying to run against the Packers' defense, a unit allowing just 1.8 yards per attempt, is a fool's errand. While no offense can avoid utilizing its ground attack for a full game, the Giants need to pass early and often in order to keep things competitive. That could become an even more effective plan if cornerback Sam Shields misses another game while recovering from a concussion.
As for the Giants' defensive plan, they need to find a way to get to Aaron Rodgers even if it requires heavy blitzing. While Rodgers used to destroy teams that dared to throw five or more pass rushers in his direction, he hasn't enjoyed quite that level of success since 2014. New York could and should try to attack Lane Taylor, the Packers' new starting left guard and by far the greenest of the team's starting five linemen. Such an approach could just as easily burn New York, but with their league-worst pass rush unlikely to make a dent on its own, the team has to try something.
Ed: Give me one player on the Giants roster NOT NAMED ODELL BECKHAM you would like to put into Green Bay's lineup?
Jason: Wait, the Giants have players besides Odell Beckham Jr.?
Well then. Given that the aforementioned Taylor lacks experience, the Packers could benefit from a player like Justin Pugh. He moves well for an offensive lineman, something Green Bay can utilize in their blocking scheme. He also can kick out to tackle in an emergency.
Ed: Name an under-the-radar player for Green Bay that Giants fans should be aware of Sunday?
Jason: Linebacker Blake Martinez has transformed from a mostly anonymous fourth-round pick back in April to the quarterback of the Packers' defense. He plays in the team's base defense, nickel, and sub packages, making all of the calls and getting his teammates lined up correctly.
But he isn't just a field general. Martinez possesses strong instincts for such a young player, almost always finding his way to the football regardless of situation. His addition has played a considerable role in improve Green Bay's run defense from one of the weakest part of the team to the league's No. 1 unit.
Ed: Looking at it from the outside, what are your thoughts on the whole Beckham and his emotions situation with the Giants?
Jason: We have known since Beckham's time at LSU that he wears his heart on his sleeve, so this shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. However, given the NFL's new automatic ejection rules, it should concern the Giants. Any chance they have of competing for a championship starts and ends with Beckham, and they cannot afford for the wideout to miss time for something as silly as unsportsmanlike penalties.