On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns are at home as they take on the Green Bay Packers. To help preview a few topics from the Packers’ perspective, we reached out to Jason Hirschhorn of Acme Packing Company and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!
Chris: “Josh Gordon played his first game in three years last week against the Chargers, and their top cornerback (Casey Hayward, ranked No. 1 in the NFL by PFF) said that Gordon was his toughest assignment all year. That's some pretty high praise. Who are the Packers likely to line up against them, and has Green Bay's secondary been vulnerable to allowing big plays to receivers?”
Jason: “At this time, it remains unclear which cornerbacks the Packers will even have available for Sunday's game. Top cornerback Kevin King landed on injured reserve earlier this week with a shoulder injury and fellow starter Davon House has yet to practice with a shoulder injury of his own. That leaves Damarious Randall as Green Bay's most experienced cornerback. If House doesn't return, expect Randall to take most of the snaps across from Josh Gordon.
Needless to say based on that injury report, the Packers could have issues covering Gordon. They will need to rely on their pass rush, which registered seven sacks last week, to generate enough pressure to keep DeShone Kizer out of rhythm.”
Chris: “Brett Hundley has had his ups-and-downs as the Packers' starter. Can you give us a general assessment on what his biggest strength and biggest weakness have been?”
Jason: “Brett Hundley hasn't enjoyed much success as a passer, but he has proven reasonably capable at throwing outside the numbers. Most of his big completions have come along the boundary, an area where the Packers receivers excel. Hundley has also established himself as a decent runner, producing nearly as many yards on the ground last week as he did throwing the ball.
Elsewhere, Hundley's flaws become glaring. He holds onto the ball for too long (his 3.12 second average time to throw ranks as the highest in the NFL among qualifiers) and takes far too many sacks. Despite taking so much time to let plays develop, an overwhelming number of his completions occur around the line of scrimmage. Since he took over for Aaron Rodgers, the Packers have produced precious few big plays through the air.”
Chris: “The Packers have allowed the second-most sacks in the NFL. Who would you label as the Packers' best offensive lineman, and who is the worst?”
Jason: “David Bakhtiari easily ranks as the Packers' top offensive linemen. The left tackle has played at a Pro Bowl level again this season and has covered up for many of the offensive weaknesses. On the other end, right tackle Jason Spriggs has to rate as the unit's worst lineman as currently constructed. He entered the starting lineup after a torn ACL sidelined Bryan Bulaga for the season.”
Chris: “Rookie RB Jamaal Williams has injected some life into the Packers' offense recently. Is he just their latest flavor-of-the-month, or could he be the Packers' long-term starter?”
Jason: “It's far too early to declare Williams the Packers' long-term answer at running back. While he played exceptionally last week, but his athletic limitations have kept him from running efficiently in previous outings. Meanwhile, Aaron Jones possesses the explosiveness and versatility the team traditionally favors at the position. Williams has a chance to secure the job over the final month of the year, but he has competition.”
Chris: “Tell us about one player on Green Bay who fans may not have heard of, but who has made some nice contributions in 2017.”
Jason: “Blake Martinez has developed into the Packers' best off-ball linebacker and one of their best overall defenders. He leads the team with 111 total tackles and seems to make multiple field-tilting plays every game since hitting his stride the past two months. Green Bay's defense has struggled in 2017, but Martinez hasn't been the reason.”
Thanks again to Jason for taking the time to answer my questions.