Aaron Rodgers proved on Sunday that he is still the king of the NFC North.
Green Bay defeated Minnesota in their season opener 43-34, but despite only winning by nine points, in the end this game never felt remotely close.
This game served as a reminder of Green Bay’s strengths, and Minnesota’s glaring weaknesses, that may be too much to overcome this season if a few position groups do not vastly improve.
Green Bay torched Minnesota’s defense with the passing game all afternoon and it was a vintage Aaron Rodgers performance, as he threw for 364 yards and made four touchdowns.
Green Bay’s receivers were able to create huge separation from Minnesota’s secondary and this allowed Rodgers to attack down the field repeatedly.
Minnesota also failed to get any pass rush, as Rodgers was only hit a few times and was not even sacked once.
Davante Adams showed once again that he is an elite receiver, as he hauled in 14 receptions for 156 yards and two touchdowns.
Minnesota’s corners looked lost for this entire game, as they couldn’t cover any of Green Bay’s wide receivers.
They also couldn’t get off the field on third down, as Green Bay dominated time of possession, logging 41 minutes with the ball to Minnesota’s 19 minutes.
One key player that was missing from Minnesota’s secondary for most of the game was Jeff Gladney, the rookie cornerback that the Vikings drafted in the first round this off season.
Zimmer has hesitated to play rookies on defense in the past, but this can not serve as an excuse this year because third-round pick Cameron Dantzler, the other cornerback the Vikings drafted, played 64 snaps.
It is not clear why Gladney didn’t play much in this game, but he is going to need to get up to speed quickly if Minnesota is going to be as competitive this year.
Despite not getting any pass rush in this game, Minnesota’s front seven should not be a concern, as they have difference makers like Eric Kendricks — a veteran linebacker who is still playing at an elite level.
Danielle Hunter, one of the best defensive ends in the game, will be out for at least three games with a neck injury he suffered in offseason practices.
Minnesota also traded for Yannick Ngakoue to bolster their defensive line and while he did not make much of a difference in this game, he’s only been on the team for two weeks and did not get any preseason games to get in rhythm with the defensive scheme.
After losing Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander at the cornerback position this offseason, this position’s weakness will be too much to overcome for Minnesota if Minnesota’s rookies don’t improve quickly this season
Another position that has not appeared to improve this year is their offensive line, as there are no new starters from last year and the unit struggled mightily for the whole game against Green Bay.
As for the Packers, this performance served as a reminder of Aaron Rodgers’ greatness and proved that he should not be going anywhere any time soon, despite their questionable first round draft choice of Jordan Love this offseason — a quarterback from Utah State.
Rodgers was able to throw the ball deep with ease in this game and it was a good performance from their receiving core overall (despite a few dropped passes), which is a position that Green Bay was heavily criticized for not addressing in the offseason.
It will be more apparent in the coming weeks whether this success was because of Green Bay’s wide receivers’ ability or Minnesota’s ineptitude in the secondary.
Green Bay still should have addressed positions of need (like wide receiver) more in the draft and free agency this offseason to help their elite quarterback.
After this first game, it is abundantly clear that the Packers are favored to win this division once again in 2020.
Janssen can be reached at [email protected].