Packers Secondary will have to Slow Big Play Bengals

Likely without Jaire Alexander, this Green Bay Packers secondary is going to have to contain Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase, and this big play Bengals passing game.

The Green Bay Packers are "most likely" going to be without Jaire Alexander this week, as Matt LaFleur put it, and they will be facing a Cincinnati Bengals team that will try to test this secondary vertically.
 
The Bengals enter the game with the sixth-highest explosive pass rate in the NFL, according to Sharp Football. Now, it's not as if Joe Burrow is letting it fly every possession, he ranks 24th in terms of attempts over 20 yards, but he and receiver Ja'Marr Chase have been very effective when they do try to push the ball downfield.
 
Overall this season, Burrow is averaging 9.2 yards per attempt, which is the fifth-most in football, and completing nearly 73 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns to four interceptions.
 
Specifically on deep balls -- or passes of 20+ yards -- Burrow ranks eighth in yards per attempt with 16.3 and is tied for the second-most touchdowns with three. He also ranks top-10 in PFF's big-time throw rate, which takes into account the accuracy and the timing of the deep passing attempts.
 
Burrow's favorite downfield target has been rookie Ja'Marr Chase. Overall, Chase is averaging 17.5 yards per catch, ranking seventh in that category, and his 297 total yards is tied for 16th.
 
On deep passing attempts, Chase's four receptions are tied for the second-most, his three touchdowns are tied for first, and his 170 deep ball yards ranks fourth. 
 
And while these other receivers haven't necessarily been steady deep threats for this Bengals team, the Green Bay Packers are also going to have to contend with Tee Higgins (if he plays) and Tyler Boyd. 
 
Now, before we continue on, I do want to point out that while the Bengals are 3-1, the record of the opponents that they've beaten is a combined 2-10. The Packers will easily be their toughest test of the season up to this point.
 
Alright, now back to your regularly scheduled programming.
 
We, of course, all know how much this Packers secondary is going to miss Alexander--that's obvious. In his absence, others are going to have to step up. 
 
Eric Stokes will continue to start -- and likely be matched up with Chase -- while players like Isaac Yiadom and Shemar Jean-Charles will play bigger roles. We don't know yet whether or not we will see the recently signed Rasul Douglas, but some good news is that Kevin King has been back at practice. I know that King has become a punch-line among many within the fan base, but given the current state of the cornerback room, the Packers could really use his experience.
 
While there's no replacing Alexander, one way that Green Bay could try to mitigate the Bengals' deep passing game is by playing cover-2. This will provide the cornerbacks with help over the top and take away the big passing play.
 
This can also leave the Packers susceptible to the run game, and we may see a lot of easy completions over the middle--but that's alright. 
 
The goal for this game, and it's what the Joe Barry defense is designed to do, is to make the Cincy offense string together 12+ play drives if they're going to score. So if we see the Bengals dinking and dunking quite a bit, which can be frustrating to watch, that just means that the defense is doing their job over the top.
 
Pressuring Burrow will also be crucial as well so he doesn't have time to sit in the pocket while these longer-developing pass plays unfold. 
 
For what it's worth, the Green Bay defense has been very good at limiting the big play this season, ranking fourth in Sharp Football's explosive play rate for defenses--although things certainly become more challenging when missing your All-Pro cornerback.
 
As I mentioned, Barry's defense is designed to limit those explosive plays, but without Alexander and up against Burrow and Chase, the integrity of that defensive principle is going to be tested this week. 

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Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

5 points

Comments (30)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
ricky's picture

October 08, 2021 at 11:41 am

Several times in columns on this site I read that Pittsburgh had WR's running open in the secondary, but that Roethlisberger missed the throw. Burrow is less likely to have this happen. Also, Stokes is being told to play "soft", allowing large gaps between him and the receiver he is covering, making shorter completions more likely. Add in King's inability to cover if someone gets behind him, and the Packers could have some problems Sunday. What will be important is for the Packers offense to get cranking and simply outscore the Bengals.

7 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

October 08, 2021 at 11:51 am

The Packers opponents are a combined 5-11, which is better than 4-12 and not the 2-10 that you have for Cinn in your comparison. Surely these numbers were available before you wrote the article, so, did you purposely select three weeks of games for the totals to look bad for Cinn to make them look far inferior to the Packers?

Cinn is not a team to overlook.

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LambeauPlain's picture

October 08, 2021 at 12:01 pm

Read what Paul wrote again. Teams the Bengals BEAT are a combined 2-10. He did not include the Bares because they LOST to them.

7 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

October 08, 2021 at 12:19 pm

OK, the teams the Packers beat are 3-9, either way, it isn't a drastic separation statistic.

3 points
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LASVEGAS-TOM's picture

October 08, 2021 at 12:48 pm

Hi TarynsEyes, What happened to Tarynfor12? I tend to agree with your Handicapping on the Cinn game. You're the Best Handicapper on here. I lean towards Cinn for a different reason. 2 years ago I would have been all over them on this game. Things may have changed. I'm still trying to play Wayne Roots "Contrarian Theory". If that holds, Cinn is definitely the pick. ['ve been away too long to be Confident, but I was going that way anyhow. If you like them, right now that's Good Enough for me. Good Luck to you this week.
LVT

-1 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

October 08, 2021 at 01:12 pm

Hi Tom, been a while since I've seen you post a comment. Changed my name to fit the avatar. I haven't made up my mind on the game as yet. Still waiting for injury reports and wise-guy action, but I'm leaning Cinn with the extra teaser points, but depending on final info, a money-line bet is not out of the question which I may parlay with Miami, as TB may be ripe for a loss.

-1 points
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LASVEGAS-TOM's picture

October 08, 2021 at 01:44 pm

Hi TarynsEyes, Nice to hear from you. Well I'm going with them until GB can prove to me that they can win with a + or - 3 pt line anywhere with any consistency. You "May" be right on TB. Brady for the 1st time in 20 yr's is carrying a load. I swear I'll Never take Miami again. I don't care if they get 100 pt's. I had them against Vegas & Won, & took them again at home against Indi & lost. Anybody could have picked Indi +5 1/2. I took Miami. If you take the Fish, I hope you win, but I'm done with that team, even with 10 pt's. The Moneyline would be a Nice Hit, if you can get it. I think Miami is +$375. Good Luck!!
LVT

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LASVEGAS-TOM's picture

October 09, 2021 at 02:42 pm

TarynsEyes, I had to ask my wife what Avatar meant. I like it. It fits. The line is holding at Gb-3. The Smart Money, would probably "Buy The Hook" on that, but I'm not sure which way? I have a friend in WI, who all but Guarantees me a LA / LA SB. Do you buy any part of that? That's one of the reasons I took LA Thursday night, Otherwise I'm sure I would have taken Seattle at home . Are you looking at the Chargers game? I'm looking at the Chargers -2 1/2 for the same reason. Normally I'd go the other way on this one. Any Thoughts??
LVT

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PackerAaron's picture

October 08, 2021 at 12:38 pm

Big ask, LambeauPlain.

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PackNation23's picture

October 08, 2021 at 12:31 pm

1-3 Steelers 1-3 Vikings 0-4 Jaguars =2-10 for bengals opponents records

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TarynsEyes's picture

October 08, 2021 at 02:25 pm

GB-1-3 Steelers, 0-4 Lions, SF 2-2
The teams they beat are 3-9
That's equal to the difference between a yard and a meter, and that might be a stretch.
They both lost to teams that are 2-2.

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Leatherhead's picture

October 08, 2021 at 01:16 pm

Taryn…..our four opponents have 5 wins.

But our WINS came against 3 teams that were a combined 3-9

Disclaimer: stats may have a bourbon bias.

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TarynsEyes's picture

October 08, 2021 at 02:16 pm

Are you trying to tell me or say something that I already have? My point was how the writer made the attempt to make Cinn look like a 3-1 team against bad teams while ignoring that GB has done the same. Their records are comparable.
GB - 3-1 against teams with a 5-11 record total.
Cin - 3-1 against teams with a 4-12 record total.
The writer simply tried to skew a stat to make Cinn look like a lesser achieving team than GB, which isn't the case if one has their eyes shaded and their minds open.

1 points
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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 09, 2021 at 02:40 pm

The author is accurate. Still, Cincy beat the Steelers and MN (and Jaguars), both of which I expect to end up with decent records eventually. I'd say Cincy has beaten better teams than GB has beaten, at least so far.

1 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

October 08, 2021 at 11:58 am

Bengals beat the Vikings and Jags by 3 points. But they beat the Steelers by 14. While the combined records of those 3 teams is just 2-10...the combined record of the teams the Pack defeated is only 3-9. This will the best test for both teams so far.

If Mixon cannot go, the Bengals will have to rely on their Air Force. I hope Barry and the Boys are drawing up creative pressure packages for the rookie QB.

Conversely, the Packers should lean on the infantry...especially if Jenks is back...and control the TOP with long clock chewing scoring drives. This also helps keep the D off the field and limit Burrows tests for our pass D.

Then I hope the Packer STs play error free and don't hurt the team...and if they can cover Bojo's long, high punts they will flip the field and help the team.

But please Matt...if you win the coin flip put the O on field! Lead with your strength!

12 points
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Minniman's picture

October 08, 2021 at 06:55 pm

agree, if MLF wins the toss, then take the field and play keep-away football.

While it's good to see Barnes back in action, this may well be a baptism of fire match for Smith and Hefflin\Lowry.

Smith, because there will be a lot of help over the top for the CB's from the safeties (meaning that he and Campbell will likely be forced to patrol underneath against TE's and RB's).

Hefflin|Lowry, as the run edge needs to be set and the LB's (out and in) are going to need clean lanes.

2 points
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jhtobias's picture

October 08, 2021 at 12:09 pm

If the packers pass rush doesnt make a huge impact , game will be a shootout . Say what you want bug without jaire who is irreplacable the secondary at best is average without jaire that is just a fact .

Make mistake the bengals wr are better than the packer cornerbacks without jaire this is why ppass rush is the key to victory

6 points
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PatrickGB's picture

October 08, 2021 at 12:28 pm

I kinda hope that Mixon can play for them. Otherwise they will be more pass happy against our weakened CB’s. Their QB has one of the best QB ratings (117) so far this season. And they have a WR with an over 17 yards per reception average plus a good TE. With Campbell success helping to stop the run the Bengals will have to try and get us into a shootout. And with Myers iffy for the game, his replacement (Patrick?) might not be up to snuff.

0 points
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mvprzy's picture

October 08, 2021 at 12:29 pm

No Jaire for this game is sad indeed. I hope they use the Y-CB, hyphen-CB or new CB guys instead of King.

-1 points
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Lphill's picture

October 08, 2021 at 01:20 pm

Sullivan and King spell doom for the Packers secondary, that's what happens when you have no depth at certain positions.

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porupack's picture

October 10, 2021 at 05:10 am

Are you ignoring the fact that King was signed to shift into backup role as Stokes takes over, and having years of experience as a starter is a luxury most teams don't have. Good grief. GB has done everything they can to stock the CB position, and like all teams, you don't hit 100%. Good grief.

1 points
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splitpea1's picture

October 08, 2021 at 01:29 pm

If we can get a strong pass rush with that Cover-2 and tackle well on those underneath receptions, we should be able to reasonably contain the Bengals offense. The Bears gave them fits with QB pressure and tight coverage, collecting 5 sacks and forcing 4 turnovers. So even though we are going to be without a couple of important players, we still shouldn't be playing passively and allowing Burrow to get in rhythm and control TOP. We want to see our offense dictating the terms; I'm okay with an aggressive approach on offense here as well.

7 points
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Since'61's picture

October 08, 2021 at 01:59 pm

Best way to slow down the Bengals WRs is to keep them off the field. We need time consuming drives for points. Build a lead and make them one dimensional. That will would enable our pass rush to be more effective. GPG!
Thanks, Since ‘61

11 points
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Leatherhead's picture

October 08, 2021 at 02:29 pm

Yup. You called it. Use our offense, score 30+. It’s a W.

6 points
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Guam's picture

October 08, 2021 at 03:12 pm

Concur Since'61, this game will have to be won by the offense. The defense just has too many injuries to expect them to smother a good Bengals offense.

3 points
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LayingTheLawe's picture

October 08, 2021 at 04:22 pm

So to decode. The Packers will have to protect against the big play which means get ready for a boatload of Cinncy short passes moving up and down the field and hope for a big play somewhere to stop drives.

3 points
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Johnblood27's picture

October 08, 2021 at 04:57 pm

Savage moves to STAR and bolsters the secondary enough for the revitalized Clark-Keke-PSmith-Gary pressure to work.

AR hands off more than he chucks it and GBP control clock and TOP while scoring steadily. If the RB are getting most of the touches, receivers (WR, Slot and TE) will be open when AR does chuck it and success will be had.

This is a week to use the run as a weapon and then and only then use the pass to drive the nails in the coffin. Its a week to week league. The GBP have the personnel to switch MO based upon opponent and match-ups. RUN TO WIN this week fo sho.

Pack win a contested tilt by a low-mid 30's to a mid-high 20's score, like 33-28-ish.

6 points
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ImaPayne's picture

October 08, 2021 at 05:55 pm

Could be a cluster f. The packers lack real back up players. Sad, lose Jaire and the d falls apart? This is not SB bound team. Rodgers to Adams. Is that it?
Cinn should give Packers a real spanking imo.

-5 points
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Leatherhead's picture

October 08, 2021 at 07:50 pm

I think that the Packer backups would beat the backups from most other teams.

The defense is not going to fall apart. We’re still able to put quite a few proven defenders, including some pretty good ones.

Not a SB bound team? We’ll win our division and our first playoff game will be at home. After that, a lot of things come into play that cannot yet be known.

Rodgers to Adams. I see some great jobs being done on the Oline, I think Jones and Tonyan and Cobb are all big offensive threats.

3 points
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MarkinMadison's picture

October 09, 2021 at 07:13 am

Packers backup like who? Nijman? Dillon? Garvin? Stokes? I'd say the backups have been doing their job and then some so far this year.

5 points
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