Behind Enemy Lines: Previewing Week 7 with Packers Wire

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The Washington Football Team (2-4) looks for their third win of the season on Sunday with a trip to Lambeau Field to face the Green Bay Packers (5-1).

This is the first meeting between the two NFC rivals since 2019, when the Packers defeated Washington, 20-15. Washington defeated the Packers in 2016 and 2018.

To gain a better feel for the Packers, we sat down with Zach Kruse, the managing editor of Packers Wire. Zach gave us some great insight into Aaron Rodgers, Preston Smith and the overall state of the Packers.

Here’s our Q&A with Packers Wire.

How has Aaron Rodgers played this season? There has been talk of issues with the deep ball. Is that legitimate?

6. Packers (9): They’ve won five in a row and could soon get All-Pro LT David Bakhtiari, who tore an ACL in December, back in the lineup to protect QB Aaron Rodgers. Stock up.
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Packers Wire: Rodgers has played well, especially over the last five games. But here’s the thing: he certainly hasn’t played up to his MVP levels from last season, and (as you mentioned) the deep shots haven’t been hitting as often, so there should be room for this offense to get even better moving forward. As was the case last season, he’s been excellent from clean pockets. Keeping him under pressure is the key, always. The issues with the deep ball are legitimate, but Rodgers thinks they’re close to hitting a bunch of them. We’ll see. The Packers won’t have Marquez Valdes-Scantling this week, and he’s is the offense’s top deep threat.

I was a big fan of AJ Dillon in college. How involved is he in the offense?

October 3, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers running back AJ Dillon (28) carries the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during a game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Wm. Glasheen/Appleton Post-Crescent via USA TODAY NETWORK

Packers Wire: He’s becoming a bigger and bigger part of what the Packers are trying to accomplish on offense, especially over the last three games. After seeing only 19 touches in the first three games, Dillon has 39 total in the last three. He’s averaging 5.0 yards per carry over that span, and the Packers are giving him more opportunities to catch the ball in the passing game. Washington can expect to see him on roughly 40 percent of snaps on Sunday. And if the Packers are leading in the second half, he’ll get plenty of the football.

Are there any WRs outside of Davante Adams that Washington should be concerned about?

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) runs after a catch defended by Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson (33) during the 2nd quarter of their game at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021. – Photo by Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK
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Packers Wire: Concerned? Probably not. But don’t overlook them because the other receivers are good complementary players. Allen Lazard does a little bit of everything, including blocking. Randall Cobb can win from the slot. Amari Rodgers is becoming a bigger part of the jet motion package. Equanimeous St. Brown had a touchdown catch negated by a questionable penalty last week. Not having Valdes-Scantling and his vertical speed will hurt, but the rest of the receivers all chip and do something valuable.

Washington fans know Preston Smith well. How has he been for Green Bay?

LANDOVER, MD – JANUARY 10: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is sacked for a safety by defensive end Preston Smith #94 of the Washington Redskins in the first quarter during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at FedExField on January 10, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Packers Wire: Smith was great in 2019, disappointing in 2020, and now surprisingly good again in 2021. He’s dealing with an oblique injury, but he returned to practice on Friday and could play Sunday. After disappearing last season, Smith came back to Green Bay on a restructured deal and resumed his disruptive ways. Although his reworked contract is incentivized by sacks, his best work has come against the run this season.

How has the Joe Barry experiment been so far? For two seasons, Barry was Washington’s defensive coordinator and had his share of issues, although he didn’t always have the best personnel.

Defensive coordinator Joe Barry is shown during the second day of organized team activities Tuesday, May 25, 2021 in Green Bay, Wis.
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Packers Wire: Packers fans were ready to run him out of town after the disaster in Week 1, but Barry has steadied the ship despite not having All-Pros Za’Darius Smith and Jaire Alexander for a big chunk of the season. The Packers are really struggling in the red zone, but the group is doing well defending the other 80 yards of the field. They’ve limited big plays and forced nine turnovers over the last five games. Linebacker De’Vondre Campbell has been a huge surprise under Barry, and Kenny Clark is getting more opportunities to attack as a pass-rusher. After six games, it’d be hard to be disappointed with the Packers defense. And it’s hard to judge Barry’s group until everyone is healthy.

Do you think the Packers are ripe for an upset with some important games coming after Washington?

Packers Wire: I don’t know if they are ripe for an upset, but the trip to Arizona on Thursday night to play the unbeaten Cardinals does loom large. I could see them lacking some energy early. The Packers can’t afford to play flat against Washington because Ron Rivera’s team has the ability to dominate the line of scrimmage. That’s the main ingredient in any upset formula for Washington. We’ll see. Matt LaFleur has done a great job at getting his team to approach the season one game at a time.

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