Jared Allen has recorded 17 sacks of Packers quarterbacks during his illustrious career. Only Steve McMichael has more, with 18. He's been particularly dominant at Mall of America Field since joining the Vikings in 2008. By year, he had one sack in 2008, 4.5 in 2009, one sack in 2010, two sacks in 2011 and one sack in 2012, giving him a five-game total of 9.5 sacks.
In that context, what rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari accomplished on Sunday night is all the more remarkable. The 30-year-old Allen, who ranks second among active players with 121.5 sacks, finished with no sacks and tackles. Bakhtiari didn't always do it alone, but he was singled up more times than not.
"He had a very good game," offensive coordinator Tom Clements said. "He was playing against an All-Pro, someone who in the past has given us problems, especially up there. He took it as a challenge and he played well. For his first time in that environment against an outstanding player, he has to feel good about himself."
Bakhtiari has allowed 3.5 sacks, according to STATS, including none in the last three games. ProFootballFocus.com has Bakhtiari down for four sacks, two quarterback hits and 12 hurries for a total of 18 pressures, with no sacks or hits in the last three games. That puts him on pace to yield nine sacks, 4.5 quarterback hits and 27 hurries for a total of 40.5 pressures.
In 2012, Marshall Newhouse allowed eight sacks, six quarterback hits and 32 hurries for a total of 46 pressures. In 2011, Newhouse allowed eight sacks, eight hits and 39 hurries for a total of 55 pressures. In 2010, Chad Clifton allowed seven sacks, five hits and 25 hurries for a total of 37 pressures.
"He's doing a very good job for a first-year player," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's doing a very good job for a left tackle, period."
Greg Jennings had one catch (three targets) for 9 yards.
The week before that, Cleveland's Josh Gordon had two catches (six targets) for 21 yards.
And before that, Baltimore's Torrey Smith had one catch (four targets) for 12 yards.
Combined, the Packers have allowed four catches out of 13 targeted passes for 42 yards to their opponents' No. 1 receivers. Contrast that to Week 1, when San Francisco's Anquan Boldin destroyed Green Bay with 13 receptions (17 targets) for 208 yards and one touchdown.
"I think as you go through your game plan, you evaluate how much they're going to somebody and obviously you want to try to make people beat you left handed," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said.
At times, the Packers have matched Sam Shields against a specific receiver, like against Cincinnati's A.J. Green, who was limited to four catches for 46 yards and a touchdown. Most of the time, however, it's been a team effort. That's how it was against Jennings, who was a nonfactor against his former team.
That ability to take away the No. 1 receiver will be put to a big-time test against Chicago's Brandon Marshall on Monday night.
"Well, each game is a little bit different," cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said last week. "We went into the Baltimore game matching Sam on Torrey in nickel, and then we sort of got away with it when Davon went out and Tramon went back outside, so both of those guys did a good job (against Smith). The last game (against Cleveland), they just covered them well. Davon is starting to come into his own. He is challenging people. Sam is just playing outstanding. He's playing really good and Tramon has been solid. It's just a combination of we have matched Sam on some of those guy but when Tramon goes back outside, we let them play left and right, and they've done a nice job with it."
Seven games into the season, and the best-case scenario for Green Bay's kickoff-return unit is a touchback.
The Packers are averaging just 15.3 yards per kickoff return. Johnathan Franklin wound up getting benched on Sunday after foolishly running out a kickoff after Minnesota returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, then he changed his mind three or four times before deciding to take a kickoff out of the end zone at the end of the first half.
For the season, Green Bay is averaging 15.3 yards per kickoff return. That's last in the league — and it's not even close. Washington, with a 19.0-yard average, is the only other team in the league averaging less than 20.4 yards per return. And if that's not bad enough: Minnesota has the 31st-ranked coverage unit.
"I think it's time that we start generating some production in that area," special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said.
Green Bay's kickoff unit is the worst in the league, too — and it's not even close. Green Bay is allowing 32.3 yards per runback. Minnesota is next with a 27.7-yard average.
The Packers' units are at such extremes that their return unit is allowing 17.0 yards per return more than they're averaging.
In fairness, Green Bay ranks fourth in punt-return average (14.3) and 16th in punt-return average allowed (7.9), and Mason Crosby is 11th in field-goal percentage (89.5 percent).
"It's a challenge," Slocum said of dealing with injuries that have left his units without core players Jamari Lattimore, Robert Francois, Ryan Taylor and Jarrett Bush, though Bush returned vs. Minnesota. "That's what makes the job fun, that's what makes it interesting every week, and we've got a good football team. We're playing the games the right way and Chad (Morton) and I are charged with training these guys and giving them opportunity, giving them a game plan that's functional and for them to be able to play fast and play well. That'll continue to be the way we have to deal with it."
This is how we concluded this piece last week but it's worth repeating: It can't be overstated the work being done by the coaching staff, Aaron Rodgers, the guys in the trenches and the remaining veteran stars. The Packers have won four consecutive games with Clay Matthews missing the last three-plus games, James Jones essentially missing the last three games and Randall Cobb missing the last two-and-a-half games.
Yes, the Packers have had some good fortune. Calvin Johnson missed the Detroit game. Baltimore has no offense. Cleveland and Minnesota don't have a quarterback, and the Vikings don't have a defense. And Chicago will be without Jay Cutler on Monday night.
Still, that the Packers are winning games with Nate Palmer at outside linebacker rather than Matthews, with Myles White and Jarrett Boykin at receiver rather than Jones and Cobb, and with no passing-game impact from the tight ends playing for Jermichael Finley is stunning. If they can get past the Bears, there's every reason to believe they'll be 9-2 heading into the Thanksgiving game at Detroit. In fact, the record of Green Bay's remaining opponents is just 27-40 (.403).
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.