If the world needed to know what the problems were in Green Bay, Monday night's game should have answered that question.
But the real question, where does one begin when dissecting the problems with the Packers? The porous offensive line? The lack of a pass rush? The unpolished pass routes? The coaching?
Minnesota fans will point to Brett Favre and say that he "did in" the Packers. While that may be partly true, the Packers held their own for most of the game. The game wasn't a blowout, and had the Packers not had meltdowns at critical times, the outcome might have been quite different Monday night. What happened to the Green Bay Packers was more of their own doing.
The decision was made to sit offensive lineman Chad Clifton because of his ankle. Daryn Colledge started in his place, but only lasted until the fourth quarter. Colledge was then replaced by T.J. Lang. Those two players gave up 4.5 sacks to Jared Allen, the one-man Viking wrecking crew. Coupled with the rest of the Packers offensive line, Aaron Rodgers ended up being sacked 8 times Monday night. Brett Favre – zero sacks.
Coach Mike McCarthy, when answering questions about the 20 sacks given up so far this season, says "It's obviously an issue, it's gone on for four weeks. You can't play this way. We're playing way too up and down and it's hurting us because of the big plays we're able to generate. We're too much a big-little offense right now." How's that for coach-speak!
After 4 weeks of football, you'd think that some answers to the offensive line woes would have begun to emerge. Let's hope that the bye week allows the Packer coaches to implement some more major fixes.
As for the other side of the ball, Dom Capers defense was good, but not great. Effective yet stolid.
The Packers defense shut down running back Adrian Peterson (55 yards on 25 carries), but Brett Favre tore up the secondary (24 of 31 for 271 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and 0 sacks for a 135.3 rating). That's the best rating Favre has had in his four regular season games with Minnesota.
It was the lack of a pass rush that allowed the soon-to-be 40 year-old quarterback to find receivers and make plays. There was one play in the third quarter where Favre had 7 seconds to jog around the backfield and do two pump fakes before finding an open receiver and hitting him in stride for a 25 yard gain. That is totally unacceptable.
Packers cornerback Charles Woodson says, "He's been doing that (finding receivers) for a hundred years – he's not going to miss those plays, it don't take a rocket scientist to point out that if a quarterback, especially a quarterback who has seen absolutely everything, he's going to find it. If you're not moving him around in that pocket, if you're not putting pressure on him, a long day is where you're headed."
Packers linebacker Nick Barnett says, "I thought he was very composed back there and made some plays. He exploited us on some mental errors we made. He was able to see them and kept his composure back there."
The question in my mind, why the heck was former defensive end and now linebacker Aaron Kampman being dropped into pass defense instead of pass rushing? The coaches kept bull rushing the front three of Ryan Pickett, Johnny Jolly, and Cullen Jenkins against 5 to 6 Minnesota defenders. The result, no one got close enough to take a picture of Favre, let alone sack or hurry him.
At least rookie Clay Matthews was able to infuse some life into the run defense when he stripped the ball from Adrian Peterson and ran it back for a touchdown.
As for the Packers offense, Aaron Rodgers was 26 out of 37 with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception for a career-high 384 yards and posting a 110.6 QB rating. "It was more what we didn't do," quarterback Aaron Rodgers says, "we had the ball down inside the 10 and weren't able to score. Had it twice (other times) on their side. I think we moved the ball pretty well, we just didn't cap off those three drives and lost by seven."
The one interception of Rodgers can be pinned on receiver Greg Jennings unpolished pass route. Instead of a crisp cut to the sidelines, he rounded off the route which allowed cornerback Antoine Winfield to jump in front of Rodgers' spot pass, intercepting the ball, thus killing a great drive.
"We made way too many mistakes this evening," Head Coach Mike McCarthy says, "you have a hard time beating any football team let alone that football team."
If Brett Favre's motivation was to beat Ted Thompson, then the job is done. But Brett will have to stand in a long line to let Ted know just how he feels. Letting Brett Favre go, they can deal with that. But Packer fans are more irate that Thompson chose not to address the offensive line concerns that carried over from last year when the Packers were 6 and 10. That is paramount to the problems here in Green Bay, not which quarterback is here.
The Packers proved last night that they are good enough to beat Minnesota on Minnesota's home field. If they would have finished those 3 drives, we'd all be talking a different story today. In the end, the Packers lost by seven, but the Monday Night Football crowd witnessed what it’s like to be a Packer fan in a hostile world, and found that they could have pulled it off. Now that would have been a story!
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