Clay Matthews Leads the Pack Attack: The Good, Bad and Ugly of Week 2
As most pundits predicted, Green Bay got their home season underway with a win against a distinctly average Buffalo outfit. Clay Matthews continued his personal crusade to be the Defensive MVP for this season with three sacks, Aaron Rodgers passed for 255 yards and rushed for a TD, rookie Morgan Burnett had his first career interception and Jermichael Finley went for his first 100 yard game of the season. In spite of all this the running game on both sides of the ball was a disappointment and the offense in general still looks shaky.
Here then is a more detailed breakdown of the week two clash at Lambeau field, good, bad and indeed ugly.
Clay Matthews: I suspect this guy is going to be a permanent fixture in this section this year, he was just relentless. As well as three sacks he had a couple more hits on Trent Edwards and arguably forced the first interception by closing down Steve Johnson like a blond-haired freight train.
Jermichael Finley: The thing about Finley is that he creates such a mismatch as to give defensive co-ordinators all sorts of headaches. He was constantly open in the course of gaining 103 yards, and the problem of containing him was illustrated perfectly in the first quarter when he made a gain of roughly fifteen yards when Chris Kelsay who's a converted DE, was left one-on-one in the open and Finley absolutely left him for dead.
Rodgers' Protection: Yes it's only the Bills and granted they are a putrid football team, but so was Tampa last year and the Pack's O-line was utterly woeful. Special mention at this point that Bryan Bulaga was subbed in for Chad Clifton in the second half and other than one penalty - which was a false start - did a solid job.
Donald Driver: The evergreen receiver seems to have gotten his mojo back, there were mutterings about a number of drops and fumbles that seemed to indicate he may be feeling his age, not so as he caught 4 passes including a TD and shows no sign of letting up.
The Run Defense: Yes Lynch ended up with a mediocre 3.9 YPC but he got momentum and be it a lack of depth on the D-line, missed tackles or good blocking - the Pack seemed to be out of ideas. I'm not ready to call this a chronic problem, but as I wrote in last week's review, Mike Neal can't get healthy soon enough.
The Run Game: Again I'm not willing to panic yet. But Brandon Jackson has to step up and make enough of an impact to keep defenses honest. John Kuhn was once again solid and Dimitri Nance only had two carries but there was nothing to write home about. As much of the blame in my view comes down to the offensive line who apart from one play by Kuhn in the fourth quarter seemed unable to give any holes of the kind that Grant was running through prior to his injury.
McCarthy: 'In Coach McCarthy We Trust', read a banner shown on the coverage of the game. All I'm gonna say is, 'Oh all right if we really must'. The horrid call to throw the challenge flag in the first quarter where replays clearly showed there was no chance of a reversal was just daft, he also gave very little help to Brandon Jackson. On the first running play, Jackson rushed for about five or six yards - he was immediately subbed out for Kuhn. I'm sorry but as Marshawn Lynch showed, rushing is all about momentum, McCarthy gave no opportunity for Jackson to get any.
The Second Quarter: Just Plain Dreadful. What was most disappointing was that they let all the momentum of a good first fifteen minutes drain away. Yes I know we won by eventually a large margin, but do you really expect the same thing to happen if the Pack go into a similar malaise against the Bears next week? Better sides than the Bills will punish Green Bay and maybe terminally.
The Packers still seem to be playing mediocre in particular on offense, but they're 2-0 and in good shape for the most part. AJ Hawk was back and tied the team lead for tackles with 9, he also brought a certain degree of certain degree of heat on Trent Edwards.
Here's the thing with Hawk, so many people seem to want him traded. Regardless of who for, let me put this thought to those people. You trade Hawk - fine. What do you then do if Nick Barnett does his knee tomorrow? Is a new starting combo of Bradon Chillar and 'Mr August' Desmond Bishop really good enough to get it done at this level with any kind of reliability?
Thought not. Wait until he leaves in free agency.
One last thing on the left tackle situation - if Clifton was benched in the second half down to relatively poor play, then does that mean that Bryan Bulaga has a sniff of a start against Chicago on Monday?
One last last thing: The first defensive play, Marshawn Lynch was tackled by AJ Hawk - now that is irony.
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