Green Bay Packers Week 4 Grades: Several Issues Still Loom for Mike McCarthy
Looking back at past years, Mike McCarthy has always earned himself the title of respect following each season.
Although he hasn't led Green Bay to the promise land just yet and delivered every cheesehead their slice of the cake, his firm hand in the team has always been appreciated by Packer faithfuls, especially when it came to the Brett Favre out, Aaron Rodgers in decision two years ago.
But for all of Mike McCarthy's well timed decision making and excellent coaching calls in the past four years as Packers coach, the recent two week stretch has managed to shine an awkward light on the leading man, following a very sluggish and unexpected start to the regular season.
As it stands right now, the Packers are still in prime position for the playoffs with a 3-1 record in hand, and a tied position atop the NFC North division. However, the same can't be said for the teams overall performance, considering that many factors still standout in terms of problems and issues this team must overcome.
Following today's game, I logged onto my Twitter account and was flooded with Packer fan opinions, many of which were quite bad. Therefore, here's a quick look at the Packers Week 4 report card, with grades on every position following Green Bay's close encounter with the Detroit Lions.
Aaron Rodgers was by far one of the few shining lights to come from the game on Sunday. His 181-yard effort was typical of a passer of his ability, and with 3 highly impressive bullet passes to the likes of Jermichael Finley, Greg Jennings, and Donald Driver, Rodgers had to be happy with his overall performance.
Unfortunately, the one piece of bad news to come from Rodgers' play was the fact that he did throw two interceptions. Last season it was rare to see Rodgers make these mistakes, but now it is slowly but surely becoming a factor. To top it off, two sacks were felt on the day, and Rodgers himself stated that the Packer offense needs to get back into rhythm.
Running Backs: F
Once again Green Bay's run game was dismal. Given that Ndamukong Suh was on the opposite side of the field, the Packers run game in Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn was once again very disappointing.
At the end of the day the two backs failed to break the 40-yard mark. Not only is this a concern for the future, it is also a remaining contributor to the fact that Green Bay are struggling in the stretch to close out games.
During times Jackson and Kuhn looked set to break out, but the Lions defense managed to contain them. This issue is the most prevalent on the Packer roster right now, and although a run game doesn't automatically equal a Super Bowl ring, it sure would be nice to see some feet moving in the future.
Wide Receivers: A-
As already mentioned, Donald Driver and Greg Jennings both managed to post points on the board against the Detroit Lions, in quite an impressive fashion. For the most part, a big day wasn't had by the Green Bay receivers, yet at the same time the dominant duo managed to win the game for Green Bay in the early going.
Chances are the Packers receiving corps will never slip lower than an A grade. Even if Donald Driver and Greg Jennings are getting a little long in the tooth, James Jones and Jordy Nelson are still good for yards.
A very positive day was had by the Packers receivers, and seeing as though Donald Driver racked up 89 yards and a score, it's fair to say that Green Bay still have the best receivers in all of football.
Tight End: A
It's tough to argue with Jermichael Finley right now. Not only did he say himself on his own Twitter account that his "hands should be illegal," the Packer tight end has lived up to every bit of expectation this season, managing to play for 301 yards and a touchdown on the year.
Against the Detroit Lions Jermichael Finley managed to catch an almost impossible pass for a score, on his way to 36 yards on the day. Sure, it could be said that he didn't have a huge impact, but he acted as one of the main targets for Aaron Rodgers, particularly in the early going.
An easy grade for a great tight end, that continues to develop at a very fast rate.
Offensive Line: B-
For once, the Packer offensive line hasn't been the talking point recently. Given that much of Green Bay's high penalty rate last week against Chicago came from tackles, against Detroit, Green Bay managed to hold up quite nicely.
By looking at Aaron Rodgers' stats, it's easy to see why the offensive line only gets a B- here. With two sacks to No. 12, the line was steady, but could have been a little better. With that in mind though, the force of Ndamukong Suh was directly across, and the fact that the Packers managed to limit him to only one sack tells the story on the day.
Much work is still ahead for Green Bay's questionably wobbly offensive line, but at least Rodgers has stayed off the turf a little less in comparison to last season.
Defensive Line: B+
Green Bay aren't well known for their defensive line dominance, but that isn't to say that the Packers can't post a few sacks against a struggling team.
In all realism, Green Bay's force on defense mainly came from corners and linebackers. Yet at the same time, quarterback Shaun Hill was sacked three times. I guess the most impressive sign from the Packer defensive line was the fact that most guys stayed out of trouble, and continued to push.
No silly penalties were given away, so a solid grade is awarded to the Packer line, that also managed to contain the injured Jahvid Best to only 50 yards on the day.
For all of Clay Matthews' dominance in the past four weeks, he failed to wreak havoc on a fairly young offense, only recording 1 sack on the day. As for the other Packer linebackers, AJ Hawk no doubt was one of the few defensive stars for Green Bay, having finished the game with a number of big time tackles and a crucial interception.
And what was disappointing about the Packer linebacker corp? Personally, Nick Barnett's slow start to the season has been discouraging. With no sacks to his name and only 24 tackles, it appears that Barnett is content with allowing Clay Matthews and AJ Hawk to do most of the work.
But hey, whatever works, right?
Since the loss of Al Harris and Atari Bigby for six weeks, the Packers have slowly but surely began to struggle a little. Firstly, 2009 Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson has become prone to committing a few pass interference calls, something that is highly unlike the defensive star.
Secondly, Detroit Lions standout wide receiver Calvin Johnson punished the Packer cornerbacks, recording two touchdowns and 86 yards on the day.
When it was all said and done, much of Detroit's revival in the game was due to the Packers lack of coverage. It has so far been a problem that has been building, and now that Morgan Burnett is hurt, further issues pop up for Mike McCarthy.
The 3-4 scheme has worked wonders for Green Bay thus far, but the lack of depth at the cornerback position has cost Green Bay long term in close games. It appears that Charles Woodson is the only real playmaker right now other than Clay Matthews, and unless Jarret Bush or Nick Collins make a miraculous turn around, it will most likely stay that way.
Special Teams: D-
If there was anything more disappointing coming out of Lambeau Field, I haven't found it. From a promising special teams unit, to one of the most problem riddled area's for Green Bay, the Packers special team has struggled to make par recently.
When Jordy Nelson fumbled a crucial kick return late in the forth quarter, Lambeau Field was stunned. Detroit was then let back into the game even further, and the lack of ball control was certainly highlighted.
To top it all off, Green Bay's punting and kicking has been average. As much as it wasn't a problem against Detroit, Devin Hester successfully exposed Green Bay's coverage, and has now highlighted a serious issue.
Overall Team Grade: B+
The Packers are still gliding along at a steady rate, but the amount of problems that this team still has to overcome is immense, especially for a team that was deemed a Super Bowl caliber team this season.
On offense, just about everything is solid other than the run game and penalties, but the true issues stem from the cornerback position and special teams. A ton of time is left in the season for Mike McCarthy to correct this, but the Packers got a very confrontational scare against Detroit this past Sunday.
Ryan Cook is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also an NFL columnist for Real Sports Net and a Green Bay Packers writer for Fan Huddle and PackerChatters. Ryan is also a contributing writer for Detroit Lions Talk, Gack Sports and Generation Y Sports. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.
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