Packer Update

Review: Packers vs. Eagles

Nelson's two long kick returns provided a much-needed spark in the second half

PHILADELPHIA — The Packers escaped the City of Brotherly love with a gutsy 27-20 victory. It wasn’t pretty, but any win on the road is impressive – especially when you consider that quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a rare off day and the defense was forced to play most of the game with just two healthy linemen. Here’s a position-by-position review:

Quarterback – After a nearly perfect preseason, Rodgers struggled against Philly. He wasn’t helped by shaky protection, but many of his troubles were self-inflicted. He made some bad throws and some even worse decisions. The good news is that Rodgers may not play this poorly again. The even better news is that the Packers still found a way to win.

Running backsRyan Grant‘s sprained ankle looked pretty bad. It’s hard to imagine him not missing at least a few weeks. Brandon Jackson did a solid job in his place. He ran hard, protected the ball and kept defenders away from Rodgers on third down. Jackson will need to make the Bills pay next Sunday if they only keep seven in the box (which they will). John Kuhn ran hard – as always – from the fullback position, but his lack of quickness will be a problem if he has to play some halfback next week.

Tight ends – There’s little doubt that Jermichael Finley is the receiver every defensive coordinator will game plan to shut down. Sean McDermott and the Eagles did about as good a job as possible by mixing coverages and being very physical. Still, the budding star caught 4 passes for 47 yards – not bad for an off day. Tom Crabtree played quite a bit and did OK as a blocker. He should be much more effective once the cast comes off his injured wrist.

Wide receiversGreg Jennings‘ spectacular one-handed catch on third-and-8 led to Green Bay’s first touchdown of the season. He’s as smooth as they come. Donald Driver caught five passes and scored a short touchdown, but he had some trouble getting separation down the field. The four talented wide receivers combined for only 129 yards – a total that in many weeks is achieved by halftime.

Offensive linemen – Things settled down a bit after a rough start, but this group has to play better. The veteran tackles looked old at times. Mark Tauscher‘s below-average performance is especially concerning because he was going up against a journeyman (Juqua Parker) and a rookie (Brandon Graham). At least Chad Clifton‘s struggles came against a Pro Bowler (Trent Cole). The interior guys were generally solid – although Daryn Colledge had his perfunctory two or three head-scratching plays.

Defensive linemen – Give B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett all the credit in the world. The big guys were forced to play way too much after Justin Harrell and Cullen Jenkins got hurt. Both were gassed in the fourth quarter, but they never stopped working. Jenkins also deserves a pat on the back. He played the final 45 minutes with a cast on his fractured left hand. It remains to be seen how effective he’ll be going forward. He should still be able to provide pressure, but getting the QB to the ground will be much more difficult. Green Bay will have to add a player at this position. Jarvis Green and Damione Lewis are out there.

Linebackers – Give Dom Capers credit for moving Clay Matthews all over the place. The Eagles had a difficult time locating the Pro Bowler, and even when they did, they couldn’t block him. Matthews is extremely athletic and unbelievably relentless – two traits that will keep offensive coordinators up at night. Brad Jones didn’t have much success rushing against Jason Peters. Whether that’s a harbinger of things to come remains to be seen. An optimist will say that Jones was rusty after missing most of training camp. A pessimist will say that he’s simply not talented enough to beat quality left tackles. Brandon Chillar and Nick Barnett were active and rookie Frank Zombo recorded a sack when the Birds forgot to block him.

Defensive backsTramon Williams played very well. He looked like a solid starting cornerback. Sam Shields wasn’t a liability in the nickel, but that had more to do with the circumstances than his actual performance. The undrafted free agent had all kinds of trouble in coverage. Fortunately, a nervous Kevin Kolb couldn’t take advantage and Mike Vick was more interested in running the ball than throwing it downfield. Morgan Burnett also benefitted from playing against Kolb and Vick. The rookie from Georgia Tech wasn’t really challenged in his pro debut. Charles Woodson‘s forced fumble in the third quarter was a huge play.

SpecialistsMason Crosby‘s 56-yard field goal would’ve been good from 65. He was on fire at the end of training camp and the rain in Philly didn’t cool him off. Perhaps this will be the season that Crosby blossoms into one of the league’s best kickers. Tim Masthay‘s poor final punt marred an otherwise solid debut. Jordy Nelson took advantage of unusually good blocking to average over 30 yards on five kick returns. In fact, the blocking was so good that a more explosive returner might’ve scored a pair of touchdowns. The coverage units also performed well. For one of the few times in recent memeory, the special teams actually helped the team win.

Etc. – Why in the world did Mike McCarthy wait an extra 20 seconds before calling a time out late in the first half? His gaffe cost the offense a chance to go for a TD… McCarthy got extremely conservative in the fourth quarter. With a great quarterback and so many quality receivers, it just doesn’t make sense to rely on a backup running back when the game is on the line… Green Bay had only seven offensive linemen on the active roster. With T.J. Lang not dressed, rookie Bryan Bulaga was apparently the backup right tackle… A.J. Hawk didn’t break a sweat because the Packers were in nickel all game. This won’t be the only week when the former fifth overall pick in the draft does a lot more sitting than running.

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21 Comments to "Review: Packers vs. Eagles"

  1. 400metres says:

    “Why in the world did Mike McCarthy wait an extra 20 seconds before calling a time out late in the first half? His gaffe cost the offense a chance to go for a TD…”

    Yep. This was driving my dad and I crazy. The only solace one can take from this error-plagued performance is that despite the mistakes they were still good enough to beat a quality opponent on the road.

    Oh, and Clay Matthews was easily the MVP. Wow. Just wow.

  2. lars says:

    Um yea, let’s not give Jordy ANY credit for averaging over 30 yards per KR; that would contradict the “sign a damn KR, Ted” thread. Meanwhile, the KR Smith, whom Ted didn’t sign sucked for Miami.

    AJ Hawk = a very expensive spare part.

    Dressing too few OLinemen and DLinemen is going to cost McCarthy if he keeps it up.

  3. DaveK says:

    What’s the status on Neal? He was inactive this week. His return would really help.

    And, was the Harrell making a nice play before he got hurt? I swear I saw #91 early in the game collapsing the pocket. Next thing I know he done for the year with a ACL injury. Feel real bad for the guy.

    • Michael Rodney says:

      MM said he’s not sure about Neal for this week, but reading between the lines, it doesn’t sound promising.

  4. P@cK Att@ck says:

    On Aaron Rodgers worst day he’s still better than most Qb in the league. CM3 is a beast he cannot be stoped. Jordy kept the offense scoring with his returns. This game was too close for comfort

    • nerdmann says:

      We knocked out their starting QB and if the backup was anyone else in the league, we’d have knocked him out too.

  5. Clay Matthews plays with the pride and power his Dad and Uncle did in the past. He is hell-bent on upholding the honor of his name. What a sign up he was, mostly thanks to Kevin Greene who lobbied for him. And his sacks, while exciting, are not his most valuable contribution. His play also excites his mates who try to out-do him. (Or at least try to keep up). There will be two blockers on him all season. But no one will stop him with regularity. His counterpart on the O is TGI Finley.

  6. P@cK Att@ck says:

    With grant going down will ted finally trade for marshawn lynch?

  7. John Runkel says:

    Give i up for Clay…he is an animal…if the Pack had one more L-backer or D-lineman like him….wow….talk about shutdown defense…Go Clay…Go Pack….

  8. Archie says:

    Pack needs to continue building its defense and OLine for the next couple of years to get to the point where most fans want to believe they are currently at. That will be after 8 years of drafting by TT. Wish somebody would give me 8 years, $8 MM salary and unlimited budget to rebuild a franchise. In six drafts, Ted has had nearly 50 picks at 4th rd or lower. How many of those picks are currently staring for the Pack?

    Defense = one = Brad Jones
    Offense = one = Josh Sitton
    Special Teams = one = Mason Crosby

    Hmmm…..three out of 50?! (I think throwing darts at a dartboard would yield better results.) So why is it TT thinks these picks are so valuable that he trades down from 1, 2 and 3 to stockpile ‘em? Go get Marshawn Lynch for chrissakes. Give up a D4, D5 and AJ Hawk.

    • 400metres says:

      Archie – I get your point and it’s well taken, but c’mon, you’ve left off your list Josh Sitton, a 4th rounder from 2007′s draft who the last time I checked is our starting RG and Brad Jones, a 2009 7th round pick who is one of our starting OLBs. Plus you can’t just ignore Johnny Jolly, a 6th round pick from 2006 who would certainly be starting today if he wasn’t such a dickhead.

      Plus you’re dismissive attitude toward lower round draft picks is undercut by the fact that most of the depth on this team is populated by guys drafted in the 4th round or lower. These players may not be starters, but they are essential to any team surviving the long slog of an NFL season. For instance:

      - Brady Poppinga (4th rd. 2005)
      - Dez Bishop (6th rd. 2007)
      - Brett Swain (7th rd. 2008)
      - Matt Flynn (7th rd. 2008)
      - Brandon Underwood (6th rd. 2009)
      - Jarius Wynn (6th rd. 2009)
      - Quinn Johnson (5th rd. 2009)

      Not to mention Jamon Meredith, a 5th rounder from 2009′s draft, who is the second-string RT for today’s opponent, the Buffalo Bills. Or how about DeShawn Wynn, picked in the 7th round of the 2007 draft, who is the 3rd string RB for the Saints?

      Generally I’d totally agree with you, but with Thompson’s skill at finding solid contributors in the lower rounds of the draft, I can understand his hesitation to part with those picks for some veteran who has his own uneven history.

    • cocoman says:

      Bob McGinn just wrote an article that says the Packers have inquired on multiple occasions about Lynch but the Bill’s don’t want to move him. He also points out that Lynch has one strike in the substance abuse program and another strike means an 8 week suspension. It’s his opinion that the Bill’s would have no interest in Hawk and that if for some reason they changed their minds about Lynch, it would likely take a 2 to get him.

      I don’t doubt the Packer’s consider Hawk & a 4th; However, I don’t think the Bill’s would.

  9. Charlie says:

    Is it me, or is this the last thing entered? It’s now the morning of the 24th

  10. dhoward says:

    Bueller?… Bueller?… Bueller?

  11. Scottm says:

    If you are going to have a site, you might try putting some news on it…..take it serious or take it down.

  12. Wellingstone says:

    This is one of my favorite places to get Packers news….disappointing there hasn’t been any updates for weeks now.

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