Packers Not Exactly Dominant In Season-Opening Win

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Kevin Kolb

Clay Matthews will remove your head now

Maybe it’s time to table the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl talk for a bit.

The defense, led by linebacker Clay Matthews, was the biggest reason the Packers were able to escape Philadelphia with a 27-20 win over the Eagles. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense wasn’t close to firing on all cylinders, but surprisingly, the special teams contributed to the season-opening win.

Here are our observations from the Packers’ victory over the Eagles.

Matthews was dominant with seven tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. He not only looks like he picked up where he left off last year, but looks like he could be even better. Matthews is a relentless playmaker, which is something the Packers haven’t had at the linebacker position in some time.

On the day, the Packers had five sacks and two forced fumbles, which is a good effort. In addition to Matthews, Cullen Jenkins, B.J. Raji and Frank Zombo registered sacks. Charles Woodson had the other forced fumble.

The special teams played better as a unit than it has in probably the past two seasons. Jordy Nelson looks like a legitimate kickoff returner, averaging 31 yards on five returns, with a long of 51. Tramon Williams was nothing special as a punt returner, and I still have to question why the Packers are exposing their starting cornerback on returns, but he didn’t make any mistakes. The Packers held the Eagles to averages of 23 yards per kickoff return and seven yards on punt returns. The Packers punting unit was especially impressive, considering DeSean Jackson is the Eagles punt returner. Punter Tim Masthay averaged a solid 41.5 yards gross and 38 yards net in his NFL debut. Mason Crosby was excellent, hitting both of his field goals and nailing a Packers-record 56-yarder in the process.

What wasn’t impressive was the Packers passing game. Rodgers’ timing and accuracy was off all game and he finished a shoddy 19-of-31 for 188 yards. He threw two touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions. Part of the reason for Rodgers’ sub-par game could have been the double and triple coverage the Eagles were throwing at tight end Jermichael Finley. We fully expect Rodgers to bounce back, but there’s no need to inscribe his name on the NFL MVP trophy just yet.

On the other hand, the Packers rushing attack was surprisingly good, even after starter Ryan Grant went down with a sprained ankle. Grant rushed for 45 yards on eight carries, a 5.6-yard average. Backup Brandon Jackson had 63 yards on 18 carries, a 3.5-yard average. Jackson would have had a higher average if not for some short late-game runs when the Packers were trying to run out the clock and the Eagles knew he would be getting the ball. Fullback John Kuhn also ran hard, with two runs for 15 yards and a touchdown.

Despite being solid in the run game, the Packers offensive line was less than in the passing game. The main problems were the two old men playing tackle. Mark Tauscher was overpowered in giving up two sacks and Chad Clifton also gave up a sack and got beat badly on a two-yard loss by Ryan Grant. Clifton and Tauscher simply looked old and slow. If they continue to play like this, it may be time to insert Bryan Bulaga and T.J. Lang in the starting lineup.

The Eagles weren’t able to effectively target rookie cornerback Sam Shields, who was the Packers nickel back, but Shields did get faked out badly on the Eagles only passing touchdown, a 17-yard pass from Michael Vick to Jeremy Maclin. Shields finished with three tackles.

Jarrett Bush continued to serve as the Packers dime back ahead of Pat Lee. He’ll be bumped from that role when Brandon Underwood returns from a shoulder injury.

Where was A.J. Hawk? Hawk was a non-factor in the game. He didn’t record any tackles and Brandon Chillar appeared to get most, if not all, of the reps at inside linebacker after Hawk started the game. Chillar finished with seven tackles.

The Packers are in first place. The Minnesota Vikings are in last. All is right with the world.

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About The Author

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.

15 Comments on "Packers Not Exactly Dominant In Season-Opening Win"

  1. Joey

    You expect the packers offense to be dominate in Philadelphia when Philadelphia is one of the hardest places to play. The One thing I took out of this game is that our questionable special teams came through in a big way and our questionable defense got 5 sacks. Vick Changed the game how many times are we going to play a guy like vick not much. When you have to keep a spy on vick it opens up their passing game a lot. As for Rodgers we know he has great skills and every single quarterback is going to have an off day just judging from one game is a little short sighted. Just like the Cardinals… The cardinals were a defensive team that took it to Brett Farve and Minnesota and We ganged like 423 yards. So dont give me this stuff that our offense isn’t a Juggernaut cause everybody knows it is.

  2. chitter

    Easy Joey.

    I want to comment on Mike ‘Big Head’ McNutty letting almost 30 seconds run off the clock before calling a timeout when the defense stopped the Eagles late in the first half.

    We stopped them and then proceeded to watch the clock move from 1:21 to inside the one minute mark before calling a time out.

    Was anyone else screaming at the television, “Time out! Time out!” Luckily for us Crosby bailed us out with a 56 yarder, but I want to know how the entire team and coaching staff falls asleep like that?

  3. Abe Frohman

    Hawk didn’t play because they were in nickel the whole game due to the loss of Harrell. They didn’t dress enough D Linemen. (I really don’t understand and don’t like the 45 active roster. Why make 8 guys sit every week? That’s just dumb)

    My thoughts were that we left a lot of yards on the table by having Grant out of the game. Jackson made some nice runs, but I think Grant would have gotten more out of some of those runs.

    I believe the reason Rodgers had a poor game is that it was raining and he had a hard time with his accuracy as a result. There was a critical miss to Jennings on 3rd down in (I think the 4th) where the announcers were saying it was because of the rush. I didn’t see that. I think he just missed it. Same thing with the second INT. He doesn’t miss that badly that often.

    The fact that we didn’t hear Shields name that often was awesome! I also didn’t hear Brad Jones name much at all, either – and that’s not awesome.

  4. jeremy

    So I wasn’t the only one screaming time out. Was anyone else laughing at Ried’s horrible clock management too?

    Let’s give the Eagle’s D some credit.

    -They ran a lot of pressures the Packers have not seen much. They had Rodgers flustered from the start of the game. Apparently Rodgers facemask is not included in the NFL’s facemask rule.

    -Wells missed a lot, and I mean a lot of line calls. If he had checked better there would been fewer guys running free at Rodgers.

    -Trent Cole is an All-pro entering the prime of his career. If I was building a 4-3 defense, I would take him over Jared Allen. McCarthy made his classic blunder by not giving Clifton help to start the game, and then rolling it back as the offense opened up. I don’t know why he doesn’t start games off chipping and running at pass rushing RDE’s. It’s something he’s failed to do since he got here. Sean Payton did it on Thursday and Allen was a non factor. After he got pancaked by Carl Nicks a few times, he did not tee off on the QB anymore.

    • jeremy

      Bedard is saying it’s at least a two week sprain, but thankfully just a sprain. Seeing the Chiefs are up next I would expect Grant to sit a week to heal up.

      Was anyone else curious as to the absence of a cart to help injured players get off the field? Why were these guys forced to walk off of the field, with their faces grimacing in pain?

      • Abe Frohman

        the site of Grant hopping to the locker room made me cringe. I kept thinking “I hope his cleats don’t slip on the concrete.”

  5. Cody

    Jeremy, we have the Bills next week, but no harm cause they’re both turrible haha! And yeah I was wondering the same thing, two major ACL tears and a couple concussions and it seemed like there wasn’t even a medical staff within 100 miles! They were probably too busy pumping the stomachs of retarded Eagles fans throughout the stands…

    • jeremy

      Maybe the Eagles fans stole the batteries out of the cart so they would have something to throw at passers by.

  6. Shawn iltarion

    Great point made about the fact there was no cart to take injured players off the field. Some liquored Philly fan was probably riding it around the parking lot with 4 rent-a-cops in his wake; meanwhile, Philly players are getting their legs bent backwards and then having to be carried off the field in agony, and Ryan Grant is having to kangaroo it to the locker room.

    Maybe if we had 3 refs in the backfield, they would catch it when A-Rodge is tackled by his facemask. Maybe.

    Very surprising strategy to pay less attention to the Packers’ proven weapons in Jennings and Driver and instead concentrate on taking Finley out of the game. I wonder if more teams will do the same. Seems even more risky to me than worrying about our WRs and conceding Finley some catches. I was calling all game for us to take a shot down the sideline. We finally did so, and it resulted in the game winning TD.

    Are we questioning our passing game? Really? Get real. If Philly can keep getting that kind of pressure from their ends, they will be a decent defense for anyone to contend with. Our offense scored 27 points in a lackluster performance. If anything, we should be encouraged. 27 points, on the road, in the rain, in front of 70,000 fans just let out of prison, in the first week of the season. If that truly is “a terrible game” for A-Rodge, then we are in pretty good shape. By the way, New Orleans, Minnesota, and Dallas scored 30 points. COMBINED.

    Everyone can slow down with the Mike Vick raves. The Packers did not game plan for him, and secondly, the Packers were nursing at least a two score lead during every single successful drive Vick had. The ONE drive when it was a one score game, he got STUFFED.

    All that matters in September is the W or the L. Come January, it won’t matter HOW it happened.

    • jeremy

      Let’s not underestimate Trent Cole. He’s one of the best 4-3 DE’s in football right now, and he’s on the upswing of his career.

    • RayV#7

      Good point iltarion, we played against a really good Eagles team, as they have good players on both sides of the ball. Many think that the Packers didnt live up to their potent offense, but i guess they didnt watch the game because Grant was out. I think having Grant in the backfield really keeps our offense multidimensional, but having him gone really forced us to pass the ball more. And the conditions werent right either as it was raining. and yea, scoring 27 points on a good defense with a so-so offense is really good. Just hope the Packers defense doesnt meltdown against elite QBs again.

  7. Vijay

    Can McCarthy please stop being conservative with play calls in the 2nd half?…This is an issue we had last year which can and has cost us games in the past (nearly this one as well). This is a pass first offense whether Rodgers is having his best game or not we still need to pass to set up our run game. Too many punts and not enough first downs to keep our Defense off of the field 2nd half.

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