Packers Offense Soars, Defense Struggles
The Green Bay Packers started slow, at one point trailing 6-0, but after an electrifying second quarter touchdown catch by Greg Jennings, there was no looking back for the Green Bay offense.
Aaron Rodgers continued his hot streak and the Packers defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-16.
As I pointed out in my prediction, 49ers coach Mike Singletary is a joke. He and his staff were outmatched and couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities afforded his team. There were more special teams miscues by Green Bay, giving San Francisco great field position for their first few drives, yet they could only come away with six points.
We should be hesitant to give a lot of credit to the defense. They seemed tentative. Facing a relatively inexperienced quarterback in Troy Smith, I expected defensive coordinator Dom Capers to let the dogs loose, but they didn’t play with a lot of aggression. For the third week in a row, Clay Matthews was rendered an afterthought. Overall, the Packers generated very little pressure. Smith had time to throw and his receivers got open. Tight end Vernon Davis’ 66-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter resulted from an alarming lapse in coverage. Luckily for the Packers, Smith is wildly inaccurate and his receivers also like to drop balls. If the 49ers connected on more of those deep throws, the outcome of the game might have been different.
There were some encouraging developments on offense. For starters, how about rookie running back James Starks, who racked up 76 rushing yards in his debut? Impressive for a late-round rookie who hasn’t played ball in two years. Starks shows a knack for hitting the holes decisively. He has the speed to make the quick cuts and the size to push through the initial contact. Mike McCarthy and Green Bay may have something with this kid. With Starks operating as the featured back, Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn were much more effective in their roles — third-down receiving back and short-yardage bulldozer, respectively.
With a semi-competent ground game in effect, the passing game only opened up more. Rodgers, Jennings and Donald Driver took full advantage of it with devastating consequences for San Francisco. The cagy veteran Driver came up with what might be the most impressive play of his career — a 61-yard catch where he ran the final 30 yards, dodging, weaving, ducking and driving through one tackle after another. Driver’s gritty, whirling run after the catch instantly demanded a second viewing on the DVR. It was especially impressive when you consider his age and the injuries he’s been fighting through in recent weeks.
Perhaps more impressive was the continued stellar play of Rodgers and Jennings, who have been on a tear the last few weeks. Rodgers was 21-of-30 for 298 yards and three touchdowns. Jennings hauled in two of those touchdowns on his way to 122 yards receiving on six catches.
Over the last four games, Rodgers has thrown for over 1,200 yards, 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. Last week, this blog asked if it’s time to include Aaron Rodgers in the MVP discussion. I’d say he’s earned the right to be included and if he continues on his current pace, no one can argue.
Next week, Green Bay will travel to Detroit to face the scrappy yet inconsistent and injured Detroit Lions.
Steffen grew up in Milwaukee, Bowler and Neenah Wisconsin. He is a UW-Stevens Point grad and currently works as a television producer in Los Angeles.