The 2o13 Green Bay Packers are more closely resembling the 2011 Packers than the 2012 Packers so far this season.
On Sunday they did what they needed to do in rolling over the Washington Redskins.
1st Quarter – 8:02 In a grand departure from last week, the Packers open the game with a 14-play, 70-yard drive that takes up nearly seven minutes of the first quarter.
On 3rd and 1 from the Green Bay 29, Aaron Rodgers gets plenty of time and finds Randall Cobb on the deep out from the slot for 21 yards.
Two plays later a give to Eddie Lacy from the shotgun gets 10 yards, but while safety Bacarri Rambo tied up Lacy’s legs, his counterpart, Brandon Meriweather, launched himself helmet-first into Lacy, catching him in the earhole.
The NFL talks about the safety of the players, and yet, a joker like this is able to celebrate knocking out a player without even drawing a flag. I fully expect the Packers to get a message from the league for the second week in a row admitting that a mistake had been made. For which, I’m sure the Packers will be as relieved as the Badgers.
Anyway, Meriweather would get his, and the Packers would get theirs, using short passes to advance to the 9. James Jones has already been busy, and the Redskins are playing off the receivers, apparently concerned with matching their undersized corners against the bigger Packers receivers.
The drive would come to a crashing end with back-to-back sacks by outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. Kerrigan would get the first by beating Don Barclay with a stick move similar to the one Bruce Irvin beat Bryan Bulaga with last season, and he would get the second off a stunt that Evan Dietrich-Smith was slow to react to.
From there the Packers would do well to make it back to the 10, when Rodgers found Jermichael Finley on a designed screen. Mason Crosby would make the 28-yard field goal to give the Packers the 3-0 lead.
1st Q – 6:03 Still mostly concerned with the run, the Packers would start in the base defense once again. On their first play, the Redskins would use the same tactic favored by the 49ers and go five wide, forcing the Packers to put their outside linebackers in coverage. Clay Matthews loses track of Leonard Hankerson for an easy 14-yard gain.
The Redskins would be in position for another first down when Alfred Morris would take his first carry for 6 yards around Nick Perry’s end. However, on 2nd and 4, Brad Jones would elude the left guard, shoot the gap and stuff Morris for no gain.
On 3rd and 4, the Packers would blitz Jones. He would steamroll right over Roy Helu and pressure Robert Griffin III into throwing off balance and early across the middle. Punt.
1st Q – 4:03 The Packers would respond with a quick three and out. On first down the Redskins blitzed off the slot. This is probably more poor communication than poor blocking. Barclay and T.J. Lang are unaware of the blitz and just block the defensive end in front of them. Rodgers sees the blitzer coming free and tries to escape to his left, and he runs right into Brian Orakpo for a 12-yard loss.
1st Q – 3:08 A 51-yard Tim Masthay punt and a Redskins penalty would force them to start at the 7-yard line near the south end zone, which is now the loudest part of the field. The Packers defense would do exactly what you want and set up the offense by forcing a three and out.
After Ryan Pickett knocked down a pass to make it 3rd and 7, the Packers blitzed six, including Micah Hyde from the slot and both inside linebackers. Hyde and Mike Neal would meet at Griffin, who would throw it out of bounds. Punt.
1st Q – 2:25 The Packers would take advantage of the short field with a 4-play, 42-yard drive for a TD, which was mostly the work of a 35-yard TD play.
The Packers would nearly squander the field position when Rodgers and James Starks failed to connect on 3rd and 3. However, Mike McCarthy would go for it, and Rodgers and Cobb would reward his confidence. The Packers would go four wide with Finley and Jones both split wide left. Jones would come in motion and run interference for Cobb. Rodgers gets enough time and finds Cobb as he clears Jones and finds a seam. Cobb turned upfield and ran untouched for a 35-yard touchdown. It is now 10-0 Packers.
2nd Q – 14:50 The Redskins would momentarily have some life when on their first play of scrimmage during the next series, they would run a simple receiver screen to Pierre Garcon that would go for 44 yards, down to the Green Bay 36.
The play blew open when Hyde got buried so bad by a left tackle Trent Williams, that Williams was able to continue on downfield and block M.D. Jennings.
The Redskins would go nowhere from there. A Morris stretch play to the right would get snuffed by Mike Daniels and Clay Matthews for a loss of one. On second down, Griffin would turn the wrong way and was lucky to avoid another loss. He wasn’t able to avoid getting some extra business from B.J. Raji on the bottom of the pile, as there is no question that two games into this year the Packers defense is playing with a little junkyard dog in them.
On third down, Griffin would try a screen to Roy Helu at the far sideline. Tramon Williams gets upfield before the blockers can screen him off and forces the play out of bounds after a 2-yard gain. After toying with the idea of going for it on fourth down, the Redskins would decide to punt it.
2nd Q – 11:45 The Packers stick with a mix of no huddle and regular shotgun offense to go 75 yards in 8 plays and take firm control of the game at 17-0.
On the second play of the drive, James Starks gets the left edge off a nice combination block from Finley and Sitton. He rumbles up the sideline, running over two Redskins on his way to 20 yards. The second victim of his rumble is none other than Brandon Meriweather, who lowered his head on Starks only to take the worse of it.
Meriweather would next be seen stumbling off the field to relieved applause, and will probably next be heard about after the NFL reviews the game tape.
On the very next play, the Packers would have a screen set up for Cobb. However, the Redskins are too concerned about the screen and not enough about getting to Rodgers. Rodgers pump fakes towards Cobb twice and then goes over the middle to James Jones for 27 yards.
After a Jordy Nelson TD catch is overruled by a phantom holding call on David Bakhtiari, the Packers faced 3rd and goal from the 14. Seeing the Redskins go with one safety, Rodgers looks off to his left and then fires a strike to Nelson on the skinny post in front of DeAngelo Hall. Nelson gets to redo his Lambeau Leap.
2nd Q – 7:12 The Redskins would respond to the Packers score and the ever increasing divide with a four and out.
On 3rd and 6 from their 42, Nick Perry would drive his blocker back into Griffin’s face and then bat the pass down.
The Packers would follow with a 90-yard, 6-play TD drive.
On the first play of the drive, Starks would have his best run as a Packer. He would take the stretch play right, stop at the line, escape to the outside, and then use blocks by Andrew Quarless and Barclay to accelerate up field for 14 yards.
On the next play, Jones would get behind the coverage for 57 yards, down to the Redskins’ 19. Two more runs by Starks would pick up 12 yards. On 2nd and goal from the 3, Rodgers would escape the blitz to his right and find Finley for the TD to make it 24-0.
2nd Q – 3:03 The Redskins finally move the ball thanks to two runs over the left side by Alfred Morris. Having largely gone nowhere all game, Morris cracks off 41 yards on the two runs to Matthew’s side, moving the ball into Packers’ territory.
It would all be for naught as a fourth and 5 pass would go off the hands of Josh Morgan and right into the hands of Mike Neal. Neal’s first career interception is a gift, but notable careers have been built on gift interceptions, just ask Darren Sharper.
The Packers would end the half with another fast break offensive drive deep into Redskins’ territory. There, the Skins would get their first and only break of the game when Jones would stretch for the goal line, fumble the ball and have it bounce off the pylon for a touchback. Call it a temporary reprieve.
3rd Q – 13:33 Still having time to get back into the game, the Redskins would go three and out to start the half.
On 3rd and 2, Griffin would try the quick out to Santana Moss from the slot. Shields has him man-to-man and knocks it down.
3rd Q – 10:10 The Packers also start the half with a three and out. On 3rd and 10, the Redskins once again have success with a blitz from the slot. Rodgers doesn’t read it presnap and move Starks over to block. As a result, no blocker is on that side and Josh Wilson goes clean through for a sack.
With the Packers forced to punt from their own 13, the Redskins would come away with great field position for once, starting near midfield.
Two passes underneath the single safety moved the ball to the Packers’ 32. On 3rd and 6, Griffin faces another blitz and tries the bread-and-butter slant to Garcon. This time Davon House is on the coverage, and he adds a break up to a stellar special teams performance.
3rd Q – 8:20 It would take four plays and less than 2 minutes for the Packers to go 60 yards and essentially end the ball game.
On 1st and 10 from the Green Bay 4o, Rodgers would throw a quick out to Finley. Finley would pull out of one tackle, run through another, and spin up the sideline for 27 yards.
Starks would follow with consecutive 9-yard runs off stretch plays to both directions. The Packers’ offensive line is getting good spacing on their blocks. Dietrich-Smith is getting off double teams and getting to one linebacker while Quarless either blocks the end or gets to the other linebacker. Starks is merely making good reads, showing better burst than I’ve ever seen from him, and doing what he always did — run hard.
On first down from the 15, Rodgers throws a back shoulder to Nelson, who elevates, spins and catches it. Nelson’s second TD makes it 31-0.
3rd Q – 4:15 The Packers defense is going to be in zone from here on out. That is conducive to allowing catches, but the Packers’ tackling also begins to lag.
With the game all but over, the Redskins manage to keep it altogether for a drive and go 83 yards in 4 minutes to get on the board at 31-7.
On the first play of the drive, Morris goes around the left end again, breaks a tackle by Chris Banjo, and gets into the open field for 32 yards. From there, Griffin would take quick hits under the zone all the way to the red zone.
On the only third down of the series, Griffin, facing an all out Packers blitz, would throw the out to Garcon and place it perfectly. Garcon makes a nice catch and gets the ball across the goal line with Shields in close coverage.
3rd Q – 2:40 The Packers wouldn’t even bother running the clock in going 80 yards in 4 plays to completely put the game away.
After a stretch play to the right got 11 yards for Starks, Rodgers would try the go route to Nelson, who picks the ball right off the helmet of over-matched rookie David Amerson and gets 37 yards.
On the very next play, Starks races for 32 yards to both surpass the 100 yard mark and put the Packers up 38-7.
The keys to the play, which was a stretch left, were a block by Sitton clearing the hole, a block by Quarless sealing the linebacker off, Starks hitting the hole with a full head of steam and eluding the safety on his way to the end zone.
At this point, the Packers have 502 yards of offense, and the Redskins have 283. What happened after this point means nothing other than stats.
The Packers would sit in zone and force the Redskins to grind the clock in moving down the field. The Redskins would score on a 4th and goal play after a 12-play drive that took up nearly seven minutes of game time, and then they would “score” again after a 23-yard Masthay punt gave them a short field.
I say “score” because that was no catch in-bounds by Santana Moss. I have no idea what the replay official thinks he sees there. Regardless, the only people who care are those with Griffin in fantasy football.
The Packers use their offense to run off the final seven and a half minutes, and the final score is 38-20.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense was in 2011 form in this game. The quad of Nelson, Jones, Cobb and Finley, and the chemistry that all four now have with Rodgers, gives the Packers the best passing attack in the NFL. The only way to stop it is to get to Rodgers. When the Redskins did that, they had some success. When they didn’t, they got torched.
It’s amazing that it ended up being James Starks who breaks the streak without a 100 yard rusher, an overrated streak though it may be. Starks appears to have dropped a little weight, which has added to his quickness. He easily had his best game as a Packer, helped out by a strong push by the offensive line and uninspired play by the Redskins’ secondary.
The defense didn’t allow a single third down conversion until the 4:18 mark in the third quarter, which is also the point they allowed their first points. When it mattered, they got it done. Yardage and even points were not a concern in the fourth quarter, as long as it took time to acquire them.
On the other hand, this game changed as soon as RGIII injured his knee in the playoffs last season. The Redskins are a mess, and they had a couple guys playing in their secondary that have no business being there.
In short, the Packers did what they needed to do, and a much sterner test awaits in Cincinnati next week.