The Green Bay Packers got a win on Sunday, but their 28-26 victory over the Detroit Lions left a lot to be desired.
The 0-4 Lions racked up more than 400 yards of offense in Lambeau Field and quarterback Shaun Hill threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns, largely on the strength of short passes to his tight ends and running backs.
Despite two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Charles Woodson, and three sacks, the Packers defense was less than impressive and the blueprint for beating the team seems to be clear — counter the Packers’ blitz with screens and underneath passes.
While Woodson had his first solid game of the season, racking up 12 tackles in addition to his interception return and playing solid coverage on Lions receiver Calvin Johnson down the stretch, the rest of the defense left a lot to be desired.
Linebacker A.J. Hawk, who somehow came up with an interception, was his usual slow-footed bad-angle taking self. Rookie Frank Zombo was ineffective in his second start. He was unable to get to the quarterback and the Packers ended up rotating him with Brad Jones and Brady Poppinga. The Packers seemed to miss safety Morgan Burnett, as well. Burnett left with an injured knee in the second quarter and was replaced by Derrick Martin.
Aside from Woodson and Clay Matthews, who added another sack and was the Packers main pass rush threat, the only other player on the Packers defense who made a favorable impression was cornerback Jarrett Bush, who finished with five tackles and played solid coverage throughout the day — something historically uncharacteristic of him.
The Packers offense wasn’t anymore memorable than the defense. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw two interceptions and finished with only 181 yards. Rodgers’ interceptions were mind boggling, the final of which made the defender look like the receiver on the play.
The ground game was again non-existent, with no runner gaining over 40 yards. John Kuhn finished with a team-leading 39 yards on nine carries, a 4.3-yard average. While the Packers made no effort to establish a running game, Kuhn did effectively kill any shot the Lions had at winning by running hard on the Packers’ final possession — one in which they ate up the final 6:32 of the clock.
Special teams again played a negative role, but this time the coverage units weren’t to blame. Kick returner Jordy Nelson fumbled twice, giving the Lions field position that lead to two field goal tries, one of which was successful.
Perhaps the one silver lining in an ugly victory was the Packers played virtually penalty-free football after racking up a team-record 18 penalties last week.
At the end of the day, the Packers are in a first-place tie with the Chicago Bears in the NFC North, but this team looks nothing like the Super Bowl contender they were billed as prior to the season.
It doesn’t matter if you look like a SB team now. There are no trophies handed out in October. There are no dominant teams in the NFL right now. The KC Chiefs are already the lone undefeated team, and there are only 4 teams in the NFC that are even 3-1: Packers, Bears, Saints and Falcons. None of those teams have looked unbeatable.
A-Rodge threw 3 incredible TD passes in the 1st half. His first pick appeared to be a bad decision/bad pass, but he also appeared unhappy with play Jennings made on the ball. The 2nd INT was definitely Jennings’ fault. Any WR given a one-on-one deep shot against a DB knows that he has to catch that ball or at the minimum make sure that the DB doesn’t catch it. It looked like Jennings slightly misjudged it and grabbed the back of the ball, which made it easy for the shorter defender to grab the front of it and pull it away when they both went to the ground. Jennings HAS to make that play or his national perception of being a 2nd tier WR is justified. Personally, the next time we take a deep shot, I think we should give someone else a shot. I think Jones catches that ball for sure.
Our running game again got no opportunity to show itself. When we needed it, it did fine. Jackson and Kuhn both had some decent runs when given a chance.
Punter remains a very frustrating position for the Pack. It seems no matter who the Packers put at that position they can not avoid at least one shank a game.
Very disappointing with Jordy Nelson who actually had been doing a fine job returning until then. Seems like anyone who runs that high fumbles a lot (see AP, Brandon Jacobs, Eric Dickerson, etc).
The Lions maybe be 0-4, but they are due to win a game. Shaun Hill torched the Eagles and did well against Minnesota too. I wouldn’t be surprised if Detroit goes 6-6 the rest of the way and finishes 6-10.
Teams, I think, will continue to attack our too-slow LBs by throwing to the flat. That strategy however takes more patience than some QBs have (ie. Jay Cutler), and the Packers can combat it by putting another DB into the game or keeping Woodson around the line of scrimmage.
Bottom-line, there are concerns out there, but the Packers did what they needed to thru the first 4 games. Washington has issues of their own, and I expect the Packers to be a small favorite to win that game.
We have some tough games ahead. I really hope Rodgers snaps out of his little funk. He has done a pretty good job but it is no where close to the caliber he should be at. Throwing 2 picks is the fasion they were carried out is just not like him. We need to focus and execute each play. Point is we need to start kicking some serious ass and now!