The Green Bay Packers suffered another gut-wretching loss to the San Francisco 49ers — their fourth in two seasons — this time falling 23-20 in a wild card game.
The only difference between this game and the other three was it was actually close until the end. The Packers now begin the long offseason, but here are five more thoughts on the season-ending game.
Third-down efficiency was killer
Statistically, this game was pretty even, with one glaring exception — third-down efficiency. The 49ers were 6-of-12 on third downs, while the Packers were an awful 3-of-11. The Packers defense didn’t do enough to get off the field on third down, while the Packers offense didn’t make enough plays to stay on the field when they faced third downs. After the game, Aaron Rodgers took the blame, saying he didn’t make enough plays. Although some of the receivers left some plays on the field, Rodgers only threw for 177 yards and one touchdown, so we’d tend to agree.
Tramon Williams really wants to stick around
Williams continued his late-season surge and was again the Packers best defender on Sunday. He read Colin Kaepernick to come off Anquan Boldin and jump up and over Vernon Davis for a huge first quarter interception. Williams also defended three passes and had two solo tackles on the day. If the Packers can find a way to pay both Williams and Sam Shields, they’ll have a pretty solid cornerback duo next season. That’s going to be tricky with Williams set to make $7.5 million, though.
It was nice to see Nick Perry make an appearance
Maybe Perry was finally fully healthy. Maybe someone lit a fire under his ass. Whatever it was, it was nice to see the Packers 2012 first-round pick actually make an impact on the field. Perry had five tackles (two for loss), a sack and a QB hit on Sunday. It was probably the best game Perry played all season. Hopefully, he can build on this performance next season.
We’ll tip our hat to David Bakhtiari for being a tough SOB
The Packers left tackle didn’t have his greatest game as a pro against Aldon Smith, who had 1.5 sacks. He joined the Packers injury parade in the second half when the trainers sent him to the locker room for what we believe were concussion tests. That brought the truly awful Marshall Newhouse into the game. Well, Bakhtiari wasn’t having any of it. He actually forced his way back onto the field near the end of the game. With all the babying training staffs seem to do with player injuries these days (and some players do with themselves), that was pretty refreshing.
A number of guys probably played their last game for the Packers yesterday
Free agent defections happen every year, but the Packers have more guys about to be free agents than in most seasons. Among them are Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji, Sam Shields, James Jones, Jermichael Finley and Evan Dietrich-Smith. Logic tells you the Packers simply can’t afford to sign all of those guys. They’re going to have to pick and choose and that means a number of guys will be playing elsewhere next year. Our top priority in this group would be Shields. The rest are probably replaceable.
i also think the red zone offence has been a real low point this year, and is something that really needs to be worked on. some how we’ve lost that killer instinct down close that was almost automatic in the last few years. Still solid game by the team, we just got beat to it by a better team,.
I think another key player is CJ Wilson. That dude is going to make himself some coin.
I just don’t see how we keep Shields unless Williams get extended and lowers his cap number.
Shields will probably get at least 9-10 million a year with 18-20 guaranteed.
Starting Defense is going to look very different next year.
If we could keep Shields and Hayward returns to form, would like to see Hyde on the field as a safety. At least, to try it out.
And for the love of god can we get a 3-4 OLB that has actually played the position in college?
For one, Hyde doesnt have the speed to play safety. Another blunder of Ted Thompson. He basically took another player in the same mold as Hayward, just not as good. How will CJ wilson make coin? He will be lucky to be on an nfl roster next year. He was inactive for the majority of the games this year.
And good luck getting 3-4 outside linebackers that played that position in college. Most college defenses do not run a true 3-4, some will run a variation of it, but most colleges run 4-3. Do you watch any college ball?
I think they will need to look to the draft or free agency for safety and inside linebacker. AJ hawk is servicable, but brad jones and lattimore dont cut it. Doubt it will be free agency because of TT’s obnoxious ignorance of it. Look at this 49ers team that beat this team last night. Anquan boldin- aquired via trade. Justin smith- free agency. Just a couple of key players that they aquired outside the draft that has made their team better. This team made a glaring mistake not taking a chance on Tyrann Mathieu last spring. They needed help at the safety position, and despite his off the field troubles, he was obviously very talented and had off the charts football instincts, and would have been a large upgrade over MD Jennings, which is what I was saying prior to the draft. That way Burnett can go back to his more natural position of SS and playing more in the box while Mathieu could have done what he does best and ball hawk as a FS, and occasionally blitz. He would have fit the scheme perfectly.
I would have preferred Eric Reid over the risk of Mathieu.
Free agents usually take up more of your cap than they are worth. And anyways, you need money to get them. Easy to sign free agents when you aren’t paying your QB $20 mil a season and your top defensive player $15 mil season. The Packers have no such luxury.
They had nearly 10 million in cap space this year. That is with front loading aaron rodgers cap numbers to reduce the cap hit in future seasons. I am not saying go out and sign a flashy free agent. They didnt need to go get dashon gholdson or anything. But someone like a Kerry Rhodes who had experience playing a 3-4 defense and was very solid and could have been had for 2 million would have been an immense upgrade over MD Jennings. Or the other two undrafted safeties Chris Banjo and Sean Richardson he chooses to trot out there. There usually is a reason guys go undrafted.
But agreed with you as far as Eric Reid. He would have been solid too. I forgot he was available when the packers picked.
I don’t think Hyde would be great at safety either, Though I wouldn’t consider his selection a blunder: He’s instinctive and a great tackler, he needs to work on coverage and maybe sell his soul to the Devil for a new pair of hands.
Potential 3-4 OLBs in case you’re interested in scouting film
Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Michael Sam, DE/OLB, Missouri
Vic Beasley*, DE/OLB, Clemson
Trent Murphy, DE/OLB, Stanford
Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
To name a few…these guys are terrific at rushing the passer and creating problems for opposing offenses. Some need time to develop like Vic Beasley or Khalil Mack but the others on the list can supplant what we have tomorrow.
I wouldnt be surprised if J. Jones walks, Boykin played very well while Cobb was injured. The Shields and Williams situation will be interesting to watch, TT prefers youth so I am going with Shields, hopefully it doesnt come down to signing one over the other. Lets not forget J. Jolly, he needs to be resigned but father time is working against him.
Another thing to keep in mind is the contract status of Cobb. He is obviously an integral part of that offense and I have a hard time imagining the team letting him go into a contract year. Now would be the time to negotiate a contract with him coming off a broken leg, the team would have more leverage, and could probably have him for a little less than what the giants paid Cruz.
Of that 1.5 sacks, I’m pretty sure the 1 came off a sack where Rodgers ate a sandwich and smoked a cigarette in the backfield until Smith managed to get to him. Definitely not on Bakhtiari, who fought his ass off all game, just like he did all year.
With Bulaga coming back next season to fight for the right tackle position, I don’t think we need to do shit on the offensive line.
You got Bakhtiari and All-Pro Josh Sitton on the left side, and TJ Lang and Bulaga or Don Barclay on the right. If EDS wants too much, you let him go and let Tretter, Barclay or Van Roten take his place, but I think EDS will be back for a decent price.
You are also forgetting Sherrod. You know, the guy they drafted in the 1st round to be a bookend tackle to bulaga. I will be interested to see what he can do in a full offseason of work for the first time in his career. He is a big guy and may never return to form from his horrible broken leg. But I am still excited for the potential.
I am very pleased with how our O-Line played this season (except for Thanksgiving). When Bulaga went down, I was devastated.
I will be surprised & confused if for some reason the Packers insist on him being our starting LT next season as oppose to RT. Bakhtiari will only get better. He is the more natural LT.
Hopefully EDS stays, he’s turned into a solid player. As for Bak-T, his technique is pretty good, now he needs to work on bulking up so be can be effective in the run game and vs. bull rushers.
I would still consider finding a blue chip LT through the draft which is again, loaded with solid upside and NFL-ready LTs…
However, we do have more pressing needs. Again, why do we have needs? LOL