Normally this would be the top 10 things that stood out to me in the game, but this one was over at halftime so we’ll keep it tight and go with five.
1. Read option apparently not an option
Reminiscent of the now infamous Joe Webb playoff game, the Carolina Panthers chose to abandon the read option before even giving it a chance to get going. Just as it was in the last playoff game these Packers won versus the Vikings, this was truly a baffling coaching decision by the Panthers. The Packers have been awful at defending it and Carolina has Cam Newton. I think it’s safe to add Ron Rivera to the list of NFL coaches currently on the hot seat. If you don’t run a heavy dose of read option against the Packers when you’re capable, you deserve to be fired. (See Frazier, Leslie)
Monty and I both agree on this being the top thing to stand out in this game. It makes assessing the veracity of the win a difficult proposition when the opponent didn’t even put its best foot forward.
Hey, not our problem though, is it? Just win baby.
2. Sounding like a broken record
Well No. 1 above might be because the Panthers didn’t want to run the read option. Maybe Carolina got away from that concept on one of Cam Newton’s keepers up the middle. That’s when the big ole quarterback got throttled by none other than Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. This kid is a beast and will continue to crack this list time and time again until he gives me reason not to. He did have a massive whiff on one of his tackle attempts, but he was going 150 MPH when he did it and for that I shall never complain. Sometimes a guy makes a good move, but more times than not you’ll hear the sweet sounds of impact as Ha Ha takes down another.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is already the most important player on the Packers defense. Who would be a greater loss to this unit right now?
3. Playing without the ball
Jordy Nelson doesn’t just make things happen when he catches a pass, he adds additional value with every play he’s on the field. On Sunday, Nelson was simply unbelievable in a game that had his thumbprint all over it. You know how people always say, “They should use this as a training video for”… whatever? Well, in this case that is not an over-inflated catch phrase. Jordy’s tape on Sunday versus Carolina might be the most complete game a wide receiver has ever played. I’m serious. It was amazing.
In every big play the Packers had, if Jordy Nelson wasn’t the one catching the pass he was the one making a key block. His crowning moment came when he man-handled Panthers defensive back Melvin White 35 yards downfield on Randall Cobb’s 47-yard gainer. For good measure, after pushing him backwards for about 10 yards, Nelson tossed White through the air like a rag doll where after hitting the ground three yards later he was promptly crushed by his own teammate. Epic.
An additional shout out goes to Richard Rodgers for playing the role of traffic cop and beckoning Jordy to “Come right this way, sir.” As Nelson obliged and followed RickRodge, the latter was clothes-lined by Roman Harper. It was an effective block by the big tight end, but he may have taken the brunt of it on that one.
4. Panthers secondary is so bad, Rodgers didn’t need a third
Aaron Rodgers knew the Carolina Panthers defensive backs were so offensive that he didn’t need to bother with the idea of matchups. He simply threw the ball to his top two receivers over and over again… with a check down sprinkled in over here, and a short toss to the tight end over there for good measure. In fact, Rodgers didn’t even look in Davante Adams’ direction all day except for one play. That play was set up by Randall Cobb destroying the Carolina secondary as well as his reputation for being Rodgers’ favorite red zone target. When two Carolina players jumped Cobb’s route on a double team, Rodgers found his first and only reason to look Davante’s way. Touchdown.
5. Vegas isn’t stupid
The Saints are slight favorites over the Packers. Let’s hope our boys pack their hard hats. Nothing comes easy on the road.