“If you relax, I’ll be looking for new people. Put your foot on their throat.” — Bruce Arians, Cardinals head coach, to his team at halftime with a 31-7 lead over the 49ers. The Cardinals went on to win 47-7.
In many ways, the Green Bay Packers’ victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football was the very best sort of game for many if not most Packers fans — a game whereby a Packers’ victory seemed all but assured about midway through the second half. It was a meaningful game that the Packer faithful could watch and be relaxed about at the same time.
With Aaron Rodgers rolling through with yet another unworldly, transcendent performance and the defense playing with anger, routinely tackling Jamaal Charles at or behind the line of scrimmage and knocking down Alex Smith with some seven sacks, this was a game that Packers fans could watch without any real fear of losing. This against an upper tier Chiefs team that many slated to be a playoff contender.
And yet, by allowing the Chiefs to score three touchdowns from the 31-7 mark of the game late in the third quarter, there is reason for Packers fans to raise their eyebrows at Dom Capers and the 2015 Packers defense once again.
In the most practical terms, the folly of letting the opposing team march down the field at will in the fourth quarter has already burned the Packers — notably in the infamous collapse last year in Seattle, but that would not be the only instance. There is also, for example, last year’s regular season game against Atlanta, where after building a seemingly insurmountable lead of 31-7, Capers’ defense allowed Atlanta back into it, making the game far too interesting for comfort, with the final score of 43-37. After taking their foot off the pedal, Mike McCarthy and Capers allowed the Falcons to outscore the Packers 30-12.
This should have been regarded as embarrassment that is not to be tolerated going further and yet very little has changed in these fourth quarter scenarios.
Even more crucially, this novel approach has allowed seemingly beaten teams to undo the Packers in the waning seconds of close games as well. A 2009 regular season contest at Heinz Fields comes to mind immediately, whereby Rodgers and the Pack rallied to go ahead with under two minutes left, only to allow Roethlisberger and the Steelers to drive down the field, winning on a toes-in-bounds touchdown pass to Mike Wallace as time expired.
There are, of course, other examples.
Aside from the more practical concerns of giving beaten teams the chance, however remote, for an improbable comeback, this approach is a poisonous mentality that any self-respecting defense should reject out of hand. At a basic, philosophical level, it lacks professionalism.
The truly great defenses — such as the the Bucs just after the turn of the millennium, the stout Baltimore Ravens teams led by Ray Lewis, and even the Pittsburgh Steelers during their dynasty days — took pride in their defensive work. They cared about points against, as well as yards against and they cared a great deal.
The Bucs’ Warren Sapp, as loathsome of a human being as he was, should still be lauded for taking such pride in how stingy his Bucs defense was in allowing points. That very same professionalism is also observed in pretty much all major league pitchers, who — to a man — greatly care about their E.R.A., and take no solace in giving up a grand slam even when their own offense is putting up football scores of 10-14 runs.
And yet, this same pride and sense of professionalism has not been seen in our Packers defense in a great while.
It is obvious to see that, perhaps in the wake of last year’s collapse in Seattle, the Packers defense is playing with renewed vigor, playing angry by tackling hard and smacking down opposing running backs and quarterbacks. They are harnessing their anger and hatred in a controlled, constructive manner and harnessing these powers to win.
We saw it in week 2 against Seattle, as they rendered Marshawn Lynch a non-factor, and we saw it again in week 3.
All terrific news that is certainly a good harbinger for Super Bowl redemption this year. But as every team must strive for constant improvement as the season wears on in a bid to peak in the postseason, so must the Packers defense strive to take the same level of pride through to the end of the game, no matter what the score.
This folly of letting defeated teams march down the field in the fourth quarter instills a debilitating mentality that threatens to poison a promising harvest with the seeds of defeat. Moreover, given that comebacks of three scores or more are not entirely unheard of in the NFL, it is a very dangerous proposition in practical terms as well.
It’s one that has already cost us dearly once and made us vulnerable another time, both instances coming just last season.
As gratifying as it is to see Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, B.J. Raji, Mike Daniels, Jayrone Elliott, Nate Palmer and others playing with anger, they need to keep playing with that same anger and ferocity throughout.
Keep their foot on the opponents’ throats and the Packers will prove to be invincible.
I am tired of taking the “high road” and letting our foot off the proverbial gas pedal.
We may wanna step in up when we play these Cardinals in December.
You can add that to the list of things I never thought I would say
Wolfie could have saved everyone 5 minutes of their lives and simply typed, “Play to the finish”, instead of this self-serving, bloviated homage to his overwrought writing style.
Stick with articles about not retiring Favre’s number.
McCarthy to the team at the end of the 3rd quarter of big lead games.” Guys lets just run it 3 times and punt from hear on out, I know the clock says 12 minutes left but you know im good with a three score lead here. Oh and Dom tells me to tell you guys on defense I think we can let them work their 2 minute offense from here as well, Oh and don’t forget to leave the middle of the field wide open too, hopefully we can milk the clock here, good luck.” Clock is now at 4 something left, the opposing team just has scored their second td and is lining up for an on side kick, camera cuts to McCarthy looking up at the sky yelling “fuck!”
You guys just don’t get it, do you. This game amounted to a free space on a bingo card after 3 quarters.
Packers played to the clock perfectly. I’ll gladly take the win. How many teams in the NFL playing as well as Pack right now? Go Pack Go!
All it would take is a successful two point conversion and an on side kick and suddenly that free space is now a death struggle. These things do and have happened. Keep playing with fire and you will get burned.
His defenses have always been a 4th quarter nightmare for Packer Nation. Until last year’s NFC Championship game, the most egregious example was the NFC championship game in Chicago. The defense had absolutely suffocated both Jay Cutler and the 2nd stringer. In comes the 3rd stringer, Caleb Haney, and leads the Bears to 2 4thQ touchdowns and got them damn close to a third (only ending, as we all remember, with Shields’ pick on 4th down). I’ll never understand why Dom has this particular weakness/mental block, but I’ve seen if for YEARS now and I conclude he’s not to be trusted, we have to have a 3+ score lead to be safe.
We named it the “Permit” defense. Fee free to use this term on your site Monty.
I was truly impressed with the motor Matthews was playing with. That dude was relentless on Monday and proved it by hauling ass on that special teams punt play in the fourth quarter. He has taken this leadership role and I think is a huge factor for changing the mindset of the defense.
Belicheat is the same way as arians. Look at last week’s game against the jaguars. They kept going, even on offense when the game was seemingly over. finishing very weak has been a problem with this team for years.
I was not very impressed with this win either, and agree with a lot of what’s being said here. We fell apart on both sides of the ball in the second half. Look at the rushing yards by Starks if you think any differently.
Not impressed? …sigh.
I’ve come to realize there are two types of Packer fans. Those who are happy and those who worry/bitch/complain/whine. I prefer to be in the company of happy fans. So enjoy your shit show. You’re in good company.
As i’m reading this article, i’m thinking to myself that this is the best article i’ve read on here in recent memory. When finished, i looked to see who the author was as it didn’t seem like Monty’s writing. I stand by my initial analysis. Great article E. Wolf.
Sometimes, regarding the subject of this article, the Packers have trouble learning from the sins of the past.
All respect to Dom and the Packers 5th rated Super Bowl winning defense in 2010. but i will not lose a wink of sleep the day Capers is no longer coaching the Packers defense.
Why must we always worry? Are we all preparing ourselves for a let down come January? Do we secretly want this team to fail so we can all say, “See, we told you so! Buffoon and company screwed the pooch again!”
Best line…At a basic, philosophical level, it lacks professionalism.
Wolfie…nice article, agree completely.
When I woke up the next morning (had to go to bed at 10 CST) I was shocked KC had 28 points.
Dom was smart when Green Bay was up 31-7 and Green BAY’s defense was attacking the ball, and then came 2nd half and Capers went back to normal (into his prevent). Did he wake up from his nap? Did he get frightened?
I don’t blame it on defense. Refs gave them good spots and we can’t challenge because we ran out of timeouts. They also go for it on 4th so it’s hard to stop offensese from going 10 yards in 4 tries. Finally, because of prevent defense, they took alot of time to score which is higher priority when up 31-7 then to give them a chance to get quick score with bomb.
Problem is with our prevent offense. We keep going 3 and out with simplified, predictable runs. Do some short passes to TE’s or running backs. Being predictable on offense is the worst thing you can do.
Listen to me carefully Monty….The worst thing you can do to the opponent is beat them.
The team needs to finish strong in all games and that in part means win the 4th quarter. Bad habits, even though they may not bite you in the ass every game, will bite you in the ass when you least expect it.
I’m not so much upset at the Defense as I am the Offense. Once again they decided to go into the run the ball into the line two or three times for no gain and then have ARod make a half ass attempt at converting a third and whatever before punting. The offense refuses to run the clock out themselves, instead pin it all on the defense and hope for the best.
While I do still hate the whole prevent defense mentality and never feel comfortable with any lead until the clock hits zero, they did play much better then before. The 4th and 16 comes to mind on that KC drive that wasted 11 minutes of the game. Pretty sure had that been measured it would have been turnover on downs, but alas, they burned all their timeouts way too early to force a review. I’m still more upset with the lack of a closing offense, but I certainly agree with your general points.
The Healthiest teams at the end of year win, going all out when it isn’t needed to win is one way that injury’s might happen. Its a long season.
The Patriots and Cardinals don’t give two shits about the opposition and the score, they will run it up no matter what. Good luck competing with an all go all the time mentality like they have.
Keep your foot on the gas and make a statement!!!
We beat the Patriots last year.
I really like the look of this this wears squad, from our pissed the fuck off Dee line, to our rookie cornerbacks playing like they have been in the league for the past 10 years, to our ride receivers not missing a beat minud Jordy Nelson on the field…
The one thing that pisses me OFF is the lack of KILLER instinct. Every play counts and everyone on the Dee has an obligation to allow as lille points possible, while the push O should be scoring even with 3 minutes left and the score is 72-3.
Stop on their necks until their windpipe crushes and eyeballs pop out, if at all possible, and break their spinal column in a 1000 places. What happened to the days when we put 3 Jessa coaches out to pasture in 2010
* head coaches