27

November

Giants Didn’t Expose Any New Packers’ Weaknesses

Jermichael Finley

It’d be nice if Packers TE Jermichael Finley would get going and help the Packers crack the code of cover-2 defenses.

Now that you’ve had some time to digest the Packers losing to the Giants, ask yourself this:

Is your opinion of the Packers now any different than your opinion before the embarrassment against the Giants?

Mine isn’t. Here’s why:

  • We already knew the offensive line was a weakness. Take a super-talented front four and put it against a mediocre offensive line adjusting to injuries and what happened Sunday night isn’t terribly surprising.
  • We already knew the pass rush would struggle without Clay Matthews. Did we really expect another five sacks from this defense without its best pass rusher?
  • We already knew the Packers struggle against a cover-2. This one baffles me. Yes, running the ball beats a cover-2, and the Packers can’t run the ball, but it’s not like the cover-2 is some new revolutionary defense that came out of nowhere and was developed just to beat the Packers. They should be able to figure out some way to beat it by now, even if they struggle to run.
  • We already knew Mason Crosby would likely miss if asked to kick a long field goal. He was asked to kick a 55-yarder, and missed.
  • We already knew if Aaron Rodgers isn’t good to great, the Packers likely will lose. Thanks to bad blocking, an excellent Giants’ defense, weird playcalling, and some of Rodgers’ own struggles, he wasn’t good or great on Sunday and the Packers lost.

So there you have it. That’s a depressing list. But those same weaknesses have been there most of the season. It’s not like the Giants exposed a bunch of new flaws and areas where the Packers are weak. These are all things we already knew the Packers would have to overcome in order to be successful.

The Packers have manged to go 7-4 (with a five-game win streak mixed in) despite these flaws. Pretty much every other contending team has a list of flaws similar in length to the Packers’ list.

There are no perfect teams. Every now and then, a near-perfect team comes along. I don’t see any near-perfect teams in the league this season, either.

Let’s address each of the Packers flaws and see how it might impact the rest of the season.

  • Offensive line. Rodgers is good enough to make up for a weak offensive lineman or two. He’s not good enough to make up for the entire line imploding. If the line implodes, the Packers are toast. Do we really think the line will implode and sink the Packers season? I don’t. I think individual players will have their moments of weakness, but I don’t think implosion like we saw in the first half against Seattle or all game against the Giants will become the norm.
  • Pass rush. Clay Matthews should return this week. If he does, the pass rush will improve. I’ve also liked what I’ve seen out of Dezman Moses so far.
  • Cover-2. This one drives me crazy. They can’t crack the two-high safety look. I’d like to say this one will be overcome, but I haven’t seen much evidence to convince me. Maybe getting Jennings back will help. Finley has shown some signs of life lately. Maybe he’ll start to (finally) eat up cover-2 looks down the seam. If Cedric Benson puts his strip-club DJ career on hold and returns, maybe he’ll boost the running game. Maybe Mike McCarthy will finally start calling more screens and slants. That’s a lot of maybes…
  • Crosby. I don’t know. Flip a coin. Maybe he’ll get better, maybe he won’t. Either way, I’d rather see the Packers go for it instead of kicking long field goals early in games.
  • Rodgers. As long as he’s healthy, the Packers have a shot. He alone can make up for struggles on the offensive line, running the ball and missed Crosby field goals. No, he can’t do it by himself. And it will be near impossible for him to carry the Packers if he’s getting run over like he was against the Giants. But my money is on Rodgers being good to great the rest of the way and giving the Packers every opportunity to make a run.
The offensive line and pass rush should get better, or at least not get any worse. Rodgers is the MVP and will pick up his play.
Remember, the offensive line doesn’t have to turn into the mid-90s Cowboys and the pass rush doesn’t need 10 sacks per game. Each just has to do enough to give Rodgers a chance. He’s good enough to make up for a lot of team weaknesses if given an opportunity.
The cover-2 struggles and Crosby are the wild cards. If the Packers sink, it’s going to be because of these two weaknesses, in my opinion.

All of this is just a long way of saying that the Packers remain contenders, just like they were before getting stomped by the Giants.

Improvements need to be made, but they are realistic improvements and improvements that we knew needed to be made before the Giant’s loss.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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16 Responses to “Giants Didn’t Expose Any New Packers’ Weaknesses”

  1. packett says:

    well, the giants game sure made it obvious that there are problems that will make the post season very short…if not corrected. Maybe that game was the wake up call to do some things signficantly different. But the play calling. What do the other readers out there think about the play calling? I’m no playbook whiz, but seems like the defenses seem to know what will be called and seem ready for it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    • Adam Czech says:

      I don’t think the playcalling will change much. McCarthy/Rodgers think and always will think throwing it deep is the way to go. Most of the time, they are right.

      I don’t necessarily want to see that philosophy change, but I would like to see more slants and screens mixed in. Attacking the cover-2 with more screens and slants should slow down the pass rush a little bit and maybe allow the WRs to find a few holes in coverage.

      Right now, Lang, Saturday, Dietrich-Smith and Newhouse need all the help they can get in pass protection. McCarthy expects their play to improve, and that’s a reasonable expectation. However, as a coach, he needs to do more to help their improvement through his playcalling. A couple more slants and screens would help, IMO, without completely abandoning what Rodgers and this offense are best at (launching it downfield).

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  2. JimR_in_DC says:

    Adam, you stated: “We already knew the offensive line was a weakness.” and “We already knew the Packers struggle against a cover-2. This one baffles me. Yes, running the ball beats a cover-2, and the Packers can’t run the ball,…”

    Well, there you have it. A weak O-line AND no running game means Aaron Rodgers is not going to be able to sell play action, and will be running for his life. If he doesn’t have time to let his receivers’ routes develop, then he’s either throwing incompletions, picks, or taking a sack…just as we’ve seen at times all season.

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  3. Chad Lundberg says:

    They didn’t expose any weakness, but they sure as heck showed just how bad those weaknesses can beat us.

    The Packers have to revert to short passes and start running the ball more effectively by putting more emphasize on the run blocking. I’m willing to give up the big play if it helps us win the game.

    Not to mention, going for short gains will give the defense more time to rest just a bit. For what that’s worth.

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  4. ELo says:

    I like how the used Kuhn against the giants. I’d also like to see more short out breaks from our TE’s – (Crabtree & Finley should be adequate). With our high-octane pass offense, we need to use these 4-5 yard passes to replicate the run, along with letting Starks get his 15-18 or so carries. I also think Jennings will be a big factor down the stretch. We are using Jordy as a deep threat now. Jennings can play the deep threat role and allow Jordy to utilize the short hooks and outs. Then with Cobb in the slot, back-field, etc, we ought to have more options in that first 2.5 seconds. Maybe I’m dreaming, but I just think having Jennings in the lineup enhances our short pass game, which in turn can compensate for the lack of run production.

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  5. Mojo says:

    What’s truly amazing is despite having their best pass rusher, CM3 out for two plus games, the Packers defense still has four more team sacks than the much ballyhooed Giants. They also give up around three less points per game.

    Go figure.

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    • Two Bears, One Cup says:

      Our pass rush is just too inconsistent. Yes, we get sacks, but we also have long intervals with no pressure at all. That inconsistency isn’t going to rattle opposing QBs. And the difference between a confident QB and a rattled QB is worth about 50 points in passer rating terms.

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  6. Tarynfor12 Tarynfor12 says:

    Seems like many a fan bought a ticket to the ‘House fo Mirrors’ and only looked in the one that lies about your looks and the Giants made them look into another…

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  7. mark gast says:

    In 2007 and 2011 the Packers beat the Giants in the regular season and lost to them in the playoffs. In fact, the creamed the Giants during the 2007 regular season (much like the Giants creamed the Packers on Sunday)only to get severely out played in the NFC title game. Hopefully the Packers will get healthy and return the post season favor.

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  8. Ed Frye says:

    Contenders? For what? Maybe 3rd place in NFC but that is as far as this team can go and even that assumes everything greatly improves from Sunday night.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  9. Barutan Seijin says:

    Mason Crosby has had enough time to show that he’s something other than a below average kicker. He is what he is. Not expecting any turnarounds or improvements from him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. cow42 says:

    IT’S NOT THAT THEY LOST – IT’S HOW PATHETICALLY THEY LOST.

    THE PEOPLE WHO THINK THAT THE LINE WILL IMPROVE, CROSBY WILL STRAIGHTEN THINGS OUT, AND MCCARTHY WILL FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE ADJUSTMENTS TO COMBAT THE COVER 2 ARE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO FOR 3 YEARS BELIEVED THAT FINLEY WAS EVENTUALLY GOING TO MATURE AND BECOME A GOOD PLAYER.

    NONE OF THOSE THINGS ARE HAPPENIN’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  11. Benita Leddy says:

    If you’re wanting to find the secret meaning of life, then visit the link in my name.

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