It was Ugly, It was Frustrating, but the Packers Won
What? You thought the Jaguars would trot onto Lambeau Field, bow down in worship to the Packers, pee in their pants, and then proceed to get crushed by 35 points?
That doesn’t happen very often, and it didn’t happen on Sunday in Green Bay.
The Packers aren’t the only team with pride, you know. Other teams are more than capable of playing their best when their backs are up against the wall after injuries, bad luck, agonizing losses or whatever else.
I thought this game would be a bit closer than most people predicted (so did Kris Burke). But let’s not judge this game based on how we thought it would go. Let’s break the game down based on what actually happened.
There seems to be two camps of people regarding Woodson:
- Those who think Woodson is past his prime and won’t be missed much, if at all.
- Those who recognize Woodson as a big name and veteran presence and think he’ll be missed a lot.
Injuries are always bad. You want your players to stay healthy, so I probably fall more in with group No. 2 than group No. 1, but losing Woodson is far from a devastating loss. I think that was obvious Sunday.
There were a few instances of miscommunication in the Packers secondary. I’d like to say that wouldn’t happen with the veteran Woodson out there, but it’s happened a lot over the last season-and-a-half, even when No. 21 was on the field.
Woodson has struggled in coverage all season, and likely would’ve been matched against TE Mercedes Lewis. Lewis had just two catches, so the other guys did a nice job on him.
How about losing Woodson’s impact on blitzes? Morgan Burnett had a sack and a couple nice tackles near the line of scrimmage. He played the blitzer role much better than Woodson has this season.
Running into a Wall
Mike McCarthy seemed to be punishing his own offensive line by continuing to call runs up the middle on first down.
“You guys can’t open up any holes?” McCarthy seemed to be saying. “Fine. I’m going to keep calling runs to see if I can shame you into actually getting some movement.”
To be fair, Alex Green was shaky today. Cutback lanes appeared to be there on a few occasions and Green either chose to plow into the pile or tripped making a move.
It might be time to give James Starks more of a chance. I’m not giving up on Green by any means, but Starks has a little more experience and if he’s decisive, he has the vision and burst to run well in the Packers system.
Green might be more of a third-down back and pass-catcher as he continues learning.
Jones Looks Good
Let’s end with a positive. Brad Jones had a sack and forced a fumble. He’s filled in admirably at middle linebacker.
He looks a little awkward and indecisive at times, but it’s the first real action he’s seed inside, so what do you expect?
If he can continue providing push up the middle on pass rushes and make the routine tackles, that should be enough to at least partially plug the massive hole left by injuries to Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith.
A win is a win, even if it’s ugly. Good teams beat bad teams, and that’s what happened on Sunday.
But if the Packers play as poorly as they did against Jacksonville next week against Arizona, they’ll be 5-4 heading into the bye instead of 6-3 like they hope to be.
The Cardinals secondary is much better than Jacksonville’s and Arizona’s front four will decapitate Aaron Rodgers if the Packers line is shaky and Rodgers holds the ball too long waiting for someone to get open.
If Nelson remains out, I’d like to see more screens and quick slants early to try and slow down the Arizona defense a bit. McCarthy and Rodgers have mostly avoided those two calls all season, so we’ll see if they adjust.