5

January

Another ho-hum Playoff Performance from Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

Once again, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers could not lead the Packers to a playoff win.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers signed a $110 million contract extension before the 2012 season. In Sunday’s wild-card round playoff loss to the 49ers, Rodgers made a couple of $110 million plays, but didn’t have a $110 million game.

The performance was a microcosm of Rodgers’ postseason play since winning Super Bowl XLV.

Now before you get all bent out of shape, I’m not blaming Rodgers for the loss or demanding that the Packers try and find a new quarterback. Rodgers is the best quarterback in the league and he gives the Packers a legit shot at the Super Bowl every season.

And I do feel guilty for writing a post that is critical of Rodgers when there are all kinds of other reasons why the Packers season has ended early three years in a row.

But ever since going on a tear and winning the Super Bowl in 2010, Rodgers hasn’t had another standout postseason performance — the kind of game that cements legacies and delivers memorable playoff wins that are talked about for the next 30 years.

Rodgers’ quarterback rating on Sunday was 97.8. That’s very good. However, he only threw for 177 yards and when the Packers had a chance to take control of the game early, Rodgers and the offense went three-and-out on its first three possessions. Then when the Packers had a chance to take a lead late, Rodgers and offense sputtered in the red zone and only managed a game-tying field goal.

Rodgers hasn’t thrown for more than 300 yards in the postseason since Super Bowl XLV and has only six touchdowns in four games.

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has 1,025 passing yards and two fourth-quarter rallies in four playoff games (and 362 rushing yards). Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has 731 passing yards one fourth-quarter comeback win in only two playoff games. Rodgers has 972 passing yards and zero fourth-quarter comebacks in his last four postseason games.

Since hoisting the Lombardi Trophy three seasons ago, the Packers are 17-for-49 (35 percent) on third-down conversions in the postseason. During the Super Bowl run, Rodgers helped the Packers convert 24 of 49 (49 percent) third downs.

28

November

Around the NFC North in Week 13

Around the NFC North

Around the NFC North in week 13

With just five weeks remaining in the 2012 NFL season, we take a look around the NFC North at the matchups and storylines.

In week 13, a bit of Luck visits the Detroit Lions in the form of the Indianapolis Colts while the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears tangle for the third time in as many straight seasons.  The Green Bay Packers come home to host their neighbors to the west, the Minnesota Vikings for the first time in 2012.

This divisional race is starting to take shape with the Bears in first place and the Packers breathing down their necks, a close second.  The Vikings are still alive, to the surprise of many, while the Detroit Lions have made their road to a repeat playoff appearance very difficult.

Here’s the breakdown:

Indianapolis Colts (7-4) at Detroit Lions (4-7)

The surprising Indianapolis Colts come into Detroit to face the struggling Lions.  The Colts find themselves in the thick of the AFC Wild Card race.  While many knew Andrew Luck would eventually turn into a solid NFL quarterback, few would have foreseen the success that this team has had so far in 2012.

With that said, let’s also consider that only one of Indianapolis’ wins have come against a team that would currently be in this year’s playoffs (Packers in week 5).  But they are taking steps in the right direction after having won only two games last season.  At least they’re beating the teams that are struggling (Detroit falls into this category) or just plain bad.

While the Lions took the Houston Texans to overtime last week, they were unable to get the elusive Thanksgiving Day win and fell to 4-7.

Detroit’s biggest advantage in this game is that it’s at home.  While much has been made of Detroit’s offensive output this season, Indianapolis isn’t far behind.  The Lions rank 2nd in total yards while the Colts are 5th.  I expect this game to be a shootout.  An indoor game featuring two top offenses and two good quarterbacks.

Each team has had their issues on defense that have prevented them from winning some of their close games.  Both teams also have negative give/take ratios heading into this one. Detroit is at (-7) while Indianapolis is at (-14).

10

October

Packers News: Nick Perry fined $15k for hit on Luck

Nick Perry hits Andrew Luck in the chest, gets flagged and fined

Nick Perry hits Andrew Luck in the chest, gets fined

In the latest edition of players getting fined for playing football, Packers linebacker Nick Perry was fined $15,000 for his hit on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck this past Sunday.

According to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Perry plans to appeal the fine.

On the play, the official referred to Luck as a “defenseless player,” which is usually a term reserved for a receiver attempting to make a catch with no way of shielding himself from an coming collision. Luck, however, was standing in the pocket with five competent offensive linemen in front of him.

So in essence, labeling Luck a “defenseless player” is perhaps the biggest slight one could possibly give to an offensive line. Watch the play again, and see exactly what Perry was flagged, and fined, for.

Luck clearly didn’t see the Perry coming, and as a result, he was smacked by a 270-pound freight train. Perry does something that players nowadays are taught not to do, which is leading with the helmet. However, Perry hit Luck directly in the acceptable, yet constantly shrinking region to hit quarterbacks–square in the chest. The ball popped lose, and Packers linebacker D.J. Smith recovered.

The nine-yard sack was Perry’s second of the season, but a 15-yard penalty negated the turnover altogether. But if there’s a bright side to the story, it’s that Perry finally flashed his massive potential.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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9

October

Little Mistakes Add Up to Big Loss for Packers

Rodgers vs. ColtsThere’s nothing worse than missing a game where the Green Bay Packers lose. Yes, it saves some heartache and keeps the remote control from flying across the room, but it’s disheartening to know that, when I go back and watch it, I’m only going to be disappointed. The one silver lining, however, is that the emotion has taken its course, and I can look at things a little more objectively.

With this in mind, I already knew what to look for when the Green Bay Packers dropped an 18-point halftime lead over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. I had to figure out what changed between the two halves of play and why things started going south. A lot of blame was passed around in the 24 hours following the loss, but I wanted to draw my own conclusions with the tape to back up my claims.

And what did I find? While I agree with “Jersey” Al that the offense deserves a lot of the heat, I don’t think I can point my finger directly at the play calling. And though Adam Czech is correct in pointing out the missed scoring opportunity at the end of the first half, I think there’s more to it than that. In fact, what I discovered was a lot of little things that added up to big problems. There was no one consistent failure, but multiple mistakes and drive-killers that allowed the Colts to make an historic comeback.

Dropped Passes by the Usual Suspects

It didn’t take long for people to start asking why the Packers didn’t put the Colts away in the first half. They were sitting on an 18-point lead and had over a minute to put a scoring drive together going into halftime. While it is a good question, the answer didn’t have anything to do with a lack of trying.

The Packers made a nice 6-yard gain on a short outside pass to Kuhn, who also managed to run out of bounds and stop the clock. Good play calling to start the drive, if you ask me. In fact, I didn’t have any issues with the next two play calls – it was the execution that mattered. Jordy Nelson made a big drop over the middle on 2nd-and-4, and then Jermichael Finley followed it up with a drop on third down to end the drive. So after less than 20 seconds coming off the play clock, the Packers punted it back to the Colts.

8

October

Could This Loss to the Colts be a Turning Point for the Packers?

Right Way Wrong Way sign

The Packers must find the quickest route to get back on their winning ways

In most any situation in life, be it a movie, fight, game, etc.,  there is a turning point.  At five games into this season and with two tough road games coming up, the Green Bay Packers face just that.  Some may say it’s too early to see it that way, but this sport is about momentum and the Pack need to shift it in the positive direction now.   If this isn’t THE turning point, it’s the beginning of it.

A 2-3 record is hardly a “game over” scenario.  Even if they aren’t able to overtake the Houston Texans  next week, there is still plenty of time for this team to make good on the 2012 season.

That said, it won’t come by continuing some of the things this team has done through five games.  It bears repeating that the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different outcome.  The Pack need to realistically consider some different options to help turn this thing in the right direction.

There were many takeaways from this game but a few that really stood out:

Pass Rush

Dom Capers likes to put the defense in the zone coverage when the Pack get a healthy lead and opponents start throwing a lot.  It’s sometimes referred to as the ‘bend but don’t break’ defense.  Well, it’s broken.   Even when the Packers blitzed in the 2nd half today, they couldn’t get there.  They had some success in the first half but seemingly ran out of gas and were sending only four rushers at the end of the game.

Colts QB Andrew Luck may be a rookie, but he’s already the type of QB who teams must pressure to stop the Colts offense.  On the last drive, everyone knew he was going to be throwing and likely looking for WR Reggie Wayne.  Still, the Packers were stonewalled and gave up completion after completion with Wayne scoring the go-ahead TD.  It was similar to the Giants playoff game.  Giving a good QB too much time and surprising to no one, he always found an open man.  Even the best DB’s will give up plays having to cover 4+ seconds.

7

October

Green Bay Packers at Indianapolis Colts: Key Matchups

Cedric Benson

Cedric Benson could have a big day against the Colts

This Green Bay Packers head to Indianapolis this weekend to face the Colts, who had their bye last week.  Each team is in need of a win to set the tone heading into the season’s 2nd quarter.  Before we dive into the key matchups, a little bit on each team and this matchup’s history.

Last week, it was announced that Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia.  He will take leave from the team to treat the illness and according to Colts Owner Jim Irsay, it’s very possible that Pagano may not return to the sideline this year.  This is something that is sure to rally the Colts in this game as they will be playing with a bit of extra emotion for their coach.

The Packers are coming off their come-from-behind win vs. the New Orleans Saints.  A week removed from the very controversial loss in Seattle, the Packers were nearly victimized again by the officiating despite the return of the union refs.  They hung on and evened their record to 2-2.

While these 2 teams rarely see each other, these contests have not typically been short on points.  Back in 1997, the defending champion Packers came into Indianapolis heavy favorites but were outdone for 1 of only 3 losses that season.  In 2004, again in Indianapolis, quarterbacks Brett Favre and Peyton Manning duked it out in a shootout that ended with Indianapolis again getting the win at home.  The last matchup was in 2008 at Lambeau Field where the Packers defense starred in the win, taking 2 INT’s back for scores against Manning’s Colts.

While the Packers appear to be clear favorites tomorrow, let’s look at a few keys that will likely emerge as the game progresses.

Aaron Rodgers vs. the Colts secondary

The Packers are and will likely be a pass-first team as long as Rodgers is their QB.  Even with the emergence of Cedric Benson as a more legitimate threat on the ground, the Pack’s success rests on the arm of #12.

Tomorrow will present a good opportunity for Rodgers and the offense to continue some of that success they had last week when he threw for 4 TD’s against the Saints.  The Colts are dinged up in a secondary that was already not top-flight.  CB Vontae Davis, who was acquired from Miami during the offseason, will not play due to an ankle injury.

5

October

2012 NFL Regular Season Week 5: Packers vs Colts Preview

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense look to keep the rhythm going against the Indianapolis Colts.

They say lightning never strikes the same place two times in a row, but the Green Bay Packers nearly witnessed such an occurrence.

Not even one full week removed from the debacle in Seattle, the Packers inconceivably nearly lost a second consecutive game thanks to some dubious officiating by regular official Jeff Triplette and his crew.  Thanks to a big goal line stand by a defense that was leaky all game and an offense that finally showed signs of life, the Packers hung on to defeat the New Orleans Saints 28-27 at Lambeau Field.

With the win, the Packers go to 2-2 on the season and after a wacky schedule to start the season, the Packers go on the road for three straight games beginning this Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Indianapolis Colts.

The Colts had a bye in Week 4 and enter the game with a record of 1-2. The team also will play its first game without head coach Chuck Pagano who recently was diagnosed with Leukemia and may not coach the rest of the season.  Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians will coach the team in Pagano’s absence.

What can Packers fans expect from this game?

Scouting the Colts

The Colts currently are going through what the Packers did in 2008 and that’s transitioning from a future Hall of Fame quarterback to his replacement.   The Packers struck gold with Aaron Rodgers and it stands to reasons the Colts could do the same with Andrew Luck.

Luck was the most NFL ready quarterback drafted last April, though Robert Griffin III with the Redskins has outplayed him so far this season.   The Colts pretty much cleaned house after last season’s disastrous campaign with Peyton Manning out the entire year with a neck injury.  Gone are Jeff Saturday (who is with the Packers), Pierre Garcon and Joseph Addai and in are Samson Satele, Donald Brown and Donnie Avery.

Veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne is back however and should be serving as Luck’s security blanket as he adjusts to the speed of an NFL game.

So far this season, Luck has thrown for 846 yards with five touchdowns against four interceptions.  His completion percentage is 53.3%.   Luck throws a very good deep ball but has struggled with accuracy.  This figures to improve with time so the Packers should feel lucky getting the Colts early versus playing them in November or December.