Where to Point Fingers in Packers Loss to Bengals

Packers Jonathan Franklin fumbles against Bengals

Turnovers, like Jonathan Franklin’s fumble, were a major factor in the Packers’ loss to the Bengals.

I grow weary of Green Bay Packers losses. Not because they lose, but because I have to suffer the over-the-top reactions from fans every time. Okay, I guess it’s my choice to be involved in the Packers blogosphere and Twitterverse, but you get my point.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely no problem with being critical of your team after they lose a game like the Packers did to the Bengals. They should have won that game, and it was sloppy play that cost them. Regardless, it doesn’t mean that we need to start firing coaches or general managers. It doesn’t mean that our season is doomed.

But what really frustrates me is when fans automatically revert to grinding the axes they’ve been sharpening for years. When you mindlessly spout convenient excuses for a loss in anger and frustration, then your opinion lacks substance. Sure, there might be some valid points, but in many cases, it’s simply the failure of fans to objectively assess the game.

What do I mean? Let’s take this most recent loss. After thinking about the loss and reviewing some of the information, I’ve come away with some of the biggest reasons (and non-reasons) for the Packers’ loss. Below you’ll find three places where pointing your finger isn’t really a valid/honest assessment of the game, and then you’ll find three places where finger pointing is more than appropriate.

As always, feel free to agree/disagree in the comments section, but please keep it civil.


Where NOT to Point Your Finger:

1. Mike McCarthy’s Play Calling – Let’s get this out of the way first: that call on 4th-and-1 was horrible, no matter how much McCarthy wants to defend it. While I admire expecting your team to perform up to standard, I don’t understand why you try to use Franklin straight up the gut behind an average offensive line. Now, that aside, it’s complete bull manure to use that one example as an indicator of poor play-calling overall. I don’t have the analytical skills to judge McCarthy’s play-calling without going back to the tape, and I doubt a lot of you do, either. When the offense puts up 426 yards, how is that a failure? Not only that, but Starks ran for 55 yards on 14 carries (3.9 YPC), and Franklin ran for 103 yards on 13 carries (7.9 YPC). Even without the 51-yard run, Franklin still had 4.3 YPC. You can’t reduce unsuccessful downs simply to bad play calls, because you also have to consider the element of player execution. And until someone can provide some concrete analysis of the offensive tactics, then blaming McCarthy’s play-calling is just convenient belly-aching.



Cory’s Corner: Packers offensive line must be adequate

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 10 times already and pressured numerous more.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 10 times already and pressured numerous more.

Many people have been praising the offensive line for two straight solid rushing performances.

Granted, the numbers sure do look gaudy. The Packers racked up 139 yards rushing and 5.8 yards a rush against the Redskins. But let’s not forget that the Redskins haven’t exactly been scaring folks on the offensive side of the ball. Washington is tied for 30th in the league by giving up 155 yards a game. And Johnathan Franklin came in admirably in the second half at Cincinnati by tallying 103 yards, but the Bengals had never seen Franklin on tape before so his tendencies weren’t yet known.

Despite those performances from the last two weeks, the offensive has to play better. In three games, the Packers offensive line has been penalized 10 times, with the majority of the penalties coming by way of holding. Those are inexcusable penalties that can easily be fixed. Coming into the Bengals game the Packers had the ninth most holding penalties in the NFL.

When Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers saw the schedule for the first time last spring, they both saw the first three games and had a little trepidation. Everyone knew how good the 49ers defense was going to be after making an appearance in the Super Bowl last February but I’m willing to argue that the Bengals defense is even better.

And if you know a defense is big and physical, more time should be spent to make sure that Rodgers’ jersey stays clean for as long as possible. Obviously that mantra has been forgotten because Rodgers has been sacked 10 times already, which is tied for fifth-highest in the league.

I realize that Bryan Bulaga, the future personal protector of Rodgers at left tackle for the foreseeable future, going down for the season with a torn ACL was a huge blow.

But at the same time, David Carr was sacked 262 times in six seasons and is now watching his younger brother at Fresno State. Rodgers has been sacked 212 times ever since he took over as the starting quarterback in 2008. Every game he gets knocked sideways and pretty soon he’s not going to be able to get back up. And the moment happens, the Packers go from a legitimate 11-5 team to a 6-10 team.



Packers Face Another Early Turning Point

Rodgers and McCarthy

McCarthy and Rodgers have not fared well when playing from behind late in games

Last season and after the loss to the Seattle Seahawks, I wrote about how the Green Bay Packers were facing a turning point in their early season.  It seemed like a knee-jerk reaction to what was a huge debacle by the replacement officials and the NFL because it was after only three games.  Turns out, the Packers did get it together enough to win the NFC North and win a playoff game.  In looking back at last season, the Seattle loss still looms as the turning point in 2012.

Here we are, three weeks into the 2013 season and seemingly at what could be this season’s turning point.  Sure, some will say it’s too early, I’m being hasty, I’m a downer on Twitter and when this team gets all of its injured guys back, the Packers will be fine.

The “problem” that the Packers have, as far as fans are concerned, is that with a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay will always be a contender who can win any game.  Therefore, the expectation to win is high.  When the Packers don’t win, there is usually an adverse reaction that ranges from mild displeasure to profanity laced rants on twitter to some jumping out the 10th story window.  Emotional responses by fans, players and coaches are a part of football.  It’s contagious when we are watching a game that thrives on emotion and so we respond in kind.

But let’s try to take the emotion out of the equation for a minute and look at a few things that are happening now that could play into how the Packers respond after today’s loss and the upcoming bye week.

Tough Opponents

What is a “tough opponent”?  For the purposes of this discussion, I’m talking about playoff-caliber teams.  So far, the Packers have faced, and lost to, two such opponents.  Last season, four of the Packers’ five losses were to playoff teams.  Their fifth loss was to the New York Giants, who were the defending Super Bowl champions.  They beat only two teams who made last year’s playoffs (Houston Texans and Minnesota Vikings).



Packers vs. Bengals – Game Day First Impressions, Unfiltered: Cin 34 GB 30

Jeremy Ross Muff - Packers vs. Bengals

Oh, Jeremy…

Green Bay Packers vs. Cincinnati Bengals:  2013 Game 3

Unfiltered game day blog post of comments, observations and first impressions.



For the second straight week, the Packers are facing an opponent coming off a Monday Night game. Always an advantage to some degree.

Two Bengals cornerbacks are out today, though neither are major contributors. Still, Aaron Rodgers is presently wiping the saliva off his chin… Pacman Jones, are you ready?

Today’s captains for the Packers: - WR Jordy Nelson (offense), CB Sam Shields (defense) and TE Ryan Taylor(special teams).


Inactives for today:

Green Bay PackersGreen Bay Packers
24 CB Jarrett Bush
27 RB Eddie Lacy
29 CB Casey Hayward
30 FB John Kuhn
42 S Morgan Burnett
65 G Lane Taylor
93 DE Josh Boyd

43 M.D. Jennings & 22 Jerron McMillian will start at safety for the Packers. 44 James Starks will start at RB for 27 Eddie Lacy. In place of 30 John Kuhn, either 89 James Jones is expected to start as a 3rd WR or 81 Andrew Quarless is expected to start as a 2nd TE.

Cincinnati Bengals
21 CB Brandon Ghee
27 CB Dre Kirkpatrick
33 RB Rex Burkhead
67 G Mike Pollak
73 T Anthony Collins
88 WR Ryan Whalen
99 DE Margus Hunt


Mike McCarthy Pregame Show on 620 WTMJ:

Tough stretch: Definitley. You’re going to find out what kind of team you have early on.

Progress in week 2: Main thing was the start of the game, how we came out and played from the first snap.

Starks as starter:  James has played good football for us in the past. He’s been fighting through the competition at running back and has  done well.

Lacy/Kuhn: Both will not be available today.

Diff. protection schemes on 3rd down: Well, we’re going to play with John Starks and Johnathan Franklin.

Bengals: Very good at creating matchups they like. Frankly what they try to do is stress the middle of your pass defense and create the opportunities for AJ Green outside.

Improvement on defense: Absolutely. Washington didn’t convert a third down until the third quarter.  Pass defense when you HAVE to stop them, that’s something we have to do a better job of.

Trenches: Very talented on both sides of the ball upfront. They go 7-8 deep on the defensive line.  Offensive line are big. They’ve gone more to pattern schemes.



Packers Periscope: Eyeing the Enemy (Bengals)

After easily dumping the Washington Redskins last Sunday in their home opener, the Green Bay Packers once again hit the road and tomorrow face the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals, like the Packers, are 1-1 and are tied for first place in the AFC North with the defending world champion Baltimore Ravens.  Cincinnati was the chic pick by many to win the AFC North and after an opening day loss to the Chicago Bears, they bounced back nicely against the Pittsburgh Steelers Monday night, defeating their archrival by a score of 20-10.

Despite some accuracy issues by quarterback Andy Dalton, the Bengals were able to move the ball in the second half and a depleted Pittsburgh team just couldn’t keep up.  Rookie running back Giovani Bernard took some of the pressure off of Dalton and helped put the Steelers away.

The last time we met

The last time the Bengals and Packers met, the game ended in heartbreak for Green Bay.  During their Week 2 game in 2009, the Bengals edged the Packers 31-24 after Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers failed to stop the clocked in a frantic last minute drive to score the game-tying touchdown.

This also was the same game former Cincinnati receiver Chad Ochocinco/Johnson performed the Lambeau Leap he was promising/threatening all week. Carson Palmer was able to move the ball down the field almost at will with Green Bay still adjusting to their new 3-4 defense.

The Bengals lead the overall series between the two teams, 6-5.

What’s up in the ‘Nati

The Cincinnati offense has tremendous potential, especially with the acquisition of Bernard in the draft, but like many NFL teams it has a question mark at quarterback.  Since the team went its separate ways with Carson Palmer the Bengals have placed their faith in Andy Dalton, the third year quarterback out of TCU.

Dalton’s performance thus far has been rather, well, average.  To date, he has thrown 50 touchdown passes in his career to 31 interceptions.   Dalton is one of those solid yet unspectacular quarterbacks, much like Kyle Orton when he was with the Chicago Bears.  There remains a lot of doubt about whether or not Dalton can take the Bengals to the next level, especially with how much talent is now around him on the offense.



Cory’s Corner: Packers have the better WR in Jordy

Jordy Nelson has three TDs in two games this season.

Jordy Nelson has three TDs in two games this season.

“It’s two games, but you can see how quick it can happen. James (Jones) went from no yards in Week 1 to 179 in Week 2,” said Jordy Nelson when asked about the possibility of himself and Randall Cobb each finishing the year with 1,000 yards receiving.

On Sunday you’re going to see two of the best receivers in the NFL.

Growing up on a farm in the plains of Kansas, Jordy Nelson probably never thought he would be compared to the likes of A.J. Green.

But when it’s time for kickoff Sunday afternoon, those two will represent the best at the position in what has become a passing renaissance in the new-look NFL.

However, the interesting aspect is that they’ve done it in different ways.

Nelson is 15th in the league with 196 receiving yards, yet of all the receivers in the top 15, he has the least amount of targets with 14. The reason Nelson has been able to dazzle defenses is because of the amazing supporting cast. He plays alongside fellow wideout Randall Cobb who has been targeted eight more times and is third in the NFL with 236 yards. And let’s not forget about tight end Jermichael Finley, who has found a way to curb his past and put all of his energy into his God-given talents, which has him on the fast track for an All-Pro season.

Oh, and you’re probably wondering about James Jones. Well, he merely led the NFL in touchdown grabs last year with 14. He’s got 12 targets this season, which is surprising considering he had zero after Week 1.

Green, on the other hand has been blessed with height, speed, catching ability and just enough power to be a problem. Put all those things together and he is a horror film for any defensive back.

Green is looking for his third straight 1,000-yard season on a team that doesn’t have another pass catcher that’s even as close to as reliable as the above guys are to Nelson.

But what Green has is that he will always be the Bengals’ alpha dog. Green doesn’t have to worry about where the ball is going on 3rd-and-7 with the game on the line. Andy Dalton will keep his eyes glued to his two-time Pro Bowler before being forced to pass it anywhere else.



Packers vs. Bengals Week 3 Game Predictions from AllGreenBayPackers.com

Week 3: Green Bay Packers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 1-1 Green Bay Packers 28-17
I still don’t trust the Green Bay secondary, especially with Burnett likely still out. The Bengals also have a strong front four so this won’t be the cakewalk the Washington game was. The Packers offense is still a juggernaut however and Green Bay is 2-1 going into the bye
“Jersey” Al Bracco 1-1 Green Bay Packers 31-19
Most everyone is expecting a close game, but I think it will be easier than that. The much improved Packers defense will force the Bengals to kick field goals and the offense is primed for another big day.
Adam Czech 2-0 Green Bay Packers 30-22
I don’t like this matchup for the Packers. The Bengals remind me of a poorman’s version of the 49ers: Physical d-line, good running game, a lot of athleticism. The Packers almost beat the 49ers, though, and I think they will beat the Bengals. Aaron Rodgers is too good to lose to a poorman’s version of San Francisco.
Marques Eversoll 2-0 Green Bay Packers 24-23
There are some very interesting matchups in this game. The Packers’ defense is weak in the middle of the field, and the Bengals have two talented tight ends (Gresham, Eifert) and a speedy air back in Gio Bernard, whereas Bengals’ defense is weak at safety, and the Packers are really, really good at wide receiver. It’s going to come down to the wire, but I think the Packers win, all thanks to Mason “Money” Crosby.
Thomas Hobbes 1-1 Green Bay Packers 24-21
I said it on the podcast and I will say it again: if the Chicago Bears can beat the Bengals so can the Packers.  Chicago has a long storied tradition of fielding poor offensive lines and while that has improved this year, I don’t think anyone would claim they are way better than the Packers line.  Also while the Bengals have many offensive weapons, the Packers have even more.
Cory Jennerjohn 2-0 Green Bay Packers 23-21