29

October

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Packers 24, Jaguars 15

Aaron Rodgers

QB Aaron Rodgers was good but not spectacular for the Packers in their 24-15 win over the Jaguars

It was ugly but the Green Bay Packers will take it.

The Packers offense was not firing on all cylinders Sunday without their top two receivers in Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, but thankfully the defense was up to the task against a relatively impotent offense as the Packers hung on in an ugly 24-15 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Aaron Rodgers was good but not stellar as he missed his two favorite targets and Alex Green had a fair if not unimpressive performance against the Jaguars.   The defense, despite a third quarter touchdown, played solid in the red zone and kept the Jaguars out of the end zone for the rest of the game.

It would be unfair to say the Packers offense suddenly regressed thanks to injuries at wide receiver, but the running game needs to get going.  The defense also has been hobbled by injuries, but some bad habits seem to be resurfacing despite the unit’s overall solid play in the win.

Here’s who stood out and who didn’t in the win over the Jaguars.

Game Balls

S Morgan Burnett

People were watching to see how the secondary would do with the loss of Charles Woodson and Burnett came up big.  He had an interception, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and led the team with nine tackles.

When he wasn’t forcing turnovers, Burnett was constantly around the ball.  He showed solid tackling technique and took care of business in the defensive backfield. It’s not enough to help people forget about a special talent like Woodson, but it’s a reminder of how much young talent the Packers have in their secondary that will continue to improve with experience.

LB Brad Jones

Not to be outdone by Burnett, Jones played well in place of both the injured DJ Smith and Desmond Bishop.  Jones was touted at one time as the heir apparent to Aaron Kampman but thanks to the Packers’ commitment to the 3-4 scheme and the emergence of Clay Matthews, Jones became a forgotten man on the linebacker depth chart.

Thanks to Bishop and Smith landing on season ending injured reserved, Jones finally gets another chance and made the most of his chances against the Jaguars.  Jones also had one sack and a forced fumble plus he finished behind Burnett with seven tackles.

14

September

Packers 23, Bears 10: Game Balls and Lame Calls

Clay Matthews sacks Jay Cutler - again and again and again.

Clay Matthews sacks Jay Cutler – again and again and again.

Take the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hands, pound the ball with Cedric Benson and let the defense rule the day.

Just what everyone expected, right?

Utilizing a rather unorthodox (for them) gameplan, the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears 23-10 and moved to 1-1 on the season.   The Packers of 2011 played with an offense with so much firepower and a defense that was notorious for bending, but not breaking.

Last night, however, was something out of some kind of mirror universe.  The Packers sacked Jay Cutler seven times (with Clay Matthews accounting for exactly half of them) and intercepted him four times (Tramon Williams accounted for exactly half of those).  The Packers shut down Brandon Marshall and the defense created a Bears meltdown no Packer fan will soon forget.

The offense on the other hand showed some signs of rhythm, but still was nowhere near the juggernaut it was a season ago.  Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times and his receivers continued to be plagued by a case of the drops.

So who stood out? It’s time for another addition of Game Balls and Lame Calls.

 

Game Balls

 

LB Clay Matthews

I think It’s safe to say: the Claymaker is back.

Want proof? Through two games this season, Matthews has accumulated six sacks. His total from all of 2011 was….six. He is currently on pace for 48 sacks though he likely won’t finish with quite that many.

Even when he wasn’t throwing Cutler to the ground, Matthews was blowing up plays. The Packers found a favorable matchup and exploited it.

Looks like Matthews is back in 2010 form

 

CB Tramon Williams

Speaking of returning to form, Williams looks to be recovering nicely from the shoulder injury that plagued him throughout 2011.

Not only did he pickoff Cutler TWICE, he shut down one of the best receivers in the NFL in Brandon Marshall. Thanks to a bad throw that would have resulted in a touchdown, Marshall finished with two catches.

When you consider that Cutler rarely looked the way of his all time favorite target, then this adds up to a career night for Williams.

 

RB Cedric Benson

3

January

Game Balls and Lame Calls Week 17: Packers defeat Bears 10-3

The Green Bay Packers defeated their arch rival Chicago Bears on Sunday to lock up a wild card berth and the number six seed in the NFC.

To steal a line from Jim Mora, “PLAYOFFS?! PLAYOFFS?!”

Yes, the Packers are playoff-bound for the second consecutive year. This one, however, seems to be a little more special because of the injuries and adversity the Packers had to overcome. With 14 players on injured reserve, the Packers refused to feel sorry for themselves and find themselves in the middle of a wide open NFC playoff field.
Can the Packers win three straight on the road? That remains to be seen, but for now let’s take a look back at Sunday’s game in another edition of Game Balls and Lame Calls:

Game Balls

LB Erik Walden

WHO?

In yet another example of why general manager Ted Thompson’s system works so well, Walden came out of nowhere and sacked Bears quarterback Jay Cutler twice. Replacing the injured Frank Zombo, Walden gave all he had yesterday and contributed big to the six total sacks Cutler suffered yesterday.

In such a close defensive struggle, any tackle for a loss is huge and Walden got to Cutler more than most. His tremendous and hustle and surprising power helped turn the tide of the game in the Packers’ favor.

P Tim Masthay

I think it’s safe to say the Packers have finally found the punter.

With dangerous Bears returner Devin Hester lurking downfield on every punt, Masthay played brilliantly, keeping the ball out of Hester’s hands for the most part and at one point pinning the Bears at their own two yard line on back to back punts.

In the two times Hester did get the ball, the punt was long and high enough that it gave the Packers coverage team enough time to get downfield to minimize any damage that could have been done.

It may or may not be enough to save special teams coach Shawn Slocum’s job (judging by body of work, it shouldn’t), but at least coach Mike McCarthy can rest easily knowing he finally found his punter after five years on the job.

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers

Words really cannot express what Capers has meant to the Packers the past two years, yet alone the last two games.