12

October

Packers Playbook (aka Hobbjective Analysis): Week 5 at Colts

If you’ve ever listened to the Green and Gold Today Podcast, I’m sure you’ve heard co-host Bill Johnson complain about the “soft underbelly of the defense”, by which he is referring to the fact that the Packers defense always seems to give up yardage in the middle of the field.  This “soft underbelly” was supposed to be fixed from last year but in the last two games, every time the Saints or Colts offense needed a big gain (often on 3rd and long) it seemed like all they had to do was throw the ball in the general direction of the middle field and one receiver would catch the ball without much trouble.  Marques Colston lit it up with 153 yards and a touchdown in week 4 and Reggie Wayne come out of last weeks game with 212 yards and a touchdown, which is especially disconcerting since the majority of those yards came in large chunks and in the middle of the field.  So what exactly is going on with the Packers defense and why are they giving up so many yards up the middle?

The situation: It’s the beginning of the 4th quarter and the Packers hold a 2 point advantage at 21-19.  The Packers were just forced to punt the ball and punter Tim Masthay pins the Colts at their own 15 yard line.  While the Packers appeared to have the game in the bag with a strong showing in the first half, the tide of success has definitely turned to the Colts as the Packers appear to have a lapse of concentration and accomplish nothing in the 3rd quarter.

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.

26

August

2011 NFL Preseason Week 3: Green Bay Packers – Indianapolis Colts Preview: The First Of TWO Trips To Indy?

If the NFL regular season is like a Broadway production, then the third week of the preseason would be considered the dress rehearsal.

For the Green Bay Packers, their dress rehearsal takes place on the same stage they hope to perform their grand finale: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI.

Before the Packers can hoist a fifth Lombardi Trophy however, the must play the Indianapolis Colts in their third preseason game.  The Packers are coming off a strong showing from their 28-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals last week and hope to build on the promise that was shown last week.

The Colts in the meantime are without their fearless leader, quarterback Peyton Manning, who continues to recover from offseason neck surgery.   The Colts are concerned Manning’s’ consecutive games streak is in jeopardy and brought in veteran Kerry Collins to lead the first team until Manning returns.

Breaking down the Colts

The Colts are terrible. In  the preseason that is.

For a team that is usually dominant during the regular season, the Colts struggle in the exhibition games. Why? Manning is such a machine that he usually doesn’t need to warm up at all.  The Colts have their offense mainly intact for so long that the players can read each other’s minds in their sleep.

That is how good Manning is.

With a formidable receiving corps including reliable veteran Reggie Wayne, young and promising Pierre Garcon, and dangerous tight end Dallas Clark, the Colts rival the Packers in offensive firepower when  Manning is under center.  Joseph Addai anchors the rushing attack, but this is a team that likes to move the ball through the air. With a solid offensive line, it is very tough to get to a Colts quarterback.

That said, the Packers will face a likely very rusty Collins in this game so they won’t have to worry about facing the four-time MVP unless they meet the Colts again on the same field in Super Bowl XLVI.

The Colts defense has traditionally been their Achilles heel.  Still, Dwight Freeney remains their most dangerous pass rusher.  Robert Mathis is solid along the line as well.  While not the strongest line in the league, the Colts defensive line will provide a challenge to the young Packers charged with protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers.