Monday, September 10, 2012

Feeling Sick Recap: Packers Lose Home Opener To 49ers, 30-22

The best thing I can think to say about the Green Bay Packers opening game loss to the 49ers is that it's over. It reminded me a little of their playoff loss to the Giants; in a matchup of two quality teams, only one was ready to play.

Penalties. In the first week with replacement refs, maybe the Packers did what only Eagles WR Jason Avant admitted publicly; "Guys are going to kind of cheat." There seemed to be a lot of penalties around the league in week 1, and maybe every team was pushing it to the limit. The Packers had 10 penalties for the game, and at least 8 in the first half, so maybe there was an adjustment on that front at halftime. Still, two penalties in particular (hold/pass interference calls on Jarrett Bush and Charles Woodson) helped extend 49er drives, and gave the offense fewer chances in the first half.

Offense. I was a little concerned about the offensive inefficiency during the preseason, Aaron Rodgers probably had his least productive preseason since he's been named the starter, and it seemed to have spilled over into the regular season. His interception was really bad, but otherwise his accuracy was good and the offense seemed more efficient in the second half. They weren't ready for the start of the season, and it showed against a great defense. I expect they'll play better in the coming weeks.

Defense. What a wreck, though it was nice to see that Clay Matthews is off to a great start (2.5 sacks).

The run defense isn't going to be great, but it was better than it looked (32 carries and 186 yards against). The two big running plays were a designed quarterback run by backup QB Colin Kaepernick for 17 yards (it set up a field goal) and I don't know what Dom Capers was thinking at the time. When Kaepernick came in, the Packers stayed in their nickel package (maybe it was their dime) when it was well known that Kaepernick was going to be used as a runner, and he gashed a spread-out defense. The other big run was Frank Gore's 23 yard touchdown, which came against a deflated defense after Rodgers's ugly INT. The defensive players still have to make those plays, but it doesn't look like a sign that the defense has some fundamental flaw. Otherwise, it took 30 carries to earn 146 yards (4.8 ypc), which is not good, but isn't a crisis either considering that the Packers seemed to be in their nickel package (only two defensive lineman) for a majority of the game.

The pass defense is the bigger concern, as Alex Smith gashed them for two touchdowns and a 125.6 QB rating (8th best QBR for week 1 as four sacks dragged down his rating). The penalties I mentioned above were part of the problem, and CB Sam Shields looked a little passive on the touchdown pass to WR Michael Crabtree. The big problem seems to be their middle of the field zone, where the inexperience at safety (Morgan Burnett and the combination of M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian) and inside linebacker (4th career start for D.J. Smith). Also, rookie LB Nick Perry lining up against any receiver in the slot is asking for trouble. There's no solution at this point, except to let those young players grow with more experience.


PackFaninFl said...

Great analysis. I still think we are a very good to great team, but my expectations have been (temporarily) knocked down a peg or two. Other observations:

1) I don't see any big playmakers other than Clay on D! Where were Worthy and Perry, our two hot shot rookies? Was expecting more.

2) I think Woodson loses some of his dynamic playmaking when he is out of the slot. He is not flying around all over the place when he is stuck at safety. I love seeing Bush near the Line of Scrimmage but he's no Woodson. We need playmakers and they have to be placed in their optimal play making positions...

3) Communication issues again. This was a problem with our secondary last year. Lots of finger pointing and gesturing after big plays. Man I miss Nick Collins.

4) Big time downgrade from Bishop to DJ smith. Bishop was on pace for 10 sacks last year (before his injury) and still managed to be our leading tackler. DJ smith is plain and simply a shorter, less athletic, inferior player to Bish...

5) Marshall Newhouse to me seems just "meh". I thought the Offensive line overall lacked physicality, and you really saw that on running plays. And on pass plays, never sensed Rodgers was ever comfortable back there...

You know what? Not fretting on Rodgers too much. Tip my hat to the San Fran D. They even made Brees look human last year as well. They average allowing 14 points a game. They are beastly.

Brandon said...

I was disappointed in Perry (I wasn't expecting as much from Worthy) because he was going up against the 49ers poor RT Anthony Davis, but Perry couldn't get anything going.

I thought Newhouse played pretty well, considering the coaches left him alone against Aldon Smith (who did manage a sack). Smith's a fantastic pass rusher, and Newhouse was eaten alive by players like him (Miller, Allen, Pierre-Paul, Hali) last season. He's still improving.

PackFaninFl said...

Yeah, I will walk back the Newhouse criticism since Aldon Smith really is elite status. He will make lots of LTs around the league look worse than Marshall.

Another thing that struck me. I am focused on the lack of big plays from the defense, but listening to 1250 am this morning, we also had a lack of BASIC tackling and fundamentals on D. That Gore run at the end that iced it had really shoddy tackling.

Having said that, I think we'll improve. We have a professional staff and a team full of very professional/smart players.

On to da' Bears