Sunday, September 30, 2012

Recap: Packers Comeback To WIn, 28-27

Despite the departure of the replacement refs, two bad calls almost cost them the game (no offensive pass interference called on WR Marques Colston's touchdown reception, and no fumble called on RB Darren Sproles during his kick off return). There's nothing more to do about it except hope that penalty karma eventually pays them back.

With the first four games in the book, and arguably the toughest part of their schedule complete, the Packers are in decent shape sitting at 2-2. I had expected them to lose one of their first four games anyway, and they've come away with two recorded wins (plus one taken away by a replacement ref). They've managed this despite struggles on offense and few turnovers created by the defense (yes, the replacement refs were part of the problem) but it's left them with a -3 turnover margin, which is very uncharacteristic for one of Mike McCarthy's teams.

The main problem has, surprisingly, been the offense. They didn't look right during the preseason, but I expected the veteran group to put it together by the start of the season. It hasn't happened yet. QB Aaron Rodgers hasn't been as accurate and the offensive line has had trouble in pass protection. They looked a lot better against the Saints thanks to improved pass blocking (0 sacks, 1 QB hit) but the Saints don't have a pass rush either and rank at or near the bottom in total defense. If the offensive line can build on their success on Sunday, they'll keep getting better all season long. It sure didn't hurt to see TE Tom Crabtree, one of their best blockers, return after missing the eight sack disaster in Seattle.

It wasn't a great game for the defense as they had trouble covering Colston and TE Jimmy Graham on 3rd down. The pass rush wasn't much of a factor, but the Saints protect well (9 sacks allowed in 4 games this season). CB Sam Shields had a bad game and allowed WR Joseph Morgan to run downfield uncovered (then failed to wrap up on the tackle) but he had these type of problems during the preseason so it should come as no surprise. He might only be keeping the seat warm until CB Davon House returns from his shoulder injury. I really wish DE Jerel Worthy would stop jumping offsides. They'd look a lot better if they could start forcing some turnovers, which has been a staple of their defense for the past few seasons. It feels like that's only a matter of time.

Looking ahead over the next five games, the schedule features two games versus currently unbeaten teams. Next Sunday is the Colts at Lambeau and it should be another big game for the offense. Then they travel to Houston to face the Texans (that's probably a loss), at the Rams (who's offense is still bad), Jaguars at Lambeau (QB Blaine Gabbert looks awful), and finally the undefeated Cardinals at Lambeau (a matchup I still like for the Packers).  If they could come away with a record of 6-3 entering the bye week, while not as good as their 9-0 start in 2011, it would be the same record they had on their way to the Super Bowl in 2010.

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