Monday, September 16, 2013

Recap: Packers Trounce Team From Washington, 38-20

All the early Sunday afternoon games were close this week, except for the Green Bay Packers, who blew out their opponent at Lambeau Field. QB Aaron Rodgers had a personal best performance and he was on pace to challenge some NFL records before his defense ran into some second half troubles. However, the biggest ongoing story might be this one.
At first I was mad about S Brandon Meriweather's hit on Lacy, and his later hit on RB James Starks. For a bit of karma, his hit on Starks only concussed himself. But after reading more about how the hit on Lacy was with the crown of his helmet and should have drawn a flag, while he shouldn't have drawn a flag for his hit on Starks because it was the side of his helmet, I've given up being angry. The NFL's rules about helmet-to-helmet hits are just too subjective. Let's move on.

As for Lacy, the Packers didn't say anything specific after the game about his concussion. The NFL has a concussion protocol, and Lacy will go through it this week. No one knows at this time whether he'll play next Sunday.

Before I become too complementary about the Packers' offense, from Rodgers to his great receivers to the surprising 100 yard game from Starks; the Redskins' defense stinks. LBs Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo can get after the QB, and they combined for three sacks on Sunday, but there's no one else to write home about. LB London Fletcher has an impressive games played streak, but he looks done. LB Perry Riley had a big game last week against the Eagles, but he did little against the Packers. Their defensive line, featuring Packers' castoff DE Phillip Merling, had little impact. And their secondary did next to nothing except make tackles after long receptions.

The hits on Rodgers continue to be a concern. Four sacks and six QB hits, almost entirely from Kerrigan and Orakpo on the outside, this week after five QB hits (almost all from DE Aldon Smith on the outside) in Week 1 against the 49ers. The good news is that most of the pressure came early and the line looked better as the game went on.

While it was another bad week for the secondary, I'm still giving them a pass without S Morgan Burnett and CB Casey Hayward. They should return soon from their hamstring injuries. If not, their current players should improve in their expanded roles. Either way, the secondary should get better.

The secondary wasn't helped by the Packers' lack of a pass rush. LB Clay Matthews had a lot of trouble with Pro Bowl LT Trent Williams, the man is indestructible, and no one else picked up the pass rushing slack. The addition of two recent first round picks, DE Datone Jones and LB Nick Perry, still hasn't helped the pass rush. The pieces are in place but the results aren't there.

Having an MVP caliber QB in his prime, on one of his better days, can cover up problems elsewhere on the team. In 2011, Rodgers was so good it didn't matter much (until the playoffs) that the defense was lousy. In 2013, it hasn't mattered much that the defense is struggling when Rodgers has thrown for 813 yards, 7 TDs and only 1 INT in his first two games. But the questions about the pass rush and pass protection still remain and there is a lot of room for improvement.

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