It was not a good day for the Green Bay Packers safeties, to say the least. S Morgan Burnett was on the wrong end of two touchdown passes while S M.D. Jennings was spinning around, lost, on another one. Burnett's first one was the worst because he probably knocked an INT right out of CB Tramon Williams's hands. There isn't a safety on the roster with an INT this season (only 3 INTs in 10 games for the entire defense) and the lack of splash plays in the secondary continues to hold them back. But Williams did look better in the slot, playing there after CB Casey Hayward was injured in the second quarter, and Williams almost had two INTs and he did force a fumble on a sack.
The worst part on defense was the 9:32 drive by the Eagles to end the game. That's the second week in a row (an 8:58 drive last week in the fourth quarter by the Bears) that their opponent ran out the clock on them. I haven't seen the defense struggle that badly in the fourth quarter since 2008, and after that season (the last time the Packers missed the playoffs) Mike McCarthy went out and found himself a new defensive coordinator.
And so begins the QB Scott Tolzien era. He's already been named the starter for next week and McCarthy was very impressed though he wasn't good (2 INTs and a QBR of 26.4 against a bad pass defense). But he makes the quickest decisions of any Packer backup I've seen this season. The one pass he waited too long to throw was an interception into traffic. He also has a tendency to throw the ball too high, which will probably lead to more tipped passes for INTs, but it looks like McCarthy has found a player he can coach up.
It wasn't a great statistical day for RB Eddie Lacy (24 for 73 yards) but he was able to get short yardage on third down when they needed it. And the mid-game loss of C Evan Dietrich-Smith made a difference; the running game just wasn't the same with T.J. Lang at center. I didn't see Lang make any obvious mistakes, maybe the bigger problem was bringing Marshall Newhouse in at RT, but they didn't run nearly as good in the second half. RT Don Barclay was also lost to a knee injury during the fourth quarter, but their struggles to run the ball began before he left.
So while I wrote the season is unraveling, they can turn it around by just winning some games. LB Clay Matthews returned, but he wasn't much of a factor (probably due to the giant club on his right hand) and the defense hasn't stopped either opponent from running or passing in their past two games. I don't know what they can do to fix their defense this season and it doesn't help that they keep losing players to injury (four more defenders hurt on Sunday). The offense will improve going forward because McCarthy seems to like Tolzien and QB Aaron Rodgers will return at some point. However the remaining three NFC North games are now looming much larger because they'll probably have to win all three to win the division.