Monday, September 30, 2013
We won't know for sure how they're doing until the first injury report is posted on Wednesday, but apparently there are some question marks surrounding them because the Packers just added another running back to the active roster.
Packers sign RB Michael Hill to active roster; WR Reggie Dunn takes Hill's spot on practice squad: http://t.co/3ubRNDwOltMy guess is that Hill will be inactive next week because at least three of the four backs will return before next Sunday. But it's now possible that Hill could be needed on the field.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) September 30, 2013
I had hoped they would promote WR Charles Johnson from the practice squad to fill the roster spot opened up by WR Jeremy Ross's release, but the injury situation at running back made depth an issue.
As for Hill, he was one of three finalists for the Harlon Hill Trophy (Division II's Heisman) so he had a hell of a college career. Based on his pro day results, at 5-10 and 209 lbs. he's like a slightly slower version (4.60 40 time) of Johnathan Franklin (4.46 40 time). Though not too many players make the leap from Division II into the NFL, one of the notable exceptions is John Kuhn.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Saturday, September 28, 2013
Friday, September 27, 2013
Bears at Lions. The Lions are favored by three because they're playing at home, but otherwise the line is considered a draw. Both teams lost a key player this week (Henry Melton for the Bears, Nate "Pizza Guy" Burleson for the Lions) so that's a push. The Bears have a better record and have been playing better than the Lions. The Lions won their 2011 home meeting during the Lions' early 2011 hot streak, while the Bears had a two point win in Week 17 in Detroit last season. It should be a good, close game, and definitely the premier NFC North matchup this weekend compared to the other one.
Steelers "at" Vikings. It's a Vikings "home" game being played in London, England. Both teams are 0-3 and both teams stink, but both of them stink equally, entering Sunday ranked No. 23 and No. 24 overall according to Football Outsiders. Last year's game in London was a real stinker, so I'm not expecting to see the cleanest game ever played, and for added stink the Vikings will be forced to start QB Matt Cassel so they can see for themselves why every Chiefs fan wanted him gone. At the end of it, one of these teams will be 1-3 and can stake the claim that they've turned their season around, though in the Vikings' case their problems looked real at the beginning of the season. There's not much to see here for Packer fans except to watch how low the Vikings sink on Sunday.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
|Team||Overall Rank||Offense Rank||Defense Rank||Special Teams|
One note; these rankings are not adjusted to reflect strength of schedule, which actually should hurt all four NFC North teams because collectively the division has only played two games against a team currently ranked in the Football Outsiders Top 10. The Bears beat the Bengals in Chicago, and the Packers lost in Cincinnati. Also, that does not include the 49ers, who are currently ranked number twenty-seven overall, right below the Browns.
Which team might be expected to improve as the season goes on? The Bears defense was the top rated unit in 2012 according to Football Outsiders, but the firing of Lovie Smith and the recent season ending injury to DT Henry Melton might keep them from moving up the rankings. The Packers defense can't get much worse, and it's more likely that they get better once all the starters return from their hamstring injuries. Detroit's rankings are basically the same as last year, and their defense might slip once they start playing against above average offenses (the only good one they've played so far has been Washington's). Unless RB Adrian Peterson turns back into Superman, I don't know how the Vikings can realistically expect to improve.
Currently the Packers's divisional record stands at 0-0. Once they start winning their divisional games, which will begin on October 6th when they host the Lions, they'll start moving up in the rankings and the standings. They've had two tough road losses so far this season, but those losses will matter little if they go 6-0 in the division. Get healthy, forget the past, and just win the games they expect to win.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
@Jake_NFL Dunlap was good. Allowed a cuple 1Ds in coverage tho. Lost OC on a run and was bullied by RT on one play. P and H came unblockedBengals LB Carlos Dunlap is a rising star, but he didn't have a lot of success against Barclay who now is ranked among the Top 10 pass blocking tackles according to Pro Football Focus. That's a far cry from where he was when he became an emergency starter last season. Ironically, he was a much better run blocker last season, while this season it seems he's better as a pass blocker. However, a couple of whiffed blocks might not be the whole story for a line that's now blocked for a 100 yard rusher in consecutive weeks. He's been an excellent find as an undrafted free agent that almost no one thought could play tackle in the NFL.
— John Breitenbach (@PFF_John) September 23, 2013
Monday, September 23, 2013
The Green Bay #Packers have released WR Jeremy Ross: http://t.co/hMXagzTsEJHaving said that, I'm really surprised they released him. I had completely written him off as a return man and I didn't trust him anymore, but I thought he would still have a role as a backup wide receiver. On the other hand, if you're a backup and you can't contribute on special teams, then it's hard to keep a roster spot.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) September 23, 2013
There's not a lot going on this week before the bye, so the Packers might not be in a big hurry to fill Ross's spot. My first hope is that this gives 7th round draft pick WR Charles Johnson a chance to be promoted from the practice squad. He didn't make much noise this preseason as he dealt with injuries and he didn't see too many good passes thrown his way while the Packers struggled finding a backup QB, but I really like his potential as a James Jones type receiver. However, if the running back situation is still such an injury riddled nightmare, the open roster spot be given to practice squad RB Michael Hill. I'm not expecting much from Hill, here's a very good look at him, but they just need a healthy body at this point.
QB Aaron Rodgers. Early in the game, his receivers weren't getting open and his line wasn't blocking. The o-line continues to have trouble with stunts and C Evan Dietrich-Smith was overmatched on a few plays. After the line improved and the receivers started to create some separation, Rodgers had trouble getting back into a rhythm. He also couldn't get on the same page with his head coach. For him to throw two interceptions is very strange, especially the pass he underthrew down the sidelines that was intercepted by Leon Hall.
But then Johnathan Franklin has a huge game (pre-fumble). He got a lot of help from his blockers, but he made also made a lot of great moves in the open field. As for the fumble, it was dumb luck that the Bengals were able to return it for a touchdown. Forcing a fumble is a skill, but recovering one fumble, fumbling it again, and then recovering a second fumble on the same play, is a fluke.
As I was watching the game, I wanted them to run it on fourth down. The defense was definitely missing LB Clay Matthews in the second half, and kicking a field goal to go up by six points doesn't help if the Bengals march down for another touchdown. For Franklin to fumble in that situation is just inexcusable since ball protection should be his priority. Let the line get the push (they didn't anyway) and he should make sure he holds onto the ball.
Missing Matthews. The Bengals didn't have the ball on offense a lot after halftime, but they did score touchdowns on two of their four second half possessions. This was after the defense allowed only 37 yards on the Bengals' final six possessions of the first half. During that impressive streak, Matthews forced two fumbles. In the second half, the Bengals didn't turn the ball over once. Maybe all it would have taken was one big play from the Claymaker to turn it around. Apparently he thinks his hamstring injury will be just fine, and he'll get the bye week to make sure.
And this wouldn't have been a close game if WR Jeremy Ross hadn't completely botched his first kickoff attempt. Plus he gave me a coronary when he almost touched it before it went out of bounds at the two yard line on another. I'd give him a pass on one game, but he made bad decisions in their loss against the 49ers and now he makes a critical turnover. If CB Micah Hyde can provide a boring 20 yard return every time with sure hands, I'd hope they switch from Ross to Hyde as soon as possible.
It's going to be a long bye week.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Saturday, September 21, 2013
Friday, September 20, 2013
And 21 years ago today, a young Brett Favre saw his first action with the #Packers and led them to a thrilling come-from-behind victory.The Bengals are in the AFC's middle class, they've made it to the playoffs and lost in the first round in each of the last two seasons, and they have the potential to become a Super Bowl contender. But after a road loss to the Bears and a home win against the Steelers (who have major issues on offense), I'm not sure where that leaves them. They have Wild Card potential but I'm not sure whether they're good enough to beat a playoff caliber team. Here are the team rankings courtesy of Football Outsiders:
— Packerpedia (@Packerpedia) September 20, 2013
|Team||Pass Offense||Pass Defense||Run Offense||Run Defense|
I expect everyone saw RB James Starks run all over an overmatched Redskins' D last week, and of course QB Aaron Rodgers is outstanding. However, I'm not expecting a repeat performance from Starks next Sunday. The run defense is mediocre, but the big problem is their pass defense. While the advanced stats rank them as the worst, it's not much better with the traditional stats; the Packers have a QB rating of 116.6 against them. Too many touchdown passes allowed, far too few INTs (only Mike Neal, MIKE NEAL, has an INT this season) and only three sacks.
Outside of LB Clay Matthews against the 49ers (he struggled against Trent Williams last week) the Packers aren't getting any pass rush. Something has to change, and Matthews might have a relatively quiet game again this week because Bengals LT Andrew Whitworth is pretty good. The pass defense shouldn't expect the return of either S Morgan Burnett or CB Casey Hayward, but hopefully we've seen the last of the poorly designed zone scheme in Week 1 and the play everyone on the roster in the secondary strategy of Week 2. Plus, a lot of CB Tramon Williams on WR A.J. Green might have the same effect of slowing him down as the Steelers had last week with CB Ike Taylor on him.
I'd be a little bit more concerned about the Bengals running game, but they keep giving most of the carries to RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis instead of dynamic rookie RB Giovani Bernard. Hopefully that trend keeps up for another week.
While the Bengals defense gets props for having players like LB Michael Johnson and DT Geno Atkins, it's rankings are average considering they've only played against one decent offense. Johnson has been on a tear over the first two games, so hopefully the offensive line can continue it's streak of one good game in a row that began last week. The optimist in me sees a line that's been completely re-shuffled, no one was starting or starting in the same position they were in a year ago, and their communication on stunts and blitz pickups should only improve during the year.
This seems like the perfect place for a let down game, on the road against a quality team right before the bye week, so I'm not as confident as usual. Even if the Packers get the early lead, the Bengals have enough fire power to comeback, so I expect it will be a close one.
Packers 23, Bengals 21.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
#Packers injury report: Casey Hayward ruled out vs. Bengals. Finley, Kuhn, Lacy, Bush all Did Not Practice today. Burnett was limited.Morgan Burnett and Casey Hayward have each been out for a few weeks with a bad hammy and recently Jarrett Bush and John Kuhn joined the party. With a bye week on the horizon, I'm not expecting the Packers to rush them. Burnett is practicing but he practiced last week too.
— Paul Imig (@Paulimig) September 18, 2013
Jermichael Finley is out with an injured toe but there's probably not much he can do about it except rest. The Packers held him out of practice last Wednesday too. But he did practice rest of the week and played on Sunday. I'd expect the same this week.
Johnny Jolly seems fine after last week's neck injury and he's back at practice. It's also good to see Josh Sitton is not listed this week; his hurting back must be feeling better.
Eddie Lacy was on the sidelines, but he didn't practice so he probably has not been cleared by two doctors yet as required by the NFL's concussion protocol. He might get that later this week.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
I remembered watching a big Alfred Morris run in the first half and I was surprised at how badly the run defense broke down. Looking back at the video in slow motion, it wasn't so much that the scheme failed as it was that Williams destroyed DE Johnny Jolly. I'm a big fan of Jolly, his come back is a great story and he's earned the right to start again, but this was not a play to remember. To add injury to insult, I think this was when Jolly was injured.
Ugh RT @PFF_Sam: Trent Williams owns Johnny Jolly http://t.co/bh8tSnlWiA
— Brandon Benson (@AcmeBrandon) September 17, 2013
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
CHTV: The Packers Offensive Line Will Face a Crucial Test Against Cincinnati http://t.co/2kQUa3AoNEI've been pretty unimpressed with the Packers' offensive line in their first two games, though LG Josh Sitton is doing his best to play through a bad back. I'm bullish on rookie LT David Bakhtiari but he's had his problems with edge rushers in his first two games. It won't get any easier for the lineman because the Bengals have a great defensive line. Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson bring the outside rush while Geno Atkins brings it from the inside. However, if the Bears were able to protect QB Jay Cutler in Week 1 against them, I would expect the Packer lineman will be able to protect QB Aaron Rodgers too.
— Jayme (@jaymelee1) September 17, 2013
The hamstring injuries to S Morgan Burnett and CB Casey Hayward do not appear to be going away, and the Packers threw out a bunch of different combinations in the secondary against the Redskins to see what works. The second half on Sunday almost turned into a preseason game, as the coaches used every healthy defensive back on the roster. The good news is that this isn't because they're desperate; they have some similar, quality backups to choose from and they wanted to see what CB Davon House and S Chris Banjo could do in a regular season game. Hopefully the experiment is over and they stick with their best five or six defensive backs next week.
As for the Bengals, the key to their offense remains WR A.J. Green. Against the Bears' zone coverage, Green had a big game and so did QB Andy Dalton. But against the Steelers, when CB Ike Taylor played press coverage and got in Green's face, he only had 41 yards receiving and Dalton had a QBR of 39.5. I hope to see CB Tramon Williams pressing Green early and often in coverage next Sunday.
The Bengals haven't been able to run the ball much in 2013, but their two games this season have come against two of the better (best) run defenses of 2012. The Bengals weren't a great rushing team in 2012, but they'll have more success later this season when they play teams other than the Bears and Steelers.
Monday, September 16, 2013
Eddie Lacy suffers concussion - ESPN http://t.co/AOYVVIkJ9uAt 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.
— Green Bay Packers (@PackerNews) September 15, 2013
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.
Sunday, September 15, 2013
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Friday, September 13, 2013
It's tough to look at stats after only one game, but Football Outsiders has the Packers offense ranked No. 2 while the Team From Washington is No. 12 thanks to a second-half comeback. However, both teams are licking their wounds on defense; Football Outsiders has the Packers ranked No. 30 and the Team From Washington is No. 31. While the Packers have nothing to brag about after watching WR Jeremy Ross struggle with poor kick return decisions, this week's opponent apparently had a game to forget on special teams and are currently ranked No. 31 in that category. As much as the loss to the 49ers stings, their loss to the Eagles has exposed all sorts of problems.
The biggest difference this week is that the Packers don't have to worry about a mobile quarterback and instead can go back to playing their usual style of offense. While QB Robert Griffin III is going get his legs back at some point, he looked slow (for him) last week against the Eagles. He probably won't be back to full speed after surgery until later this season, so the Packers are catching them at a good time. While it was a quiet opener for LB Nick Perry against the 49ers, he's going to be lining up against RT Tyler Polumbus on Sunday and Pro Football Focus suggested it could be a very good matchup for him. They should expect the return of S Morgan Burnett, who was badly missed against the 49ers, as his injured hamstring appears to be feeling a lot better.
The key on offense should be protecting QB Aaron Rodgers. If the protection improves from last week's struggles, Rodgers will have a big game because all of his receivers were getting open. This could be a good opportunity for RB Eddie Lacy because the Team From Washington was shredded on the ground last week by RB LeSean McCoy for 184 yards and a 5.9 ypc. It's time to break that streak without a 100 yard rusher!
Packers 31, Team From Washington 21.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
“I’m an awesome player, I’m not a dirty player,” Matthews said.
Really Matthews? Was that in any way necessary. We get you're awesome and all, but your not supposed to say it. In all seriousness, I must say that now Matthews has to be rebuild his reputation. This kinda stuff is ridiculous.
Forgot to tweet this link earlier... Might be time for Banjo to play on defense? http://t.co/zwTrVqwBUCThis discussion might be irrelevant because S Morgan Burnett was limited in practice on Wednesday and he might be able to play on Sunday. His return would mean a change in McMillian's role anyway. However, the 49ers game might have been a long-term sign that McMillian isn't meant to play deep safety and he's better off as a nickel/slot defender.
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) September 12, 2013
If Burnett isn't ready to go, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Packers bench McMillian, though it wouldn't mean the Packers are giving up on him. In 2011, M.D. Jennings had a lousy game against the 49ers at Lambeau in week 1, he lost track of WR Randy Moss who was wide open for a touchdown, and he didn't play a lot over the following couple of weeks. But then Charles Woodson broke his collerbone and Jennings finished up the regular season as the starter.
The concern is that S Chris Banjo isn't any better. He was recently released by the Jaguars which is not a good sign. While he had a strong preseason, it came against backups. His promotion would be a roll of the dice and it might work out, but I expect the coaches are considering everything they've seen from both players over the past several weeks without focusing exclusively on just one game.
So I wouldn't be surprised to see a change, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them keep McMillian ahead of him either. That's not a helpful conclusion, but I don't know what the coaching staff thinks about each player and I wouldn't be disappointed to see them go with either player.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
“Clay Matthews is not a dirty player, by any means,” McCarthy said. “I addressed Harbaugh’s comments in the team meeting, and as always, we’ll stay above it.”
This recent attack on Matthews by Harbaugh has frustrated me. It is completely unnecessary and unprofessional for him to do what he's doing. He needs to grow up.
Marshall Newhouse will play if Sitton does not. McCarthy won't say how that'll work but I'd expect Barclay to move RT to G.Sitton had a bad game against the 49ers, Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of -4.5 for his struggles against DE Justin Smith, and part of the problem might have been a bad back which kept him out of practice on Wednesday. Maybe he hurt it during the game. Unfortunately it's hard to tell at this point whether it's serious.
— Jason Wilde (@jasonjwilde) September 11, 2013
If Sitton does miss their game against the Redskins, Jason Wilde thinks Newhouse would play at right tackle and Don Barclay would move inside. They might even move T.J. Lang back to left guard. During their last preseason game, at times the Packers played the now released T Kevin Hughes at left tackle with Newhouse at RT and Barclay at RG. I don't recall seeing Barclay play on the left side this preseason, though he did play some at center early in training camp.
I don't think Mike McCarthy likes moving his lineman around, but he probably wants his five best lineman on the field. Since I can't recall Newhouse playing anywhere this preseason except at tackle, that would be where he has to go, and the guards might be shuffled around accordingly.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Monday, September 09, 2013
Jerron McMillian led the defense in snaps (81) but was victimized in coverage (6 recs on 6 tgts, 57yds and a TD) and missed four tackles.In their weekly re-focused article, the offensive line was a major sore spot. While the young, starting tackles were far from flawless, it was the veteran guards who really struggled. The decision to flip Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang has so far not paid off. It was arguably the worst game I've ever seen from Sitton. Lang struggled last season and he didn't show much improvement in this game.
— Bryan Hall (@PFF_BryanHall) September 9, 2013
McMillian was probably being asked to do a lot more in coverage than usual with Morgan Burnett out, and it showed. Maybe this will turn out to be his worst game of the season, but his continued development is something to watch this season, especially if he is asked again to fill in for Burnett next week.
Unfortunately it wouldn't be a trip to the west coast without a major mess-up by the refs. At least, this time, the refs admitted their mistake. This one absolutely made a difference, it gave them a third chance to convert, and they scored a TD instead of settling for a FG. However, there's nothing to do be done about the refs, so moving on.
First off, the defensive line. DE Johnny Jolly's return continues to be a success story after recording a sack in his first regular season game since 2009. It was a quiet game for rookie DE Datone Jones, but his presence gives them another inside pass rusher who can sub for NT B.J. Raji. Still, the pass rush was lacking, however, the 49ers have a great offensive line. Maybe the rush from Jones or elsewhere will show up later this season. Eventually, they got winded, on a hot Sunday afternoon when the Packers were killed in time of possession (38:35 to 21:25), but the entire line played great against the run and they look better this season.
How could WR Anquan Boldin be left so wide open? It wasn't just Boldin; TE Vernon Davis was left free to run on a few occasions too. Unfortunately, Trent Dilfer is right. The defense usually plays a lot of man technique, but against the 49ers, after getting burned so badly by Kaepernick on the ground last January, the defense played a lot of zone to maintain a cohesive run defense. Maybe the 49ers saw that and threw out their read-option playbook against a zone coverage, but then the 49ers took what the Packers were giving in the passing game.
That zone is not their usual scheme and they played like they didn't know what they were doing. While Boldin's game icing reception on 4th down was in a man, the cornerbacks were often letting him run free, to be picked up by a safety or linebacker elsewhere in the zone coverage, and it appeared they were either confused or a step too slow in their rotation. A couple missed tackles, it was a poor game for second year S Jerron McMillian, and missing two of their best defensive backs (CB Casey Hayward and S Morgan Burnett were out with hamstring injuries), didn't help. I either hope they limit the zone schemes in the future, or hopefully they get better at them during the season. Also, the return of Hayward and Burnett can't come soon enough.
Losing the turnover battle was a big problem. They survived TE Jermichael Finley's tip ball INT (it led to a missed FG) but RB Eddie Lacy's fumble led to a touchdown, and the defense's failure to create a single one, didn't help. Also, the field position battle, where WR Jeremy Ross's poor return decisions were a clinic in what not to do, left them in terrible field position on too many possessions. I wouldn't be surprised to see someone else, maybe CB Micah Hyde, start returning kickoffs. Outside of LG Josh Sitton's first half struggles, he was called for three penalties, the Packers only had two other penalties accepted and played a disciplined game.
As for the rest of the offensive line; rookie LT David Bakhtiari did allow 1.5 sacks to one of the elite pass rushers in Aldon Smith, but he otherwise held up well considering it was his first NFL start. They often had to help him with an extra blocker, but it should only get better for him with more experience.
RB Eddie Lacy had his costly fumble, and was mostly quiet except for the one drive when the 49ers gave DL Justin Smith a breather and Lacy ran for a touchdown. He does have to hold onto the ball, but he could also use some blocking help up front. Still, he provides more of a rushing threat than anyone the Packers have had in years.
It was a pretty spectacular game for WR Jordy Nelson and WR Randall Cobb, but the MVP of the game goes again to QB Aaron Rodgers. The Packers ran 18 fewer plays than the 49ers, but they averaged the same yards per play (6.6) and almost kept up with six scoring drives (seven if you count the missed field goal). At least the offense is picking up right where it left off, and hopefully the defense can right the ship as soon as next week.
Sunday, September 08, 2013
Saturday, September 07, 2013
Friday, September 06, 2013
Will the Packers stop the 49ers' offense?
Unfortunately the Packers are poorly built to stop the run. They rarely play more than three defensive lineman and spend as much time in their nickel package as any defense in the league. On the other hand, the 49ers are built to run the ball and they're very good at even when they're not playing against the Packers. Football Outsiders ranked them No. 3 overall last season on the ground.
QB Colin Kaepernick set a rushing record for a quarterback against them in the Packers' playoff loss, and RB Frank Gore was no slouch with a 5.2 ypc average in that game. The Packers' defense can't stop them from running but they have to stop the carries of more than 20 yards. Make them work the length of the field.
The 49ers' passing game should be less this season without WR Michael Crabtree, but WR Anquan Boldin is a decent replacement and the Packers were still gashed last January by two 40+ yard passes Gore and TE Vernon Davis. That was unusual, the Packers weren't prone to giving up big pass plays, but they have to fix whatever problems they had before. I'm not expecting Kaepernick to have another record setting game, but I'm not expecting a shut-down defensive effort either. This might be another shoot out.
Will the 49ers defense stop the Packers' offense?
The 49ers defense is very good, No. 2 overall according to Football Outsiders last season, but the Packers' offense almost kept up with the 49ers' offense in their playoff game. With five minutes left in the third period, the Packers missed on a 3rd down conversion at mid-field and were forced to punt. At that point, it went from a shoot out to a blow out.
Their one big addition, who might turn this game around, is RB Eddie Lacy. I haven't seen enough from him this preseason to expect he'll be the next great franchise RB, but the Packers were killed in time of possession (21:59 to 38:01) in their last meeting and the offense has to find a way to stay on the field. They need to give the defense a break. A strong running game that can eat up the clock and take away drives from the 49ers will help the defense.
For the Packers to win, they're going to have to score a lot of points and get more from their defense. It's possible; the Packers are as healthy now as they're going to be all season, with CB Casey Hayward as the only player who's not on I.R. but expected to miss the game. If the Packers do win, it'll be because they did to the 49ers what the 49ers did to them last January in the playoffs, and win a shoot out.
Thursday, September 05, 2013
CB Casey Hayward will be held out because of his injured hamstring. His absence takes away a big play maker from the defense. Rookie CB Micah Hyde had a solid preseason, but he isn't as likely to grab an INT as Hayward. The good news is that Hayward is the only player who should miss the game.
WR Jordy Nelson will make his first appearance of the season. He didn't play during the preseason, so there should be some rust on him, but he brings an added dimension to their passing game that Jeremy Ross doesn't bring. Hypothetically, Ross should be a big play downfield threat too, but I haven't actually seen it happen in a game.
Jim Harbaugh is worried that Clay Matthews might want to hit Colin Kaepernick. Yes, this is stupid. Listening to the Around The League podcast, their theory was that this is Harbaugh's pre-game attempt to work the refs. Usually head coaches complain to the refs from the sidelines during the game, but Harbaugh is getting a head start. If they throw an early 15-yard roughing the passer flag for a hit on Kaepernick, you'll know that Harbaugh has done his job.
Wednesday, September 04, 2013
"It's been easy to forget that Green Bay receiver Jordy Nelson had knee surgery in early August and missed the balance of training camp," Florio wrote. "He returned to practice last Monday, and a league source tells PFT that Nelson will be available to play in Week One at San Francisco."
This really is a sigh of relief for Packers fans. I still don't think the team will win this game, but at least now they have more of a chance.
Tuesday, September 03, 2013
"One of the things that the referees have told us is that when these quarterbacks carry out the fakes, they lose their right as a quarterback, a pocket-passing quarterback, the protection of a quarterback," Matthews said Monday on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike." "So with that, you do have to take your shots on the quarterback, and obviously they're too important to their offense. If that means they pull them out of that type of offense and make them run a traditional, drop-back, pocket-style offense, I think that's exactly what we're going for. So you want to put hits as early and often on the quarterback and make them uncomfortable."
In the end, the Packers defense will still be terrible this year. But at least they think this strategy'll work.
Monday, September 02, 2013
Packers sign QB Seneca Wallace to active roster, begin building practice squad http://t.co/KuIAJ8oj7rWallace is not a good QB, he was released twice in August and he didn't step on the field in 2012, but he's probably the best veteran backup they could have found at this point. According to Football Outsiders, he had a positive ranking in 2010, and he was OK in 2011 which is something considering his completion percentage took a surprising double-digit dive from the previous two seasons. If he can show a better feel for the pass rush and complete over 60% of his passes, he'll be an improvement over Vince Young or Graham Harrell.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) September 2, 2013
The bigger surprise is that B.J. Coleman lost his spot on the practice squad to Scott Tolzien. I'm not a fan of Coleman, who didn't show a lot of improvement from his rookie preseason, and I'm glad to see a former Badger QB signed by the Packers. But it's been a rough year for Tolzien. He was well liked by the Chargers and 49ers in his first two NFL stops, but the 49ers seemed to have lost interest even though their backup QBs have been far from impressive. Maybe he's failing to improve, just as Coleman, and he might not be long for the roster either.
As for the rest of the practice squad:
OG Bryan Collins. I don't know much about Collins, other than he was released early by the Texans. The Packers appeared to have wanted OG Patrick Lewis, but he was claimed by the Browns. I don't feel too bad about it; Lewis was unimpressive in their loss to the Chiefs. Collins's signing seems like an audition. He too might not stay long on the PS.
WR Charles Johnson. I'm glad to see him back. He didn't make any plays against the Chiefs but he's got great size (6-2) and he looked like a potential deep threat. He was held back by a broken offense and he didn't get onto the field in their first couple preseason games because of an injury. I hope he can take another shot at the 53-man roster later this season or in 2014.
CB James Nixon. Of the reserve CBs, he was the one who was burned the least. Since the defense plays with more five or more defensive backs so frequently, they probably need depth in the secondary more than at any other defensive position.
TE Jake Stoneburner. I don't think they really need another TE, but at 6-3 and 249 lbs. he's got the size to play on the scout team at a couple different positions, and he's probably valuable on special teams.
WR Myles White. I really liked him at times, but then he'd struggle hanging onto the ball. He seemed to be a good route runner. I don't expect him to be a long-term keeper but he could fill in as a slot receiver (if he'd stop fumbling).