Monday, September 15, 2014

How Did The Packers Manage To Comeback and Beat The Jets 31-24?

The big story for the Green Bay Packers in their first win of the 2014 season was the monster 200+ yard game by WR Jordy Nelson. He almost single-handedly brought them back. And after a very shaky start to the game, which featured a fumble on the opening snap and bad protection on their second drive, the offensive line settled down and gave QB Aaron Rodgers time to throw. Sometimes too long; at least one sack happened because he held the ball too long. For some reason, the Jets decided to focus on shutting down the Packer running game instead of the passing game, and that too helped make the big comeback possible.
Here's the big question; What the hell happened to the defense? After allowing touchdowns on the Jets' first three possessions, the defense held them to only 132 yards on their final eight drives. Here are a few observations:

The defense is soft up the middle. It seems like Dom Capers is daring the opposing offense to call a running play right up the middle on 3rd and long. I guess the idea is that the defensive players will swarm to make the tackle. Well, early in the game, the Jets had a few big plays right up the middle. A 13 yard pass to WR Jeremy Kerley on 3rd and 11. QB Geno Smith scrambled for 9 yards on 3rd and 6. RB Bilal Powell ran for 11 yards on 3rd and 13 (the Jets converted on 4th down). Eventually the defense adjusted. DE Datone Jones said they stopped a lot of substitutions, and also DE Mike Daniels started to take over. It also looked like DT Josh Boyd held up pretty well inside too. Those plays weren't there for the Jets by the middle of the second quarter.

LB Clay Matthews stopped overrunning plays. It wasn't just Matthews, but the Packers have been terrible at stopping change of direction because they are over pursuing on the fake. Matthews was especially fond of running hard down the line of scrimmage, only to watch Smith roll to the other side. At some time during the 2nd quarter, either the Packers adjusted or the Jets stopped trying to exploit it.

The Jets couldn't run the ball. For a team that is expected to be a good running team, RB Chris Ivory and RB Chris Johnson did little on the ground. So it was up to Geno Smith to make plays, which leads into my last point.

Smith couldn't complete anything. After starting out 8 for 10 passing on the Jets' opening three touchdown drives, he completed only 8 of 22 on their final eight drives. He went on a long drought with several incompletions in a row. He only completed 55.8 percent of his passes in 2013, so accuracy is not his strong suit. Going through a long stretch with no completions and no running game is going to create a come back opportunity. While the defense was improving, Smith seemed to go into a funk at the right time.

So the defense remains a big question mark. After struggling badly Week 1 in Seattle, they looked completely outplayed for over a quarter against an offense led by Geno Smith. The talent/production looks overmatched on the inside of the defense (defensive tackle/inside linebacker) and there aren't enough splash plays/turnovers created by the big playmakers to offset it (only 1 turnover recovered in each of their first two games).

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