Monday, October 19, 2015

Damarious Randall Comes Up Big: Packers Hold On For 27-20 Win Over Chargers

On one hand it's pretty good to see that when the Green Bay Packers struggle with their pass offense and defense they can still win a game and never trail in it. On the other hand, they weren't slouches either. On a per pass attempt basis, QB Aaron Rodgers's stats were just as good as QB Philip Rivers (though Rivers re-wrote the Chargers' record book on Sunday with new team records for completions, attempts, and yards in a single game) but problems on 3rd downs held them back again. And though the defense struggled a lot, when they needed a big play to close out the game, their rookie CB came up big.
I was debating afterwards whether Rivers's pass attempt could have been better, but on replay, it looked like a heck of a pass. He had a tight window at the front of the end zone and he can't throw it high because his receiver is only 5 foot 8. He threw it right where it should have gone but Randall made a great play on the ball.

It was a weird day for the defense. Their troubled run defense shut down the Chargers' ground game even without NT B.J. Raji and SS Morgan Burnett while their fantastic pass rush went missing. The stat line shows 3 sacks and 13 QB pressures, but most of those came late when DC Dom Capers dialed up the blitz as much as he dared. And the Chargers' offensive line had been a wreck for most of the season. Without a pass rush, the Chargers were great at converting on 3rd down (50%) even without a running game and this wasn't the first game the defense has had trouble getting off the field. But they were a surprisingly good bend-but-don't-break defense, which is unusual for them. On the Chargers' last 4 possessions, they ran 38 plays for 209 yards but came away with only 3 points. For as many passing yards as they allowed, to only surrender 20 points is a victory.

Mike McCarthy was asked in the post-game press conference about what happened to RB Eddie Lacy? His answer focused on RB James Starks, who he said deserved some playing time while Lacy's been banged up (though Lacy's not listed on the injury report). Starks proved his coach right and exploded for a big run and his best game in a long while, but keeping Lacy on the bench when the team is lacking play makers (WR Randall Cobb was held to only 2 receptions and he had a big drop) is an odd choice. It worked OK this week since Starks was great and WR Jeff Janis had his first receptions of the season (for big yards) but I'd rather see Lacy play a more prominent role because there's no one else like him on offense.

Getting more from Lacy would also probably help their continued struggles on 3rd down. They were only 3 for 9 on 3rd downs and needed to sustain drives to match what the Chargers are doing. 33% isn't their lowest conversion rate of the season, that came last week against the Rams when they were at 31%, but that hardly makes it better. As much trouble as the defense had getting off the field, the offense struggled to stay on it.

This is probably the best time for their bye week, as they're scheduled to play two currently unbeaten teams on the road to start November (Broncos then Panthers). The injured players can hopefully get better and the coaches can consider some mid-season adjustments.

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