Sunday, January 03, 2016

Packers Lose To The Vikings, 20-13, Will Play Redskins In D.C. on Sunday

Before I get into anything else, a big round of applause for a great game from the Green Bay Packers' defense. Except for a couple big runs from WR Adam Thielen (watch out for the jet sweep, Dom) the Vikings' offense did nothing. RB Adrian Peterson had only 67 yards and QB Teddy Bridgewater passed for 99 yards. That was a dominant performance that usually wins any game that QB Aaron Rodgers starts at quarterback.
Mike McCarthy fixed the Don Barclay problem by putting Barclay on the bench and moving Josh Sitton to left tackle. It wasn't a great performance by Sitton, but DE Everson Griffin is a very good pass rusher and Sitton hasn't played left tackle in maybe ever.

But he didn't fix the WR Davante Adams problem. It took them too long to figure out that their best play on offense is to throw it whoever was being covered by CB Terence Newman. If WR James Jones was being covered by CB Xavier Rhodes, then he wasn't open. WR Randall Cobb was usually double-teamed, and Adams seems to run at defenders instead of away from them. In McCarthy's defense, I'm not sure either Abbrederis or Janis is any better than Adams. Maybe they need to line up with more two tight end sets, or keep lining FB John Kuhn out wide.

It was also painful to watch the running game. It's not an Eddie Lacy problem. The offensive line (injured, playing out of position) isn't getting enough push, or second level blocking, depending on the particular play. James Starks isn't the answer either. However, they're both much better as receivers. After the Packers basically gave up on the running game in the fourth quarter, the offense came to life. But all those pass attempts behind a shaky offensive line also leads to more hits on Rodgers, and more strip sacks returned for touchdowns.

Abandoning the running game next week against the Redskins might work if LT David Bakhtiari can play. He practiced on Friday and was a game time decision against the Vikings. It's not a stretch to expect him back next week, which would allow them to re-shuffle their line and have all five starters together for the first time in a while.

While this loss, coming on the heels of a disastrous loss in Arizona, may make this seem like a lost season already. But they could get their starting offensive line back next week, and their defense has been playing great this season. With a great defense and a great starting quarterback, lots of good things can happen in the playoffs.

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