Monday, October 10, 2016

Packers (3-1) Hold On At Home To Beat Giants, 23-16

With a quarter of the season in the books, its been a mixed bag from the Green Bay Packers. The wins haven't been overly impressive (battling against the Jaguars, holding onto early leads at home against the Lions and Giants) but they weren't terrible in their lone loss either (at Minnesota, losing by one score against arguably the best team in the NFC). Obviously 4-0 and the NFC North lead would be better but 3-1 and a manageable remaining schedule is very good too.

Against the Giants, it was a really impressive performance by the pass defense. While they were missing their starting cornerbacks (Shields and Russell were inactive due to injury), the return of S Morgan Burnett allowed DB Micah Hyde to return to his usual utility role, and CBs LaDarius Gunter and Quinten Rollins were great against the Giants Top 3 receivers (Beckham, Shepard, Cruz). Those three receivers only gained 70 yards on 21 pass attempts to those three receivers. The Packers played both two deep safeties (Clinton-Dix and Burnett) for most of the game and effectively took the sidelines away from the Giants. But they had trouble against the Giants's tight ends (Tye and Adams were targeted 5 times for 64 yards, and QB Eli Manning overthrew Tye on one attempt that might have gone for a touchdown). None of the inside linebackers looked great in coverage, and ILB Joe Thomas had multiple missed tackles. But the run defense was solid again (allowing 2.9 ypc), the pass rush was all over Manning (4 sacks, 5 QB hits), and the secondary had their best game of the season.

I'm still of the opinion that WR Davante Adams is part of the problem, not the solution, but he did have a great game while also being the intended target on one of QB Aaron Rodgers's 2 INTs.
But their best receiver was WR Randall Cobb, who seemed to pick up a first down with every reception. On the other hand, while WR Jordy Nelson did catch a touchdown, he was also targeted 13 times for only 4 receptions (and one of his targeted attempts bounced off his hands for an INT). The ground game has been productive, when they've actually used it this season, and RB Eddie Lacy was having his best game of 2016 until he injured his ankle. RB James Starks struggled to replace him as either a receiver or runner in the 2nd half. Overall it was a pretty mediocre performance through the air against a Giants secondary that's been struggling with injuries (both CBs Eli Apple and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie missed their last game in Minnesota, and both left early in this one).

Though their four-game home stand continues next week, it also presents a bigger challenge when the Cowboys visit Lambeau. The Boys have looked impressive while on their current four-game winning streak despite missing their their two best offensive players (Romo and Bryant). QB Dak Prescott has done a great job protecting the ball while moving the offense, while their defense has been doing just enough to win.

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