Monday, October 17, 2016

Packers (3-2) Get Rolled By The Cowboys at Lambeau, 30-16

There were a lot of reasons why the Green Bay Packers should be hanging their heads after trailing for the entire game against the Cowboys, at home, but they never gave themselves a chance with four turnovers.
Five fumbles (three lost) and one terrible INT from QB Aaron Rodgers. Two more fumbles from Rodgers who'll have to spend some more time with the wet-ball drill this week. Whatever else was a concern about the Packers on Sunday might have vanished if they had avoided these turnovers. The turnovers are the story of the game. But there were some other problems.

RB Eddie Lacy. His ankle was re-injured and it was again a problem again this week because there's absolutely zero depth behind him. Plan B can't be WR Ty Montgomery, who's useful as a 3rd down/Reggie Bush type of running back, but they need another real running back option behind Lacy. This might not be something that can fixed until the offseason.

QB Aaron Rodgers. His accuracy has been slipping since the middle part of the 2015 season. Against the Cowboys, it was shocking to see him throw that INT right at a defender and miss high to WR Randall Cobb wide open at the back of the end zone. But these are things that normal QBs do. The INT that QB Dak Prescott threw to SS Morgan Burnett was a bad, inaccurate pass, is one example. Rodgers's worst is still very good and this wasn't going to be his greatest game ever, but it would have been pretty good without those fumbles. Avoid the turnovers and he'll be fine, even if he's never quite as good as he was back in 2011.

CB LaDarius Gunter. With Sam Shields missing another game due to his concussion, Quinten Rollins injured, and Damarious Randall missing most of the game with a recurrence of his groin injury, the Packers relied heavily on Gunter, and he fell way short. On his two worst plays, a long completion to WR Terrance Williams and a touchdown reception to WR Cole Beasley, he was looking into the backfield (or maybe he was thinking about jumping a short route) and got burned when the receivers ran to the sidelines. He looked good last week against the Giants but he was exposed badly against the Cowboys. His only possible, non-injured, replacement is CB Demetri Goodson, who's recently returned from his four game suspension, and he marked his return by drawing a flag for pass interference on almost his first play of the game. Theoretically, rookie CB Josh Hawkins could play more, but he was burned badly by the Lions for a long touchdown and he isn't a strong option either. I'm not a Gunter believer, but they don't have too many options at the moment.

The run defense. It was never that good (2 ypc through the first 4 games) and they didn't tackle well in this one. But they aren't that bad either (Elliott had 5.6 ypc) and the truth is somewhere in between. Their inability to stop the run wasn't the reason they lost this game anyway.

The pass rush. It's been a potent force this season but the Cowboys arguably have the best offensive line in the NFL. Outside of the strip sack by LB Julius Peppers, they couldn't get to Prescott in this game. For as much that was going wrong for the defense in this game (bad coverage, bad tackling against the run, no pass rush) it's actually kind of amazing the Cowboys only scored 30 points. Their pass rush will look much better against practically every other opponent the rest of this season.

They don't have too much time to reflect on this loss as the injury depleted Bears (and LG Josh Sitton!) return to Lambeau on Thursday night. I'm never a fan of Thursday night games and this might be a real stinker between two teams coming off ugly home losses. Go Pack Go!

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