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Lambeau Leap of Faith


January 20, 2010 1:38 PM

Packers Playoff Report Card, Defense and Special Teams

Now it gets nasty. Anyone who blames our loss on anything but the defense--and that includes the referees--is not looking at things clearly. Here are the grades:

Defensive Line: F

I just do not know how one can give any grade but an F to a line whose primary responsibility is stuffing the 28th-ranked rushing attack but gives up almost six yards per carry to the running backs alone (128 yards on 22 rushes). Perhaps had they made a mark elsewhere, it would be different, but they combined for six tackles and two assists (par for the course in a 3-4) with no sacks, little pressure, and no batted down passes.

Linebackers: D-

Clay Matthews had three tackles, two assists, and the team's only sack (for just four yards). He also forced a fumble the Cardinals recovered, recovered a fumble and got 29 return yards, single-handedly keeping this unit from failure.

The rest of the unit combined for 12 tackles and one assist. The unit as a whole was ripped for six catches totaling 40 yards by the running backs, and bare some responsibility for the three catches and 42 yards by tight end Ben Patrick.

Rookie Clay Matthews was the lone decent player for the Packers defense against the Cardinals
Rookie Clay Matthews was the lone decent player for the Packers defense against the Cardinals

Defensive Backs: F

Sure, Charles Woodson forced a fumble that got the Packers back in the game. And had it not been for an illegal pick play and Larry Fitzgerald being able to push down Woody for a touchdown, maybe Warner only completes 81 percent of his passes instead of 87 percent, and maybe he gets about 50 fewer yards and one less touchdown pass.

Or maybe it just takes him an extra pass or two to get to the endzone, and his 154.1 passer rating actually goes up. And maybe he just finds one of several other players to get the ball to since they were open all day--wide receivers accounted for 297 yards on 20 catches, and Patrick's production also falls partially on the safeties.

When your free safety (Nick Collins) leads your team in tackles with nine, your two corners are second with five tackles and an assist, and your nickelback (can we please get rid of Jarrett Bush!) is one tackle behind them, you may be having a bad day covering receivers. (The rest of the unit combined for three tackles and an assist.)

Granted, this is one of the best receiving corps in the game...with Anquan Boldin in the lineup!!! Without him, this was a pathetic performance, even given the quarterback they faced--you cannot give up more touchdowns than incomplete passes.

This unit owes Aaron Rodgers an apology for giving his haters a loss as fuel to be able to say he is not a winner, no matter how stupid that idea is.


Special Teams: B

Yes, Mason Crosby missed one of two field goal attempts, but it is absurd to expect him to make it from 55 yards. He put four of his seven kicks in the endzone and had got two touchbacks, contributing to the modest 21.3-yard return average with a 29-yard long for the Cardinals. And of course, he laid down a perfect onside kick the Packers recovered that helped them eventually force overtime.

Jeremy Kapinos did fine in his one punt--47 yards with a six-yard return. The Packers had no punt returns and averaged a pedestrian 20.8 yards on six kick returns, with a long of 29.

I originally wrote this article for Sports Scribes. You can also see my Packers articles on Bleacher Report and Packer Chatters.

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