Yeah, I know: It's Friday, the beginning of the fifth weekend of the NFL season, and a little late to be analysing (do not waste your time criticising my British spellings-they are not wrong, just out of the ordinary, and I am not conforming just because some of you do not like it) Week Four.
I have two excuses:
- I spend over 60 hours a week either at or commuting to my job that pays (which this does not)
- There was actual news during this week. A host of injuries, a couple signings that affected the Packers, and the start of both the baseball playoffs and NHL season, which I am actually paid (a pittance) to write about.
But now back to what I do just for fun: Write on our beloved Green Bay Packers. For better or worse they are our team, and how much more fun it has been in the last 19 seasons (1992-2010: only four full seasons without more than eight wins) than it was in the previous 19 (just one season with more than eight wins).
That being said, I was raised Catholic, and we learn to complain. A win is a win, but the Packers have to do better than win by two points at home against the Detroit Lions...here are the grades by unit:
Because the Packers did not have the ball much, Aaron Rodgers attempted only 17 passes, completing 12 of them (an impressive .706 completion rate) for 181 yards (an astounding 10.6 per attempt) and three touchdowns (a remarkable touchdown percentage of 18.2 percent of attempts). Unfortunately, he also had two interceptions (12.1 percent), although one was better than a punt, especially with the Packers special teams.
However, one must bear in mind he did this against a very pourous Detroit secondary and with the help of a great receiving corps. He was sacked twice for 12 yards by an above average line-about par for the course. Finally, he added 21 yards on two carries before losing a yard on a kneeldown.
Running back: C+
John Kuhn ran out the clock with seven carries for 34 yards on the final drive even though the Lions knew the Packers would try to run. This pushed the grade above average considering they were up against a decent defensive line. Overall, he had nine carries for 39 yards (4.3 average).
Brandon Jackson finished with nine rushes for 33 yards (3.7) after losing three on that final possession, with a long carry of 14. This gave the backs them a combined 72 yards on 18 carries (4.0). Unfortunately, only one catch for a single yard was made between them.
Up against one of the worst secondaries in the league, only Donald Driver was effective, getting 89 yards on three catches with a touchdown. Jermichael Finley had four receptions and a score, but just 36 yards; Greg Jennings got the other score on one of his two catches for 25 yards total. Both James Jones and Donald Lee had a catch for 15 yards to close out receiver production.
Offensive line: B
Again, giving up just two sacks for 12 yards is a decent performance against a defensive line that has some talent. What put the line above a C was the running game: Previously, neither Kuhn nor Jackson had shown much, yet they ran the ball effectively for how little the Packers had the ball and how obvious it was they wanted to run the ball on the final possession, and they avoided the penalties that plagued them against the Bears.
Defensive line: C
While the line appeared to be making an excessive number of plays for a 3-4 defense, a closer look at the numbers reveals they did so at the expense of some of their responsibilities. Seven tackles, two assists, two sacks, a fumble forced and a fumble recovered are great; allowing 68 yards on just 16 carries, even to a pretty decent stable of running backs, is not. Add to that the failure to contain the clay-footed Sean Hill in the pocket (four carries for 53 yards) and they are lucky to get a C.
The linebackers have to take a lot of blame for Hill's big scrambles, too. But 22 tackles (led by A.J. Hawk's nine) and ten assists (led by Hawk's three), along with a sack (Clay Matthews) and a pick (Hawk) is a pretty good game since they were without Brandon Chillar for the entire game and Nick Barnett for some of it.
Unfortunately, this unit was terrible in coverage without Chillar, giving up 11 catches for 68 yards to running backs who were entirely their responsibility. Moreover, they share responsibility with safeties in covering tight ends, and Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler combined for a whopping 14 catches for 154 yards, an 11-yard average.
True, the Packers had their fourth safety in the game once the coaches found out rookie Morgan Burnett was playing hurt. But the above production out of the Detroit tight ends is atrocious in any circumstance.
The Packers were up against Calvin Johnson, but nine catches for 109 yards and two scores is still not enough to offset the poor safety play. Even Charles Woodson's team-leading 11 tackles (the rest of the secondary had 12) and two assists plus the interception returned for a touchdown (which was probably trapped anyway based on his response to questions about it) could not make the unit's performance acceptable.
Special Teams: F
Once again, the Packers failed in this area. Jordy Nelson had two fumbles lost on kick returns, averaged about 17 yards per, and had a long of 24; Tramon Williams did get 11 yards in his only punt return. Meanwhile, the Packers allowed a kick return average of 24 yards and the one punt returned got 15.
Mason Crosby did not attempt a field goal, but only one of his five kicks went into the endzone, and that was after a penalty on the extra point moved him up five yards. Tim Masthay managed just a 36-yard punting net, although he did land one punt inside the Detroit 20.