Gregor’s Packer Analysis
Week 5 Recap
In this issue:
The Bears maul the Jaguars
The Vikings pillage the Titans
The Packers can’t hang on
The Packers showed the blueprint on how to beat the Chicago Bears. Sack Jay Cutler 7 times, intercept him 4 times, leave him frustrated and yelling at teammates, and make plays against their defense. But the Jags didn’t get the message as the Bears romped 41-3. Cutler was sacked just once, and the Bears had 501 total yards and 2 interception returns for touchdowns. The Bears ran for 214 yards with Matt Forte getting 107 and Cutler threw for 287 yards. The Jags managed just 189 yards and lost 4 turnovers to just one for the Bears. Chicago won’t always be playing teams with a 1-4 record, but they did what they needed to and improved to 4-1.
The Minnesota Vikings had a home game against a one win team and kept them that way with a 30-7 win over the Tennessee Titans. Christian Ponder threw his first two interceptions of the season, including one late in the first half while already in field goal territory, but it didn’t cost them the game. He finished 25 of 35 for 258, 2 picks, and 2 TDs. The Vikings gained 175 yards on the ground, including 88 by Adrian Peterson. The Titans were limited to 268 total yards and didn’t threaten in the second half when the Vikings pulled away. Minnesota has looked strong at home, including a win over San Francisco.
The Colts looked like they were out of the game, trailing 21-3 at halftime. But it was the Packers who left with the loss as Indy rallied for a 30-27 win over Green Bay. The game looked dangerous going in with head coach Chuck Pagano missing after being diagnosed with leukemia. Shades of the Packers wanting to win one for Brett Favre after his dad died. But in the first half the Packers found a way into the end zone 3 times, including TD passes to James Jones and Randall Cobb, along with a 2 yard TD run by John Kuhn.
The Packers suffered some injuries during the game. Cedric Benson, the team’s leading rusher, was carted off with an apparent ankle injury in the second quarter (now believed to be a Lisfranc injury which could keep him out the rest of the season). BJ Raji, the anchor of the defensive line, was also knocked out of the game with an ankle injury. And The Big Dropper (aka Jermichael Finley) left with a shoulder injury, but not before his 5th drop of the season.
In the second half the game turned 180 degrees as drops (yeah, the other guys can drop too) and poor execution led to three and outs for Green Bay. Then an Aaron Rodgers interception gave the Colts the ball, which they turned into a TD to cut the lead to 21-10. The crowd got into it, the players got into it, and with Raji out and the lack of a running game the Packers couldn’t sustain drives and couldn’t stop the Colts. Add to it two missed field goals by Mason Crosby—both over 50 yards, but inside a dome and the Packers found a way to lose a close one.
There was a lack of turnovers, not the lack of opportunities to get a turnover. There was a fumble recovery negated by a Kenny Perry penalty for leading with his helmet, although that looked a little questionable. There was a pass that could have been picked, but two defenders knocked each other out of the play. And a loose ball DJ Williams couldn’t come up with. By the end of the game, the Colts had 100 more yards and a 10 minute advantage in time of possession. Andrew Luck showed why he was the top pick of the draft. But with most of the Colts’ starting secondary out, how come the Packers couldn’t score more?
Emotion. The Colts got momentum and fed off it. The Packers couldn’t find a way to close the door. Win one for Chuck. They did.
Injuries. The Packers didn’t have their best receiver going in with Greg Jennings sitting out. Then they lost their leading rusher, starting tight end and best defensive lineman.
The offensive line was pushed around and gave up 8 sacks against the Saints. They followed that up with allowing 5 sacks to the Colts.
Aaron Rodgers is still an outstanding quarterback, but seems more indecisive this season. By waiting for someone to get open, he’s putting the O line in a bad situation. And he misses a throw more often this year than the last two seasons.
The defensive line can’t get to the quarterback, and if they send more than a few guys, the secondary gets exploited when they don’t get the sack. Reggie Wayne had over 200 yards receiving. They aren’t forcing the turnovers this year.
Still plenty of time to save the season. It could be argued that two of the three losses (Seattle on a bad call and Indy on a second half collapse) should be wins right now. But they aren’t, and with Minnesota and Chicago at 4-1, the 2-3 Packers can’t afford to fall any farther behind. The Packers gut check starts next Sunday night when they take on the Houston Texans in their second straight road game. Yikes.