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Dismal showing on all fronts

by: John Linn

The Packers could not have played worse against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week. The Buccaneers came in as the only team in the league without a win and came out beating the Packers 38-28. The Packers not only weren’t firing on all cylinders, they weren’t firing on any cylinder. The Offense started hot and then faltered. The defense looked dumbfounded by rookie QB Josh Freeman. The Special teams failed yet again.

Game Review: The Packers started hot after stopping the Bucs on their first series, Rodgers hit James Jones on the second play for a 74-yard TD bomb. Rodgers laid it in perfectly and Jones glided easily in for the early lead. But that would be the end of the good plays for the passing game. Rodgers came into the game leading the league with the best QB rating and also had only thrown two interceptions all season. He ended the game a dismal 57.6 rating and threw three interceptions. Having injured both of his feet in the Minnesota game it was unclear how Rodgers would cope. He actually looked rather mobile for an injured player. He however was sacked 6 more times to continue adding to the already league leading sack total.

The running game actually looked shockingly life like. Grant rushed for 96 yards and Green for 45. Green also became the franchises all time leading rusher in the second half. However McCarthy decided to move away from the run game meaning they weren’t used as much as they could have been. While Grant put up big numbers, they began using the running game later when they had begun to lose their lead.

The Special teams failed yet again. Jeremy Kapinos had a punt blocked and returned for a TD. They kickoff team gave up another huge return. Something needs to be done about the special teams. Whether it is a coaching change, or some sort of personnel change, something has to happen. This cannot continue.

The defense looked sharp on certain plays, batting down passes from Freeman, but at other times looked out of place. They stopped the run from the backs and many times stopped the pass, they allowed Freeman to take off and get first downs on several occasions. There was once again a lack of pressure. The only sack came from AJ Hawk.

What I saw: The coaching staff needs some sort of change. While there weren’t the mass amount of penalties that have been plaguing the team of late, the team looked lost on many plays and appeared to be looking past this failing team. McCarthy needs to get his team better prepared. They looked like they were focused on the Dallas game next week. Whether McCarthy is fired, or something else is shaken up something seriously needs to be done with the staff.

Also, all of the sacks came in the second half, after Mark Tauscher went down with a knee injury. This could point to a change being necessary on the offensive line. While the sacks didn’t all come from Barbre (Tauscher’s replacement) it shows that having Clifton and Tauscher back on the line is providing a needed veteran presence that gave the unit a boost, at least in my opinion.

Ratings (out of 5)
QB: 2. Rodgers looks out of sync after the first possession. His throws were erratic and off target, leading to three interceptions. This may have been a product of his lack of practice due injuries and even the injuries themselves, however on most occasions it appeared merely as if Rodgers was out of sync on his own.

Receivers: 2.5. The receiving core made some great moves early on and made some good plays to gain first downs. But later in the game when Rodgers was in trouble they seemed incapable of breaking free. They would have been ranked worse, but early on they were getting good separation and making good moves.

Running Backs: 3. Ryan Grant rushed for 96 yards and a 4.6 average and Ahman Green rushed for 45 yards and became the all-time franchise leading rusher. However, they were used ineffectively and therefore were not given a good chance to get a higher rating.

O-Line: 2.5. The line started much better than usual and didn’t give up any sacks until the 2nd quarter. However they gave up 6 sacks in the second half. While some may have been attributed to Rodgers, the blame must lay on the line as well. In the 1st half Rodgers also had much more time to throw.

D-Line: 2. This was a hard one to rate. The D-Line didn’t give up much in the ay of rushing yards to a running back (the main focus of the D-Line in a 3-4) they did allow Freeman to break free on many occasions and while it is more the job of the linebackers to get pressure in a 3-4 the D-Line needs to do something and they didn’t at all, no pressure even on a young QB in his first start.

Linebackers: 1.5: The Linebackers got no pressure at all and Kampman was beaten easily on the Bucs first TD. Even the normally intense Clay Matthews was nearly nonexistent. Even when the defense brought heavy blitzes they seemed to get clogged up and ran into each other and did almost nothing.

Secondary: 2.5: The Secondary looked good early on and batted down some good passes from Freeman. They played up well on the receivers and didn’t give Freeman much to work with. Collins even got an interception. However, they had tackling problems on certain plays and didn’t help with pressure or containing Freeman.

Special Teams: 1: Special Teams was nearly non-existent. They allowed another huge gain on a kick return and let a man through untouched to get a punt block. They are absolutely atrocious on special teams now.

Coaching: .5: Something needs to be done with the coaching. The team wasn’t prepared for one of the worst teams in the league and was not even remotely in sync.

Team as a whole: 1.5: The team was not ready at all for this team. The defense started out hot and faded. The offense started out good and faded then tried clawing back and couldn’t do it. The special teams were nonexistent. The coaching looks horrible.

My Pick for MVP: this was tough but I’d have to say the combo of Ahman Green and Ryan Grant. Grant looked great but was poorly used and Green looked strong and was actually used as a rusher this week.

Final Thoughts: I am going to have to throw my hat in with the people calling for McCarthy’s job. He is not keeping his team in line. Even when they didn’t have huge penalty numbers they didn’t look prepared. McCarthy is not doing something right. Something has to give. At this point Capers would be a much better choice it appears.

Packers Mix blog featured writers John Linn, Zach Letter
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