Packers 28 Lions 26 – First Impressions – What the Hell is Going On Out There?

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The Packers managed to survive today against the 0-3 Detroit Lions, but just barely. The Packers defense surrendered 431 yards of offense to the Lions, with 308 coming from the vaunted arm of, yes, Shaun Hill. Without a few early game gifts from Jahvid Best, The Packers would not have been running down the clock on their final drive, but rather trying to come back to  win the game.  The Packers are 3-1, but it’s been anything but comfortable. Here is a running tally of my comments and first impressions as the game progressed…

PREGAME:
Inactives: Shields, Peprah, Chillar, Johnson, McDonald, Lang, Newhouse, Wynn

A few significant things with the inactives:

Hard to imagine, but Shields not being available is actually a problem for the Packers. For a UDFA who has only played CB for a year, Shields has done an improbable nice  job so far as a starting nickel back for the Packers. Now the preseason favorite for that spot, Brandon Underwood or Jarret Bush will get their opportunity to step in and show what they can do.

The second thing to look at is the absence of Brandon Chillar. Not being able to slot Chillar in on the nickel defense will certainly invite the Lions to test the coverage skills of AJ Hawk and Nick Barnett. Desmond Bishop figures to get some playing time today, as well.

And finally, Quinn Johnson is inactive in favor of Dimitri Nance. Hopefully Nance gets a few chances today, but more significant to me is that Johnson is still the third string fullback. The fact that he hasn’t progressed that much and has not been able to help on special teams is rather disappointing. I had higher hopes for him. Still early in his career, though – not giving up on him yet.

THE GAME:

During the first series, we see something that to me, is always lacking in the Packers running game – an actual short pitch from Rodgers to Jackson to get him to the corner more quickly. If you think about it, it’s uncanny how infrequently you see plays like that from MM’s playbook.

Speaking of rarities, on the third down tight end screen to Pettigrew, we witnessed a rare Charles Woodson missed tackle. He may have slipped, but he was one-on-one with Pettigrew and whiffed.

Capers once again bringing the rush early. Lets hope he doesn’t back off as the game progresses, as he has been prone to do.

If I can see the setup on the 3rd and two and just KNOW they’re going to hand it off to Kuhn, I’m guessing the Lions know also… And then to use Kuhn, a fullback, on a play like that… dumb.

Been worried about Masthay since preseason. Not his leg, his mind. Not sure he has the mental makeup to punt in the NFL. We talked about this on Cheesehead Radio last week.

Jahvid Best proving to be the Packer’s BEST friend so far. Responsible for an INT and a fumble. Maybe he should have stayed on the injury list…

I don’t know the last time I saw a pass as impressive as the Rodgers TD pass to Finley. Perfect spot between double coverage. Just like throwing it into a tire.

I still cringe when I see Tramon Williams returning punts. With the way  he’s playing at CB (near pro-Bowl level?), it’s just an unnecessary risk.

And then Rodgers does it again with another pinpoint pass to Jennings for a TD. Other than Montana/Young, has there ever been another back-to-back QB combo like Favre/Rodgers?

The Packers could learn a thing or two from the Lions, RE: how to run a screen and beat a blitz with quick dumpoffs into the vacated area. And no sooner do I write that and on the next play, the Lions complete another tight end screen for a big gain inside the 10 yard line.

Charles Woodson did as much as he could on the touchdown to Johnson. Derrick Martin did nothing. Didn’t even try to jump and contest it. He could have at least gone up and tried to strip the ball before Johnson came down with it. Nothing. Horrible effort.

Nick Collins: Woodson bailed you out, but can you please catch the balls that come right to you? Hell, if AJ hawk can do it, I think an All-Pro safety can do it too.

With 9:26 left in the third quarter, Detroit has 299 yards of offense (242`passing) so far…  Packers only 154…

Rodgers INT throw on the short interception was as bad a pass as his TD passes were great.

As the 3rd quarter comes to a close, I’m pretty nervous as the Packers go three and out and Detroit is trailing by only 8 points.

Jarret Bush with a real nice play on a strip of the ball on Pettigrew, but keep in mind, it was needed because his coverage was very poor on the play.

I didn’t like Jordy Nelson switching the ball from one hand to the other as he’s returning the kick. It looked like he didn’t have it secured well, and sure enough, it gets knocked out.  Argh!

Thank God for Charles Woodson. Makes 3 plays in a row to break the momentum and force a Detroit punt with under 7 minutes left in the game. HUGE.

It has to be embarrassing for Brandon Jackson to watch a fullback do his job better than he can. And Dimitri Nance was active today because…?

POSTGAME THOUGHTS:

This is a team with a lot of question marks right now. They’ve made it through the first quarter of the season with a 3-1 mark, but have been less than impressive for a good part of those games. The Packers defense continues to give up large chunks of yards in the air, (blame the linebackers as much as the secondary) and the big stops are few and far between unless the opposing team does them a favor and runs it into the interior line. They were burned repeatedly in this game by the screen pass, the best answer opposing teams have when the Packers blitz.

Dom Capers has a difficult job ahead, especially if Morgan Burnett will now be out for an extended period of time. Opposing teams seem to have a pretty good blueprint for attacking the Packers defense. Capers has to come up with a plan for preventing opposing teams from short-passing them to death. I don’t envy him.

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tisdels-Tirades/128720290477889?ref=ts Andy Tisdel

    I think what we should take away from this game is that Charles Woodson is not the player we saw a year ago. He is absolutely a solid No. 1 cornerback, and we saw his ball skills and moves on the pick-six today, but in coverage he is committing too many penalties. This isn’t necessarily a demerit–expecting a second ridiculous season would be too much, I think–but I think Packers fans should, right now, be tempering their expectations for him. He’s not going to take over the game as he did against the Cowboys or the Lions a year ago. He can be a very good part of a cohesive whole, but the Packers can’t ask him to bail out the defense by himself.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      yet, he did just that late in the game where he was responsible for stopping 3 straight plays and forcing the Lions to punt. And he had 11 tackles, 2 assists, INT and a TD. I think that’s still playing at a very high level…

  • Chad Toporski

    Wasn’t able to watch the game… perhaps that’s a good thing? Anyway, any thoughts on how Mike Neal did for his first time out?

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Didn’t play a lot, but he played well – forced a fumble

  • Asshalo

    I was really disappointed with how they defense didn’t make the appropriate adjustments like containing Hill on passing downs and keeping the RB, TE, and FB honest on the screens.

    Duno how Rodgers unraveled like that in the second half. He probably had a perfect passer rating in the first.

    The drop by Collins was maddening. It went right through his hands. That is a catch you have to make. Definitely gives people fuel who like to call him Darren Sharper.

    Tramon Williams seems to have flashes of brilliance in every game this season. I really hope they land him to a Collins-type deal.

  • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

    Rodgers did have a perfect passer rating until the first interception.

    Collins and dropped INTs have become an unwelcome pair.

    Tramon has really surprised me this season.Didn’t think he could play at this level.

  • Ruppert

    A win is a win. The Lions are better than they have been, and I would trade coaching staffs even up at this point.

    Useless stats…delete if you want: As I watched Jason Hanson yesterday, I thought to myself that this guy rarely, if ever misses kicks against us, and I’m old enough to remember his entire career. So I looked it up.

    Hanson missed a FG in the 1994 (Barry Sanders -1 yd rushing) game. He then made 23 straight against us, missing a 50 yarder in 2002. Following that, he made 26 straight against us, not missing until a 54 yarder last year. Since that 1994 Wild Card game, including yesterday, he is 53-56, or 94.6%, including a stretch where he made 50 of 51.

    In his career against us, he is 62-68, 91.2% in the regular season, and 64-71, 90.1% overall. His last 3 misses have been from 50+. He has not missed a FG against us of less than 50 yards since at least the ’94 playoff game, if ever. Nfl.com’s gamebooks don’t go back that far, so I can’t look it up. Amazing. Sorry to waste space on this, but it’s hard to find interesting stuff on the Lions…

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      What made you so interested in Hanson?

      • Ruppert

        Pure curiosity. After he made that first FG, I thought, “Man, does he EVER miss against us?” And it’s so easy to look that stuff up online. Weird. Didn’t miss a kick against us for almost 8 years.

  • Cee

    I don’t know how Slocum still has a coaching spot in the league. special teams, folks

  • Ron LC

    And the injuries pile up. Burnett out for the year with a torn ACL. TJ has been inactive since the first game.

    Capers brings back the no rush defense as a pass protection ste. The result, 450 yards of crap ass defense.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Even this staunch Capers supporter is staring to wonder…

  • http://allgbp.com Cole

    Nick Collins was an All-Pro?

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      * 2× Pro Bowl selection (2008, 2009)
      * Second Team All-Pro selection (2008, 2009)

      • http://allgbp.com Cole

        Ok thank didnt no that. I herd Burnett injured too. It seams every other day someone is getting injured and this may ruin our super bowl dreams if they continue

  • PackersRS

    AAAAAAND Burnett is done for the year. At least we have ole #24 in there to step up!

    And Rodgers thought that he had to throw it all over the field BEFORE this…

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      See? Bush is like a cockroach. You can’t kill it… always finds a way to survive.

  • globalpack

    What do you think the odds are that Starks makes an impact when he comes off the PUP list?

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Not great. Even if he is physically ready, he’s pretty green to just step in and play. And it’s not MM’s way to just hand the ball over to an untested rookie. I hope I’m wrong, though…

      • Taryn

        AL,I honestly cannot find one reason why MM wouldn’t go with Starks unless he has both his eyes closed when watching BJ and Kuhn.I’m ok with Kuhn as he isn’t and wasn’t expected to be a #1 much less even get the carries he has,so if the eyes are closed with BJ he can surely keep them closed with a green Starks as it can’t be any worse.
        All rookies are untested until you test them and sometimes doing that when you have nothing in that area of the game,the Diamond just might shine enough and give the team a spark.
        To me,a RB that doesn’t grab the opportunity to be #1 will never be a #1 but a B.J. that just gets duller and duller.
        Now,do I want MM’s eyes open or shut? Hmm

        • Pete Kliman

          I agree that Starks might be an upgrade .I still think the key to the running game is the line play and it has been inconsistent at best.think about all the negative run plays we’ve had in the past.

        • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

          Taryn, MM is a stubborn man. He doesn’t make major changes quickly.Testing a RB in the middle of a season, without having had the benefit of ever having seen him against NFL competition, is not MM’s style.

          • Pete Kliman

            He might not have a choice.

  • Pete Kliman

    I don’t want to rely on Harris because I’m not sure he’s coming back ,but he sure would be perfect as the nickel back. The other injured reserves might be just what we need .Even though Bigby is not great against the pass,he is an upgrade over what we have.Starks might be the speedier back that we need, maybe for that quick pitch which I agree was always a money play.However,with the exception of the inconsistent run blocking by the line the offense will keep us in the hunt.The defense is a different story.At the end of the game ,whenever Matthews is doubled and the d line is tired our pass rush is nowhere to be found.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Agree that we can’t depend on Harris. Anything the Packers get from him will be a bonus.

      I really want to find the time to examine the defense in the later part of games. Are they rushing less by design or is it just not as effective, as you have hinted at.

  • Taryn

    Sometimes the play of one is the result or lack of confidence in another.This may be reaching a little but,wouldn’t an OL play more agreesive if the RB can make something happen on his own ONCE in awhile.Don’t we all give up some when you give an opening and the person in question just doesn’t take advantage of your work.
    As for Matthews,the fastest way to burn him out is exactly what we’re doing,22 mins and only 40 offensive plays will kill the best defense in the league let alone our not so good defense.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      First comment is definitely a reach, but your second point is a good commentary on the not-as-obvious reason why having a running game is important.It eats up minutes that lets the defense rest.

      • PackersRS

        http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2010092700/2010/REG3/packers@bears#tab:analyze

        Pass attempts: 47 (2 scrambles)
        Run attempts: 13

        TOP: 35:49
        First downs: 21
        Meaningful turnovers: 1

        Converting first downs and not turning the ball over eats up minutes, be it through the run or through short, accurate passes…

        • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

          to some extent, yes. But an incomplete pass stops the clock. So you would have to be perfect to have the same effect.

          • PackersRS

            Chances of Rodgers getting a 1st down > Chances of our running game getting a 1st down.

            In the end, going 3 and outs isn’t gonna do you anything, even if you run a little bit of the clock.

            Rodgers WILL complete over 70% of short passes. That will keep the clock ticking.

            Exhibit B on clock management through short passes: http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2010100303/2010/REG4/broncos@titans#tab:analyze

            50 passes thrown by Orton.
            20 run attempts, 3 by Orton.

            TOP: 35:18.