13

January

Green Bay Packers: The Loss to San Francisco and Now What?

Unfortunately the next time we see Rodgers, he will be in a red practice jersey. He has a few months to get fired up about another embarrassing playoff loss

Well, the Green Bay Packers 2012 season is in the books after the Divisional round playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.  It’s time for my thoughts on tonight’s game and ask the burning question:  Now what?

The Playoff Loss at San Francisco

The Packers knew what was coming at them in this Divisional playoff game.  They knew it and still let it beat them.  San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns, a new NFL playoff record.

Minus the early-game interception that was returned for a touchdown, Kaepernick was near flawless the rest of the way and absolutely torched the Packers defense.  There were concerns about the Packers ability to contain the mobile Kaepernick.  Others questioned whether Kapernick would be able to handle the pressure of a playoff game, his first.  He clearly was.

The signs were all there early on that this one wasn’t going to go the Green & Gold’s way.  Immediately after Sam Shields ran an errant Kaepernick pass in for a pick six, Kaepernick literally ran his team down the field and scored on a 20 yard run that was poorly defensed by the Packers.

It seemed like the key was going to be making Kaepernick beat the Packers by having to throw it.  He ended the game 17/31 for 256 yards and two touchdowns.  Not a bad day, but not great.  The problem was, he didn’t need to be great.  He just had to be efficient.  The 323 rushing yards the Green Bay defense gave up that kept them on the field made that possible.

It was this game that finally made me realize that the Packers just did not have the guys on the field that they needed to win this one.  They were hit hard by injuries this season and it caught up with them on Saturday night.  The loss of Desmond Bishop, Bryan Bulaga, Nick Perry and DJ Smith were apparent as the Packers had to turn to Brad Jones, Erik Walden for a full game (too many snaps) and Don Barclay to fill the gaps.

There was a lot of talk that they could overcome the losses and win and until tonight, there were many who felt they were on their way.  Unlike two seasons ago when the Packers did just that, overcame injuries to win a championship, this team fell victim to the usual culprits:  an ineffective defensive scheme and poor fundamentals, especially tackling.  Tackling was an issue last season when the team had the league’s worst defense.  It was no less harmful in this trouncing by the 9ers.

The offense had its struggles as well but I don’t want to discredit the 49ers.  Their great defense did what it has all season long:  made plays and made their opponent pay for their mistakes.  Throw in the sensational night Kaepernick and the offense turned in and there was simply too much for what Green Bay had on the field.

Now what?

There were many already calling for changes in Green Bay.  “Fire Capers!”.  “Get rid of Finley!”  “Keep Finley”.  Surely these ideas will get some contemplation during the offseason.  Others will likely emerge.

Packers receiver Greg Jennings himself said he wasn’t very optimistic that he would be back in Green Bay after this season.  After some of the plays he made tonight, I sure hope he is.  I realize that this game is also a business and sometimes teams have to let good guys go.  Jennings may still be a bit too good.  As for Finley, he’s a bit of a wild card.  It’s hard to know which Finley is going to come out in 2013 and whether he will be a Packer or somewhere else.  At this point and if the team can only keep one guy, it should be Jennings.

I understand the salary cap issue that this team has but this roster is loaded with “Packer people” type players.  My hope is that they want to win another championship or two while they have some of this outstanding talent.  In order to do that, they will likely have to come together as a unit and find a way to  make it work.  Many players have given up some of their salary in order to keep a team together and try to win.  It’s no guarantee, but hoping this idea gains some traction.

As for Capers, letting him go seems a bit of a knee-jerk idea less than an hour after the Packers last snap of 2012.  While I agree his schemes are tired and ineffective, it bears looking at who is out there as a potential replacement.  There will likely be more movement among coaches and front office over the next few weeks as more teams exit the playoffs.  The possibilities may grow in number, if the Packers do indeed decide to let Capers go.  I won’t be surprised if he is retained.

The Packers learned on Saturday, that their Director of Football Operations, John Dorsey, had been hired by the Kansas City Chiefs as General Manager.  There could be more changes in other areas as far as coaches and the front office are concerned.

Because of the Packers’ success recently, offensive coordinator Tom Clements is the target of some teams in their head coaching search.  He was thought to be a leading candidate for the Chicago Bears head coaching vacancy, but the Bears have continued to interview several others for the job.  Still, there are some vacancies and until they are filled, Green Bay’s personnel could get a look.

There is also the offensive line to look at.  Rodgers was taken down far too many times this season but as I have said many times before, many of those sacks fall on Rodgers hanging onto the ball for too long.  Obviously the team didn’t foresee Bulaga going on injured reserve.  They also had to think that Jeff Saturday would be effective and play the entire season.

Given those two factors, the Packers were fortunate that Rodgers survived this season.  He may not next season, at present rate.  Until they get a solid rotation up front, they need to continue to address this area in the draft and via free agency, if necessary.  I have a bad feeling about a second consecutive season in which Rodgers is sacked over 50 times.

Speaking of Rodgers getting pummeled, what do they do at backup quarterback next season?  They gambled with Graham Harrell this season and won that gamble.  I wouldn’t tempt fate a second year in a row, however.

These are just a few of the questions that we will undoubtedly be discussing as we now look towards the 2013 season.  I’m certainly ready to move on from 2012!

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.com

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25 Responses to “Green Bay Packers: The Loss to San Francisco and Now What?”

  1. Matt says:

    The Fire Capers bandwagon is more than a knee-jerk reaction. This past game just epitomizes his complete unwilingness to make adjustments. It took him two full games to learn that Adrian Peterson is a bigger threat than Ponder/Webb. It should have taken three drives to stop using two-man defensive fronts on running downs yesterday, but it took him 3 quarters.

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  2. Mark gast says:

    I agree that the O line needs to be addressed, probably first. I would like to see some help for the D line as well. Osi (of the Giants) is a free agent. Is he worth picking up? I also hope that when the injured defensive players come back they will be able to contribute. It’s too bad, but it looks like they will need to spend money on the line and not Jennings.

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  3. Mark gast says:

    By the way, I just read that Woodson said he he didn’t know how fast Kaepernick is and didn’t really think about it until the game started. Isn’t it Capers job to get the defense ready to play? Perhaps we do need a new defensive coordinator.

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    • Tarynfor12 says:

      Woodson is a long time veteran who shouldn’t need to be told to do film study…sounds like his excuse to cover his age and drop off.

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  4. Since '61 says:

    Jason – several good points raised in your comments. To some extent the Packers are the victims of their own success. By this I mean that TT and MM have built the current Packer team primarily via the draft and develop strategy. During the last 4 seasons (09-12) this team has 4 playoff appearences with 2 division titles, a Super Win and a total record of 51 – 21 including the playoffs. No doubt among the best marks in the NFL over that time. What’s missing? Given the build and develop philosophy, high draft choices are missing. If we use SF and Seattle as examples, they build through the draft but with draft choices in the first half each round while they were still among the losing teams. The Packers have been drafting in the second half of each round for the last 4 years while they have been making the playoffs. This shows up in the playoffs, e.g., the SF O-Line doiminating the packers D- Line. Even with successful drafts our top guys (nick Perry) get hurt and we don’t even get the benefit of a first rounder, albiet, usually a number 24 or higher for the Packers. While I agree with the build and develop approach, when you are consistently drafting in the higher rounds, like the Packers, you need to bring in some free agents who can fill in the gaps, such as Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett , who became mainstays of the defense. We need some more of them on both sides of the ball. Let’s remember that we probably would not even have Aaron Rodgers if he did not fall to #24 in the first round during his draft. Proof that having higher draft picks builds better teams. My point is that given where the packers will draft this year and probably in the forseeable future they need to be a little more flexible in how they build the team going forward. Think of Rodgers with SF’s O-line. And for all those who complain about TT and MM and Capers think of the results with some high draft picks instead of # 24′s and above. They are doing a great job to achieve the record they have, especially with the injuries to many of their picks. Go Pack Go! See ya’ in September.

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    • Dan says:

      Since 61 is exactly right. Looking back, the only time we drafted high in recent times brought both BJ & CM3 to Green Bay. By making the playoff’s every year & therefore drafting low, the elite players have been mostly picked over & you try to find that diamond that has been overlooked such as CM3 was. Unfortunately, a CM3 dropping that low happens VERY rarely. Bulaga dropping was a bonus, but you usually end up with a cross your fingers & hope he pans out guy like Sherrod & Perry. San Fran endured some poor seasons to assemble the current roster but also combined it with some low risk free agent signings. Building the lines is the most important part of a football team after you find that elite QB and the area the Pack has been least effective in.

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      • Oppy says:

        Most people would have told you at the time that Clay Matthews was drafted much higher than he should have been.

        People thought he was a good linebacker who was playing next to two exceptional linebackers in college.

        CM3 didn’t “Fall” in the draft, the Packers “went up to get him”. He may have been on the board for another ten or more picks.

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    • Skyler says:

      Excuse – victims of own success.. New England is good every year. Brady has role player all around him. Rodgers has excuses all around him for the most part.

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      • Since '61 says:

        Skyler -yes, New England is good each and they haven’t won a Super bowl since 2005. Also, they sign plenty of free agents every season. Thank you for making my point. Since ’61

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      • Bob W. says:

        Newe England has Bill Bellichek. We have MM.Not even close. NE is so well coached watching them tonight just proves it. That offense can be so explosive. When I see them play I cannot understand why we cannot be more like them.Brady’s so called role players play better than some of our go to guys. Last night left such a bitter taste. Worse than last year’s debacle.

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  5. GBPDAN says:

    all good pts..its definitely difficult building a quality team through the draft picking at the end of the round ,the Packers success has handicap them Landing quality big men for the offense and defense of lines. the secondary maybe set, but Clay Matthews still does not have a running mate. Clay is the only Pro Bowler on this defense. The Packers need a couple more impact players, a defense lineman like a Watt type of guy, or a outside linebacker like Alden Smith or Miller, maybe a all pro safety. the problem is finding a impact player in the 25 – 32 slot is difficult.

    I also agree that it may be time for Dom Capers to go, a good young defense of coordinator may be needed. Our defense really has not stopped any good offense is this year. I guess they did stop Seattle early in the season before Seattle got their offense on track but against New Orleans and the New York Giants and the 49ers twice, they could not handle the pressure. Even ponder and the Vikings rolled them over in Minnesota. This defense is not that good. If house can develop, the secondary maybe okay, but, 1 of the young safeties would need to come forward. Getting the bishop and Smith back at inside linebackers should be sufficient and hopefully Perry can develop at outside linebacker. Drafting another pass rushing outside linebacker maybe key along with picking up a impact defense lineman.

    we also need a quality interior lineman and tackle on the offense line. Hopefully sherard is the answer and getting Blogga back will help. I’m curious to how the Packers will go about answering these needs and I’m also curious to see what our opening day roster will look like next year

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  6. GBPDAN says:

    I apologize for the miss spelling , I used my voice recognition feature and didnt go through and edit the text

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  7. HawgNSonsTV says:

    STOP: THINK: -(minus) EMOTIONS! = The Packers did real good this year! THINK: about when we plug those healthy players in … PLUS all the new players TT acquires. Packers have to be the favorites for 2013!!!

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  8. marpag says:

    I’ve been a pretty firm defender of Capers over the past four years (and I still think he gets a bad rap), but I have to admit that he totally bombed yesterday’s game plan, and he didn’t adjust. The reason is totally bombed is that he did EXACTLY WHAT EVERYONE WAS CRYING FOR HIM TO DO… namely, he tried to bring tons of pressure while playing a lot of man coverage in back. It’s what everybody seemed to want, and it’s exactly the WRONG thing to do against a running QB like Kaepernick. And even after he gave up 100 yards rushing to a freakin’ QB IN THE FIRST HALF, he still kept on with the blitzing and man coverage. I was dumbfounded.

    Admittedly, the players bear a lot of the responsibility here for not executing. The biggest problem in my opinion is a soft defensive line, and nobody even worth mentioning at left OLB.

    Erik Walden was horrible. I can’t remember how many times I looked on in horror as he crashed down on the dive fake and gave away contain. You can “spy” the QB as much as you want, but if guys on the outside aren’t going to set the edge, it won’t do any good. If Walden/Moses can’t do that, then they can’t play the position and there’s no sense having them on the field.

    When Nick Perry was drafted, a lot of people said he didn’t have enough pass rush. Fine. Our pass rush was OK this year, but Perry is a physical freak and he was drafted to set that edge. But we didn’t have that, and we saw what happened.

    The D-line needs an overhaul. Raji is good enough to play, but he needs at least one monstrous, immovable beast to play alongside of him, and we don’t have anyone like that. Picket is getting too long in the tooth, and no one else on the roster is good enough to be even a mediocre defensive end. Maybe Worthy can grow into it, but I’m doubtful. He doesn’t seem stout enough.

    Aside from that, I think we are OK with the other linebackers (yes, even Hawk) on the roster. The DBs are generally OK too, although Tramon was awful yesterday. Woodson seems to be finished. Maybe the collarbone was bothering him, but in my opinion his reputation has been bigger than his performance for the past few years. Contrary to popular belief, Woodson has NEVER been a great tackler or a very physical player. Among corners he has always been listed near the top in number of missed tackles. (Look it up before ripping me). Taking a corner who ISN’T a great tackler and trying to make him a safety doesn’t make much sense.

    The Packers were REALLY unfortunate with the loss of Nick Collins.

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  9. Lucas says:

    Somebody has to say it, but I do and will blame the refs for this game. Not the refs of this game, but the refs of fail mary. With that win we have SF in Lambeau…and one way to help with a shotgun team is to be loud at home. I hate that I even think this way. GB shoulda overcome the lack of home-field. Maybe I’m still bitter about the loss and am looking to blame…so…I will. I blame “the hammer” and his fake refs. I also blame our injuries. There, I said it…I blame our injuries. I am now ready for other readers to read my comments and bash away, bash away, bash away all.

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    • Bob W. says:

      As I do agree failed mary call, we did however let the colts off the hook, not to mention letting the vikings beat us. I feel the majority of our issues fall on MM and DC. More so MM

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    • marpag says:

      Yes, it was the wrong call. Everybody outside of Seattle knows that. But the Packers should have beaten the Queens in week 17, and then they would have had homefield advantage against SF. But… GB couldn’t stop the run against the Vikings, which means that they wouldn’t have been able to stop the run against the 49ers, either, even if the playoff game had been at Lambeau.

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    • Barutan Seijin says:

      I don’t think it would have made a difference. The Packers did lose to SF at GB, too. Not sure the number two seed would have made a difference — unless maybe Seattle had fallen to the six spot & knocked off SF.

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      • Lucas says:

        I agree guys…I’m just blaming everybody and everything…
        It…just…hurts…too…much. I’m not sure I can go on.
        In the end, GB lost the game in front of them. That’s all that matters. Well…not anymore, the improvement of the team is all that matters.

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  10. tlvincent says:

    the thing with defense that has been maddening to watch all year is just how unprepared or clueless some of the players seem to be, the one play that GB should have been ready to stop was the read option QB keeper, yet they seemed totally lost. How is that possible? What are they doing all week in those meetings?

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  11. Oppy says:

    Here’s a post one of my friends (real life friends) made on Facebook this morning. Don’t know where else to post it- I think it should be required reading for Packers fans…
    ____________________________________

    woke up all op-ed…

    Just a few quick thoughts, now that the Packer season is over. I always know what Super Bowl is coming up. I was born in November of 1965, so all I have to do is remember how old I am and I know. Unfortunately, I have no memories of the first two Super Bowls. By the time I became interested in football, the Green Bay Packers weren’t very good. If I wouldn’t have had Packer fan siblings, I may have found a different team. I distinctly remember one Sunday when my sister Ellen was trying to teach me what a first down was. She said, “Okay, we might need to wait until the other team has the ball.”

    Sure, my David of a team would occasionally rise up to strike down an NFL Goliath. They did it in 1983. It was the highest scoring game in the history of Monday Night Football. My Packers gave up 47 points to the Redskins, but managed to score 48. There was a big confidence pool at Nicolet High School back then. If the Packers would have lost (they were a HUGE underdog) I would have won a lot of money. I didn’t care about the money, MY Packers won.

    I didn’t think I’d ever see a championship in Green Bay. It was cool that the trophy was named after our old coach, (Who I didn’t remember) but the Packers didn’t go to the playoffs much when I was growing up. Hell, we were lucky to finish a season at .500. Ellen told me stories about the “good ol’ days.”

    Then, things changed. Thinking about 1996 as I write gives me a warm feeling in my soul. Years after, though, I became confused. Some guy started acting like he was bigger than that team, my team… MY team. That team that had sucked the life out of me Sunday after Sunday in the 70’s and 80’s had given me some important perspective. My confusion turned to shock as I watched people, many of them younger, support that player, and not my team. I own one Packer quarterback’s jersey… it’s got a 15 on it.

    Now there’s this 12 guy… seems pretty level headed… makes me a little crazy when he holds the ball forever, but he’s helped my team do very well. One thing he doesn’t do… he doesn’t scream profanities at the teams’ kicker. I’m amazed at people who will put on a green shirt with a number on it, apparently wanting to represent themselves as part of the team, and then act like no teammate ever would. A few weeks ago, many “fans” seemed convinced that the Pack would not have success in the post-season because of the kicker. Saturday, as the 49ers QB loped through our defense time after time, were you thinking about the kicker?

    I get Monday morning quarterbacking. It can be a healthy release. It just seems to me that it’s getting a bit out of hand. Does any reasonable person really expect their team to win every year? I’m used to people acting like they deserve to win, like it’s their birthright. I usually call them Cubs fans, Bears fans, Yankees fans, and Red Sox fans. I need some help, Packer fans, because I’d like it to stay that way.

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  12. Russell says:

    @Lucas I’m with you on that. That game in Seattle came back to bite the Packers in the ass. It also had a direct affect on the seedings of #5 & #6 seeded teams. Home field means a lot in the playoffs.

    Hopefully the coaching staff learned some things with two playoff divisional losses back to back.

    Packers could have stayed in the game if MM had not abandoned the run early in the 3rd quarter. I just didn’t get that. The 49ers just pinned their ears back and came sfter Rodgers.

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  13. Amber says:

    About an hour after the game, the Lombardi documentary came on, and, as usual I bawled most of the way through it. But the part that stung me the most was his words, “Gentlemen, we’re going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we’re not going to catch it because nothing is perfect. But we’re going to RELENTLESSLY chase it, because in the process we’re gonna catch EXCELLENCE.” Those words should STILL be at the forefront of every Packer player, Coach, Manager, and fan. Go Pack!

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