Game Balls and Lame Calls: Giants 27, Packers 13

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Tramon Williams was making tackles near the line of scrimmage and intercepted a pass in the red zone. It was a big day for No. 38.
Tramon Williams was making tackles near the line of scrimmage and intercepted a pass in the red zone. It was a big day for No. 38.

For the first time in three weeks, the Green Bay Packers’ starting quarterback (Scott Tolzien) played beyond the game’s first series. So, there’s that.

In his first career start, Tolzien was able to move the Packers offense down the field on his way to three scoring drives. But much like Tolzien’s first outing with the team, his day was clouded with turnovers.

Although he completed 70 percent of his passes en route to a 339-yard day against a good Giants defense, Tolzien’s second interception to Jason Pierre-Paul clinched the game for New York, as JPP picked off the pass and raced into the end zone, extending what was a seven-point lead to 14.

And here we are. The Packers are 5-5 on the season and likely need to win five of their last six to make the playoffs.

With the Vikings next on the schedule, the Packers have a good chance at getting back over .500, despite being without Aaron Rodgers for at least another week. But then again, it’ll more than likely be another ugly slugfest in which the winner is decided by a late score.

The value of Rodgers is undeniable. Not only is he really, really good at throwing the football, eluding pressure and making pre-snap reads, but simply having No. 12 under center completely opens things up for the running game. It’s not exactly rocket science, I know. Eddie Lacy is a great back, but defenses are stacking the box in a way I–having grown up watching Rodgers and Brett Favre–have never seen.

On the sideline, Rodgers has to be looking at these defensive fronts, shaking his head and thinking “If only.” Favre is probably sitting on his recliner in his Wranglers and laughing.

Either way, the Tolzien-led Packers are the Tolzien-led Packers. The Rodgers-led Packers can beat any team in the league, in my opinion. But the Tolzien-led Packers cannot.

This week? I believe the Tolzien-led Packers can beat the Christian Ponder, Matt Cassell or Josh Freeman-led Vikings. But we will see.

Game Balls

Tramon Williams

Hey, he was the reason for my only in-game tweet during Sunday’s game. My stance on Twitter during Packers games is pretty simple: Avoid reading anything, ever. I’m constantly face-palming or head-ovening when I’m reading fans’ overdramatic reactions to games. And when Scott Tolzien is at quarterback, mistakes are bound to happen. He’s a young starter still getting his feet wet. So for Sunday’s game, I went into the game having made the decision to only tweet when something good happened. I tweeted once. After Tramon Williams’ interception.

Jordy Nelson

Where does Jordy Nelson rank among current NFL wide receivers? Top 10? Top five? Between his skin color and overall place among players at his possession, Jordy is becoming the subject of some of the better debates in Packer Nation nowadays. Sunday against the Giants, Jordy caught eight of the nine passes thrown his way. Having a security blanket like No. 87 is huge for a young quarterback like Tolzien. Sure, Nelson is looking forward to having his quarterback in the lineup once again, but hey, 18 catches in (basically) three games without Rodgers isn’t so bad. He’s just a great player.

Brad Jones

As a whole, the defense wasn’t good. But man, Brad Jones was. ESPN credited Jones with 13 tackles, including three behind the line of scrimmage. I still think Jamari Lattimore is a great player, and inside linebacker is one of the few positions on the roster that could overcome a minor injury here or there, but certainly nobody in their right mind was calling for Lattimore to be in the lineup Sunday. Jones was a beast.

Mason Crosby

Coming into the game, I figured Crosby would need to be on point if the Packers had any shot to win the game, as Tolzien would probably lead the team down the field but may not be able to punch the ball in the end zone. Such was the case, and Crosby answered the call. He hit both of his field goal attempts, including a 57-yarder in an stadium that would probably rank among the toughest places to kick in the NFL. Despite losing the game, Crosby gets an “A” for effort and a pat on the back. And a Charms Blow Pop.

Lame Calls

Turnovers

It’s going to be hard for Scott Tolzien to win a game against a playoff contender, especially when he turns the ball over three times. A guy can rack up all the yardage in the world, but if he turns the ball over in the red zone–like he did last week against the Philadelphia Eagles–or he throws a late pick-six in a one-possession game, it’s going to come back and haunt him. To be fair, Tolzien’s third and final interception wasn’t all that big of a deal, as the game was pretty much out of reach with less than two minutes to play. But yeah, breaking news here: Turnovers are a big deal.

Running Game

You can’t really fault Eddie Lacy for his rough day on the ground. He had to work for all 27 of his yards, as he consistently broke tackles against stacked fronts en route to a quiet day. Prior to being forced to reshuffle the offensive line thanks to Don Barclay being inactive, the Packers had the same starting offensive line all season. That cannot be overlooked. Not to say Barclay is an All-Pro player by any means, but he starts over Marshall Newhouse for a reason.

The current state of the Packers

Injuries are a part of football, and I get that. These things happen. But it’s hard to even remember that the Packers were once 5-2 headed into what looked like an easy home win over Josh McCown and the Chicago Bears. Then, the Pack lost its quarterback and this happened. Speaking for myself, playing with a backup quarterback makes for an easier viewing of the game. Like, I watch the Tolzien-led Packers much different than I watched the Favre-led Packers or watch the Rodgers-led Packers when he’s healthy. Still, the last two games have been ugly. The Packers need their quarterback.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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  • tim

    I like the point of looking for the good. Football is entertainment, and there should be “good” parts to be found. The current situation shows how fortunate packer fans have been in recent years. We’ve had a wealth of good to get enthused about. Even now, Tolzien has shown some ability and promise, but with growing pains. The season looks bad, and is, but especially so because of comparison to what we had or were. What we were was pretty good. What we’re now experiencing what for other teams fans is the norm. Just look at the recent history of Jacksonville, Vikings, Tampa, Cleveland, Detroit, chicago… Just about every team. We went through 25 years of crappy play after Lombardi. Our success starts from front office, through TT and MM. Blowing things up is not always the remedy for short term problems. Sometimes it takes the bad to appreciate the good.

    • Outis

      I agree with the last sentence that Marques wrote, “The Packers need their quarterback.” It is probably the only thing I agree with him about. Among other things, how can you possibly award “game balls” after the third loss in a row?

      Back in 2005, TT was the beneficiary of “manna from heaven” when AR, whom many believed would be the first pick of the draft, fell to the Pack as the 24th selection overall. Three years later with the departure of Favre, AR became the starter. The Pack has been a contender ever since.

      What this season proves is that TT has failed to maintain a quality team built around AR. We win the NFC North and are a SB contender with him; we fall to third in the division and miss the playoffs without him. Sorry, Tim, but I disagree with you. There are too many things that have deteriorated since that SB season of 2010: the secondary, the defense as a whole, the offensive line, and, as of this year, the receiving corps. After this season, it truly is time to “blow things up,” as you put it, starting with the top.

      • marpag

        There you go. This is exactly the attitude that is flooding this board right now. You’re saying, “Because the Packers lost, absolutely no one could possibly have done anything good.” Like a Seinfeld “game ball Nazi” … “NO GAME BALL FOR YOU!!!!!”

        That’s unreasonable. And that’s what most people are doing right now. It’s all going to heck in a handbasket, I guess. Yep, blow up the whole damn organization.

        • Outis

          Oh, alright. If one has to award a “game ball,” after another embarrassing defeat but in the interests of political correctness in which even losers get awards, I’d give one to the team as a whole for moving up the prospective 2014 draft board to the 16th selection. This is based upon the team falling to 17th in the latest NFL Power Rankings.

          As for “blowing-up” the “whole damn organization” . . . the GM must be held accountable. If there is a change at the top, it is reasonable to expect a new GM to bring in new coaches. The Bears did it and that organization is turning around for the better.

      • jOE

        Rodgers, Shields, Cobb, Bulaga, Harris, Hayward, Matthews, Jones, Burnett, Lacy, Starks, EDS, Finley, Perry, Sitton… Just a few important players who have missed at least one game.

  • Razer

    Like a lot of Packer fans, I am losing interest in digging through the bad plays, missed assignments and lack of skill that has become the Packers. Tolzien played about as well as a 3rd string QB could play. MM didn’t do him any favors with the play calling but then how do you design a game for a guy who has never started a game and has been with the team for less than 3 months. If MM failed, it was his lack of ability to adjust the plan according to the Giants approach.

    Unless this team gets healthy in a hurry , there is no point in piling-on. Yes we have deficiencies but our primary problem by far is the lack of starters in the lineup. Of course this starts with Aaron Rodgers missing action. He is our engine and we don’t have another engine.

    I do think that this team will need to redesign its defense over the next couple of seasons. The retraining of guys to play a Capers system isn’t easy or effective. I have no confidence that the personnel will ever fit this system. We play confused, make too many errors and don’t seem to play with enough speed. Against the weaker teams this is not evident but against the better teams it is painfully obvious

    • JimR_in_DC

      I also believe Packers need to consider whether their large number of injuries is due to (bad) luck or their strength & conditioning approach, and take whatever action is appropriate to reduce player injuries.

  • So who’s fault is that? I understand TT is a god in Green Bay and I think this past draft was a excellent draft. He manages the cap better than any GM in the NFL. But then again that’s a bit easier when you refuse to sign a FA and please don’t point to last season signing Jeff Saturday. There was a reason he was available in July or August, whenever he was signed. What my concern is that TT has drafted 18 defensive players since 2010 alone. Most are better fits for a 4-3 defense but putting that aside, the Packers have 2 starters, 3 if you count Hayward. For a draft and develop team that’s just plain bad. So I ask again, who’s fault is it? IMO Thompson deserves much of the blame for this product he’s put on the field. The drafts from 2010, 11, and 2012 were horrible drafts. We got Cobb, that’s it guys. It really blows but it’s true.

    • Chillly

      @Nick
      You talk about the defense being without too many playmakers and I agree with you but were I really think TT has done a poor job is offensive line. Not for lack of trying…he has drafted two OLinemen in the first round but the line still can’t seem to protect the QB.

      • I agree chilly. Bakhatirei seems like he could be a good pick. Bulaga hasn’t played since what week 9 or so of 2012 and we still don’t know what Sherrod brings to the table. Injuries aren’t on TT, I get that. Personally I’d like to see him over Newhouse, that dudes pathetic. Another of Teds 2010 picks I believe. This team has turned over in a huge way since 2010 and what your seeing is TT draft work on the field. This team is exactly like the Colts of 2011. Both teams depended on their QB to bail out the defense or out score everyone. You lose the QB you’ll lose a lot of games.

    • Razer

      Really Nick?! Cobb is the only guy that we got in the last three drafts. Our last three first rounders all out due to injury don’t exist? I guess that Shields and Hayward out on Sunday means that they don’t count either. Finding a starting LT, Bakhtiari, in the forth round or Hyde in the 5th don’t add into your equation. Eddie Lacy at the bottom of the second was a wasted pick as well. No point in mentioning the freebies like Boykin, Barclay and Lattimore. The fact that the cap hit for most of these guys allow us to keep Rodgers and Matthews signed must be a non factor as well.

      I blame TT for not addressing the safety position that’s it. I don’t blame him for injuring all those guys and not planning for making a playoff run with a 3rd string QB. TT is no God but he is getting us decent talent.

      • Did you even read what I wrote razor? I said I loved this draft and was VERY SPECIFIC to the drafts from 2010 – 2012. EVERY player other than Shields and Hayward were drafted this year. I also mentioned Hayward as one of the starters although in the games he actually got to play this year, he didn’t start. Before you post something arguing your point, at least have the courtesy to read what I actually wrote. Personally I love shields but again, he AGAIN HE WASNT DRAFTED. Once again your point has nothing to do with what I said. So I asked you again Razor, between the years of 2010 and 2012, other than Cobb who is great, who is even average. Need a WR, Teds your guy. I mentioned Hayward but he’s been F’ed off by our crappy strength and conditioning staff.

    • Stroh

      Woodson was available in june! What your point? FA doesn’t start and end before the draft. FA is FA no matter if its March or july. Except I guess in your universe.

  • We are fairly healthy on defense but the D is letting us down. If a quarterback can stand in the pocket all day, we won’t beat anyone. Coach Capers, before you are shown the door, please change things up a bit.

    • Palmda

      Unfortunately healthy doesn’t mean good. The defense lacks basic talent to be a winner. Mathews was already slowing down before his thumb break, Hawk has look better but seems to be one step late to the passer or not there at all. The secondary does not have a NFL quality back amongst them. So, No pass rush whatsoever and wide open receivers in Todays NFL pass favorite rules spells big plays and loosing.

    • 4 of the d-linemen are run-stuffers only. Daniels is a high effort pass rusher – it takes him some time to get his pressures/sacks. He is perfect for a 3 man rush. Jones just starting to get it and produce some pass rush. Boyd inactive usually. GB does well getting sacks because Capers schemes/blitzes well. But the personnel’s talent does not lend itself to generating consistent pressure.

  • Ok so it is what it is. Our present Packers are lacking their supreme General to just show up in his uniform, trot out on the field, intimidate the opposing D, and to almost score ‘at will’..thus the Packer D comes on and tells itself this is cool, all we have to do is hold off the offense from scoring 20 or more pints and we win by 10 -14 points. So now where does this problem of now ‘losing’ become apparent? All in these guys heads…leader is out, so conceed… we can’t win…just can’t win! I see this Viking contest along the same lines…the Queens will smell it coming in, (just like the previous three teams played). Time for MM to get this teams head into.. WE CAN WIN EVEN W/O RODGER’S gear…we will see after this Sunday. Otherwise, turn off the lights on this season.

    • marpag

      Great. Now we’re reading the players minds and condemning them for that too.

      Tell us, what other dark secrets are lurking within the confines of their fragile egos?

      I really wish this board had an “eye roll” icon.

      • SchenySchen

        I like that idea, an “eye roll” icon. I am confident it would get used and overused on this blog. One week our secondary is great, deep and talented, the next, there’s not a single worthy player on the roster. You guys kill me. — injuries and juggling the lineup every week is killing us this year. Take the O-line, when you have to shuffle players around because guys are dropping like flies, what do you expect is going to happen? When all three of your primary outside linebackers are injured, and you have to play 2 rookies, what do you expect to happen? When the secondary cant get it’s best player on the field (hayward/shields), what do you expect is going to happen? –it’s simple, if we can’t knock off the queens this week, it’s over. If we do, then hopefully Rodgers comes back for Thanksgiving and we start getting healthy and make a run. GoPack!

  • Dobber

    It’s sad to say it this way, but AP is wounded and might not play against the Packers this week. Which leads me to these two conclusions…
    1. No AP means this game is very winnable, despite the generally poor play on the part of the D of late.
    2. I would probably pick up Toby Gerhart in my fantasy leagues and seriously consider playing him.

  • Eric

    Getting credited with 13 tackles, most after getting dragged 5 yards down field doesn’t mean he had a good game. If that was the case, Burnett would be considered a good tackler .

    • Pete Kliman

      I fully agree. Jones played a bit better later in the game ,but earlier he was out of position and triling many times.

  • Palmda

    There should not even be a mention of game balls on a team that has just lost their last three games and were beaten handedly. Lame calls should go to the person or person’s calling the plays and making the “game plan or scheme”. Packers and Vikings should be a matched game. Both teams are equally bad. No play off’s this year and if they don’t make some personal acquisitions in the off season none next year ether. Both Detroit and Chicago brought in new management and coaching staff and they are on a upward trent. The packers are sinking under the old thoughts of their current staff. I doubt that any changes will be made because they don’t think they are the problem. It will take two or more years of not making the playoff’s before they realize they can’t win with just a great quarter back and two good defensive line men and one running back.

  • bubbaloo

    “Like, I watch the Tolzien-led Packers much different than I watched the Favre-led Packers or watch the Rodgers-led Packers when he’s healthy. Still, the last two games have been ugly. The Packers need their quarterback.”
    I agree Marques, but Rodgers won’t make this defense any better, and at least some semblance of a defense is a requirement. They just plain suck!

  • Bedrock

    Lame is having too many men in the huddle penalties. Say what you want about play calling…a penalty like that is a lack of focus penalty. The coaches and the players need to have better focus when faced with greater adversity. They just didn’t get the job done.

    • marpag

      Partly a lack of focus, for sure. But I keep coming back to injuries. When you have a ton of injury fill-ins who are pressed into service without getting many reps in practice or pre-season, you can definitely expect that players aren’t going to have a clear grasp of where they are supposed to be.

  • Big T

    What ever happened to second string QB’s like Makowski and Favre?

  • Pete Kliman

    I can’t believe some of you are putting all the blame on MM and now on TT. While at the same time admiting that having a starting QB on the team for 1 week of full practice is a very difficult situation. Not to mention the poor play of Newhouse.I would think that the emotion that sometimes stifles the brain would be finished by Tues. LAUGHABLE

    • bubbaloo

      When one or biggest deficiencies is Safety, and a guy like Ed Reed isn’t looked at, I have a hard time NOT giving TT some of the blame. I watch the Giants with Cullen Jenkins, who they got at a bargain price, making consistent stops against the Packers and I wonder why TT is always sleeping on guys like this. To say one or more veterans would NOT be an improvement to this team would be ludicrous.

  • packett

    And so the debate merry-go-round, goes around and around. One says: its TT and lack of elite talent. The other says; its MM and bad playcalling and putting good players in the wrong schemes, and too predictable. The other; injuries (oh..and the trainers). So, are we all feeling a little better now that its settled? Its all of the above damn it.

    Next year; draft up, not down. Get fewer picks, but quality picks. Get a quality value FA. Draft safety 1st and ILB 2nd, TE 3rd and WRth…or more-ore-less in that order depending on who comes available.
    Get a new DC please. We’re done with this one.
    Aim for a new Offensive Playcaller.
    And I’d suggest scheduling more voluntary (but you better volunteer) workouts in off-season, and get this conditioning thing ramped up.

    I’m looking forward to next year as you can see.

    • Nopainnogain

      lol draft up and not down? that’s exactly what the Falcons did and look at them now. they made every fan-friendly, win-now move they could w/ free agents like S.Jax & Umenyiora and trading for Julio Jones and John Abraham. Look at them now. And they haven’t even had as much injuries as the Packers, but they are done because they traded depth for “quality” talent.

      Or what about the Eagles “Dream Team” w/ fancy free agents Asomugha, Jenkins, Babin, and Young?

    • JimR_in_DC

      packett said: “Aim for a new Offensive Playcaller.”

      The ONLY way that would come to pass is if MM was let go. No way will he give up playcalling.

    • jOE

      What is MM’s winning percentage right now, even with the five losses this year.
      64.8%

      In Ted we trust, In MM we trust, Fire DC.
      =)

  • Big T

    The worst part of this whole situation is the waste of the best qb in his prime. It could potentially take 2-3 yrs. to recover from this at the rate TT and MM perform. They may have a good philosophy if time is not of the essence. This is a travesty to waste such a talented quarterback. And by the way, it is TT and MM fault that Rodgers was injured, rag tag O-line to protect the best qb doesn’t sit well. Just think if Rodgers was on a well coached fine tuned team. 5 maybe 6 superbowl rings in a row…

    • John

      Well, not 3 or 6 rings in a row. But much better overall talent on the team. I do believe that Favre was wasted and now Rogers is being wasted. QB’s like this don’t come along very often. We should have won more than 1 SB with Favre and we should with Rogers also. Thompson leaves to many holes on the roster.

    • Razer

      I do hate the idea of wasting Rodger’s best years on projects and experiments. That is a drawback of the draft and develop – it is not time sensitive.

      At one point, I would agree with the O-line assessment but the bold changes made this year have translated into a pretty good ground game and better protection. Having two first round talents like Bulaga and Sherrod would have made a big difference but the guys have stepped up. Rodgers injury is primarily on Rodgers. He stepped outside of protection and failed to give his pursuit enough respect. He got hurt because of his own mental lapse.

  • aaronqb

    I keep track of games lost to injury and compared 2010 to 2013. Bottom line is 2013 is worse than 2010 for games lost to injury from starters – and much worse if you consider that the Packers most important players (Rodgers, Matthews, Cobb) have been hit harder in 2013.

    Through 10 weeks in 2010, Packer starters/presumed starters had missed 45 games due to injury: Grant(9), Barnett(6), Burnett(6), Tauscher(6), Finley(5), Chillar(3), Brad Jones(4), Shields(2), Hall(1), Matthews(1), Driver(1), Jenkins(1).

    In 2013, starters have missed 51 games: Bulaga(10), Harris(10), Cobb(5), Finley(4), Perry(4), Matthews(4), Burnett(3), Brad Jones(3), Rodgers(2), James Jones(2), Barclay(1), Shields(1), Lacy(1), Kuhn(1). Since Rodgers missed basically the entire Bear game, you could add one there also.

    Both the quantity and quality of starters lost in 2013 is worse than 2010.

    • marpag

      Exactly. Good comment. Wish more people would see this.

  • GBPDAN

    Lame Call….TT and MM

    For being non- competent managers , for the last 2 years, regarding the back up QB situation. They took this important backup position as a non-issue. Consequently, their actions have cost this team a shot at a deep play off run. Please learn by this huge mistake and pay a little money for a backup insurance policy at this position for the future

  • tim

    Remember a couple of weeks ago when Matthews, Jones, Hayward and Perry all went down at about the same time? I thought it would be a train wreck. But it wasn’t, we got better! with Lattimore, and Hyde and Neal and Palmer and mulumba – and aj hawk playing like a maniac. What happened??? they’re mostly back and the defense is bad. I don’t get it, but I think that spells trouble for Dom if it doesn’t turn around. I can’t blame MM or TT for the defensive or offensive woes. The injuries on O have been beyond belief. I do agree that TT made a mistake by not bringing in more safety help, but hindsight is 20/20 I guess. TT can’t be faulted too much imo as he brought in MM, AR and crew, who in turn produced a Lombardi trophy. That’s the same number of superbowl wins as our divisional rivals in the past 50 years or so. Packer fans are under a lucky star.

    • John

      Super Bowl opportunities are few and far between. Very rarely does a team get a top 5 QB and a chance to win a Super Bowl. These chances should not be wasted on late round draft picks and rookie free agents starting.