Green Bay Packers Again Struggling With Elite Quarterbacks All Green Bay Packers All the Time

If a team is going to knock the Green Bay Packers from the ranks of unbeaten in 2011, there’s one thing we know: That team better have an elite quarterback.

While it’s not quite a flashback to 2009, the Packers defense is again struggling mightily with elite level quarterbacks.

Two years ago, the Packers were consistently burned by quarterbacks Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger and Kurt Warner. The Packers lost all four of those games, including a playoff defeat to the Cardinals in which Warner threw for 379 yards and 5 touchdowns. Roethlisberger went over 500 and Favre had a combined seven touchdowns.

While Green Bay has won every game this season, a similar trend is forming for the 2011 defense.

In my estimation, the Packers have played three elite level quarterbacks this season: Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Eli Manning. Not only were the Packers torched in the passing game by these three quarterbacks, but each of the three games were among the closest the Packers have played this season.

Let’s take a look at some of the stats from these three games.

DREW BREES 32 49 416 3 0 112.5 42-34
PHILIP RIVERS 26 46 385 4 3 85.9 45-38
ELI MANNING 23 40 347 3 1 100.7 38-35
TOTALS 81 135 1,148 10 4 99.9

The table is pretty self-explanatory.

The top level of quarterbacks are not only going to be able to move the football—something many have done on the Packers this season—but they’ll also be able to put points on the board by scoring touchdowns. The last part of that is the most important. While we’ve talked all season about the Packers’ “bend-but-don’t-break” defense, allowing touchdowns has been the only way opposing teams have stuck in games. Other quarterbacks—Cam Newton, Josh Freeman, Sam Bradford—have piled up the yards on the Packers defense, but only the three elite quarterbacks listed were able to throw three or more touchdown passes in a single game.

What does this tell me?

Only the teams with elite quarterbacks are going to have the chance to beat the Packers down the stretch. The Packers have faced good defenses and running games, but neither have been consistently effective in keeping teams competitive against the Packers this season. You have to score touchdowns in the passing game to keep up.

That’s really the only way you’re going to beat this team with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense playing as well as they have in 2011. Score points—as many as you can throwing the football—and hope that Rodgers and the offense will make a mistake or have an off day.

It’s not a fool proof plan, obviously, but elite quarterbacks look like the only ones capable of pulling it off. If the Packers continue to play as poorly against top quarterbacks as they have this season, it’s more than possible for a team like the Saints, Giants or even Cowboys to hang tough and beat the Packers during a playoff game. It’s not a deathwish, but definitely something to consider the next time the Packers see a top level quarterback. Judging by the remaining schedule, that’ll likely come in January.


Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on


12 thoughts on “Green Bay Packers Again Struggling With Elite Quarterbacks

  1. I find it very telling that the only QB who had a really good game against the Packers was Brees (if you consider the trend of the passing game nowadays). Up until last game he was the only QB with 100+ rating against this D.

    They’re definitely not playing as well as last year, where they were #1 in opposing QB rating. They’re still a #10 in that category, though, which is IMHO a much, much better indicament of defensive performance against the pass than yards per game.

    Add the turnovers (#2), and, even with all the yardage and points, with this offense, we should come out on top every time.

  2. Cracks me up, i can sum it up with two words:

    Who doesn’t??????

    Thants why they are elite QB’s

    1. Packers of 2010 certainly didn’t, especially to this degree. Last year’s defense played well against Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and even Tom Brady.

  3. The only NFC team that really concerns me are the Saints. And if Brees were gone they wouldn’t bother me at all. I think the QB’s who hurt the Pack the most are veterans who can easily spot when the CBs and safties are out of position(or dupe them into being in the wrong spot). I don’t know what all the problems were in 2009, but this years secondary just does not play well together.
    Plus when Woodson is called upon to cover, he has got to stop all the grabbing and guessing and just play straight-up.

    It’s something the Pack needs to figure out in a hurry because I have a feeling it will be the Saints we see in the NFC championship game.

  4. While I don’t have a problem with the obvious fact it will take an Elite QB, to defeat the Packers.
    As far as the stats, they can be misleading, but two of them are big keys.
    Time of Possession and Turnover Differential.
    It’s fairly obvious the Defense specialty is turnovers. It’s all part of the system, as your sending a wave of defenders to aggressively stop the defense. In turn they give up a lot of yards because it’s a high risk strategy.
    As far as the Time of Possession, that’s mainly attributed to the Packers being the 2nd Ranked team in 3rd down efficiency.
    Also on a side note hardly consider Phillip Rivers, Elite.
    One could say he is the AFC Equivalent to Donovan McNabb with a hint of Jeff George. He has the tools to be an Elite but he constantly disappoints. Prior to this year, before he regressed, you can say he was a Elite Fantasy Football QB.

  5. I think Mr. Bacon was onto something. Turnovers. A high-powered offense is going to score a lot, but essentially be trading blows with Aaron and friends. An opportunistic defense will take away opportunities for the other offense. Thats what happened in San Diego. an elite qb isnt enough, you need a pass rush as well, cuz if you cant get after aaron without blitzing youre pretty much done

  6. I agree 100% with Zach. The #1 team that I’m concerned with is NO. This 2011 Packers D would get shredded if they played the Saints in NO. The good news is the Pack will have HF advantage. The saints are 3-3 on the road this year. That being said, they played well against our D in the opener. I would much rather play SF in the NFC champ game, and the Ravens in the SB, because neither team has an elite QB. I hope SF gets the 2 seed and NO gets the 3 SEED. SF may knock NO out of the play offs. Also, I’d like to see the Pack play Atlanta or maybe the Cowboys in the first play off game, not the Giants. I know this all sounds defeatest, but with this D, I can’t help but to think this way. Getting that 5th SB title is huge. We would be tied for 2nd and only 1 behind Pittsburgh. That, plus all the early championships would be great. I grew up watching the Packers of the 70s & 80s. I thought having Favre show up was a miracle (and maybe it was), but this is Awsome. This offence is unstoppable. Just need a few piece on D to create a for sure dynasty.

  7. McGinn wrote a great piece a couple weeks ago about the only real chance another team has is to beat the crap out of ARod.

    While I think that would work, I don’t think it’s possible. AR’s too mobile. Tom Brady in the 07 SB was not. He never has been.

    I trust McGinn’s opinion over any other writer, but on this one, I think the pass D is the potential stumbling block.

  8. I guess you people forget that the Packers shut down Matt Ryan on the road , you just keep worrying about a Saint team that has never won a playoff game on the road and last year lost on the road in the playoffs to a bad Seattle team.
    The Packers haled the Saints to 27 offensive points in the opener and made two 4th down stoppd , if you remember Hawk and Matthews were in Brees’ face all not and they were fingertips away from having 6 more sacks than they had.
    You guys do not understand that this is an offensive league and everyone gives up yardage, the bottom line is points. Do you get it that the Saints suck on the road especially on grass , they are not a threat to win a game in cold Green Bay being a fast dome team , get real people!!!
    Now anyone who thinks the Raiders are getting 30 points on us is just trying to stir the pot up.
    This team shut the high powered Lions down on their home field.
    The bottom line is that the Packers score 30 even on a slow day , hey get over 35 on a good day and that means it is going to take most likely 35 points for a team to have a chance to beat us in a playoff game , that is not happening !

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