Packers at Seahawks: Knee-Jerk Reaction

Packers at Seattle

OK, so game one is in the books.  After months of anticipation and wondering how the Green Bay Packers would fare at CenturyLink Field against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, we got our answer last night.  After a competitive first half, the wheels fell off of the Packers’ wagon in the second and Seattle literally ran away with the game.

We have already heard some of what I have to say below from Al’s First Impressions and Kris’ Game Balls/Lame Calls posts, but bear with me.  I often get this urge to write a piece like this one after many Packers games and I usually opt against it because I haven’t stepped back and taken another look to get a full perspective on what happened that day.  I’m forging ahead with it in this case because while I expected a Packers loss against a solid opponent, there were some glaring issues that this team can’t seem to correct year after year.

I can appreciate all of those whose mantra is that this was one game and there’s a lot of season left.  That there’s still time to improve and make adjustments and corrections.  To remind us all that it’s not how a team starts, it’s how they finish that matters and hey, the 2010 team didn’t come out of the gate as champions.  That’s all good and well and I can’t fault anyone for taking a positive approach.  All of those may come to be true.  But if you’ve watched the Packers over the last five seasons, there is enough of a sample size to suggest that it’s also OK to be a bit skeptical.

I’m going to channel my inner-Bob McGinn here and for those who don’t know who he is, he is a Packers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and has been for many years.  Bob has become known for his “tell it like it is” pieces and his not being afraid to call it like he sees it.  While some may consider some of my thoughts below to be hasty after just one game, that’s fine.  If you follow me on Twitter and are still following (thank you), you are well aware that I don’t pull any punches during games.  I know this approach isn’t for everyone so please share your comments below but please do so respectfully.

The Green Bay Packers are not an elite football team.  Week one or not, defending Super Bowl champions at CenturyLink Field or not, the Packers were only able to muster one half of good football before they were on the ropes.  Seattle did whatever they wanted in the second half and brought the boom and the Packers just took it.  Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett said after the game “I saw supposedly some of the best players in the league not want to tackle Marshawn Lynch.”  Perception is reality in the NFL.  Teams won’t respect or fear you if you appear to be afraid.  Yet another glaring reason the Packers aren’t elite.

This was definitely a TKO-type loss for Green Bay, which isn’t something many of us are used to seeing.  Every team has a bad outing now and then but there wasn’t much to point to that suggests that the Packers are any closer to beating an elite team like the Seahawks than they have been for the past few seasons.  Below is a look at the evidence on what is still ailing this Packers team and keeping them from taking the necessary steps forward to further their success.

Game Notes

– The Packers had a game plan coming in but again failed to make needed adjustments during the game.  This falls on general manager Ted Thompson for the talent on the field and head coach Mike McCarthy for his staff’s preparation.  When Seattle found a way to solve running back Eddie Lacy very early on, the Packers stopped running and forced the passing game.  Seattle was able to relax, sit back in coverage and blanket the Packers receivers.  When it was obvious that Seattle would go into “beast mode” in the second half to run out the clock, the Packers still weren’t able to contain Lynch.  The Seahawks even tried to bail the Packers out by continuing to throw, for some reason, and the Packers couldn’t get a stop there either.  It’s one thing to be outsmarted but if you know something is coming and can’t stop it, there’s issues.  It’s not the sounds of an elite team to me.

– When offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga left the game with a knee sprain, he was replaced by Derek Sherrod.  We finally got to see how Sherrod would fare in game action after nearly three years away and all I can say is that it’s a good thing the Packers don’t play Seattle 16 times this season.  Sure, it was a very potent pass rush, but I’m here to tell you that Sherrod has reached his ceiling, folks.  What you see is what you get.  The Packers may get by with him for a few weeks until Bulaga can hopefully return, but he’s nothing near an answer at right tackle late in the season.  Knee sprains can be tricky so the timetable on Bulaga’s return is unknown.  It could be three weeks or it could be 10, according to the Packers’ history with that particular injury.  Green Bay now has Lane Taylor and Garth Gerhart as their depth on the offensive line while they wait for Bulaga and J.C. Tretter to return from their ailments.  Injuries happen, but the Packers aren’t prepared nor anywhere near deep enough on the offensive line to deal with them right now.  Unfortunately, history dictates that they’ll have to at some point.

– Not every defense is like Seattle’s, but if any of them were looking for a way to fluster and impede Aaron Rodgers, this game provided some good film.  How much of that you want to place on the offensive line is up to you but that’s who the Packers are running with so they can either make excuses week after week or adjust and change.  Moving on, Rodgers looked, dare I say, average?  Early on, he had time to throw and moved around well, as he always does.  He made some of his usual good throws and was able to extend plays, but more often than not, there wasn’t much there.  Rodgers was clearly jumpy in the pocket as the plays developed, seemingly waiting to get shellacked.  It was an uncharacteristic night for #12 with some rare accuracy issues.  Throws sailing high or just out of the reach of his receivers on plays he usually makes.  Thankfully for Rodgers and the Packers, they won’t see a defense as potent as this for the rest of the regular season.  On the flip side, they will see them in the playoffs and if not battle tested and accustomed to it, they stand to get embarrassed again.

– Lacy suffered his second concussion in less than a year.  Last season, it was in week two that Lacy was knocked out of the game on the first play from scrimmage.  It looks like he’ll miss most of the second game again this year.  With multiple concussions, it’s never certain that it is just a one-week injury but the Packers have to hope it is.  With Lacy out, the Seahawks sat back in coverage and played nickel all night long.  That made life a lot more difficult for Rodgers & Co on offense.  We’ll be paying close attention to the concussion protocol for Lacy as the week progresses but here is an example of why many wonder how long his career might be.  If he suffers another this season or another injury, the Packers immediately become one-dimensional.

– Special teams were not really that special.  Yes, they recovered Earl Thomas’s muffed punt early on and turned it into points, but they kept a Seattle drive alive with a running into the kicker penalty and allowed a field goal.  DuJuan Harris may have lost his kick return duties already after his questionable decisions to come out of the end zone and then do so very hesitantly.  DuJuan, watch the good returners in this game and see a common thread: full speed!  Do or die and if you can’t, take a knee!  Starting at the 20 isn’t so bad, I promise and pssst, Aaron Rodgers is your quarterback.  He’ll get you some yards!  With a home game and a more manageable environment, I expect to see Jeff Janis on the field next week.

– Brad. Jones.  Remember those ads back in the day that encouraged friends to let their friends know when they’ve had one too many and take their keys away?  Are we there yet with Jones?  All preseason long one of the bigger question marks on the Packers defense was middle linebacker and specifically Jones.  Many were calling for Jamari Lattimore and Sam Barrington to get a shot.  If this game didn’t elevate that possibility, then Jones will be playing middle linebacker for the Packers for the next three to four seasons and until he retires.  The near interception would have been a spectacular play given that Zach Miller volleyball spiked the ball out of Jones’s hands before he could secure possession, I’ll give Jones that.  Outside of that play, Jones was bad.  Whatever causes this coaching staff and front office to hesitate in making a desperately-needed change in personnel has to end.  The Brad Jones experiment should be over.  He’s a liability and opposing offenses know it.  I realize not every running back is Marshawn Lynch, but Jones simply can’t make a play.  If it were me, I’d run right at him every time.

– Julius Peppers is an old dog learning new tricks.  It was his first game standing up and playing outside linebacker and it showed.  This is where having this matchup in week one was bad timing.  Peppers looked out of place and lost at times, in a game that the Packers needed his best.  Even 12 years of NFL experience couldn’t help him make one play so let’s hope that was more a function of it being week one and not that he’s maxed out.

– The secondary did a decent job overall except for safety Morgan Burnett.  The cornerback play could have been worse.  I thought Tramon Williams showed well for a guy who is starting to get up there in years for a corner.  Sam Shields is still fast.  Casey Hayward just needs to make a big play and get his mojo back.  Micah Hyde was OK in his first outing at safety.  Ha Ha Clinton-Dix made some rookie mistakes, as we would expect, but closed and tackled better as the game wore on.  Burnett is not going to turn into Nick Collins.  There is no more corner to turn for him.  He is what he is:  a pedestrian safety who may know what to do and where to be, but is rarely there or doing it.  Expect to see less and less of Burnett and more of Clinton-Dix as the season progresses.  Cut your losses, Mike and Ted!

– Corey Linsley wasn’t awful.  He wasn’t great either but no one was in this game for Green Bay.  That he survived the toughest test he likely sees all season long gives me hope that Linsley can very serviceably hold down the fort while Tretter is out.  He may even hang onto the center job after Tretter returns.  This would allow the Packers to boost their offensive line depth with Tretter, who can also play tackle and possibly even some guard.

– Mike McCarthy and the coaching staff.  A few times during this game, McCarthy had that same dazed and confused look he’s had in the past during rough outings.  That’s not a comfortable feeling if you’re a Packers fan.  I am finding it harder and harder to come up with reasons why it isn’t McCarthy’s offensive play calling or defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ schemes that are part of the problem on the field.  The Packers clearly abandoned the run after a few failed attempts by Lacy early on even though conventional wisdom says you have to stick with it against an active defense.  Otherwise, things become too predictable and even an average defense can look great.  This happened to be the Seattle Seahawks, who are great on their bad days and spectacular every other day.  On the field defensively for the Packers were a number of guys who have been playmakers in the past, yet they made none in this game.  Players who can make plays will do so at least part of the time.  The Packers also added some new blood in Peppers and Clinton-Dix to address the issue of a potential lack of talent on the field.  So, is it the talent on the field or the scheme?  My argument for the issue being the talent on the field was the gobs of missed tackles.  We’re going on a fourth year in a row that this is an issue.  Defenders there to make a big play and let the ball carrier slip away for a big gain or into the end zone virtually untouched.  Tackling and pursuit are fundamentals in football.  Fundamentals are taught and mandated by coaches.  If the same players are making  the same old mistakes, is there an issue with the coaching culture in Green Bay?  It’s a valid question at this point.  There is time for the defense to gel, but plenty of reason to wonder if this zebra’s stripes are set for life.


What’s the most important takeaway from game one?  The Packers have a pretty sizeable gap to close between themselves and the best teams in the NFC and they have 16 weeks to do it.  As Cheesehead TV’s Zach Kruse said in his post-game column yesterday, we shouldn’t compare a potential rematch with the Seahawks in the playoffs to what the Packers had against the Atlanta Falcons in 2010.  Green Bay could have beaten Atlanta during the regular season and just weren’t able.  The Packers had no chance to beat Seattle yesterday and I’m not sold that they can close the gap by season’s end.

The team needs improved play but we’re talking about some established veterans who just are what they are.  How do they suddenly improve and become better?  It’s not very likely.  Some of the younger guys can certainly take a step forward and they have to if the Packers are going to achieve the success that may predict for them.

I still see Green Bay as heavy favorites to win the NFC North but if they can’t fix many of these recurrent ailments, it’s another one-and-done in the playoffs for a fourth straight season.  It’s obviously too early to talk playoffs, but the greater point is that, despite the laundry list of concerns above, I’m not calling the season a loss either.

The Packers now have a mini bye week to regroup and come out ready to take out some frustrations on the New York Jets in week two.  They’ll be at Lambeau Field, where they are 6-2 in home openers under McCarthy.


Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on

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21 thoughts on “Packers at Seahawks: Knee-Jerk Reaction

  1. I agree with most of the analysis. But with only one game down I’ll hold onto optimism… if nothing else to continue enjoying the season! My one bit of comfort is that other contenders last year also got creamed by the hawks the first time they played there, but had a much closer and competitive game the second time they played at CenturyLink. (Saints & 49ers) A few untimely injuries to the Seahawks could also even the playing field some. However, they are definitely the top team on everyone’s list right now.

  2. Jason – all good points. The Packers problems were all highlighted in last night’s game. Except for the fumble recovery of the punt, they started every drive with poor field position. This resulted in some of the predictable play calling resulting in Seattle’s defense being able to just clobber the Packers OL. But your point about the recurring issues on this team is the most concerning. Our OL, especially at Tackle just can’t play consistently. Especially now with Bulaga hurt. Bakthiari had some penalties and was beaten badly, though not as badly as Sherrod on many plays. With Barclay on IR the OL is pretty thin right now. Bad news for A. Rodgers and Lacy going forward. Rodgers looked tentative all night. If this continues we may need to question if he is fully recovered from his shoulder injury physically and mentally. The defense still doesn’t tackle, the DL and ILB play was atrocious. Hate to say it again but there ain’t no Nitschkes at ILB on this team. Peppers looked lost at times. CM3 still runs himself out of plays and of course of Burnett is always out of position. There is too much experience on this defense for this to be happening every season. CM3, Peppers, Hawk, B. Jones. Shields, T. Williams, and Burnett all have 3 or more years of NFL experience but it doesn’t show. The DL is young but they were totally dominated. This may be a passing league but if you can’t stop the run you will never have to worry about stopping the pass. I don’t know if it’s coaching, players or both and one game does not a season make but this team has a lot of work to do, especially for a team allegedly coming out of one of its best camps. “Amoeba this”, just about sums up last night’s performance. Thanks, Since ’61

  3. Knee-jerk reaction or not, this analysis strikes me as spot-on. Fast forward to season’s end. We already know how this ends. One and done.

    1. That’s assuming we even get into the playoffs. The way we played Thursday night, the Bears and the Lions must be licking their chops.

      1. Even the Vikes loom as dangerous now. How can we stop AP? He’s The Beast Plus. If their passing game and defense begins to click, suddenly we are in trouble when we play them too. Check back after week 5 and we should have our answer about another division title. But does it even matter? Is anybody among us happy with 1 and done every year? I know I’m not. I’d rather be rebuilding to a great team than mediocre 1 and done seasons. I went through the dark ages with the Pack but even those teams started over rather than go 8-8 every year. Ted’s philosophy sucks.

        1. I have been saying this for 2 years and almost everyone jumps all over me saying how great TT and MM are.. “They have a winning record”
          Who gives a crap. How about building a team that can win in the playoffs.

        2. No. Just. No. GB is not elite right now – but they are still better than anyone in the division. 1 and done might be right. But out of the playoffs? LOL.

  4. Not to pile onto my own writing here, but I also failed to mention that Rodgers targeted just 5 different receivers last night. Jordy had 14, Cobb had 9, Quarless 4 and Lacy and Starks with 3 each. That’s not a Packers offense and that’s not typical Aaron Rodgers. Zero targets to Jarrett Boykin and Davante Adams. Boykin was covered by Sherman all night but come on, ZERO??? Adams appeared to be open on at least one occasion so it leaves me to wonder if Rodgers was under pressure and didn’t see him or if it’s a confidence issue. If it’s the latter, Rodgers better get really comfortable with Adams in a hurry because he’s going to be on the field every week at some point.

    1. I think you’re coming down a bit hard on Rodgers. It’s hard to complete passes when no one’s open. You want him to start chucking it into double coverage?

      1. Adams was wide open on that play. Rodgers spreads the ball around, has since day 1. He was off last night, no 2 ways about it. He missed open receivers. He’s human. It’s OK.

        1. Not sure which play that was with Adams but there are always going to be a few missed receivers.

          There were plenty of plays last night where Rodgers bought time and no one was open down field. This is trend for the Packers against good defenses and has been going on for years. McCarthys game planning is garbage.

    2. I am not sure that it would have mattered but I think that the Packers offensive game plan was flawed, combined with the poor field position most of the night. Seattle is difficult to run outside due their speed on defense and their ability to hold the edge. You need to run at them, possibly with quick hitters which I was expecting from the up-tempo offense. Starks had some success with this due his speed versus Lacy’s slower straight up style waiting for blocks to set up. In the passing game you need to hit the TE over the middle to move the safeties up a bit and then attack the perimeter with Cobb and Nelson. Why is the moving pocket only used in the red zone? The TD play to Cobb should be utilized anywhere on the field. Also, I never expected the Packers to avoid Sherman completely. Are they telling me that Rodgers can’t hit a sideline pass to Nelson where the ball is out of bounds and Melson catches with toes inbound to prevent a pick by Sherman. Doesn’t make sense. If I can see this what is MM and Clemons thinking. I think that Rodgers was frustrated not only with the offense execution but with the play calls as well. Especially by the second half.
      MM says GB did not play their game or follow through on their preparation, Ok, Why not coach? Is it Coaches, players or both. Need to figure it out by the next game. Thanks, Since ‘ 61

  5. Jason thank you for calling out Sherrod… I have tried for quite awhile to no evail. I think there are still alot of Sherrod lovers out there that don’t want the affair to end. The time is now before he lets Rodgers get crushed. I think Sherrod even helped tackle Rodgers on one occasion.

    1. If you have been calling Sherrrod out for quite a while, then I can imagine why others were not listening to you. You have to give him a chance to show what he has. You may prove to be right in the end, but you were still wrong to get on him too early.

  6. I hate to say this but the Packers inability to stop the run reminds me of the 2008 season all over again.Brad Jones should be placed on Special Teams for the remainder of the season and then released at the conclusion of the campaign.

  7. This is very harsh marks, but very honest. I will agree with you on almost every point. I say stop with players who are on top of their performance if they are not at the level of NFL. I would rather see young guys play, even to be busted from time to time, than to listening “expert analyses” from bad players. I really congratulate Mike Daniels for his remarks about his game. He was honest and without excusing himself.

  8. I appreciate you directness, but give credence to about half. A lot of your article is disappointed angst.

    You don’t know Sherrod’s ceiling he’s barely even played at this level. He began to hold his own later in the game. He may impress before he is done.

    Linsey played an excellent game. We all expected some issues, and only a late snap was noticeable. He held his own show no sign of weakness or lack of ability. We were lucky there.

    Things would have looked different for the defense had Brad Jones not had the two defensive hold penalties. That took away a Peppers Mathews sack and gave a new set of downs.

    Lynch’s running all over the defense was the most considerable difference between these two teams. Capers has a lot to do with that.

    I expect that these teams could meet later and that the Packers could win against Seattle if they found a way to stop the run.

  9. Burnett was pretty bad. His college draft profile described him as athletically talented but inconsistent. I wouldn’t change that evaluation after watching him for 4 years in the NFL. I think the problem is that the coaching staff is too loyal, or too stubborn, or too insistent on being in their comfort zone, to make the necessary changes to players and to staff. I remember the fans screaming for Bishop to start but the coaches made him wait and wait. Bishop might not ever have gotten a chance if the coaches’ hands hadn’t been forced by an injury. It is the same scenario with B. Jones and Burnett, one with a sizable and the other with an enormous contract. I suppose I would be classified as a Sherrod-lover, but that did not stop me from noting that last year’s draft was really deep at the RT position, and advocating grabbing one no later than the 3rd round (albeit I was looking ahead to the salary cap with Bulaga and Sherrod both in contract years).

    That being said, I think your article is too harsh. Guion only got 9 preseason snaps. He will be better. Try Pennel some. Dix will get better (although I note that Darren Perry is 0 for everyone he’s ever coached at safety – i.e. batting 0%), and I hope to see Dix and Hyde as the starting safeties down the line. Jury is out on Peppers, but my fear that Daniels and Datone cannot handle the run on a full time basis has gained some support. You can’t use Peppers as a situational pass rusher if the down and distance is not favorable or if you are behind. We might have to see if Peppers can start at DE, and consider Boyd there too. I thought the OLBs all looked fairly good. Liked what I saw from the secondary for the most part, just wish they would hold on to interceptions. We might have to see what Lattimore and Barrington can offer, and what we can do to fix the run defense. I think we can get pretty good pressure if the down and distance is right.

  10. Not that I am a huge Brad Jones supporter. I am not. What I have yet to read from a single person here or elsewhere is Brad Jones was hurt all week with a hamstring injury if I recall. I doubt very much he was 100% healthy. I know he had a shitty game but I am just guessing the injury had a little something to do with his poor play. I am sure Capers wanted to go with him at 80% vs. starting Barrington or Lattimore with zero experience in a road game with the world champs.

    Maybe Capers needs to put some trust in the two backups for once and while he’s at it, try activating Mike Pennel and giving him a shot over Boyd and Guion. Pennel was constantly making plays in the backfield in the preseason. I highly doubt he’s going to play worse than Guion and Boyd. In fact I fully expect Pennel to be the final piece to the puzzle on defense. Put him in there and the defense suddenly looks like a force to be reckoned with. I am that confident in Mike Pennel.

    He’s a huge difference maker but Capers needs to put the son of a bitch in the game instead of on the inactive list. Time to quit being conservative with some of these young players this year. What does Capers have to lose at this point. His job already is on the line after week 1.

  11. It wouldn’t come as any great surprise if the Packers are not the best team in the league, and aren’t going to win the Superbowl this year. But maintaining a little bit of perspective wouldn’t be a bad thing, either. OK, they got it handed to them in Seattle, and that sucks. But I don’t claim to be among that group of people who consider themselves to be the only “true” Packer fans simply because they are constantly bitching about every single thing and won’t tolerate anything less than a touchdown or a takeaway on every single snap. One bad loss does not (and never has) meant that everything about the entire organization is going to hell in a handbasket. No team always wins. If you aren’t already, get used to it, or else stop watching football.

    In my opinion, the biggest problem with the Packers in recent years is their lack of top-notch physicality. This is true on both offense and especially defense. The Packers have been very good, but not great, because they don’t have the brute force and nastiness to physically whip the Seattles and San Frans of the NFL.

    A lot of this, I think, is mindset. If a Packer defender sees a ballcarrier, it’s like he says to himself, “Hmm. We shouldn’t let him do that. Hey, guys! Let’s run over there and see if we can wrap him up and bring him to the ground, OK?” The Seattle defense sees a ballcarrier and says, “Who the hell does this little ****head think he is?!? I’m gonna sprint over there and ram my helmet through his self-esteem!”

    I think it’s possible that the Packers could still turn it around and have a very good, even great, season this year, but they don’t seem to be a very confident bunch right now. That will need to change.

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