Stop the run: Check. Defend the Pass: Um...Posted:Sep 9th, 2013 2:24 am
The Packers accomplished a couple of their goals in their season opener: they contained the 49ers potent ground game, keeping Frank Gore and Colin Kaepernick in check. They combined for just 66 yards on 28 carries. The passing attack? That was another story.
Minus two starters in the secondary, the Pack had no answer for veteran Anquan Boldin and that was the difference in a game that Pack played well enough to win, but did just enough dumb things to lose. Minus Morgan Burnett and Casey Hayward, the Pack's back end was not up to the challenge presented by the NFC favorites. Obsessed with not letting Kaepernick beat them on the edges, the Packers were willing to allow him to stand in the pocket and beat them and he did--to the tune of a career high 412 yards through the air.
There's no shame in losing a one possession game in San Francisco to start the season. Aaron Rodgers and the passing game were sharper than I expected--both Nelson and Cobb were excellent, each with seven catches and over 100 yards. As expected, the running game was ineffective against the Niners' stout front seven. And Eddie Lacy's fumble in the red zone turned out to be the difference in the game. But he showed us something and he'll be better next week and the week after that. The 31 yard screen play is a preview of things to come, once he gets comfortable.
The Pack turned it over twice, while the Niners held to form and didn't turn it over once. Minus two in the takeaway battle will almost always get you an "L," yet the Packers had the lead midway through the fourth quarter and you started to fantasize that maybe, just maybe, the Pack would figure out a way to win this one.
But the offense sputtered at the wrong time late--there were too many three and outs. Key drops by Jones and Finley were costly, the latter costing the team a pick. The offensive line played better than I expected. I thought Bakhtiari held up well despite his matchup with Justin and Aldon Smith. Josh Sitton struggled more, flagged three times for holding. One sequence in the second quarter included a Sitton penalty, the Lacy fumble, the Matthews ridiculous late hit on #7 (which cost the Pack four points, thanks in large part to the officials mistakenly giving the Niners an extra play) and then a penalty on Daniels. You won't beat Super Bowl favorites at their place when you play like that.
But there's reason for optimism, beginning with the run defense. If it's legit, the Pack will be in every game it plays this season. But the team needs Burnett back in a hurry. Safety is already the thinnest position on the roster, and Burnett's presence will make a world of difference out there.
0-1. Just like last year. But we got the toughest game on the schedule out of the way, and looked pretty good in the process. This week's homework assignment: clean up the penalties, get on the right side of the turnover battle and get those tender hammies healed up.