Packers XLV

Defense Rests; The Verdict: Guilty

Posted November 11th, 2013 @ 03:11am

This was a game that the Packers needed their defense to win for them. Down to their third string QB just one series into the game, the Packers and all of their fans knew points would be at a premium on this day. With Rodgers down, the defense needed to rise up. Instead, they fell down and failed miserably in their first test without their MVP quarterback, and Philly coasted to an easy victory.

Nick Foles finished with a near perfect passer rating and the Eagles churned up more than 200 yards on the ground. They had the Packers on their heels, with two huge TD passes and the ability to run the ball down the Packers' throats at the end.

This was a game the Pack desperately needed. You figure if they can go 2-2 while Rodgers recuperates they would enter December at 7-5 and in decent shape. With road games in New York and Detroit, the home games were must wins. Instead, the Pack saw their starting QB go down in the first series for the second time in six days at Lambeau, and with it went any chance for a victory. Now they'll need to steal one on the road. Or else Rodgers needs to heal quickly enough to get back on the field for the Lions game.

But make no mistake. This loss is not on Scott Tolzien. Outside of the hideous red zone pick late in the first half when the Pack was 12 yards from tying the game at seven, he performed really well--considering the circumstances. This is a guy who the Pack added to the practice squad just a few weeks back and was promoted to the active roster just this week. He had had virtually no reps with the offense and yet completed 24-39 for 280 yards. Immediately after the game, Mike McCarthy pronounced him the starter for the Giants game.

I think we're all supremely frustrated with the defense. A unit that's averaged 26 interceptions the last four seasons is on tap to get five this season. Five. They've mustered a grand total of three in nine games. And for the most part, the defense has been spared the ridiculous number of injuries the team has dealt with. Sure, the outside linebackers are banged up, but the secondary is finally healthy (though Hayward left again with yet another hamstring injury). They're just not making key plays when the team needs them most. In the past week, Josh McCown and Nick Foles have each authored near perfect passing days at Lambeau. That's not acceptable.

Speaking of injuries, the offense continues to get ravaged. We'll await the severity of Evan Dietrich Smith and Don Barclay's injuries, but it appears the line is in store for a shake up. Let's hope Derek Sherrod is ready to give right tackle a shot. I don't ever need to see Marshall Newhouse suit up again. He's a train wreck at right tackle and almost got Tolzien killed.

You know, it's funny. On my weekly appearance with Miller and Brinson on KXNO in Des Moines last Monday, I was asked if I thought the Pack could run the table. I thought about it and figured that although the Pack would likely be favored in each of its last nine games, they'd probably stumble a number of times. One week later, they're on the outside looking in at the playoffs and need to figure out a way to win a couple games in November or we'll be looking at a lost season. That's how quickly things can change.

Injuries have ravaged this team and this season, beginning with Bryan Bulaga, continuing with guys like Morgan Burnett,  Casey Hayward, Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Jermichael Finley, Randall Cobb and now Rodgers. But great teams find a way to fight through it. The 2010 team did, catching a break in week 17 to sneak into the playoffs and then making their historic run. Of course, that team didn't lose Rodgers. Yes, it's a lot of talent to make up. But wouldn't it be nice to see the defense take charge and assume the identity of the team in his absence?

The Packers next head to New York to meet their playoff nemesis, the Giants, a team that has overcome an 0-6 start to win three straight and vault to within a game of the division lead in the loss column. They're not playing well, but they did just enough to beat the Raiders at home. The early line lists them as four point favorites over the Pack next Sunday.

It's hard to argue with that. The Packers deserve to be underdogs, befitting their underwhelming effort these last two weeks.

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Comments (15):

funny Davey, your posts looks alot like mine, but i wrote it before the game. i said last year after the loss to S.F, in playoffs that capers should be gone, and 90% of u said i was overboard and having knee jerk reaction, who was right now? get him out of there and see what greene can do. if he can't cut it, go after the badgers DC, he at least seems to have a plan, and knows how to get to the qb. someone is going to grab him, watch and see. tolzein will be fine, but i said, the d had to play great and with all these injuries u can only do so much, but capers was bad against good qb's before they were hurt. case closed. let's watch tolzein improve and hope we have a backup for next year.

on November 10th, 2013 at 10:59pm

Bill, Voice of Reason, is EXACTLY right. Have you ever seen so many injuries in ALL NFL games?! The CBA and the reduction in real practice time is having a major impact on the season and people in high places HAVE to be as intelligent as Bill! You can't go half-speed in practice with fewer and fewer reps and just expect to pick it up at game speed come Sunday - it's clearly not happening. I'm optimistic about Tolzein, but he's not going to lead an offense that will outscore the other team in a shoot out. The Defense has to be able to deliver - stops, turnovers and even an occasional SCORE...that's what good defenses do and we've not done ANY of those in the first nine games.

on November 11th, 2013 at 01:51pm

So we have a "recurring issue" that needs fixing MM says. Funny that we can't even narrow down what the recurring problem is! Is it Crosby missing multiple field goals again? Is it Newhouse playing crappy again? Is it poor secondary play again? Is it allowing the opponent to run out the clock with 8 to 9 minute drives to end the game again? Is it leading the league in players lost to injury again? I'm not sure what MM sees as the "recurring issue" but I think MM needs to send a statement today by cutting both MD Jennings and Newhouse. Jennings has simply not looked good ever since he was basically handed the safety job when Woodson wasn't resigned and TT failed to address the position in the off-season. Put Banjo in as starter. I thought Newhouse played ok last season at left tackle but when called upon this year to come in off the bench, he has looked terrible giving up sacks and what was with the false start of his after we had just come back from a timeout? Get your head in the game! As for firing Capers, I'm not sure we can blame him for this game. Double coverage in place on 2 of the Eagle's long TD passes: correct coverage but poor execution looks to me. And the long drives to end the games that our defense gave up? How do we blame Capers for those? How many different "8 guys in the box" schemes can you have? Guys just didn't make plays. I would consider bringing in a more highly energetic, on the field instead of in the booth defensive coordinator next year however. I think our players on defense lack some passion and I think a loud mouth, in-your-face personality for defense coordinator can really fire up that side of the ball. But not mid-season and must keep the 3-4 defense. Our season that was so bright a couple weeks ago is fading fast and I am bummed.

on November 11th, 2013 at 02:11pm

Aaron Rodgers is unarguably thee best and biggest impact player on this team. But there are 21 other players on the field that make this team a playoff caliber team. It seems to me that when Rodgers went down, the whole system started to deflate. The defense which I consider to be an average defense talent wise, played with tenacity earlier in the year, and were swarming the ball carrier better than I have ever seen (a reflection of good coaching). This has not been the case the past two games. I also agree with earlier posts about playing a one handed Clay Matthews not being a prudent decision, and would like to see Nick Perry step up if he can ever stay healthy. The offensive line which I feel had exceeded expectations earlier in the year, is getting beaten, and not driving players off the ball. Same lineup, minus D-S for the second half of the game. Newhouse needs to go, Sherrod time to step up. As for Tolzein, I believe we have found our backup quarterback for the future, or until management determines if they need to draft and develop new talent. One thing I disagree with in previous posts is the strength and conditioning of the team. I feel that the team has always had high expectations in this category, and has been one of the cornerstones of the program along with high levels of disapline. These players primary and most important training comes during the off season, with their own trainers and at their own facilities. It's my understanding that packers S and C coaches are there to maintain and improve players that may come in to camp in unsatisfactory condition. I can't believe that team management with as high of expectations they have, would allow this to be a weakness on the team. Injuries at the proffesional level mostly happen by chance, this is why Olympic sprinters who are elite runners, with the highest level of training pull hamstrings.

on November 11th, 2013 at 04:54pm

This one hurts, no doubt about that. But before we start waving the white flag and blowing taps let's remember the threshold for missing the playoffs is 7 losses so the Pack has some room yet. For most of the game the Packers did what they needed to win. They ran the ball effectively and until late held a big time of possession advantage. But they left 20 points on the field on the two missed field goals, the end zone interception and the failure to cash in on the Foles' fumble in the fourth quarter. Perhaps if Aaron Rodgers had been in these past two games the defense wouldn't have collapsed as badly at the end. Get those 20 lost points and maybe 10-14 more on Chicago Monday night and we'd be singing a different tune. Even at that, though, the defense has to come in for tough scrutiny. Since the fourth quarter of the Minnesota game they've gone back to being the timid, confused, meek defense we've seen the past two years. Maybe Capers can't rest on his laurels from 2010 any longer. If it doesn't change I'll be in favor of a change at the end of the season. Look what a guy like Rob Ryan has done in New Orleans; turning around the worst defense in the league's history last season in less than a year. Detroit took control of the division yesterday with their win over Chicago. The Lions now have a good chance to go undefeated vs. the NFC North. But if the Packers can get out of the month no worse than 6-6 and have Rodgers back at the start of November they can still make a playoff run.

on November 11th, 2013 at 06:35am

Poor old THC. I hate to say I told you so. Crosby should have been cut midseason LAST YEAR. He is a complete headcase. Also, are you ready to admit that Morgan Burnett is probably the most over-rated safety in football? How many times has he been burnt the last 2 weeks? He's atrocious in coverage. Morgan Burnt'nett is more like it. And how is Tramon Williams even allowed on the field at this point?

on November 11th, 2013 at 07:04am

I hope that is the last I see of Seneca Wallace in a Packer uniform. Bring in Flynn to backup Tolzein. Wallace wanted no part of live game action, and proved it when he bailed from the pocket early during his few passing opportunities. Tolzein has a pulse, and did some good things. He at least has a chance. Also, Clay Matthews was a liability with one hand. Was getting pushed around by ALLEN BARBRE!!!!

on November 11th, 2013 at 07:28am

When Apple lost Steve Jobs even though the infrastructure and system was in place the Company was not the same losing his creativity and leadership. Those qualities hide a lot of negative trends that emerged in the company when he was lost. The same with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Thankfully not forever like Jobs but with similar outcomes. My good friends on this site....Voice, Packlifer, Larry, and other true lifetime Packer Backers keep telling us the infrastructure and system put in place by TT and MM will survive. And I agree to a point. But Jobs can hide a lot of blemishes that we do not question or realize when No.12 is in charge. While this site and all talking media heads will now bring those out I am going to concentrate on one claring trending area that even with Rodgers playing needs to be addressed. But...first I have a quiz for all you true regulars...Cane is left out....he is the Richie Ingognito of this site....albeit he is just a wordy bully. The question is: Who is the longest tenured member of the coaching staff? Hint: We have MM and his 20 assistants ( yes 20 for a 53 man roster plus the practice squad...but this is the norm in the NFL) You have a 1 in 21 chance. The winner gets a plastic Cheesehead. Give Up? The answer: Mark Lovat who has been on the staff since 1999...7 years before MM arived in 2006. You say ...Mark ....WHO ?? I consider my self a Packer nerd on history and I never heard of him. But that finally brings me to my main point. This guy has the title of Strength and Conditioning Coordinator and he has 2 assistants under him. My point is that my observation is that although TT and MM get us the players and the system we are one of the worst conditioned teams in the NFL. I base that on 2 main points: 1- Injuries...Yes...some cant be avoided...Rodgers falling on his shoulder,,Cobb breaking his leg...Finleys neck/head. But the majority of our injuries are happening from non contact....mainly our enormous amount of hamstrings and lower body noncontact injuries. You have to question our conditioning and our leaders in this area. I tried to do some research on team conditioning and it seems the teams emphazing it the most are Denver, San Fran, Carolina, and Seattle. Those are all winners. You never hear anything off season or in on Pack conditioning. 2- In our 4 losing games we have been dominated physically in the 4th quarter. SF had the ball the last 5 minutes of that game,Cincy dominated the end minutes, the Bears had 2 long 4th quarter drives, and the Eagles had the ball for the games last 9 minutes. Do these teams have better players and athletes than us ?? I doubt it !! But they all defintely have better conditioned athletes than us . I know most of you will disagree with me but I think this is a major kink in our system that needs to be addressed....maybe not now but by next season. GO PACK GO !!

on November 11th, 2013 at 08:11am

It'd be nice to see a little passion in the head coach. Rolling one's eyes just doesn't do it for me.

on November 11th, 2013 at 09:30pm

It seems like McCarthy was a little fired up after the game yesterday and I love it. He says things need to change and I hope it does. Right now, they aren't tackling (good lord Casey Hayward) and just aren't getting it done on defense. They have to start pressuring more and causing turnovers. I was impressed with Tolzien, I thought he made some errors, but I thought he did fairly well. I agree w/Dave, they deserve to be underdogs and they need to wake up by Sunday or their season will be over. But I think they have the talent to bounce back.

on November 11th, 2013 at 11:14am

that is why your OSSG , i did not know that. I know we talked about this conditioning thing the last 3 years, he needs to go. dave u are right also, i do agree that 52 needs to sit, i love his passion, but u cannot play lb with 1 arm. let it heel, and start over. Packerlifer, u say don't put up the white flag, but at the end of your posts it sounds like your agreeing with me, I sure hope I'm wrong, but I see the packers with my eyes not mt heart. even when 12 comes back, it may take him 2 games to play great again. we are asking way to much of him to be God here. let's just take it 1 game at a time, that is the only thibng i hate about THC. he looks to far out, u can't pick games if u don't know who is playing. get heeled green and gold.

on November 11th, 2013 at 11:23am

Guys, it's safe to say I share your frustrations with the situation we've been put in. Aside from the results yesterday, I had a very enjoyable time at Lambeau. After the end of the second Eagles offensive series, I made a run out to the concourse, and on my way back to my seat the PA announced the new Packer QB Tolzien, and I said what the hell happened while I was gone? I had to text someone to find out about Wallace's groin, and then EDS got hurt later, so there the Packers were with a 3rd string QB and a backup center Z(Lang) trying to make something out of it. You could tell the connectivity wasn't quite there between then, but both did a pretty good job under the circumstances. Now before we start calling for Capers' head, the defense needs to win the one-on-ones in order to get off the field - the first Eagles' TD pass had 2 guys that could have made a play on the ball, but ended up making it a volleyball game. MAKE A PLAY, GUYS! BEAT THE GUY IN FRONT OF YOU! It's not Capers' job to beat them, IT'S THE PLAYERS' JOBS!! The extent of Capers' involvement is to put these guys in the position to succeed, and he has for the most part, but the players need to hold up their end of the bargain. Matthews and Perry were about as ineffective as putting a couple of high school kids out there - neither one is healed yet. McCarthy gave a great "the buck stops here" post game conference, and put aside all speculation by naming Tolzien next week's starter right then and there. Good job, MM! As I type this from a McD's in Milwaukee before I hit the road, the Pack is giving Flynn his tryout. If they don't sign him, that should tell everyone everywhere what we need to know about our guy Matty. Just keep something in mind here - Tolzien isn't the savior here. Neither is Flynn, Young, Wallace (if he's even still on the roster by tonight), or god forbid, what's-his-name from Hattiesburg. There's only one guy that can save the Pack right now, and that's Rodgers. The Packers are in circle-the-wagons mode now. For his lack of experience, I thought #16 did a serviceable job, and there may be some talent there somewhere down the line. But OSSG brings up a point about conditioning, and the real culprit here is the new collective bargaining agreement that prohibits contact in practices (or extensive contact). The players union wanted it this way, and now they're paying the price. These guys can't handle a full speed game anymore because thay don't get real contact practices anymore. It's like anything else in careful of what you ask for - you may get it.

on November 11th, 2013 at 11:38am

The Packers are basically the Vikings without Rodgers. Enough said.

on November 12th, 2013 at 01:47pm

Voice, and Ray J, exact same thing I said in my posts on 10-21, please look back and read it, u may have missed it. if u don't practice u get hurt. did any of u think of randy Wright when u saw the #16 out there? i sure did. like i have said for 2 weeks u cannot lose all these men and win, if we do, the rest of the teams would be awfully bad. I'm just going to enjoy the season and see what happens, and hope Tolzein gets better each game. maybe TT will listen and draft a safety next year or get one in free agency for once. go pack

on November 12th, 2013 at 01:56pm

I don't know about you guys, but in my next life I hope to have just a fraction of the football smarts that Larry has.

on November 12th, 2013 at 03:26pm

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