Impressions on Packers after San Francisco
Photo: Image by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
After digesting the Green Bay Packers' 34-28 loss at the San Francisco 49ers, here are my general impressions:
I really liked the way the Packers played up front defensively.
They answered the physical 49ers trench warfare mentality by holding them to a 2.6-yard average per rushing attempt. That’s a huge improvement over last season.
This is totally irresponsible for me to say, nor is it politically correct for me to say, but I don’t have a problem with Clay Matthews’ late hit out of bounds on San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
He didn’t do an Ndamukong Suh by going for the knees trying to injure the player.
Did he leave his feet? Yes!
Should he have been penalized? Of course.
If the same thing happened to Aaron Rodgers, would we all be howling like a band of hungry beagles on the hunt? Absolutely!
But there are times when messages have to be sent.
I don’t think there was anything premeditated about Clay’s hit.
I believe it was in the heat of the moment, but I also believe the mentality of the Packers going into that game played a part in what transpired at that moment.
For an entire off-season, the Packers have been labeled a soft, perimeter team that cannot stand up to the physical 49ers or, for that matter, the Seahawks.
From Mike McCarthy down to the last member of the practice squad, the Packers were out to prove that wasn’t the case and isn’t going to be the case going forward.
If you are going to be a physical, dominating, no-nonsense defense, then sometimes things like late hits out-of-bounds-on- quarterbacks happen.
The Packers don’t teach late hits, breaking the rules, or targeting players.
They don’t intend to show their macho by taking those kinds of penalties.
But the Matthews hit, while illegal, unintentionally sent a message that will resonate around the league; “Beware. This Green Bay defense will play with an edge to it.”
Fortunately, no one got hurt in the sending of that message.
I knew safety Morgan Burnett, since Charles Woodson’s departure, had become perhaps the most important figure in the Green Bay secondary.
After seeing how the backline played without him on Sunday, that point was made clear for all to see.
San Francisco had 9 passing plays of 20 yards or more and 404 net yards of passing offense.
"Run to Win"
As encouraged as I was about the defensive front seven against the run, Green Bay’s offensive line did not open many holes for running back Eddie Lacy on the ground.
While I realize this is not the Clifton, Tauscher, Wall, Rivera and Flanigan line of the mid-2000s, the Packers are going to need a little more out of the present line in terms of the running game.
My question is, are they capable of being an effective run blocking line, especially against quality defensive fronts?
If the Packers are to get to January and beyond, they will have to block for the run against the likes of a Seattle and/or a San Francisco defensive front, and they will have to be an effective run blocking unit to advance in the post-season.
63 yards, a 3.3 average with a long gain of 7 yards at San Francisco, won’t get it done
Among the best
What a treat to see two of the top four or five teams in football go at it on a spectacular day in the Bay Area Sunday!
The Packers have a very good football team with room to grow.
Defensively, once they get Burnett and Casey Hayward back, they will be fine on the back line.
Jerron McMillian and/or M.D. Jennings with Burnett are fine — but without???
For my money
The Niners are still the best overall team in the NFL.
They should have trounced Baltimore in that Super Bowl last February, but they were not playing well defensively in the post-season, and offensively they sputtered until late in the game.
I will note this about San Francisco: they are not as deep as they were and not quite as good as they were last year, but they are still the best team I have seen this early season.
I was impressed with rookie safety Eric Reid who stepped in for Dashon Goldson (free agent departure), and of course wide receiver Anquan Boldin who more than filled the void left by the injury to Michael Crabtree.
Late this season when Crabtree returns (if he does), they will have the best tandem of receivers in the game.
Speaking of early season tests, the Niners head to Seattle to face the other “best team in the NFC” Seattle Seahawks this weekend.
Danger Will Robinson (re: Lost in Space - remember?)
I said it last week in the “Scouting Report” on TODAY'S TMJ4 that Colin Kaepernick is the most dangerous quarterback in the NFL!
Aaron Rodgers is the best, but Kaepernick is the most dangerous.
Sunday reaffirmed what I already knew.
Kaepernick doesn’t have to run “read option” to beat you.
He has the arm, the know-how and the vision to pick apart any defense right from the pocket.
I would take this guy over any of the young quarterbacks who came to the fore last season.
I know this sounds ridiculous, but in just 11 starts Kaepernick might be the second best quarterback in the game! I know ridiculous—scary too.
Right now Rodgers may be slightly more accurate on the move than Kaepernick, but they both possess the qualities of the all time greats in the history of the game at that position.
They are cerebral, resourceful wonderfully talented high character leaders.
How good is good
How good is Aaron Rodgers?
So good that on the road, the Packers could:
- Lose the turnover statistic 2 to nothing
- See the Niners possess the ball 17 minutes 10 seconds longer than Green Bay
- Run 75 plays to just 58 for the Packers
- Allow San Francisco to enjoy an average field position to start a drive at their 33 yard line while the Packers started from their own 20 yard line...
...and despite all of that, Green Bay led 28-24 with 8:26 to go!!!!
Trust me, ARod was the main reason the Packers were in that game!
He’s not good. He’s great!!!
Who needs training camp?
Jordy Nelson especially and Randall Cobb’ performances Sunday leads one to believe training camp may be overrated.
Nelson had 7 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown, Cobb 7 receptions 108 yards and a score.
Both missed most of training camp due to injuries.