Jclombardi reviews & grades Packers loss to Bucs.
Summary: Rookie Bucs QB Freeman threw 3 touchdowns to lead the winless Bucs 38-28 over the fading Packers. In the second half, the Packers faded away continuing to exhibit ongoing problems of poor execution, poor protection, poor special teams, poor defensive pressure, and untimely penalties. Fading at the midseason, the Packers are 4-4.
Game Ball: 1. RB Grant 2. LB Hawk 3. CB Woodson.
Injury Report: 1. LB Kampman (concussion) 2. RT Tauscher (sprain).
Quote: Veteran Packers Hall of Famer
1. LeRoy Butler: “McCarthy says, ‘We have to get this cleaned up, we have to take advantage of our opportunities.’ What he should say is, ‘I will fix this. If I have to play different combinations, different people, I will fix it.’”
Quotes—“Believe It Or Not”:
1. Packers CEO Confident Team can turn things around–After exiting Raymond James Stadium, President Murphy was not in step with the fervent, knee-jerk section of Packers fans who wanted everybody in the organization fired immediately. Have you given up hope that the Packers will make the playoffs?
2. Does McCarthy realize how infuriating it is for Packers fans to hear–or even Aaron Rodgers and the receivers? McCarthy is either delusional or not doing a good job fixing the correctable mistakes. McCarthy will likely have to make adjustments this week without Tauscher’s help.
3. Sunday’s collapse against Tampa Bay epitomized the Packers at the season’s midway point. It left team president Mark Murphy feeling “disappointed” and saying it’s on coach McCarthy and GM Thompson make the changes necessary to salvage the season.
Report Card Grades–Good, Bad, & Ugly: LA vs SE:
Pass Offense—C vs C-. Facing intense pressure, QB Rodgers completed 17 of 35 passes for 266 yards, 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and six sacks. In the second half, Rodgers led the team to a 28-17 lead, but they failed to score on the final two drives to win it. As one reviewer observed:
The Bucs’ press coverage took away the quick-hitters and three-step drops after Rodgers hit WR Greg Jennings for option slants of 11 and 6 on the first two drives. Receivers worked harder to get open at times. With the mounting protection issues up front, downfield routes sometimes didn’t clear fast enough for Rodgers to get the ball out. At other times, the Cover-2 shell created a bracket effect.
WR Jones had 3 catches for 103 and 1 touchdown. WR Driver had 4 receptions for 71 yards and 1 touchdown. WR Jennings had 5 receptions for 61 yards. However, they dropped key passes in the stretch leading to the loss.
Rush Offense—A vs A. The Packers had 32 rushes for 170 yards averaging a solid 5.3 yards. RB Grant had only 21 carries for 91 yards with a solid 4.6 average. RB Green looked like his old hard running self with 6 carries for 45 yards averaging 7.5 yards overtaking the great Jim Taylor for the Packers’ all-time rushing record. Except for rushing performance, excluding C Wells, the entire offensive line had a down day fading away especially when RT Tauscher left the game.
Pass Defense—C vs C-. The pedestrian Packers defense made a hero of a rookie QB starting his first game for a lowly NFL team. Rookie QB Freeman rallied the Bucs in the 4th quarter to victory. With the game on-the-line, DB Bush and SS Bigby gave up crucial coverage touchdowns. Again, Caper’s 3-4 blitz schemes were ineffective getting only a coverage sack. A reviewer summed-it-up:
The Packers have a serious pass-rush problem on defense. Every time they had Freeman in trouble, they let him escape from the pocket. Not being able to rattle a rookie quarterback with a consistent pass rush speaks volumes about where the Packers are with their conversion to a 3-4 defense. Nowhere.
Rush defense—B vs B+. The Bucs had 25 carries for 81 averaging a lowly 3.2 yards. RB Williams rushed 16 times for 56 yards averaging a lowly 3.5 yards. The front seven had a stout game, but they cannot produce a pass rush central to any defense.
Special teams—D- vs D-. The coverage had another disastrous day giving away 13 points on a blocked punt for a touchdown and on an 83 yards return for another quick Bucs touchdown. Bucs return man Smith had 161 return yards. Packers Williams averaged only 4.5 yards in four punt returns, but Underwood’s penalty nullified a William’s 27 yard punt return. Green had 2 returns for 55 yards. K Crosby’s booming kickoffs resulted in three touchbacks. K Kapinos is simply not good enough with his 6 punts averaging 41.2 (gross), 27.6 (net) and 3.96 (hang time), and 2 were inside the 20.
Coaching—F vs F. The continued lack of execution, discipline, and winning results point to both Coach McCarthy and GM Thompson. In the red zone, they were 2 for 2. In 3rd down efficiency, they were 5 for 14. In 4th down efficiency, they were 0 for 2.
Overall Game—F. The team choked and faded away in the stretch giving away a 28-17 lead losing this game in the last 13 minutes. At 4-4, the Packers are just an inconsistent average good team. As a reviewer added:
They suffered the ignominy of losing to the previously winless Bucs. They exhibited no sense of urgency coming off its disappointing loss to the Vikings. The Packers played almost lifeless in throwing away a 28-17 lead in the fourth quarter. Special teams continued to give up momentum-changing long returns and killed their own big runbacks with silly penalties. HC McCarthy’s insistence on going with time-consuming pass plays out of 5 and 7 step drops by Rodgers is ludicrous.
CBS Overall Game—F. This one really stings. They made way too many mistakes. You can’t win on the road like that — even against a team you should beat. The special teams were a disaster. The offensive line was bad again.
CTV Good, Bad & Ugly: Good–Green, Grant, & Jones; Bad–Bush, Rodgers, & Slocum; Ugly–McCarthy.
Rodgers vs Favre series: week 9. “Silver Fox” Vikings 7-1. Packers 4-4.
Commentary: No surprise. The game was predictable. The fans were reminded of the horrible Packers teams from the 70s and 80s. The Packers failed to win an easy road game against a winless bad team. This Packers team chokes in crucial game situations. Again, the team lacks critical playmakers, has inexperienced players in important positions, and serious talent gaps raising management issues. The “beginning-of-the-end” wanna bes sports news bloggers will provide ludicrous amusement previewed in “believe it or not” quotes.
Preview: A prime time home game against the Cowboys.