Jclombardi’s rapid reactions to OT loss.
Summary: In the fourth quarter, QB Rodgers rallied the Packers to score 21 points sending the NFC wild-card game into overtime. Yet, the Cardinals scored on a sack and fumble recovery resulting in a 51-45 defeat in the highest-scoring NFL playoff game.
1. Defense: A horrible defensive performance with no pressure, no coverage, and no tackling. Evaluation: The pressure was underwhelming, the Packers struggled to sort out the Cardinals’ route combinations in the early going, and star receiver Fitzgerald eventually got the better of his matchup with Packers cornerback Woodson by scoring two second-half touchdowns. The Cardinals had 531 total offensive yards. Also, when the offense got the team back into the game again and again, the defense could not stop the Cardinals. Evaluation: The Packers are going to have to do a lot of work in the off-season finding out a way to stop older quarterbacks that get rid of the ball quickly. In three of the Packers’ six losses, Favre (twice) and Warner carved up the Packers’ defense by getting the ball quickly on three-step drops. The Packers have to figure out a way to play more press coverage and less zone. Teams found a big soft spot in the Packers’ secondary down the middle of the field in the 12 to 25-yard zone. Missed adjustment: Cardinals were doing the same thing that we saw from the Steelers when they tore up the Packers’ secondary. Rub routes, combination routes out of the bunch and stack alignments…routes that break inside, back to the quarterback, away from the defenders’ leverage. Capers should play some Cover 1 Robber where the defense drops a linebacker to a depth of 10 yards between the hashes. What this does is allow defenders to run those underneath crossers that the Cardinals were producing on to a rover who can force the ball to go elsewhere. It looked too easy against a man-to man scheme with a deep middle of the field safety as the only help. Charles Woodson and the Packers secondary looked outmatched.
2. Choke: In a historical NFL wild card OT finish, the offense simply choked giving the game away missing open receivers and breakdowns in pass protection.
3. QB Rodgers: QB Rodgers had a great game throwing for 422 and 5 total touchdowns. Yet, he committed two big turnovers. Also, in OT, he missed wide open WR Jennings on the first play that could have won the game and the final play of OT that could have avoided the sack and touchdown fumble recovery for the loss.
4. K Croby: When it counted, K Crosby missed another potential winning field goal. Unbelievable and deja vu.
5. Start: The Packers, including specifically QB Rodgers, have the awful habit of starting horribly slow in big games.
6. Future all-pro: TE Finley is a future superstar getting 6 receptions for 159 yards.
7. Offseason changes: Goodbye to Bush. Maybe goodbye to Bigby, Kampman, and Lee. It is a tossup about Pickett and Harris depending on their future defensive roles.
8. Offensive Line: The offensive line gave up 5 sacks. In the offseason, the Packers need, at least, two solid tackles in the draft or free agency to eventually replace aging tackles. Rookie Lang looked fine replacing injured LT Clifton. The rest of the offensive line, with C Spitz back, will be fine.
9. Missed face mask penalty: PFT–One league source said, “It should have been a personal foul grabbing the face mask and 15-yard penalty and a first down for Green Bay.“
10. Lessons: This Packers 2009 team was about almosts and what-ifs. They put themselves in too many situations that required near-perfect play to overcome. This defense did nothing to slow down the elite quarterbacks that it faced this season. The Packers were a good team in 2009, but they got in their own way on the path to greatness.