Reviews & Grades: Packers At Cardinals

Jclombardi reviews & grades Packers loss to Cardinals

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.

Game Video Highlights:  

Game Balls: 1. QB Rodgers 2. RB Grant 3. TE Finley 4. WR Jennings.

Report Card–Good, Bad, & Ugly: LA vs SE

Pass Offense—C+ vs C. Starting erratic with playoff chiders, QB Rodger reverted to bad habits overthrowing receivers in the clutch and holding the ball too long.  While Rodgers’ passer rating looked statistically good, he could not match Warner making too many of these mistakes.  After the 1st quarter, he got hot completing 28 of 42 passes for 422 yards, 4 touchdown, 1 early big interception, 1 fumble, and 121.1 passer rating. Yet, in OT, Rodgers missed the game-winning throw to wide-open Jennings and then gave the game away on a fumble to LB Dansby when he did not see blitzing CB Adams. TE Finley had 6 receptions for 159 yards. WR Jennings had 8 receptions for 130 yards and 1 touchdown. WR Jones had 3 receptions for 50 yards and 1 touchdown. WR Driver had only 4 receptions for 43 yards and 1 huge turnover.

Rush Offense—C vs C-. The Packers had 20 carries for 90 yards averaging 4.5 yards. RB Grant had a strong playoff game with 11 carries for 65 yards averaging 5.9 yards

Pass Defense—F vs D-. The Packers defense performed like an awful comedy of errors seemingly outclassed and outmatched in the game getting no pressure, failing to provide adequate coverage, and forgetting how to tackle, i.e. pedestrian performance. The Packers need to get a rush DT. 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.  QB Warner shredded the soft middle zone coverage in the 3-4 defense outflanking Capers’ schemes. QB Warner passed for 379 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 155.4 passer rating. The Cardinals had 531 total offensive yards. The Packers are going to have to do a lot of work in the off-season finding out a way to stop veteran quarterbacks that get rid of the ball quickly.  In three of the Packers’ six losses, these veterans QBs beat 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. The adjustment solution: Cardinals were doing the same thing that the Steelers did 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.

Rush defense—D+ vs D. The short-yardage defense lost its stoutness giving up a season-high 156 yards averaging 6.8 yards. The problem was specifically the horrible play of the linebackers in coverage and run support, but the interior linemen were no better with pedestrian performances.

Special teams—B vs C-. The coverage team had a good day. The return team had 125 yards. K Crosby kickoffs were good enough. He missed a 54 yard field goal. P Kapinos had 1 punt averaging 47 gross yards.

Coaching—C- vs C-. DC Capers backed off throwing the kitchen sink at the immobile Warner, never mind his penchant for getting the ball away quick and Capers was outcoached in the process. Capers’ insistence on hiding the coverage deficiencies of some young defensive backs by working in a lot of zone looks played to Warner’s strengths.  Fundamentals were supposed to be the talking points of the practice week leading into the game, but untimely turnovers, penalties, missed assignments and missed tackles suggested otherwise.

Overall Game—C.  In OT, the offense choked with the game on-the-line giving it away.

CBS Overall Game—B-. It’s hard to believe that was the same unit that finished second in total defense during the regular season. They couldn’t stop Warner. He did what he wanted to do. The good thing to come out of this game is how great Aaron Rodgers played. He put it on the line, throwing for over 400 yards and four touchdown passes.

Oates’ Grades: Offense—B. Defense—D-. Special Teams—C+. Overall Game—C. Green Bay and Arizona put on a terrific show and the Packers showed true grit in rebounding from a 21-point, third-quarter deficit, but their season ended because their defense collapsed and their offense turned the ball over at the worst possible times 

CHTV Good, Bad & Ugly: Good—Rodgers, Finley, & Jennings; Bad—Bush, Collins, & Driver; Ugly—Capers.

Rodgers vs Favre series: “Silver Fox” Vikings 12-4 vs “Rodgers” Packers 11-6.

Commentary: No surprise, as the Packers choked in a playoff mettle test. Great year. Season is over.

Bonus: AP named CB Woodson as 2009 NFL defensive player-of-the-year.

Topics: Aaron Rodgers, Arizona Cardinals, Charles Woodson, Greg Jennings, Mike McCarthy, NFL, Ryan Grant, Winning Isn't Everything, It's The Only Thing

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