Why They Lost: Green Bay Falters In Carolina
By Kenn Korb
Nov 8, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (88) with the ball as Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) defends in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
For the third straight matchup, the defense must have stayed in bed.
After giving up 548 yards to San Diego and another 500 to Denver, the Packers defense let up another huge yardage total to Carolina (427).
They were to blame for that 24-point 2nd quarter that sent the offense into hurry-up mode even before halftime.
They were largely at fault for the 23-point 4th quarter deficit and completely at fault for the 37 points they allowed on the afternoon.
The play of Rodgers and the offense, plus one nearly game-changing interception, almost made up for it, but even if that happened the utterly terrible play of this unit needs to be recognized.
I mentioned all of those big plays they gave up in that first half — and the total of 12 throughout the game — but that doesn’t grasp just how unsavory things were here. Even in the good things they somehow managed to accomplish, there were negative caveats that significantly undercut that positive impact.
Newton completed only half of his 30 passes, but on those 15 completions he garnered nearly 300 yards and 3 touchdowns. Stewart only garnered 66 yards on 20 carries, but Newton was able to add in 57 yards across his 9 carries to save an underwhelming performance (and kill the Packers defense the way running quarterbacks somehow always do). The defense made that INT to give the offense a chance, but maybe it wouldn’t have been necessary had they not given up 12 big plays along the course of the game.
Take note of who made those plays. Cotchery has been no better than an unheralded #3 receiver at best his entire career. Funchess has done little all year despite being a 2nd-round pick. Ted Ginn is a former 1st-round bust that has never been a reliable receiver. Brown keeps changing his name, but not his one-dimensional style of play. Yet, all of these guys made big plays at some point or another.
Things were so bad at times that the players were getting heated with each other; I’m sure you’ve all seen the Peppers/Clinton-Dix/Raji sideline flare-up by now, right? Or maybe the petulant act of Peppers taking the ball from Newton after a score; that’s obviously getting too much play for certain reasons (people are harping on the fact that everyone KNOWS Newton gives the ball to kids after scores, but that’s reading too much into a situation that was obviously spur-of-the-moment and fueled by emotion) but the act was a sore-loser move at best.
After a surprisingly stellar start to most of this season, the defense has severely dropped off a cliff for three weeks; not even a bye week of rest helped fix things.
The schedule may ease up some in the coming weeks (four NFC North games in a row; vs Detroit, @ Minnesota, vs Chicago, @ Detroit), but even if the Packers win without much of a notable defensive improvement don’t let that fool you: this team will need to make major strides on that end to have any shot at decent seeding come playoff time.
They need to find their D.