The Green Bay Packers offense awoke from its slumber early in the second quarter of a wildcard playoff game against the Washington Redskins. The defense continued its success, and the Packers pretty thoroughly dominated in a game that most had them losing. Now the Packers must travel back to Arizona where they received a 30 point drubbing just over two weeks ago.
I’m not saying that Tretter looked like an All-Pro left tackle, but if you weren’t worried when David Bakhtiari was ruled out against the Redskins, you should have been. After a false start and then giving up a sack for a safety, it looked like it would be a long (and season-ending) day at the office for the Packers offense. But Tretter rebounded and played very well the rest of the game. Consider the carousel that has been left tackle with Bakhtiari out. The Packers have tried Don Barclay, Josh Walker, and even Josh Sitton, and all failed. Tretter came through in a big way for the offense, and was a vital part of its success in Washington. Tretter has absolutely carved out a spot for himself as the most valuable back-up on of the offensive line.
For the first time in multiple weeks Rodgers didn’t turn the ball over. Finishing with a 93.5 QB rating, Rodgers looked like he was having fun again. It certainly wasn’t his best post-season performance, but it was the one that the Packers needed to keep their season going. The fact that he was only sacked once probably helped. Hopefully some of Rodgers’ usually comfort in the pocket is returning.
This was the best game of Neal’s career. He came up with two sacks one of which forced a fumble which Neal also recovered. The Packers are going to need to pressure Carson Palmer to slow down the hot Arizona offense. Another performance like this will go a long way toward that goal.
It was pretty much the same story with Perry, who sacked Kirk Cousins twice. Neal and Perry being on the field tends to mean a drop-off in QB disruptions, but that was not the case against the Redskins. Everyone was getting past the Washington offensive line, not just Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers. The first round pick is finally playing up to his draft pedigree.
Man, the defense was humming in Washington. The Packers don’t have a lot of big name players on defense and thus they play well when everyone is contributing and adding their piece to the puzzle. The defense was playing with an extra fire right up until the final whistle. I can’t name a single player on the defensive side of the ball who had a bad game. Raji and Guion downright dominated the middle of the line of scrimmage. Mike Daniels continued to be the most disruptive force on the defense. The entire outside linebacker corps was great. The defensive backs mostly kept the Washington receivers at bay. Micah Hyde was put in a tough position, and the play of Jake Ryan and Joe Thomas wasn’t exactly a strong suit, but the defense as a unit put up perhaps its best effort of the season. Now imagine if the cornerbacks would have held on to just one or two of those gifts that Cousins threw up.
Rodgers’ Deep Ball
I hate to nit-pick the offense on a game of resurgence, but one particularly frustrating left-over was Rodgers missing Cobb and Jones deep. Both receivers managed to get open down the field on several occasions but Rodgers simply overthrew them. I know that it was a windy day, but this has been a re-occurring problem. It seems like not a game has gone by over the past 5 or 6 weeks without at least one 20 or 30 yard pass down the field to James Jones that lands about 10 yards out of bounds. To beat the Cardinals, the Packers are going to have to sharpen it up and capitalize on opportunities for explosive plays.
The offense has been taking 2 or even 3 quarters to get going recently. In Washington, it only took 1. That might work out alright against the Redskins, but the Packers simply cannot start slow against Cardinals who have one of the best offenses in the league. Rodgers and company have to put together 4 quarters of strong play in Arizona, both to put up points and give a surging defense some much needed breathers.
Taylor O\'Neill is a Packer fan born and raised in Oshkosh, WI. He currently lives in Florida and is pursuing his PhD. Taylor is a writer with PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TaylorONeill87 for more Packer news.