The Best and the Wurst: Lions at Packers

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Aaron Rodgers

After placing Aaron in The Wurst last week, Rodgers bounced back with his best performance since a 5 TD rout of the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3 of 2015. Finishing with a 129.3 QB rating, Rodgers looked like himself. He was making quick, accurate hits with his receivers. Gone were the happy feet. Rodgers was making confident throws in the pocket and extending plays only when he really needed to do so.

First Half Mike McCarthy

Last week, many of the problems that we saw all throughout the 2015 season seemed to return. Rodgers was inaccurate, the offensive timing was off, etc. Major credit needs to be given to McCarthy for developing a game plan that eradicated all of those problems. McCarthy’s offense was focused on getting the ball out quickly, running short slant routes which sliced up the defense while providing a much-needed rhythm for Rodgers and Co. The offense was just efficient, putting up 31 points in the first half of the home-opener.

Nick Perry

Perry is finally healthy and playing like a first round selection. Perry absolutely dominated in all aspects of the game against the Lions. He made 6 solo tackles, often coming up and stuffing runs along the edge. He broke through for 2 sacks of Matthew Stafford and even batted down a pass. With Perry playing this well, the Packers didn’t even look like they particularly missed Clay Matthews. Dom Capers is clearly attempting to save Julius Peppers for later in the season, but if Perry keeps playing like this, it will be Peppers relegated to a duty of giving Perry a breather rather than the other way around.

Eddie Lacy

Last week I argued that the Packers needed to give Lacy more carries. They did just that, bumping his total up from 12 against the Vikings to 17 against the Lions. Certainly Lacy had an easier time running against a porous Lions defense, but the increase in carries seemed to help Lacy get into a rhythm. More importantly, the Packers went with Lacy consistently. Whereas Starks came in and took 7 snaps from Lacy against the Vikings, Starks was only given 1 carry against the Lions. This meant that Lacy was involved throughout the game, not sitting on the bench getting cold. The results speak for themselves. Lacy picked up 6.1 yards per carry, ripping off his longest run of the season. If Rodgers is the head and the heart of this offense, Lacy is the backbone.

Rookies Stepping Up on Defense

Dean Lowry made two nice tackles against the run. Kyler Fackrell grabbed the first sack of his career. Kentrell Brice made a few big hits. Josh Hawkins had a pass defensed. For my money, this is the best defense that the Packers have had since 2010 and depth is one of the biggest reasons for that. These young guys were thrown into difficult situations mid-game due to injuries and all of them more than held their own.

Jacob Schum

Schum may have saved his job and the game when he went up and snagged a high snap from Brett Goode in the 4th quarter. Not only did he keep the ball from sailing into the endzone and a likely Detroit TD, he managed to pull the thing down and quickly punt it out of Packers territory. It was one of the more impressive plays that you’ll see from a punter.

 

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Second Half Mike McCarthy

How is it possible to put up 31 points in one half and only 3 in the next? Sure, the Lions likely made some nice adjustments at halftime, but the biggest answer seems to be that McCarthy always plays not to lose rather than playing to win. Anyone complaining on Twitter that the Packers during the second half that the Packers were not back to the status quo doesn’t seem to have watched the Packers over the past five or so seasons. McCarthy has always been the anti-Belichick. If there’s a way to let a team back into a game, it will happen.

The defense was banged up, no doubt. Before the game even started, they were down about 4 starters and more dropped in-game. None of that excuses the fact that the offense just needed to score 1/4 or so of the points that they scored in the first half to effectively put the game on ice. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and the defense had their backs against the wall once again.

Gone were the quick slant routes that had provided good cadence and movement in the first half. I love the idea that we started to lean on Lacy, but the old, predictable pitch plays to Lacy over and over again do nothing but lead to 3 and outs. McCarthy needs to keep his foot on the gas pedal until the game is over. Far too often this offense has been put into cruise control with a whole half to play.

Missed Opportunities

Matthew Stafford presented some gifts to the Packers on Sunday and they were unable to capitalize on any of them. Green Bay could have easily picked off Stafford at least three times but let each one literally slip their fingertips. Credit the defense for getting Stafford rattled and making good plays on the ball, but finishing on those plays would have put this game away a lot earlier.

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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.

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4 thoughts on “The Best and the Wurst: Lions at Packers

  1. The answer is quick slant routes, fast releases and God only knows what the world goes on with McCarthy but they were close to losing the game. Enough is enough, Mr. McCarthy!

    1. McCarthy has proven time and again that NO lead is safe for the Packers. Most play callers will continue to call a play until the defense stops it. McCarthy will have success and put that play away for weeks. Watch Ebron over the middle against the Packers, the Lions might still be calling that play right now.

  2. Read the first question on today’s “Insider Inbox” on packers.com. It actually points out that McCarthy didn’t go conservative but that the offense didn’t connect on the pass plays they ran on their 4 drives in the second half. If Davis doesn’t drop that first down pass in the 4th are we talking about how conservative the game plan was in the 2nd half. Otherwise spot-on analysis.

    PS. the inbox wasn’t written by Vic, as I know many of the fans dislike him. It was written by Mike Spofford

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