Some may call hyperbole on my next three statements. I think that they’re wrong. 1) The Green Bay defense is currently playing better than the Green Bay defense of 2010. 2) The Green Bay run defense is aiming at a historic season. 3) For the first time in perhaps the last three or four decades the Packers’ defense is better than the Packers’ offense.
The first statement will require an extended viewing. After all, the Packers have only played four games. The third statement is true right now, but with Rodgers and Co., it might not be true come the end of the season.
The proof for the second statement is there for all to see. Green Bay has given up 37% less running yards than the next best run defense in the league. The Packers are giving up only 42.8 rushing yards per game, with the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles trailing far behind in a distant 2nd and 3rd place (giving up 68.4 and 73.3 yards per game respectively). The Packers are giving up over 100 less rushing yards per game than San Francisco and Miami. In 2015, Seattle finished the season with the best rushing defense in the league by giving up nearly twice the amount of yards that Green Bay is currently allowing. There’s a lot of season left, but we may be watching something special from this defensive front.
Offensive Line in General, Bakhtiari Specifically
The Packers front five put on an absolute clinic on Sunday night. Chris Collinsworth guessed that Aaron Rodgers had more time than any QB in a single game in the NFL so far this season. He was probably correct. In particular, David Bakhtiari had Everson Griffin, one of the more talented defensive ends in the league, on complete lock-down. According to Pro Football Talk, Bakhtiari is the top pass-blocking tackle in the NFL.
This was Cobb’s best game in quite some time. With Nelson looking a little out-of-sorts, Cobb took over, pulling in 9 catches on 11 targets for 108 yards. He made the catch of the night on a TD reception that was called back due to a penalty.
Lacy was just eating tacklers alive. He averaged 7.4 yards per carry on 11 runs. Enough said. If the Packers can continue to marry their current run defense with this sort of effectiveness from Lacy, they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with in the postseason.
The third round rookie has made some serious flashes in limited snaps this season. Playing for only a few series toward the end of the game, Fackrell had 5 tackles including a sack and forced fumble. Part of what makes this defense so effective is its depth. Jay Elliott and Kyler Fackrell are the Packers’ third string pass rushing outside linebackers. Not bad. Fackrell clearly has a bright future in the league.
Yes, Rodgers pulled in the win. He made some very nice throws, particularly his second TD pass to Davante Adams which was a beautiful, over-the-shoulder touch throw. With that being said, Rodgers missed a lot of throws, as has been the case nearly every week of the 2016 season. He’s struggling with consistent accuracy in a way that is fairly unprecedented for him (save some moments in 2015). Rodgers threw two picks and probably could have thrown three.
With all the time in the world, Rodgers still seemed to be jittery at times, forcing deep throws to a double covered Nelson and missing open receivers on key plays. We’re not used to seeing Rodgers finish with a 69.4 QB rating. He completed only 51% of his passes. Most people who watched the game were surprised at how terrible Eli Manning looked. Manning actually finished with a slightly higher completion percentage than Rodgers and a 78.2 QB rating. Stats are deceptive, and clearly Rodgers had the better game between the two, but it was fairly close.
Schum isn’t playing any better than Tim Mathsay was at last season’s end. There surely isn’t much available now in the way of a viable replacement, but Ted Thompson should at least be looking.
No Call on Shot to Cobb’s Head
In a league that loves to call roughing the passer on every other sack, the referees sure missed an obvious shot to the head on Randall Cobb toward the end of the game. It’s clear from the replay that New York safety Landon Collins delivered a punishing blow straight to Cobb’s helmet via his shoulder pad.
The NFL rulebook states “A receiver attempting to catch a pass; or who has completed a catch and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a runner” is a defenseless player. It continues: “Prohibited contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture is: (1) Forcibly hitting the defenseless player’s head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder…”
The Packers should have been awarded 15 yards for Collins’ hit. It would not have mattered in this particular game, but if the NFL wants to show that it’s serious about mitigating head and neck injuries, it needs to make these kinds of calls consistently. Cobb looked like he suffered a severe, perhaps life-altering injury. He admitted that when he turned over and saw his team mates huddled around him he was concerned that he had “died or something.”
"I got folded up link a lawn chair, I thought I died or something" – Randall Cobb after this hit https://t.co/qtN6WXkhTl
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) October 10, 2016
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.