Analysis: GB's Goods and Bads
A.J. Hawk attempting to block a Jon Kitna pass in the Packers-Lions game. | Photo: AP
Next game: Saturday, Jan. 12 vs. NY Giants, Seattle or Tampa Bay
Packers Gameday at 12:30 p.m. on Newsradio 620 WTMJ
Viewing Sunday's Packers-Lions game, and blogging about it, I noticed plenty of trends that give cause for both concern and joy in Packers Nation as they enter the NFC playoffs and anticipate a game against Seatte, Tampa Bay or the NY Giants.
The good news?
Lots of it, especially on offense.
The Packers' running game absolutely mauled the Lions into the Lambeau Field turf. 217 rushing yards, even if most of them didn't come from Ryan Grant who played bench-warmer today, shows the Packers can run in wintry conditions, counteracting their dismal performance at Chicago (save two Ryan Grant long runs, the exception to the rule on a bad day).
Additionally, Brett Favre ends one of his best season with two touchdown passes, one each to Koren Robinson and Bubba Franks, two guys who need to get more involved in the offense for the Packers' diverse receiving corps to make the impact it MUST make for Green Bay to compete, and beat, world-beating offenses like Dallas or New England in the kind of track-meet games they'll have to play to win the Super Bowl.
And Favre? How about a 38-year old, supposedly washed-up (as of spring 2006) QB finishing with:
- 356 completions in 535 attempts - 66.5% completion rate, his highest ever for one season,
- 4,155 yards, his 2nd highest season total,
- 28 TDs, only his 7th season without 30 TDs,
- 15 INTs, his lowest total in six season,
- and a 95.7 QB rating, his third best season total.
Favre, with the league's deepest receiving corps (yes, even better than New England), could outgun even the Patriots and Cowboys in a track meet, the kind of game they'd have to play to beat the NFL's two current superpowers.
The bad news:
The Packers' safeties and second team defensive backs were highly exposed.
Look back on the game, when in most of it, the backups were mainly in:
- Kitna misses Will Furrey on what would have been a 17 yard TD play, where Furrey had beaten two defenders by five yards.
- Kitna to Calvin Johnson - 24 yards.
- Kitna to T.J. Duckett - 22 yards.
- Kitna to Calvin Johnson - 25 yards.
- Nick Collins - 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty
- Kitna to Shaun McDonald - 30 yards and a TD.
- Kitna to Calvin Johnson - 18 yards and a first down on 3rd and 18.
- Kitna missing a wide-open Shaun McDonald in the end zone
- Kitna to Shaun McDonald - 18 yards.
- Kitna to Middleton - 17 yards.
10 potential 15 yards-plus plays by Detroit against the Packers' safeties and nickelbacks. Eight of them became reality.
Against Matt Hasselbeck, Tony Romo and future MVP Tom Brady - the three most probable opponents for Green Bay in order of when they would play them, it would have been 10-out-of-10.
Granted, Al Harris and Charles Woodson weren't the culprits - Woodson was out of the game completely. But in the playoffs, 3rd down plays make the difference, and both the Cowboys and Patriots love three-wideout formations in general. Those three-wideout sets would face nickelbacks and safeties in probably every situation.
Additionally, the Cowboys were successful in setting Terrell Owens up on nickel backs and safeties, so it's easy to scheme top wideouts into those situations.
If Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, Dallas O-coordinator Jason Garrett, or New England offensive guru Josh McDaniels taped this game, they have plenty - PLENTY - to salivate over when it coms to getting their explosive passing games going against Green Bay. The mouths of Nate Burleson, Patrick Crayton and Wes Welker would also flow like Niagara Falls seeing these facts.
Al Harris and Charles Woodson could have monster games in the playoffs. Unfortunately, with the way the rest of the secondary is playing, and the fact the Packers' depleted D-line didn't get to Jon Kitna, their Pro Bowl-level presence may not matter if the Packers don't get this secondary problem solved - quick.