Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Packers lick wounds, get ready for Da Bearz

The post-mortem of the loss by the Green Bay Packers to the San Francisco 49ers continued yesterday with local and national pundits tossing in their two-cents, of course. So why not us?

In general, the gist of the observations was that, going back to the end of last season with the losses to the Chiefs and the Giants, and now in this first game of the 2012 season, teams have discovered the "formula" to shut down the Packers. That consists of making the Packers' mediocre running game totally ineffective, getting a pass rush with no more than three or four defenders, and dropping seven or eight into coverage. Well, that does seem to shut down the offense; one has to agree given these example games. But what about the defense? The Packers were the worst defense in the league last season and they didn't really do much in the opener to change that opinion. Yes, they registered a couple sacks and it appears Clay Matthews may once again find ways to the quarterback now that offensive lines can't only concentrate on him. Still, Alex Smith had far too much time overall to find usually wide open receivers. And the Niners' running game made the Packers look like a sieve. As I Tweeted (@PackFansUnited) during the game, all that emphasis during training camp on tackling really paid off...NOT!

Bottom line to the above: without any threat of a Packers' running game, with the ability to put pressure on with only three or four pass rushers, the lack of ability by the Packers' defenders to stop the run, cover receivers tightly and get a consistent pass rush of their own, it's going to be a long season.

For the best blow-by-blow review, though, of how the Pack got smacked check out the scorecard of the uber-Pack-guru and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel sportswriter, Bob McGinn.

A couple points to calm our nerves. One was made by Wayne Larrivee, the radio voice of the Green Bay Packers. He stated on Monday during a radio review of the game that without a doubt "this (49ers) defense will be the best defense the Packers face all season." Former Niners' QB Steve Young said on ESPN that as long as Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers everything will be fine. He said the 49ers and the Packers have two of the best young locker rooms in the league with lots of leadership. Young said there should be no panic at this point. But, when asked about the situation if the Packers were to lose to Da Bearz, Young said that then you might start to get a bit concerned.

As I said in my post-game comments here, the Packers suffered from bad play calling by the coaching staff, bad time management...well, the list goes on. Go back and read the prior post if you are a masochist.

Da Bearz on Thursday night
As head coach Mike McCarthy said after Sunday's loss, the team had only 96 hours to get ready for Da Bearz to come to Lambeau Field. Chicago won its home opener against the Colts. One would expect it would not be such an easy road to victory for Da Bearz this time around.

The Packers had their pride diminished Sunday and if the players are professionals and the coaches do their jobs the team should be on fire Thursday night. They have a lot of things to get turned around in a very short period of time but perhaps that quick turnaround will allow them to put Sunday's poor performance behind them and make ready for Da Bearz.

Chicago has upgraded itself at receiver with the addition of Brandon Marshall. It has one of the better running backs in the league in Matt Forte. The quarterback, when given the time like he was on Sunday, can be very good. The defense is solid, if not totally dominating as in some years. Special teams are also very good.

This game will be a challenge for the Pack, no doubt, especially with all the question marks arising from the first game. But this is a game the Packers must win. With a loss, they'd already be two games behind Da Bearz in the division. With a trip to Seattle following this game and then back at home against the Saints, the Packers don't have the luxury of going 0-2 to start the season. I had given my season projection as 12-4, with the Packers losing one game in each quarter of the 16-game season. They'll need to right the ship and come out of these first four games with a 3-1 record to stay on pace. It won't be easy. But it will be an early sign as to what kind of team this year's Packers are.

Check back Thursday for my game prediction.

Go Pack Go!!!