While the Packers held Julio Jones to 3 catches for 29 yards, Matt Ryan was still able to have a very efficient game with almost no pass rush disrupting him. Had one told me the Packers’ defense would hold Atlanta to sub-300 yards passing and under 100 yards rushing, while Green Bay didn’t have a single turnover, I would’ve thought it would be a victory. Sadly it wasn’t…let’s take a brief look as to why.
Recap – it seems that the biggest reason to the Packers’ most recent loss can be attributed to the lack of pass rush. I could take a deeper dive into QB pressures, hurries, etc. – however let’s just look at sacks. It seemed that there was little pass rush outside of the 2 sacks recorded (averaged 3.5 sacks/contest the first four games, and under 2 sacks/game the last three) as Matt Ryan completed 28 of 35 for 288 yards and 3 TDs. Dom Capers elected to play coverage v Atlanta the entire game-winning drive which proves to me that unless the Packers can generate a consistent pass rush with 4, maybe 5, rushers it’ll be a tough time holding good offenses under 30 points.
The defensive backs seemed to do OK, just couldn’t make a play on the final drive…while injuries are no excuse and It’s realistic to expect that the dbacks could be roughed up for the rest of the season, the optimist in me hopes these kids (Gunter #36 mainly) grows up fast and can turn into a really good player.
The greater concern for Packer fans should arise from Clay Matthews missing yet another game and not being available to at least provide depth to what we now know is the major key to the defense: pass rush. There’s an argument to be made for Green Bay to not keep him on the roster next year with his salary cap hitting $17,350,000 next year…for a player that’s not nearly as productive as Nick Perry this season and being on the wrong side of 30 doesn’t have the upside of Kyler Fackrell, for example.
To be clear, I’m not advocating to cut Clay Matthews, but don’t be shocked OR mad if it happens in camp next year if this lack of production continues.
Preview – the Colts are one of the more odd teams in the NFL. They seem to be the poor man’s version of the Green Bay Packers. Indianapolis has one of the premier players in the NFL, Andrew Luck, but he’s not as productive/efficient as he receives credit. Luck has 16 passing TDs while throwing 5 interceptions with 4 fumbles. Those are very similar numbers to his counterpart, Aaron Rodgers (17 TDs, 4 INTs, 6 fumbles), and as usual it’ll likely come down to the play of the QB in this one, just like last week. The Colts have an over-the-hill running back in Frank Gore, an awful offensive line, and decent talent at receiver led by TY Hilton. Hilton is a speed receiver that ran a 4.34 forty-yard dash at the combine and can pose a deep threat. I believe the absolute key to this game is to generate a consistent pass rush and get in Luck’s face. He’s prone to turning the ball over with his immense strength and athletic ability to keep plays alive, it should be used against him by forcing him to make throws under duress.
The Packers offense gets Ty Montgomery back this week, and there’s no reason to think that he shouldn’t be a major difference-maker in this one. He’s turning into a matchup issue for opposing defenses and until we see someone stop him, expect him to be the extension of the running game (short passes out of the backfield, draws, and screens). The offensive line played OK v Atlanta, but missed a few assignments on crucial plays in the 2nd half. Starting center JC Tretter will miss this game, but Green Bay returns Corey Linsley, who is a better run blocker than Tretter and, I believe, just as good if not better than Tretter overall at the center position.
Look for some points to be scored this week, for what it’s worth the over/under is 55 and Green Bay is favored by 8….seems about right. This is a below average Colts team that’s desperate for a win, but there’s a reason they’re desperate for a win – they’re not good. The Packers should win this game, and if playing to their capabilities could roll easily.
*Unfortunately I picked a LOSS correctly last week…record is now 14-11.*