Monday, November 1, 2010

Week 8 Grades - Packers 9, Jets 0

The Packers said they had a plan, but few expected them to be able to follow through on it against one of the strongest teams in the league, well-rested coming off a bye.  But the Packers played a near-flawless game, committing only three penalties and posting zero turnovers.  In particular, Dom Capers chose to put his patchwork defensive front seven close to the line to stop the run, and dared Mark Sanchez to beat them through the air.  In the end, the defense humbled the Jets by pitching a shutout in front of their own fans.  While the struggles of the offense should bring this grade down more, there’s no way you deny the magnitude of the beat-up Packers re-establishing themselves among the NFL elite by knocking off the 5-1 Jets.

While giving Brandon Jackson a few more carries this week (15), he did less with it on most of his carries. 
Jackson got the bulk of his 55 yards rushing on the day on one 27-yard rush, a meaningless run at the end of the first half.   The Packers seemed hesitant to run up the gut, stretching out zone runs and pitches to the outside without much success.  The Packers aren’t going to get a running game established with a 70/30 pass/run ratio as they had today, and only twice did they have a drive with a time of possession over three minutes.

You may have needed an updated roster to match names with numbers along the defensive front, but the Packers came into this game with the intent of stopping LaDanlian Tomlinson and Shonn Green and making the Jets pass, and they did it.  The duo combined for only 76 yards and 3.5 yards per carry, and while they may have had a couple of good runs here and there, the Packers contained them and never allowed them a rush of over eight yards.  Desmond Bishop led the team with ten tackles, and Frank Zombo forced an early fumble by Brad Smith in Packer territory.

Aaron Rodgers had another pedestrian day behind center, finishing 15/34 with only 170 yards and no touchdowns.  The Packers only made it into the red zone once all day, and that was by virtue of the failed fake punt in the first quarter.  Rodgers again seemed out of sync with both his receivers and, at times, with his offensive line when he changed the play at the line of scrimmage.  The Packers finished 2/13 on third-down conversions, an abysmal number for Rodgers, who excelled on third downs last season.

The Packers kept pressure on Matt Sanchez all day, sometimes even with just a three-man rush, so Sanchez looked jumpy even when he had time in the pocket.  The Packers often played near-perfect coverage, and when they didn’t, the Jets helped out with five dropped passes.  Sanchez looked off on his passes, completing less than half and making some questionable decisions.  Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams each had a stripped-ball interception, but the Jets will be quick to argue those were poor calls by the officials.  In the end, on their fourth-quarter drive to win the game, Clay Matthews got his first sack in three weeks to force the Jets into a 4th-and-long that was the final nail in the coffin.  Sanchez simply couldn’t get any rhythm going all day against the Packers defense.

After all the criticism he’s received this season, punter Tim Masthay should have earned a game ball this week for his efforts this week.  He punted eight times for a booming 44.0 yard average, and placed five of those inside the 20-yard line, allowing only one return by the Jets (which resulted in a crushing stop by Pat Lee).  The Jets foolishly attempted a fake punt on 4th-and-18 from their own 20 yard line, and while it almost worked, Anthony Smith made a shoestring tackle that saved the first down that gave the Packers their three-point lead.  The only thing preventing this grade from being an A was Mason Crosby’s missed 45-yard field goal, which kept the Jets within striking distance until late in the fourth quarter.


PackersRS said...

I believe that, right now, only a really great, balanced offense can beat the Packers. If they are able to commit to either the run or the pass, they'll be able to control any team, and sometimes even shut some down, like they did in this game. And I don't see that offense right now, in the NFL. Vikings 09 had Peterson and Favre, Saints had #6 running game. Maybe the Texans have it, but I don't know...

Now, if the offense ever comes back, to be able to capitalize on the game always being in manageable situation, we'll be one of the best, if not the best team in the league.

Patrick Duprey said...

Good post as always, C.D.

I think you could be more generous on the rush defense grade. I would escalate it to an A instead of an A-. With no Pickett, Jones or Barnett, the defense held one of the league's best running games in its tracks. L.T. came in averaging 5.3-yards per carry and only rushed for 54 yards on 16 carries, which was his lowest yard outing of the season. Shonn Greene was averaging 4.5-yards a run, but he was held to 22 yards on 6 carries. The only big run came by their punter, Steve Weatherford, with the special teams unit on the field.

With Cullen Jenkins playing with a broken hand and bothered calf, this defense is relying a lot on not only B.J. Raji but no-namers like C.J. Wilson, Jarius Wynn and, this week, newly acquired Howard Green. For these guys to wipe out the strong dimension of the Jets' offense was game-changing. I expected the Jets to gash us, particularly late when everyone was tired, but they put up a solid effort for 60 minutes. Cannot say enough about the entire defense, particularly the linemen and linebackers.