Packers report card: Passing game stood out in dismal performance
NOV 11, 2013 8:41a ET
Handing out grades following the Green Bay Packers’ 27-13 home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 10:
Passing Offense: B
Seneca Wallace only made it through one drive before suffering a groin injury and sitting out the remainder of the game. In that one series, Wallace completed all five of his passes for 25 yards, but the drive didn’t result in any points.
Enter Scott Tolzien. The former Wisconsin Badgers quarterback had only been on the Packers’ active roster for four days, but he was steady and executed the offensive game plan as well as could have been expected under the circumstances. Tolzien completed 24-of-39 passes for 280 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions (70.5 passer rating).
Tolzien’s passes weren’t all just short throws, either. He had five completions of 20-plus yards, including a 22-yard touchdown connection to tight end Brandon Bostick. It was Jarrett Boykin who became Tolzien’s go-to receiver. Boykin finished with eight catches for 112 yards on 13 targets -- all team-highs.
The pass blocking for Tolzien was pretty good, too, allowing just one sack.
The one critical mistake from Tolzien came when Green Bay’s 16-play drive ended in an interception in the end zone on a poorly thrown pass. With that play starting on Philadelphia’s 5-yard line, the Packers were almost certainly assured of at least three points, if not seven. Instead, Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin had a 76-yard return in the other direction.
Despite it being Tolzien’s unexpected NFL debut, the passing offense was the best part of Green Bay’s game.
Rushing Offense: C
In total, the Packers rushed for 99 yards on 30 carries (3.3 average) with no touchdowns. Take away Tolzien’s one scramble for 19 yards and Green Bay’s average would have dipped to 2.75 yards per attempt. That is not going to get the job done.
The Packers’ running game had been so good this season (ranked third in the NFL entering Sunday) that it was a bit surprising to see them struggle like this. The Eagles’ run defense has been good this season, but not great, and still Eddie Lacy was bottled up all game.
Lacy fought hard for yards, but the holes he saw created in front of him by the offensive line were minimal. Of course, defenses aren’t going to respect the deep passing threats of Wallace and Tolzien nearly to the degree they do for Aaron Rodgers, so some drop-off should’ve been expected of Lacy’s production. But this was poor execution to a degree beyond whatever difference Rodgers would have made.
Lacy finished with 73 yards on 24 carries (3.0 average), with a long run of only 11 yards. James Starks wasn’t able to get things moving at all in his short time on the field, rushing four times for 5 yards (1.25 average). Green Bay’s best running play came from Tolzien, and that’s not a recipe for victory.
Rushing Defense: D
A Packers run defense that two weeks ago was on pace to be the best in franchise history has now significantly struggled in back-to-back games. Not surprisingly, both games have been losses for Green Bay. While Rodgers’ absence can’t be overstated as far as wins and losses, his presence wouldn’t change the Packers’ inability to stop Chicago’s Matt Forte last week and Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy in this game.
McCoy rushed 25 times for 155 yards (6.2 average), quarterback Nick Foles added 38 yards on eight carries and backup running back Bryce Brown had 11 yards. That amounted to an astounding 204-yard rushing performance by the Eagles.
Green Bay’s defense preaches that it’s important to stop the run first, and then everything else can fall into place. But, like what happened against the Bears and Forte, the Packers simply couldn’t slow down McCoy and Philadelphia’s running attack.
Passing Defense: C-minus
Foles didn’t throw the ball very much, but he didn’t have to. Of the Eagles’ 55 offensive plays, only 18 of them involved Foles slinging it. But when Foles did pass, it was effective and led to huge plays.
Three of Foles’ throws accounted for more than half of his passing yards and all of his touchdowns. Foles found DeSean Jackson deep for a 55-yard touchdown and also connected twice with Riley Cooper for touchdowns, first on a 45-yarder and then from 32 yards out. Those were the back-breaking plays for Green Bay’s defense.
In all, Foles had just 12 completions on 18 attempts for 228 yards, but it was the three long ones that made the difference.
Rookie first-rounder Datone Jones had his best NFL game, sacking Foles twice. Mike Daniels continued his strong season when he teamed up with Tramon Williams for a sack on Foles that resulted in a fumble. That was a turnover the Packers’ defense really needed.
But Green Bay’s secondary was bad all game. The safety play of Morgan Burnett and M.D. Jennings was a mess, and the cornerbacks weren’t any better. On Jackson’s touchdown, Burnett collided with Williams midair, allowing the Eagles to walk into the end zone with the ball a couple seconds later for the score.
Most concerning, though, is that the Packers went yet another game without an interception. Already entering this game tied for last in the NFL in interceptions this season, Green Bay remains stuck on three picks through nine games.
Special Teams: C
Mason Crosby has been having a very good bounce-back season after a dreadful 2012, but this was not a good game for him at all. Crosby first missed from 53 yards out and followed it up with a 42-yard miss. Crosby later connected on field-goal attempts from 26 and 35 yards, but the long ones in the first half were needed and he couldn’t deliver.
Micah Hyde was dependable on kick and punt returns, and that’s very important. But none of Hyde’s four kick returns or his one punt return set up the Packers’ offense any better than what a touchback or fair catch would have done.
Two losses in the span of six days for Green Bay, both of which came at Lambeau Field. Yes, Rodgers played all of one drive in those two losses, but the Packers could have won both games had other areas of the team performed at a higher level.
Green Bay now finds itself in eighth place in the NFC and is facing a stretch of at least three more games without Rodgers at quarterback. Coach Mike McCarthy discussed “reoccurring issues,” and, though he wouldn’t discuss specifics of what he meant, it’s on the defensive side of the ball that would make the most sense.
Who could have guessed the Packers would be on their third-string quarterback (a player who had never taken a regular-season snap before) and that wouldn’t even be the team’s biggest problem area?
McCarthy has a lot to figure out and not a lot of time in which to do so, making this upcoming week a very interesting one around Lambeau Field headquarters.
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