So it seems every ones opinion on our team and how our year will turn out is pretty up and down. I still don't really know what to think. We have the talent to be a playoff team and that's obvious, but there are a few things holding us back...
So obviously are biggest struggle thus far has been our o-line. Rodgers has been sacked 10 times already this year and pressured pretty much every play. Barbre struggled big time at RT week 1 but to his credit improved a bit week 2. What really hurt the o-line against Cincy was Clifton going down. We consequently had to shift our whole line putting Wells at C, Spitz at LG, and moving Colledge to LT. Colledge was pretty horrible at LT but to his credit that isn't his natural position, and he has actually been pretty good this year at LG. If our offense is ever going to get going then we're going to need the o-line to give Rodgers some time. Whether that means leaving Grant and Lee back to block, or changing blocking schemes I don't know but I do know we need to change something.
As far as our defense goes that have been "two-faced" so far this year. In week 1 the defense was a very pleasant surprise, and really got us the win. The d-line looked great, especially Jenkins and Jolly, and the blitz packages we brought seemed to always work. We forced Cutler into 4 INTs, and held Forte to an average of 2.2 ypc. We were kind of the exact opposite week 2. We gave up 5.1 ypc to Benson, letting him run all over us for 141 yards, and while our secondary was pretty good getting us 2 INTs, and essentially 14 points, we still allowed Palmer to get way too much. I have a few reasons for why we seemed to struggle so much but I'm certainly no NFL coach so bare with me..
I'm not sure about anyone else but I noticed when watching our defense on run plays it seemed like everywhere aside from where the Bengals were running the ball was swarming with guys. I would see a group of 5-6 guys on both sides of the whole where Benson was running, and would think sweet their about to get him..but instead he seemed to consistently get 3-5 yards. I think there might be a reason for this. I read an article earlier about how the Bengals were "overload blocking" to where they were running. This seems to explain to me why I was seeing guys everywhere but the hole the Bengals were running too. They did a nice job of controlling the gaps they were running to and picking up our blitzes.
The second thing is the Bengals are accustomed to seeing the 3-4 in about half of there games each year. So obviously they have more experience against it, and probably have a better understanding of where the blitzes are coming from, and how the 3-4 attacks their protection schemes. I think this made a difference because all of the blitzes we seemed to run against Chicago worked to perfection, so when I saw our guys up by the line I was excited and was expecting to see the pressure get there the same way against the Bears but again this didn't happen..They picked our blitzes up pretty well, and for the most part really neutralized them.
The third thing is having Rouse and Bush (my least favorite player as some of you probably know) back at safety instead of Bigby and Collins. With Bigby and Collins in there, Caper's seemed comfortable blitzing just about every play, and it seemed to work almost every single play. When Bigby went down against the Bears, Capers became noticeably more conservative in his play-calling. So when Collins went down against Cincy I knew we were in trouble. Caper's got very conservative basically only bringing 4-5 guys to pressure Palmer and dropping the rest back into coverage.
Despite these negative things I feel like we still have some hope left. If we can get Clifton back, and our o-line can continue to gel together, I hope they'll be able to step up and protect a little better. The biggest thing though is Clifton. He is a very good pass blocker (containing Alex Brown against the Bears week 1, who had a huge game against the Steelers with 2 sacks and a few QB pressures.) The o-line has actually been pretty good as far as run blocking goes. Grant looked good against the Bears, and against the Bengals he looked good, getting a couple 8 yard runs, and a good number of 3-5 yard gains. MM got away from the run though as the game went on (like he always seems to do). If this o-line can find a way to give Rodgers just a second or two more, I think we'll see the explosive offense we were all expecting.
Getting Collins and Bigby back on defense is huge. Hopefully Bigby will be back for week 4, and Collins will back this week. The defense also needs to concentrate on tackling, as many times against Cincy we were there to make a stop in the backfield but just couldn't bring Benson down.
I still have hope that we can be a playoff team this year. I think our defense will continue to improve as the year goes on, and our offense will show up as well. With that being said how do you guys think the season will play out? Also, am I way off base as far as why we have struggled these first 2 weeks or do you agree?
I know my post was long (as they usually are) but once I get started talking about my beloved Packers I just keep going, and going. If you read through the whole thing thanks, and I hope it was somewhat enjoyable.