The Packers bounced back with gusto last night against the Bears after looking flat in their opening game against San Francisco. There was a lot of progress to build on after the big win, but still plenty of areas that need work. Let's break it down.
Good: Running Game
Cedric Benson finally was given an opportunity to get consistent carries like a featured running back and looked the part last night, picking up 81 yards on 20 carries. Benson had multiple carries where he showed good burst in breaking through the line, and should give Packer fans hope for the running game moving forward. There's still room for improvement in short-yardage situations, though, as John Kuhn was stoned on a 3rd and 1 rushing attempt.
Really Good: Special Teams
How really good were they? This play pretty much turned the tide of the whole game. And it was amazing. What was more amazing is that it was run on 4th and 26 from the 27-yard line, meaning Tom Crabtree absolutely had to get into the end zone. That takes some serious balls to run that play in that situation, but wow. Just wow. Also really good: Mason Crosby, who hit field goals from 48, 35, and 54 yards that were no-doubters from the second they left his foot, and Tim Masthay, who along with the punt coverage team made Devin Hester pretty much irrelevant.
"TOTALLY WICKED" good: Pass Defense
It's amazing: two of the "bad" things from last week's post end up in the good section this week. Clay Matthews was a monster, throwing J'Marcus Webb and Jay Cutler around like the cow in Twister on his way to 3.5 sacks. The rest of the front seven finally got in the act, adding 3.5 of their own. Then the pressure got in Cutler's head, forcing four interceptions, some of which were terrible throws and others which were nice plays by the defensive backs. After a dismal performance last week, seeing the defense step up in the passing game was a welcome sight.
We'll look at areas that need improvement after the jump.
I don't know what virus has infected the Packers' receiving corps, but issues with drops continued last night. Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, and James Jones (who mis-timed his leap in the end zone) all missed deep balls that hit them in the hands. These are passes that were catches two out of three times last season, and they'll need to start reeling them in.
Bad: 3rd Down Offense
See my comment earlier about the 3rd and 1 opportunity with John Kuhn. The Packers were 4 of 14 on third downs last night, after converting a more respectable 6 of 13 last week. On those stopped third downs, the most frustrating were the two stuffed runs (Benson had one in addition to Kuhn's) and Jermichael Finley's fumble. I'm not so frustrated with the fumble itself, but that he ran his route short of the first down anyway. There was also one play where Rodgers had to dump off to Kuhn in the flat, but he was tackled two yards short. I would feel a lot more comfortable if Green Bay were converting closer to 50% of their third downs.
REALLY BAD: My Fantasy Projections
I should apologize to those of you who listened to me say that Jermichael Finley was going to go bananas last night. As I said last week when I hit on James Jones, I'm probably going to miss badly soon, and with Finley putting up a goose-egg (20 receiving yards and a lost fumble), I just hope you won't hate me too much. I also talked up Randall Cobb a lot in PPR leagues this week, and while he put up four points, it was on one catch for 20 yards and a rush for 28. So to sum it up, that was my bad, and I'll try to do better next week.
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