I did end up nominating Green Bay Packers S Charlie Peprah for the player of the game after his second INT, but I did so reluctantly. Even CB Charles Woodson wants to see them improve their pass rush and he called for them to find a way to turn LB Clay Matthews loose. But my first thought was in the secondary, and I discussed it with Zach Kruse on Twitter earlier today.
You can point out some times when the cornerbacks have gotten beaten, but the problem isn't that they give up a completion in front of them now and again. That happens to all cornerbacks. But sometimes receivers are left so wide open, it looks like there's some miscommunication going on. And when a coverage is blown, the first players I look to are the safeties.
S Nick Collins. There hasn't been a lot said about his absence because the secondary was torched in the two games (Saints and Panthers) when he did play. But he was the guy who seemed to cover up a lot of mistakes in the past. I think they really miss him out there.
S Morgan Burnett. When Collins did play, he was playing aside Burnett, who still doesn't have a lot of experience. Collins wasn't all that great a player himself during his first three seasons, and Burnett seems to still have a lot to learn. Are they trusting him to call the defense? What are his responsibilities in the secondary? It's not something the Packers are eager to explain in the press.
Peprah. One play really stands out. From NFL.com's play-by-play in the fourth quarter:
(7:36) (Shotgun) 17-P.Rivers pass short right to 83-V.Jackson for 5 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
This might not have seemed like the worst of it (the Chargers cut the Packer lead to 14), but when Philip Rivers rolled to his right, he had two receivers in front of him with only Williams was in coverage. He had to chose between the short receiver, and Vincent Jackson in the back of the end zone. Williams went to the short receiver, he was expecting a safety to provide deep help with Jackson, but Peprah was well behind the play.
Those are the type of plays the Packers have to figure out. Was it Peprah's responsibility? If not, then who? Someone must be responsible for covering their best receiver? The pass rush could be better, but it won't matter if they keep leaving their opponent's best receivers uncovered.