clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Defense in Review: Why Tackling Ironically Saved the Packers Postseason

It's relatively hard to look back at the Green Bay Packers 2010 postseason campaign and pick out the flaws.  A Super Bowl trophy in hand has made minor fools out of every naysayer, but believe or not, the positives continue to flow from the brilliant mind that is Mike McCarthy.

Amongst the criticisms that McCarthy felt throughout the year - tackling popped up to be a major concern.  Dropped balls from the likes of James Jones and Jordy Nelson were unseen up until Wild Card weekend, while the pesky issue of penalties was kept at bay for the majority of the year.

But in Week 15, a few springs seemed to come loose.  Special teams cost the Packers an embarrassing highlight against the New England Patriots, which saw right tackle Dan Connolly return a squib kick for 71 yards.

New England went on to win 31-27, after some sizzling Matt Flynn skill and a typically clutch Tom Brady drive.  Unfortunately, though, poor tackling had slowly begun to seep back into the woodwork of Dom Capers defense.

NFC Wild Card (at Philadelphia Eagles)

Containing Michael Vick wasn't a problem for the Packers in Philadelphia.  Wide receiver DeSean Jackson went without a whisper on the day due to a knee injury, and as a result missed a significant amount of playing time - not that the Packers were complaining.

Still, the Eagles offensive depth managed to pitch in.  Fifth year receiver Jason Avant caught for 93 yards and a score, while fellow go-to man Jeremy Maclin was also busy, catching for 44 yards.

If I were to give the Packers a tackling grade in this game, realistically it would have to warrant a solid 'A'.  Running back LeSean McCoy's power was shutdown entirely to just 46 yards, significant of linebacker coach Kevin Greene's productivity. 

However, perhaps the best outcome in this game was Vick's quiet day on the ground.  Green Bay sacked No.7 three times, limited him to 32 rush yards, and ultimately forced a final interception in the fourth quarter.

Tackling was never an issue against the Eagles, although Andy Reid's weak offensive line may have had something to do with it.


NFC Divisional Round (at Atlanta Falcons)

Linebacker Desmond Bishop took home the honors against Mike Smith's offense, accounting for five tackles ahead of Charles Woodson.  But for a team that managed to contain one of the leagues top quarterbacks the previous week, Green Bay found themselves reliving old memories early.

If it wasn't Michael Turner's first quarter touchdown run, it was Eric Weems' kick return for a score.  Both of these sorry moments can be accredited to poor tackling, and the blame can't be pinned on just one area in particular.  

But would any other team have been able to stop Turner and Weems themselves?

Aaron Rodgers blatantly directed his concern with the special teams unit on the "Late Show With David Letterman", so there is no excuse for allowing a 102 yard kickoff return. As for Turner, the usual sloppy arm tackling left a lot to be desired, especially when the Falcons run game was set to be a factor.

Green Bay's victory in Atlanta was thanks to Rodgers and the offense, not that Tramon Williams can't be praised a little.  Williams' pick six moments before the second half zapped the Falcons confidence entirely, paving the way for just five incomplete passes on Rodgers behalf.

A defensive game to forget?  Not exactly.  Although tackling was a major guess following the victory.


NFC Championship Game (at Chicago Bears)

Jay Cutler did the Packers a huge favor in the NFC Title Game.  Injured in the first half and ruled out, Cutler's explosive ways witnessed in the week prior against Seattle went without notice against Green Bay, as the Packer defense took control.

Tackling was never much of an issue against the Bears, merely due to the fact that Lovie Smith was faced with a quarterback dilemma that came to life late in the fourth quarter.  Of course, this isn't to say that Green Bay were perfect either.

The one example that stands out is Nick Collins/Charles Woodson's lazy coverage on Earl Bennett late in the game.  Replacement Caleb Hanie took a shot down field to Bennett, while Collins was rather laid back when it came to grounding his man.  This resulted in a touchdown, and the unnecessary need for Aaron Rodgers to try and force another score.

But for all of the tardiness seen on that play, Rodgers' ability in the third quarter made up for it.  After throwing a pick to linebacker Brian Urlacher on the goal line, Rodgers saved a game altering touchdown by performing the slightest of trips on one of Chicago's Pro Bowl stars.

It was a case of good and bad for the Packers against Chicago.  Sam Shields' two interceptions were by far the talking point, but Rodgers' trip may have meant the difference between a fourth ring or a major upset in The Windy City.


Super Bowl (vs. Pittsburgh Steelers)

It doesn't take much to realize how the Packers won it all.  Rodgers did his thing, Greg Jennings helped and the defense stood up to the Ben Roethlisberger "test" that had been spoken about all week long.

Speaking of Roethlisberger, containing him wasn't always easy, although one could say the Packers succeeded in doing so.  Big Ben completed 25 out of his 40 attempted passes, threw two interceptions and also remained rather inconsistent on the day.

Tackling worries?

Rashard Mendenhall proved to be at his best again in the Super Bowl, running for 63 yards and a score, posting similar statistics in relation to the Steelers 2009 meeting with Green Bay.  But in the end, Clay Matthews forced fumble put an end to the momentum change, along with stating just how powerful Kevin Greene's pep talks can be.

This play saved the Lombardi Trophy for Green Bay, and who would have thought?

The Packers entered Dallas with 47 sacks to their name in the regular season, second behind the Steelers (48).  This was a telling story considering that grounding Big Ben is like taking on a black bear, but Dom Capers seemed to have unlocked the right strategy - and not for the first time.


Do We Have a Name For This Defense?

Green Bay's defense has been without a nickname as of late.  Monsters of the Midway is taken, and so is the Steel Curtain.  But that's the way the Packers like it, after all, Vince Lombardi became famous for his breakdown of football by using one brief sentence:

“Some people try to find things in this game that don’t exist but football is only two things – blocking and tackling.”

Maybe the 'Comeback Kids' is a wise choice.  When the chips are down in the form of penalties and tackling, the youth and experience fights back, and boy does it pack a punch.


Follow Ryan Cook on   Twitter.

Ryan Cook is an Australian writer for Acme Packing Company. He is also a guest writer for PackerChatters. Send him an email: