On Thursday night, the Green Bay Packers opened up their 2014 season by falling flat on their face in Seattle against the defending Super Bowl champions, the Seahawks. Each unit had its own set of issues, and we've looked through a number of statistics to try to identify reasons for those struggles or areas where the team did not continue with a strategy that was working.
We've also got a little bit of information on Pro Football Focus' individual grades and snap counts for Thursday's game as well to help illustrate some of the good and bad performances and how the team was lining up last night.
One thing that sticks out to us from last night's game is that the Packers had great success running straight up the middle behind rookie center Corey Linsley, but got away from those power runs in favor of more stretch plays. On plays run between Linsley and the guards, the Packers carried the ball six times for 39 yards, or 6.5 yards per carry. Outside the guards, though, Eddie Lacy and company had 15 carries for 41 yards, a 2.7 YPC average. The insistence on running outside against the speed of the Seahawks defense was a mistake, especially with the success with the inside run game.
A big reason for the Packers' struggles to move the ball was a result of the team's inability to connect on deep passes. Aaron Rodgers and his receivers got some things going late with short passes, but the breakdown of short versus deep throws clearly shows the struggles the Packers had getting anything going downfield.
Passes beyond 10 yards: 3-for-8, 50 yards, no touchdowns, one interception
Passes shorter than 10 yards: 19-for-21, 139 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions
They'll need a much better performance on deep passing in the future. Obviously the Seahawks' talented secondary was responsible for much of those struggles, and I would expect those numbers to bounce back next week against a Jets team that features a rookie free safety in Calvin Pryor and a thin group of cornerbacks.
One of the interesting things that illustrates the trouble that the Packers had in defending Percy Harvin is the breakdown of his yards per touch. Harvin actually averaged more yards per carry (10.3 - 41 yards on four carries) than he did yards per reception (8.4 - 59 yards on seven catches). Put simply, the Packers were much better-equipped to address Harvin when he was split out and catching passes around the line of scrimmage than they were when he was in motion and taking handoffs from Russell Wilson.
Oh and how about this: the Packers missed 16 tackles on Thursday, their highest total in a single game in recent memory. For example, the most tackles missed by the Packers in any 2013 game was 12, in the team's win over the Vikings at the Metrodome.
First up for notable grades is center Corey Linsley, who was mentioned above. He graded with a +2.2 in his first NFL start, much of that being due to his excellent push in the run game, (+1.6). On the other side of things, Derek Sherrod was given a -6.4 overall, including -5.2 in pass-blocking.
On defense, Sam Shields and Mike Daniels led the way with positive grades, though Daniels' pluses came mainly due to run defense rather than his pass rushing. Brad Jones' grade meets with Packers' fans reactions to his play from last night, as he was given a -5.3 overall (-3.4 run defense, -1.8 coverage).
Finally, we'll take a look at some interesting numbers regarding playing time for the team's personnel.
On offense, Aaron Rodgers and four offensive linemen (Bakhtiari, Sitton, Linsley, and Lang) played every one of the team's 62 snaps, while Jordy Nelson took only one play off. Eddie Lacy was in for 31 plays, exactly half of the team's offensive snaps.
On defense, four players (Brad Jones, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, and Morgan Burnett) were in for all 70 plays. A.J. Hawk left the field regularly when the dime package was called, as he was on the field for 48 snaps. On the defensive line, Mike Daniels led the way with 46 plays, while at safety, Micah Hyde was in for 52 snaps, while rookie Ha Ha Clinton-Dix played 40 snaps (often both of them were on the field in the dime package).
The Packers will look to rebound in a big way next Sunday against the New York Jets at Lambeau Field. Stay with us at APC for more coverage of Thursday's loss and next week's game.