Starting with the obvious – yes, the poor call by officials on that Matthews play essentially cost us 4 points. McCarthy’s decision right before that to give SF another crack at it on 3rd and 6 didn’t help either there – but the ref’s call was really bad and just plain cost us 4 points.
But that wasn’t why we lost. We lost because we gave up 412 passing yards – and 502 yards overall. You will almost NEVER win when your defense gives up 502 yards.
It was as though the defense game-planned 100% to stop the run and forgot that the rules allow for passing too. They didn’t do badly against the run (though they gave up nearly 100 yards) but sucked against the pass.
Yes, the defense tried hard and I liked to see that. But like Mike Sherman, who spent 18-20 hours a day working on coaching stuff – sometimes the amount of effort just doesn’t matter if the job is not getting done. Bottom line – our defense was really bad.
I’ll be the first to admit that Kaepernick looked good, Boldin looked 25 years old and Vernon Davis had the kind of game San Fran fans have been waiting for for years. But when this was the last team we lost to and this was the team we had an entire off-season to plan for – it’s inexcusable to give up 502 yards of offense.
And it’s also really concerning that no apparent in-game adjustment was made to account for Anquan Boldin. That guy had to get about half of the targets today for San Fran’s passing game and it just didn’t look like we did a thing to try to disrupt that momentum. I think Boldin is still good definitely, but he’s not 13 catches, 208 yards good. Calvin Johnson probably would have had a 400 yard game against this same defense!
TT did virtually nothing in the off-season to address our defensive weaknesses. And there were some weaknesses that he (and everyone else) knew about before the season started: seriously weak LBs (aside from Matthews) and having a young/leaderless secondary. The big concern for me though that we just don’t have anyone, aside from Matthews, that seems capable of making a disruptive, game-changing play. With Bishop, you had someone who could cause turnovers, make the big play or have the big hit. With Woodson (though I understand letting him go), you had a constant turnover threat. But right now, we don’t have anyone who seems to disrupt another team’s momentum. I hope someone emerges.
It’s worth noting here that MM/TT/Capers actually haven’t put together a quality defense except during the Super Bowl year. And I can’t shake the response TT gave in an interview a few weeks back when Green Bay Press Gazette’s Mike V asked him about the last 3 playoff losses and our evident defensive weakness. TT essentially dismissed the question saying he wanted to focus forward or something – but it was a totally legit question. Our last 3 playoff losses have been caused largely by horrendous defensive performances.
Rodgers had some classic Rodgers plays and some unreal throws (that throw and catch to Jordy near the end was a thing of beauty) – but overall Rodgers did not have a good game by his standards. Mostly because he missed on 16 passes. I’m not sure how many drops we had but 16 misses out of just 37 passes thrown is Donovan McNabb completion % territory – not Aaron Rodgers.
The O-line was OK but whiffed at a few key moments. I think they were essentially responsible for a few of those incomplete passes. Run blocking was awful until the second half when Lacy had a couple nice holes.
Why did we call only 1 screen? It worked like magic yet from what I remember we only did it once. It is such an effective tool against aggressive pass rushers like Smith and Smith. On the one that worked they were totally busted in their hurry to get up the field.
I liked that Lacy came back after the fumble and contributed. He had some nice runs and a nice TD. I’ll chalk up the fumble to a rookie error. I see some potential in the guy – though I don’t see much in the way of speed.
Jordy answered the question I had before the game of which WR would emerge between he and Jones. Jordy was absolutely fantastic.
Finley and Cobb were also awesome today. I expect to see a lot more of these 2 playing at a high level. It’s the right time for them to shine.
Masthay is becoming even more valuable. He’s a very good punter and his kickoffs were excellent. But he had a massive tackle early in the game that was very un-punter-like. Great game by Masthay.
Not sure Jeremy Ross will keep his return job. Just not good today.
Overall I am not surprised we lost as I predicted a 34-27 loss. Before the game my primary worry was our defense – and after the game my primary worry is the defense. The 49ers are definitely a good team and I don’t think it would be quite right to be devastated by this loss as a Packer fan. No loss is fun but the 49ers are a quality team. And I do like that we didn’t play ourselves out of the game at any point – like we did in last year’s playoff game. We kept going and kept coming back and really hung in there until the very end. Our collective mental resilience did impress me.
Oh – and Jim Harbaugh is a tool. I just can’t stand that guy. He is so intense he doesn’t seem human. He is nonstop screaming at someone. What an awful way to exist.
Defense will get better but I still say Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy will not get into hall of fame someday because of their weakness to remove Capers. You have Rodgers and don’t improve defensive coordinator, seems like old days with Sherman as GM and Coach. Anyway, it is what it is again. Go Pack Go!
Good point Cindy. Even though I know Woodson was physically not quite the same, other QBs had to be aware of him. I don’t think Boldin has that kind of game if Woodson is out there (or at least Woodson would have had a pick or two). Though you’re right, Hayward and Burnett should make a difference once back on the field.
The Packers simply did not have enough talent on the field to stop that offense. They have two pedestrian ILB’s. They were playing with two safeties that shouldn’t be starting in the NFL. (Why TT didn’t find a veteran S to fill the void next to Burnett for a year is beyond me) And, they have yet to find anyone that can makes plays opposite Matthews. Capers and company try to cover this lack of talent with scheme but that really only allows you to take away one thing (the read option) which was contained but left Kaepernick plenty of time to make easy throws against shoddy zone coverage. (It’s pretty hard to play good zone when the middle of your secondary consists of Jones, Hawk, McMillian, and Jennings.)
Don’t get me wrong – this defense has talent and will do well against less balanced and less talented teams. In fact, as bad as this defense was on Sunday the Packers were still in position to win late in the 4th quarter. Getting Burnett and Hayward back will be a big help but for this defense to be top-tier and for the Packers to really make a run at a title they will need a few players to emerge this season and be play-makers on defense. Datone Jones? Nick Perry?
I think our defense plays to fancy under Capers. Remember the debut of the “psycho” package with only 1 down lineman that lasted for about a game because it didn’t work? In the San Fran game we had 2 down linemen a alot, and lots of LB’s. San Fran was able to give the ball on a handoff up the middle and get lots of yardage against 2 linemen and 5 LB’s. Then the LB’s thought run-first and weren’t dropping back far enough fast enough giving Davis/Boldin open zones to sit in 10-20 yards downfield. I would like to see what th defense could do lining up in a 3-4 and just going for it. Line up, man-to-man, and where does our talent get us. Yes we stopped the whole 2 zone-read plays San Fran ran, but they just handed it off up the middle and dropped back and burned us. I think getting Burnett back will make a big difference in our pass defense as well. Jennings and McMillan aren’t ready for the big time and were often out of position or late reacting.