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Lions Expose Chinks In Packers Defensive Armor

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Lions Expose Chinks In Packers Defensive Armor

First, the good news.

The Packers generally held the Lions and talented rookie running back Jahvid Best in check throughout the first half of Sunday's 28-26 win over Detroit at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

The Packers came into the game giving up an average of 5.0 yards per carry, tied for 28th in the NFL. So when they limited the Lions to 37 first half rushing yards on only 9 carries (4.1 yards/carry), it could only be seen as an improvement.

The bad news is when the Lions failed to generate a consistent ground game, they took to the air.

"Well, they couldn't run the ball, so give credit to them. They realized that, and they put the ball in the air," said cornerback Charles Woodson. "And they made a lot of things happen doing that, putting guys in motion and getting in space, getting the ball to their backs, getting the ball to Calvin on some plays underneath."

The Lions proceeded to dominate on the offensive side of the ball. Had it not been for two turnovers and a 13 to 3 deficit in turnover margin, there may have been no stopping the Lions' aerial attack. The Packers defense had a tough time getting off the field, and as a result got tired, which only contributed to their defensive struggles.

Coach Jim Schwartz's offense controlled the football just short of a two-to-one margin, winning the time of possession battle 37:37 to the Packers' 22:23. They also ran 78 total offensive plays compared to the Packers' 40.

"If they were as tired as I was, they had to be pretty tired," said Woodson. "It just seemed like a long game for us, being out on the field defensively. But again, it doesn't matter. You go out there to play this game to win. You feel like your preparation puts you in a position to win. And again, when your number is called, you've got to make a play to get your team off the field."

Lions quarterback Shaun Hill, despite being primarily a journeyman backup, performed better than just about anyone expected.

Hill completed 34 out of 54 passes for 331 yards including two touchdowns to star receiver Calvin Johnson in an effort that took advantage of what the Packers defense gave them.

"A lot of their plays were check downs and they were able to get up the field, quarterback scrambling for 40 yards," said safety Nick Collins. "So it wasn't anything major downfield. It was just all short routes. But we've got to tackle better, play better as a whole team."

Even though the Lions running backs weren't able to significantly dent the Packers defense rushing the ball, they still made an impact in the passing game.

Recognizing defensive coordinator Dom Capers' blitz heavy schemes, the Lions utilized the screen pass to counteract the Packers' inherent aggressiveness. It was particularly effective against Green Bay's 1-5-5 "Psycho" package.

"Screens are really defeated by a team," said linebacker Brady Poppinga. "It's everybody reading that it's a screen and reacting accordingly. It can be frustrating, but that's just part of the deal. You've got to be able to read and react accordingly."

Best had 5 catches for 34 yards while fellow running back Kevin Smith added 4 receptions for 22 yards as part of the short passing game that found faults in the Packers defense.

Whether future opponents use the same gameplan as Detroit is worth watching as the season progresses.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (24) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PWC's picture

Nailed it on the screen part, Brian. Expect the Packers opponents to look at this game footage closely.

PackJoe's picture

Seeing some of the toss out and screen plays showed our line backing core's inability to keep up/ close in faster with the running back or tight ends.

like's picture

Im tired of seeing the middle linebackers try to bring pressure. Hawk and Barnett take their blockers head on and either fall down or pretty much give up. Yet they're being blitzed over and over, with absolutely no success, and yet the middle of the field and the flats are left wide open. We're due to draft a MLB. Haven't done it since Bishop and it was Hawk before that.

On a side note, I'm baffled that so many people are so growly about our running backs and yet the backs themselves are among the least of reasons the Packers have played bad in two games. Get pissed at the run blocking for crying out loud, it's atrocious. Either way, the run game was not the problem today.

packeraaron's picture

like? I like you.

zub_a_dub's picture

I believe the missing piece for this defense is a true ILB and a coach who knows how to use them.

Keith's picture

The run blocking hasn't been great, but the running backs aren't anything special. Kuhn runs hard, for sure, but he isn't a big play threat.

As for BJax, I have always been one of his more vocal supporters, but he is indecisive, and while he doesn't get any help when he gets hit in the backfield, look at the way Bradshaw would create something out of nothing when a Bears defender crashed into the backfield.

So yeah, the run blocking isn't great, but neither are the backs.

packsmack25's picture

Look everyone, I understand the concern. I really do. But stop with the extremes. This is a good team. It's a Super Bowl quality team when they play well. Have they played well for an entire game this season? No. But they have made the plays they've needed to and have been in a position to win every game that they've played. This team was 4-4 last season heading into their bye. Hell, they might be 5-4 going into it THIS year. But they are a good team, led by a GREAT quarterback who makes good decisions when it matters. They will go to the playoffs again this year, just as the team is rounding into form, and they will finish at LEAST 10-6, but will carry a lot of momentum into the postseason, and they will make a lot of noise. Reinforcements are coming in the secondary and possibly even at RB. This team is built for January, not for October, and the early wins are just gravy, however they come.

hoogus's picture

Super Bowl quality? Don't think so. I think the Packers are pretty much the same team they were last year, only with a tougher schedule. After seeing the Giants destroy the Bears, i'm thinking the Packers just haven't played a very good team yet. Given the amount of trouble they've had so far, they're looking very beatable.

packsmack25's picture

Yeah, the same team as last year, but with playoff experience and high-caliber guys coming BACK to the defense instead of guys going down to injuries. In other words, a Super Bowl contender.

packsmack25's picture

Also, please tell me a team in the NFL that has been flawless? The Chiefs? Everyone is "beatable." The only team to ever go 18-0 lost the Super Bowl a few years ago to a team that finished 10-6. This team has all the talent it needs to make a run at the Super Bowl.

Keith's picture

Why are you interpreting "they're not Super Bowl quality" as "they're not perfect, therefore they're not Super Bowl quality?"

While I don't necessarily agree with those who don't believe this team is Super Bowl quality, I can certainly see where they're coming from.

This team has some serious issues and plays very undisciplined. However, as Peyton Manning has shown time and again, a great QB is the great equalizer and often, the great trump card. Lucky for us we have Aaron Rodgers.

lars's picture

It's not "just the run blocking." You're in denial. Brandon Jackson is NOT a very good RB. He hesitates, and doesn't break tackles. The LINE blocked just fine in the final 6 and 1/2 minutes, with Kuhn carrying the rock.

But, I'm sure we'll hear the usual stuff---"it's too soon to tell" or my favorite :give it time, people!) re: Jackson.

packsmack25's picture

I think you posted this in the wrong thread...

Keith's picture

I enjoyed this quote:

"A lot of their plays were check downs and they were able to get up the field, quarterback scrambling for 40 yards," said safety Nick Collins. "So it wasn't anything major downfield. It was just all short routes. But we've got to tackle better, play better as a whole team."

Guys, it's cool - all those yards were on checkdowns and scrambles... they don't count as much. Wait? They do? Oh...

PackersThad's picture

+1 Keith!!

lebowski's picture

How in the world can a defense with players like BJ Raji, Cullen Jenkins, Clay Matthews, Nick Barnett, Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, and Tramon Williams, guided by a 'wizard' like Capers, get torched so damn often?? Are there a couple weak links? Yes. But there are a lot of good players on that side of the ball, enough to get it done. I am now officially worried about the Viking games again. Damn it.

sammer's picture

The defense is absolutely getting ruined by the screen pass. The linebackers look a couple of steps slow in recognition every freakin' time. And can a brother get some containment on the edge?

Idiot Fan's picture

I think the Lions offense is actually underrated. They've got some serious playmakers on that side of the ball.

Also, keep in mind that Rodgers and Nelson turned the ball over four times, which resulted in the defense being on the field *a lot*. I don't expect that from Rodgers/Nelson every game.

lebowski's picture

Hill is a decent QB, but he's a backup QB. Best was playing hurt. Johnson's a beast, but he's their only WR and we have two and arguably 3 pro bowl defensive backs. Pettigrew was the X factor because our tight ends can't cover a bowl of cereal, and sure enough he hurt us, but Capers should have been able to game plan better than that. Too little pressure, too many wide open lanes.

lebowski's picture

Sorry, LINEBACKERS can't cover a bowl of cereal. Tight ends eat their Wheaties.

Sars's picture

Capers is either right on the money with his game plan or completely off. There is no gray area with our defense. Thank God he's mostly right.

briank029's picture

get ready for a rough next few weeks. now that burnett is out we are really screwed. i'm not saying he is a pro bowler or anything, but we are getting extremely thin on DB's. expect to see a lot more of jarrett bush and we all know what that means. DISASTER!! How this guy is still on the team boggles my mind. He is just awful. He makes old ahmad carroll look like darrelle revis. hopefully bigby and harris will get back into the groove very quickly when they come back in a couple weeks.

Tarynfor12's picture

The words"exposed some chinks or weak links" that are used by some from various sites,seem to be in denial of some facts that many just want to cover with a blanket and put to bed and hope they sleep for 20 weeks.
The chinks or weak links are;
1)No run game-would be better if Grant was playing-but he isn't and BJ getting what Kuhn gets = NO RUN GAME
2)Pass Coverage-worst than last year and wouldn't count on the two guys coming back to change things as they were part of the slashing from last year.
3)OL-yes Aaron hasn't been sacked anywhere the #'s so far but it sure seems like it's beginning to change for the worst and with no run game,it may arrive earlier.
4)Passing game-sorry but the #'s Rodgers was suppose to be putting up(we'll totally outscore everyone)I don't think was to be by a couple of points(not with this defense).
5)Time of Possession-this is critical for our defense to survive against anyone as our much bally-hooed #2 of last year is more closer to boo-boo's this year.This is correctable and manageable to the benefit of the defense if and only if the previous are corrected.
Chinks and weak links being exposed happens to every team every week.The problem with the Packers is the "exposing of the oxidizing rust of the chinks and weak links that have gone unscrapped of the rust and merely painted over without a sealant".
The storms that will be coming the next few weeks will surely show us just how deep the rust runs and how much scrapping this team needs to do.
"SUPER BOWL or DIE",seems like the answer may be upon us faster than we had wished for.Go Pack Go where that is open.

Tarynfor12's picture

Sorry,didn't mean to omit the Special Teams,but what can be said that isn't every week.So I omitted them on purpose.

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