Game-Changing Play of the Week: Dalvin Cook's Fourth TD Puts Game Out of Reach for Packers

Dalvin Cook goes off, and the Packers need to reconsider their defensive coordinator.

There are not sufficient words to describe how putrid the Packers' performance was on Sunday against the Vikings.

That was a game you simply cannot lose. At home against a one-win divisional rival, preparing for a road trip on a short week out to a team that's spanked you twice in the last 12 months. This is the kind of game where you absolutely must take care of business before hading out on the road against a tough foe.

Instead, the Packers came out looking completely flat and uninspired on defense, and now the calls for Mike Pettine's job are only growing louder and more justified.

But alas, my job today is not to ruminate about the horrific nature of the Packers' entire performance on Sunday, but to point out the one play that had the biggest impact on the outcome. It was difficult to choose just one play where the Packers' defense was annihilated, but I settled on Dalvin Cook's fourth touchdown of the day that put the Vikings up by two scores.

The play

This play was really reminiscent in some ways of the embarrassing Alvin Kamara touchdown in New Orleans. Absolutely atrocious defense at every level. Players getting easily swallowed up by blocks on the screen, failing to take proper angles, looking completely out of position and failing to make tackles.

It ended up being a game breaker for the Packers, who were never able to make up the point deficit.

After going down 21-14 at the start of the half, the Packers already appeared to be pressing on offense and getting away from what had worked remarkably well in the first half--hammering away with their running game and opting for short, high-percentage passes to avoid having to deal with the wind.

Once again, the Packers were in a situation where it looked as though they got punched in the mouth and then panicked. 

Once in Tampa was an "anomaly," sure. But now it's a trend. Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur used the "low energy" excuse again in the postgame. But here's an honest assessment of where this team is at right now: they're frontrunners. The second they face adveristy they completely fold up.

This particular play was just one example of that, but ended up being the most important, as the Packers spent the rest of the game desperately trying to scramble back into it. Had the referees correctly maintained their defensive pass interference call in the fourth quarter they may have stood a better chance, but make no mistake; referees did not cost the Packers this game. Their mental weakness did.

 

It is outrageously frustrating that a team that has so much talent on both sides of the ball (and yes, there is plenty of it) should be so quick to fall apart when the going gets tough. It's especially frustrating that week after week we see the same passive, wishy washy defensive approach from Pettine, who is basically allowing teams to gash his defense at will. 

Assuming Thursday night's game still happens in the wake of the positive COVID test to AJ Dillon, Pettine (a McCarthy holdover) should be coaching for his job. If the Packers come out and get housed by the 49ers once again in the exact same style they did twice last year, there is no longer any reason to keep him on staff other than some sense of decorum regarding midseason firings. We have seen the ceiling for this defense under his inflexible leadership and inability or unwillingness to make adjustments. While the team can absolutely use more talent up front, there is still more than enough talent to make up for that deficiency and to at least be competitive. 

I maintain my position that this Packers team has the talent on its roster to field a championship team (with a little luck, as all champions need). But the scheme and mentality on the defensive side of the ball is broken. The time has come for LaFleur to seriously consider pulling a 2012 Ravens by canning his ineffective coordinator midseason to hopefully give this talented team the jolt it needs if it is to have any hope of going on a championship run.

For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the wide receiver position, once again (as seemingly it is every year) it's the defensive side of the ball that's holding this team back from greatness.

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (11)

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Lphill's picture

November 02, 2020 at 04:15 pm

Absolutely disgusting giving a Viking a career day on your home field , why is Pettine still here?

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cheesehead1's picture

November 02, 2020 at 04:20 pm

This isn’t the first time our D has been gashed. It’s been going on for years. Gute has his work cut out and some tough decisions to make.

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 02, 2020 at 08:02 pm

Or the next GM. He had three drafts to straighten out the D line, he extends Lowry, holds on to Adams and Lancaster, brings in Pennel and let's him walk away and drafts another light in the britches DE in Keke. I like Keke,but apparently Pettine feels too many good snaps lead to success. Winn was Not Active yesterday. A windy day and an ALL PRO RB coming to your turf from the land of lutefisk and white sauce, and this guy doesn't prep his crew to shut down the run.

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Bearmeat's picture

November 02, 2020 at 04:45 pm

When I saw this play, I laughed. It was Kamara all over again. We absolutely deserved to lose, and dare I say it, I'm glad we did. This isn't a super bowl team with its current roster and coaching staff, and if Gute can't or refuses to see that, then he's the problem too.

Down vote away.

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GVPacker's picture

November 02, 2020 at 05:31 pm

Over the last ten years how many opposing QB's and RB's have had career games against the Packers Defense....Way Too Many!
The Packers are Soft On Defense. No pass rush, can't stop the run missed tackles blown coverage's! The horrid display on Sunday against the Queens was a disgrace.

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canadapacker's picture

November 02, 2020 at 07:25 pm

Our D sucked and unlike Zimmer - Pettine didnt adjust - dont know how much of an adjustment he could make - But I couldnt help focusing on P Smith - he was brutal - they ran to his left - and he didnt crash down - they ran to his right and he didnt seal the edge - He got easily blocked by one man. Great players get double teamed but he easily got blocked by tight ends and anybody around. No fight in him. That fourth down play in Houston must have been a fluke. And the stupid PIs - I would rather see if he guy can make a catch than give a team an easy first down on the 1. On both PI's the guy probably wouldnt have caught the pass. On offense Lafleur played into Zimmers hands - he saw what AR did to Houston and knew AR would go to Adams first and a lot so he doubled and tripled him and AR both held the ball too long and after they stacked the box in the 2nd half - he didnt get the TE and other receivers involved early enough . Davante MVP of game ?? He was targeted 12 times and caught 7 for 53 yards . Because AR looked his way too often. And that is why he held he ball so long - especially in the 2nd half? Our receivers are not that bad - yes St Brown dropped a pass - and maybe he should have made a fantastic catch in the end zone - Lazard would have - but Sternberger 3 of 4 targets for 46 yards and Tonyon 5 of 7 for 79 yards Malik 1 for 26 MVS 1 for 19 on their only targets. And they were open - and what about the dumb holding by Lewis? Blocking is blocking if that is what you are known for -not killing a play and making it first and 20.

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 02, 2020 at 08:08 pm

Aside from Adams and Lazard, they are that bad. Just watching Alan Robinson yesterday made me wish Murphy kept his silage committee the hell away from 1265 Lombardi Ave. The money would have gone to him if low Ball stayed out of the talks. A 6-2 guy with quick twitch, out-in-out up the field snag the ball at the spot,, etc etc...Anthony Miller getting open constantly...it's bam bam.

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canadapacker's picture

November 03, 2020 at 09:36 am

You cant say something about Robinson who is looking for no 1 money and compare him to our 2,3,4th receivers . He was definitely one of the Bears go to guys even last year. You can blame Gut for not signing somebody better than Funchess - but that is all. All in all our receiving corps is good if you include the positive steps that Tonyon and Sternberger have taken. I think that you can down on Gute for taking Dillon or Degura instead of linebackers. But that is about it - our problem is not on offense.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 03, 2020 at 03:58 am

Per Ben Fennell, GB played the following defensive looks:

39 snaps - 3-4
10 snaps - Dime
3 snaps - Nickel

IDK if it is run fits, or terrible tackling that is the problem. Lots of tweets suggesting that PFF rates GB as the worst tackling team in the NFL.

https://twitter.com/BenFennell_NFL/status/1323069197069537280

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 03, 2020 at 04:06 am

Fennell also complimented the play of Kamal Martin (who is on the injury report as a non-injury designation - possibly he came into contact with AJ Dillon?). Fennell suggested Kirksey/Martin might be a good ILB combination. Note that MN play 11 personnel (3 WR) on just 11 plays and otherwise either had multiple TEs or multiple RBs on the field. Lots of heavy packages by MN, which SF probably does as well.

A nice snippet of video on this tweet about Martin (can't get it to go - add the h at the beginning):

ttps://mobile.twitter.com/BenFennell_NFL/status/1323346777890820096

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Minniman's picture

November 03, 2020 at 01:37 pm

9 penalties too Tim.

Also more third and long situations.

Not a crisp, on point display from the Packers and they paid for it as a result.

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