Packers WR Jordy Nelson celebrating yet another week in the rising category of the Packers Stock Report.
The Packers went into the bye week 1-2 and so far have accomplished all of their bye-week goals:
- Stay out of prison. No players arrested yet during the bye week. If no Packers end up in jail over the weekend, that gust of wind you’ll feel on Monday morning will be everyone in Packers management exhaling a giant sigh of relief.
- Don’t Tweet stupid things. I haven’t been on Twitter much this week, but I haven’t heard of any Packers accidentally tweeting a naked selfie or using a homophobic slur. Packers management must cringe every time they see a Tweet pop up from one of their players during the bye week.
- Do something really awesome. Technically, this didn’t happen during the bye week, but it deserves another mention. Major kudos to Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and the entire Packers organization for making Cody Monroe’s day.
- Ignore the fans. Why ignore the fans? See the comments section of this post.
- Rest heads and hamstrings. Unless they’re going skydiving or playing pickup soccer games, all the Packers with concussions or hamstring injuries should come back at least one step closer to returning to the field.
- Read the ALLGBP.com Packers Stock Report. Without further ado:
Remember in Varsity Blues when the QB would knock the other team’s mascot off his horse when throwing the ball away? If Rodgers tried doing something like that, Nelson would probably catch the pass. He’s that good on the sideline.
His play on the field was more than enough to move him to the rising category, but after he got hurt, his stock went up even further. Unless Dom Capers schemes an unblocked blitzing defensive back, the Packers pass rush goes bye-bye when Matthews isn’t on the field. Just in case we forget, we’re reminded of how valuable Matthews is to this team every time he goes out with his annual hamstring injury.
Daniels’ violent style of play has so far made up for him being undersized. He’s got a sack, three hurries and four defensive stops this season and might be the only defensive lineman capable of bringing a pass rush at this time. Will Daniels continue to impress now that other teams are becoming more aware of his aggression and his strengths?
He got burned by A.J. Green on a touchdown Sunday, but that’s going to happen when you’re locked one-on-one with the world’s second best WR most of the day. Earlier in the game, Shields got the best of Green and came up with an interception. After a subpar game against the 49ers, Shields has really come around.
I was all set to write a piece about Lang’s lackluster play at the end of last season and in the opener against San Francisco but I just didn’t get around to it. Good thing I didn’t because Lang his picked it up since. He handled all-world defensive tackle Geno Atkins on Sunday and has posted a Pro Football Focus rating of 4.8 and 3.6 in his last two games.
A batted down pass against Washington is the only stadout play Perry has made so far. When it was time to step up and get after the QB after Matthews went down Sunday, Perry was nowhere to be found.
A rough, rough game for the rookie on Sunday. He shouldn’t be asked to cut block ever again.
Packers in late game, high-leverage situations
By now we’ve all heard Aaron Rodgers’ statistics in “clutch” situations:
- 5-17 in games decided by four or fewer points
- Only five fourth-quarter comebacks
- Another late-game flop against the Bengals
It’s unfair to pin all of those numbers solely on the quarterback. The performance of other players deserves blame. Mike McCarthy’s playcalling deserves blame. The defense giving up leads deserves blame.
We can argue forever about why the Packers have consistently failed late in close games, but the bottom line is it needs to change. Whether Rodgers, McCarthy, or someone else steps up to change it, I don’t care. Just get it done.
The Packers beating the Jets was a signature win in 2010.
It seems like forever ago when everyone pegged the Packers as the NFL’s next dynasty.
It was only natural for people – including many in the Packers organization – to talk about a dynasty after winning Super Bowl XLV. A young team with a budding superstar at quarterback had just won it all with a ton of players on injured reserve. Talk of a dynasty was justified.
All that dynasty talk disappeared after the Packers went 15-1 in 2011, only to suffer an embarrassing loss to the Giants in their first playoff game.
Potential to production
Let’s rewind even further, back before the word dynasty was even in the vocabulary of Packers fans. In 2009, the Packers went on a nice run in the second half of the season to make the playoffs before losing a wild-card shootout with the Cardinals.
The 2010 season was supposed to be when the Packers took the next step. All that young talent was primed and ready to go from promising to great. Potential was to be replaced with production. Rebuilding with results. Playoff failure with playoff victory.
After six games, none of that happened. Midway through the 2010 season, Green Bay was 3-3, beat up, and spinning its wheels — stuck near the top of the mountain, unable to vault over it.
Then the Packers rattled off four straight wins, overcame a rough patch down the stretch, made the playoffs, and won the whole damn thing. The Packers not only made it over the mountain, they occupied the mountain, planted a green and gold flag on it, and claimed the mountain as their own.
They even chiseled the faces of Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy into the side of the mountain to create their own Packers Mt. Rushmore.
Falling off the mountain
Throughout the entire 2011 season, whenever another team tried to climb Packers Mountain, the Packers kicked them back down.
Then the Giants rolled into Lambeau Field for a divisional round playoff game, kicked the Packers off their own mountain, and sprayed graffiti all over the faces on Packers Mt. Rushmore.
Oh well. It was disappointing, but it happens. Mountains are high and often have difficult terrain. Every now and then, you’re going to slip and fall off.
Things got off to a rough start as the Packers tried to climb the mountain again in 2012. The 49ers booted them further down in the season opener. Fail Mary almost caused the entire mountain to disintegrate. The Colts even managed to get in the Packers’ way back up the mountain.
Finally, the Packers trip back up the mountain started gaining steam later in the season. Unfortunately, it petered out too soon when the 49ers used Colin Kaepernick to launch an all-out assault and send the Packers tumbling back down the mountain with yet another lopsided divisional round playoff loss.
The Packers’ trip back up the mountain has been as frustrating – if not more frustrating – than their initial trip in 2010.
Where are the signature wins?
When was the last time the Packers had a signature win? I’m talking about winning a game against an opponent that is a) playing well, and b) considered a legit playoff contender on the same level talent-wise as the Packers.
I’d say it was against Houston in week six last season.
Obviously, any time you win in the NFL it’s a big win. No team should ever apologize for winning, even if you just beat the Jaguars. And yes, I understand that the Packers beat the Vikings in the playoffs last season, but when you pull out the book of “Packers Signature Wins,” the time they shut down Joe Webb and beat the Vikings won’t be in there.
Here is a rundown of signature win opportunities that the Packers have had since beating Houston:
- Nov. 25, 2012 @ New York: Lost 38-10
- Dec. 30, 2012 @ Minnesota: Lost 37-34
- Jan. 12, 2013 @ San Francisco: Lost 45-31
- Sept. 8, 2013 @ San Francisco: Lost 34-28
- Sept. 22, 2013 @ Cincinnati: Lost 34-30
I can see an argument for calling the Week 15 win over Chicago in 2012 a signature win. Ditto for the week two win over Washington this season. I probably wouldn’t buy either argument, though.
Signature wins were everywhere as the Packers climbed over and claimed their mountain in 2010-11:
- Finally beating Brett Favre, week seven, 2010
- Shutting out the Jets, week eight, 2010
- Winning their last two games of 2010 to make the playoffs
- Winning four in a row on the road in the playoffs to win the Super Bowl
- 2011 signature wins included the Saints in week one, Bears in week three, Falcons in week five and New York in week 13.
So the Packers have gone from talking about a dynasty to once again having to fight and scrap to climb back up and over the mountain, just like they had to do in 2010. Many of the faces are different this time around, but the circumstances are similar.
- Rodgers and McCarthy are still at quarterback and coach, respectively.
- It’s a young team that banks on many rookies and second-year players to contribute.
- They’re beat up and injured.
- Questions are swirling about the team’s ability to come through in the clutch and perform in big games.
Are we in some type of green and gold “Back to the Future” sequel? If we are, I hope it ends like it did back in 2010.
Fortunately, there’s time for the plot to change in that direction. We’re only three games into the season, plenty of time for the Packers to get healthy and figure out how to execute better down the stretch in important games.
There’s a good chance next Sunday will be a signature win opportunity against Detroit. There should be one more the following week in Baltimore.
If the Packers can get their next signature win out of the way early, this team will be moving right back up the mountain. Once they get rolling back up that mountain, you never know what might happen.
They just might climb over it, take it over, and start carving another version of the Packers Mt. Rushmore while the rest of us start talking dynasty again.
Are you still pissed off about the Packers losing to the Bengals?
I am. What a God-awful game.
I’m going to use this space to rant and rave like a lunatic. Please feel free to do the same in the comments.
Why is he still on the team? Forget fumbling, he simply can’t catch a kick. And on the rare occasions when the ball doesn’t clank off his hands like a Mason Crosby field goal hitting the upright, he looks slower than me on returns.
Mike McCarthy coddles these guys during training camp then wonders why half the team sits out with a sore hamstring once the real games actually start. Half the guys that miraculously don’t pull their hamstrings end up going down with some other type of injury. When is this organization going to admit that all of these injuries every single season aren’t just bad luck and change its philosophy about tackling in training came and at practice?
So the Packers have the best quarterback in the NFL and on fourth-and-1 on the game’s biggest play you choose to run a midget rookie running back straight into the teeth of a ferocious defensive line. Even Aaron Rodgers thought you were out of your mind today and let you know about it right in front of the TV cameras, Mike.
Can we get a fourth quarter comeback at some point in your career, Aaron? Please?
If one of your coaches ever asks you to cut block again, David, punch him in the face. In addition to giving up the batted pass on the last play, the guy you were supposed to be blocking, DE Michael Johnson, finished with seven tackles, one sack and four QB hurries.
Another Packers player leaves with a concussion after getting drilled in the head on a play where no flag is thrown. Ryan Taylor gets punched in the junk and is flagged for retaliating. The Packers need to sign Steve Austin so he can deliver a Stone Cold Stunner to the next ref that hoses the Packers by missing one of these calls.
Listen to yourself, Adam. You’re insane. The Packers played the Bengals — a legit good team and a trendy Super Bowl pick — without their starting LT, top two RBs, starting S, starting slot CB, starting FB and special teams ace. During the game, they lost Clay Matthews, Jermichael Finley and James Starks. They even had Jeremy Ross in the backfield for a couple plays on their final drive. Jeremy Freaking Ross. Despite all of that, THE PACKERS ALMOST WON! The Packers will be fine. Get a hold of yourself.
I’ll be back later this week with more level-headed thoughts and analysis. Chances are good that I’ll take back a lot of what I said in this post (or just claim my computer was hacked and someone else wrote all of this). But for now, I’m still mad. This is a terrible way to enter the bye week. Grrrrr.
Andrew Quarless could play fullback for the Packers on Sunday.
If John Kuhn is out on Sunday when the Packers play the Bengals, it sounds like tight end Andrew Quarless could spend some time in the Packers backfield as a fullback.
Quarless at fullback could very well be a disaster, but it intrigues me.
Back when D.J. Williams was on the team, I always thought he looked better when he lined up as a fullback than he did at tight end. I wonder if I might feel the same about Quarless after Sunday.
Quarless at fullback could give the Packers more options for pre-snap motion or other funky formations. Quarless also might operate better in space than Kuhn if Aaron Rodgers finds him on a dumpoff pass.
Of course, Quarless’s main responsibility will be pass blocking. Can Quarless be trusted to read defenses and identify blitzers like Kuhn can? If he can’t, the Quarless at fullback experiment will end quickly.
If he can pass block, Quarless would provide more versatility on third downs than Kuhn can as the backfield pass blocker. Then again, maybe Mike McCarthy won’t even put him in high-pressure pass-blocking situations.
Can Quarless clear a path for James Starks in the running game? He lined up at fullback after Kuhn got hurt against the Redskins and made a key block that sprung Starks for a 32-yard touchdown. He certainly looked capable on that play.
Sunday’s game probably won’t hinge on Quarless’s play at fullback, but when you’re trying to beat a tough opponent on the road, little things matter. One missed blitz pickup can alter the course of a game. One key block that seals the edge on a sweep can lead to a late-game first down that brings you one step closer to a win.
Quarless as a fullback will be interesting to watch.
Only this end zone pylon slowed down Packers WR James Jones on Sunday.
Anyone else have flashbacks to 2011 as the Packers cruised to an easy win over the Redskins on Sunday?
The lasers from Aaron Rodgers. Jordy, Randall, James and Jermichael making tacklers look like fools after the catch. The defense forcing a couple of turnovers. Sloppy tackling from the Packers defense. Not quite delivering the knockout punch.
Even though many of the players are different, the sentences in the previous paragraph would have summarized a lot of the Packers’ 15 wins during the 2011 season. The Packers aren’t about to rattle off 14 straight wins and repeat their run from 2011, but the overall stock of this team is rising right now.
Let’s take a closer look at exactly why that is:
You could easily put Nelson and Cobb in the rising category as well, but they were risers last week and investors snatched up all the available shares. Investors who bought low on Jones — shutout in the season opener — are cashing in big time after his 11-catch game against Washington. The only thing that stopped Jones on Sunday was a fumble-inducing end zone pylon (hat tip to whomever I stole that joke from on Twitter).
I hate putting Rodgers in the rising category because it’s just assumed that the best QB in the world belongs in the rising category every week. After a game like the one Rodgers had on Sunday, though, he deserves to have someone physically take the time to type his name in the rising category. Rodgers obviously decided to take a couple of sacks early in the game just to make things a little more challenging for himself. That didn’t even slow him down.
Now Big Grease is swatting down passes while filling gaps and squashing running backs. Nasty.
I was a serious doubter about the Mike Neal at LB experiment, but I’m starting to come around. He can move a little better than I thought and he’s tough to get off the edge against the run. Raise your hand if you predicted that Neal would drop into coverage and get an interception sometime this season? Those of you that raised your hands, go sit in the corner and take a timeout for lying.
I know what you’re saying: “Daniels over B.J. Raji? Make sure you put yourself in the falling category, Czech.” Watch Daniels on tape if you don’t believe me. He’s active as hell. Daniels might be able to provide the athleticism that the Packers have been missing on the d-line since Cullen Jenkins left. I say “might” because Daniels is small. Let’s see if he remains disruptive once teams watch him on film and realize that they need to take him more seriously.
Yes, I’m being harsh on the rookie. It usually takes rookie defensive lineman a while to get going, and it looks like Jones is no exception. In 40 defensive snaps, Jones hasn’t gotten anywhere near the QB. I’ll be patient, but for now, I’m showing Jones some tough love and sticking him in the falling category.
It’s one thing to be inexperienced and make a few mistakes as a young returner. It’s another to be sloooooowwwwww. Ross doesn’t look anywhere near fast enough to be an adequate returner. Maybe he’d be faster if he ran forward instead of sideways.
Brandon Meriweather and Mike Shanahan
First Meriweather used his helmet like a torpedo and gave Eddie Lacy a concussion. Then he reloaded and used his helmet-torpedo on James Starks — only this time Meriweather’s launcher backfired and he ended up knocking himself out. Meriweather is a headhunter and should have been suspended for his hits (neither of which drew a flag, smh). But what about Mike Shanahan’s comments on Meriweather’s headhunting?
“To be honest with you, on the first one it looked like the running back was kind of going downhill, and when Brandon went for the tackle it looked to me like it was perfect and then all of a sudden when [Lacy] ducked his head, I couldn’t tell — I didn’t see the TV copy, I just saw the video — and that’s exactly where the contact was. The second one on the sidelines, that’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s a legal hit,”
Fines don’t work on millionaires. Suspensions might sting a little, but not that much. The blows to the head won’t stop until players and coaches hold each other accountable. Judging by Shanahan’s comments, we’re a long way away from that happening.
Ryan “Big Grease” Pickett has anchored the Packers defensive line through the first two weeks.
The big three — and I literally mean the B-I-G three — on the Packers defensive line have come to play through the season’s first two games.
Packers = soft? It looks like B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly have taken it upon themselves to change that equation.
The trio, which weighs a combined 1,000 pounds, played a key role in containing Colin Kaepernick’s running and shutting down Frank Gore in week one. On Sunday against the Redskins, they collapsed the pocket in the first half, allowing blitzers to get in Robert Griffin III’s face.
Pickett even swatted a pass and Raji was wagging his finger after a couple stuffs at the line.
All three players are free agents after this season. It’s an easy talking point to say that players are better in their contract years, but I don’t necessarily buy that theory (that talking point has been proven false, for fantasy football purposes, anyway).
Pickett is a prideful leader who wants to prove he still belongs. Jolly knows he’s beyond lucky to have another shot at both life and the NFL. Raji is an uber-talented player who can be unblockable in stretches.
Whatever the reason, all three are playing great and it seems like they’re energy is giving the entire defense a boost. I’m really looking forward to what this defense can do when Morgan Burnett and Casey Hayward return and take advantage of what the Big Three are doing up front.
Sure, it’d be nice to get more of a pass rush out of the Packers’ defensive line, but if the Big Three can keep can keep winning their one-on-one matchups, it should free up others to get after the QB while keeping the run defense strong.
Another player to watch: Datone Jones.
The rookie has been invisible the first two weeks. Not sure if his ankle is still bothering him or if he’s just going through the typical struggles of a rookie defensive lineman. Either way, if he manages to come around and provide a little pass rush, this d-line could go from solid to downright dangerous in a hurry.
I know it’s early. But through two games, we can’t call this Packers defense soft (a little lost in the secondary at times, maybe, but not soft). A big reason for that is the play of Pickett, Raji and Jolly.
If Jones can get up to speed and maybe make the Big Three into the Big Four, watch out.
Randall Cobb showed toughness by fighting for this touchdown.
When you think of tough football players — whether they play for the Packers or not — you probably think of Mike Singletary and his stare, Ray Nitschske and his scowl or Ronnie Lott lopping off part of his finger so he could keep playing.
You probably don’t think of too many wide receivers, especially modern-day receivers with their diva-like tendencies. There’s a couple of Packers wide receivers that are the exception to that rule, though, and should be on any list of tough guys in today’s NFL.
Read this week’s stock report to learn more:
When we talk about the Packers being a tougher, more physical team, I think most of us probably mean that the defense needs to hit harder and the offensive line needs to start pushing people around to get the run game going. We probably don’t put wide receivers into the toughness equation, but we should. Both Nelson and Cobb are coming off injuries and absorbed some wicked hits on Sunday. The kept getting up for more. They completely sold out on every single play and did whatever they could possibly do to punch back at the 49ers defense — the big bully on the block. Cobb and Nelson might not play a position defined by toughness, but they both proved on Sunday that they’re two of the toughest players on the Packers roster.
According to Pro Football Focus, Pickett has three stops on Sunday — solo tackles that resulted in an offensive failure. Frank Gore didn’t have the space he’s used to against the Packers and Big Grease is one of the reasons why. The soon-to-be 34 year old looked as good as he ever has, absorbing double teams, winning the battle when single-blocked, and causing chaos inside.
Ging matched all-world punter Andy Lee punt for punt and even took over kickoff duties. More importantly, Masthay is fearless! He made one tackle on a kick return and nearly had another. I wonder if he can play safety?
I thought the Neal-as-outside linebacker experiment would be a massive failure, but so far, so good. He’s an anchor on the edge against the run and even got after Colin Kaepernick a few times in the pass rush. He’s nowhere near an adequate complement to Matthews yet, but if he keeps making progress, who knows…
It wasn’t Jarrett Bush who shined on special teams Sunday, it was House. Splitting double teams, making three tackles, drawing a penalty. House was everywhere on the special teams unit. We’ll see if that earns him any more playing time on defense. Sam Shields looked shaky on Sunday.
Besides the final score, the most frustrating thing about Sunday’s loss was watching the Packers’ receivers get drilled after they made a catch while the 49ers’ receivers never had to fear at all about taking a shot. There were a few passes that floated over the middle where it looked like the stage was set for a safety to deliver a shot, but it never happened. McMillian and Jennings looked too slow to the ball and too tentative to be starting safeties in the NFL.
Clay Matthews late hit on Kaepernick
Dumb. Just plain dumb. If you want to be a tough guy and spark your team, lay the wood on somebody when they’re actually in bounds. Then flex your muscles and chest bump your teammates. A late hit in that situation does nothing but negate a big stop from your defense.
Don’t worry, coach McCarthy. I think you made the right decision to accept that second quarter penalty against the 49ers (I might be the only one to think that, though).
A lot of bad things happened after Mike McCarthy decided to accept a penalty and eschew a fourth-and-one situation near the goal line during the second quarter of the Packers’ loss to the 49ers on Sunday.
The decision gave the 49ers another crack at converting on third down — six yards away from the first down marker. Chaos ensued:
- Colin Kapernick was forced out of bounds two yards short of the first-down
- Clay Matthews launched himself at Kaepernick and drilled him after he stepped out of bounds, drawing a 15-yard penalty
- Joe Staley went after Matthews, earning a 15-yard penalty himself
- Matthews appeared to throw a punch at Staley and is lucky he didn’t get ejected
- A bunch of other players got involved and had a mini Royal Rumble
- The refs screwed up the offsetting penalty calls and wrongly replayed third down
- The 49ers took advantage of the extra opportunity and scored a touchdown
Whew. Got all that? Life would have been so much easier if McCarthy just declined the original penalty and made Jim Harbaugh decide to go for it or kick a field goal on fourth-and-one, right?
In hindsight, probably. But we don’t judge on hindsight around here. I agreed with McCarthy’s decision to accept the penalty and push the 49ers back, even if it meant giving them another crack at converting on third down.
In all likelihood, Harbaugh probably would’ve went for it on fourth-and-one anyway. And in all likelihood, the 49ers probably would have converted. McCarthy knows this — he’d seen the 49ers offensive line bully his defenders and their passing attack baffle his defensive backs for nearly 10 quarters at that point. He also knew that Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman have a handful of playcalls that the Packers just aren’t ready for (see the third-and-four pass to Vernon Davis late in the fourth quarter for exhibit A).
McCarthy also knows the numbers the 49ers have put up against the Packers lately. Check this post for the rundown. It ain’t pretty. After looking at those numbers and considering everything else, would you feel confident about the Packers ability to stop the 49ers from gaining one yard? I wouldn’t. I also would have elected to push the 49ers back another five yards to make them convert a third-and-six instead.
Kaepernick ended up about two yards short of the first down before Matthews stupidly lit him up out of bounds. Could you make an argument that if Harbaugh would have went for it on fourth-and-one that he’d also go for it on fourth-and-two? I don’t think so. One extra yard is a lot in that situation. I think Harbaugh would’ve taken the field goal.
I might be in the minority — and what happened after the decision certainly was a disaster for the Packers — but if we’re not unfairly using hindsight to judge McCarthy’s decision, I think he did the right thing in accepting the penalty.
If you’re going to be upset at McCarthy about anything surrounding that series of events, be upset that — like the officials — he didn’t know the rule about not replaying the down after offsetting deadball personal fouls. A head coach (or someone on his staff) should know the rules inside and out, and let the officials know when they are making a mistake like the one made on Sunday.
Colin Kaepernick has matched Aaron Rodgers in two 49ers’ wins over the Packers.
I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about the Packers loss to the 49ers on Sunday.
Yes, it was a nice effort from the Packers. A lot of things didn’t go their way and they hung in until the end.
At the same time, I still have no doubt that the 49ers are the better team. Zip. Zero. Nadda. The 49ers are bigger, stronger, tougher and just plain better.
Doesn’t matter how hard the Packers scrapped to hang with them Sunday, why should I feel good when the 49ers continue to steamroll my favorite team?
Take a look at these numbers and try not to immediately dive out your window:
In their last 3 games against the Packers, the 49ers have:
- Averaged 483 total yards
- 200 rushing yards
- 5.5 yards per rush
- 284 passing yards
- Completed 67 percent of their passes
- Averaged 35 points.
In games not against the Packers over that same period, the 49ers have:
- Averaged 372 total yards
- 155 rushing yards
- 4.6 yards per rush
- 213 passing yards
- Completed 63 percent of their passes
- Averaged 25 points.
Yup. The 49ers own the Packers.
The 49ers have beat the Packers with Alex Smith — a game-managing pocket passer — and Colin Kaepernick, a mobile up-and-comer with a cannon for an arm and the ability to run the read-option.
Jim Harbaugh consistently outschemes Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers — coming up with unique formations, unscouted looks and clutch playcalls in key parts of the game that make the Packers look completely befuddled.
Name one position group where the Packers have consistently outplayed the 49ers in the three games? Outside linebacker because of Clay Matthews…maybe? That’s about it.
You’d think the Packers would easily outperform the 49ers at quarterback and wide receiver, but Kaepernick and Smith have matched Rodgers blow for blow and Anquan Boldin single-handedly kept pace with the Packers wideouts on Sunday.
Yes, the Packers have been in all three games, but it’s tough to get blown out when Rodgers is your quarterback. As long as No. 12 is back there, the Packers will be in it, even if they’re getting dominated in every facet of the game like they do against the 49ers. I suppose that’s one thing to feel good about.
A lot of people are saying that the Packers and 49ers could meet again in January. God, I hope not. Give me the Giants, Seachickens, Falcons, Vikings, the ’86 Bears, ’72 Dolphins, or whoever. I’m done watching that machine from the West Coast whip the Packers in almost every facet of the game.
I don’t mean to sound so negative. Really, I think the Packers will once again be great this season and in the mix to win it all. That hasn’t changed after Sunday. I just don’t want to deal with the 49ers again. At all.
Deep down, I want to beat my chest and yell, “Bring on the 49ers one more time in January!” But my brain tells me that that wouldn’t be a good idea.
Instead, I’ll cross my fingers that someone else beats the 49ers before the Packers have to deal with them again. Or that Harbaugh spontaneously combusts.
The 49ers still are tougher than the Packers…for now.
The San Francisco 49ers beat the hell out of the Green Bay Packers last season. Twice.
In week one, the 49ers ran for 186 yards and averaged almost six yards per carry. Alex Smith had only six incomplete passes and routinely hit wide open receivers hanging out in the middle of the field, unafraid of being laid out by Packers defenders.
In the divisional round of the playoffs, things got even uglier. Colin Kaepernick ran for 181 yards and threw for 263 more. When Kaepernick took off, he made Packers’ defenders look like lead-footed, lifeless zombies in a scene from The Walking Dead.
All of that damage was easy for even the average viewer to see while watching from his or her couch. If you broke down the film after the game and paid attention to what was happening in the trenches, things got even uglier for the Packers.
The 49ers offensive line operated like a machine — a modern, deadly, ruthless machine that was sent to Earth specifically to blow Packers defenders off the line of scrimmage, seal off the edges and create giant spaces for guys like Frank Gore and Kaepernick to gallop through.
When compared to the Packers offensive line, the 49ers wrecking crew was on a completely different level. The Packers allowed 20 quarterback hurries in the two games and never established the run. Green Bay’s front five always seemed to be flailing as yet another San Francisco defender broke through and set his sights on Aaron Rodgers.
The middle of the field — where both toughness and athleticism have a chance to shine — was also heavily tilted in the 49ers favor. Navarro Bowman and Patrick Willis, the 49ers two middle linebackers, combined for 30 tackles, a key interception and a sack.
In the week 1 loss, Alex Smith consistently found open receivers in the middle of the field while Kapernick simply ran by, through and around whoever happened to be manning the middle for the Packers in the playoffs.
A.J. Hawk totaled 22 tackles, but were any of them impact plays?
The 49ers left little doubt last season that they were tougher than the Packers. With the two teams set to meet again this Sunday, have the tables turned at all?
You’d have to look hard for anybody besides those who work at 1265 Lombardi Ave. to tell you that the Packers are now the tougher of the two teams. Not only do the 49ers have most of their tough guys coming back, the Packers are already down a few players from their tough guy column.
Starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga is out for the season. David Bakhtiari is replacing Bulaga and looks promising as a pass blocker, but likely won’t be blowing any 49ers defensive lineman off the ball while run blocking.
DuJuan Harris ran like a rolling ball of butcher knives at the end of last season and brought some semblance of toughness to the running game. He’s also out for the season (although Eddie Lacy, Harris’s replacement, has a shot at being a tough runner himself).
Might there be a few new(ish) faces on both of the Packers lines to up the toughness level a few notches? Depends if you think Don Barclay and Evan Dietrich-Smith — both undrafted and both smallish — fit the bill. On defense, first-round pick Datone Jones has been slowed by an ankle injury. We’ll see if Johnny Jolly’s display of toughness carries over into meaningful snaps when the games count.
The previous 576 words were a long and depressing way of saying that, as of now — before any real games have been played — the answer to the question posed in the headline is a definite “no.” The 49ers are still tougher than the Packers.
But the key phrase in that previous paragraph is “as of now.” It’s a long season, folks. It’s easy to toss out labels and make broad assumptions before any real snaps have taken place. Four weeks from now, many of the labels pasted on teams will be proven untrue. Bold preseason declarations will be forgotten.
Remember the 2010 Packers? They didn’t look all that tough as the calendar turned to December. Then all of the sudden they grinded out a late-season win over the Bears to reach the playoffs, developed a decent running game with James Starks, grinded out playoff wins in Philadelphia and Chicago, and won the Super Bowl.
Toughness can build over the course of the season. Sometimes, toughness built over 16 games pays off more in the end than entering the season as the biggest bully on the block.
Am I just trying to put on a happy face as I resign myself to the fact that the Packers are going to get pushed around and lose again to the 49ers on Sunday? Maybe.
But I do believe the Packers will be tougher than they were last season. Will they ultimately end up being tougher than the 49ers when January rolls around? That’s a tall task, but one that I believe the Packers are up for.