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Packers must be accountable for that defeat

Posted Nov 26, 2012

Kevin from Machesney Park, IL

The Giants showed us a lot of “cover two” last night. Why didn't that result in a big night for Finley over the middle? Players or plays?

The middle is where “cover two” is strongest, with two safeties in the middle of the field. “Cover two” doesn’t invite passes over the middle, it invites the run. “Cover two” says: We can stop your running game with our front seven and won’t need to commit an eighth man to the box, which means we can leave that eighth man in pass defense. The Packers are having that message sent to them every week and they managed to win five games in a row against it, but not with the same explosiveness on offense that they displayed last season. Teams have figured the Packers out; they’re loading up against the pass. I can’t help but go back to the Tampa game last season. That was the first time I saw an opponent play the run on the way to the quarterback. Now, they’re all doing it because respect for the running game isn’t there. You beat “cover two” by running the ball and forcing the defense to bring that eighth defender up to stop the run. At that point, it’s no longer “cover two.” If there’s a place “cover two” is vulnerable to the pass, it’s in the “honey hole,” which is that spot along the sideline, about 15-20 yards downfield, between the corner and the safety to that side of the field.

Kenneth from Ballerup, Denmark

I'm not really that concerned that we lost to the Giants, it's more the way we lost with a complete collapse on both defense and offense. Is that concern justified?

It’s justified because you can’t win in a physical conference, and the 49ers and Giants make the NFC a physical conference, if you can’t block and tackle, and the Packers did neither last night. That’s the concern last night’s game raises. The 49ers and Giants demand that you block and tackle.

Scott from Auburn, ME

If the Packers are supposedly so well-coached, why have we not adjusted to the two-deep safeties look?

It’s about winning the one-on-one battles, Scott. I know that’s a difficult message to sell to a video-game culture. In the Madden world, winning is about being smarter than your opponent. In real football, it’s about physically whipping your opponent. Here’s a quote from Aaron Rodgers following last night’s game: “There are plenty of answers. We didn’t make them answers.” What he’s saying is that the adjustments were made, but the players didn’t make them work. As I see it, the fix on offense is obvious: The Packers need to either establish a running game that makes opposing defenses play run and not rush, or become so dominant in pass blocking that they can stone a rusher who’s completely disregarding the run and committed to rushing the passer on every down. Anthony Munoz could do that, but I haven’t seen too many of his talent.

Paul from De Pere, WI

The Packers, at best, look like the third best team in the NFC behind the 49ers and the Giants. With no running game and weak line play on both sides of the ball, how do we compete against these teams? Do we have the smoke and mirrors to overcome the matchup nightmares?

Smoke and mirrors don’t work. Do the Packers have players that can win their individual battles? That’s the issue and that’s what we’re going to find out in what remains of this season.

Hans from Front Royal, VA

What, if anything, from last night's game gives you a sense this offense can have success against the Giants’ rush should a rematch occur in January?

The more times you play a team, the better you know them. You start to understand what a man’s tendencies are. You’re better prepared for his bull rush or spin move or swim technique. You find out what his weaknesses are by finding out what he doesn’t like to do, and then you force him to do what he doesn’t want to do and that’s where you gain your physical advantage. The Packers have played the Giants three times in the last 12 months. My hope is they’re developing a feel for how to combat the Giants’ strengths. On the flip side of that, I don’t think the Giants had a feel for the Packers when the two teams met in the regular season last year. I think the Giants used what they learned from that game to beat the Packers in January.

Will from Madison, WI

While I know the easiest way to score in the NFL now is to continually throw the ball, what do you think made McCarthy abandon the run so quickly when we were down 17?

A 17-point deficit doesn’t engender a lot of patience, especially in today’s game. Abandoning the run is something most coaches would do when trailing by 17 points. Truth be known, the Packers didn’t abandon the run. They ran 58 plays and 23 of them were designed runs. The bad part of that is the Packers had to continue to run the ball out of fear that Aaron Rodgers would get hurt if they allowed the Giants to totally disregard the run. Mike McCarthy was very critical of his play calling, when he spoke to reporters following the game. No coach is going to be more specific than that, although he did volunteer that he regretted his decision to spread the field. My guess is he regretted that decision because it created more open space for the Giants’ pass rushers to operate. Last night was a meltdown. The players and the coaches were critical of their efforts. Coach McCarthy demanded accountability for that performance, and accountability starts at the top.

Justin from Odessa, FL

Vic, I’m sure your inbox is full of gloom and doom. What will the Packers do to create the much-needed emotion in time for a must win against the Vikings?

I didn’t like those comments I read in Mike Spofford’s story about lacking emotion. That’s an excuse and not the kind of accountability I’m seeking. If winning is as easy as flipping a switch, then please flip the switch, and then tell me why it was ever off.

Sean from Baltimore, MD

I find it hard to believe there have been too many Super Bowl-champion teams that have suffered humiliating defeats like this in the same season. I'm not sure a team capable of playing this poorly can win a title. Can you think of a team that's managed to play this bad during the season, but turned it around to win?

I can think of one right away. It’s one I covered, the 1979 Steelers that won Super Bowl XIV. It was about this time of the year that they got waxed in San Diego, 35-7. Terry Bradshaw threw five interceptions. We’re talking about a team that had already won three Super Bowls and was the defending champion. I can remember Fred Dean, Louie Kelcher and the Chargers’ pass rush devastating Bradshaw to the point that a player told me Chuck Noll sent a play into the game and told the messenger, “And tell him to change the snap count.” The Chargers’ front four looked like sprinters. I can remember leaving San Diego that night and thinking to myself that I had just witnessed the end of the Steelers’ dynasty. Two months later, they would win their fourth Super Bowl.

Sven from Sollentuna, Sweden

Vic, I keep hearing that the Packers do not match up well against the Giants and 49ers because they can pressure the quarterback with four rushers. I thought Houston was also able to get pressure with only four, so what is the difference?

Houston is a 3-4 blitz team. They send rushers from all different angles. The Texans take huge risks in coverage so they can send extra rushers. They are the exact opposite of the Giants. By the way, the 49ers are also a 3-4 front. The Lions are the team that’s similar to the Giants. The Lions also got pressure on Rodgers with the front four, and the Packers struggled to protect Rodgers and score points. The difference in that game is that the Packers defense was dominant.

John from Union Grove, WI

In all the negativity you got this morning, how about Davon House?

Imagine having an injury and being bullied. Not fair, is it? That’s the way of the NFL and that’s what happened last night. I know from my years with him in Jacksonville that Tom Coughlin is obsessed with injury information. He would always ask me, “Wadda you hear, wadda you hear?” He was always looking for a competitive edge. My guess is he knew about House’s shoulder injury and the harness he’s having to wear, and then targeted House. They threw a lot of high passes to tall receivers they matched up with House.

Bill from East Dubuque, IL

Where do the Packers go from here after the way the Giants manhandled them? How do they address the poor play of the offensive line?

They go to work on preparing to play the Vikings. They begin preparing to face another premier pass rusher, Jared Allen. Help is not on the way. Help is not on the waiver wire. It’s not on the “street.” There’s only one way to address poor play, improve it. Study your opponent and find ways to impose the strengths of your game on the weaknesses of his.

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