Going into Sunday night’s game, it was already known that the Green Bay Packers have had trouble protecting their MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, allowing him to be sacked a league-high 32 times heading into the the game with the New York Giants. Stopping the front four of the Giants is no easy task which was the case last night as Rodgers got sacked five times in Green Bay’s disappointing 38-10 loss.
The Packers have one of the best offenses in the NFL and focuses mainly on passing the ball. The running game has been obsolete from the Green Bay offense in the past few years and the entire rhythm of the offense depends on the protection up front. With right tackle Bryan Bulaga now out for the season along with Marshall Newhouse having his first full year at left tackle, the Packers have inexperience on the line this season and it is showing.
The game last night was almost a repeat of what happened in the Divisional Round playoff game last year, where the Giants were able to pressure Rodgers all game long and make the Packers offense look like a shell of its former self in the process. Head coach Mike McCarthy had a gameplan of slowing down the Giants pass rush to help the offensive line by establishing the run, but once again the Packers failed to make nay progress on the ground. James Starks led the team in rushing with just 35 yards on the ground. After the game, McCarthy put most of the blame on himself.
“The New York Giants have an outstanding defensive line. We had a plan. We didn’t execute it very well. We got away from it and went to some spread things that didn’t work very well. That was my fault, bad play calling,” McCarthy said. “When your quarterback is under pressure like that, it affected me tonight. You have to protect your quarterback. It’s the offense’s No. 1 responsibility.”
However, it wasn’t just on the offensive side of the ball where the Packers were having problems. They had a tough time all night stopping the Giants running game. The Packers came into the game giving up an average of 103 yards per game on the ground which was 11th best in the league. The Giants were able to make the Packers look like one of the worst rush defenses in the league, running for 147 yards on 31 carries. Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown led the way for the Giants, running the ball a combined 23 times for 122 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per carry.
Obviously the Packers are banged up on the defensive side of the ball, they were missing both of their outside linebackers in Clay Matthews and Nick Perry. Also missing from the game were cornerbacks Sam Shields and Charles Woodson. Injuries are a part of the game and can’t be used as an excuse for the loss. The backups in the game had a week to prepare and they failed in stopping the run. There was a number of missed tackles throughout the game and the Packers lacked any physicality. Once the Giants were able to take the lead, they were able to slow the pace of the game down and pound the ball up the middle. This enabled the struggling Eli Manning to use play-action passes to help him get back into his old form.
This game was an embarrassment for Green Bay as they were not able to execute in any phase of the game. They still have the talent to make a run in the playoffs, but they need to do a better job at protecting Rodgers and stopping the run. The Giants are a team that execute those two things well on a consistent basis which is why they are able to make deep runs in the playoffs. At this point in the season the Packers are stuck with the personnel that they have and there needs to be adjustments to schemes to help these players out.
Follow me on Twitter @KVP_10