The Green Bay Packers dropped their second-straight game at Lambeau Field this past Sunday as they fell to the Philadelphia Eagles 27-13. It was a tough game to watch (I would know, I was there) on both sides of the ball for the Packers fans and it included another change in quarterback as Scott Tolzien replaced injured Seneca Wallace in the first quarter. However, Tolzien did a pretty good job while the defense failed for the second-straight week to make any big plays.
I have always been a supporter of the Packers’ defense this year. I feel they have made strides from last season and they were doing a great job defending the run up until the last two weeks.
In Week 9 against the Chicago Bears, I truly felt the defense was on the field for far too long and were gassed late in the game. Because they were gassed, they looked slow and Bears running back Matt Forte took full advantage. This past week against the Eagles, however, I can’t look at time of possession and give the defense the benefit of the doubt.
The Packers had the ball for almost 10 more minutes than the Eagles this past week and with a third-string quarterback who wasn’t on the depth chart to start the season, they held their own on that side of the ball. The defense did not. They allowed several big plays down the field and showed a major lack of tackling and almost no pass rush.
Clay Matthews returned along with Nick Perry to try and provide a spark on defense, but both looked rusty and neither got after Nick Foles throughout the game. Because the front four struggled, the secondary paid the price. Foles connected with DeSean Jackson for a 55-yard touchdown where Foles simply threw the ball up for grabs and two Packers’ defensive backs collided. The ball was deflected off the defensive backs and as the two players went to the ground, the ball fell into the hands of Jackson. It was a play that never should have happened, and it’s a play that unfortunately has happened several times this season.
The Packers’ offense tried their best to respond and they did. Tolzien cut into the Eagles lead in the third quarter and the team trailed by 10. However, once again, the Packers allowed two huge plays for touchdowns. Both plays were passes from Foles to Riley Cooper and both should have been prevented.
The first touchdown was a ball that Foles, once again, fluttered into double coverage. The ball was up for grabs, but while Cooper was making the adjustment to catch the ball, both Packers’ safeties were looking for the ball and fell down, leaving Cooper wide open in the end zone for an easy score. Cooper’s second touchdown came right before the fourth quarter and was a blown coverage that left him wide open. It was a pass from Foles that any average Joe could make, and it was yet another huge misplay by the Packers’ defense.
The entire defense must improve for this team if they expect to stay in the race for the NFC North. The Packers have several games remaining against teams that have big-play receivers and if they don’t start to shape up, they will see themselves at home watching football in January. They must start finding the ball and making plays on the ball.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only problem for the defense. The lack of tackling from linebackers and defensive backs allowed the Eagles to run the final seven minutes of the game out and put the Packers hopes of a comeback to rest. This is another aspect that must improve if this team has any shot at the playoffs.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers better get these boys in the video room quickly and I expect a much better effort this week against the New York Giants. I expect a good performance because it’s getting close to crunch time and if the defense doesn’t step up, this season may be coming to an end.