Saturday, January 12, 2013

Niners DESTROY the Packers in every phase of the game in historically bad loss.

So the season for the Green Bay Packers ends, not with a titanic struggle between powerful NFC contenders but with a white flag waved by Dom Capers and his defense.

Everybody (and by “everybody” I mean every single football fan in America from the owners to the fans to my 9-month-old granddaughter Grace) knew that this game was going to be won and lost on the performance of the Niners offense versus the Packer defense. All those people knew that if the Packers could contain the rushing attack of Gore and contain the scrambles of Kaepernick the day would belong to the Green and Gold. Unfortunately, nobody got that message to Dom Capers, the Packer defensive coordinator. Message from Gracie: YOU MESSED UP, DOM! San Francisco outplayed the Packers in every phase of the game, from coaching on down.

One week past a dominating performance versus Adrian Peterson and the Vikings, the Packer defense comes out vanilla and lame, failing in almost every key battle. Stop Gore? Well, he gained 119 yards and a TD on the ground and chipped in two catches for 48 through the air. Stop Kaepernick? He ran for 181 yards and two TD’s on the ground (the BEST day rushing for any quarterback in any NFL game. EVER) and 263 yards and two scores through the air. I’d have to assess that as a monumental FAILURE by the Packer defense and the Packer coaches, led by Dom Capers.

The Niners were thin at wideout but had a huge threat in Crabtree. So the Pack should be able to shut that one guy down, right? Wrong. Crabtree was open all night, catching nine balls for 119 yards and two TD’s. Tramon Williams was tasked with shutting down the SF threat and spent most of the game chasing him from behind. On his TD catch in the second quarter, NOBODY bothered to cover him across the middle. That’s a poor scheme and poor execution.

We saw the Packers come up with a masterful plan to contain Adrian Peterson and the running QB Joe Webb last week but that all went out the window when faced with the even better tandem of Gore and Kaepernick. Why? I couldn’t really tell you. I’m sitting in my home in suburban McFarland, Wisconsin and I could see the failure coming in the second SF series. Our outside linebackers who looked so clueless versus the Vikings in week 17 and so dominating in the Wild Card game last week again lost track of the opposing quarterback time after time. If the Packers blitzed, Kaepernick made them pay with is legs. If they dropped into coverage, Crabtree was always able to get open. In the fourth quarter, when all the Niners wanted to do was run out the clock, Dom Capers and his defense seemed to wave the white flag and signal a wish to cease hostilities. The Niners, wisely, said “up yours, cheese-eating surrender-monkeys” and drove for yet another score. 

It’s painful right now and I’m sure we’ll be talking about this in the off-season but do you think the game has passed Capers by? Seriously: he’s a great defensive coordinator when facing your standard QB and conventional passing attack but get him in a game against one of the new wave of QB’s who can run or throw the ball with equal effectiveness (Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick) and it looks like our guys are rooted to the ground, unable to keep up. It might be our players or it might be our scheme or it might be our coaches but it’s got to be something: on Kaepernick’s 56-yard run for the go-ahead score in the third quarter, he was not only untouched, he was unnoticed until he was already in the secondary. I can’t say I’ve ever seen an easier touchdown scored in the Mike McCarthy era.

Despite the defensive failures, the Packers were tied in the third and certainly could have made a game of it if it weren’t for the disappearance of the vaunted Packer offense. Oh, I’m not dismissing the Niners defense as they are an EXTREMELY good unit. But when Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Greg Jennings are completely absent from your attack through the first two quarters and end up with a combined 124 yards and one score, well, that’s just pathetic. You are not going to win a playoff football game when your biggest threats are not producing.

The Packers that went 2-3 to start the season and clawed their way into the playoffs and dismissed the Vikings so rudely last week were absent in their contest against the Niners tonight. Many things will be different next season and I don’t think most Packer fans are truly aware of that. We are likely to see the departure of Greg Jennings (too expensive, too fragile), Jermichael Finely (too expensive, not productive) AJ Hawk (backloaded contract) and Donald Driver (retirement). Charles Woodson may retire as well. These potential departures will allow the Packers to sign BJ Raji, Clay Matthews and finally give Aaron Rodgers the payday he deserves as an elite quarterback. So we will likely see a much different product on the field in 2013 and I’m sorry to say we didn’t send those guys off in the sort of game they deserved. 

We come to the end of 15 years of The MMQB. It’s seriously been a blast throwing down in this space every week for the last decade-and-a-half and I hope I can keep doing it for many years to come. I hope you’ve enjoyed the rants and raves and maybe been made to pause and think a few times as a result. 

I’ll be talking to you again when the draft rolls around. 

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