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Monday, October 4, 2010
Free Head Exam: Green Bay Packers

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

After the Green Bay Packers' 28-26 victory Sunday over the Detroit Lions, here are three issues that merit further examination:

Head Exam
The Green Bay Packers take their turn in the examination room after their win over Detroit.
  1. I'm not totally clear on what quarterback Aaron Rodgers was referring to Sunday when he said the Packers need to make sure "we've got our best players on the field at all times and find ways to get them the ball." Who wasn't on the field that should have been? Obviously I don't have individual player snap totals in front of me Monday morning, so I can't tell you if there was some kind of odd dip in a regular's playing time. But I think the big number is 40: That's how many plays the Packers got off as an offense, and that includes a 12-play possession that ended the game. I agree that the Packers didn't establish an offensive rhythm, but three turnovers -- including two Rodgers interceptions -- played a big role in that.
  2. Cornerback Charles Woodson's performance got lost in our discussions about the Packers' offensive approach and the quick emergence of their running game. But Woodson turned in one of the best defensive performances of Week 4, totaling 13 tackles, returning an interceptions 48 yards for what turned out to be the winning touchdown and breaking up two other passes. Woodson's 10 career touchdowns off interception returns rank third all-time in the NFL behind Rod Woodson (12) and Darren Sharper (11). Three of them have come against the Lions, in three consecutive years.
  3. If you were keeping an eye on right tackle Mark Tauscher's matchup with Lions defensive end Cliff Avril, you probably are a little worried Monday morning. Avril has played well when healthy this season, but he's the fourth-best threat on the Lions' defensive line. He had his way with Tauscher for much of the game, running around and through him for a number of pressures. On one, Avril's rush forced Rodgers to step up in the pocket and promptly get sacked by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. That marks two consecutive games in which, to the amateur eye, Tauscher has struggled.
And here is one issue I still don't get:
Through 25 percent of the season, the Packers' special teams don't seem much better than last year's disappointing edition. I have no idea why it's happening, but here's what happened Sunday: Punter Tim Masthay had a 21-yard punt. Jordy Nelson fumbled kickoff returns in the second and fourth quarters. And, as many as you pointed out via Twitter during the game, the Packers failed to put a returner in place on Jason Hanson's 55-yard field goal attempt just before halftime. Hanson's kick fell nearly 10 yards short, meaning a returner would have had a chance to get his hands on the ball.