Monday, October 19, 2009
Third and one: Packers
By Kevin Seifert
Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
After Green Bay’s 26-0 victory over Detroit, here are three (mostly) indisputable facts I feel relatively sure about:
- The Packers made at least two quality adjustments during their bye week: Inserting rookie Clay Matthews as a full-time starter at outside linebacker and allowing linebacker Aaron Kampman to rush the passer a dozen times from his familiar defensive end position. Matthews had been improving each week after recovering from a summer-long hamstring injury, and he made a huge impact Sunday. I was especially impressed with the way he destroyed Detroit tight end Brandon Pettigrew on the way to a sack of quarterback Daunte Culpepper. Meanwhile, it was obvious to everyone that Kampman wasn’t influencing games enough as a pure outside linebacker. He’s the team’s best havoc-wreaker and the Packers were smart to return him to his comfort zone, even if it was only on a part-time basis.
- We noted that most NFL teams won’t win often when they allow five sacks a game, as the Packers did Sunday (and are averaging this season). Well, here’s a note from the Elias Sports Bureau to flesh that all out: Sunday’s victory was the NFL’s largest margin of victory in a shutout over the past 18 years when the winning team gave up five or more sacks. The last time a similar scenario occurred was in 1991 when, coincidentally, Packers quarterback Don Majkowski was sacked six times in a 27-0 victory over Tampa Bay. Bottom line: It’s pretty rare to win by 26 points when you give up five sacks. At least one of them could be attributed to a missed assignment by right tackle Allen Barbre, who let defensive end Cliff Avril pass him untouched on the way to quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
- If I had a viewing choice, I’m not sure I would have made it past the first quarter Sunday. The Packers already had the game comfortably in hand, but the sloppy play on both sides made this an eyesore. It wasn’t unexpected from the Lions, who quite frankly are not a good team. The Packers have much higher expectations, but their six first-quarter penalties were, if nothing else, a brutal coat of rust coming out of the bye. Most opponents will capitalize on those mistakes better than the Lions did.
And here’s one question I’m still asking:
Is this who Ryan Grant is? He needed 24 carries to reach 90 yards against a Lions defense that gave up 121 to Chicago tailback Matt Forte two weeks ago. We all know Grant had a great 10-game run in 2007, when he averaged 5.1 yards per carry. Since the start of last season, however, he has rushed for 1,550 yards on 403 rushes. That’s 3.8 yards per rush. His longest run over that stretch was a 57-yarder in the 2008 season-opener against Minnesota. When you’re speaking of sample size, Grant has been a 3.8-yard runner for a much longer period of time than he was a 5.1-yard runner. Just saying.