Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs | What We Learned
Week 15 has been a disappointing week for some teams, and an exciting one for others.We witnessed a team lose their first game and another team win their first game.
Obviously neither game has huge repercussions except for the fact that there will be no undefeated team in 2011, allowing the 1972 Miami Dolphins breathe a breath of fresh air.
In case you live under a rock, the Green Bay Packers are no longer undefeated in the NFL.
The Packers went into Kansas City with a 13-0 NFL record and were shooting for 19-0 and their second consecutive Super Bowl win.
Of course, the Super Bowl isn’t ruined for the Packers, and if anything there is less pressure on them now, which is probably a good thing as the Super Bowl is clearly the most important thing.
Here are some of the things we learned in the Packers 19-14 loss to the Chiefs.
1. Ryan Grant Can Still Be Productive
After disappointing for 11 of his 12 first weeks in 2011, Ryan Grant is showing that he’s still capable of running the ball, and running the ball hard.
In Week 14 against Oakland, he rushed just 10 times for 85 yards and two touchdowns. He received just 12 carries against the Chiefs, but compiled 66 yards on the ground for a 5.5 yard average.
Granted (see what I did there?), neither defense is exceptional against the run, but he just hasn’t made the plays regardless of what defense he has faced. With James Starks and Brandon Saine banged up, the Packers will need to be able to rely on Grant in the playoffs.
2. The Packers Defense Has Work to Be Done
The Packers secondary has solid play makers, and their pass rush is still one of the best in the NFL, but they are still giving up too many big plays.
Kyle Orton threw for 299 yards today on just 31 attempts. For those not good at math, that’s a whopping 9.6 yards per attempt. They did manage to keep Orton out of the end zone, but they gave up four plays over 20 yards in this game, two of which were over 30 yards.
They have had their ups and downs, but in the playoffs they will likely have to face an offense like New Orleans, Atlanta, or even Dallas. Those are teams that can put up big time points, and if they aren’t careful, they will find themselves in a shootout.
3. Pressure on Aaron Rodgers Will Force More Errant Throws
Aaron Rodgers had his worst game of the 2011 NFL season after throwing for just one touchdown and 235 yards. He completed less than 50% of his passes at 17/35, and was chased out of the pocket consistently.
Note to every playoff team in the NFL: Put pressure on Rodgers.
Rodgers was sacked four times, and hit five times on numerous hurries. Clearly the pressure led to many errant passes in which more than three should have been intercepted as they were in the hands of the defender.
There’s no doubt that he’s arguably the best quarterback in the NFL, but every quarterback in the NFL needs time to throw the ball, and Rodgers simply did not have it.
4. The Packers Need Greg Jennings
The play by the wide receivers in this game for Green Bay was somewhat embarrassing. Part of it was due to the fact that Rodgers had no time, and the other part was due to poor route running and the inability to get open.
James Jones gave up on several routes, including a pass in the end zone that was nearly intercepted by Brandon Carr. Other than a five yard touchdown reception, Donald Driver was nowhere to be round, and Jordy Nelson was shut down big time.
Jennings adds a whole new dynamic to the offense, and many people don’t realize just how much he effects the Packers offense in a positive way. He will be back for the playoffs, likely, and Aaron Rodgers will need him.
5. Kyle Orton Isn’t Terrible
It’s worth noting that Kyle Orton made several nice throws in the win over Green Bay. As mentioned above, he managed to throw for 299 yards on 31 attempts for a nice 9.6 yards per attempt.
He made Leonard Pope a worthy weapon on offense, something that not even Matt Cassel could do. Orton made some very nice throws against Green Bay, and was excellent in looking off defenders to hit open receivers.
Even though he failed to throw a touchdown, this tells us that he’s still a worthy starter in the NFL. The situation in Denver just wasn’t in his favor and it will be interesting to see where he ends up in the 2012 off-season.
6. The Packers Offensive Line Is In Trouble
The right side of the Green Bay offensive line is in a bit of trouble. Bryan Bulaga (ankle) did not even suit up for the game, and his replacement in rookie Derek Sherrod was carted off the field in an air cast after breaking his leg.
Sherrod is confirmed to be done for the season after getting knocked into by Kansas City linebacker Tamba Hali.
They have already been playing without their long time left tackle Chad Clifton, with rookie Marshall Newhouse protecting Rodgers’ blind side, and will have to rely on Evan Dietrich-Smith to take over on the right side if Bryan Bulaga doesn’t come back soon.
The Packers need to be able to protect Aaron Rodgers if they plan to make another strong playoff run and fight off teams that can get to the quarterback.