PD Packer Review: Browns Week 7
So all the Green Bay Packers offense had to do to get back on track was unleash Tight End/Linebacker Spencer Havner on the opposition. Who knew?
Okay, maybe it wasn’t that easy. Or, more accurately, perhaps it was due more to the incompetence of this week’s opponent, the pathetic Cleveland Browns. Still, Havner did provide an unlikely spark in scoring the Packers first touchdown. Havner finished with 59 yards and that TD on two catches in relief of the injured Jermichael Finley.
Just as importantly, the Packers piecework offensive line kept quarterback Aaron Rodgers clean and provided running room for tailback Ryan Grant. It didn’t hurt that head coach Mike McCarthy made a solid commitment to the running game for one week at least, calling Grant’s number to the tune of 27 times for 148 yards and a touchdown. In all, the Packers ran for over 200 yards against the overmatched Browns defense.
That helped Rodgers stay upright for a change as he dropped back to pass only 20 times in a little more than 3 quarters of play. Rookie left tackle T.J. Lang did a credible job protecting Rodgers blind side in place of normal starter Chad Clifton, who was still suffering the effects of an injured ankle. Backup center (for now) Scott Wells also neutralized Cleveland nose tackle Shaun Rogers, perhaps the only defensive threat the Browns have. Rodgers passed for 246 yards and 3 touchdowns and his QB rating in the first half was less than 3 points shy of perfect. Rodgers even joked that the Packers scout team executed the Browns schemes better in practice than Cleveland did during the actual game.
The defense also did their part, allowing only 3 points on a short field goal clanked off the upright. Of course, it was hard to tell the difference between the effectiveness of the D and the ineptitude of the Browns offense. For Cleveland, not scoring offensive touchdowns is the rule rather than the exception. Cleveland actually ran 7 plays inside the Packer 5 yard line and gained a total of 1 yard. Conspicuous by his appearance was linebacker A.J. Hawk, who led the Packers with 8 tackles. Whether it was because Hawk was responding to criticism about his play or inspired by being in his home state, it’s something that Packer fans would like to see more of.
On special teams, the Packers managed to keep Cleveland returner Josh Cribbs in check. Perhaps the only blemish in the game from Green Bay’s end was the return game, with Tramon Williams doing a little too much dancing in place of Will Blackmon.
The Packers even were flagged for only 8 penalties for 70 yards. By their standards, that almost merits a gold star, even though they gave the Browns another offensive series by having too many men on the field during a punt return.
The Packers now stand at 4-2, one game behind the Minnesota Vikings heading into next week’s showdown at Lambeau Field. They have battled injury and inconsistency while benefitting from an easy early season schedule. But so far they’ve kept themselves in playoff contention and their best football should yet be ahead of them. It will have to be as the schedule only gets tougher from here.