Early Bird Breakdown Week 2: Redskins at Packers

Starting this week for the rest of the season begins a new segment called, “Early Bird Breakdown,” which is an early morning look at the upcoming Packers/Redskins game for the early birds out there.

Starting off with a re-cap of last week, for Green Bay…

 The Good: The Run Defense

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The front seven looked like they had a chip on each of their shoulders Sunday, and not some little Lays chip either. They were embarrassed last winter in San Francisco when Kaepernick and Gore both ran for over a hundred yards and as a team ran for 323. Last week, Green Bay stepped up and held the team total to 90. They played very disciplined along the front seven and thanks to zone coverage behind it kept Kaepernick from running wild. Unfortunately, that also led to…

The Bad: The Pass Defense

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As good as the run defense was, the pass defense was that bad. Anquan Boldin was open all day and came away with 13 catches for 208 yards, more than half of Kaepernick’s total 412 yards through the air. The good news is that the Packers can point to the fact their two best players in the secondary, Casey Hayward & Morgan Burnett, were hurt. The bad news for this week is Hayward is out indefinitely and Burnett is questionable himself.

The Ugly: Jeremy Ross’s Kick Returns

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The Packers were in tough field position most of the day and a few times, Jeremy Ross was the reason. After making a bad and ill-advised return attempt earlier in the game, during one of Ross’s returns you can hear Kuhn barking, “NO NO NO NO NO!” to him, Ross did ultimately take a knee. On the previous return, he barely made it to the ten yard line, which Kuhn put his hands up and told him not to run then too. I’m sure the special teams coach had a few words for him after the game and hopefully it is a non-issue going forward.

 

Opponent Recap:

Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Redskins

 

Washington is coming off of a hot fourth quarter on what looked to be a blowout loss on Monday Night Football against Philadelphia in Washington. For most of the game, Robert Griffin III looked hobbled and just not quite right and the Eagles were up 33-7, with Washington’s loan score a 75 yard fumble recovery for a touchdown. At the end of the third quarter, Washington’s offense came to life under RGIII and he led the Redskins to their first offensive touchdown. They went on to lose 27-33 after scoring 13 in the fourth quarter (they tried and failed a two-point conversion). Defensively, Washington was run all over. Philadelphia didn’t try and pass too much with the large deficit, and even when Washington knew it was a run it didn’t matter.

 

The Breakdown:

Packers Offense vs. Redskins Defense:

Rodgers and company are returning home after a good showing in San Francisco. While the running game couldn’t get off the ground, no pun intended, the passing game looked in rhythm under Rodgers, which Packer fans have grown accustomed to in the last few years. The bad news for the Redskins is that Green Bay’s passing looked good against San Francisco, who was fourth in pass defense last year. Washington in case you were wondering was 30 th . I am also sure Lacy is watching film from the Eagles/Redskins game to see if he can be the first Packer in 44 Games to break 100 yards rushing, which was when Brandon Jackson did it in 2010 against…the Washington Redskins. The Redskins defense does have a good pass rush lead by Ryan Kerrigan who will look to pressure Rodgers for the opportunistic corner Deangelo Hall to make a play. However, the Packers tackles, rookie David Bakhtiari and sophomore Don Barclay, did a good job against the superior 49ers front led by Aldon Smith and Justin Smith. If the team blocks as well as they did last week, Rodgers should be relatively clean.

Packers Defense vs. Redskins Offense:

For the second week in a row, Green Bay will play a team built around a young mobile quarterback and an offense that finished in the top five in rushing in 2012. If Washington plays like they did in the last quarter, Green Bay will have similar trouble as it did week one containing the pass. RGIII is very similar to Kaepernick- Green Bay will focus its attention to not letting him run but easily could be beat by his arm. Washington is built around the run and pressure can force RGIII to make mistakes as it did against Philadelphia. Because of this, I don’t think Green Bay’s defense will have a different mindset than last week; stop the run, hope to contain the pass. It will come down to Alfred Morris if Green Bay is going to have a week like it did against the 49ers rushing attack. Morris said he is working on fixing his mistakes he made during the Eagles game. Morris was one of the best backs in the NFL last season and will try to rebound against a team that looked great against the run last week.

As for the passing game, if the Packers can press the smaller wide receivers of Washington a bit, it would go a long way to fixing the issues they had last week.  Getting to the quarterback more should be the best way to help out the corners. Washington does not have San Francisco’s line and added pressure should help the secondary capitalize on mistakes. Washington’s receivers also do not have the most consistent hands and may not make the sure handed catches Boldin was making that kept breaking the Packers on third down. Having said that, these receivers are much faster than San Francisco’s; if Green Bay gives the space in coverage it did last week, the Redskins will be getting many opportunities for 40+ yard touchdowns, something RGIII did many times last season.

The Weather Factor:

The game looks to be played in poor conditions today. This could ultimately lead to more mistakes, especially with fumbles. Alfred Morris only fumbled four times last season, but did fumble against the Eagles last Monday, so while he normally is sure handed, it is something to keep in mind. The conditions set up for perhaps a more ground heavy game for both teams. Washington’s speed will also be mitigated from the conditions if the field gets sloppy, which favors Green Bay. Currently, the forecast is holding for rain throughout.

The Game:

If the rain becomes more of a drizzle, it will be a pretty high scoring affair. I buy RGIII’s final quarter against the Eagles. Washington’s quick receivers will give Green Bay trouble if they play as loose in coverage as they did last week. I would also be a little shocked if Green Bay held another top rushing team from last season below a combined 100 yards, but I don’t think Washington will have that strong of a ground game with the way the defense looked last week. It will be a coin toss to who has more yards this week between RGIII and Rodgers as both look to put up huge numbers in the air. Offensively for the Packers, Rodgers should find plenty of openings to get the ball to Cobb and Nelson, both of whom will probably end up with over a hundred yards each. I can almost guarantee there will be a 40+ yard touchdown throw based on how these secondaries play, and it wouldn’t shock me if both teams had multiple 20+ yard completions. The weather is a factor, if the rain comes hard and the field is sloppy this plays well for Green Bay, as their passing is based more on sure-handed completions than speed and cuts. Washington will give Rodgers every opportunity to capitalize on a spaced field on third down. The Packers should have more sustained drives this week and could steal the time of possession battle away from the better running team if the defense plays as stout up front as it did last week. I see RGIII keeping it within striking distance late, but Green Bay secures the win at home with a 31-24 victory .

 

 

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