Nover’s View: Packers postmortem

On January 22, 2020, in NFL, by Stephen

By Stephen Nover

Usually you don’t want to overreact to one game.

But in the case of the way the Green Bay Packers played and schemed against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC title game it’s justified.

Green Bay finished 13-3 during the regular season. It didn’t mean anything. The Packers had serious problems before the season – and they still have serious issues.

If you think I’m being too tough on the Packers consider this: Green Bay outgained its opponents by a mere 70 yards. They outscored their opponents by an average of 3.1 points. The Packers were involved in 10 regular season games that were decided by one score. They won nine of those games. Green Bay got to face the Chiefs when KC didn’t have Patrick Mahomes. The Packers were lucky they didn’t get swept by the Lions.

Matt LaFleur received high marks for getting along with Aaron Rodgers and improving team morale, which had sunk under Mike McCarthy. Yet Rodgers had his worst season since coming to prominence. Special teams remained abysmal ranking 26th, according to Rick Gosselin’s highly-regarded grading system. Green Bay’s defense was embarrassed by journeyman Raheem Mostert.

So, what happens now? The window is going to close on the Rodgers’ era unless the Packers make at least these two moves: Upgrade their receiving targets around Davonte Adams. Fire defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

You don’t have to be Bill Belichick to understand the way to attack the 49ers’ offense is concentrate on stopping their ground attack. Force Jimmy Garoppolo to beat you – if he can. Pettine’s approach was the opposite. He didn’t figure things out until midway through the fourth quarter when it was way too late.

It goes deeper than that, too. Not only were the Packers poorly prepared, but they lacked intensity and tackled poorly in the biggest game of the year.

Green Bay upgraded its defensive talent this past season. But when the Packers stopped coming up with takeaways, their poor tackling and being out of position way too much of the time were exposed along with a zero contribution from first-round draft choice Rashan Gary.

Rodgers is on the downswing of his career. He deserves much of the blame for the title game loss. But he’s still an elite quarterback. He just can’t keep the Packers in games alone anymore by himself.

The Packers must play better defense. If Pettine is well regarded why was he out of a job in 2016 and 2017?

Finally, the Packers have begun to open their tight purse strings. Now is a critical stage. Their money must be spent on hiring a top defensive coordinator.

On the handicapping front, I have my strongest January NHL totals play. I went 2-0 on my hockey plays Tuesday going for my fourth straight winning NHL season. Basketball is going strong, too. I am 63-38-1 (62 percent) the past two seasons in college basketball and 38-26-1 (59 percent) on my NBA premium plays this season. I also have one of my strongest Super Bowl plays of recent years going.

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