Cheeseheads surely won’t like to read the above headline, and who would have thunk that the Green Bay Packers would be the only team in the NFL North to lose their 2012 opener? But that is what happened as the Pack dropped their season opener to the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 30 – 22.
Never mind that the 49ers are one of the elite teams in the NFL, it was still disappointing to see the Packers unable to stop the running game of the 49ers within the friendly confines of Lambeau Field. Yes, the game was horribly officiated, but no amount of bad calls would change the outcome of this game. To their credit, the 49ers showed up to play and that they did, leading from beginning to end and dominating most of the way.
It is interesting to compare the vastly different approaches to professional football that the managements of the Packers and the 49ers have taken. The 49ers have an aggressive, fast and physical defense. Their offense is power running and game management, both mistake free. The Packers defense has become passive, compared to the 49ers, and a bottom dweller, statistically. Measures were taken to shore up the D in the off season, but obviously, that needs more time to straighten out. The Packers’ offense is stacked with talent in the aerial assault department but inexplicably has not been able to mount a sustainable running game.
All of last season, save for the Kansas City game and the playoff game against the Giants, and now the opener this season, the Packers have been able to mask their deficiencies on defense and running game by an awesome ability to score points via Aaron Rodgers and Company. It seems like certain teams may have figured out the Packers’ strategy, and we may have a problem Houston… I mean Green Bay. Without a respectable running game, both San Francisco safeties played Tampa 2 deep almost the whole game thus taking away the big play ability that Rodgers and Company have come to feast upon. I hate to admit it but the Packers were physically outplayed and also outcoached Sunday.
That having been said, it is a long season and only one game has been played. The Packer coaching staff is high quality and adjustments will have to be made to right the ship. All was not a disaster Sunday as second-year player Randall Cobb got his first opportunity for extensive snaps and had a break-out game. Cobb caught all nine balls that were thrown at him and also had a 75-yard touchdown on a punt return. The Packers utilized Cobb shifting out of the backfield often and I expect him to have a big year doing more of that.
The Packers have little time to lick their wounds as the Chicago Bears come to Lambeau next Thursday night to renew the oldest rivalry in the league. The Bears are vastly improved over last year and will be a big challenge. Starting the season 0 – 2 seems unthinkable for Cheeseheads. The Packers need to play more physical football than they did against the 49ers to avoid a very bad start of the 2012 season.
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