The Green Bay Packers performed poorly for a second week in a row and lost at home to the Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 27 – 13. The big story going into this game was that Seneca Wallace would be the Packers’ starting quarterback in place of the injured Aaron Rodgers. It turned out that Wallace became the second Packer quarterback in two weeks to exit after the Packers’ first offensive series.
Wallace’s injury exit meant that the Packers had to turn to third-string quarterback Scott Tolzien, who had never previously taken an NFL snap. Not surprisingly, Tolzien initially struggled. Lacking any NFL playing experience and not getting reps with the first- stringers in practice the previous week is not an ideal situation. Tolzien telegraphed a pass near the end zone which was picked off and run back, leading to a field goal. Nonetheless, the game was still in play at the halfway point as the Eagles only led 10 – 3.
But it was the Packer defense that collapsed in the second half. Too many times the defensive secondary gave up big plays. There was shoddy tackling, bad angles, poor technique, you name it. One particularly glaring snafu was a 45-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter that made safety M. D. Jennings looking like he had no clue what he was doing. No one in the defensive backfield played aggressively, and their teammates up front weren’t doing much better.
A perplexing question is what has happened to the Packers’ stout run defense? A couple weeks ago the Packers’ run defense was one of the team’s strengths. Last week the Chicago Bears ran the ball down the Packers’ throat to close out the game with a 9-minute drive. Virtually the same thing happened in this game. The Packers are getting very few turnovers this year, and in these last two losing performances the defense could not stop the run and get off the field late in the game.
As the game wore on Tolzien gained a bit of confidence. He fired a nice 22-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brandon Bostick (an NFL first for both of them). It is tough to call Eddie Lacy’s number when the defense is expecting the same from a team with a rookie quarterback, so it is a tough position the Packers find themselves in until Rodgers is able to play again.
Adding injury (literally) to insult, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Don Barclay, Nick Perry, Casey Hayward and Wallace were injured in this contest. The Packers desperately need someone to step it up and make some big plays. The previous injuries to Rodgers, Randall Cobb and Clay Matthews III have taken three proven playmakers out of the equation. Someone else has to assume leadership until these guys can make it back to the playing field. Matthews did return but will not be very effective until his broken thumb club/cast comes off.
What a difference a few days can make. Less than two weeks ago the Packers were on a four game winning streak and leading the NFC North division. Within a span of six days the Packers have lost two games at home and their season is in danger of going up in smoke. The Packers travel to New York next week to take on a struggling Giants team. It will be interesting to see if McCarthy can rally the troops and find a playmaker or two.
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