The big-play opportunity was seemingly there, but the Packers didn’t take advantage of it.
That would seem to be the analysis of the Packers’ failures on offense in the second half of Sunday’s 30-27 loss in Indianapolis. Whereas the Packers had become accustomed to its opponents playing soft zone coverages over the first four games of the season, forcing the Packers to throw underneath the coverage, the Colts challenged the Packers’ vaunted receiving corps with press coverage, despite the Colts being without the services of two of their top cornerbacks.
“They had a couple of guys down in the secondary. We felt we matched up well in the passing game,” Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements said on Monday. “Chicago played cover two. Yesterday, (the Colts) played cover two very little.”
Why were the Packers unable to produce big plays against a daring defensive scheme?
“We didn’t execute,” Clements said.
Why did Colts Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky think his depleted secondary could be successful in press coverage against the Packers?
“That’s their style of play,” Clements said.
Monday was a day for Head Coach Mike McCarthy and the team’s coordinators to restore order to a 2-3 team that is a day removed from one of the most stunning upsets of the NFL season to date. Clements was succinct in his evaluation.
“We’re not playing as an offensive group the way we want to play,” he said.
Twenty-one sacks through five games is a particular problem, and it won’t help the Packers’ pursuit of run-pass balance that running back Cedric Benson sustained a foot injury in the first half of Sunday’s game that already has him ruled “out” for this Sunday’s game in Houston.
“We have other players and they’re going to have to step up and play in his absence,” Clements said, referring to Alex Green, James Starks and Brandon Saine.
Meanwhile, Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers’ evaluation of his unit’s play no doubt required more work, since the Packers defense was on the field for 89 plays, as compared to the Packers offense’s 61.
Was his defense gassed late in the game?
“That’s a lot of plays,” Capers said. “When you play as hard as Clay (Matthews) does, I think it’s significant when you’re out there for nearly 90 plays.”
It was also a tale of two halves for Capers’ defense, which held the Colts to three points in the first half, but allowed 27 points in the second half and was unable to preserve a 27-22 lead with 4:34 to play in the game.
In the Colts’ 80-yard, game-winning touchdown drive, quarterback Andrew Luck completed five passes for 64 yards to Reggie Wayne, including the game-winner. Wayne was targeted 20 times in the game and caught 13 passes for 212 yards.
“He’s a good receiver and he had a good day. There were times we had him doubled and he caught the ball,” Capers said.
Capers detailed several opportunities the Packers had to force turnovers, including an apparent fumble Nick Perry forced with a sack that was nullified due to unnecessary roughness. Within the next few plays, the Packers nearly recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass.
“That part will come,” he said of forcing turnovers. “We certainly had our legitimate chances at four or five in this game.”
The Packers were also victimized by another “phantom” pass interference penalty against Sam Shields.
“Sam was doing what we coach him to do; get a lead position and look back for the ball,” Capers said.
It was, clearly, a painful day of review for all of the Packers. Additional coverage - Oct. 8