GREEN BAY—Packers coordinators had to dig deep to find elements of Sunday’s win over the Redskins that need improving. It was especially difficult for Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements to find fault with his unit.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and running back James Starks became the first players in Packers history to combine for 400 yards passing and 100 yards rushing, and wide receiver James Jones experienced a career day, catching 11 passes for 178 yards in the Packers’ 38-20 win. The Packers enjoyed leads of 31-0 and 38-7 in the third quarter.
What could Clements possibly find wrong in that kind of performance?
“It would’ve been better to keep the ball in his outside hand,” Clements said of Jones, who lost control of the ball as he reached with his inside hand to touch the ball to the end zone pylon. Instead of a 31-0 lead at halftime, the ball went to the Redskins on a touchback.
Oh, yeah, two of the Redskins’ four sacks were the result of missed assignments, for which the offensive line was not responsible.
“It was favorable to us and we were playing well yesterday,” Clements said of the Redskins’ single-high-safety defensive scheme, which was a departure from how most teams defend against the Packers offense. It was obviously a tactical error.
The Packers piled up yards after the catch and the Redskins were helpless against Rodgers and company.
“We were having success getting the ball out of our hand quickly, getting it to the receivers and letting them run,” Clements said.
“He’s fun to watch,” Clements added of Rodgers. “He was sharp mentally and physically.”
Rodgers was so sharp on one play that he literally audibled into a plan that would allow him success against a blitz the Redskins were showing, or against the blitz the Redskins were actually faking. Rodgers changed the routes of two receivers to give himself a two-headed strategy.
“They dropped out and he went to the option to throw it down the field,” Clements said of a play that resulted in a touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson.
Why was the running game so successful, especially considering the Redskins assigned an eighth defender to the line of scrimmage for much of the game?
“No. 1, it starts up front. The line blocked well. We got excellent blocking from receivers to spring long runs, and James Starks ran hard,” Clements said.
Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers was able to challenge his unit to play better than it did in the last three series of the game, which produced 222 yards of offense for the Redskins, after the visitors gained only 155 in the first half.
“I like the way we started the game. I thought we played with a lot of energy. It was kind of a tale of two games for us. The last three series is what we have to get cleaned up,” Capers said.
Were the Packers playing with a different motive late in the game, playing to expire the clock?
“You’re going to play a different style, no question. You’re probably not going to be as aggressive,” Capers said.
Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum, whose unit scored a decisive victory over the Redskins’ special teams, continued to find fault with his kickoff return unit. It returned two kickoffs, one by Jeremy Ross for 14 yards and another by Randall Cobb for 10 yards, though the Packers were in onside kick defense in that situation.
“We need to have a good week this week and get back to having some productive returns,” Slocum said.
He also praised the play of cornerback Davon House, who’s become a force on coverage teams.
“He’s grown as a player and he’s doing things the right way,” Slocum said.
It was difficult to find examples of the wrong way. Additional coverage - Sept. 16