Aaron Rodgers Looked Like Crap Because The Offensive Line Couldn’t Handle The 49ers’ Blitzing, The Play Calling By LaFleur Was Awful, The Defensive Backs Played Soft For Most Of The Game And The Packers Special Teams Stunk Up The Place, Costing The Team Their Season
By Dave Levine
The Packers’ last regular season game was a disaster. You don’t want to end the season like that even if you’re 13-3! But with his team ahead, Coach LaFleur in his infinite wisdom benched the entire first string in the second half against a lousy Detroit team and gave that game away! I knew that was a bad omen for the ultimate playoff game against the 49ers. The Packers’ mental preparedness was gone. Even Coach LaFleur admitted his special teams were playing poorly but he couldn’t correct it. They made the 49ers look better than they are.
It would be one thing if the Packers played an excellent game against the Niners but once they started playing conservatively in the second quarter, the game was over. Losing their RB Dillon to an injury hurt but the play-calling hurt them the most. The Packer’s offensive line was truly offensive. Their field goal kicker and punter kicked right into the arms of rushing 49ers, one that turned into a touchdown. Those were inexcusable. Their tight ends each dropped key passes. Except for their great WR Smith, the offense was pathetic.
The opening drive by the Packers was brilliant. Rodgers got rid of the ball quickly, neutralizing the 49er pass rush. After that it was all downhill. The Packer offense played right into 49er hands. Devante Smith was double-covered but Rodgers still tried to force the ball to him. Rodgers began holding onto the ball too long and the sacks began. Stupid penalties by the offensive line didn’t help. instead of passing on first down when the 49ers least expected it, the Packers ran straight into the 49er strength, leaving third and long and obvious passing situations. That’s poor play calling but the Packers didn’t make those important changes at halftime.
Going into this game, Rodgers was 0-3 in playoff games against the 49er defense for a reason but the Packers’ brain trust quite obviously still hasn’t figured out “why”. Now he’s an embarrassing 0-4 against them. Keeping Rodgers bottled up in the pocket was key and it worked. But even when he scrambled, Rodgers had no receivers open and he was NEVER a threat to run. Maybe his toe was bothering him, I don’t know. Packer receivers were too busy running long routes while Rodgers was being sacked! With Rodgers shut down, the game was over. Why the offensive coach stopped the short passing game (which had been so effective in that first drive), we’ll never know.
On the other side of the ball, the lack of a consistent Packer pass rush from the front four was the difference. The key to beating the 49ers has ALWAYS been harassing Garopolo who has no mobility but it only worked part of the time. The difference? The Packers played a loose defense, allowing Samuels and Kittle plenty of holes to make big plays and they rarely blitzed. Why the Packers didn’t change their defensive strategy, we’ll never know. Why the Packers’ defense stopped double-covering Kittle is a mystery. He destroyed the Packer defense in the second half. Samuels was hurt and only played half of the downs. The Packers should have double-covered Kittle on those plays but they didn’t do it consistently.
The Packers had 2 weeks to prepare for the 49ers but couldn’t get the job done. It was a pitiful display by s very good team before their loyal fans in near 0-degree weather, weather that the 49ers have trouble in.
I don’t know what changes can be made before next year. But this pathetic performance in ideal conditions will long be remembered as “a missed opportunity” on offense, defense and special teams. Ultimately, the Coach must take responsibility for not properly preparing his team for this game. Will they fire LaFleur? Of course not. But will they make the changes that need to be made before next season? I doubt it.
Packer personnel changes needed for next season:
-A meaner, nastier front four
-Revamp the offensive line, using more tight ends as blockers
-Drop that stupid zone coverage! Bring in CBs who can cover man-to-man!
-Get a younger placekicker with better peripheral vision
-Get a young punter with better peripheral vision who doesn’t take so long to kick
-Don’t give away unimportant games the way LaFleur did in the final regular-season game against an inferior team by taking Rodgers and the entire first string out after the first half!
-Fire the Offensive Coach and Defensive Coach and bring in coaches who think outside-the-box!
This is probably too much to expect. The Packers will “stay pat” with the hand they have and repeat this performance next year and Rodgers will be 0-5 against the 49ers.