The Green Bay Packers had a daunting task for their first regular season game of the NFL season, the San Francisco 49ers. Last season, the 49ers defense gave up an average of 14 points and allowed an average of 45 rushing yards a game. The Packer offense, on the other hand, scored in the first quarter in every game last season and scored a league topping 506 points. Most of their offensive weapons were returning with some new additions.
The season did not start the way Packer fans anticipated. The Packers fell to the 49ers 30-22. The game was full of its ups and downs, particularly for the Packers who struggled early on both the offensive and defensive sides. While there was some good going around, the 49ers exposed the Packers, showing the bad, the ugly, and the very ugly that the Packers need to improve.
One of the good things for the Packers was the connection between Aaron Rogers and Randall Cobb. While Aaron Rogers was the best passer on the field, throwing for 303 yards, his favorite target was the second year player from Kentucky. In order for the Packers to be successful, Cobb was going to have to play a larger role during the season. Against the 49ers he did just that. Cobb caught nine receptions for 77 yards. He also ran a punt return 75 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. These plays were key, especially in the unexplained absence of veteran Donald Driver.
Unfortunately, Cobb is also included on “The Bad” side of things too. “The Bad” involves slippery hands at crucial times, aka butterfingers, something that the Packers are all too familiar with after last season. Twice Packer fans cringed as they watched Jermichael Finley drop two third down receptions that would have lead to 1st downs for the Pack. Even Cobb, who was practically flawless for most of the night, fumbled during the game. The Packers recovered said fumble. Although it may not be the main reason for the Packers loss, they have to find a way to harden their buttery fingers. Even with one of the top quarterbacks in the league, it is difficult to win games if the receivers can’t catch the ball.
Luckily, the Packers have a good chance to turn “The Bad” around by this Thursday’s game against the Chicago Bears. What they cannot change is “The Ugly”: the replacement refs. These refs are like the plague that just won’t go away, at least not for two more games. Not only are they missing plays in Green Bay, but across the league as well. Several mistakes were made at the hands of both the 49ers and the Packers. There were even times when it looked as though both head coaches were going to blow a fuse they were so upset.
Even worse than the replacement refs was the Packers defense. “The Very Ugly” was indeed very ugly. Last season, the Packers pass and rush defense were one of the worst in the league, second only to the Indianapolis Colts. Sunday afternoon, it wasn’t any better. The Packers defense allowed costly 3rd down conversions and gave up 20 1st half points that gave the 49ers momentum that Packers offense could not keep up with. San Francisco QB Alex Smith easily found and exposed holes. While the 49ers have one of the best defenses in the league, it will be hard for the Packers to win if their defense continues to give up 211 passing yards, 186 rushing yards, and 33 points or more this season.
Let the madness of the NFL season begin.