ReFo: Panthers @ Packers, Week 7
Just after the Panthers sacked Aaron Rodgers on the fourth play of the game, commentator John Lynch noted how this sudden surge in Carolina’s pass rush was “something they’ve been missing”. And while it appeared for a brief moment early, missing it would go once again for the remainder of the game. Pressured on just three of his 27 dropbacks, Rodgers and Green Bay’s receiving corps tore apart a Panthers’ secondary that allowed over three quarters of the Packers aerial yardage after the catch.
While the offense sat by helplessly and watched as the Packers scored touchdowns on four of their first five drives, when given the chance they performed little better than the defense, going three and out on three consecutive drives to open the game. If not for a couple of fourth quarter touchdown drives (one with Derek Anderson at the helm) the final score would have accurately described the competitiveness of this game. As it were, a 38-17 final score doesn’t do justice to how cleanly the Packers came away with the win.
Carolina Panthers – Performances of Note
Left Tackles, -7.5 combined
Breakdown: When Byron Bell left the game with an elbow injury after 41 snaps and a -2.4 grade, it looked like a replacement tackle could hardly play much worse. Having given up four pressures already midway through the third quarter, Bell was succeeded by rookie David Foucault. And just as one could predict when you rely on an undrafted free agent to block Clay Matthews one on one, the results (-4.3 pass blocking on 19 snaps) made Bell’s struggles seem like the lesser of two evils.
Signature Play: It wasn’t just Matthews that took advantage of this match-up. With 3:09 to go in the third quarter, Nick Perry flew off edge around Foucault forcing a quick throw, while Foucault was lucky not to have drawn any laundry with his questionable blocking technique.
Luke Kuechly, LB, -4.5
Breakdown: Continuing his streak of back-to-back great performances followed by back-to-back duds, Kuechly performance pendulum swung back into the red in Green Bay. His most memorable play may be his being his controversial ejection late in the third, but in reality he looked like a liability rather than the centerpiece of this defense, at times appearing lost in coverage.
Signature Play: Q2, 7:24. A scrambling Rodgers found Randall Cobb three yards past the markers with Kuechly in position to make a tackle for minimal yardage after the catch. A sharp cutback though left Kuechly in the dust, allowing Cobb 30 more yards as he reversed field for a considerable gain.
Charles Godfrey, CB, -5.0
Breakdown: The poster child of Carolina’s much-maligned secondary, Godfrey’s struggles mirrored that of the entire unit. He didn’t surrender quite as many yards as Antoine Cason’s 131, but he edged out Cason’s poor play with a trio of missed tackles.
Signature Play: Q3, 11:02. Meeting Cobb one yard short of the line to gain and able to force a punt with a clean tackle, Godfrey instead over pursued the shifty wideout who then slipped another tackler before skirting up the sideline.
Green Bay Packers – Performances of Note
Clay Matthews, OLB, +4.9
Breakdown: After nearly half a season’s worth of average play, Matthews broke out in a big way against a couple of overmatched tackles. Recording a sack and team-high six total pressures, the USC product looks to have regained his form after an injury-marred 2013 season.
Signature Play: It wasn’t all pass rushing for the multi-dimensional linebacker. At 11:04 in the opening quarter, Matthews shot off the line unblocked to take down Jonathan Stewart for a three yard loss.
Bryan Bulaga, RT, +4.5
Breakdown: While we’re on the topic of guys coming off of injured seasons, Bulaga showed just how effective he can be when healthy. Perfect in pass protection and strong moving forward, performances like this from Bulaga and company will continue to make this one of the best offenses in football.
Signature Stat: With a perfect day in pass protection, Bulaga moves into the Top 10 in our Pass Blocking Efficiency ratings, one spot ahead of teammate David Bakhtiari.
Randall Cobb, WR, +2.8
Breakdown: It seems that every week Rodgers has a new favorite target, and this week it was Cobb, who had the ball thrown his way on nearly one third of Rodgers’ passing attempts. He turned those seven targets into six receptions, one going for a touchdown while four more moved the chains.
Signature Stat: Cobb forced three missed tackles and maintained his lead among wide receivers with his eighth receiving touchdown. He currently leads all wide receivers with 33 catches from the slot.
PFF Game Ball
The talent wasn’t there on the other side, but Clay Matthews took advantage of the opportunities presented to him.