Packers' defense left in dust during losing streak Print
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Monday, 06 October 2008 12:21
NFL Headline News

 GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -Five games, four performances of 100-plus yards by opposing running backs.
A rookie quarterback on a team that's supposed to be rebuilding handing the Green Bay Packers their third straight loss, and leaving Lambeau Field without getting a chance to feel what it's like to hit the tundra.
That's not the dominant defense Packers coach Mike McCarthy envisioned for the post-Brett Favre era.
``I look at the defense as a thermostat in a football game - they need to keep the game in order,'' McCarthy said Monday. ``And it starts with stopping the run, and we're not doing a very good job of it. And they know it.''
The Packers' defensive flaws were exposed again in a 27-24 home loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, leading to their first three-game losing streak since late in the 2006 season.
Rookie quarterback Matt Ryan had too much time to throw, going 16-for-26 for 194 yards and two touchdowns, and Michael Turner ran for 121 yards and a touchdown.
ense was an interception by Tramon Williams.
``It was pretty much a throw-and-catch by them. They got first downs running the ball when they needed to,'' Packers cornerback Charles Woodson said. ``We didn't do anything - besides that interception - to really help the team win. A couple stops here and there, but consistency is something we're not playing with right now.''
Significant injuries are a problem for the Packers, but only part of it.
Green Bay can't stop the run, even when everybody in the stadium knows it's coming, as was the case when the Falcons earned a first down on three running plays to kill the clock at the end of Sunday's game.
The Packers' pass rush has been silent, going two games without a sack. Players are making things worse with penalties, and complaining about the calls afterward.
``We as a defense talk about being one of the better defenses in the league, and that's the way we feel,'' Woodson said. ``We came in here with the same defense, the same scheme for the third year in a row, and it seems we're actually backtracking at this point. Why that's happening, I don't know. I'm not going to blame it on injuries. We're just not getting it done.''
ry, and Harris is out indefinitely with a spleen injury. McCarthy said he would have a better idea about Bigby's status after medical tests this week.
Beyond that, Woodson is playing with a broken toe, linebacker A.J. Hawk is playing through a groin injury and safety Nick Collins has a sore back.
Woodson says the injuries are a factor but can't become an excuse.
``It all adds up,'' he said. ``But we've still got 11 guys. It's not like we're playing with 10 or nine guys. We've still got 11 guys. So whoever's out there, regardless of who's hurt, you've got to come to play.''
They did that in a season-opening win against Minnesota. But after blowing a big lead at Detroit and barely holding on to win in Week 2, the defense has gone downhill.
``It's a number of things,'' defensive end Aaron Kampman said. ``Is it one particular guy? No, it's not. The challenge for us is to play a whole football game. We've talked about that as a team, and that's what we need to focus on: consistency.''
McCarthy said defensive coordinator Bob Sanders was ``aggressive'' with blitzes Sunday, creating one-on-one matchups with the Falcons' pass protection. The Packers' pass rushers just didn't win those matchups.
McCarthy said rookie defensive end Jeremy Thompson, a fourth-round pick who got more playing time Sunday because of injuries, needs to play more aggressively.
``Tryouts are over,'' McCarthy said.
When it came to stopping the run, McCarthy said it almost looked like players ``took turns'' trying to do too much on Sunday and abandoning the offensive line gaps they're assigned to control - a critical component of the Packers' style of defense.
Hawk called the run defense a ``glaring weakness'' for the Packers, but credited the Falcons for taking advantage of it.
``Rushing defense is not rocket science,'' Hawk said. ``You stay in your gaps, you're physical and you tackle. That's not what we're doing. It sounds easy. But I give them credit, they had a good attack. They stuck with the running game and did a good job of it.''
Hawk remains confident that the Packers' defense will get better.
``We'll get it done,'' Hawk said. ``We know we will.''
 

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