The Green Bay Packers have a lot of problems to fix and a short time to fix them.
Sunday's season opening loss to San Francisco exposed some major weaknesses and it doesn't look the Packers have overcome yet. Most of them reside on the defensive side of the ball, but the offense certainly was not without fault either.
The 49ers played the same style of defense the Chiefs and Giants played against the Packers and they still have not been able to solve it. The 49ers played two safeties back and man underneath, daring the Packers to run the ball. Unsurprisingly, against the best rushing defense in the NFL, the Packers had no success opening up any lanes for Cedric Benson.
However, I still think their running game against teams other than the 49ers will be improved. They started to use Randall Cobb out of the backfield in place of their running game, which is a very nice wrinkle and was successful. Also, it didn't seem like the receivers were getting open like they normally do and Rodgers became slightly impatient.
This is actually a new problem this year, but I am not the biggest fan of the new no huddle offense. Part of what makes the Packers offense so great is the multiple formations that they can throw at you. They can have five wide receivers in the game on one play and then three tight ends the next. That makes it very hard to match up against. When you run the no huddle offense it is tougher to make those substitutions. The offense will still be great, but if it wasn't broken then it should not have been fixed.
The other side of the ball are where the main issues still are unchanged from last season. A big argument among Packers bloggers and fans on Twitter has always been personnel vs. scheme. I always defended Dom Capers last season, saying that he just did not have enough talent to work with. However, the Packers got new players this year, so if they have the same issues again its on him.
When Capers went to the nickel and dime against the 49ers ran it down the Packers' throat. When he went to the base, which he did more then usual, the 49ers found mismatches in the secondary. That secondary still has its issues.
Jarrett Bush is not a starting cornerback on a Super Bowl contender. On Sunday, Bush was the outside corner in the base, while it was Shields in the nickel and dime. Shields needs to be inserted as the full time starter again. He finally seems to have gotten the message about tackling, as he made a big tackle on Frank Gore on 3rd down and was solid in the preseason. According to Pro Football Focus, Bush was targeted seven times for four receptions and 63 yards. Also, Bush was trash talking after he made a big tackle on 3rd down, but the team was down 23-7. After the game Bush told reporters that "the Packers beat themselves", which is ridiculous because they really got stomped on.
The Packers tackling was better, but still not good enough. They also still had many communication problems in the secondary, especially on Randy Moss' touchdown when Morgan Burnett motioned to M.D. Jennings to cover the deep middle, which he neglected to do. After that he was relegated to the bench in favor of Jerron McMillian.
Two other things that were the same as last year were the middle of the field being wide open and the Packers' cornerbacks not pressing on the line. The middle of the field is open for most teams, but the Packers seem to take it to a different extreme. A.J. Hawk obviously has his issues in coverage, but Capers really needs to scheme better to cover the middle of the field.
I cannot figure why Capers continually has his cornerbacks giving about a five to eight yard cushions to the wide reciever on every play. Back when Al Harris and Charles Woodson were on the outside the Packers were known for their press man schemes. That is no longer the case.
There are obviously a lot of things to fix in time for Thursday against the Bears. Remember that the Packers have a lot of new faces on defense and should improve as the season goes along. As we have seen in recent years it matters more how you are playing at the end of the season then it does at the beginning.