4 downs: Dougherty on Packers' win
Every week I'll share four quick thoughts the day after the Green Bay Packers game. Here they are after the Packers' 38-28 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night:
First down: This is the 16th time that the Packers have started a season 3-0. Exactly half of those seasons have ended with championships (1929-31, 1944, 1962, 1965-67 and 1996). One of those 3-0 starts also came in 1919, the first year of their existence, and two seasons before they joined what is now the NFL. This also is the third time they’ve started 3-0 under coach Mike McCarthy. The others were in 2007, when they went 13-3 and lost in the NFC championship game to the New York Giants, and 2011, when they went 15-1 and lost to the Giants in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Second down: Though backup safety Sean Richardson didn’t play because of an ankle injury, the Packers didn’t abandon their big base defense package. In the first two games, when defensive coordinator Dom Capers wanted to get better run-stopping personnel in his 3-4 base personnel he’d occasionally play the 6-foot-2, 216-pound Richardson at cornerback. But with Richardson sidelined, Capers still played that package at least once Monday night against the Chiefs, with safety Chris Banjo at cornerback instead of Richardson.
Third down: Aaron Rodgers has been so sharp so far — no interceptions in three games — that it’s news when he even comes close to an interception, which he did Monday night. Early in the third quarter, Rodgers tried to hit Randall Cobb on a quick in route to his left but didn’t see linebacker Josh Mauga drop into the passing lane. The chest-high throw was barely off Mauga’s body, but he got only one hand on it and could not make the interception. Rodgers also lost a fumble when Tamba Hali recovered a strip sack by defensive end Allen Bailey, but the play was nullified because cornerback Marcus Cooper was penalized for illegal contact.
Fourth down: Now we know for sure why the Packers signed Joe Thomas off Dallas' practice squad last week rather than promote either of the inside linebackers on their own practice squad, Carl Bradford or James Vaughters. The Packers used Thomas as their dime linebacker, which allowed them to move Clay Matthews to an outside rusher on the most obvious passing downs. It worked Monday night. Matthews had his first two sacks of the season and had three quarterback hits. Thomas had a sack also.