Morning Buzz: Hail Mary haunts Lions
Welcome to your Morning Buzz, rounding up news and views regarding the Green Bay Packers from around the web and here at PackersNews.com. Grab a cup of coffee and get caught up on everything you need to know.
First up, our Tom Silverstein has the lowdown on the Packers’ run defense, which has been simply outstanding through the first two games of the season. How have they done it? Tom’s got the goods.
On the offensive side of the ball for the Packers, much has been made of the sputtering passing attack, but Ryan Wood takes a look at Eddie Lacy and the running game getting more opportunities after a slow start to the season.
If you missed them earlier this week, be sure to check out Tom Silverstein and LeRoy Butler’s X’s & O’s and 5 Questions videos. They are always full of great insight into both the previous game and the game ahead for the Packers
The Lions are coming into Lambeau on Sunday after a game in which they showed some offensive issues of their own, with drops and miscommunication repeatedly popping up. The Lions also would like quarterback Matthew Stafford to stop delivering hits when running the ball.
Golden Tate had this to say about his quarterback, via Tim Twentyman:
I was happy to see him be the hammer instead of the nail. But we don’t want our quarterback taking on too many hits like that. There’s no doubt he’s one tough son of a gun, he can do it if anyone can, but we’d rather him stay away from that.
The Lions apparently haven’t forgotten the Hail Mary that beat them in Detroit on that fateful Thursday night last season. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin spoke with the media in Detroit about the play and took the blame for the team’s dubious defensive approach to it.
From Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press:
Austin, in his most in-depth comments about the play, acknowledged today that he was to blame for the call that left the Lions playing to defend a lateral instead of a Hail Mary at the end of the game.
"Hindsight’s 20-20," Austin said. "I can tell you my thoughts on the thing were that that ball would have to travel 70 yards in the air. And I thought he might be able to get it there, but I didn’t think he’d be able to get it there in the way he did. So again, that falls on me and how we did it, and we’ll make sure, moving forward, that those things don’t happen again.”
The Lions' defense will come into Lambeau a hurting unit, with several key members expected to miss the game due to injury, but one young pass rusher has caught the eye of Aaron Rodgers.
As Justin Rodgers writes for the Free Press:
Three weeks ago, Kerry Hyder was a guy fighting for a roster spot. Now, the Detroit Lions defensive end has the attention of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“Yeah, he’s done a great job,” Rodgers said during a Wednesday conference call. “You look out there and see 61, that’s not always a defensive end number. I can’t think of another guy wearing that number, but a high-effort player, he’s making a lot of plays.
“You’ve got to give him a lot of credit,” Rodgers said. “Obviously, he never became a victim of his circumstances. He definitely must have a great work ethic and a lot of confidence because he’s really made himself into a solid player.”
Elsewhere around the web, Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders and ESPN Insider writes that Aaron Rodgers’ slump is “very real, and a big change is needed.”
From Kacsmar: (subscription required)
Great players have always experienced slumps, but when you look at the best of the best throughout history, the length and timing looks most peculiar for Rodgers.
Hall of Fame quarterbacks generally decline because of age or injury, and often both together. The great Johnny Unitas was never the same dominant quarterback after suffering a serious arm injury in the 1968 preseason, at age 35. Peyton Manning's lengthy prime ended only after his body broke down at 39. Joe Montana's 1986 season stands out for its eight touchdowns, nine interceptions and career-low 80.7 passer rating. Montana, however, suffered a severe back injury in Week 1 and wasn't 100 percent healthy when he returned in November.
Neither age nor injury is a good explanation for Rodgers' slump. He won't turn 33 until December, so it really is too early for Father Time to come collecting as he so often does. And Rodgers has appeared only once on the injury report in the past two seasons, because of a sore right shoulder in Week 11 of last season.
While the Packers try to figure out how to fix their slumping quarterback, the Chicago Bears are preparing for life with Brian Hoyer playing the most important position in football because of a thumb injury to starter Jay Cutler.
As Dan Wiederer writes for the Chicago Tribune:
Over seven seasons in the NFL — 26 games as a starter, so many more as a backup — Hoyer has learned how to flip the switch. And Sunday, it seems likely he'll make his first start as a Bear, taking over for as long as Cutler needs to recover from a sprained right thumb.
The Bears have expressed confidence that Hoyer can be productive, even as he takes over an offense that has scored just 21 points on 22 possessions. At the very least, Hoyer has his teammates' respect.
Said tight end Zach Miller: "You can tell he's done this before, that he's comfortable with leadership in and out of the huddle and comfortable with communication. All the stuff you want out of that position, Brian can do."
Finally, it certainly seems like Lions fans are excited about the job their offensive coordinator, Jim Bob Cooter (yes) is doing since taking over play calling last year.
Golden Tate saw this around town this week: