4 Downs: Give Jordy Nelson an assist on Ty Montgomery TD run
Every week I’ll share four observations the day after the Green Bay Packers game. Here they are after the Packers’ 23-16 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
If you want to see how important receivers blocking can be to help spring a big run, watch the replay of Ty Montgomery’s 37-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. There were several key blocks on the play, but one was by Jordy Nelson, who came down the line of scrimmage and walled safety Eddie Jackson from the hole that Montgomery ran through, which left Montgomery nothing but green to the end zone after he broke past the line of scrimmage. Fullback Aaron Ripkowski had a big block, too. He stood up 301-pound defensive lineman Mitch Unrein, who otherwise could have dropped Montgomery in the backfield.
Sunday was a tough day for the Packers’ special teams. Justin Vogel and Trevor Davis made the kind of mistakes that the Packers can’t afford with Aaron Rodgers not playing. Vogel’s came late, when he dropped the snap on a 35-yard field-goal attempt that would have sealed the game. He managed to get the ball placed, but the timing and placement were so bad that Mason Crosby shanked the kick. No doubt it was tough handling the ball on a day when there was a steady drizzle. But six other field goals and three extra points went off without a hitch in the same conditions. Davis made a mistake I’m not sure I’ve ever seen in 25 years covering the NFL. On the first punt of the day, he caught the ball in the end zone and brought it out. Most teams have their return man stand at about the 7, and if he has to back up for the ball at all, he’s supposed to let the ball bounce and hope it goes into the end zone for a touchback. Davis wouldn’t have had to hope; he caught it in the end zone. He returned it only nine yards, to the 8, instead of the Packers getting the ball at the 20 on the touchback. Field position matters for the Packers now more than ever.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers had a couple changes in his secondary Sunday. He played a lot more of his 3-4 base defense, and his two cornerbacks in base were Damarious Randall and Davon House. I would have thought rookie Kevin King and probably House would have been the starters. King still played in the nickel, but Randall was ahead of him in base. Maybe King’s sore shoulder was a factor there, because he would have to do a lot of tackling in run defense — stopping the run was the reason the Packers played so much base in the first place. He wasn’t listed on the injury report this week but has been playing with a harness to protect his shoulder and has had shoulder issues going back to college. In another personnel change with Morgan Burnett (hamstring) out, Jermaine Whitehead played safety in the dime when Josh Jones moved up to the slot in the dime. Up to now, Marwin Evans had been the safety when Jones moved.
There’s no knowing for sure because Aaron Jones left the game early with a knee injury, but it looked like coach Mike McCarthy was going to use the rookie in a third-down role that he didn’t play last week against Detroit. In that game, McCarthy replaced Jones with Montgomery at running back on third downs. But Sunday, Jones stayed on the field on the first third down on the day, a third-and-5. Three plays later, Jones had a six-yard run but left and never returned because of the injury. Montgomery and Randall Cobb handled most of the third-down work at running back thereafter until Montgomery (ribs) left with an injury, too. Then it was Jamaal Williams or Ripkowski.