4 Downs: Packers double down on Beckham

Pete Dougherty
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Every week I’ll share four observations after the Green Bay Packers' game. Here they are after the Packers’ 38-13 defeat of the Giants on Sunday:

First down: The only other receiver I can remember seeing two defensive backs jamming at the line of scrimmage was Detroit's Calvin Johnson. I don’t remember the opponent, but a few years ago I saw a highlight of a defense doubling Johnson at the line of scrimmage on a play inside the 5. On Sunday, the Packers did it to Odell Beckham Jr. If it wasn’t obvious enough already that defensive coordinator Dom Capers wasn’t going to let Beckham beat the Packers, then a play in the second quarter left no doubt. On a third-and-4 at the edge of the red zone (the Packers’ 22), Capers had cornerback LaDarius Gunter on Beckham wide left, and then had safety Kentrell Brcie run up a little before the snap to be a second jammer. If you didn’t know better, you’d have thought Beckham was a gunner in punt coverage. It worked that play — Eli Manning threw an incompletion elsewhere. Aside from that, the Packers almost always had Gunter on Beckham, and Gunter almost always (or maybe always) had a safety cheating his way to help over the top. That also worked. Beckham had four catches in 11 targets for 28 yards.

DOUGHERTYPack potent even without Nelson

INSIDERThumbs up to Davante Adams

PLAYOFFSSchedule, times

Second down: When Mike McCarthy went for it on fourth-and-less-than-a-yard in the third quarter, I thought at the time it was the wrong call. The Packers were up 14-6 and in their own territory (the 42). Despite a bad first half they were ahead, so why open the door for a struggling Giants’ offense? It failed. But in McCarthy’s defense, I don’t think it was the big blunder many observers on Twitter did, and you have to remember that his aggressiveness cuts both ways. When McCarthy called a timeout with just over two minutes until halftime and the Giants facing second-and-9, I thought that was a mistake, too. If the Giants converted the first down in two plays, they’d have been gifted a timeout and would have had almost two minutes to move the ball trailing 7-6. It’s not like teams haven’t taken advantage of the Packers’ secondary before in that circumstance this season. But it worked. The Packers made the stop, and that set up Aaron Rodgers’ Hail Mary touchdown to Randall Cobb. So McCarthy’s aggressiveness there picked up seven big points.

Third down: Jeff Janis hasn’t had the borderline Pro Bowl special-teams season he had last year, but Sunday was one of his best special-teams games of the season. In the second quarter he had his longest kickoff return of the season, a 33-yarder to the Packers’ 44, on a burst up the middle of the field. Also, as a gunner on two second-quarter punts he beat the jam — one was a double team — to the inside and outran everyone to tackle dangerous Giants return man Dwayne Harris for returns of zero yards and one yard.

McGINNRodgers, Packers slay the Giants

INSIDERThumbs up to Davante Adams

Fourth down: Inside linebacker Jake Ryan looked like he had one of his best games of the season. Ryan’s strength is playing the run, but he had three pass breakups, including a pass down the middle seam to Beckham in the fourth quarter. Another came on a second-and-3 throw to tight end William Tye in the third quarter that helped end a possession just as the Packers were taking control of the game. Ryan also led the Packers in tackles with 12.

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