Turnovers Forced on Defense
Typically a unit that doesn’t force many fumbles, the Packers defense generated three against a normally-discipline Cincinnati offense. Sam Shields added an interception in the process of shutting down A.J. Green for three of the four quarters. Through three regular season games Brad Jones just might be the defense’s MVP – the fifth-year linebacker has been instrumental in the run defense’s success and has made Desmond Bishop’s absence considerably less noticeable.
Major improvements in run blocking yielded a 100-yard rusher for a second week in a row, this time on the legs of rookie Johnathan Franklin. Going forward, this type of performance will allow the Packers to control the tempo in the second half of games, an area where Mike McCarthy’s teams have struggled in the past. When Eddie Lacy and James Starks return from injuries after the bye week, the Packers will have a nice assortment of between-the-tackles and change-of-pace skill sets.
Only one week removed from a career performance against Washington, Aaron Rodgers was a disaster (relatively speaking) versus Cincinnati, posting a quarterback rating of 64.5. It was clear that Rodgers wasn’t himself in Cincinnati after a first half spat with Mike McCarthy on the sideline. The 2011 NFL MVP has traditionally responded well to adversity so I see no reason to believe that whatever affected him on Sunday will be present after the bye week.
Since stealing one of the last roster spots in late August, Ross has done everything to prove the coaching staff’s decision wrong – including a muffed kickoff that helped put the Packers in a quick 14-point hole against the Bengals. Later in the game, Ross nearly kept a kickoff in-play from his own 1 yard line rather than letting the ball roll out of bounds. Ninety percent of Ross’s value to the team comes on special teams, so the staff feels compelled to keep the struggling return man as the starter.