The final score of the Packers’ Week 5 meeting with Detroit suggested that they turned in the exact type of rebound performance needed after their bitter loss to Cincinnati two weeks ago. In reality, Green Bay’s victory was sloppy and error-filled, as a sleepy Packers team took advantage of Calvin Johnson’s absence and keyed in on the electric Reggie Bush. At the same time, nine points allowed by the defense and 449 yards worth of offense is impressive regardless of the opponent.
A normally-sluggish pass rush was able to drop Matthew Stafford four times on Sunday, despite allowing 262 yards through the air. Two of those sacks came from Nick Perry, who had been arguably the quietest starter on the defensive side of the ball since the start of the regular season. And while Perry’s stat line stood out, it was fellow outside linebacker Mike Neal who had his nose around the ball all day.
For a third game in a row, the Packers were very effective on the ground, which is more a testament to the backs’ ability to pick up tough yardage than stellar blocking from the O-line. Such production is particularly noteworthy when you consider the caliber of the front sevens that the Packers have faced of late. There is, however, room for improvement as Johnathan Franklin has had trouble holding onto the football and Eddie Lacy fails to demonstrate the same type of vision as James Starks.
With the backfield’s success has come a heightened level of predictability in Mike McCarthy’s play calling. The Packers head coach has developed a habit of sticking to the run until defenses shut it down, instead of keeping the opposition honest. Perhaps even more frustrating is the willingness for McCarthy and Rodgers to get cute on third and short rather than going with high-percentage plays that tend to sustain drives.
Despite McCarthy’s routine emphasis on limiting penalties, the Packers continue to play undisciplined football in all three phases of the game. The Packers were flagged ten times for 72 yards, compared to the Lions’ seven penalties for 50 yards. Green Bay’s mistakes were not enough to lift a Calvin Johnson-less Lions team at Lambeau but certainly have the potential to change the tone of a game against a tougher opponent.