Report Card: Packers-Dolphins

Not surprisingly considering the varied gaffes and blunders, the Packers missed the mark against Miami on Sunday. The passing game was burned by poor protection and more dropped passes.

PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Aaron Rodgers held up the whole way only a week removed from suffering a concussion, but the offensive line did him no favors as the quarterback was sacked a season-high five times. Rookie right tackle Bryan Bulaga, making his second straight start, was schooled by outside linebacker Cameron Wake, who had three sacks and six of Miami's 10 hits on Rodgers. Greg Jennings finally played a big part in the passing game with six catches for 133 yards, highlighted by a career-best 86-yard touchdown on a double move at the expense of cornerback Vontae Davis. However, Rodgers, who threw for 313 yards in only 18 completions out of 33 attempts, was victimized by three more drops (two by Jordy Nelson) and no effort by James Jones to make a play on an underthrown pass intercepted by cornerback Jason Allen.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- Even though head coach/play caller Mike McCarthy tried to show some faith in the patchwork run game, it took Rodgers to punch the ball in from a yard out on a fourth-and-goal sneak to tie the score in the final seconds of regulation after John Kuhn was stuffed for no gain on the previous two plays. With only one explosive run (14 yards by Brandon Jackson), the Packers were mediocre in gaining 76 yards for an average of 3.6 yards per rush.

PASS DEFENSE: C-minus -- The cornerback trio of Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields and even safety Charlie Peprah were hung out to dry more often than not in defending Brandon Marshall (10 catches for 127 yards) all over the field. Williams did recover nicely after stumbling to get a bead on a bad pass from Chad Henne to Marshall for a red-zone interception. Nose tackle B.J. Raji, linebacker Desmond Bishop and safety Nick Collins each had nice breakups. The Packers, minus NFL sack leader Clay Matthews at linebacker, didn't have a sack for the first time this season and were burned on a two-man blitz in Henne's face as he swung around to lob a pass to open tight end Anthony Fasano for a 22-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

RUSH DEFENSE: D -- The depleted defense wore down in the second half and overtime, when the Dolphins were at their finest in unleashing the two-headed monster of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Green Bay had little push up front from a line missing run-stopping end Ryan Pickett and rookie backup Mike Neal, as Brown and Williams combined for 84 yards in 19 carries (4.4 average) after halftime -- capped by 18 yards in tandem in the Dolphins' second possession of overtime to get them in position to kick the game-winning field goal. The Packers allowed a season-high 150 rushing yards, though the insertion of backup offensive lineman T.J. Lang as a defensive tackle helped plug up the middle and get a stop by linebacker A.J. Hawk and Peprah on a fourth-and-1 run by Brown.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D-minus -- Backup linebacker Robert Francois was left with the ignominy of drawing an illegal-formation penalty that was called belatedly and never should have been called on a Dolphins punt in the fourth quarter. That gave Miami a new set of downs and led to the go-ahead touchdown pass from Henne to Fasano. Still, the Packers' special teams snafus ran much deeper. Tim Masthay was a liability on the majority of his five punts (gross average of 38 yards), culminating with a weak kick of 37 yards that started the Dolphins near midfield for their game-winning drive in overtime. Pat Lee and Jordy Nelson combined to average an atrocious 19.8 yards on kickoffs -- Lee did improve on his laughable 7-yard runback in the previous game with a 10-yard return. Williams wasn't any better on punt returns. Kicker Mason Crosby sacrificed his body to make a hard tackle of the Dolphins' Nolan Carroll and save a potential touchdown on a 37-yard return.

COACHING: D -- Another week of multiple drops and failed execution on third down (3-for-13) bogged down the offense. McCarthy's travails in calling the plays were further hindered by not giving Bulaga help against the pass-rushing prowess of Wake, whom the Dolphins wisely moved from his customary right side to exploit the rookie. Not having the injured Matthews should have been more reason to try to get after the immobile Henne, but defensive coordinator Dom Capers toned things down and paid for it with the impact Marshall made. Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum's approval rating in Green Bay is critically low.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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