Manning too much for depleted secondary

Sunday's exciting loss to the Indianapolis Colts, while disappointing, wasn't a total surprise. We all expected this game to be a shootout and a shootout it was.<p>

Both offenses produced more than 900 yards against both defenses that were plagued this week with numerous injuries to key personnel in the secondary. And it was the secondary on both sides that were riddled drive after drive. We saw blown assignments by the Colts, which they were able to correct in the second half. The Packers' mistakes appeared to be talent. I saw numerous technique flaws play after play as quarterback Peyton Manning stayed away from Al Harris and attacked the weakness of the Packers defense. For example Michael Hawthorne bailed out on every snap instead of backpedaling and reading the receiver's route. On the first touchdown, Hawthorne allowed the receiver to run free to the middle of field were he had no safety help.

In man-to-man coverage, defensive backs are taught to take away the easiest throw, which is the one down the middle of the field and force the quarterback to make the tougher throw to the outside, which has the ball in the air the longest giving you the corner a chance to make a play. Safety Darren Sharper and cornerback Jason Horton both stopped their feet during their coverage, and the receivers just simply ran by them.

Another touchdown was scored when the Packers defense was playing the Cover Two on one of Manning's first-half touchdown passes to wide receiver Brandon Stokley. I know it looked like Sharper seemed late on the throw, but I put the blame on the corner. It is a long way for the safety to go to get to the sideline route when there's receivers running thru the middle of the zone, so it's imperative that the corner either jam or redirect the receiver preferably to the inside where either a linebacker or defensive back is dropping. To make the Cover Two defense effective, the cornerback has to drop back, forcing the quarterback to put the ball over the top. This buys time for the safety to react and make a play.

For the second week in a row the Packers defense has broken down and has shown the rest of the National Football League how vulnerable it is. I mentioned earlier this summer how the offense would have to score early and often to make up for the deficiencies on defense. We saw it on behalf of the Colts, as they had to keep scoring because of the weaknesses on their defense. Now with all that being said there are only a handful of teams on the Packers' schedule that have the offensive arsenal as the Colts. That includes three if not four quality wide receivers, a game-breaking running back, a solid tight end and a quarterback that make plays.

Green Bay's offense can help the defense by cutting down on penalties and turnovers. The Packers proved to everyone around the league again how potent they can be and proved how the little mistakes hurt their chances to sustain drives and win games. This unit took full advantage of all the mistakes and lack of talent the Colts had on defense. If the Packers would have had fewer miscues, they could have pulled this one out.

This Sunday the Packers play against a veteran New York Giants defensive unit led by defensive end and active career sack leader Michael Strahan. Offensively, the Giants do not feature the offensive weapons as the Colts did and should provide a much better match up for the defense and a nicer home coming for the Packers this Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Editor's note: Johnnie Gray played safety for the Packers from 1975-84. He was inducted into the Packer Hall of Fame in 1994. E-mail him at

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