Gray: Breaking it down

Former Packers safety Johnnie Gray provides his analysis of Green Bay's 26-0 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Lambeau Field. Gray breaks down the offense, defense and special teams in his column.

Who's the blame? Ted Thompson for not mortgaging the farm to instantly put a winner on the field? Or, on the other hand, do we blame the offensive line for being young, inconsistent and unable to keep opponents out of the backfield? How about a much more improved defense that had a ranking of number one against the pass last year, but was torched on Sunday by the Bears? Yes, I'm disappointed too, but let's be real about this year's team. As the season moves ahead they will get better as this coaching staff learns the true talent of this team and themselves.

Offense too conservative
I felt the offense was much too passive in their game plan. They weren't sure about much success Ahman Green would have, so they loaded up with tight ends to give help in their blocking schemes. I like the idea of having two tight ends and sometimes three, but felt they weren't involved in the passing game enough. Too many times they stayed in and blocked no one. As soon as they felt they were not needed they should have become an outlet receiver immediately. By staying in, it cut down the throwing lanes for Brett Favre. However, the Bears are great in the Tampa Bay cover two. If it is never threatened down the middle by a tight end or a halfback, then the defense works great. As a safety, you must protect the linebacker and the easiest pass, which is down the middle as opposed to the hardest throw along the sidelines. Bringing three wide receivers would be counterproductive, as it would bring in the nickel or dime package. After seeing how Green performed, I expect the offense to be much less conservative.

Other than another blown coverage by Marquand Manuel, the defense didn't allow a touchdown despite the field position it was given all day. The defense has to do a better job of disguising its plays. Whenever quarterback Rex Grossman recognized blitz coverage, he took advantage of Brady Poppinga with the tight end and ran his receivers away from the defenders. We know Poppinga likes to hit, but his aggressiveness got him into trouble as Desmond Clark made him whiff a couple of times when he tried to get a jam on the line of scrimmage. The linebackers have another challenge this weekend with Reggie Bush, the Heisman Trophy winning running back coming to town. He's fast and elusive so look for a more zone coverage.

Special teams
Quality depth is much needed for special teams to make a dent on this team. Seeing the punter being the only one closing in on Devin Hester was a bit scary. It's common to have a couple of players on the roster who are specialists at playing on special teams. They have little if no chance of playing time, a la Bears super special teams player Brendon Ayanbadejo. Poppinga was that man for the Pack before his knee injury last year. Defensive end/linebacker Jason Hunter has shown some flashes of being that type of player. Settling on a return man would be nice also.

Johnnie Gray

Editor's note: Former safety Johnnie Gray played 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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