Report card vs. Eagles

Here are the grades for the Green Bay Packers in the wake of their 31-9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night. Green Bay's pass defense again was a thorn in the side. Thus far, the defense has given up 38 big plays to opponents.

PASSING OFFENSE: D
Coming off his first mistake-free game in nearly a year, Brett Favre relapsed against an opportunistic Eagles defense that has given him the most trouble in recent years. In back-to-back possessions in the third quarter, a checkdown fastball to running back Vernand Morency was tipped into a lineman's awaiting hands, and then Favre resorted to his 2005 careless ways of putting a downfield pass down the middle up for grabs. Both interceptions led to Eagles touchdowns that put the game away after the margin was only 17-9 late in the third quarter.

Reliable receiver Donald Driver had two pivotal drops on quick slants -- the first on what would have been a touchdown early in the game and the second that stemmed a drive in Eagles territory in the third quarter. On a positive note, Favre wasn't sacked for the second straight game, though right tackle Mark Tauscher allowed Juqua Thomas to get a clean shot on the quarterback's right arm as he was throwing and knock him out of the game late in the fourth quarter.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C-plus
The absence of Ahman Green because of a hamstring injury thrust Morency into a busy featured role. He had 26 carries for 99 yards, on top of catching six passes. Morency showed flashes of being an effective early-down back. He occasionally hit the hole quick and had six runs of at least 6 yards with a long of 10. However, the second-year player followed in Green's early-season footsteps with a critical fumble inside the Packers' 5-yard line that the Eagles easily turned into a second-quarter touchdown.

Morency's bid for a 100-yard game was for naught when he failed to reach the end zone on four straight run plays from within the Eagles' 2 to end the game.

PASS DEFENSE: D-minus
Some pocket pressure applied by Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Cullen Jenkins and Aaron Kampman and out-of-the-ordinary effective downfield coverage in the early going kept the end analysis from reflecting an utter failure.

Once cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Ahmad Carroll were beaten on back-to-back long passes late in the first half, though, the sickly pass coverage reared its ugly head for the fourth straight game. Carroll was responsible for three of Donovan McNabb's nine completions of at least 16 yards and played himself off the team. Cornerback Al Harris was penalty prone at the outset.

Free safety Nick Collins continues to get exploited in the open field. Strong safety Marquand Manuel hasn't met a tackle he can make. McNabb torched the defense for 288 yards with only 16 completed passes and was equally menacing on broken plays, scrambling for 47 yards and two touchdowns.

RUSH DEFENSE: C
The best news of the night purportedly came a couple hours before kickoff when the Eagles decided to sit ultraback Brian Westbrook, a thorn in Green Bay's side the previous two meetings. Even with not being consumed by Westbrook's whereabouts on every down, the defense couldn't corral Correll Buckhalter and Ryan Moats when the game was hanging in the balance in the second half. Moats had back-to-back carries of 7 and 8 yards in Packers territory as the Eagles pounded the defense with a 15-play, 6 1/2-minute drive to open the second half that yielded a go-ahead field goal. Buckhalter later ripped off a 16-yard run to the outside to ignite the Eagles' final touchdown sequence and averaged 4.5 yards in 11 carries.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus
Dave Rayner, taken to task for missing badly on a 53-yard field-goal attempt in the season opener, proved the future holds promise in his young career. He accounted for all of the team's points with three first-half field goals, highlighted by a 54-yard strike down the middle that equaled the franchise record previously attained by Chris Jacke and Ryan Longwell.

Rayner, who also had bookend conversions of 23 and 46 yards, couldn't duplicate the 54-yard feat when he was wide left in the third quarter with the Packers down 10-9. Save for a couple line-drive kicks in the fourth quarter, Jon Ryan was solid again with a gross average of 46.6 yards in five attempts with a long of 60. However, the net dipped to 38.2 as Dexter Wynn and Reno Mahe combined to average a robust 14 yards on returns. Wynn also was prolific on kickoff returns. The Packers had little with which to counter, though Woodson showed initial burst on an 11-yard punt return. Robert Ferguson was more effective than Koren Robinson on kickoff returns, but Ferguson suffered an apparent broken foot on a return in the fourth quarter.

COACHING: D
The bye week that comes after Sunday's game against St. Louis can't come soon enough for a defensive staff that needs to come up with a remedy for the bevy of explosive plays that has been mostly responsible for the team's 1-3 start. The outrageous number swelled to 38 once Donovan McNabb and the Eagles' high-powered offense got on track after halftime.

Offensive-minded head coach Mike McCarthy can't sit idly by and keep hoping the same group of perpetually victimized pass defenders will finally turn the corner.

McCarthy, meanwhile, helped fuel the big-play assault that did in the Packers by pressing his luck with sending the strong-legged, though inconsistent Rayner out for the second field-goal try from 54 yards. With the Eagles up only 10-9, McCarthy should have taken into account field position, especially for his offense that was sputtering at the time. Instead, Rayner's miss started the Eagles offense near midfield, and McNabb needed only two plays to undress Carroll with a 45-yard touchdown heave to Greg Lewis to set the rout in motion.


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