Offensively, defensively, at home or on the road, when the Packers have lost this season, they have flamed out completely. Opposing teams have dictated game plans to the max and the Packers have sat back and watched.
So it should come as little surprise that Jets' head coach Eric Mangini and quarterback Chad Pennington had their way with the Packers on Sunday. Mangini, a descendant of the Bill Belichick hierarchy, knows exactly what he wants and he will take his chances with it. Pennington runs the Jets' motion, multiple-set offense like a doctor performing brain surgery and knows that if he is patient, all will go well.
The Packers on the other hand, have Mike McCarthy, a new coach showing promise, yet not certain about what he wants to do offensively beyond stressing the fundamentals. Defensive coordinator Bob Sanders has been even worse in his approach. He was retained as an assistant primarily to maintain continuity, but has instead sent it down a path of flames.
The result of two teams with two different approaches came to the surface at flurry-filled Lambeau Field. It was as measurable as the 38-10 final score. With evenly matched talent, therefore, the Jets are 7-5 and the Packers are 4-8.
After the game, McCarthy really had no answers for his team's performance. It was not for lack of effort or execution necessarily, it was just that the Packers let the Jets dictate the game. That has been a common theme in at least three other Packers losses this season.
Said McCarthy of his team's first-half, 31-0 deficit: "I thought our opponent squads did a great job giving us shifts and motions. We didn't have alignment issues. Our issues were execution. You talk about our defense; we looked like we had no pass rush. We looked like we were playing in mud. Chad Pennington was just out there playing pitch and catch with his receivers."
Pennington dissected the Packers because they let him. He primarily hit passes short and down the middle to eight different receivers. He used a quick huddle and the Packers were late in adjusting defenses because of it. Like the Seahawks the week before, the Jets used primarily spread-formation sets and constant motion to hurt the Packers, only they did it through the air, not on the ground.
As usual, the Packers did not rely on their man-to-man pass coverage, a staple of ex-defensive coordinator Jim Bates, but they mixed defenses when they should have imposed their own version of a will. The Packers' defense was on its heels and quite predictably the Jets had a first-half explosion of 340 yards of offense, nearly totaling their best SINGLE-GAME output of the year. The game was essentially over there.
Cornerback Charles Woodson even said his team knew what the Jets were going to do offensively, expecting a game plan similar to the Seahawks just a week ago. That makes the Packers first-half performance look even worse. Nickel back Patrick Dendy agreed.
"We planned for what they were going to do and they came out and they did it, and it still worked for them," said Dendy. "We've got to get on the same page, and we weren't on the same page for a lot of the first half."
To be fair, the Packers' defense was not getting any help from the offense in the first half. Besides a 35-yard run by Ahman Green, Brett Favre and Co. did essentially nothing. Like all season, the Packers could not find any components of their offense to lean on and cannot really count on anyone to make a big play besides Donald Driver.
"We're just not in rhythm on offense," said McCarthy.
Regardless of what the numbers say, the game did not get any better for the offense in the second half. After the Packers cut the lead to 31-10 and recovered an onside kick, the offense deflated any momentum and excitement in the stadium by going three-and-out.
Like the season opener against the Bears, a home game against the Patriots on Nov. 19, and the second half against the Seahawks last week, the Packers did not seem to have a clue. They were outmatched and could not react to what was happening until it was too late.
"I think we have a little bit of wait-and-see when it goes flat a little bit," said McCarthy. "I think that's just a product of your veterans stepping up and making plays. You had some of that in the first half. Everyone's kind of waiting for Brett to make a play or Woodson to make a play."
Talent alone cannot win games in the NFL. Just ask players like Nick Barnett, Driver, Favre, Green, Al Harris, A.J. Hawk, Aaron Kampman, and Woodson. The Packers have plenty of good players to compete, but there has to be confidence and decisiveness from the coaches leading them. Right now, it is not quite there and it shows on game day.
Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at email@example.com.