Sunday School: What we learned vs. the Texans

Veteran Packer Report writer W. Keith Roerdink details what he learned from the Packers' latest loss, a 24-21 setback to the Houston Texans that sent Green Bay to 5-8 and the brink of elimination.

1.) You are who your record says you are
Green Bay is 5-8, which is exactly where it should be. The Packers are consistently inconsistent. They are uninspired and mediocre in enough areas that it's difficult to point to one player or position and say that is the reason they are third in the NFC North. Don't kid yourself with the five losses by four points or less. Good teams find ways to win at least a few of those games. They don't point to the few plays that woulda, shoulda, coulda changed the outcome. They don't bring up officiating. This is about across-the-board underachieving, from the general manager to the coaching staff to the players. It is about questionable personnel decisions and game management and failing fundamentals on the field. Injuries are a definite factor, but that's something every team deals with, especially late in the year.

To lose at frigid Lambeau Field to a Houston team that's never had a winning record is inexcusable. To give up 549 yards is inexcusable. And to get four turnovers but end up on the losing end of a 24-21 game says just how miserable things went. Cornerback Tramon Williams said, "I know in my heart we're not a 5-8 team." Maybe he'll feel differently after watching the film.

 Forget the playoffs. This team needs to find a way to win another game.

2.) Kapinos put the 'special' back in special teams
After a 25-yard shank that made us think Derrick Frost just switched jersey numbers, Jeremy Kapinos let us know it really was a different punter out there on Sunday. Better late than never. Kapinos averaged 41.6 yards on his final seven punts and downed three inside Houston's 20-yard line — a single-game high this season. After drawing boos on his first boot, something fans had done to Frost a week earlier, Kapinos had the crowd cheering.

 "After that. it was fun to get cheered like that," Kapinos said. "I don't know if I really deserved it, but I'll take it."

 Along with adding distance, Kapinos upped his initial hang time from 2.97 seconds to a 4.02 average. It was an encouraging debut for a player who had as much pressure on him as any player stepping onto the Frozen Tundra, and he saved his best for last. With his final punt, Kapinos landed the ball at the Texans' 2-yard line. It bounced and was covered at the 3 by the Packers with 2 minutes remaining and the score tied 21-21. You can't ask for much more from your punter than that.

3.) Tauscher's knee injury has short- and long-term ramifications
Kris Brown's winning field goal officially added insult to injury. Right tackle Mark Tauscher wasn't the only Packer injured in the game, but the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee sustained on the second play of the second quarter is easily the most devastating. Tauscher is a leader on a team that needs all the leadership it can get and has been the team's best and most consistent lineman both pass blocking and run blocking. Though Tony Moll did an adequate job in relief, the drop-off is significant.

The long-term implications aren't good, either. Tauscher is in the final year of his contract, and it's difficult to anticipate how the team will negotiate with a 31-year -old player and nine-year vet coming off of a major knee injury. Even if Tauscher is re-signed, it's impossible to know if he'll be the same player next year that he was this year.

4.) Somehow, the defense actually got worse
Stats don't lie. And the 549 yards given up by Green Bay's defense was the most given up since the Washington Redskins gained 552 in an Oct. 17, 1983, "Monday Night Football" matchup won by the Packers 48-47. That the Packers won makes the yardage figure a footnote. That the Packers lost to the Texans makes those three digits the story of the game and one of the most telling numbers of the season. That the Packers forced four turnovers only served to keep the score from being more lopsided. In truth, their penchant for forcing turnovers this season has only masked their other deficiencies in run defense and rushing the passer.

On Sunday, defensive coordinator Bob Sanders once again put cornerback Charles Woodson at safety for the injured Atari Bigby and let Tramon Williams start for Woodson. On the surface, it puts the Packers' four best players in the backfield, with Woodson and Williams joining safety Nick Collins and corner Al Harris. But in shifting Woodson, they've taken him out of his natural playmaking role. Worse, Williams, who was one of the team's brightest young stars while filling in for an injured Harris earlier in the year, had a horrible game, giving up plays of 58, 46 and 24 yards. Harris continued his strong play against opposing receivers, holding Andre Johnson to just 55 yards. Still, Houston quarterback Matt Schaub sliced up this group for 414 yards. That Green Bay can't put any consistent pressure aside from Aaron Kampman or generate any through their scheme only compounded the issue.

5.) Bishop is a player worth watching
Desmond Bishop's ability to make the big play and give it up makes him a bit of a poster child for this season's defensive struggles. But for a young player who has not seen much time from scrimmage, Bishop has an intriguing blend of attitude and athleticism. Bishop got the start in place of the injured Brandon Chillar. But in yet another curious move by Sanders, Bishop, a natural middle linebacker who backed up the spot as a rookie and excelled in spot duty there at Minnesota, was inserted as the weak-side linebacker, while A.J. Hawk played in the middle. It's fair to question if Hawk and Bishop should've played the positions they are most familiar with. Still, Bishop responded with a team-leading 11 tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. He alternated with Hawk as the single linebacker in the dime defense.

That move would prove costly, however, when Bishop would bite on a move by tight end Owen Daniels on a second-and-6 play that led to a 27-yard catch and run and set up Brown's 40-yard game-winning kick. Bishop had a similar day against the Vikings when he came on in relief of Barnett and notched eight tackles, a tackle for a loss and caused Adrian Peterson to fumble on a fourth-and-1 carry. Unfortunately, he also got juked by running back Chester Taylor on a sideline reception, which led to a 47-yard touchdown. But if he can learn from those mistakes, Bishop could be a playmaker down the stretch as Green Bay tries to salvage its season.

W. Keith Roerdink has covered the Packers since 1992. E-mail him at

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