A Tip of the Kaep to Milwaukee's FinestPosted:Jan 13th, 2013 5:18 am
Leave it to a Milwaukee kid to put an emphatic end to the Packers season. Not too many folks not named Harbaugh believed Colin Kapernick would be the most dynamic quarterback on the field Saturday night. But after an ugly pick six to open the game, the Milwaukee native proceeded to make history--at the expense of the completely flummoxed Packers defense.
Sixteen carries for 181 yards. That's more than 11 yards per carry. And we're not talking about Adrian Peterson. Kaepernick ran the read option like RGIII on steroids. Time and time again Erik Walden bit and the young QB saw acres of wide open space. Then, after a 109 yard first half performance, he showed off his arm: finding Michael Crabtree in tight places and hitting Vernon Davis in stride with a 44 yard strike. Two players later, Frank Gore found the end zone and the Pack was down 38-24 and pretty much out. The Packers were unable to make any adjustments to slow the kid down: that's an indictment of Dom Capers, who was unprepared to scheme for the dual threat that Kaepernick clearly was.
The defense looked slow, lost and confused. It makes you wonder whether Mike McCarthy will decide to move on from Capers. But what are the options? Do you promote Trgovac or Greene? And would the team be better off? The Pack needs some re-enforcements at inside linebacker and safety. San Fran has six All-Pros, the Packers have none. Do the math. Getting Desmond Bishop and Nick Perry back will help, but the Pack needs to rely on more blue chip talent, and fewer undrafted guys (guys like Walden and Moses). Looking ahead, we've likely seen the last of Charles Woodson and AJ Hawk.
The offense never really got in rhythm--they were out of sync from the beginning. They couldn't stay on the field early and could never get the running game going. But what really bugs me is why, with the Pack trailing 31-24 in the third quarter, DuJuan Harris was nowhere to be found. McCarthy went to his empty backfield, one dimensional offense. And it went nowhere.
On this side of the ball, the team is likely to look quite a bit different next season. Driver, Finley and Jennings are most certainly gone and I would expect Starks, Benson and maybe even Alex Green will move on as well. The Packers need to find a legit running back to start 2013. DuJuan Harris should be in the mix, but they have to find someone who can add a dimension to the offense. And the offensive line needs work. Hopefully Sherrod and Bulaga can return from devastating injuries. If not, tackle will once again be a draft priority.
It obviously wasn't the Packers' night. We have to salute Kaepernick, Crabtree, their offensive line and their offensive coordinator, Greg Roman (who may have earned a head coaching gig) for crafting and delivering a game plan that the Packers couldn't solve. It's another premature end to a Packers season that had its share of highs and lows and too many injuries to count.
It's disappointing and the Packers will not enter 201s as the Super Bowl favorites, but they'll be a contender and the changes that take place in the front office, coaching staff and on the roster will shape how serious a contender they ultimately are.