Where’d the defense go?
By The Sports Xchange
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers entered the game with a 116.4 passer rating against the Vikings. That’s the highest mark by any quarterback against a single opponent since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. He also came in with a 70.7 completion percentage, 24 touchdowns and just four interceptions in 10 regular-season games against the Vikings.
Well, Rodgers managed to boost all of those numbers except the interceptions significantly higher in Sunday’s 44-31 win at Mall of America Field. He completed 82.8 percent of his passes (24 of 29 with three throwaways and one drop) with two touchdowns, no picks and a 130.6 passer rating.
But that wasn’t the most impressive stat, believe it or not. On third downs, Rodgers was 10 of 10 for 172 yards, six first downs and two touchdowns. He also was 2 of 2 with two first downs on fourth down.
As a team, the Packers converted 13 of 18 third-down opportunities, bettering their season high by six conversions.
The Vikings, meanwhile, dropped to last in the league in third-down defense. They’re giving up conversions at a 51.0 percent rate. The last team to finish a season allowing at least a 50-percent conversion rate was the 1995 Browns.
The miserable third-down performance has Frazier worried about much more than whether to start Josh Freeman or Christian Ponder at quarterback. He’s also contemplating some schematic changes on defense, both on third down and on earlier downs to avoid teams having so many third-and-short situations.
“I think you have to do it,” Frazier said. “We’re so bad right now on third down on defense. You’ve got to look at how we’re doing it, what we’re doing schematically, and also the people that you’re asking to do certain things. Can they get it done? Do we need to be doing something different based on the people that we’re asking to execute the defense? This is the time without question to try to go back and look at some things any time a team gets 72 percent conversion rate. That’s time to really do some re-evaluation.”
Frazier doesn’t think there’s much he can do from a personnel standpoint.
“I don’t know what you can do personnel-wise,” Frazier said. “Our guys are doing the very best that they can. We have some young guys on the back end that are battling. They’re getting better. They’re making some headway. I don’t know very much you can do there. We’ve got to look at what we’re asking them to do and how can we help them to be better at what we’re asking them to do. There are some things that we can try that should help us and that’s the approach that we’ll take this week.”