The Packers have struggled to maintain some semblance of consistency this season. They're 5-4 this season, but their biggest win to date was last week at home against the Cowboys. They've beaten bad teams, but have struggled getting over the hump against good teams (sound familiar?). However, at first glance, I can think of one that would appear to be consistent: they've got some bad mother-[site decorum] cornerbacks in Charles Woodson and Al Harris.
Woodson has 5 interceptions and Harris has two interceptions, while the rest of their secondary has thrown in eight more for good measure. This is a secondary filled with playmakers. Playmakers that could make Alex Smith look very bad this Sunday. Ignoring the rushing game for a minute, I think it's safe to say this secondary inspires a bit of fear in most people. Throw in the fact that the 49ers will be starting a rookie and a second year wide receiver and lord knows how this would potentially turn out.
At the same time, for the FO supporters in the house, that 9th ranked pass defense might be a bit misleading. FO ranks teams against the various potential receivers, including running backs. Green Bay ranks 26th against #1 receivers and 21st against #2 receivers. Against all other wide receivers they're 2nd, they're 5th against tight ends, and they're 6th against running backs. Intriguing to say the least.
Michael Crabtree and Josh Morgan aren't exactly your prototypical #1/#2 wide receivers, primarily due to their lack of experience in the NFL. Crabtree is proving himself to be a real talent, but each week we see some new area where he clearly has to improve. But again, he is a rookie after all, so these things are expected. As for Josh Morgan, the former 6th round pick has had a bit of a roller-coaster ride thus far in his short NFL career. Some weeks he looks like a stud playmaker, while other weeks he can barely get out of his own way. His blocking skills have been quite solid, but obviously most folks are looking for a bit more out of him than that.
I took a quick look at the Packers matchups each week to see if any numbers jumped out. In looking through all their games, Brett Favre's 271 yard, 3 touchdown passing performance week 4 is probably the best performance thus far. In that game, Bernard Berrian had 75 yards and a TD and Sidney Rice had 70 yards and a TD. Percy Harvin had 2 receptions for 39 yards and no touchdowns, although I'm not sure what WR he was considered in that game (I think #3?). It doesn't tell us much but I figured it was worth noting.
I've posted the Packers 2009 box scores after the jump for those who want to snoop around a bit more. Some of the quality receivers in the NFL (Ochocinco, R. Williams, Hester) have put up solid numbers. In the second Vikings game, Percy Harvin was actually the leading Vikings receiver with 84 yards, while Berrian was second at 47 yards. Not so surprisingly, the Lions, Rams and Browns all had pretty poor performances from their wide receivers.
I'd like to be more confident heading into this weekend, but I tend to think it really will take a bit of a breakthrough performance from Alex Smith for the 49ers' wide receivers to put up quality numbers. Of course, it'd be pretty sweet if this was the game where Alex Smith really broke out as an NFL quarterback.
Does anybody feel even a little bit comfortable with the wide receiver-cornerback matchups this week?
Week 1 - Chicago @ GB
Week 2 - Cincinnati @ GB
Week 3 - GB @ St. Louis
Week 4 - GB @ Minnesota
Week 6 - Detroit @ GB
Week 7 - GB @ Cleveland
Week 8 - Minnesota @ GB
Week 9 - GB @ Tampa Bay
Week 10 - Dallas @ GB