“I thought that the defense’s approach to the last game, as far as the objectives — went out to stop the run, do those types of things — we addressed that,” McCarthy said. “We have to learn from what we did do wrong. But I think this unit’s clearly more in sync than we’ve been in prior years as far as coming out of training camp. I have a lot of confidence.”
But there are, as safety M.D. Jennings put it, “some technical issues” for Green Bay as the Redskins approach. In the offseason, the Packers put in time trying to figure out the read-option offense employed to some degree by both San Francisco and Washington, including a trip by defensive coordinator Dom Capers and his coaches to Texas A&M to pick the mind of Aggies Coach Kevin Sumlin, who has both used and defended the offense at the college level. Though the Packers would open the season against two NFC playoff teams from 2012, led by two of the league’s most dynamic young stars, it provided focus.
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“It was kind of a gift,” Raji said. “We don’t really know what Washington’s doing, but going into the season, we’re thinking, ‘Two option teams, get them out of the way Week 1 and Week 2, that’s better than seeing them Week 8 and Week 9.’ We looked at it as a positive.”
Then a couple things happened that put a kink in that outlook. In the San Francisco game, Kaepernick showed he didn’t have to run to be successful; only Dallas and Baltimore gave up more passing yards than Green Bay in the opening week. And after the Redskins’ season-opening loss to Philadelphia, in which Washington fell behind 33-7 and had to pass to catch up, there is considerable question about how much quarterback Robert Griffin III will be able to execute the running portion of the offense as he eases his way back from offseason knee surgery.
The Packers, too, are stressed by a hamstring injury to starting safety Morgan Burnett, who sat out against San Francisco, which used tight end Vernon Davis to control the middle of the field against Jennings and Jerron McMillian. Green Bay failed to come up with a turnover.
“We’ve got to make more plays in the passing game,” Capers told reporters here Monday.
One game doesn’t make a defense, nor does it make a franchise. As the tour group listened to the lecture Wednesday morning — “Lombardi left for Washington, and he turned around Washington in one year,” the guide said — the work inside Lambeau Field went on. By Sunday, when the Packers take that field for the first time this year, the temperatures will feel like fall in the Midwest, the season will start in earnest, and the expectations for the beloved Packers — and their defense — will be the same as they always are.