Analyzing Super Bowl XLV: Where Are Green Bay's DBs Vulnerable?


The last time the Steelers and Packers played, the two teams combined for nearly 900 yards of passing offense and six passing touchdowns.

Considering the quality of the Steelers and Packers defenses this year, it's hard to imagine we'll see a similar airshow on Sunday. This year, the two secondaries finished first and second, respectively, in quarterback rating allowed and third and fourth in the league in passing touchdowns allowed.

But to get a better sense of where these two teams may be vulnerable, here's a look at each and every passing touchdown the Packers allowed this year. A similar breakdown of the Steelers is here.

Tramon Williams 3.5
Charles Woodson 3.5
Sam Shields 3
Unable to be determined 2
Nick Collins 1.5
Charlie Peprah 1
Brandon Chillar 1
Morgan Burnett 1
Nick Barnett 0.5
A.J. Hawk 0.5
Jarrrett Bush 0.5
A couple of things jumped out when watching the touchdowns. For one, it was a great reminder of how many injuries the Packers have had this year. Brandon Chillar, Nick Barnett and Morgan Burnett may be on this list, but they are not on the active roster now because of injuries.

The other, and more significant observation, was that the Packers are more vulnerable to tight ends over the middle than receivers hugging the sideline. That may be in part because while the Packers have excellent speed on the outside, their safeties are not as strong, especially at strong safety with Charlie Peprah.

Seven of the 19 touchdowns the Packers have allowed this year have been to tight ends. Two of those came when teams timed tight-end screens perfectly -- running them to the side that the Packers' blitzed from. In both Antthony Fasano catch and run in Week 7 and Will Heller's similar play in Week 12, the tight end had an easy time after simply turning around and catching a short pass--there were way more blockers in front of them than defenders.

But Green Bay also seemed to have matchup troubles in the red zone with tight ends, Greg Olsen, Tony Gonzales and Aaron Hernandez's touchdowns all came on simple routes in the red zone where they could use their agility and big bodies to either find holes in the zone or simply outfox a Packers' defender.

Green Bay's other weakness would appear to be tackling after the catch. Since Week 11, the Packers have given up three touchdowns of 30+ yards where a defender had a chance to make the tackle, failed to make it and the receiver/tight end then ran the remaining 20+ yards.

Game Opponent Yards Person to Blame
1 Eagles 17 Sam Shields
Jeremy Maclin fakes inside, then runs fly route, Shields bites on inside move.
3 Bears 9 Brandon Chillar
Greg Olsen beats Chillar to inside as Chillar tries to jump in front of route
4 Lions 23 Morgan Burnett
Calvin Johnson beats Burnett with double move. Burnett thinks he's headed toward corner of end zone, Johnson cuts inside and gets Burnett turned around
5 Lions 21 Charles Woodson
Calvin Johnson runs fly route, beats Woodson deep also positions himself inside of safety Derrick Martin and outjumps both him and Woodson
6 Redskins 48 Charlie Peprah
Anthony Armstrong just runs past Peprah as Peprah gets his hips turned the wrong way
7 Dolphins 2 Tramon Williams/Charles Woodson
Davon Bess splits Williams/Woodson zone with stop route at the goal line
7 Dolphins 22 Impossible to determine
Screen works perfectly as Packers' send two defensive backs from left side. Anthony Fasano leaks out catches the pass and waltzes into the end zone.
8 Vikings 4 Tramon Williams
Randy Moss comes free as Williams runs into Woodson on a designed pick play
9 Cowboys 2 Sam Shields
Dez Bryant outjumps Shields who has man coverage
10 Falcons 4 Nick Collins/Nick Barnett
Tony Gonzalez runs slant inside but cuts it upfield. Barnett and Collins both get caught jumping the route
11 49ers 66 A.J. Hawk/Nick Collins
Vernon Davis catches pass in middle of Cover-2 behind A.J. Hawk and in front of Nick Collins, then Collins blows the tackle
12 Lions 13 Impossible to determine
Another tight end screen. Will Heller blocks Clay Matthews briefly, then slides off catches pass with plenty of blockers in front of him
13 Patriots 2 Charles Woodson
Aaron Hernandez gets Woodson to lunge on pump fake, then slides inside for touchdown
13 Patriots 10 Sam Shields
Aaron Hernandez catches out route, then shrugs off Shields tackle
14 Giants 36 Charles Woodson
Charles Woodson tries to bump-and-run Hakeem Nicks, but he falls down
14 Giants 85 Tramon Williams
Williams gets turned around, Mario Manningham snags pass, shrugs off his tackle runs final 40 yards
17 Eagles 24 Jarrett Bush/Charlie Peprah
Jason Avant gets behind Bush, ahead of Peprah to split zone
18 Falcons 6 Tramon Williams
Roddy White cuts off route in front of Williams then breaks Williams' tackle to score
19 Bears 35 Charles Woodson/Nick Collins
Earl Bennett runs out route, beats Woodson, then Collins overruns play which lets Bennett turn upfield to run it in

Read More: Super Bowl NFL Analysis Super+Bowl+XLV

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