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November 30, 2007

A Little Help O-Line?

So the big showdown in big-D has come and gone, along with the Packers' hopes at home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Although there are still four games to be played in the regular season, we are essentially two games behind the Cowboys because of the head-to-head tie breaker. Tony Romo continued to impress, with another four touchdown performance. T.O. torched our secondary (again), and made Al Harris look stupid. Personally, I don't mind seeing Al get burned, perhaps his ego will sink back into this atmosphere after such a beating. The defense, as a whole, did not play well, and could not come up with the big play when we needed it. The defense, however, is not to blame for the loss. In my opinion, all of the blame should be placed on the trio of the offensive game plan (McCarthy), the offensive line, and (to a lesser extent of course) Brett Favre. I'm too pissed to include a pretty picture.

Let's start with the game plan. Defensively, we knew Dallas was going to get their points. Our game plan focused on containing T.O. and Jason Witten, while keeping enough men in the box to stop the run. We did a great job against the run, a pretty good job on Witten, and got scorched by T.O. Enough said on 'd' for now. Offensively, our game plan was far too ambitious, especially considering the pass-rushing capabilities of the team we were playing. I am aware that our five-man pass protection has been phenomenal this year, but at some point McCarthy has to back off of his game plan. The plan early on was clearly designed to exploit mismatches downfield, while protecting Brett with only five men. This high-risk, high-reward plan clearly did not pay dividends. Favre was under constant pressure, was hit several times (AND INJURED), and the deep routes simply did not have enough time to develop. While I don't necessarily hate the game plan, I do hate the fact that McCarthy stubbornly refused to deviate from it despite the fact the Dallas was obviously prepared for it. McCarthy (a very good coach in my mind) has repeatedly shown a lack of ability (or will) to adjust his game plan early on. Perhaps the coaching staff needs a bit of an ego check and a back-up plan in case this happens again.
The offensive line showcased their worst outing of the season last night. Although most of the blame will be placed on embattled guard Daryn Colledge (who was pulled in the second quarter for playing like shit), it was the entire line that could not keep the Cowboys' capable pass rushers off of Brett Favre. Veteran Mark Tauscher (valiantly playing through a nagging injury) was beat on several occasions, along with all four interior linemen that played. In addition to putting our HOF quarterback in serious danger, the line made it nearly impossible for us to sustain a drive early on. As a result, the defense was on the field far too much, and couldn't keep up with the high-flying Dallas offense. You can't blame the 'd' for having to spend so much time on the field. The line did open some holes for Ryan Grant to attack (which he did with reckless abandon), but we couldn't run the ball as much because of the hole we were in. Overall a very discouraging performance by our young offensive line, which didn't seem to improve much even when McCarthy left a tight end and a running back in the back-field to block.
Finally, I suppose some blame needs to fall on Brett Favre for our early struggles. I understand that he was just adhering to the game plan, and trying to win the game. I understand that he is a gunslinger that never knows when to quit. I also understand that his confidence must have been soaring going into this game. What I don't understand is Favre's unwillingness to take a sack or throw the ball away when there is NOTHING open downfield. Brett took some shots in this game from some very big linebackers. He was under attack and wanted to get the ball out. His two picks were just God-awful balls (admittedly affected by pressure) that never should have been thrown. Why throw the deep ball on the flea-flicker when your man was double covered? This 38 year old QB still has some growing up to do in the pocket. Brett, tuck the ball and take a sack once in a while. I know that nobody but the coaches will appreciate it at the time, but you know how important field-position is in this league. It's time to regroup and embrace the humility of losing a big game. I just hope we get the chance to meet again in the playoffs, only with the help of Charles Woodson and KGB.
On a lighter note, I thought that both Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings played effective, inspired football. Greg fought with every ounce of his being on Thursday, and Packer fans will not soon forget it. This guy is a high-character, high-performance football player that any squad would be lucky to have. Thank you Greg for continuing the legacy of hard-nosed, never quit football in Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers couldn't have been put in a much more difficult situation than last night. Enter a game down by seventeen in which the previous QB (the toughest man to ever play the game) was beaten up so badly that he had to take a seat, and perform at a high level. I was inspired by his play last night, and enjoyed his demeanor on the field. I really hope we don't trade him before he gets his chance to lead the Green and Gold. Montana-Young anyone?

Posted by abai0001 at November 30, 2007 11:57 AM | Game Summaries

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