Category "Game Summaries"
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?
Category "Game Summaries"
September 13, 2005
Pack Fall to Detroit 17-3
The Packers 2005 season began on a seriously depressing note this Sunday with a hard-to-swallow 17-3 loss in Detroit. This game marks only the second time in the last ten meetings of these teams that the Lions were able to win, and they won in a dominant fashion. While the defense showed both promise and immaturity, the offense looked simply anemic. The less than outstanding Detroit defense managed to hold the Packers to their lowest point total since Brett Favre took over as starting quarterback.
New starting guards Klemm and Whitticker did not live up to the traditionally high standards associated with Green Bay's offensive line, and the offense clearly suffered as a result. Few holes were opened up for the running game, as Ahman Green managed to gain only 58 yards on the ground. Brett Favre was also sacked four times for a total of -31 yards. The Packers attempted to combat this pocket pressure by frequently running short passing routes to allow Brett to release the ball quickly. While this strategy was successful at times, it was clearly a bit too predictable and conservative, as the Packers managed to score only three points.
In order for the Packers to maintain their reputation as a feared offensive unit, they are going to have to provide much more consistent protection for Brett Favre. Games are won and lost in the trenches, and Brett simply needs more time to survey the field and be himself. The Packers offense can pose a serious vertical threat, but not without time for routes and coverages to develop. Oh by the way, the Packers most consistent deep threat, Javon Walker, is done for the season with a leg injury.
On the defensive side of the ball, there was a vast improvement over last season in terms of tackling and overall run defense. Mark Roman exemplified these improvements by racking up ten tackles, several of which were in the open field. Furthermore, highly acclaimed running back Kevin Jones was held to a mere 87 yards on the ground, with a game-long rush of just seven yards. Good run defense is something that Packer fans have not enjoyed for some time now, and it was very refreshing to see.
What was not refreshing was the return of our perpetual secondary offender Ahmad Carrol. What is it going to take for this kid to learn that he simply cannot commit four penalties a game. While some of the calls were admittedly a bit close, there is no excuse for Carrol's consistently embarrassing play. YOU CANNOT PUT YOUR HANDS ON THE OPPONENTS' FACE. How hard is that to understand? If I were Mike Sherman, I would have benched Ahmad some time ago in favor of the even-tempered Joey Thomas. That move could be made on Wednesday, when Sherman announces the starters for next week. That seems unlikely though, since Sherman seems hopelessly enamoured with last year's underacheiving first-round pick.
If the Packers lose the the Browns next week, I don't even know how to finish this sentence. They just better not lose to the Browns next week. Guys, clean up the penalties, block your asses off for the man Brett Favre, open up some holes for Ahman, and keep your heads up. I am confident in the impending success of the offense, and I am hopeful for the continued improvement on defense. But that might just be the cheesehead in me talking. I stick by my prediction of a 9 and 7 season record.
Category "Game Summaries"
August 16, 2005
A Look at Some New Faces
I was fortunate enough to recieve some great tickets for Thursday's match between the Packers and the Chargers. While I was very excited to see some Lambeau legends (i.e. Brett, Ahman, Donald, and so on), I decided to make an effort to observe the technique and abilities of some of the new recruits. While I did not get a chance to observe rookie wide out Terrence Murphy, I did get a good look at defensive backs Nick Collins and Patrick Dendy, as well as quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Starting with the defensive backs, I was very impressed with the discipline of the younger players. While Collins did have an interception, that specific play is not what stuck out in my mind. It was the overall control and confidence in body control and position that Dendy and Collins demonstrated that caught my eye. Often times, younger players struggle to hold their position in a zone defense, which is an especially important aspect of the game for safeties like Nick Collins. It was clear, however, that Collins and Dendy were making a strong effort to hold their positions and not over-commit. Both players put up impressive numbers for an NFL debut, as Collins had a fortuitous interception and Dendy piled up four tackles. Dendy, an undrafted free agent, has been a consistently positive surprise since the beginning of training camp. His man coverage far exceeded my expectations for such an un-heralded rookie, and he was not fooled by the Chargers complicated routes. As stated before, Dendy showed great discipline in zone coverage, and I was particularly impressed with his work in a "Cover-2" zone. This scheme requires Dendy (playing second cornerback at the time) to bump the reciever and then allow him to streak past. On one particular play, I saw a split second of doubt when Dendy quickly glanced behind him to make sure the reciever was not going to be forgotten, but there was no movement out of position on his part. He stayed in his area just behind the line of scrimmage, and ended up contributing to a tackle after an attempted screen play fell right into his lap. I saw good things from these young defensive backs, and we can only hope that they continue to improve as the season goes on.
On the offensive side of the ball, I had a chance to get a pretty good look at Aaron Rodgers. While his numbers were nothing to write home about (2 for 6 and a QB rating of 42.4), I did see some promising traits. Rodgers looked remarkably poised in the pocket for a player of his age, and he did not panic under pressure. The one complaint I would have concerning his pocket presence is the fact that he seemed a bit to eager to scramble when the pocket collapsed. While we can't expect him to roll out like Favre yet, we can hope to see some effort in terms of working outside the pocket. His throws were slightly off target, which could be blamed at least partially on the inclement weather. That excuse, however, will simply not fly in Green Bay, where nasty weather is par for the course. Hopefully he will continue to mature in terms of leading his recievers, knowing when to hold on to the ball and when to take off, and learning to deal with the weather in Wisconsin.
A couple other things that caught my attention were the delightfully solid play of Brett Favre and (to a lesser extent) Nick Barnett. Both players seemed to be enjoying themselves and taking the game seriously at the same time. I really hope these guys have a great year. Also present was the perpetual fumblitis of the Green Bay backfield. What is it going to take to get Ahman and company to hold on to the doggone ball? Overall a pleasing start to the season.
Category "Game Summaries"
December 9, 2004
Packers vs. Lions Preview
The first meeting of these divisional rivals turned the Packers' season around. Green Bay managed to stifle the ailing Detroit offense, and rolled to a 38-10 victory at Ford Field. Things will be different this time around, however, as the Lions will have full use of their promising rookie weapons Roy Williams and Kevin Jones...
The key to this game for the Packers will be consistently stopping the run. Unfortunately for them, the anchor of their defensive line is listed as questionable for the game. Grady Jackson, who came up huge in the first meeting between these two teams is still nursing a season long knee injury, and will no doubt have a huge impact on this game whether he plays or not. If the Packers can stop the run early on, they will force the Lions to pass more often. If they know the Lions will be passing, they can drop additional people into coverage and neutralize the Lions downfield threat, Roy Williams. Stopping the run, however, is not going to be easy. The Lions rookie half-back Kevin Jones has been on fire lately, and has averaged over one hundred yards in every game he has started. With veteran full-back Cory Schlesinger leading the blocking for the Lions, the Packers' d-line and linebackers are going to have their hands full. In addition to Jackson's injury trouble, Packers' linebacker Na'il Diggs is listed as doubtful for Sunday with a bruised kidney. Diggs is second on the team in tackles, and has been crucial in stopping the run this season. Back-up Paris Lenon is expected to start in his place, which is enough to make any Packers fan more than little uneasy.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Packers are going to need to establish a running game of their own. Green Bay knows that Detroit's linebackers are their greatest weakness on defense, and are likely to run the ball thirty times or more. The Lions' defensive line is led by nose tackle Shaun Rogers, who is quite adept at plugging up the middle. Look for the Packers to bounce the ball outside on toss plays with any of their three running backs. Once the Packers show the Lions that they can run the ball, they can begin to work with play action to open up the secondary. A proficient running game also opens the door for creative play calling, such as reverses and half-back options. Let's not forget that last time these teams met, running back Ahman Green managed to throw a touchdown pass to Donald Driver. Some key match-ups include Al Harris on Roy Williams, and Ahmad Carroll on Tai Streets. Don't be surprised to see Packers' defensive coordinator Bob Slowik switching up the coverage and allowing Carroll to cover Williams. While this may seem like a mismatch on paper, Carroll has experience defending Williams from when the two met in college play.
Category "Game Summaries"
December 6, 2004
Pack Embarrased by Philly
The Packers' six game winning-streak came to a screeching halt on Sunday. In a highly anticipated match with the Eagles, the Packers put on their most embarassing performance of the year, and were destroyed 47-17. It's hard to pick a place to start demeaning the Packers play on Sunday, as they could not perform in any facet of the game. The defense showed their rookie weakness and the offense struggled like never before this season...
McNabb and the Eagles set several records on Sunday, one of which being a career high five touchdown passes by McNabb. The Packers knew they did not match up with the Philly offense in the secondary, and decided to play primarily zone defense to shut down the passing game. This is an especially hard defensive strategy to carry out, and it is clear that the Packers d-backs do not have the discipline to hold up against an efficient offense. McNabb had another Eagles first with 464 passing yards, and managed to complete his first fourteen passes. The Packers thin coverage allowed Philly's running back Brian Westbrook to match up one on one with safety Mark Roman on numerous occasions. This proved to be a favorable match up for Westbrook, who pulled in 11 catches for 156 yards, and three scores. This defensive performance does not bode well for the remainder of the Packers' season, and it is clear that changes need to be made. Above all, this game reiforced my hatred for Mike McKenzie.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Packers simply looked anemic. Brett Favre was not seeing the field as he usually does, and threw two ill-advised picks in the first half. These turnovers naturally led to points for the seemingly unstoppable Eagles, and appeared to deflate the entire Packers team. In addition to poor passing, the Packers' offensive line played their worst game of the season, allowing three sacks and countless hurries. Without his usual protection, Favre could not get comfortable in the pocket and did not seem himself. Running back Ahman Green never really got a chance to perform, as the early deficit forced the Packers to abandon their game plan and heave the ball over and over again. Favre's streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass ended on Sunday as well. However, in true team-player fashion, Favre declined several chances to get that touchdown after the game was out of reach, and instead allowed back-up Craig Nall to get some playing time. If the Packers hope to realize their goal of play-off success (or even participation) they are going to have to perform at a much higher level for the remainder of the regular season. The NFC play-off hunt is simply too close for the Packers to slow down now. On the bright side, Green Bay's punter Brian Barker managed to make a tackle on a return by Wynn of Philadelphia. How many punters can say that this week?