If you were expecting Sunday’s game with the Philadelphia Eagles to be a thing of true beauty – a Rolls Royce, Cristal, Megan Fox type of performance – you might have ended up a bit disappointed.
However, if you were looking for a gritty, gutty showing – think Jeep, Crown Royal or maybe Elizabeth Banks (ladies, feel free to sub in your fellas of choice here) – the Green Bay Packers gave you exactly that.
Green Bay’s 27-20 road win over the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field wasn’t always what you thought it could be, but there were a great many positives the Packers can take with them moving forward.
As for who falls in the “wasn’t always what you thought it could be” category, go ahead and look at how the offense started and ended the contest.
That unit bookended the game with weak showings. Poor line play was a major culprit, with tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher definitely showing their age. That led to less-than-stellar production from Aaron Rodgers- his two interceptions came in those quarters - though the line isn’t totally at fault. Rodgers seemed a hair off, making numerous uncharacteristically dangerous throws into coverage.
You can blame head coach Mike McCarthy for the fourth-quarter foolishness, McCarthy seemingly unwilling to go with anything other than a “run, run, pass” philosophy. His inability to go for the backbreaking blow almost cost the team the game.
But if you’re looking for anything else to place in that category, you won’t find much. The rest of the game was filled with out-and-out positives.
The defense tops that list. Facing an Eagles offense packed with playmakers, Dom Capers’ unit more than held their own. All offseason, fans wondered if the seemingly thin pass defense and pass rush would hold up. Looking good so far. Players like Clay Matthews (game ball) and B.J. Raji provided the heat and the secondary, as a whole, was strong outside of a few gaffs here and there.
Michael Vick (278 all-purpose yards, one passing touchdown) made some big plays, yes, but considering he was not the quarterback Green Bay spent the week preparing for, it’s hard to argue with the overall job done against him. And when the Eagles were moving towards the game-tying score, there was the exhausted defense – again, thanks Mike – pulling it together for the walk-off stop.
And if we worried about the defense before the season, we were damn near cataclysmic regarding the special teams. While that fear was justifiable then, it was certainly not Sunday. The coverage units allowed just one decent return in six tries. Jordy Nelson, the man no one wanted on returns, racked up 151 yards (31.2 average), including three beauties in a row. Tim Masthay averaged over 40 yards a punt and the player who made our stomachs quiver the most – kicker Mason Crosby - drilled two long-distance field goals, including a franchise-record 56-yarder to end the first half.
Oh yeah – then there was the offense in the middle two frames. In those quarters, Rodgers and Co. were deadly in their precision and execution. Keeping with the short-to-intermediate philosophy that worked so well late last season, the Packers moved the ball at will against a very tough, talented Eagles defense. Remember, most defenses can’t blitz the way Philadelphia does, nor do most have the talent of that group. And Green Bay was still able to put 27 points on the board against them, aided by better-than-expected running from Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn.
See what I mean about the “great many positives”?
The injuries are troublesome – you get healthy, Ryan Grant – and, again, things were not wonderful across the board. But Green Bay is just getting started and it’s clear things will improve. For the first game of the season, it was more than good enough.
I mean, really, would you turn down Elizabeth Banks?