There’s just nothing better than a playoff win, huh?
That’s exactly what the Green Bay Packers delivered Saturday night, soundly defeating the Minnesota Vikings 24-10 in a wild-card round contest at Lambeau Field. The Packers now head on the road for the divisional round, where they will face the San Francisco 49ers next Saturday night at 7 p.m. Lambeau Time.
Here are my takeaways from the playoff victory:
If you were like me, you had your doubts as to whether or not the Green Bay defense could slow down Adrian Peterson. After all, the Packers already had two recent chances to do so and had failed each time. This time around, however, the defense came to play. Green Bay held Peterson to an extremely quiet 99 yards on 22 attempts (he’d averaged 204.5 yards per game in his first two meetings with the Packers this season).
The big key to the much-improved showing can be found on the edges. Namely, the Packers SET edges this time. Green Bay didn’t allow Peterson to bounce his runs outside, forcing him to stick between the tackles. Peterson is great, no question, but it’s hard for any back to do much damage if their only real play is to continuously try to slam through the forest of big bodies in the trenches.
Much of the credit for this goes to Erik Walden, Clay Matthews, Dezmon Moses and Charles Woodson.
Great to see Woodson back and making a difference. He isn’t the player he was in his prime – or even his amazing 2009 season – but he brings an intangible element to this defense. You feel safer with Woodson in there. And with fresher legs from all the time missed due to injury, he’ll have a lot in his tank for this playoff stretch. That could prove huge for this team.
Yes, Joe Webb is terrible. But no, Christian Ponder’s presence wouldn’t have made that much of a difference. This defense was ready for a fight and it didn’t matter who was under center for the Vikes.
If teams want to continually play both safeties high and take away the longer stuff from Green Bay’s offense, the Packers are proving they’re just fine with that. Aaron Rodgers completed eight passes to his backs Saturday night for a total of 84 yards. By taking that approach, particularly early in the game, the Packers were eventually able to open up the longer stuff as time went on. What’s that – stubborn Mike McCarthy is adapting and changing his offensive approach a little bit? Yes, folks, that seems to be the case. And it’s happening at the most crucial time.
He’s still a little stubborn, though, especially when it comes to giving John Kuhn the ball in short-yardage spots. Kuhn scored on one of those attempts Saturday night (he’d failed on his first two shots), but even if he didn’t, those plays aren’t going away. It appears we’re just going to have to live with it.
DuJuan Harris – 100 total yards (47 rushing, 53 receiving) and a touchdown Saturday night. What a find this kid has been. It’s too much to say he’s the engine of this offense, obviously, but he’s becoming a big-time component. He brings a shiftiness and intensity this corps of runners hasn’t had in awhile.
Going 22-of-33 for 274 yards, one score and no picks seems very “ho-hum” for Rodgers, but it was anything but. He made some of the toughest throws you’ll see a QB make yet again in this one. Even if the numbers don’t always reflect it, he sure seems dialed in.
Speaking of dialed in, Greg Jennings appears to have regained his groove. Like Woodson, it’s just a different unit with him in there making things happen. He likely won’t be around for 2013, but Jennings can help this team do great things for the next (hopefully) few weeks.
Really great work from the offensive line, all around. A lot of weeks this season, one or two players are just off and it’s really affected things at times. But here, all five played well.
Even watching on TV, the crowd sure seemed loud. Great work, everyone who went to the game. And thank you for keeping the stands largely free of that disgusting purple.
Now, it’s a trip out west for the Pack. Obviously, still sort of digesting (read: enjoying the hell out of) Saturday night’s win, but here are a few early thoughts:
On Twitter as the game ended, I made the analogy of the Packers being Batman and the Niners being Bane (nerd alert!) and I really believe that holds up. The Niners definitely punished the hell out of Green Bay the first time around, as it was clear the Packers were just not able to keep up with San Fran’s physicality. That, obviously, was in week one, a lifetime ago by NFL standards. Has enough changed for Green Bay though?
The Vikings, at least offensively, are sort of a poor man’s Niners. Strong-armed, running QB. Physical run game. So in a sense, Saturday was good preparation for Green Bay. And if the Packers play defense the way they did Saturday, that’ll go a long way in giving them a shot to pull out the win. Yes, the Niners have much better players, but the concepts of what Green Bay will need to do won’t be a ton different.
On defense, the Niners are light-years ahead of Minnesota so that’ll be a completely different – and tougher – challenge. The offensive line, in particular, will face its toughest battle yet. But if they can hold up and the Packers can make things happen with this new-found short-passing game, those big plays downfield will again open up. With this receiving corps now totally healthy, there’s no team that can contain that group for four quarters.
I can almost guarantee you that’s going to be the best game of next weekend. Something tells me it’s going to be much closer this time.
Hang on to your butts, folks. This is what January is all about.
Well that was a rotten way to end the regular season, huh?
Playing for a first-round bye, the Green Bay Packers were just too sloppy and uneven to get the job done, falling 37-34 on the road to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. As a result of the loss, the Packers will be playing next weekend against these same Vikings, at Lambeau Field, at 7 p.m. Saturday night. Green Bay closes the regular season at 11-5.
Here are my takeaways from this disappointing contest:
Slow starts. Slow @#&!ing starts. They’ve been an issue for most of the season with this team and that was the case yet again here. Green Bay came out flat, with no hustle or intensity, ultimately spotting the Vikings (10-6) a 13-point lead. Very disheartening to see. You’re playing for a week off – and playing to keep your second biggest rival OUT of the playoffs – and THAT’S the way you come out of the gate? Credit them for fighting back, sure, but this team makes things much too hard for themselves a lot of the time.
I’ve written this before, but it’s worth noting again – do that in the playoffs and it could be over before you blink. Well, the playoffs are here. And they still haven’t solved it yet. Troubling sign.
This defense, while it has made some strides this year, is still fairly soft. That became crystal clear Sunday. The tackling, spotty as of late, was atrocious today. I understand Adrian Peterson is maybe playing better than anyone else alive right now. But that does not excuse what we saw. It was maybe more understandable the first time around, as Green Bay was without C.J. Wilson and Clay Matthews. But they both were active today. And Peterson still gashed them repeatedly.
In two games against the Pack, Peterson has 409 yards on 55 carries. That’s nearly 7.5 yards per carry. Green Bay has six days to figure out someway to at least slow him down a little. Doesn’t seem incredibly promising, does it?
After really regaining his old form over the past month or so, Tramon Williams completely fell off the table Sunday. One of the worst games I’ve seen a corner turn in, in all facets. Bhawoh Jue-level bad. The Vikings were not afraid of him at all. And his boneheaded penalty in the redzone kept a drive alive, when the Vikings would’ve settled for three points.
And the man running this defense does his players absolutely zero favors, too. Biggest play of the game and you go with the patented “rush three, drop eight” scheme that works almost never? No, Dom. No.
Aaron Rodgers was very, very good after his rough start. Made some huge throws. Throws that only a few other guys on the planet could make. That’s all absolutely true. But his penchant for holding the ball too long really hurt him Sunday, as well. Of the five sacks he took, it sure seemed like they were mostly on him. He fumbled on one of those occasions, which led to six for Minnesota. With a defense that doesn’t create turnovers like it used to, Rodgers has to play mistake-free ball. Is that fair? Not really. But that’s the way it is.
I’ve wanted to see more DuJuan Harris. Apparently Mike McCarthy did, too, as Harris picked up 70 yards on 14 carries. His future is bright. He’s shifty and unafraid of contact.
Great effort from all the pass catchers today. In particular, Greg Jennings. That was the Greg Jennings this team has been missing. That was the Pro Bowler. And, I know I’ve written this a lot lately, but Jermichael Finley turned in another outstanding effort. Starting to wonder if Green Bay brings him back next year now. He’s really kicked it up a few notches.
As for Jennings’ sister’s tweets? Well…I don’t even know where to begin there. Delusional, that one.
Randall Cobb returning next week will only make the offense that much more explosive. But he doesn’t need to be on returns. I believe Jeremy Ross has that under control.
Mason Crosby with a 51-yarder to end the first half? Are we sure the Mayans didn’t mean December 31st?
B.J. Raji continues to play like a man possessed. Love everything about his play over the past month or so.
As for next week, it’s hard to say much so soon as I’m still sort of processing everything from today. But I’ll offer a few thoughts:
The Packers have to somehow force Christian Ponder into a mistake or two. They did it the first time around and it was ultimately the difference. They did not Sunday and you can argue that was the difference, also. Ponder’s confidence grew and grew as Sunday’s game went on. They need to hinder that.
Come out better. They haven’t done that in either game with Minnesota this year. Again, a flat start could spell doom. But, a strong start lessens Peterson’s impact, potentially. That’s a must.
Do what you do well, Mike. Getting Harris and the other backs involved is a key, yes. But you make your money passing the football. Play to that. Don’t be scared. Same for you, Dom. Attack Ponder repeatedly.
Please, Lord, don’t lose to these guys at home in the playoffs again. This fanbase is going to be holding hands as they collectively jump off the ledge then.
Lastly, for some of the Twitter people out there: These thoughts do not make people like me less of a fan than you, okay? Get that out of your heads now. Thinking critically does not – repeat: DOES NOT – make me less of a fan. Pointing out areas of weakness is not a sign of a “bandwagoner,” okay? Get over yourselves. We all root for the same team. Some of us take a different path to doing so. But we ALL want the Packers to do well and win. Let’s all accept fans for who they are, alright? Because I am not going anywhere. Ever.
If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting all season for one Sunday – just one – where the Green Bay Packers completely overwhelm an opponent from start to finish.
One Sunday where you never spend a second worrying about the result.
Fitting that the Packers gave us that one game two days before Christmas, huh?
Green Bay throttled an overmatched and disinterested Tennessee Titans squad at Lambeau Field, winning by a 55-7 count. The win improves Green Bay’s record to 11-4 on the season and is its ninth win in its last 10 tries. The Packers also keep pace in the battle for the No. 2 seed in the NFC. But we’ll get to that in a bit.
For now, how about some takeaways from this blowout, huh?
Pray for Randall Cobb’s ankle. Those gasps – followed by some expletives, no doubt – you heard were from Packers fans everywhere reacting to Cobb leaving the game in the third quarter after injuring his ankle on a punt return. He didn’t return today, not surprising as the game had long been decided. Cobb has become such a huge part of this offense, it would be a huge blow to lose him for any amount of time. If the Packers want to get deep into the postseason, they must have Cobb.
Sorry to begin this on a down note.
Green Bay looked like a team that wanted to set the tone early, beat the snot out of the opponent relentlessly and leave this game feeling great about itself. Check, check and check (minus the Cobb injury). That’s about all you can ask for from a game like this.
That’s just about the quietest way possible for a quarterback to reach 342 yards passing, but that’s what Aaron Rodgers did today (his longest completion was 34 yards to Ryan Grant). He was, however, lethal, surgically taking apart a Titans defense that clearly had no idea what it was in for. And chalk up another rushing touchdown for a man who absolutely deserves to be in the MVP conversation. Again.
We probably haven’t given James Jones enough credit for what he’s done this season on this site. But, seriously, Jones is turning in an outstanding effort. Seven more grabs for 100 yards and a score, his league-leading 12th? How many teams wish they’d signed this guy in 2011? He is showing more confidence than ever before.
Another solid effort from Jermichael Finley. Rodgers seems to be looking his way more and more now and Finley is responding with improved confidence and performance. He may not be back in 2013, but he can be crucial the rest of the way here. Those last three points are the positives regarding the passing game.
The negative is that Rodgers and his receivers are still not connecting on the deep stuff. Today the Packers were just a tick off multiple times, as has been the case most of the season. It’s frustrating to watch, because if this team can get that to click, they become exponentially more dangerous in the playoffs.
Nice to see Ryan Grant turn in a big day, racking up 114 all-purpose yards on 21 touches (80 rushing, 34 receiving, adding two scores on the ground). And I just continue to like what I see from DuJuan Harris. Remember, this ground attack doesn’t need to lead the way. It just needs to give opponents something to think about. The Packers aren’t the Vikings. Well, right now the Packers are doing everything they need to in that area.
A.J. Hawk turned in the best game of his pro career today. Two sacks, multiple pressures. That was the Hawk Green Bay drafted fifth overall in 2006. For at least one day, it was fun to see.
Sam Shields – just another great effort. Almost expecting him to make at least one or two big plays a week now.
B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews. Big-time players leading the way at the most important time of the year.
After last week’s win, I mentioned that Mike Neal was quietly becoming a key cog on the defense. Not so quietly anymore. All of a sudden, Neal has become the player the Packers hoped he’d be all along. If he can stay healthy, his future now looks really bright.
Pray for Randall Cobb’s ankle. Just thought I’d, you know, mention that again.
I’m not saying I’m rooting for the Seahawks to win tonight, because, well, I hate them. But I will say I’m rooting for them not to lose. Because a Seattle win over San Francisco will put the Packers in the driver’s seat for the No. 2 seed in the NFC. A San Francisco win, however, virtually assures the Niners that spot as they close the year at home against the lowly Cardinals. Probably not losing that one, which would lock Green Bay into the No. 3 seed.
At the height of their mid-2000s dominance, the New England Patriots coined a term for games like today’s.
They called them “t-shirt and hat games.” Nothing beats winning a “t-shirt and hat game.” The Green Bay Packers had a chance to do that today at Soldier Field.
Check and check.
The Packers are now back-to-back NFC North Champions as a result of their 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears. Here are my takeaways from the victory:
NFC North Champs. Why don’t you go ahead and say that again. Damn it feels good to say doesn’t it? This was written last week, but it’s worth saying once more – after a heartbreaking defeat in Indianapolis in week five, it felt like this team was going to need a whole bunch of breaks just to scrape its way to eight or nine wins. What we got instead was eight wins in nine games.
The level of intestinal fortitude within this organization is something to behold. Which really is just a fancy way of saying this team has balls. Tough as nails.
And that’s a good thing because, really, Green Bay made this one a lot tougher than it needed to be. This should have been a 27-10 no doubter.
It sure sounds like Mike McCarthy is going to stick with Mason Crosby. That doesn’t surprise. But it’s absolutely the wrong call. Crosby’s two misses Sunday were a huge reason the Bears were in the game until the bitter end. Each and every week Crosby is costing this team points. His failures, single-handedly, are changing the complexion of these games. Yes, the Packers continue to win. But at some point, you have to think he’ll really cost them. And we’re heading rapidly towards January.
Also, Mike – DON’T EVER CALL A PUNT RETURN TOSSBACK LIKE THAT AGAIN. EVER. The worst call of his career there. No reason for it.
Charles Tillman has a knack for knocking the ball out. We all know that. But if Ryan Grant wants to keep his place in this three-man backfield, he has to be better than that. That simple.
Start faster. Slow starts are becoming a major issue for this team. Do that in a playoff game and it could be over before you blink.
Are those all the major negatives? (Looks at list) Yep, that’s about it. See, not so bad. Now let’s get to the positives, shall we?
Clay Matthews returns and – hey what do you know? – the pass rush returns, as well. Great game from him, in multiple facets, really. There just aren’t many guys like him in the league. His new contract can’t be too high. But that new sack dance…well, let’s just say I wasn’t a fan.
Then again – I’m not the audience he’s aiming for with that.
Mike Neal’s return was key for the pass rush, also. He’s quietly becoming a key component on this defense.
I know he had help, but Tramon Williams turned in an outstanding day on Brandon Marshall. Two really good weeks in a row for him. He’s back now. You can not overstate the importance of that.
Ditto for Sam Shields.
B.J. Raji is officially in beast mode now. The big man seems locked in. You noticed him on almost every play, many of which he was damn near unblockable. Like Matthews, there just aren’t many guys like Raji.
Probably about time we talk about that fella playing quarterback, huh? This was one of Aaron Rodgers’ best games in awhile. He made so many plays today on the move, reaching “work of art” level more than a couple of times. He also had more time today, seemingly, than he’s had in awhile – something that could prove lethal once Jordy Nelson returns.
I’ll just go ahead and guess that T.J. Lang being back at left guard has a lot to do with that.
James Jones – congrats on the hat trick. He’s proving to be the second most reliable target on the team at the moment.
Which is saying a lot about how good Randall Cobb has been. This kid is special, folks. I’m kind of running out of things to say about him.
I want to see more DuJuan Harris.
You knew Jay Cutler was going to give them one, at least. And it wasn’t really that surprising Casey Hayward was the one to get it.
The Packers are officially in the tournament. Seeding now becomes the issue. Green Bay has a two-game lead on the Giants and Redskins (and maybe the Cowboys as their game is still ongoing at the time I write this). So barring anything crazy, the Packers should be no worse than the No. 3 seed in the NFC. They probably can’t catch Atlanta for the No. 1 overall seed – the Falcons are two up on Green Bay – but they could definitely catch San Francisco (or maybe Seattle) for the No. 2 seed.
Regardless, this team still has a lot to play for. There will be a January in Titletown. Let’s celebrate.
It’s late, so let’s just save the opening for another time, shall we? I assure you it would’ve been genius, though. Okay, it would’ve been decent, at least.
On a snowy night at Lambeau Field, the Green Bay Packers moved to within a win of another NFC North title with their 27-20 victory over the Detroit Lions. The Packers are now 9-4 on the season.
Here are my takeaways from the triumph:
If you would’ve been told, after Green Bay’s choke job in Indianapolis, that the Packers would rattle off seven wins in their next eight, how hard would you have laughed? And don’t forget – you’re also told the team will lose several more key players during that eight-game stretch. It’s a testament to the unwavering toughness of this team that it stands here now.
And that toughness was tested early on, wasn’t it? After seemingly not taking Detroit (4-9) as seriously as it needed to, the Packers trailed 14-0, and new combinations of curse words were surely strung together in the homes of Packers fans everywhere. I had a few doozies myself. Luckily for us, this team didn’t blink.
Seven plays, 59 yards, all runs, on the eventual game-winning touchdown drive. That’s imposing your will. That’s what you have to do to win in December and January. And, more than anything, that was damn fun to watch. Great to know that the team doesn’t always have to rely on the brilliance of Aaron Rodgers to win games, isn’t it?
Nice to see all three running backs contribute on that drive, too. Alex Green (13 carries, 69 yards) has the ability to be the lead dog. We’re learning that more and more each week. If DuJuan Harris and Ryan Grant (combined eight carries, 44 yards including Harris’ 14-yard game-winning run) can just chip in here and there, this team suddenly becomes really dangerous.
Tramon Williams – listen, no one is ever gonna completely shut Calvin Johnson down. But holding him to a rather quiet 118 yards on 10 receptions is about as close as you can get. Perhaps this is the spark that gets Williams back to his 2010 form, when he was one of the game’s best corners.
Welcome back, Sam Shields. Made a handful of big plays tonight, including an interception. He was having a really solid season before his injury and it looks like he’s picking up where he left off.
An official welcome to the NFL moment for Mike Daniels. Way to scoop that up and rumble in for the score. That play really seemed to energize the entire team.
Randall Cobb – just doing it every single week.
Greg Jennings – where you at, man? Been a pretty quiet first two weeks back off injury. They need him to get going.
How happy is Clay Matthews’ agent? It’s clear this pass rush is zip, zero, zilch without his presence. Only one sack and two quarterback hits tonight? That’s not good enough at all.
If anyone was downplaying the absence of C.J. Wilson, they aren’t anymore. Green Bay’s run defense has been rotten since he got hurt against the Giants. Wilson alone doesn’t account for all of that, but he’s a huge part of it.
When T.J. Lang returns, he has to be back at left guard. Don Barclay turned in another fine showing and deserves to be the right tackle going forward. The sooner Evan Dietrich-Smith is back on the bench, the better.
Mason Crosby watch: The tanker ship in the sea of molasses is turning it around. Slowly. But it’s happening.
Hopefully, Matthews and Woodson at the very least are back for Chicago next week. We’ll have to see about Lang and Jordy Nelson. Be great to have all four back.
Packers. Bears. Soldier Field. December. For the division title. Admit it – that gives you chills, doesn’t it?
After the Giants game, I wondered aloud if this team wasn’t just a tick behind the elite in the NFC, namely San Francisco and New York. I’m still not completely convinced the Packers are at that level yet. But these last two weeks have made me think they’re a little closer than before. Mostly due to the toughness and resolve this team has shown playing two divisional games extremely shorthanded. That’ll benefit them going forward. At the very least, I now think they can get to that level as long as they get enough of the injured players back with enough time for them to gel before the playoffs start.
All in all, it’s fair to be excited. This is the best time of the year for football. And the Packers have a shot. That’s all you can ask for.
Also warming back up – transitions are fun – are the Green Bay Packers. The Pack returned to the win column with a gritty, gutty 23-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at Lambeau Field. The win, coupled with the Chicago Bears’ overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks, puts Green Bay back atop the NFC North at 8-4.
Yours truly was at the game today. And here are my takeaways from the divisional showdown:
On our podcast this week Adam and I both predicted a blowout win for the Packers, the latter calling it 41-14 in favor of the home team. I also said if it was anything short of that, you could start getting really worried about where this team was headed. I don’t necessarily feel that way now, though.
That’s because once Jordy Nelson (hamstring) and T.J. Lang (ankle) left the game early on, this moved from “game you should win big” territory to “by God, let’s just hope they can eek one out” territory. Simply put, this team just didn’t have enough firepower today to blow anyone out, let alone a rival fighting for its playoff life. Getting a win of some kind, any kind, would have to suffice.
Morgan Burnett – player of the game. It’s that simple. Two red zone interceptions on two really athletic plays. He’s been solid throughout the season and now it seems the big plays are starting to come, too. That could be huge down the stretch for a largely talented, but largely green, secondary.
Of course, I saw his first interception on a TV in the concourse because God forbid the Lambeau concession people do anything quickly.
What a human wrecking ball Adrian Peterson is. Seeing him in person, you can really admire the head of steam he has before he even takes the handoff. Yes, the Packers missed tackles. Yes, they took bad angles on him at times. But, really, a lot of what he did was just him being one of the greatest three or four football players on Earth. He damn near willed his team to a win today.
That said, that’s two porous showings in a row from this run defense. That has to stop. Now.
Speaking of great players, if there was any doubt Ted Thompson needs to hand Clay Matthews a blank check, there isn’t now. No pressure at all today. Again. That was pretty disappointing.
With Don Barclay manning the right tackle spot in place of Lang, the Packers were really able to run the ball well. Maybe that now becomes the strength of this group. James Starks and Alex Green (combined 27 carries, 124 yards and a score) ran well, to be sure, but they also had holes and space to run well. Barclay looks worthy of some more playing time. Perhaps the Packers will kick Lang back inside (where he belongs as he is NOT a tackle) and leave Barclay where he is.
In the odd chance Mike McCarthy is reading this – NO MORE HANDOFFS TO KUHN. Mike, this isn’t 2010. Those plays aren’t working anymore. Ditch them.
What an absolutely rotten personal foul call on Tramon Williams. Someone needs to ask Ed Hochuli – a total clown of a ref by the way – what Williams is supposed to do on that play. Let Toby Gerhart catch the ball?
In our podcast, Adam and I talked at length about Aaron Rodgers needing to be a little more like Brett Favre. If you missed the podcast, I’ll give you a second to calm down. Okay, we meant that he needed to not worry so much about interceptions. If a receiver was tightly covered and Rodgers still had a small window, he should still make the throw. He did that today. The touchdown throw to James Jones and the crucial third-and-12 conversion to Randall Cobb in the fourth quarter were both examples of that. Rodgers has big-time playmakers. Nice to see him let them do what they do.
Of course, he also badly forced a deep ball on the Rodgers-to-Cobb-back-to-Rodgers play. Probably can ditch that play too, Mike. Minnesota didn’t bite on that for a second.
Mason Crosby, slowly turning it around? Perhaps.
Jermichael Finley, definitely turning it around? No question.
With the Packers and Bears now tied, it sure looks like that game at Soldier Field in two weeks decides this division. Green Bay’ll need a whole bunch of injured guys back for that one. Not sure the Pack can win there with the group they have now.
Lastly, it goes without saying, but if you haven’t been to Lambeau yet, you have to figure out a way to go. Times are tough for a lot of people, so sometimes that’s easier said than done, I know. But for all of you who haven’t, I really hope you’ll be able to someday. It’s just such an amazing place. Even if the concession workers are slow. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Okay, so I haven’t written in over a year. And, honestly, I have no idea if this is going to lead to me doing this more. But, for one night at least, I am back.
(Plus, we pay for this damn site, we might as well USE it, you know?)
Unfortunately, it comes under these circumstances – the Green Bay Packers suffering a 38-10 road annihilation at the hands of the defending world champion New York Giants on Sunday night. Now, I apologize if this comes off rusty as hell, but here are my takeaways from this sad, pathetic showing:
Let’s be honest, gang – a result like this was coming at some point. We may not have expected it, but we probably should have. The Packers have been a beaten, bloodied bunch for quite some time now, mostly scraping by against the Jacksonvilles and Detroits of the league. The Giants are a different animal altogether and, boy, did they show it throughout.
Big Blue, much like in last year’s playoff game, simply overwhelmed the Packers up front on both lines.
Aaron Rodgers had little-to-no-time to make anything happen, the main factor in the offense sputtering and stumbling all evening. That’s been an issue for a lot of the season, but in particular these past two weeks. Somehow, someway Mike McCarthy needs to fix it.
But how? Injuries and a sickening lack of depth have left the Packers with the group they have. As they say, the group is what it is. Yes, Greg Jennings will be back. And maybe Cedric Benson. But how much does that really mean if the five up front can’t protect? Not a whole lot, really. This offense, as of now, resembles a new Jaguar with an engine of a car from 1976.
On the flip side, Eli Manning literally could’ve written “how are you doing?” letters to every member of his family on every single dropback. The Packers generated zero pressure. Now, you could chalk that up to refs missing numerous holding calls and the absence of one Clay Matthews and, of course, you’d have a good case. But it’s still on the guys playing to make things happen. They fell flat on their collective face. Or rear. Or both.
Still, give the man his due: He’s a great quarterback and just seems to know where every little hole is in Green Bay’s defense. He certainly gave the youngsters in the Packers’ secondary a lesson or 14.
Losing C.J. Wilson early didn’t help one bit, but man, who expected to see New York rip Green Bay’s run defense apart like that? Consistently allowing five-to-nine yard gains, the Packers haven’t been this gashed since Seattle. Not getting any easier next week, we all know that.
McCarthy’s decision to allow Mason Crosby to attempt a 55-yard field goal early on was completely indefensible. Punter Tim Masthay has been a weapon all season – that’s where you use him. Or, hey, let the reigning MVP try to make a play. But don’t send your flailing kicker out in that spot. Having confidence in a guy in the hopes it’ll boost him to turn it around is one thing - but McCarthy’s decision bordered on arrogance. A major turning point in the game. That got the Giants fully rolling and, well…have they stopped rolling?
For those saying the Packers have always had games like this under McCarthy – Tampa Bay in 2009, Detroit in 2010 and Kansas City last year, for examples - well, you’re right. But what’s troubling is that they almost never have games like this against upper-level teams under McCarthy. That’s worrisome.
Getting players like Matthews, Sam Shields and Charles Woodson back will boost the defense, no doubt. But this team will, almost assuredly, live and die with how well Rodgers performs. And, again, with that offensive line, it just doesn’t seem like Rodgers is going to get the time he’ll need in big games to play to his ability. Remember, there are no reinforcements on the way there, folks.
That’s especially true if the Packers draw San Francisco or these Giants again come January. In games against those teams this year, Green Bay’s offense was punched in the mouth repeatedly and showed it was flat-out unable to respond. If they are to get to New Orleans in February, you have to think Green Bay will have to go through at least one of those two teams. As of now, it sure doesn’t seem like the Packers are up to it.
It’s not time to give up. Or to say the sky is falling. Not saying that. But after tonight, it is time to re-assess what kind of team this is. In short, it seems like a team that’s still a tick away from being amongst the league’s elite. The Packers could get there, but they’re running out of time.
Well, in the event this post comes off a bit creaky, I’ll apologize in advance.
So I know we haven’t updated this site in awhile. We hope to change that soon. As of now, though, we aren’t sure. Either way, that’s another post for another time.
For now, if y’all don’t mind, I’d like to offer some quick thoughts on the Green Bay Packers’ often stirring, often shaky 45-38 road win over the San Diego Chargers earlier today. Some of these thoughts will fall into the broader spectrum of things that have been going on throughout the season because, well, we haven’t written anything all season.
Again. Sorry. But…um…enjoy!
Yes, 8-0 is 8-0. And, throughout the season, I’ve been the first one to say that wins are wins and they’re always a good thing. This one felt different somehow. This was the first time this season that a Green Bay victory left me wanting more. It’s true San Diego (4-4 overall) was a desperate team coming off an embarassing loss, thus ensuring it’d fight until the bitter end. But, no matter what the circumstances, there’s simply no excuse for damn-near coughing up a three-score lead in the final 10:27 of a game. None.
And why did the Packers nearly cough it up? Because, simply put, this defense is not playing at a championship level. The unit can’t get after the quarterback, struggles to tackle and leaves receivers way too open way too often. Those faults were all on display in this one.
There’s been much hand-wringing – rightfully so – about the lack of pass rush. Is Clay Matthews hurt? Is B.J. Raji gassed from playing roughly 400 percent of the defensive snaps? Is it a schematic issue? All of those three things play factors, of course, but really, the issue is this: this team banked everything on Mike Neal seamlessly filling the void left by Cullen Jenkins. When Neal got hurt, it left the team with only two reliable pass rushers: Raji and Matthews. Big, big difference between having three reliable pass rushers and two reliable pass rushers. Opponents have simply decided to key in on those two and take their chances with the Frank Zombos, Erik Waldens and Jarius Wynns on this roster. Those players aren’t terrible, of course, but they just aren’t good enough to get to the quarterback consistenly. We’re eight games in – I think it’s fair to say that by now.
The defense sure is good at coming up with turnovers, though, huh? Three picks, two returned for scores – scores that, really, were the difference in the game. It’s something the unit’s been able to do throughout the season. A major positive (okay, so that’s an understatement. Again, I’m rusty).
In the end, relying almost solely on their collective ability to take the ball away is what’s worked so far for the unit. I just continue to worry about what happens when the Pack draws an offense – more specifically, a quarterback – who doesn’t give them that chance. Is this defense gonna be able to carry the team in a big game when Aaron Rodgers struggles, something that you have to think will happen at some point this season?
Wait, on second thought…WILL Rodgers struggle at some point this season?
I ask that because, simply put, I’ve never seen the quarterback position played as well as Rodgers is playing it right now. He had some flubs today on account of holding the ball too long, but other than that, the man is poetry in motion back there. Every single week, he’s hitting throws that no one – no one - else in this league could hit. That touchdown throw to Jordy Nelson at the end of the first half, for example? Sick, sick, sick. He instills a confidence in you, as a fan, that Brett Favre never did. You just feel like he’s never going to risk a game-changing mistake for a game-changing play. He takes his shots, to be sure, but they seem like SMART shots.
And, with the weaponry at his disposal, it’s almost too easy for him at times. The big three of Jermichael Finley, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson (16 catches, 195 yards, three scores combined today) are so good, there’s seemingly no way for opponents to take them ALL out. And, in those rarest of instances when all three are contained? Well, there’s James Jones coming up with a 21-yard touchdown snag! Pick your poison, ladies. Pick. Your. Poison.
What I’m trying to say – sorry, there’s that damn rust again – is that this offense is so freaking talented, I just don’t think there’s a defense that can hold them down for four quarters.
And that’s why today left me wanting more. This offense is powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline (damn you kids who won’t get that reference!). The defense does not have to be a shutdown unit (it’d be nice, though). It just has to allow, say, 20-24 points a week and we’ll be fine. With half a season in the books, I have yet to believe it can do that against a top-flight offense.
Well, dear listeners, football is back — and so are we. Adam, Chris and I dusted off the microphones, exchanged awkwardly bromantic virtual greetings and got back to the bid’ness of podcasting about your favorite football team.
We discussed the end of the lockout, the start of training camp and what we expect to see from the Packers early this year. Chris Lempesis, who showed up in the best podcasting shape of his life, shares this year’s winner of the Chris Lempesis My Guy Award (the player he’s expecting to be the breakout story of camp, and you remember what he did for Des Bishop last year, right?). And of course, it wouldn’t be us if we didn’t poke a little fun at the returning NFC North basement-dwellers and their silly belief that they can solve their quarterback problem with Donovan McNabb.
You can listen to it below, or you can find us on iTunes. Enjoy!
I don’t know about you, dear readers, but for me, this offseason has brought a blissful absence from football. The Packers’ 13th world championship was so surprising, and so satisfying, I’ve been happy to let the prospect of the 2011 NFL season stay far away from the front of my mind. After the emotional grind that was the runup to the Super Bowl, I’ve been almost happy, in a way, to let the NFL lockout scrub OTAs, UFAs, undrafted free agents and minicamps from public conversation. I’m living in a state of suspended fanhood bliss, where the Vikings are in disarray, the Bears are in denial and the Packers are world champions.
But as the calendar turned to June, it hit me: My dream state could have a short shelf life. We’re now closer to the Packers’ scheduled Sept. 8 opener against the New Orleans Saints than we are to their win over their Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. And while the lockout still has the league in limbo, that could give way to chaos at any time.
An ESPN report today said the players and owners held secret labor talks in Chicago, and on Friday, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in the owner’s appeal of last month’s ruling in Minneapolis, where Judge Susan Richard Nelson gave the players an injunction, lifting the lockout for four day. However, a court panel issued a temporary stay of Nelson’s injunction on April 29, putting the lockout back in place. The same panel issued a permanent stay of injunction on May 17, and though an appeals decision isn’t expected to come down until July, most believe it will likely land in favor of the owners. If that happens, the players could have no choice but to make a deal; the NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora predicted earlier today the two sides would have an agreement in place by July or August.
So, Packers fans, that means we could be three months away from trying to do this whole thing again. We don’t know what the landscape of the league will look like, but we do know the Packers are as well-positioned as any team in the league to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in Indianapolis next year, whenever the Super Bowl happens. They’ve got a slew of players coming back from injured reserve, but the presence of Jermichael Finley alone makes me think they have a chance to be even better in 2011. And in the last 25 years in the NFL, there’s been a repeat champion about every five to seven years; the 49ers in 1988-89, the Cowboys in 1993-94, the Broncos in 1997-98 (ahem, holding) and the Patriots in 2003-04. If that ebb and flow holds up, we’re due for another repeat winner this year.
But a new season brings a whole new set of worries, though: contract squabbles, shoddy preseason performances, tough early opponents and late hits on Aaron Rodgers. Everything is perfect now, but it might not be very much longer.
We at Ol’ Bag of Donuts are going to continue to enjoy what I’m calling Victory Summer, and we’ll have another podcast in the near future solely dedicated to gushing about how great is to be world champions and comparing this title to other Packers championships. My suggestion to you, though, is to enjoy it while you can. Because we might not be too far away from starting it up all over again.