Even with our offensive performance last week and the loss of Ryan Grant, it’s still a great week to be a Packers fan. Look at some of the other teams and fan bases around the league; Dallas, Minnesota, the Jets, Indy, San Diego and San Francisco. All of the build up, the expectations, the HBO specials and they all stunk in more ways than one and are all sitting at 0-1. We’ll take 1-0 and a 13 point spread in the home opener against a team with no expectations of success.
Stats of the Week
1) The Packers are the only NFC team to win their last four season openers
2) Under McCarthy, the Packers are 5-0 in their opening road game of the season
3) In week 1, the Bills had 166 total yards and never visited the red zone
4) The Packers joined the Ravens and Bears as the only teams to win with a negative turnover margin in week 1.
Keys to the Game
1) Keep the Flags Hidden– The Packers, flagged often in the McCarthy era, saw only two penalties against them in Philadelphia Sunday. In contrast, the Eagles were hit for 10 penalties for 80 yards. Hopefully the two turnovers were a fluke and the flag-free football was a trend. The Packers shouldn’t have to cheat to win Sunday.
2) Don’t Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight– The Bills offense was brutal. 23:07 of offensive possession, 166 yards, a stable of running backs who managed 50 yds rushing, and a quarterback who looked like he showed up at the wrong party. There is no way the Packers’ defense should let the Bills breath. This is a complete mismatch…on paper.
3) Welcome to the Show Mr. Jackson– My guess is the Packers are going to get Brandon Jackson involved immediately Sunday. I’m thinking a couple runs and a screen pass right off the bat. Get him going early so he’s in the flow of the game. 22-25 touches for Jackson.
4) The Pick to Click– The Packers O is in for a big day. Perfect weather, home-field, and a chance to get the swagger back. I’m expecting a quick six-play drive and Rodgers TD pass to Finley to start out the afternoon and keep rolling from there.
5) Home, Home on the Range– Like Bill Simmons said in his post this week, “Super Bowl contenders blow out crummy teams at home.” Not much else to say on this one.
Prediction: Green Bay 44 Buffalo 9
I’d like to throw two “thank-you’s” out to the Eagles this week. To Michael Vick- thanks for thinking you’re a passing quarterback on 3rd and goal. To Andy Reid- thanks for thinking Vick can run between the tackles on 4th and 1. What was that? We have seven on the line, five of which are inside their ends and they don’t get Vick in space? He gashed us for more than a half and you run that play??? Again, thank you.
I’d also like to throw out an apology. In my season preview, I questioned our offensive line and compared Mark Tauscher to an 80-year old man. I’d like to apologize to all 80-year old men. You all have much quicker feet than either of our tackles. Paint dries faster than Tauscher and Clifton.
Any road win in the NFL is gold. Add to it an NFC team you haven’t beaten in their hometown since 1962, and there should be little complaining.
One last thing…I also mentioned in the season preview how Brandon Jackson would eventually be asked to be a 1st and 2nd down back. I hate being right.
KEYS TO THE GAME (from my preview)
1) Our defense- It was all-world until Vick was forced into action. Even though Vick moved the chains, the Packers still had 5 sacks, three of which were on Vick. McCoy only had seven carries and they limited DeSean Jackson to four touches on offense for 30 yards. Woodson was Woodson and Matthews was better than last year. Holy crap! His first sack, Matthews looked like a cheetah pouncing on an impala.
2) Special teams- Kudos to the Packers’ special teams Sunday. That was one of the top ST performances in recent memory. Across the board: returns, especially KO returns, were solid. Coverage was solid. On punts, we had four punts and Jackson only managed two returns for 11 yards. Very nice. And besides the kick-off out of bounds, Mason Crosby was huge. We’ll re-visit him later. Now do it all again this week and prove it wasn’t a fluke.
3) Offensive dominance- Perhaps the greatest part of Sunday was that the offense was, in their own eyes, terrible and yet we put 27 points on the board. Rodgers was off most of the day. Grant goes down. Finley found out that teams are going to be forced to double-team him or Rodgers is going to target him EVERY TIME. I see vast improvement Sunday.
4) Andy Reid’s gameplan- Wow, the Eagles sucked in the first half. They were setting all kinds of records…in futility. They couldn’t get Jackson the ball and Kolb looked like a scared, confused rookie. Vick saved them and created a huge problem in the process. Glad I’m not an Eagles fan.
PLAY OF THE GAME
I’m going with Crosby’s 56 yard field goal to end the 1st half. Not only did it put the Pack up two scores going into the half and put all the momentum in Green Bay’s favor, but how many of you thought there was any chance that was going through as they were lining up? Come on, 5% of you? Too high? Huge play.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Clay Matthews- I guess Allen Iverson is right. We’re talking about practice. 7 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, and 1 FF. He looked quicker than last year. His dropped interception could cost him the NFL Defensive Player of the Week, but wow, how can I pick anyone else.
Mike McCarthy has spent the last few years trying to create a culture of consistency. You can see this in the way he structures and runs his practices, game preparation, film work and gameday. Over the last two months, it has definitely paid off. There is an expectation of consistent success in the locker room. You can see it in the comments made by McCarthy and the players. That’s why they did what they did to the Cardinals last week. And I truly believe it was a springboard to a repeat performance this Sunday.
Keys to the Game:
1) Disrupt Warner and their timed passing game. Kurt Warner is one of the best QB’s in the NFL when it comes to the blitz. He has zero mobility, but his ability to get rid of the football is unparalleled. The Packers need to utilize different fronts, looks, blitz and coverage packages to keep Warner guessing. The Cardinals are 28th in rushing. It starts and ends with Warner.
2) Ryan Grant needs 125. This will slow down the Cardinals pass rush and really put pressure on the shaky defensive backfield of Arizona. The Cardinals were middle of the pack this season in rush defense at 113 yds per game. Grant and the O-Line have been solid in the second half. I’m seeing at least two rushes of 20+ for Grant Sunday.
3) Keep the Cardinals out of the Red Zone. They’re automatic this season at 70.4%, first in the NFL. This may be the key of the game. If the Packers can limit the Cardinals to field goal attempts, I love their chances.
4) Make the play. No drops, no missed tackles, etc. We always look back at games and wonder, “Boy, if so and so would have only made that play…” It could be special teams in the 1st quarter or an offensive play in the 3rd. You never know the play that could be the catalyst to a victory.
5) Do what you do. I see a team that knows they are very good, and wants to be great. There is no reason to deviate from the last two months. Play Packers football and we will be moving on.
Prediction: Green Bay 34, Arizona 23
Wow, what a little rivalry Mike McCarthy has created; to Ken Whisenhunt and the Cardinals at least. I’ve linked a couple of articles from the Arizona Republic. I love reading the opponent’s newspapers. It gives me a real sense of what is going on in the other city. All I can say is WOW. Ken Whisenhunt seems to have an issue with McCarthy’s game planning and utilization of his starters. In the third preseason game, the Packers played their starters into the 3rd quarter. Almost every team in the NFL does this. It’s the only preseason game where the starters play into the 2nd half. Now he doesn’t like the Packers plan in Week 17. Someone should remind the Cardinals of the importance of the 5th seed. The Cardinals hosted the Eagles last year in the NFC Championship game as the 5th seed. Can someone be so dumb? Here are some articles. Enjoy.
Wow, there’s a lot to talk about. Heck of a game. Probably the most talked about game on the national circuit today. Heartbreaking finish, but not backbreaking, although as I’m writing this, the Giants are about to go up 14-0 over the Skins. I’m taking a different slant on my postgame today. This game answered some questions but also brought up some new ones.
1) Mason Crosby is a full blown train wreck at this point. The Redskins shipped their kicker, the Cowboys theirs (and ironically, picked up Suisham). Crosby’s quote, “I don’t know what’s going on. I’ve just got to keep watching the film, and hopefully we get out of it here.” The film??? Here, let me breakdown the film for you. You suck.
2) Jarrett Bush couldn’t cover an 84 year old woman with a walker. End of story. Instead of pointing and yelling “56 is the mike” I swear I saw Roethlisberger point and say “24 is on the field, 24 is on the field” about 6 times Sunday.
3) Tom Silverstein from the JS needs to settle. He wrote that the game Sunday showed the Packers’ defense is clearly not ready to go to any of the four NFC divisional leaders. Come on. First off, it was just one of those games. You could tell in the first 10 minutes. I wonder if the Eagles’ beat writers wrote the same thing last week after the Eagles gave up 38 to the Giants. Doubt it. Secondly, you just have to outscore ’em by one. One would think Capers will get aggressive the next time.
4) Donald Driver is in full blow up mode. Seriously, he becomes the Packers leader in catches and all of the sudden can’t catch a damn thing.
5) I’ve wondered if the opponents read ROTQ. Obviously they do. I mentioned some players from the Steelers offense in my pregame post. They all had monster games. Everyone of them.
6) We already knew, but Rodgers and Matthews. Holy crap.
Questions that need answering…
1) Why are Crosby and Bush still employed with my season ticket money? At this point I would rather see Gus, the kicking mule trot out onto the field. At least I wouldn’t close my eyes on extra points.
2) Why didn’t we bring in some fresh defensive linemen once the Steelers crossed the 40? It looked like the first episode of “The Biggest Loser” out there.
3) Does Edgar Bennett get paid for this week? We ran the ball 8 times and scored 36 points. Should have been enough.
4) Why not put Collins or another safety at backer instead of Hawk or Barnett in obvious passing situations? We have nickel and dime packages. What do you call 8 defensive backs…besides prevent?
5) Will the Packers make the playoffs? At this point, you can’t hope for the Giants to lose. You have to expect New York to win out. They hold the tiebreak over the Packers. We have to win out. One at a time. Bring on the Seahawks.
One last thing. Crosby and Bush are not to be named from this point on at ROTQ. They are now known as “The one(s) that shall not be named.” One last question that needs to be answered. Do either of them have a dog?
One of Packers’ staff writers wrote a piece yesterday on the Packers needing to improve in the red zone. HELLO! I’ve been saying it for weeks now. It almost cost them a game Sunday. Let’s see…which is more damaging to the Bears: down 21-0 or 13-0? They were 0-2 in the red zone in the first half and had to settle for field goals. Eventually, Crosby is going to start missing field goals inside of 30 yds, and then we’re in real trouble.
On a different tone, let’s put the game in perspective. The NFL is a short season. Wins are at a premium. We shouldn’t ultimately care if it’s a good looking win or an ugly win. Especially with the playoffs in the near future, it’s all about survival. Be happy with a road win against a divisional rival. Let’s see how my keys of the game played out.
1) Make the Bears drive the field. Give the Bears credit. Their two drives were over 60 yards. We gave up three 3rd down conversions of over 9 yards on the first drive. Unacceptable. BUT…they had 12 drives, all of which started in Chicago territory. I’d count this as a win.
2) Contain Greg Olsen. They tried to get him the ball in the 2nd half, but the Packers held him to 2 catches. On a side note, I was impressed with Aromashodu. Big, aggressive receiver. More of a #1 then Hester.
3) RZ offense. Already covered it. They were 1-4 in the RZ, one of them being the kneel down to end the game.
4) Quick start. Up 10-0 in the first, could have been more, but they really dominated the first half.
5) Learn from the Steelers. The Packers were pretty solid over all, although it was closer then it should have been. Too many mistakes. Thankfully, Cutler turned into Cutler in the 4th quarter.
A couple of other things…
1) My brother-in-law texted me after the Packers first play from scrimmage. “Between the tackles”. Good to see the Packers brass is also reading ROTQ.
2) Good to see another team have penalty problems. The Bears had 13 for 109 yards.
3) Donald Driver needs to pick it up. He was out of it against the Ravens, and seemed out of the game plan Sunday.
4) Two officials comments. First, that was a touchdown to Jennings. They would have called it a fumble if it happened on the 30. It’s no different then guys losing the ball after they cross the goal line and it’s still a TD. Second, the Bears were called for a false start prior to their 4th down play at the end of the game. They had no timeouts. Where was the 10 second runoff and why didn’t they start the clock? The Bears were allowed to huddle up. Huge mistakes that could have helped the Bears. Inexcusable.
5) Does Lovie Smith really know the rules of football? Every time I watch the Bears, he does something that makes you wonder what is going on in his head. The new rule is quite clear. Olson, when hitting the ground, has to maintain possession. He wasted two timeouts on that play.
6) Anyone else lose their lunch when they saw Woodson laying on the ground with what seemed like a separated shoulder or torn pectoral? WHEW!
7) The Packers signed Brandon Chillar to an extension Monday. Note to TT- You better take care of Nick Collins. NOW.
8) Play of the game- 13:39 in the 4th, 14-13 Bears. The pick by Collins on 3rd and 5. Capers called the corner blitz at least 4 times Sunday and Tramon Williams forced a bad throw. HUGE PLAY. In my opinion, one of the biggest plays of the year. The score by Grant put the Packers up for good and ultimately put the Packers in the playoffs.
Was that the worst officiated game in NFL history? Granted, you had two of the most aggressive defensive backfields in the game today going at it, but that was ridiculous. Some were legit, but the two on Williams in the end zone should lead to a suspension for the officials who made the calls. Without those two calls, the Ravens don’t score. Huge statement game for the Packers. They were even getting props from Vikings fans on the message boards. WOW. Let’s look at how my keys to the game stacked up…
1) Contain Ray Rice. A dominant win in this category. He had 33 yds on the ground going into the last drive and only 17 yds receiving. Toughest running back they will have to face until the 2nd round of the playoffs.
2) Woodson on Mason. Good Lord. 6 targets. 2 catches for 13 yds. Give him the award now. On a related note, Tramon Williams is becoming a STUD. He was locked up on Clayton, who had 1 catch on 7 targets.
3) Run the ball. Team-wise, not bad. Ryan Grant’s stats were terrible. I don’t understand McCarthy’s fascination with the stretch play. Grant is not a stretch runner, he’s a between the tackles, lower the shoulder runner. His longest runs were between the tackles. I put most of the blame on McCarthy…and the Ravens D.
4) Take care of the ball. We came out on the positive side of this stat, but 3 turnovers is unacceptable. The first Rodgers pick was a Favre. Don’t mind it on 3rd down, but that pick was on 1st down. Thankfully, our D stepped up.
A couple of other observations…
1) At the game Monday, I told my brother-in-law after the 2nd Finley TD, “This is usually the time we give up a huge KO return.” As it was happening, he turned and just stared at me. What can I say, except, if I can call it, Slocum needs to go.
2) One of the staples of our offense is the quick slant. Over the last few weeks, Rodgers has been terrible on this pass. He’s behind, low, ahead; everything but in stride. This needs to get fixed. He missed some big plays Monday.
3) I have a man crush on Clay Matthews. The guy just makes plays. 6 tackles, 2 sacks and a forced fumble Monday night.
4) Is Finley the next Gates, the next Gonzalez? I say YES!
5) Red Zone continues to be a struggle. 6 drives, only 3 touchdowns.
6) Anyone on the face of the earth have the slightest bit of confidence in Mason Crosby right now? You can’t even watch at this point.
7) Play of the game- 24-14, 9:46 left in the 4th. Woodson’s tackle on McGahee on 1st and goal at the 1. He had NO ANGLE, and somehow made the play. It forced the Ravens to throw on 2nd down and Williams picked it off in the endzone, deflating the Ravens’ chances.
Flipping through my Sunday Ticket channels Sunday, I was shocked to see the Lions-Browns game was actually on. I knew it was blacked out in Detroit, but I would have figured the NFL could have done everyone a favor and blacked it out entirely, or even cancelled it. As it turns out, it was the most entertaining finish of the weekend. In fact, it’s the Game of the Week replay on the NFL Network this week. If you’re a Lions fan, you still had more negatives then positives. The positive is you won and Stafford was NFC Player of the Week. The negatives are: you gave up 37 points to a team that hadn’t scored 37 points all season, you had 3 turnovers and a safety, and your franchise QB almost had to cut his left arm off at the shoulder following the game. The loss of Stafford this week hurts the Lions a lot more then the two defensive injuries the Packers sustained Sunday.
As I have stated earlier on this site, so much of professional sports is showing up. The Packers learned their lesson three weeks ago, so there is no chance in my mind that they think they can coast through this game, even with Culpepper at the helm. On the other hand, there isn’t any real reason to be worried about this game. The Lions slashed one of the worst defenses in NFL history. Culpepper would have slashed the Browns. Big deal. I’ll tell you the real matchup of the year: Cleveland vs. Washington. Too bad they’re not scheduled.
Keys to the Game
1) Contain Calvin Johnson. He was inactive in the first game, and he’s coming off a 7 catch, 161 yard performance. This is a monstrous test for Dom Capers and the newly configured secondary. Normally, this would be Al Harris all day. The problem now is if you roll coverage over to help on Johnson, Pettigrew, their rookie TE, could have a field day. If you noticed last week, every time Woodson went off of Vernon Davis, they threw him the ball because he was WIDE OPEN. We’ll see how Capers defends this mess.
2) Continue the offensive balance. Last week, Green Bay had 32 rushes and 45 passes. For the Packers, that’s balance. Goal for Thursday is to be a little better than last week. Needs to happen to make up for the losses on defense.
3) Get off to a great start. If the Browns can score 24 points in the 1st quarter, just think what the Packers are capable of. Three things working in Green Bay’s favor here. Last week, the Packers had 17 first downs in the 1st half, the 49ers had 1. That stat is real. Secondly, the Lions defense is absolutely brutal; 31st overall, 32nd against the pass. Thirdly, Packers are 1st in the NFL in turnover margin, the Lions are T30th. On paper, the halftime score should be 67-0.
4) Build defensive chemistry with the new group. These guys need to be on the same page and every one of them needs to step up their game. This is the perfect game to get started with that. Unfortunately, we will be subjected to more Jarrett Bush then is recommended by the World Health Organization. Hopefully, he doesn’t infect the entire Packer Nation. Are there shots for this? Yep- whiskey.
Prediction- Green Bay 47, Detroit 17