Archive for November, 2007

Cause for Optimism

November 30, 2007

With the benefit of some 12 hours of hindsight, I’m more optimistic about the game last night and what it means for the Packers going forward. As we’ve pointed out, there are many reasons for concern — chiefly the play of the offensive and defensive lines, the secondary, and the kick coverage units.

But consider: We played on the road, against a team that has lost only once this year (to the Patriots). We played without our top defensive back and starting punt returner, without the NFL’s 6th leading sack producer, without an up-and-coming safety prospect who has an interception in each of his two starts, and two starting-caliber defensive tackles. Oh, and our Hall of Fame quarterback was knocked out early in the 2nd quarter. And it was our fourth game in 18 days.

Despite all of that, and officiating that will be embarassing when the NFL reviews the game tape, the Packers — did I mention that they are the youngest team in the league? — were in a position to win the game with 5 minutes to go.

We were outplayed and outcoached, the latter being a rarity this year.

But if we have an opportunity to return to Dallas on January 20, I like our chances.

Romo, Favre and…Anthony Bourdain?

November 30, 2007

Let’s give Tony Romo credit. No, not for posting 300 yards and 4 touchdowns on a battered and confused Packer secondary. But for being hilarious.

After the game he was asked by a reporter what he and Favre did in their on-field meeting before the game. “Exchanging recipes and stuff,” said Romo. “Normal guy stuff.”

Play of the Game

November 30, 2007

There are several nominees. The questionable pass interference on Tramon Williams, good for 40 yards on the Cowboys decisive drive. The botched call on Al Harris’ strip of Terrell Owens on the Cowboys first drive. Mason Crosby’s 52-yard field goal late in the game on 4th and 1, a decision that meant the Packers would rely on their defense to stop the Cowboys before getting another shot with the ball.

But for me, the clear play of the game was the Packers’ failure to stop the Cowboys on 3rd and 19 deep in Cowboys territory. At the time, the score was 27-24, and if the Packers had been able to hold them on that play, we would have gotten the ball back with good field position and a chance to have our second-string quarterback lead the team on its third touchdown drive. That would have not only changed the score, but would have likely been very demoralizing to a Cowboy team that looked out of sorts at the beginning of the second half.

But the Packers looked to be playing some kind of zone, and when three Packers followed Terrell Owens over the middle, Patrick Crayton was wide open — and I mean W I D E open — on the left sideline.

There wasn’t much written today about the Packers defensive scheme, but I hope we get some more analysis of it in the second-day stories. Maybe I’m wrong, but it sure seemed like we went away from our man-to-man press coverage (perhaps to compensate for the loss of Woodson). It would be great to know more.

Frustrating game review

November 30, 2007

I don’t like the Cowboys. Somehow, I find myself fighting not to dislike Wisconsin’s own Tony Romo even. He just seems cocky or something – I take it back, I kind of do like him, but I just hate Dallas. I don’t like Wade Phillips and his fat face. I don’t like Dallas fans, never have – what with their giant class rings and their hair parted to the side like a Ken doll. Losing to them doesn’t sit well with me and had we not staged that impressive comeback, I would have felt horrible because we might have been blown out. (About that comeback by the way, if you looked at the Cowboys sideline when they were up 27-10, they all assumed the game was over and were being quite cocky. Serves them right.)

Rodgers did do well with his opportunity. His scrambling abilities do offer a very new and different threat for our offense (considering Favre almost never runs past the line of scrimmage). I was concerned though when Rodgers got hit hard a few times – would the Rooster have come in to QB? Or Favre come back and thrown left-handed? I also think McCarthy did make some needed adjustments (though arguably too late on a few like benching Jarrett Bush). And, I’m not sure that all those deep passes in the first quarter were 100% McCarthy’s doing – I have a feeling Favre may have wanted to throw a couple of those. Favre looked bad last night, quite bad. He’s entitled to a game like that now and again – but I hope he doesn’t have another one like that until next year.

Steve and I talked last night about one thing we might have done differently while it was happening early in the second half. Though Rodgers was on a hot streak passing, it might have been a good idea to mix more run in with the pass (the Dallas run D was not impressive) during that time to help our defense have more time to rest.

But to me, one of the biggest problems I had last night was with the broadcast. The NFL Network absolutely sucks. They made the game feel weird and like brother Steve said, I wonder how in the world they settled on having Bryant Gumbel be the play-by-play guy. He may be the worst annoucer ever…seriously. Every time he opened his mouth, it sounded like he wanted to tell some heart-warming story about an athlete who had overcome adversity – like he was just doing a piece for the 90% female-viewed Today Show – or the Olympics. He also sounded so meek. Collinsworth was fine (mostly because he clearly wanted the Packers until an exec told him he also needed to talk about Dallas). To me, if you’re a network trying to assert itself as the future for NFL broadcasts, then you have to deliver a quality product and holy crap, did that not happen.

Anyway, no party today, no party.

Thoughts on Aaron Rodgers

November 30, 2007

I have been an Aaron Rodgers skeptic going back several years. Tonight, the UPS Whiteboard Guy started the long process of proving me wrong. He looked poised and a threw the ball well. When he decided to run, he did it at exactly the right time. His teammates seemed to rally around him.

In short, it was a big night for the guy who is likley to succeed Brett Favre. I hope Favre plays for antoher five years, but if he doesn’t it’s nice to get his successor some snaps in a big-time game. Most important, the game should provide a much-needed confidence boost.

Postgame Thoughts

November 30, 2007

This was a pretty gutsy performance by the Packers, especially after Favre went down.

Bob Sanders, however, has a lot of explaining to do. How is it possible that he was running a scheme that had AJ Hawk and, on a separate play, Nick Collins responsible for covering Terrell Owens. That is a bad scheme, no matter how you cut it.

The play of the game, in my view, was the Packers failure to stop the Cowboys on 3rd and 19 from deep in their own territory. Romo completed a pass to Patrick Crayton and while the Cowboys did not score on that drive (T.O. bobbled a pass in the end zone and Al Harris picked it off) it was a back-breaking play that kept the Packer defense on the field.

Interestingly, the two guys calling the game for NFL Network thought the biggest plays in the game were the two pass interference calls on CBs covering Miles Austin. Both calls were, at least, questionable and the second was was flat out incorrect. I would add to that list the botched call on the first Cowboy drive of the game. Al Harris stripped T.O. of the ball cleanly and the refs missed it. The potential momentum swing after such a turnover is hard to overstate.

Finally, our special teams play was awful. The Cowboys had several long kickoff returns tonight and held the field position advantage over the Packers in dramatic fashion.

The upside: A depleted Packer team kept the game within reach against a well-stocked Cowboy team at their home stadium. If the Packers meet the Cowboys again in January, and they have their key players available, there is little question that the Packers can win the game.

UPDATE: Here is the JS Online postgame take.

UPDATE II: For more thoughts, keep scrolling through the liveblog of the game and stop by tomorrow.

More Bryant Gumbel

November 30, 2007

As the game came to an end, Gumbel previewed a postgame interview by NFL Network’s Adam Schefter with Cowboy quarterback…wait for it…Rick Romo.

He’s not as bad as Brian Baldinger, but how does Bryant Gumbel have this job? He is a complete moron.

Penalties

November 30, 2007

The Packers have 9 penalties for 142 yards; the Cowboys have 10 for 65 yards.

Special Teams

November 30, 2007

The Packers’ kick coverage has been absolutely awful. After every kickoff — save one — the Cowboys have had the ball in front of their own 35 yard-line. We cannot cover kicks and it’s killing the Packers.

Yet Another Questionable Call

November 30, 2007

This one on Tramon Williams. On third down, Williams was flagged for pass interference after his legs got tangled with Miles Austin’s. One ref signaled that it was incidental contact, and another called pass interference. The guy who called pass interference obviously has more seniority.

Cowboys 34-24.

UPDATE: Even Cris Collinsworth and Bryant “Barking at the Door” Gumbel think the Packers got hosed on the pass interference call. Per, JS Online, the Williams penalty was worth 42 yards.


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