Game thoughts – Packers/Cowboys

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I was lucky enough to go to the game last night. It was exciting and the atmosphere before the game was playoff-like. It was a fun game really until the second half. Players were pumped on both sides and the fans were all energized. Fun game to see live. In the end, the Packers were over-matched. I picked Dallas to win the Super Bowl because I expect them to continue playing like this.

The Concerns:

  • Dallas is good, very good on offense and defense. Their O-Line averages 6’6″ tall and 327.4 pounds a guy. That helps explain why our D-Line was noticeably dragging by the 3rd quarter or so.
  • The Packers were seriously out-coached. When is Wade Phillips going to get credit for being a really good coach? We couldn’t keep up with their offense and their defense seemed to know exactly what was coming.
  • Barber/Jones make for a scary duo – really good backs.
  • Nobody is better at finding space than Jason Witten – this guy is really good.
  • Aaron Rouse struggled with positioning in coverage on a few occasions – some of which were important (several Witten passes). There were a couple plays (the second Miles Austin catch) where I thought Bigby might have been in a better position to make a play. Overall he was OK but he seems a bit off in coverage
  • Collins’ injury issues hurt the Packers. He often gets hurt during games and his absence then appears to disrupt the secondary. He had one break-down in coverage on Austin’s first catch, but outside of that, he was solid. There was a big drop-off when Peprah came in.
  • Communication in the secondary was not effective, especially after the injuries.
  • At one point in the 4th quarter I asked my friend why Dallas was throwing the ball at all considering they were running at will, and then we noticed that Woodson was the only secondary starter on the field. Smart coaching by Dallas and it worked.
  • Rodgers was flustered. I don’t think he was bad necessarily, but he wasn’t good either. Romo faced similar pressure and seemed to demonstrate to me anyway, that he is a level above Rodgers because he found a way to make some key passes in the face of massive pressure. There were a few occasions when Rodgers tucked and ran prematurely. But his second half problem was that his eyes were locking on targets. He forced a few incomplete passes Jordy Nelson’s way because he was locked on him and the Cowboys knew where he was throwing it.
  • Mike McCarthy’s play-calling was poor. He had poor game-flow and a poor mix of plays. I believe it was the second quarter when McCarthy seemed to abandon the run making defending the Pack fairly predictable. But throughout the game Dallas, to their credit, appeared to know exactly what was coming.
  • Being at the game was helpful in that I noticed some stuff the TV coverage can’t pick up. One of these things was Dallas’ handling of our slant patterns. Not only was Rodgers pressured a lot, but his receivers weren’t getting too open. Dallas was dropping linebackers back and bringing safeties forward into the slant pattern zones cutting off that option – they did this very effectively. And, their corners were playing the slants big-time in part because they didn’t seem to feel threatened a pass over their heads.
  • Before the game, I had indicated that Rodgers needed to try a few deep balls early to stretch the field and keep Dallas honest. Again, the Cowboys’ safeties were able to cheat up pretty far at times to make plays on the many slant patterns run and to even stop the run. The Dallas secondary bunched the field like an U-8 soccer game.
  • Donald Lee needs to get more involved in the passing game. He wasn’t getting open in space or down the seam.
  • The O-Line was very bad. They didn’t defend the pass rush and the holes our RBs had were pretty small. Grant and Jackson did well to get the yards they did.
  • Our D-Line was dragging – lack of depth apparent. There were several 3rd and 4th quarter series-changes when a few of the guys seemed to barely make it off the field before our offense resumed play.
  • A little concern from this Packergeek re Packer depth right now.
  • Frost’s punting was not stellar. While his #s may not appear to be bad (49 yard average), his hang-time was weak.

The Positives:

  • Rodgers didn’t throw a pick or fumble in a game he could have easily done so.
  • Mason Crosby continues to show he may be one of the quietest, most effective draft picks in a long time. FGs and kickoffs.
  • Will Blackmon. I love his energy on special teams and if it weren’t for the automatic flag thrown on 2 of his returns, he would have had good return numbers. He just makes plays too as he showed on defense prying the ball loose from Barber with 5 minutes left. He also would have had an interception if Collins hadn’t picked that one off in the end zone.
  • Outside of giving up the costly TD to Miles Austin, Tramon Williams’ coverage disrupted 3 pass plays to TO. The first, he batted the ball down. The second two, Owens was Romo’s first read and Romo immediately had to alter his read (to Witten of course) because Williams was on TO tight.
  • Good pass rush by the Pack – Romo too was under a lot of pressure last night.
  • Donald Lee had some quality blocks on run plays and a few pass plays – especially against DeMarcus Ware.
  • Jennings is a major playmaker. Sorry, I’ll say it right here – at least right now, he’s better than Moss and TO.
  • Jackson was good – slippery.
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10 Responses to “Game thoughts – Packers/Cowboys”

  1. ScottinDC Says:

    I also think we learned a lesson from this game. While Tramon Williams was excellent in back-up, Woodson is the guy to have on the big play receiver. TO was essentially a non-factor last night. If not for Woodson, Dallas could’ve won by an even larger margin. I believe this was one of your game keys. Well played sir.

  2. Keith Says:

    Nice analysis, I agree with pretty much everything.

    But Jennings better than TO? Come on.

  3. daveK Says:

    Thank you for your report on the Dallas secondary. The hardest part about watching on TV is you can’t really see the secondary and what scheme they are using. It seemed that Rodgers held the ball a lot longer then the first two games. He either didn’t have too many options open or he wasn’t able to find the open guy before the pass rush forced the issue. From your comments it seems that he was holding the ball because his first option or two were not open. I guess you give Rodgers good marks then for not forcing the ball into coverage. But, if they are jumping slants and bringing safties down then you have to beat them deep and we seem to have the WR group to do that but maybe we don’t have the o-line to give him the time against Dallas. I was waiting for that deep ball all game and it never seemed to come.

    I can’t quible too much about the Packer defense. I thought they played good enough to win this game. They essentially shut down T.O. and really only gave up 7 points in the first half. Injuries and fatigue caught up with them in the 2nd half as the Packer offense couldn’t stay on the field. Dallas had great field position the enitre 2nd half thanks to 3 to 4 Packer drives that went no-where or backwards and a slew of special teams penalties.

    I also have a problem with McCarthy putting Rodgers at risk towards the end of the game. He took a few good shots with just a few minutes left and they where down three scores. Take a knee or run up the middle with Lumpkin as we really don’t have a backup QB.

  4. Joe Says:

    Another reason Rodgers could not find people and had to hold the longer was becuase they were in max protect much of the night and only 2 or 3 recievers in the pattern.

  5. Aaron Rogders Says:

    Why, PLEASE tell me why Jackson was running the ball very well and we take him out. Grant was running poor and Jackson was running good. So lets stick with Grant. This is not that same Grant from last year. Lumpkin runs a lot better then him right now. We need to put him in the mix as well.

    Can we get our Jon Ryan back please?

  6. daveK Says:

    Joe, that is a good point about max protection. It does eliminate the check down to the RB or TE. But, it seems to me that if you keep a TE and RB in to block that should buy you enough time to find the open WR IF you are calling plays/routes that take advantage of the secondary scheme they are throwing at you. I am by no means an expert on the 3-4 defense but I just get the impression that the Packers are not adept enough at finding its soft spots. Maybe they just don’t have the personal on the o-line to do that.?? I really don’t know but in two games against the Cowboys I have come away with the nagging feeling that the Packers were out-coached in both of them.

  7. awhayes Says:

    A Rodg – they may have brought Grant back in despite Jackson’s good carries in part because I was lobbying hard for it from the stands. Grant is on my fantasy team you see. Just kidding, I too wanted Jackson to stay in. Dallas seemed to struggle with his size almost – he runs so low and is so slippery I he almost seemed to run right under them. Grant may be physically easier for them to tackle because they are all so huge and Grant is decent-sized himself. I’m not ready to chuck Grant yet though – he was decent for what he had to run through. But there is something to be said for momentum and Jackson had it there for a few minutes – so I would have let him continue.

    I think Jon Ryan would have helped our field position game last night, certainly more than Frost did. Even though Ryan was not always great with hang-time, he at least could have driven Pacman back 20 yards. Frost doesn’t seem to have that strong of a leg.

  8. bucky Says:

    The only thing I would disagree on in here is where you state that “Romo faced similar pressure” to that felt by Rodgers. I think that was true on maybe three or four plays, but I think Dallas’ front four closed the pocket quickly on very nearly every pass attempt, whereas the Packers got close to Romo only when he held the ball. He had time to get the ball deep, time that Rodgers did not have.

  9. Aaron Rogders Says:

    I was just thinking, if our offensive line can block like they did on the QB sneak, we will be pretty good. :)

  10. Ace Says:

    Defending Rodgers. O line overwhelmed. Need healthy Wells at center and Spitz at guard, although everyone on O line was overwhelmed. AR had no time. He hurried a couple of throws badly. With #4 that was a double figure sack game or close. Disappointed in red zone lack of imagination and execution. Different ballgame if they convert two of those three red zone chances in the first half. Key to game——Dallas controlled the ball on offense and GB was often 3 and out. GB defense exhausted by being on the field so long. In the stands we were actually wishing Blackmon would not go the distance in the second half so the D line could catch a breather.

    Punt and kickoff returns–against Bucs let’s just not block and let Blackmon do it all on his own. That way we will not lose yardage on punt returns. Let kickoffs go to the end zone and down them. We at least get the ball to the 20. Return penalties are game changers. Field position was a determining factor yesterday. Partly due to special teams–not good yesterday.

    Key play yesterday. GB D and penalty hammer Dallas to about its own 5 and GB starts play after the 75 yard punt on its own 10. If Blackmon does not make a leaping catch it’s a 95 yard punt and we get the ball on the 20. Awesome kick even with the wind. Momentum had swung to GB and they lost it on one enormous boot.

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