More Thoughts on Saints Game

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  • My first point is put #1 here for a reason (and it’s rare for me to start out w/something like this): Drew Brees is the best QB in the NFL by a quite a bit. Right now, Kurt Warner is up there as is Peyton Manning. But nobody can read defenses like Brees. On a huge number of plays, he got rid of the ball so fast that even the Giants or Steelers wouldn’t have gotten to him. In fact, I would go so far as to say, I don’t think many teams would have beaten the Saints last night. Into the 3rd quarter, the sense only grew that we would have to play a mistake free game just to keep up, let alone win. That is one extraordinarily confident offense.
  • Brees and the Saints may have read Packergeeks before the game. Yes, Lance Moore hurt us and Colston had one long TD catch, but only 7 passes went to WRs. A majority of the passes (especially 3rd down back-breakers) went to TEs and RBs:

Watch the short-medium passes to Jeremy Shockey, Billy Miller, Deuce McAllister and Pierre Thomas. Against our aggressive style of cornerback coverage, many offenses prefer to throw short check-down passes to players who aren’t WRs. QBs already know that the timing of many WR patterns will be disrupted by the aggressive Packer DBs right at the line of scrimmage. So, I think that may explain in good part, why tight ends, FBs, RBs in the flat etc, seem to be very popular targets for teams opposing us. Chillar, Hawk, Bigby, Collins – that’s you.

  • Atari Bigby was horrible. It seems like his instincts are a bit rusty from his time away due to injury. I know he was concerned about covering the TEs on several plays, but on Lance Moore’s TD and on Pierre Thomas’ running TD in the 4th quarter, Bigby was out of position and cost us 7 points almost by himself. Very bad game.
  • It’s amazing – I’m pretty sure that we played much of the game using the 4-2-5 line-up that worked so effectively against Indy and Chicago. I agree with Brother Steve, Hawk’s positioning seemed off, like he was a step behind, and Bibgy’s play was so bad. I almost wonder if the rest of the pass coverage group was left to compensate for their shortcomings (though Woodson, Collins also weren’t stellar either).
  • Agree with Brother Steve that Bob Sanders doesn’t seem to be great at making in-game adjustments. Now, I’m less critical of Sanders than others as I think he’s grown and improved overall. But last night, it’s hard to argue that he just didn’t get it figured out. (The only weak argument I could come up with is personnel-based).
  • McCarthy’s on-side kick was actually something I even questioned – and this from someone who would on-side kick on most kick-offs. The timing of it felt wrong. While McCarthy may have figured it was so hopeless defensively and Brees may well have driven the team down for a TD with a long field, with a short field, there was a 100% he’d drive them down for a TD. I actually would have kicked long there.
  • Why does Grant just get benched when we fall behind? We have to be about the only NFL team who just benches our #1 RB when we fall behind. It’s interesting because I love the 4-5 WR sets, but last night, I think we went to them way too much. When we abandon the backfield completely, 4-5 WR sets become incredibly easy to defend. By the 4th quarter the Saints were rushing 3 and dropping 8 into coverage because they knew we weren’t going to run. Jackson was in there for a few of the plays, but many were empty backfield. I just don’t think Grant should have been on the bench from mid 3rd quarter on.
  • Will Blackmon is a stud.
  • Many of us want Aaron Rodgers to succeed. In reading many blogs/articles out there, especially after he has a bad game, I find it very interesting how unwilling most folks are to pin ANY blame on the guy. This actually isn’t too different from how many writers and fans treated a certain former Packer QB. Just this morning The Big Unit at WTMJ seemed to give Rodgers a pass by barely mentioning his play and just focusing on the defense. Yes, the D was terrible and that was a big part of it, but so was Rodgers. I think it’s very important that when he plays badly, he’s held accountable for it and ripped for it – fair is fair. The bottom line is that he threw 3 picks in a game when we couldn’t afford those mistakes.
  • Now can people see why I thought it was ridiculous that jsonline wrote an entire article about the importance of protecting the ball and not throwing picks the day of a huge game? Though I don’t think they actually deserve blame for his picks, I do think that sometimes, in a subtle way, speaking psychobabble here, having something like this discussed in detail days before a game may even slightly raise the level of consciousness for Rodgers a bit which doesn’t help. Think about this analogy: you’re on the tee hitting to a green surrounded by water. Moments before your shot a reporter comes by to talk about how you have been very good this year at not hitting the ball in the water. So, you step up to the tee and of course your mind is saying “don’t hit it in the water, don’t hit it in the water, don’t hit it in the water”. You hit it in the water. It’s called “Focus Negative” (my term, just coined it). I’m overstating here I know, but still that should have been a bye week article.
  • Despite my grade for Rodgers of a C- last night, I must say, I LOVED the fact that he pasted Jason David after that pick. Lots of QBs adopt the chicken shit mentality after they throw a pick.
  • This is a game that we simply have to forget immediately. Again, we caught Drew Brees on a night when I’m not sure any defense could have disrupted his rhythm. If I were coach McCarthy, I would have told all players after the game that they had a mandatory party on Bourbon Street last night with a 6 beer minimum -to help them all forget about what happened. We need to look forward asap because we have a couple winnable games coming up and I don’t think we’re out of this thing yet. Yes, the winner of Bears/Vikings next week goes to 7-5 (of course, unless they tie) and would appear to make it more difficult. But we get a win next week against Carolina and we’re right back in it. Then we have Houston at home – another winnable game. And, remember that we have a pretty good divisional record right now and would do OK head-to-head for tiebreakers.
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10 Responses to “More Thoughts on Saints Game”

  1. Dave in Tucson Says:

    I don’t have any problem with the on-side kick. At that point in the game, I think the only chance the Packers had was to keep the Saints offense off the field, as the defense wasn’t stopping anything.

    Count me as one that is willing to cut Rodgers some slack. He still hasn’t started a full season yet; it’s ridiculous to expect him to be able to carry the team through a game at this point.

    Note that his first interception didn’t come until the Packers were down by 10, and it was clear that to win they would have to score a TD every time they had the ball.

    D∈T

  2. Ron La Canne Says:

    For the entire pre-season and the eleven weeks of the season, MM’s comments post-game started: “We didn’t play well, we’ll look at the film and fix it.” If he hasn’t fixed it yet, it ain’t going to be fixed. It is time to admit it CANNOT BE FIXED. Not with the low-talent fops they have playing on both lines.

    I blame Thompson for doing nothing to improve either line in the off-season. Of the nine players that makeup the two lines only one plays like a pro, Kampman. Taucher (his status for the rest of the season?) and Clifton are showing sign of age. Wells, Spitz, Sitton, Moll and College pretty much stink. NO used a four and three man ruch almost exclusivly and still harrassed Rodgers all night.

    With the exception of Kampman, the D-line has no push at all. Is it conditioning? Is it the fact that they just can’t play at an NFL level?

    Unless Thompson changes his position on hoarding cap money, I’m affraid the Packers are destined to suffer even more next year. Can TT draft eight O & D line starters in next year’s draft?

    Everyone, who doesn’t understand football, is fawning all over Favre for the Jets resurgence. In reallity the Jets spent big time cap money to improve their O & D lines. That is the reason Favre can succeed. Until TT stops insisting on stocking the lines with bargain basement selections, GB will have problems.

  3. awhayes Says:

    Not with you there Dave in T…Rodgers is 11 games into his 4th season (though first as a starter). It’s time he gets ripped for his errors too. Even I was willing to chalk up earlier errors to new-ness. Not anymore. No, he didn’t Frerotte and cost us the game by himself, our defense and the Saints unreal offense mostly decided the game. But Rodgers didn’t help our cause in the second half.

    Ron – I disagree a bit re Favre. I do think he has helped the team a lot not only in play (yes, play helped largely by their great O-Line) but also from a mentality standpoint. Several players have commented on their own boost in confidence/performance due to playing with Favre. But I agree very much that they went about free agency the right way by pulling in Kris Jenkins and Alan Faneca. I don’t think Jenkins would have been hard to recruit because his brother plays for us and Faneca has been to something like 7 Pro Bowls. While I know free agents like these guys are very expensive, the Jets figured it out and my guess is that we were in probably better cap position to pull something like this than they were.

  4. Aaron Says:

    Ron: “Is it the fact that they just can’t play at an NFL level?”

    Yes.

  5. bucky Says:

    I thought the offensive line did ok last night, even well, particularly run blocking. The Packers scored 21 in the first half fer chrissakes; they ran the ball down the Saints throat, like they needed to. That was a pretty productive unit in the first half. They weren’t as good against the pass, but a lot of the Saints’ pressure came once the game started getting out of hand, and the Packers had to throw the ball every down.

    I also think Rodgers had a very good first half, but a terrible second half. Yes, he deserves criticism for it. It looked like he had caught Brett Favre disease, where the patient tries to win the game with every pass. He looked impatient and seemed to lock in on a receiver right from the snap.

    The defensive line, on the other hand, was horrible. Brees had all day in the pocket, and he’ll kill anyone with the time to throw. The secondary and LBs looked lost for a good part of the night, but the absolute failure of the D line to generate any pressure on Brees was the biggest factor in the score. And I don’t see why Kampman gets a pass. Except for a couple of pressures at the end of the first half, he was as invisible as anyone else on the line. In fact, he really hasn’t done a whole lot all year; he is certainly not the same player who was dominant at times last season.

  6. DaveK Says:

    Rodgers INT was a game killer. It took the game from 10 points to 17 points requiring from then on a completely different scheme on offense. It would have been great for him to again march the offense down the field on another 12 play 80 yard TD drive in an attempt to keep pace with that Saints offense last night. So yeah, he stared down a WR and threw a crappy pass that sealed the game for the Saints. He also led the offense to 21 points in the first half which included two extended drives that ate up plenty of time. Fault him for the INT and a few open WR’s he missed in the first half but the defense cost us this game. They make one stand in the 2nd quarter and it relieves pressure and changes the dynamic of the game. The defense seemed to stiffen up to open the 2nd half only to allow TWO 3rd and long plays to be converted. You have to get pressure on 3rd and long and you have to get off the field. They didn’t and they marched down and made it a 10 point game. It was a total failure by the defense to stop that offense and to get off the field at any point in the 2nd or 3rd quarters.

  7. Ron La Canne Says:

    Andy, didn’t mean to infer that Favre wasn’t important to the Jets revival, he was. However, the Jets also recognized the need to provide strength in the basics. O and D lines were not designated to second rate cheap players. The Jets had a puzzle that had pieces missing, they found the pieces and completed their puzzle. The Packers have a puzzle that still has pieces missing. TT tried to fill the open spots in the puzzle from a one size fits all box and they will never quite fit.

    Since Marco and Wahle were let go, it should be obvious of the contempt TT has for lineman. Anyone wanna bet that TT will ignore Haynesworth in Free Agency?

  8. Bruce Johnson Says:

    Packers v. Saints looked eerily like Ohio St. v. LSU or Ohio St. v. USC. Team speed on defense was sadly lacking. If the safeties weren’t prepared, then Schottenheimer needs some work. The Packers defense needs lots of work, period

  9. Dave in Tucson Says:

    Expectations change in a hurry, don’t they? At the beginning of the season, nobody was even sure if Rodgers was going to be a bust or not, if he was going to be able to stay off IR the whole season. Now he’s getting dumped on because he can’t carry the whole team on his shoulders.

    Through 11 games, he’s got a 63.5% completion rate for 2,599 yards, 17 TD and 9 ints. Not terrible for a guy starting his first season, playing behind a very dodgy o-line, and along side a defense that’s given up 27+ points in 4 games.

    D∈T

  10. Bruce Johnson Says:

    Does anybody know how Ryan the old punter got along with Coach Stock? after reading the JSO story about punting this morning, it sounds like there was some fundamental disagreement between the two. Something beyond a couple of mere technical points.

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