Archive for the ‘Game Thoughts’ Category

Game Thoughts Packers/Bills

December 14, 2014
  • The Packers played horribly today. This team was not ready to play today. From the start of this game it was as though the Packers thought they were heading into an away game against a team that hadn’t lost in 5 years. Way too much respect for the Bills and a defense that is very good, but not as good as our offense. We played down to this team and lost because of it. Yes Rodgers was bad but the WRs were bad and at times our O-Line was really bad – nobody seemed ready for this game (except for Cobb and Lacy).
  • This was the worst game I’ve seen Rodgers play in a long time, if not in his career. Just horrible. There are some games when it seems like he is almost resigned from the start to the belief that the other team’s D will be too difficult to figure out. Fortunately, this almost never happens anymore and this terrible game won’t shake my opinion that Rodgers is the best QB in the game and may someday go down as the best of all-time. But this was very similar to his approach, attitude and performance against Seattle in Game 1. It’s almost like he’s intimidated because of what he knows about an opposing defense, when with his immense talent, he should ALWAYS be the one who does the intimidating.
  • We were badly outcoached in this game. McCarthy didn’t get things going on offense like he needed to. The game plan was not good. Not enough different guys were involved. Lacy, Jordy and Cobb were all involved but hardly anyone else. Sometimes, it’s helpful just to complete a pass to Kuhn or let Starks have a few extra carries simply so that a defense has to think “oh yeah, they have that guy too”. Today, they were able to cram passing lanes and focus on Cobb, Nelson and Lacy – and that didn’t work out – especially with Rodgers playing so poorly.
  • This was the worst officiating I’ve seen this year against the Packers and really in a long time overall. From not stopping the clock for us, to not calling penalties for us, to calling heinous penalties against us. McCarthy had every right to be angry over on the sidelines today. More than anything, the timing of the bad calls (or no calls) was huge. On another day with a different officiating crew, I think this game would have evolved quite differently.
  • One of the worst no calls was when the announcers went on and on about Woods sideline catch after he threw Shields out of the way. That was one of the most classic offensive PI plays you’ll see and nothing was called. But Boykins was interfered with big-time on that missed 3rd down try, Cobb was on several others and Jordy was on one as well. Those that read this blog know I don’t like to make it a habit to whine about the officiating unless it is consistently bad and unless it has a significant impact on the game. It sure did today.
  • The defense played OK and really did keep us in the game today. Against a better team with this officiating and our horrible offense, we should have lost by 3 TDs. But they hung in there and made a number of really good plays today. That said, when Hawk was in there he was a problem. It is not a coincidence that with the exception of the 2nd half vs Atlanta, the defense has played well over the last few games when Hawk hasn’t been playing much. So I’m not sure what made Capers put in back in there a bunch today. I honestly believe that opposing offenses see him run onto the field and the opposing OC just calls run plays or short pass plays over the middle. Yes Barrington had a bone-headed and costly penalty but he also had a ton of tackle and a few big hits.
  • We really missed the presence of a good TE today. I don’t know why I keep thinking that but I just have this feeling that had Finley been in there, Rodgers would have turned it around and the Packers would have won. Against better defenses, us primarily using just 2 WRs and a RB does not constitute a diverse enough selection of play calls to make it super difficult. We needed to get Kuhn into the passing game, and Starks and Adams. But Adams in particular seemed zoned out once again. He is starting to be an all or nothing kind of player. I know he’s just a rookie but I do feel like against better teams, we will really need a solid #3 pass target and we haven’t had anyone really step up and be consistent force there (again – like Finley would be).
  • This loss hurts a lot. We were all thinking about home field etc. Tough to get that now. And, of course, the season is not over and we have some difficult games left – including next week in Tampa against Lovie and a similar defense. While I think the coaching staff needs to be criticized a lot for this one and the players as well, I would prefer that the team tries to move on quickly from this loss. Looking at the film will be helpful because Tampa’s D will play similarly (rushing 4 and dropping a bunch of guys into coverage clogging the passing lanes), but after an honest assessment of what went wrong today I really think we need to push this game out of our minds quickly and start game-planning for Tampa asap. We need to make sure we’re ready and focused to play the next game and importantly, we need to work much harder on getting more offensive players involved against this kind of defense. Outside of Jordy and Cobb hardly anyone else caught a pass today and that is what happens when our offense gets shut down. We HAVE to work other guys in. Truth is, we should beat Tampa by 5 TDs if we get back to the true essence of who this team is.
  • As ridiculous as this may sound, it’s possible a loss here could ultimately be helpful to the team. We had won a bunch of games in a row and had been playing tough football for the most part, maybe this game will serve as a bit of extra motivation to start a long winning streak that takes us deep into the playoffs. Frankly, despite being super frustrated by the team today, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is exactly what happens.
  • Your Thoughts?

Game Thoughts Packers/Falcons

December 8, 2014
  • The first half of the game played out pretty much how I expected the whole game to go. The second half was an unpleasant surprise. The Packers D just looked totally lost out there – it was odd. And it didn’t seem like any real adjustments were made – which was troubling. Ultimately though, the Atlanta D is weak and Rodgers and co took advantage of that.
  • I continue to be pleased with Capers’ decision to bench AJ Hawk. Let’s just call it what it is, he’s been benched in favor of a better player. Ever since moving Matthews, Hawk’s playing time and been dramatically reduced. While I’m sure Barrington has missed some assignments and made some poor plays we may/may not have noticed, I think we’re seeing a defense that is playing more effectively overall without the defensive QB skills of Hawk (second half notwithstanding – not sure what that was all about). Barrington hits hard and seems to have considerably more lateral range than Hawk – and he closes much quicker. It’s about time. I don’t dislike AJ Hawk – I like the effort he brings, the fact that he stays healthy and his attitude. For sure. But he’s just not very good. For years I’ve been watching other ILBs just take over games and he’s never done that – not because that’s not his “assignment” as has often been the excuse – but simply because he’s not that good. Nice decision Capers.
  • Lacy is fun to watch. He has such amazing balance that it seems every game I think he’s definitely down only for him to end up on the ground 8 yards later because he managed to maintain his balance. It’s really amazing.
  • I think Morgan Burnett has quietly stabilized the Packers secondary. Clinton-Dix has been a great addition as well but I think Burnett is finally coming around to be a quality safety. (Note: this comment does not apply to the second half – again, not sure what happened there.)
  • Jordy and Cobb are special. I love watching those guys. They are so incredibly good at moving when the play is broken up. In fact, that is when they are arguably at their best – Rodgers too. I love watching busted up plays.
  • That said, I worry about one of those two getting hurt. While I realize Davante Adams is just a rookie, he seems really inconsistent to me. Last week he was really good for most of the game and then dropped that key pass at the end of the game. And tonight he just seemed totally out of it. It was weird. But with Boykins now an apparent afterthought, I worry about being so focused on Cobb and Jordy.
  • Rodgers is unreal. One of the quiet factors in his greatness is his ability to buy just a few more seconds. Sure, he’s good at just running with the ball for yards, but he has an special quality of elusiveness that very few QBs really master. It’s like a 6th sense for knowing where pressure is coming from and what lanes he can go through to escape. Favre had it. Big Ben definitely has it. But Rodgers may be one of the best I’ve ever seen at it. As a defense it has to be incredibly frustrating to play against a guy who repeatedly make plays when the defense has done everything it could to prevent them.
  • The second half meltdown by the D was difficult to watch. The truth was we won the game early on and put ourselves in a great position by getting off to a great start/first half. But to allow Atlanta to come back like they did is inexcusable. Yes, Atlanta’s offense really woke up and Julio Jones is Calvin Johnson-like in his ability to take over a game. He just used one of the best CBs in the game last week in Patrick Peterson. The guy is good. But we should have doubled up on him and confused Ryan somewhat with different kinds of looks and pressures. Honestly it’s like Capers just left at halftime and said to his intern “Hey kid, here’s your chance – you’re on for the second half”. That was concerning and it has to be cleaned up.
  • Again though, when you start a game like we did it takes a near perfect effort on the part of the opponents to come back and snatch a win. I’m really pleased with how we’re starting most games this year. Rodgers stats early on in games are extraordinary. That is so huge for this team in particular because with a shaky D, it is so critical that we get teams chasing us.
  • The Packers have some difficult games coming up. At Buffalo will be a real challenge – that D is a quality D. At Tampa will be tough because Lovie is there and he plays the kind of D that Rodgers just doesn’t like to face. While Rodgers beat the Bears a bunch when Lovie was there, Lovie’s defenses seem to have a much better sense for Rodgers than most other defenses. And to finish with Detroit – that could end up being a hugely important game. Tough 3 games but if the defense plays the full game like they did the first half tonight, I think we could very well win all 3. If they don’t I wouldn’t be surprised if we lose one of them.

Game Thoughts Packers/Patriots

November 30, 2014
  • Huge victory today over a very good Patriots team. No, we didn’t get their best effort but a lot of that was due to our defense canceling out their best effort. Loved seeing the D step up for a huge game. But our offense also was able to get it going and cruise against one of the games better defensive minds. We should feel good about that.
  • Despite the victory, the Packers almost got hosed today. When it was 23-14 and they had 3rd and 6 deep in their territory, the officials called a penalty against Tramon Williams that was one of the worst calls I have ever seen. It gave the Pats a fresh set of downs and of course they marched down and scored. Officiating should never change a game and it changed this game. (And not long after that Gronk had a huge 4th down conversion after shoving Hyde out of the way…)
  • Capers called a good game (though seemed to lose focus toward the end). He made it extra tough for a super good offense. And I think just pulling Hawk out alone was enough to really throw NE off. I’m sure they expected Hawk in there and had big plans to run and throw over the middle all game. And they seemed genuinely surprised when Barrington was not only in there but making strong contributions.
  • I loved not having Hawk in there. Watching Barrington make plays out there in place of Hawk should send a clear message to everyone concerned that Hawk doesn’t contribute like he should. Barrington made tough tackles and provided a much stronger effort in pass coverage than Hawk ever does. I am hoping that Capers finally realizes this and starts doing this more often.
  • Rodgers started off a bit today but warmed up and delivered another beauty. While I think Rodgers has been better than Brady for a while now, I do think this game had at least a small bit of symbolism – the passing of the torch from Brady to Rodgers. Nobody has been better this year than Aaron Rodgers.
  • Cobb is nearly impossible to defend. He is quick, smart, a great route runner, has incredible hands and is a gamer – he shows up when it counts the most (think last year at Chicago). Just a delight to watch a guy like him grow into his immense potential.
  • Jordy did what great players do tonight. When shut down by an elite player, he made a sneaky good play at a critical moment in the game. As elite CBs like Revis know, you can’t give an inch to great WRs like Nelson or you’ll pay. And Jordy made him pay.
  • McCarthy stepped up his playcalling at critical times. It was iffy on the first few FG drives but he started injecting more creativity in his play calls and it totally paid off (though the second half saw him struggle again with getting the flow right). The play call (not sure if it was MM or Rodgers) on that pass to Jordy at the end of the first half was huge for several reasons. Not only because we scored a TD and it was an awesome play but because it opened up the field for us. It showed NE that Rodgers was not afraid (as he seemed to be in the first half) of throwing at Browner or Revis. It really opened up the offensive game for us (even though we only ended up with 3 points in the second half).
  • I realize that this was the kind of game where “every point counts” but I was frustrated with all the FGs today. If we got the Pats best effort, that may have been costly on a different day.
  • I’ve noticed that our running game seems to be feast or famine lately (even last week when Lacy seemed to dominate at least with his stats). But he seems to have many short yard gains and then just mixes in a few long runs. I would like to see our running game be more consistently productive.
  • Our offensive line is amazing at pass protection. They are totally on the same page with Rodgers – especially when he scrambles around, which is the hardest time for an O-Line to be on the same page as the QB. Just awesome to watch these guys play lately.
  • Peppers continues to make huge contributions, some of which may not get the attention they deserve. His tipped passes today were huge. Outside of throwing a stupid pick, there is almost nothing more frustrating for a QB than a guy who keeps tipping passes.
  • I felt really bad for Davante Adams when he dropped that easy TD at the end there – and of course I was pretty ticked off at him at the same time. But he came up huge today. While I don’t fully agree with offensive game plans that throw away from elite CBs, he delivered when we did that in the first half – big time. As I wrote during the game, think what you might of TT, but nobody has ever been better at drafting WRs than TT. Amazing.
  • Huge victory. Nicely done!

Game Thoughts Packers/Vikings

November 23, 2014
  • Did not enjoy this game much. The Packers were seriously out-coached (until that mysterious decision by the Vikes with 3 minutes left to NOT do an onside kick).
  • The Packers came out flat and just continued being flat for most of the game. I know the guys always try hard etc but sometimes they just don’t come out with much fire. It’s almost like McCarthy over-warned them of coming out complacent and letting the Vikes hang around – making the guys over-respect a team that is really not good.
  • McCarthy never adjusted to the fact that the Vikes were able to stop the run – especially on first down. Lacy’s stats for the game might seem to betray that point but the truth is, he had a few long runs and many more short yard gainers. And Rodgers only had 209 yards passing. McCarthy seemed to be playing down to the Vikings level. This should have been a game with lots of screens and short passes but we ran the ball a ton and threw a lot of intermediate passes. I didn’t like the play mix at all.
  • Our defense was iffy today. Bridgewater certainly had his moments but that offense is not very good – and a defense that has been so hot should probably not have given up over 350 yards. They did enough in the end to preserve a victory but it could have been better.
  • Andrew Quarless and AJ Hawk both seem to run about 8.5 40s. Both of them seemed so slow out there today. Hawk’s lack of speed in particular cost the defense huge yards on 2 plays: one a pass to the injured-playing-at-70%-Rudolph and one to Banyard.  A faster LB would have closed much quicker and hardly allowed any yards after the catch – where Hawk allowed about 7-10 yards after the catch in both instances.
  • The officiating was suspect today.
  • Greg Jennings is not good – at all. He seems to quit running routes routes too soon. He’s like that person you work with who just comes for the paycheck – won’t stay a second after scheduled work time and doesn’t give a crap about the company. Seems very evident to me that he’s just riding out his contract so he can get on with the next phase in his life.
  • McCarthy throwing a challenge flag at the end there on that completion to Rudolph was just plain odd. I don’t know if he was trying to give our defensive guys an extra breather or something, but there was nothing to dispute. Just odd.
  • Really strange that the Vikes didn’t do an onside kick – especially considering they already had great field position because of the Neal penalty. Just can’t figure out why they did that. Why would you give the ball back to the NFL’s best QB (even in a game when the Packers playcalling was iffy). It was just a very bad decision by a Vikings coaching staff that out-coached the Packers coaches by a significant margin today.
  • Today was a classic example of a weak team playing and coaching pretty close to their potential and a strong team playing down a few notches. The Vikings are really weak. But the bottom line is we won. And good teams always find a way to beat weaker teams. In light of that I can’t be too disappointed. Lacy did turn it on there at the end and really made a difference. He’s funny to watch because sometimes he looks like he couldn’t gain 2 yards against high schoolers because he’s so slow and on the very next play he’s dragging five guys down the field for an 8 yard gain on a play that seemed destined to go nowhere. His contributions at the end were big.

Game Thoughts Packers/Lions

September 21, 2014
  • The Packers aren’t very good. Like a company that just a few years ago dominated its competitors, it’s like the Packers simply didn’t invest in R&D and figure out ways to grow. It’s like we just assumed we could walk onto the field this year and our offense would dominate. It seems very little work was put into drawing up new plays, being more creative/unpredictable, and finding new ways to play to the strengths of our players. It’s not happening and that is squarely on McCarthy. He got tons of credit when the offense was clicking and dominating and creative and there was much talk of the thickness of his playbook. What happened to all of that? Were we spoiled there for a bit? Was a guy like Philbin more involved in the offense than we realized? Whatever is going on, the Packers need to go back to the drawing board and come up with a bunch of new plays that PLAY TO THE STRENGTHS OF THE PERSONNEL WE HAVE. Or, trade for Andre Johnson and stop worrying about stuff.
  • The Packers defense played reasonably tough today for 3 quarters. They caused some good turnovers and had some rare moments of seriously sure tackling. It was nice to see. But the defense crashed in the 4th quarter in particular. The defense on that Bush TD was horrid. I think it will be the kind of defense that will occasionally have decent games but when under constant pressure to get the ball back like today, it is not the kind of defense the team can rely on.
  • Rodgers started off OK but faded fast – in part because McCarthy wasn’t calling the kinds of plays that make him so effective. But Rodgers is also not making good decisions out there and it’s disconcerting at the least. One of the reasons many regard him as the NFL’s best QB (I don’t, I think Drew Brees is), is because he had built a strong body of evidence to support the argument that he’s a fantastic decision-maker out there. Not this year. He had several questionable decisions Week 1 and several more today. He was awesome for most of the Jets game and I am hoping like crazy he can get back to that level but I’m really doubtful right now. I don’t like how he’s playing and I’m not keen on his attitude frankly (though that was definitely Adams fault on that one play…and it was costly). While the O-Line’s issues certainly contributed to Rodgers having to make quicker/tougher decisions, there were several plays where he had tons of time (or even bought himself some time) and then just puked it. Not like him.
  • I think the Packers running game really needs to be worked on. The offensive line has been very bad blocking and the RBs (with the exception of Starks – who mysteriously barely plays) are either not reading the right cuts or not having any openings to run through. I think McCarthy came into this season thinking Lacy would run over people. Not happening…at all. Starks is definitely the better runner this year.
  • The Packers offensive line hasn’t looked this bad for a long time. They look out of sync and it seems at times they aren’t really even sure what play has been called. It’s not pretty to watch.
  • Friend and Packergeeks co-founder just emailed to say the team really misses Dietrich-Smith, James Jones and Finley. I very much agree. I am trouble by TT’s lack of interest in keeping some consistency with at Center. But the guy I think we really miss is James Jones. Jones made it that much tougher for opposing secondaries because they couldn’t just focus on Jordy and Cobb – they had to deal with Jones and if Jones was matched up with #3 CB he was going to win that most of the time.
  • Josh Sitton was awful today. I don’t often notice what he does in good part because I think he does his job. But he had 3 very evident errors today and generally didn’t seem to push plays the way he normally can. Hope that’s not a sign of things and that it’s just an isolated bad game.
  • I liked watching Lattimore. I’m guessing he was out of position more than once and has a few things to learn, but why is it that in his few minutes of play today, it is ALREADY obvious how much more effective he is than Hawk? I’ll tell you why – because Hawk sucks. It seemed like Hawk was in there on quite a few more plays than Lattimore but Lattimore ended up with 9 total tackles vs Hawk’s 7. I would much rather see Nick Perry and Lattimore in the middle right now. It couldn’t hurt to try (though someone will now likely have to step in for Matthews on the outside due to another apparent injury).
  • It was nice to see Peppers make a huge play. I think that is what we can expect of the guy. Great play there.
  • Nice to see Ha Ha get a pick.
  • I liked seeing Quarless (or any TE for that matter) get involved. He was often wide open today I think because defenses are so busy playing the edges of the field against us because that’s where Jordy and Cobb often do damage and that’s where, for whatever reason, Eddie Lacy often heads right when he gets the ball. When we’re throwing to TEs, especially when Finley was there, there was a constant threat in the middle of the field. We lose that when we don’t incorporate TEs, or screens, or FB dump off plays.
  • Clay Matthews isn’t reliable and it hurts the team. We build the defense, in part, around guys like Matthews. And when the guy can’t stay on the field, it then upsets the order and dynamic of the defense. It’s a problem and it was a problem again today.
  • It’s super tough to cover Calvin Johnson. What a professional. Honestly I don’t know if there is another player who can just get the job done week in and week out, injured, with 3 guys hanging on him or even having not-so-great passes thrown to him. He is just an incredible player to watch.
  • The Packers have a lot of work to do. I’d say at this moment, it’s more than fair to be pessimistic. This team isn’t very good right now. They have a lot of things to work out to get things back on track. I won’t rule out the possibility that they turn it around but it doesn’t look good right now. The thing I seem to forget is that this team was 8-7-1 last year, barely sneaking into the playoffs. Doesn’t seem like they have made a ton of progress after last year’s iffy season.

Game Thoughts Packers/Jets

September 14, 2014
  • Our coaches were once again, not prepared. This keeps happening. It happened last year several times and it’s happened this year now twice. Fortunately some adjustments were made and things worked out today. But that doesn’t excuse McCarthy and Capers from the fact that as coaches they are charged with making sure our guys are ready to play. They looked totally disorganized out there and completed surprised by whatever the Jets were doing. It wasn’t good at all – for the offense or defense.
  • Rodgers was awful in the 1st quarter – concerning for a bit – but then fantastic the last 3 quarters. I was very relieved to see him scramble and run for a few first downs. That was just huge. It showed me that he wanted to win and was ready to open up his skillset to make sure that we did. He was very, very good after the 1st quarter – it seemed as the team leader he was taking responsibility for the deficit the team faced. Rodgers really played a great game today.
  • Jordy Nelson is really good. It has been really fun to watch him develop the last few years to the point where he can make positively ridiculous catches right over DBs playing him super tight. Throw in a football sense – just an awareness for where he is and where he needs to be – and you have one of the top 5 WRs in the NFL. Seriously.
  • I don’t know why McCarthy doesn’t just keep his foot on the gas pedal when the offense kicks into gear. I know the no huddle can be tiring and difficult to manage logistically because it happens so fast. But when things are going well and Rodgers is picking the other team apart, it seems McCarthy is content drifting back to a slower offensive speed. He did this toward the beginning of the third quarter. Almost, it seems, to let the defense catch up. That happened last week and again today – fortunately Rodgers and Jordy made a few plays to keep drives alive in the second half today. But I want McCarthy to just be aggressive and not let up.
  • The middle of our defense still sucks. Even in the second half when the team played at a much higher level overall, the middle of our defense was exposed time and time again. I just don’t understand why the coaches don’t see that. Hawk does nothing out there. I don’t care if he’s the “defensive QB” and “assignment sure” and all that other nonsense. He just doesn’t make plays. Lattimore didn’t offer much, though I noticed on what seemed like a huge number of plays the Packers were only playing 1 ILB and bringing DBs in there.
  • TT needs to address our ILB situation. Brad Jones is terrible and Hawk is no good. If he doesn’t do that, teams will continue to run up the middle or, like the Jets did today on a key 3rd down play, make easy passes to TEs right over the middle. Other teams know there is nobody there.
  • The defense really stepped up in the second half and did in fact make some huge plays. But we have to remember – our defense got completely used by a weak Jets offense in that first half. Last week we played a fairly bland (though quality in its execution) Seattle offense and got hammered. I am really concerned about playing teams with serious offensive firepower – could just get blown out.
  • I was happy to see Davante Adams get involved. He was a real factor today. We need at least one more viable target out there as defenses really just focus on Cobb and Jordy. I did notice one issue with Adams though. On one play in the second half in the red zone Rodgers was out of the pocket running around and Adams stood there like we all used to in 3rd grade on the playground waiving his arms and probably screaming “I’m wide…I’m wide!!!” – only he wasn’t. Meanwhile Cobb was running all over the end zone trying to slip into a hole. It was an interesting play if for no other reason than that it highlighted the difference between a rookie and a guy who has been in the league a few years.
  • I was happy to see Crosby nail that 55 yarder. That was a huge kick and he made it easily. He had a good game today.
  • Masthay was a bit up and down but had a huge punt at a huge moment in the game.
  • I thought Mike Daniels had a good game today. He was active and came up with a few huge plays – including the sack that led to a pick.
  • Peppers had a great play in coverage. Even though he should have had a pick there, just the fact that he recognized the need to drop into coverage and be there was big. If he didn’t make that play that would have been a costly play.
  • The Packers have to work with the O-Line and Lacy on getting him going up field sooner. Last week and again today, Lacy was turning parallel to the line of scrimmage for too long a period of time, which seems to slow him down/allow the defense to catch him. And it usually results in 0 or 1 yard gains. He need to either head sideways immediately and then make one cut heading up field, or head up field immediately and only cut after getting past the first level.
  • I don’t know what the tape will reveal, but it looked to me like Sherrod was getting beaten with regularity. I’m just not sure he’s the answer over there. Still hard to believe he was a first round pick.
  • Still, the team won and I’m hoping we’ll even take a bit of momentum from that second half with us to Detroit next week. The Lions are off to a weird start – watched some of that game today and then tuned out for a while and was really surprised to see how badly they were beaten. It seemed like a lot closer game when I had been watching. Calvin is still a major problem and Bush is still trouble in the open field. But I definitely came away unimpressed by the Lions D and their other offensive players. If I’m the Lions, I come into the Packers game with 1 playcall – Calvin Johnson over the middle.

Packers/Browns Game Thoughts

October 21, 2013
  • Impressive victory by the Packers. The final score did not represent too well how close this game was.
  • The Browns are a decent team. I am impressed by the fight they had in them after some things didn’t go their way. I am not really surprised though because I thought head coach Rob C would be a good head coach in the NFL.
  • There are very few QBs in the NFL who can effectively lead such an inexperienced offense to a much-needed win like Rodgers did. Manning maybe, Brees and sort of Brady (though they are winning for other reasons too). Rodgers was very solid yesterday with 3 TDs and completing nearly 70% of his passes.
  • It was great to see Boykin step in and produce like that. A lot of it is just having a phenomenal QB throwing him the ball – but he made a couple extra moves and had some nice YAC on his own. He could develop into another good player.
  • Eddie Lacy once again demonstrated that the Packers’ offense has truly developed another dimension with a strong ground game (82 yards on 22 carries and a TD).
  • McCarthy (and Rodgers?) however, called what seemed to me to be a very conservative game yesterday. There were few genuinely threatening down-field pass attempts and I think this allowed Cleveland’s defense to condense the field – crowding the line and jamming the passing lanes over the middle of the field in particular. We’re a very good offense and found enough holes to exploit to win the game, but my concern is that the playcalling seemed quite tentative. I think there were a few moments when the offense could have been more aggressive and busted the game open sooner. While again, things obviously ended up working out fine because we won, the concern would be that a better team might counter better/faster leaving us in a bind.
  • Our defense was very good again. It’s as though Capers has a much better read this year on opponents and what they are likely going to do. While Hawk, Micah Hyde, House, Lattimore, Burnett and some others are definitely playing well, I think the main reason for our defensive turnaround this year is that Capers is putting a better gameplan in place for each game (and calling a better game during the game). Yes, Weeden was shockingly bad early on – and that helped us establish momentum. But the defense was strong throughout and a lot of that has to do with the way Capers is calling these games. Nicely done Dom.
  • While Hyde and Boykin would be close seconds, I thought Davon House should get the game ball. His pick was nice but his defensive and special teams play overall was top notch.
  • Micah Hyde is really fun to watch. As reader Raymidge stated, he does have a “natural athlete” aura about him. He just moves like a very natural athlete. During the game yesterday I wrote a post saying that he may be one of the best athletes that TT has drafted. Football movement comes easily to him – kind of like watching Freddie Couples swing a golf club. Even on the passes that were completed to the WR or TE he was defending against, Hyde was all over the guy. Refreshing to see this. But it was his save of that sure return TD that was most impressive. He ran that guy down and swiped at his legs – just a heck of a play.
  • Speaking of athletic – Sam Shields had a few more really nice plays, one of which was a break-up of a sure TD catch. He’s been very solid this year.
  • I was also pleased to see Tramon get more involved and get that timely sack. And despite what I thought was a poor call for unsportsmanlike conduct, I was glad to see Tramon throw a WR down like that. He is better when he plays with a bit of a nasty streak in him.
  • Chris Banjo is coming along as a player. He was active on special teams and had a big hit on defense.
  • Lattimore seems to me to be a very sure tackler. In that regard, he reminds me of Desmond Bishop. Weeden had a play where he was about to leak out of the pocket and had room to run and Lattimore made a rangy, sure tackle that ended up going for a sack. It was impressive.
  • Overall, another very solid effort. This team is really exciting right now and despite some misgivings about the playcalling yesterday, I think the coaches (and Rodgers) deserve a lot of credit for taking a bunch of inexperienced young guys and coaching them up to the point where they are contributing big-time. Nicely done.
  • I hope Finley is OK. Sounds like the hospital ICU visit was mostly precautionary. I hope that’s the case and that he’s OK. He’s been a strong contributor this year and I know that just by being on the field, he creates significant and annoying match-up problems for opposing defenses. Get well Jermichael.

Game Thoughts – Packers/49ers

September 8, 2013
  • Starting with the obvious – yes, the poor call by officials on that Matthews play essentially cost us 4 points. McCarthy’s decision right before that to give SF another crack at it on 3rd and 6 didn’t help either there – but the ref’s call was really bad and just plain cost us 4 points.
  • But that wasn’t why we lost. We lost because we gave up 412 passing yards – and 502 yards overall. You will almost NEVER win when your defense gives up 502 yards.
  • It was as though the defense game-planned 100% to stop the run and forgot that the rules allow for passing too. They didn’t do badly against the run (though they gave up nearly 100 yards) but sucked against the pass.
  • Yes, the defense tried hard and I liked to see that. But like Mike Sherman, who spent 18-20 hours a day working on coaching stuff – sometimes the amount of effort just doesn’t matter if the job is not getting done. Bottom line – our defense was really bad.
  • I’ll be the first to admit that Kaepernick looked good, Boldin looked 25 years old and Vernon Davis had the kind of game San Fran fans have been waiting for for years. But when this was the last team we lost to and this was the team we had an entire off-season to plan for – it’s inexcusable to give up 502 yards of offense.
  • And it’s also really concerning that no apparent in-game adjustment was made to account for Anquan Boldin. That guy had to get about half of the targets today for San Fran’s passing game and it just didn’t look like we did a thing to try to disrupt that momentum. I think Boldin is still good definitely, but he’s not 13 catches, 208 yards good. Calvin Johnson probably would have had a 400 yard game against this same defense!
  • TT did virtually nothing in the off-season to address our defensive weaknesses. And there were some weaknesses that he (and everyone else) knew about before the season started: seriously weak LBs (aside from Matthews) and having a young/leaderless secondary. The big concern for me though that we just don’t have anyone, aside from Matthews, that seems capable of making a disruptive, game-changing play. With Bishop, you had someone who could cause turnovers, make the big play or have the big hit. With Woodson (though I understand letting him go), you had a constant turnover threat. But right now, we don’t have anyone who seems to disrupt another team’s momentum. I hope someone emerges.
  • It’s worth noting here that MM/TT/Capers actually haven’t put together a quality defense except during the Super Bowl year. And I can’t shake the response TT gave in an interview a few weeks back when Green Bay Press Gazette’s Mike V asked him about the last 3 playoff losses and our evident defensive weakness. TT essentially dismissed the question saying he wanted to focus forward or something – but it was a totally legit question. Our last 3 playoff losses have been caused largely by horrendous defensive performances.
  • Rodgers had some classic Rodgers plays and some unreal throws (that throw and catch to Jordy near the end was a thing of beauty) – but overall Rodgers did not have a good game by his standards. Mostly because he missed on 16 passes. I’m not sure how many drops we had but 16 misses out of just 37 passes thrown is Donovan McNabb completion % territory – not Aaron Rodgers.
  • The O-line was OK but whiffed at a few key moments. I think they were essentially responsible for a few of those incomplete passes. Run blocking was awful until the second half when Lacy had a couple nice holes.
  • Why did we call only 1 screen? It worked like magic yet from what I remember we only did it once. It is such an effective tool against aggressive pass rushers like Smith and Smith. On the one that worked they were totally busted in their hurry to get up the field.
  • I liked that Lacy came back after the fumble and contributed. He had some nice runs and a nice TD. I’ll chalk up the fumble to a rookie error. I see some potential in the guy – though I don’t see much in the way of speed.
  • Jordy answered the question I had before the game of which WR would emerge between he and Jones. Jordy was absolutely fantastic.
  • Finley and Cobb were also awesome today. I expect to see a lot more of these 2 playing at a high level. It’s the right time for them to shine.
  • Masthay is becoming even more valuable. He’s a very good punter and his kickoffs were excellent. But he had a massive tackle early in the game that was very un-punter-like. Great game by Masthay.
  • Not sure Jeremy Ross will keep his return job. Just not good today.
  • Overall I am not surprised we lost as I predicted a 34-27 loss. Before the game my primary worry was our defense – and after the game my primary worry is the defense. The 49ers are definitely a good team and I don’t think it would be quite right to be devastated by this loss as a Packer fan. No loss is fun but the 49ers are a quality team. And I do like that we didn’t play ourselves out of the game at any point – like we did in last year’s playoff game. We kept going and kept coming back and really hung in there until the very end. Our collective mental resilience did impress me.
  • Oh – and Jim Harbaugh is a tool. I just can’t stand that guy. He is so intense he doesn’t seem human. He is nonstop screaming at someone. What an awful way to exist.

Game Thoughts Packers/Bears

December 25, 2011
  • Nice halftime turnaround by McCarthy and staff. Sounds like he lit into the guys a bit and it may have sparked the sharper play, especially from the offense, in the second half. Chicago at this point anyway, had no business being on the field with this Packer team. They have become horrible and this game shouldn’t have been as close as it was in the first half. So I’m glad things evolved the way they should have.
  • Our defense continues to be a concern. Yes, Josh McCown playing shockingly well for a guy off the street – but overall, we simply aren’t getting it done on defense. Again, just to clarify – my main concern about our defense is for the playoffs. We have been giving up huge yards and easy drives to crappy offenses lately. Every team in the playoffs (both NFC and AFC) will have a good offense – probably San Fran being the weakest. And every team will likely may our D pay if we just let them march down the field.
  • We gave up 199 yards rushing to a 3rd string RB, 4th string RB and a just-picked-up-off-the-street QB. Not good.
  • While the D is certainly troublesome, I do have to say that the forced turnovers ease my mind some. The D is really good at forcing turnovers and this really helps swing the momentum of games.
  • Rodgers is fantastic. I figured last week was an aberration.
  • Game ball goes to the O-Line. They looked really good both in the pass game and run game. That is coaching right there. To prepare a bunch of guys to play different than normal positions against a quality 4 man pass rush says a lot about the coaching on the Packers. The players themselves obviously did well too to execute – but they were well prepared.
  • So’oto had some disruptive play tonight and I liked seeing that. Seemed he came in at ROLB before McCarthy yanked the rest of the starters so I wonder if Walden got pulled again. Should have. He just doesn’t do much.
  • Nice to see James Jones with a couple big catches and 2 TDs. It’s important that more peripheral guys like Jones finish well and have momentum going into the playoffs because I think these are the guys who might really end up being the difference makers (think Jordy last year). Driver has been making noise recently too and that should also help.
  • Overall, I’m just very pleased we turned things around in the second half. I was worked up after the lackluster showing in the first half – as I just didn’t see the sense of urgency the team will be needing on all units come playoff time. So I was really pleased to see that adjustments were made. The Packers have had a phenomenal season this year and should be proud. They should definitely rest the starters for most of the game next week and not risk anything.

Game Thoughts Packers/Vikings

November 14, 2011
  • Not much to say except that was total dominance. The Packers are really good and the Vikings are not.
  • One note of caution as hype will build over 16-0 possibilities etc – is that the Packers have not played a very difficult schedule this year. Yes they are blowing folks out – but they are often blowing out teams they should blow out (reminds me a bit of ’96.). These next 7 games should be interesting as we play some better teams.
  • I sort of thought the D would come out worked up. They did and they played really well. If we can do that in the coming games, we should be in good shape – even against better opponents.
  • I really like how James Starks runs. I’ve said this a few times now. But today, perhaps because of the opponent, Starks really reminded me of Adrian Peterson. Both run with that kind of jerky back and forth motion, they both often make good choices re cuts and they can run over tacklers who have taken a bad angle. AP is a bit smoother and probably faster, but I do think this comparison isn’t this far off. (Meanwhile, Ryan Grant is looking more and more like Phil Loadholt out there running the ball. He seems like he’s in slow-motion!)
  • Rodgers is ridiculous. Nothing more needs to be said.
  • Jordy Nelson is really good. He has a knack for the game. A few years ago, I read a few articles about how TT loves drafting “football guys” – or guys who seem to have some natural instincts for the game. Guys like Rodgers, Jennings, Woodson, Bishop – they all come to mind. I think this is also especially true for Jordy Nelson. He is the kind of WR who never stops – and in fact he knows full well there is a very good chance of catching a pass if he keeps going with Rodgers scrambling abilities. But it’s happened too often for it to be coincidence that Nelson is so often on the receiving end of busted up plays. He just knows what to do. He’s really good.
  • I’m OK with an occasional error by Randall Cobb – as long as he keeps having huge returns. Today, despite his costly fumble, he still was a net positive because he had his own TD and he also had a couple long returns. He’s a good player and he’s only a rookie – so I’m not expecting fumbling to be an ongoing issue here. And tonight, he flashed as a WR too – I think Rodgers trusts him already. Could be a dangerous duo going forward.
  • I’ll say it again – Mike McCarthy has really grown as a coach. His command of the offense at times is scary. Tonight it was a clinic out there. Yes Rodgers has a lot to do with that but for those of you still watching when Flynn went in – so often the plays are simply so well-conceived that even back-up QBs can have success with them.


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