Yikes, ugly. While I was glad I could go for the experience – this ended up being a painful game to attend.
Brutally hard loss to accept – especially watching Favre on the sidelines afterward getting high fives from teammates. Brutally difficult loss. It wasn’t fun watching and listening to idiot Viking fans who are now acting like they’ve been true to their team during good times and bad.
That said, Brett Favre was fantastic. I was dead wrong – absolutely dead wrong daring the MN pass game to beat us again on our home field. They did it no problem today. Favre was efficient, but far more shocking to me was the MN coaching.
Brad Childress and perhaps now to a greater extent than before, Darrell Bevell called a smart game. Do you have any idea how difficult that is for me to admit? I think Childress sucks as a coach – and I dread having to consider the possibility that he’s getting better. They went to Peterson a fair amount, but they called smart pass plays especially when they anticipated a blitz or any pressure – often throwing to the side the blitz was coming from. Watching the game live, it was tremendously frustrating to see MN either pick up the blitz super well or Favre just make a pass so quickly the effect of our blitz was negated.
But one of the brilliant coaching decisions by MN in the first half was to pick on Tramon Williams. I’m not sure if the announcers talked about it, but at one point, I unofficially had the Vikes throwing at Williams on 6-7 pass plays, almost in a row – in the second quarter. Only at Williams. Favre completed a couple passes to Rice, a couple Harvin and then Berrian all while Tramon was responsible for those guys. He finished off that drive with a TD pass to Shiancoe, covered by yes, Tramon Williams. I didn’t think Williams was THAT much of a liability coming into this game, but the MN coaches must have seen something because they certainly went after the right guy tonight.
I think another intentional part of MN’s game plan was to simply avoid Charles Woodson at all costs. You’ll probably remember, if you think about it, how infrequently you heard Woodson’s name called (2 tackles). If indeed that was the game plan, that was smart.
I don’t like losing at home so much.
Aaron Rodgers was off in the first half. Yes, he was running for his life and it is awfully difficult to play confidently under that kind of duress. But he made some particularly poor plays (choosing not to throw/run) that cost us downs. Rodgers needs to occasionally take a chance and throw a bullet here or there into tighter coverage. He did that once tonight on a critical 3rd down pass completed to Driver (that Driver caught but then it looked like MN stripped it clean, no?). If Rodgers were surrounded by a stud team with few weaknesses, he could play game manager more – but considering this team has holes, we need him to get more creative in the playmaking area.
I agree 100% with Joshy. Mike McCarthy has patience of a 5th grader w/the offensive playcalling. It seems the second we fall behind, he abandons the run. In this game, throwing in more running plays throughout might have given our defense a breather, which it seemed to need. It would have also made our playcalling less predictable and made people like Jared Allen have to play more honestly. Ryan Grant, at one point, had a nice gainer on a play when Allen rushed upfield leaving a gaping hole behind him to his left. He wasn’t playing honest and it burned MN. We did that once. Even when we’re passing to save time and catch-up quick, running the ball has it’s place (like on 2nd down and 2 on the series in the fourth quarter when Crosby missed the field goal).
My dad, Brother disagreed with me re the 51 yard field goal. They didn’t mind the call. I did not like the call and here’s why. If we were in a tight, defense-oriented game and we needed that field goal, maybe. But our defense had given up a fair number of points/yards up to that point and a miss would give the Vikings a short field again. I was just not convinced the defense would hold. I wanted to go for it. Yes, that would have been a risk, but at least it would have essentially put the outcome of the game in the hands of, at that time, the hotter unit. And, a failed 4th down try would have given the ball back to the Vikes with slightly less decent field position (7 yards further back). Of course the real problem there is that the defense didn’t hold and gave up a TD, not a FG but a TD.
I liked seeing Desmond Bishop in there. He appeared to play pretty well from my hugely biased perspective, with at least one big hit (on an important 3rd down play). We were sitting behind a guy with a Hawk jersey and at one point, after our not-so-quiet championing of Bishop, he turned around and I thought we were going to hear it. Instead, he sheepishly pointed to his jersey and said “Bishop should be playing in front of this guy, I know”. Looks like Bishop may have the chance now to see the field, though it’s too bad it’s because Chillar got hurt.
I was worried about Percy Harvin when he was drafted and I am not surprised at all by how successful he is. He was, like Steve Slaton, a highlight reel in college – so far and away better than anyone he came up against. The guy is very shifty and better off the line than you’d think considering his size. Despite being constantly sick/injured, he’s tough.
Quinn Johnson, from where I was sitting, missed several blocks. On one play I was all excited to see him in there and ready to shut up Jared Allen and he missed him, and I believe it was Allen who made the tackle.
The offense seems WAY out of sync in the first half. Almost like not just 1 but maybe 2-3 guys were screwing up on nearly every play. That was one of the worst first half performances I’ve seen from a Packers offense. When I watch something like this and then consider our chronic penalty problem, it begs the questions: is Mike McCarthy communicating well enough? Are his plays too complicated or unnecessarily complicated? Are the players not studying up well enough?
I would be very interested to see play charts of which sides of our defense opposing teams prefer to run to/pass to. My belief is this: they have much more success running to the right side and more success passing to the left. Kampman has been very disappointing when it comes to generating a pass rush from his DE/OLB position. Very. But he’s been quite good at stuffing the run when it comes to his side. When the Vikes were busy going nuts on Tramon Williams, I believe all of those passes were to the left side of the defense over Kampman. It’s possible putting Kampman up on the line with his hands down, or even his lack of speed in space may lead teams to believe that there is more room to work routes on that side.
Coaching – this is the second time Mike McCarthy was soundly outcoached by Brad Childress. Importantly, this is the second time Dom Capers was outcoached by MN coaching. These two in particular need to get this figured out and figured out fast because we’ve got some tough games coming up. Brother Steve and I just marveled in the first half at how incredibly off McCarthy’s sense of game flow seemed to be. Throwing bombs, not running – it’s hard to remember specific plays. I just remember the feeling that he didn’t have a good rhythm for the game. And if I’m not mistaken, that happens in most first quarters with Mike McCarthy. I’d be very curious to find stats on that because one of the issues I have with McCarthy is that the team doesn’t ever seem to start fast and get that lead. With Holmgren, I remember the team would often score on the first drive.
McCarthy also needs to make his players play with more discipline than they do. The penalties are ridiculous. But the players too need to be accountable. (And by the way, as bad as the Jolly penalty was, I’m still trying to figure out how he ended up on the ground after that without there being another penalty called).
Ahman Green was brought in I believe in good part to block on passing plays. He made a couple subtle, but very effective chip blocks on a few successful pass plays.
Spencer Havner is becoming just plain good. He seems to have a Mark Chmura-like ability to just find that open spot.
On another positive note, that is yet another game now where Nick Barnett has been quite active. I wasn’t watching him the whole time so I can’t be sure if he screwed up big-time at any point or not. (“I’ll have to watch the game film…”). But when I did watch him, he was very active. That’s encouraging because if he starts looking at all like he did in 2007, the middle of our defense will benefit greatly. And Barnett being into the games may also help develop Bishop if he keeps getting more chances.
Another positive, of course, was our comeback. While I’m getting tired of writing comments like these after tough losses, it matters at least somewhat that we came back in the second half and made a strong effort – we were arguably just a few plays from winning that game. Now, MM just needs to figure out how to get the team to start like games like this.
I’m still not done yet with this team. This loss was disappointing, but as hard as it is for most of us to admit, we lost to one of the top 3 teams in the NFC right now (I’d say it’s New Orleans, Philly and MN in that order). We need to get ready for some brutal match-ups and just take care of business. We also need to be one really good team to give us a needed boost of confidence.
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Great to meet you and your family at the game, and great synopsis. While the O-line once again let me down, I think it all came down to the play calling.
I completely agree with the Crosby field goal attempt as well – with 5 minutes left against the best running back in football, you take that 4th down chance to WIN the game – not cut the margin to 2.
Also, ignorant Vikings “fans” are popping up faster than H1N1 in all parts of the country. Lambeau smelled like new jerseys and while I cant blame ticketholders for selling at such lucrative prices – it sure was disappointing.
I cant say I disagree with that sentiment. A smart GM would have traded the players that dont fit a 3-4 (if that is the true future of the defense) and brought on players that fit the gameplan. As much as I love Kampman, it would have been better to trade him for a true OLB that fits the system rather than shove him in the middle for ultimate discomfort. There is a lot of value to be had in those guys, and everyone would have been better off.
By not shedding Jolly, Kampman et al for players that fit the Capers Plan, it shows (to me) that the Packers are not commited to this defensive formation.
I think Andy is correct not to give up on this team. The comeback DOES count for something. I know I’m one of Rodgers biggest defenders but I still think, considering the circumstances, he played remarkably well. He does need to get rid of the ball in a more timely fashion and he also needs to take a few more risks, but he gets huge points for maintaining his composure. Let’s do a brief thought experiment. It’s early 2008 and the Packers release Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre resumes his starter duties. I contend that the Vikings would be an even more dominant team with Rodgers than with Favre. I’d really be interested to hear others thoughts on this!
Nick, welcome to Packergeeks. Good thoughts. And Trav/Nick, I read through that article this morning – I’m having the same kinds of concerns about the personnel and/or use of the personnel. I have to admit coming into the season, I did lobby for Kampman to at least get a look at OLB in this 3-4, hoping he could end up as a Mike Vrabel-type guy. But after several early games, it should have been fairly evident to the coaching staff that the fit wasn’t ideal and he should have been offered to teams as a DE before the trade deadline. I wonder if any discussions took place at all re Kampman pre-trade deadline.
Nice point too Nick re the new jerseys. No fan group bothers me more than the Vikings. We had a Vikings “fan” (who was wearing what looked like a 2 day old Vikings hat) stand up with 2 minutes left and scream at all the Packer fans leaving the stadium calling us fair-weather fans. I don’t think Brother Steve heard him – if he had, it would not have been a pretty situation.