Solid victory for the team yesterday. A well-rounded effort.
I really like seeing Eddie Lacy run the ball. I think Franklin could be worked in too more effectively, but Lacy and the O-Line clearly have a working relationship different from just about any RB/O-Line combo in Green Bay since Ahman Green. I think Lacy’s ability to run and our offense’s new-found ability to eat up more clock time is having a direct, positive effect on our defense. The defense is more rested when they get out there and it’s really showing.
How spoiled we’ve become with Rodgers. I’m about to complain about his declining completion percentage…now at 64%. (Though yesterday, at least 3 of those incomplete passes were on Boykin not running the right route.) That’s a pretty good number for most QBs but I guarantee you Rodgers would be the first one who would tell you he hasn’t been as good passing the ball this year as he wants to be. His QB rating is 101.9 – also substandard for him.
Rodgers pass to Nelson for that second half TD was one of the most beautiful passes I’ve ever seen thrown. He threw that ball over 60 yards in the air and hit Nelson running in stride for the TD. An absolutely stunning pass really. Interestingly, the only other QB I think who could have thrown such a pass is Flacco. I don’t think he’s that great of a QB (definitely not worth what he’s being paid), but he can at times, throw a stunning deep ball.
The O-Line seems quite a bit more comfortable run blocking than pass blocking. While Rodgers did total 315 yards passing, he was sacked 3 times and fumbled twice (though we recovered both). Meanwhile, Lacy run for 120 against a defense that is supposed to be pretty good against the run. I have heard several people say that when running games seem to improve overnight, it’s likely attributable mostly, to having a good RB with good vision. Larry McCarren apparently said this yesterday. I’m not sure I agree with that. Yes, I do think Lacy is proving to be as good as we thought he was – and this is incredibly refreshing. And both he and Franklin particular have shown some ability to make something out of nothing. But the fact that Starks ran for 100+ and then Frankllin did it in the following game…in just 1 half of football…at Cincy…suggests to me that this line is just really good at run blocking. I think they deserve a fair amount of the credit for what is looking like a real offensive transformation here.
The defense was awesome yesterday. Yes, that breakdown toward the end (which was not just a unlucky slip, but an odd alignment of the safeties), was problematic and it darn near cost us the game. But I’m willing to look past that to see the overall effort that was very, very good.
A.J. Hawk was an absolutely monster yesterday – and it wasn’t just the sacks. He was all over the place. It was really…weird. It was almost as though having the other young LBs in there freed Hawk up somehow to do more – which indicates to me that Capers may have just picked the wrong starters to start the year.
Lattimore looked very good to me. His tackling for the most part, looked very sound.
Micah Hyde is a player. Not sure what his back story is but wow he did it all yesterday. You can tell by how he catches and see the fields on punts that he’s going to be good at it.
Having Burnett back there really helps. I think I am starting to better understand why TT valued him so highly and awarded him the nice renewed contract.
Mason Crosby is getting the job done. I really like to see it. I know I’ve been hard on him but that is because the numbers tell the truth – the guy has been a below average kicker over his career and he deserved criticism. But I am happy to see Crosby coming back here and delivering. Keep it up Mason.
Finley was quiet for most of the game until that huge play. What a great play call and execution by Rodgers and Finley. Rodgers threw that into a super tight window and Finley did his part advancing the ball. Though he definitely should have made sure to go down in-bounds. Not smart there.
I don’t know the latest on Cobb and Jones but if they’re out for an extended period of time that would really hurt. This may be a time for TT to dive in and do something reckless…like make a trade. There happen to be some pretty good WRs out there available. Kenny Britt (though attitude issues), Hakeem Nicks (apparently, as of this morning considered available), Josh Gordon. I know it won’t happen but if either or especially both of these guys are to be out for an extended period, we should really consider it.
I am getting the sense that we may be adding a new dimension here in the return game. As I noted, I think Hyde might just be the right guy as he seems to have a poise back there that only the elite return guys have. Some return guys stand back there and you can almost see the dread while others exude a command for the situation probably with the guiding thought that they are going to go ahead and change the game. Desmond Howard used to do that. (On the flip side, one of my favorite Packers ever, DeMond Parker, once admitted that catching punts scared the “crap” out of him or something to that effect.) I think a less heralded characteristic of great teams is quality special teams play and the Packers may be developing that.
Dom Capers was phenomenal yesterday. He prepared those players so well for that game it was scary. We knew what was coming and really, with the exception of that terrible 4th and 21 defensive play, the defense was smothering and made a team with a few decent weapons look like rookies.
My take on the 2013-2014 Packers is evolving. As you may know, I picked them to finish behind the Bears in the division and miss out on the playoffs at 9-7. While I still have some concerns about depth, especially now after some critical injuries, I’m beginning to develop a slight sense of optimism that our coaching staff may be a bit more tuned in this year than in past years. Yes our defense technically ranks middle of the pack (in terms of yards allowed etc), but I think they are playing well (especially the last 2 games) considering what seems like a hodgepodge of talent. While I’m not ready just yet to revise my prediction about the season if I’m even allowed to do that, I was really encouraged by that victory yesterday. And I was especially encouraged by the fact that for the first time in what seems like a decade, we were able to simply run out a game. The Finley pass did help but Lacy really helped run out the game.
In many ways that wtas as satisfying of a win to watch as any int he Rodgers era. The Pack have managed to lose a few of these over the years and it is the sign of a very well-rounded, deep team that they put it away with the running game late. This was a more impressive win but in a lot of ways it reminded me of the 9-0 Jets game during the Super Bowl year.
You hit all of the major points on D- Hawk (who was that guy?!), Hyde (doing his best Charles Woodson impersonation), Lattimore, Burnett all were outstanding. The D-line has been great all year and continues to improve.
Lacy seems like such a great fit. There is something about the big, tough, bruising back who seems to have this quiet demeanor that I like so much. He is so matter-of-fact, I think it helps create that chemistry with the line that you allude to above.
Also, the comparison has been on my mind for a while now- Barclay and Bakhtiari as the new Clifton and Tauscher? nothing fancy or glamorous, just real effective.
I am excited about this team. The injuries will be a challenge to overcome but I look forward to seeing them do it!