Archive for the ‘Game Thoughts’ Category

Game Thoughts Packers/Seahawks

January 18, 2015
  • Terrible coaching to end the game. This is the worst loss I’ve been a part of as a Packer fan. The better team lost today. And lost because of coaching.
  • Seattle is the luckiest team in football. They are not as good as the Packers and they didn’t deserve to win today. This is a ridiculous loss. Positively ridiculous. And in a sickening way, it reminds me of the ridiculous “loss” a few years ago on the terrible call – it’s just that this one hurts WAY more.
  • How do you lose a game in which you cause 5 turnovers. It is so ridiculous I am just stunned.
  • This is somewhat of a classic situation where we didn’t play the game through to the end. We stopped playing somewhere around minute 55 and it cost us.
  • Mike McCarthy lost the game today. He and Capers did an incredible job getting the team ready to play the first half and and absolutely flat out lost the game in the end. With just over 4 minutes left, the Packers just let them win it. We called horrendous play calls to Lacy on that series just giving them the ball back. We definitely didn’t have the game won at that point but we acted like there were only 2 minutes left, not 4. It was ridiculous coaching in there. You have the best QB in the NFL, you let him throw the ball and you let him close out the game. I know we wanted to eat up time but we also didn’t want to sort of give up offensively and leave the luckiest team in the NFL still enough time to come back. It’s just terrible.
  • I sensed early in the second half that the Packers were going to pull back. I just got that feeling that there was a “I can’t believe we’re winning right now” thought going on in the coaches heads. Rodgers, the MVP, threw 8 passes in the second half. Eight. That is so absurd it’s hard fathom. Even if you’re up by 28, the game is in Seattle, they are incredibly lucky and your team is incredibly unlucky. Why do you take the ball out of his hands? He was moving well and after the early picks he seemed to develop a rhythm. He wasn’t at his best today, no, but he should have been tasked with putting the game away and not just playing game manager.
  • Peppers was awesome this year and one of the brightest bright spots possible, but he made a costly mistake telling Burnett to go down after the pick. Burnett looked to have the whole left side of the field. Just terrible. Also an error of course on Burnett’s part.
  • That said, Burnett was a force today (2 sacks, 1 pick, 8 tackles).
  • Crosby was fantastic. I had a feeling he’d have a big FG today. He had the game of his life and unfortunately it too was squandered.
  • Tim Masthay should be cut. He was poor again today. Lots of line drive punts and a shank. Didn’t hurt us THAT bad but we may need to take another look at punting next year.
  • Clinton-Dix had a heck of a game but his miss on the 3rd pick and the whiff on the ridiculously lucky 2 point conversion would have changed the game. Hard to blame him that much though as he really played well for much of the game.
  • Rodgers could have been better today. He and WR were off a bit today. But he was good enough that he should definitely NOT have effectively been taken out of the game with playcalling – again only 8 passes in the second half.
  • Hawk was playing an awful lot in the end. What happened? Was Matthews or someone hurt? I can’t imagine why they throw him in there when it matters most. The personnel groupings that had been in throughout the game had done a heck of a job. He comes in and misplays the fake FG TD and then gets run over immediately on Lynch’s TD. He’s a very poor football player and should be gone next year.
  • The lesson here today is pretty simple – you have a better chance of winning if you’re aggressive and you stay that way. Seattle played awful today but hung in there in part because they didn’t stop trying to be aggressive, tried a fake FG and took advantage of playing against an opposing coach who was coaching afraid. Between the total whiff toward the end of the game with playcalling and the decision to 2x kick FGs at Seattle’s 1 yard line, MM coached scared. And importantly, it sends a message to the team that says ‘Ah, I’m not so sure we can do it”. What would Belichick, Tomlin, Carroll, Bruce Arians – what would they have done in those situations?
  • In my mind we don’t have the coaching skills to get to the Super Bowl again. We just don’t. Yes, these coaches have won a Super Bowl but that was a few years ago and I just don’t think they can do it again. They laid down in the end and let Seattle just roll over us. At the most critical time in the game, MM didn’t show up. He and/or Rodgers called the weak runs to Lacy and I really think that series right there was one of the most disappointing I’ve witnessed in a long time as a Packer fan. Capers D – as well as they played overall – looked completely out of sorts toward the end and seemed to shift to a textbook prevent D or something. And they allowed some monster completions that just killed us. (Though I need to be careful here to clarify – the defense did not lose this game. No way. They came to play.)
  • I hate to say it but Mike Holmgren or Bill Belicheck coaching the Packers wins that game 31-13 or something. No way they would have pulled back like that.
  • What is so incredibly frustrating is that this post was going to be very very different. Capers drew up an exquisite gameplan that was ruined by one of the most epic meltdowns in sports history, and by shifty and overly conservative playcalling. Not only did the Packers totally and completely outplay Seattle for 55 minutes, they played well enough that they would have had serious momentum heading into the Super Bowl. It is just sickening that this happened. The better team did not win today. That’s one thing I am absolutely sure of. But it’s probably safe to say the better coaches did.
  • Ugh – Please Share Your Thoughts. This is going to be a tough one to recover from…

Game Thoughts Packers/Cowboys

January 11, 2015
  • The Packers, ultimately, deserved to win this game (though I don’t feel good about how the game ended – see below). The team came out in the second half and did enough to win this game outright. They played tough, made some solid second half adjustments and pulled it off. I’m proud of this team for the effort.
  • The sequence of plays with 5 minutes left in the second quarter was vintage Dallas. The broken play on 3rd and one (when Romo fumbled, recovered and then was sacked), followed by an offensive penalty and a missed FG really was disruptive to their momentum. If they drive down and score a TD, the game might have been practically over (at 21-7). If they go up even 17-7, that may have felt like too much to overcome given how things had been going. But going into halftime 14-10 was really awesome considering the alternatives and it flipped the momentum of the game.
  • I’ll say it again. I just don’t like games where the officials influence the game much. The best games are those that let the players determine the outcome. The Packers had some iffy calls against them but more concerning were the calls not made against the Cowboys. That Lang penalty was a big one. I think he did hit the guy after the whistle but the replay showed him hitting the guy at exactly the same time that Adams was being thrown to the ground like a rag doll. If one is a penalty both have to be penalties because they both happened after the whistle. The Cowboys final drive was very much indicative of the game though. Daniels was massively held (for the second time in 2 series) on 2nd down, Matthews had his head taken off on 3rd down and Dez Bryant, again in my opinion, made that catch.
  • A bit more on the Bryant no catch. I’m watching the postgame now and Mike Perriera is trying to clarify why the call was made. He keeps saying a football move was not made but I saw a pretty clear lunge with his upper body/left arm at least. Maybe I don’t understand the rule well enough but to me that’s a catch based on what I know about the rule.
  • For what it’s worth, Jason Garrett in his postgame interview was all class. He stated a very strong case for why the Bryant call was a bad one but went on to say that there was more to the game than that call (perhaps realizing Dallas had a 52 yard penalty advantage). Classy response. Also have to say – he and the offense called a pretty good game today. I was surprised by this.
  • Rodgers was fantastic today. Wow. He was clearly hurting but finished 24/35 for 316 yards and 3 TDs. That TD pass to Richard Rodgers was borderline ridiculous. I honestly don’t think there is another QB in the NFL that could have thrown that pass, with a bad leg no less. He was moving left and threw a bullet in between 2 players with zero margin for error. Rodgers only major bad play today was in his interview with Erin Andrews after the game when he said that the officiating today was good – he’s wrong there.
  • Cobb is such a gamer. He makes absolutely huge plays at huge times ALL THE TIME. He is just such a good player. I am terrified about losing him in free agency. He is so valuable to this team.
  • Davante Adams was amazing today. He really showed some moves but his catch on the last drive showed major strength. He wrestled the ball away from the defender and then got some nice YAC. That was really an impressive, big-time, veteran-type play from a rookie.
  • Adams’ juke on his TD was stunning. You just don’t see players juke like that and frankly I wasn’t sure he had that in him. That guy was left in the dust so bad it was embarrassing. He also showed some burst on that run pulling away from the defenders.
  • It does appear that Lacy was out with asthma issues. I also wonder if he was not out there much in the second half because of concerns, possibly, about his pass blocking (though that wouldn’t make much sense as they just didn’t have anyone back there blocking for Rodgers). Still, I thought there were times he should have at least been out there to serve as a decoy. Rodgers effort today was made even more amazing on those last few drives by the fact that Dallas knew he was going to throw almost every time (because Lacy and Starks were not out there and Cobb doesn’t get many handoffs when back there).
  • Jordy Nelson was absent today. It was sort of like after that one pass he missed on what would have been a long gainer, Rodgers just decided not to go to him. Hopefully that confidence will return for next week.
  • The Packers defense ended up picking up their game in the second half. While I can’t be entirely confident in our defense heading into Seattle (and TT might be well-advised to have Dick LeBeau pop in for some ideas…), they did come back and hold the Cowboys.
  • Julius Peppers was awesome today. I have been so impressed by what he has brought to this team. And I think his leadership is something we don’t hear as much about as we should. I wonder if he said something at half time. In a game where Matthews vanished, Peppers was absolutely huge.
  • Clay Matthews was not good today. His pass rushes were all off – his timing was poor and though he was held a couple times, he just wasn’t good. He also didn’t do much to slow down DeMarco Murray. While I’d definitely rather have him in there over Hawk, he needs to show up next week.
  • Tramon Williams was not very good today. While he may have helped essentially shut down Dez Bryant (though I think that was mostly Shields), he missed tackles and was blocked too easily today. He needs to pick up his game for next week.
  • Today was one of those strange games where Morgan Burnett doesn’t even seem to be out there. I find his play so odd. I don’t know if it’s a function of the defensive gameplan or Burnett just being inconsistent. But it is so odd that he can be such an influential player one game and then non-existent the next. Maybe he’s saving it up for next week.
  • Interesting that on Dallas’ second half TD drive, Hawk seemed to be in there a bunch. Murray and company just ran over him. Keep him off the field – along with Brad Jones.
  • Nick Perry was very good today. He ended up with 1.5 sacks but also had some pressures. He’s a good player who should be on the field more.
  • In the end, great game that had Packer nation super nervous. We pulled it off but there is no question, it will take a better effort to beat Seattle, the 12th man and the officials next week.
  • Let it be known – I HATE THE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS! I don’t even like using the word “hate” but there is no other word for it. I hate them more than any team in the NFL. They are cocky and poor sportsmanship is just a part of their game. They should be flagged for taunting on most plays. Their coach is a shady tool (though someone I knew would be a good NFL coach this time around), Lynch is an fool, Sherman is a moron, Bennett thinks he’s better than he is and the team is simply overrated. It’s gotten so bad for me that I don’t even like Russell Wilson anymore (though that is mostly because he’s so frustrating to play against). Just so we’re not surprised we need to head into next week expecting a number of poor calls and view any calls that go our way as a special bonus.
  • Rodgers was definitely limited today and it clearly affected our offense but I don’t think the Seattle D is as good as they were last year. Teams can move the ball against them. One of the most important things to do early is throw deep (something we didn’t even try today…). That’s how Dallas beat them earlier this year. Rodgers has to be thinking next week a pick or two is OK. I know that’s counter to his normal thinking but a pick on a 55 yard pass on 3rd and long can be just like a punt. But the positive effects of completing it against a team that loves forcing a condensed field could be huge.
  • It’s funny, as much as I worry about Lynch running over us and Wilson just out-smarting us like he does all the time, with Peppers in there you just never know. The guy forced 2 fumbles today and was otherwise a menace. If Matthews shows up, we could actually cause some problems for their offense.
  • But more than anything, next week will take calling a near perfect game (Capers, MM and Rodgers), super mental strength (tuning out the crowd, officials and taunting Seahawks defenders) and a hunger like the team showed today in the second half!

Game Thoughts Packers/Lions

December 28, 2014
  • Relieved that Rodgers was able to come back in for this game. With Flynn in there it’s just a different game. Rodgers barely able to move (like Lynn Dickey of days past) is better than Flynn feeling great. The team showed some heart today by coming ready to play and taking down a Lions team that came to play.
  • Rodgers is a fantastic QB. After the injury he not only had the great rushing TD (and a super smart play call) but he also had a number of key, trademark Rodgers’ bullets for big-time completions. He only missed 5 passes on the day.
  • The defense came to play. Detroit is a good team and they played quite well today – playing to their offensive strengths. But the Packers D came to play once again. Dom Capers knew what was coming today. The defensive players had some issues with execution but the game plan was solid and Detroit had a few Detroitesque plays that cost them dearly (especially Bell’s fumble).
  • Lacy was interesting today. He had a number of his awesome bullish runs but his vision today was off. There were at least 4-5 plays where he made cuts that were just plain the wrong ones. It was odd. He was still very effective and continues to be a key piece to this offense but I’m guessing after this game he’ll be frustrated that he missed those cuts and fumbled.
  • Morgan Burnett had a nice fumble recovery and was second in tackles (with 6 total – behind Barrington’s 7), but he wasn’t the force he’s been. There were two plays where he seemed to shy away from contact or something which seemed very odd considering how aggressive and effective he’s been in recent weeks. Strong play from Burnett could be the difference between an OK run in the playoffs and a big-time run.
  • Tramon had a nice fumble recovery at the end of the game but he otherwise wasn’t as good as he can be. (I’m speaking mostly of some poor open field tackling opportunities and weak coverage on a few passes to Calvin – though Calvin did only have 4 total receptions…)
  • Hawk played too much in the first half. He is a liability out there. Teams go right at him – it’s hard to believe Capers doesn’t notice that on tape.
  • Tim Masthay has been solid for most of the season but has struggled recently. Today he was just plain bad. He had a few good chances to affect the game and he didn’t capitalize on any of them. He needs to do better.
  • Crosby’s miss was bad. It wasn’t totally his fault because we should have never kicked that in the first place – but the kick itself was a bad one. He needs to be better.
  • Suh definitely stepped on Rodgers intentionally and that was dirty. Reggie Bush also grabbed Hayward’s facemask on that one play when Hayward flew into the heater – that Detroit then went down and scored. That was a bad no call.
  • Jordy had some really huge plays for us. There was a play early in the first half where he caught the ball on a 3rd down and the second he hit the grounds pivoted and juked the defender. If he gets tackled there and the out-of-it Masthay has to punt that could have been a real problem. He is an elite WR in this league.
  • Richard Rodgers though gets my MVP today. He had a few huge catches including that third down one with the defender in his face. He was very strong today. While he is incredibly slow I think he is like one of those great rebounders who can clear out huge space around him because of his size/strength. He does that in the passing game and while it requires super accurate passing from Aaron Rodgers, he has good hands and is tough to bring down. He could end up being a bigger weapon going forward than we all realize. He’s already better than Quarless.
  • The Packers need to spend LOTS of time during their week off here on red zone offense. Right now they have very obvious running plays up the middle or slant passes to Cobb…and that’s it. While Cobb caught two of them today – we can’t keep relying on that. There are no other viable plays right now. We need fade routes, passes to Kuhn (not incredibly obvious run plays to him), passes to Richard Rodgers or even an offensive lineman. We need much greater variety. Importantly, when we have the ball at the 15 yard line or 20 or 25 yardlines, we need to take deep shots into the end zone. We did that more earlier in the year and it worked well. We need to get back to that.
  • The Packers gutted this one out – a great overall performance against a good team in a really important game. Unfortunately, they will need to do more in the playoffs if they want to advance. This kind of effort likely won’t be enough against a Seattle team or possibly even the Cowboys or Pats…
  • But I’m pleased with a first round bye as I think Rodgers really needs the extra time to recover.  On to the 2nd round of the playoffs – nicely done fellas!

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.

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