Monday, October 19, 2009

That was the ugliest 26-0 victory I’ve every seen.

We’ll take a win any way we can get it.  There’s so much parity in the NFL.  Any team can beat any other team on any given Sunday.  It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take it.  We’re happy to get back in the win column.  We just try to take it week by week.

Now that those clichés are out of the way…

What an unsatisfying win that was.  The opening kick-off return – taken back for a touchdown by Jordy Nelson only to be brought back for a holding call – was indicative of what we were in store for the entire day.  Strong play negated by bone-headedness.  The Lions are awful.  Their awfulness was exacerbated on both sides of the ball – with their second string, then third string, QB on offense; and 3 out of their 4 starting defensive linemen out on defense.

The Packers were coming off a bye.  Key players, particularly Clifton and Bigby, were back from injuries.  It was a divisional game at home against a team that hasn’t won in the state of Wisconsin in almost two decades.  It was a day in which Donald Driver could (and did) break the all-time Packer receptions record.  Not to sound like Packer nation had a sense of entitlement, but this was lined up to be a good old-fashioned Lions beatdown.  Which, I guess, it was – just not to its full potential.  Which brings me to my three observations.

1) Red Zone Offense.  Five trips to the red zone, four field goals, one turn-over.  What could have been 35 points, was instead 12 points.  What could have been a Patriots-style blow-out, was instead an under-achieving win.  You can’t put this on Rodgers – the guy was on fire again this week, completing 12 of 13 passes in the first quarter and finishing the day with 358 yards and 2 TDs.  You can't put it on the receivers.  Double D is having an outstanding season.  He is playing with urgency and emotion – making not only his record-setting catch, but also that spectacular one-handed grab.  Jennings also had a great one-hander, and had a solid overall day.  Jones and Finley both had great days as well.

So why the problems in the red zone?  Same old stuff – poor pass protection and lack of execution.  There was the sack given up when Clifton and Colledge both let Julian Peterson storm through the line unblocked.  There was the jail break that forced the fumble.  Pick your series and pick your play.  Although they racked up 458 yards of total offense and over 40 minutes time of possession, they also gave up five sacks and multiple penalties.  They just shot themselves in the foot every drive.  At least Mason was reliable.

2) Penalties.  Evidently the Packers decided that since the Lions were so inept on both sides of the ball, that they should spot them 130 yards.  That’s what it was – 13 penalties for 130 yards.  The entire Lions offense put up 149 yards in total!  At one point in the 3rd quarter, Green Bay had 100 penalty yards to the Lions 80 yards of offense.

Chad Clifton had a disastrous day.  Four penalties – two for illegal formation, which you’d think a veteran guy would be able to avoid.  One of his penalties negated a 26-yard gain because, apparently, after an injury and bye week he has forgotten a rule he’s known since pop warner by not lining up on the line of scrimmage!  Things were so bad for Clifton, I actually was mildly relieved when TJ Lang came in.  Clifton’s head just wasn’t in the game.

What else can be said about the penalties -- six in the first quarter alone -- and the overall play of the O-line?.  Maybe Tauscher’s veteran presence (and a little pressure from the rookie) can help them finally shore up the miscues.  Green Bay is currently 5th in the league with 43 penalties for 359 yards on the season. You might be able to play that sloppy of a game against Detroit, but they need to get this in check if they plan to make the playoffs.

3) Solid Defense.  Even though there were some penalties on the defensive side as well (including Barnett’s idiotic facemask penalty, followed a few plays later by another embarrassing samurai move), I need to give the defense some props.  Again, great ball hawking – Jenkins’s pick was unbelievable both for its awareness and athleticism.  Getting Bigby back was huge, and he made his presence felt with that key end zone interception.  Harris is always fantastic, with a take-away I had to watch three times on Tivo before I saw it. And Tramon Williams was also impressive.  It didn’t really show up on the stat sheet, except for his great punt return, but he has a head for being in the right place at the right time.

But Clay Matthews gets defensive player of the day in my book.  He is coming on strong, and I’m not just talking about his hair.  He had 2 nice sacks and a key stop on 4th down.  He just seemed to be around the ball all day, and in on every tackle.  He made the most out of his first NFL start.  He also seems to fit right in with that hairdo.  Is that the real reason Kevin Greene is starting him?  The man who arguably pioneered the burn-out, long-haired linebacker look.  Is it coincidence that three out of the four starting LBs, Matthews, Hawk and Barnett, are all sporting long hair???

The speculation about Aaron Kampman's adjustment to OLB has focused on the challenges of pass coverage and lining up in a 2-point stance, but there are rumors his transition pains may have more to do with his hair situation.  "I'm just not comfortable with the hair expectations being placed on me in this new position," said Kampman after the game.  "Clay looks great in the new role -- really natural, just like Kevin in his heyday.  I just look like I have a mullet whenever I grow my hair out."

One can only get so excited about the defensive performance against such an inept team.  But if we can win on the defensive side of the ball so completely (and maybe if Kampman sees a stylist), we can stay in most games.

1 comment:

  1. Love the hair theme! Brilliant insight connecting Kevin Green's hair style with current styles . . . . Kampman just has too much Iowa farm-boy in him to let that hair even touch his ears! Maybe he'll change his ways to get with the program.

    Way to go Trigger -- Keep up the good work!