Friday, November 27, 2009
What are you thankful for, Packer fans?
I was tearing at the thing for about an hour tonight in a tryptophan haze. Of course, as a San Francisco foodie, I can’t just throw away the bones. I need to pretend I’m going to make something out of it, keep it in my fridge for a week and then throw it away. There’s no way to delicately cut up a turkey. The appropriate term is "dismemberment." You need to attack it with a kind of primal enthusiasm, and a variety of sharp tools wielded assertively. You need to torque spinal columns with your bare hands. You need to splatter bone fragments on your shirt. In short, you need to get medieval on it. I contemplated burying the remains in the yard for a while, but finally got it into a stock pot and intend to get the upper hand on it tomorrow.
Between my trussing I got to enjoy a pretty good game. (By the way, someone's got to tell Troy Aikman how to properly pronounce our city -- it's Green Bay, not Green Bay.) Anyway, apart from the fumble on the opening kick-off and some red zone inefficiency, it was a pretty solid performance by the Packers. Penalties continue to be a thorn – 7 of them today for 57 yards, which will allow us to continue to hold on to our #1 position in the NFL for most penalties. Sweet. Special teams managed to have two penalties out 9 plays – both blocks in the back. Aren’t you taught not to do that in Pop Warner?
But rather than being a whiner, on Thanksgiving day it feels more appropriate to say what I’m thankful for as a Packers fan. So here goes:
1) Aaron Rodgers – the guy just continues to be nails. He went 26 of 39 for 348 yards and 3 TDs with no interceptions. He’s just so mentally sharp, and rarely ever makes mistakes. His passer rating on the season is 104.9 – trailing only Favre (112.1) and Brees (105.8). He’s thrown 22 touchdown passes – tied for first in the NFL with Brees. And his 3,136 passing yards is second only to Peyton Manning. He has the arm (the completion he had to Driver was over 65 yards in the air), the athleticism, and the intelligence of the best QBs in the game. And he’s developing that intangible will to win with every game.
Favre, it must be acknowledged, is having an incredible year as well. Maybe if he’d performed like that his last few seasons in Green Bay, we should have let him come back. But Rodgers is executing consistently at a Pro Bowl level in only his 27th start. And, oh – by the way, he is 15 years younger than Favre. If he stays healthy, he will be our franchise QB, and we should be thankful for him wearing a Packer uniform for many years to come.
2) Our defense – Dom has been in the house the last few weeks. Five turnovers, two sacks, and a pick six today. Woodson is at another level entirely. He’s got to be making a case for defensive MVP. It was also huge for Tramon Williams to get an interception today – should give him a little more confidence for the big shoes he needs to fill.
The defense is fast, hits hard, and is stingy. Denying a Lions score from first and goal from the 6-yard line in the 4th quarter today was a great example. Overall, the Packers defense has only allowed 281.5 yards/game, second best in the NFL. They are also opportunistic and ball-hawking. Green Bay has 18 interceptions on the season, second only to the Saints. We're +17 on net turn-overs. Best in the league.
And the young players are really coming on. I’ve talked about Clay Matthews several times. He didn’t have a great game today, but he brings incredible energy and speed to the defense. B.J. Raji is becoming a presence as well – stuffing the run as he did in that hit on Kevin Smith for a 4-yard loss. Again, if these guys can continue to develop and our secondary stays healthy, we should be in good shape for many Thanksgivings to come.
3) Shoring up our O-line – I can’t really say I’m thankful for our offensive line. It’s more that I’m thankful they haven’t been a complete liability the last few weeks. No holding penalties today, one penalty overall (false start on Colledge), and only one sack allowed. The sack that was allowed was embarrassing. Continue to feel like Clifton’s head just isn’t in the game at times – he seemed to be looking at the play clock while Julian Peterson blew by him. But, overall, they seem to have gotten their shit together – against some solid defensive fronts in Dallas and San Francisco particularly. Tauscher is making a big difference, and Wells and Sitton are quietly playing consistently. There were several plays (particularly that bomb to Driver, who I'm also thankful for, by the way) where Rodgers had all day to pass the ball. If they can keep up that level of protection, what seemed like a season-killing Achilles heel three weeks ago could be good enough to get us to the post-season.
So that’s what I’m thankful for. I’m going to try to do some breakdowns of the playoff situation this weekend. With our improved play and the Giants loss tonight, I’m getting more confident about our wild card chances. Now, back to my bone saw.