Sunday, September 12, 2010

Must Win, Won

Kevin Kolb, as played by Marky Mark.
That game was just as squirrelly as I expected, but a win is a win and I'll take it.  In fact, that's the first win the Packers have managed to get in the City of Brotherly Love since 1962.  Something about Philadelphia seems trapped in a time warp and those throw-back uniforms the Eagles were sporting didn't help.  I half expected Mark Wahlberg from Invincible to step onto the field in his kelly greens.  Some throw-back uniforms are cool.  Those are not.  Neither is that hairdo.  I know you're trying to be all Vince Papale and stay authentic to the period, but you look like... Tom Brady.

As a former Green Bay coach, Andy Reid knows the Packers extremely well and his game planning was superb.  Start with pressure on Rodgers -- which included multiple hurries, collapsed pockets, and 3 sacks in the first 15 minutes.  Follow it up by taking Finley out of his comfort zone -- which they again did early on with Stewart Bradley keying on him.  And then shut down the other bread-and-butter plays the Packers love -- cheating on quick slants, sniffing out the screens, swarming draws, etc.  It was pretty effective, holding the Packers to 13 points in the first half and 27 on the game.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, Kevin Kolb looked like Marky Mark might have been pretending to be him in the first half.  Kolb was 5 of 10 for 24 yards before Clay Matthews hoed the ground with his head, sending him to the bench with a concussion and 6 square feet of Lincoln Financial Field in his face mask.  Marky probably could have done better.  Ironically, the worst thing the Packers could have done was knock the Eagles starting quarterback out of the game.  For the rest of the game, Michael Vick gashed our defense like a... well, like rottweiler.  Presumably the Packers D didn't game plan against Vick much, but they should have.  The guy put up 175 yards in the air and another 103 on the ground during 3 scoring drives in the second half.  Thank God Vick didn't start!

The good news of the game is that Rodgers can have a bad game on the road and we still win.  Rodgers looked out-of-sync all day.  He was off-target on his first three passes of the game, all incompletions.  He threw two interceptions, both on badly thrown balls.  And he was clearly rattled by the push up the middle and stunts that the Eagles threw at him, resulting in 3 sacks.  But very few coaches will know how to get inside his head better than Reid.  So, hopefully, Aaron will be back to his usual swagger in week 2.

The defense, in spite of letting the Eagles back into the game, looked pretty good.  Clay Matthews showed his Pro-bowl selection was no fluke.  He was dominant, leading the team with 7 tackles, 2 sacks and a forced fumble.  He is un-believably athletic for his size and will be a disruptive force opposing offenses will have to deal with all season.  Charles Woodson also had a stellar day, flying all over the field as usual and forcing a fumble.  It was also great to see our un-drafted rookies mixing it up.  Frank Zombo got a key sack and Sam Shields held his own for the most part.

Finally, special teams had a solid day too.  Mason Crosby was money, hitting two long kicks including a 56-yarder right before the half.  Punt and kick coverage was reliable.  And Jordy Nelson proved to be a huge momentum changer with three consecutive long kick-off returns after Philadelphia scores.

It wasn't pretty, but it was a win.  And it sets us up for a good start to the season.  So you can take your Greg Kinear Philly fans.  We'll take our W.

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