Monday, October 20, 2008

Packers Soar, Make Horse Meat out of Colts

The Green Bay Packers finally found their running game. Whether it was running back Ryan Grant finding his game legs or the offensive line finding their testosterone, one thing is for sure, Grant and the Packer line pounded the Indianapolis Colts in a convincing 34-14 win at Lambeau Field.

Furthermore, Grant's steady real-estate grab did for Aaron Rodgers what a running game always does - it opened up the passing game. So when the Packers were not shoving the ball down the Colts' throats, they were tossing it over their heads. This effective combination created the balanced offense that has been missing thus far in the 2008 season, and also allowed Green Bay to drive down the field almost at will. With mostly short passes, guys like Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and Donald Lee found holes in the Colt's defense time after time.

On defense, it was Charles Woodson and friends making Peyton Manning look like Charlie Brown. Playing as good of pass defense as seems possible against a lethal passing game, when Green Bay's corners and safeties weren't knocking the ball down, they were picking it off and sometimes returning it for TD's. Seldom was Manning allowed to get comfortable in the pocket, seldom did he get a good pass off, and often were few of his receivers open enough to be able to get thrown a pass.

Green Bay looked like the veteran team today and Manning and his Colts looked like strugglers. Credit all of this to what the Green Bay Packers brought to the table, which was everything.

This was by far the Packers most impressive outing. And for the first time since Brett Favre uttered, 'maybe,' Green Bay played like contenders and find themselves tied for first in the NFC North division. Which is not a bad place to be if the growing pains are now over and if the ugly part of the season has passed.

Game Ball: Offensive Line

Monday, October 13, 2008

Packers Win Despite No Running Game

Despite the lack of open holes for running back Ryan Grant, the Green Bay Packers were effective in the other aspects of the game and left Seattle with a win. Of course the fact that Seattle was without their starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and is now a weak 1-4 might lend one to keep the win in perspective, Green Bay nonetheless played pretty solid football.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, playing with a continued shoulder injury, showed images of Favre-like toughness. His short-yardage throws throughout the first half, as well as some selfless plays where he subjected his body to the Seahawks' defenders, were enough to keep the Packers in the game.

But the game-changing play happened in the third quarter when Rodgers hit a streaking Greg Jennings in a rare down field attempt. Rodger's sore-shoulder pass hit Jennings on the numbers and the Packers grabbed the lead.

From there it was mostly down hill for the Packers except for Grant who couldn't buy a hole and had to smash his way for any gain. Most of the fourth quarter was spent with Grant getting two or three yards, Rodgers throwing for a first down, and back to the clock-killing running game. Grant played as courageously as Rodgers but does not have the blocking he needs to open things up.

On defense, Aaron Kampman had several sacks on Seattle's backup quarterback, Charlie Frye, who was under pressure all day by the Green Bay pass rush. The Pack also shut down Seattle's running game and played good defense.

Charles Woodson, looking once again like a Heisman Trophy winner, out-smarted Frye and came up with an obligatory pick. Woodson should be put into this year's Pro Bowl right now. He stalks and strikes like a cat, and his seasoned experience makes him look like a man among Seattle's receiving boys; this guy is good (and he's doing all of this on a broken toe.)

So it appears that Green Bay found a way to win when they really had to to pull into a tie for first place in the NFC North division with the hated Bears. But they will be tested severely next week as they will have to face the underachieving Indianapolis Colts.

Game Ball: Aaron Rodgers.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Pack Can't Win By Hook or Crook; OJ Guilty

The Green Bay Packers are a lot like OJ Simpson these days. They both just showed up to try to retrieve a little football glory. The only thing is is that miscues, penalties, bad decisions and mistakes brought them both down.

Though Simpson faces the stiffer consequence, a possible fifteen years to life in the slammer, the Packers it seems, like Simpson, will also have bigger, badder men dictating terms and conditions to them for a while to come in a harsh environment unless Coach McCarthy and Warden Ted Thompson can come up with some answers.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers played a decent game considering that he came back like a mini-me Iron Man, and Ryan Grant got some yards for a change, but once again the line was inconsistent and made lethal penalties. Donald Driver played like a rock star and proved that he is among the NFL's elite receivers in terms of concentration, skill and getting yards after the catch.

Defensively, the Packers played inspired football at times, but never found consistent answers to be able to stop the Atlanta Falcons running game or their passing game. A slippery field was to blame for some early Falcon big passing gains, but, of course, the turf was slippery for both teams as well. But the Packers secondary did have some nice plays including a key interception in Atlanta's end zone that made a momentum shift until a later Rodgers interception.

In the punting department, the wisdom of Ted Thompson is on display for the entire league to see. He cut a decent punter, John Ryan, for a guy who is not that good, Frost. Yet after several poor outings, Thompson continues to put Frost on the field. What could be more clear evidence that Thompson thinks he is always right and will let the ship go down to prove it. Frost again did not have a good day and now would be a good time to get rid of both Frost and Thompson. Nothing personal against Frost, he did his best, but it is Thompson's DUTY to put the best punter he can on the field. Thompson, therefore, is just as guilty as OJ.

So the NFL season does not get any easier. The Packers are getting punked week after week. Like OJ, there doesn't seem to be any way out of it this time. And also like OJ, the Packers better make sure that they don't drop the bar of soap in the shower.

Game Ball goes to: Donald Driver