Monday, September 29, 2008

Packers Achieve Mediocrity; Vikings Lose

The Green Bay Packers, boasting an offensive line that plays like a Troop of Girl Scouts, settled comfortably into the zone of mediocrity in Tampa on Sunday angainst the Tampa Bay Bucaneers. Using alternate sparks of brilliance and episodes of ineptitude, the Packers proved they can strike in a heart beat or fall flat on their face just as quickly.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who spent much of the day running away from Tampa's pass rush, and also left the game with what may be a separated shoulder, saw enough passes slip through the hands of Green Bay's receivers to make a Blooper episode on You Tube. And did Donald Driver even get the ball thrown at him at all?

The left side of the Packer's offensive line is weaker than a French defense. Neither Rodgers or running back Ryan Grant can count on anything from that direction except a steady stream of hurricanes. When Chad Clifton isn't penalized for holding, his man is either sacking the quarterback, forcing an early throw, or eating Ryan Grant for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Until the Packers find an answer to this problem, nobody should expect anything better than an 8-8 season.

Yes, the Green Bay defense is pretty good. Charles Woodson is playing like an mvp and the rest of the secondary is also sharp. Our linebackers are strong, as is our d-line. But when an offense goes three and out repeatedly, all day long, it places an unfair and disproportionate burden on our pretty good defense.

And if Rodgers will be missing some time, this will mean that rookie Matt Flynn will be starting at quarterback for the Green Bay Packers (I told ya so). Flynn will have to spend some obligatory adjustment time which often relies on the run game. Only problem is that we don't have one because our Girl Scouts can't block.

Good luck to Flynn. Hopefully he can pick things up quickly. He should be able to as he is used to high-pressure, important games and has proved himself to be a leader as he led his LSU team to the NCAA National Championship last year.

But until we learn how to block, it is going to me a mediocre year for everyone...except for Jets fans who saw Brett Favre toss 6 touchdown passes yesterday. Thanks again, Ted.

By the way, the Vikings lost too, and so did the Cowboys.

Game ball goes to: Charles Woodson

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Packers Shut T.O.'s Mouth; Bears Lose

Two good things happened today: Charles Woodson and the Green Bay Packers shut down the Dallas Cowboy's Terell Owens, thus closing his loud mouth, and the Chicago Bears lost.

Yeah, sure the Packers took one on the chin at Lambeau from the versatile Cowboys, but at least Terell's bag of celebratory popcorn went untouched.

The Cowboys, ranking high in the 'Hated' category along with the Patriots and the lowly Bears, were able to get to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers far too often for the Packers to complete many sustained drives. Though the Packers own defensive line played well, their front four did not have equivalent success attacking Tony Romo. With the mysterious absence of an accompanying Packers blitz Romo found all the time he needed to dish the ball nearly at will, with the exception of being unable to connect often with T.O.

The bruising running of the Cowboys' Marion Barber hurt the Packers some, but Green Bay played a respectable defensive game considering the potent Dallas offense, and the fact that the Packers own offense was seldom on the field for long in the second half.

Field position played an important role in the game. Frequent Green Bay return penalties succeeded in making sure the Packers started out deep in the hole, while the Packers anemic punting game seldom pinned Dallas behind its own twenty.

So if this was a test to see where the Packers are at, it appears that we are a good team, but not an elite team. Our offensive line is shakier than Wall Street, and we get penalties like Bill Clinton at Hooters. We will be able to play with most teams, and will contend in our division, but to make another appearance in the NFC Championship with a porous offensive line is as unrealistic as a community organizer being suitable for the Presidency.

But at least there are some solid aspects to our team, at least T.O. will be silent for a week, and at least Chicago has both Obama and the Bears, both of whom are filled with a lot of hot air, but have no plan on how to win a game or a war.

Game ball to: Charles Woodson.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Air/Run Rodgers Walks the Line

Showing deftness, sharp senses, keen eyes, dangerous feet, a killer arm and an ability to tight-rope the sideline, Air/Run Rodgers proved to all-comers that he is a dangerous weapon through the air or on his feet as the Green Bay Packers brought home a win from Detriot.

But Rodgers only got help from the defense in the second half, as all of his primary receivers were collectively guilty of dropping the ball on him. In all but a few cases, Rodgers' arm delivered the football exactly where it needed to be, but the primary Packer receivers seemed to have taken catching instructions from the Packer punter, who let a second-half snap slip right through his fingers and out of the end zone for an embarrassing safety.

It took heroic efforts by both Charles Woodson and Detroit Lions' quarterback John Kitna for the Packers to overcome a late one-point deficit. In two successive series, Kitna's pass went right into Woodson's hands, and Woodson ran one of them in. On the next series Kitna gave himself the hat-trick, giving up another interception for a touchdown to the Packers defense.

So in PackSmack's opinion, there is a three-way tie for Green Bay's MVP of this game: Rodgers deserves it for his excellent game, Woodson deserves it for his game-saving plays, and Detroit's Kitna deserves it because without him, we probably would not have won.

Like Johnny Cash's song, I Walk the Line, where Cash confesses his focus on guarding his heart from harmful influence, Rodgers seems to be guarding the integrity of the offense with his careful pass-throwing, awareness of pass pressure and ability to quickly buy some extra time with his speedy feet. Surely he got out of places that Brett Favre would not have today. And Rodger's dainty tip-toe almost on top of the white sideline paint, which gained a valuable first down, or several of his laser-accurate throws while on the run indicates that this man is not only dangerous in the air or on the ground, but also that the Green Bay Packer offense's leader can strike in any direction at any time.

The man is serious.

And he's looking good.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Vikings Choke, Packers Win!

In a game of big penalties and bigger plays, the Green Bay Packers put things together long enough to pull out a win on Monday Night Football's opening night.

The Vikings, filled to the gills with talent, somehow could not execute well enough to notch a victory in the season's opener at Lambeau Field. With a dominating defensive line and a dauntless running game, plus a quarterback who was competent in his own right, it is a sheer wonder how the Packers were able to escape an upset.

Did Aaron Roders use mirrors? Was Ryan Grant juicing? Did the Packers punt return team sneak 13 or 14 men on the field to get a punt returned for a touchdown? Either they did all that, or the Green Bay Packers played a pretty good game, generally speaking.

It had to be the play calling and Rodgers impressive decision-making that kept the game from being all Minnesota. Certainly the Packers were outmatched against a Viking defensive line that will force a lot of punts this year. Certainly Viking running back Adrian Pederson was unstoppable. Certainly Viking quarterback Tarvaris Jackson threw for some big yards. But for some intangible reasons, the Packers made the plays when they had to.

Credit coach McCarthy for some brilliant strategy. Credit the offensive line for deciding to stop getting penalties every play after the first quarter. Credit Aaron Rodgers for showing us that yes, indeed he can. And credit the likes of AJ Hawk and Nick Barnett for playing with reckless abandon.

I have no idea how Green Bay beat the Minnesota Vikings, but the team pulled together and showed some rugged, impressive character. Maybe these young guys are growing up. Or maybe the Vikings choked - again.