Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Take - > Week 4

Greetings, G-Force.

It's a return to normalcy. A reality check. Frankly, the media tried to make the Packers out to be better than we are at this stage. The hype was fun. We wanted to belong among the top 3 teams in the NFL. We wanted to be on level ground with the Cowboys & if that were the case, we felt that the Lambeau advantage might provide the difference. Instead, we discovered that we were outgunned by the Cowboys. They were too strong. They were too fast. They seemed to have a defined game plan. We appeared confused and incapable to adjust. Really, they played the way we should have played. They ran the ball right at us. They blitzed the QB. We did neither.

We failed to finish drives as B-Jack continues to struggle to pick up the blitz & James Jones routinely drops the ball. Jordy Nelson stopped his route short and went up for the football with one hand. In the red zone, J-Mike was unable to get off the line of scrimmage when it appeared as though he may have been the first option. Rodgers was left with little time & few options. Call it youth, I guess.

No worries. Before the season, a realistic goal was to win the NFC North Division. After 3 weeks, we have the lead. Before the season, I had no idea what to expect out of this season. While 10-6 was a possibility, so was 6-10.

I have a fascinating weekend ahead of me. On Saturday, I'm headed to Busch Gardens with A*, Vargas, and Lisette. Then, we're staying at the Sheraton Riverside in Downtown Tampa. Probably heading to the Tampa Brewing Company at some point. And Sunday - we'll be in attendance. We NEED this game. The schedule thickens & the Packers need to stay ahead of the competition. Plus, I believe that Minnesota will lose at Tennessee this week. I also believe that the Bears lose against Philly this weekend. A 2-game lead after 4 weeks would be delicious.

Tampa is a coming off of a thrilling victory at Chicago in which Brian Griese played arguably the best game of his career. He threw for 407 yards & 2 TD's. While he did throw 3 interceptions, he was stellar down the stretch.

Griese - almost exclusively - uses a variety of crossing routes and slants. Occasionally, he'll make in a fly pattern, but he relies on the playmaking skills of Michael Clayton, Antonio Bryant, and Ike Hilliard. Jeremy Stevans has been a reliable target so far this year as well. Griese wisely uses BJ Askew as a safety valve. Thus far, it sounds as though Joey Galloway will not be playing this week.

Earnest Graham & Warrick Dunn have combined for over 350 yards & 2 TD's this year. It's even more impressive when you consider that they are averaging over 5.5 yards per carry.

As is the custom, Tampa's defensive front strikes fear in offensive lines. Frankly, this match-up scares me. Kevin Carter is playing like he did in 2004. Using an aged mix of speed & power, he's applying pressure. Gaines Adams is a talented end and Greg White is an underrated pass rusher. Additionally, our offensive line has struggled mightily this year. In my mind, Tauscher & Clifton have had the worst years of their careers. Tony Moll does not belong in this league & thankfully, he will be back on the bench with the return of Wells. But, this will be Scott Wells' first action of the year and I hope the line gels like a veteran unit.

The interior of Tampa's D-Line can be exposed. You can run at the heart of the defense. You can run at Chris Hovan. Jovan Haye is an above average pass rushing DT, but he, too, can be moved on run downs.

Tampa's LB's are fast & athletic. You cannot beat them running side-to-side. You've got to run right at them. Normally, the combination of Rudd, Brooks, and June are sure handed. And they're certainly some of the best pass covering LB's in the league.

Ronde Barber can still play, but he can be attacked. He cannot get up and play the ball in the air like he used to. On the opposite side, Philip Buchanon is a solid corner, but he struggles to tackle and can be beaten. At safety, I attack Sabby Piscitelli. I would try to put him in space and isolate him in coverage. He can be used & abused.

This is an important game for Aaron Rodgers. On the road. Hostile environment. Warm climate. There will be defensive pressure in his face. His patience will be tested. So will his decision making. At some point in the 2nd half this Sunday, Rodgers will be faced with a situation in which he will be dealing with a crazed environment and the Packers will need to move the football. At this very moment, we will learn a lot about where Aaron Rodgers is in his development.

It concerns me when Rodgers dances in the pocket. He's too valuable to our team to risk injury. If it's not there, either find the TE or get rid of the ball. Regardless, don't let those big Defensive Lineman clip at your ankles when you're trying to escape pressure. I've seen it too many times.

Offensively, McCarthy must stick to his game plan. Too often, we're out of shotgun. Grant ran for over 4 yards per carry. B-Jack ran for over 6 yards per carry. Yet, for some strange reason, we did not stick to the run. We were far too predictable. What happened to play action roll-out passes to the TE? Why are these plays no longer in our offense? It baffles me. I'm guessing that McCarthy learned his lesson.

The Packers come out and establish a run game. Taking it right at the teeth of the Bucs defense. Grant pounds away. Physical in nature. Consistently, he's missing the cutback. This week, after enhanced film study, he finds it and gets himself into the Bucs defensive backfield. We stick to the run and control the clock. Grant carries the ball 20 times this week. He also finds the end zone for the first time.

The Packers grab an early lead.

But, the Buccaneers fight back. Scratching and clawing with Graham & Dunn at the middle of our defense. Nitpicking yards. Griese goes to the basics and goes after T-Mon & Willie B. as they try to fill in for the Pro Bowler, Al Harris. He finds all three of his WR targets (Clayton, Bryant and Hilliard) for 1st downs. He frustrates the Packers defense as we continue to sit back and only rush 4.

Tampa grabs the lead in the 2nd half. And Rodgers goes to work.

He hoists one towards Jennings who goes up & over Barber to make the play. The Packers are moving. It's Rodgers to Lee on playaction. It's Rodgers to Driver for a TD.

Griese goes back to work looking for a response. FINALLY! The Packers come with an inside blitz. During the offseason, we heard so much about the Packers LB blitzes and defensive disguises. FINALLY! We see it. Hawk & Barnett applying pressure. YES! We actually come with 6 defenders. With a hand in his face, Griese throws one in the lap of Chuckie!

The ball goes back to Grant. And then to Lee as a safety valve. It's Greg Jennings & a two touchdown Packers lead.

Green Bay 27. Tampa Bay 16.

I'm bringing the G-Force and the lively rays to the Sunshine State. I'm bringing quick decisions to Aaron Rodgers. I'm going to find KGB. And with or without Al Harris and Ras-A-tari Bigby, I'm bringing Rastaman Vibrations, POSITIVITY!

Could You Be Loved? At 3-1, you can!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.


vargas said...

Top 3? Nope but I still think we are a top 5 team. I came away from the game frustrated yet very impressed. We were in a defensive battle for 2. 5 quarters with the best team in NFL. All td's and lapses are correctable and we move on. Granted the journey gets very tough w/ the possibility of losing al but McCarthy seems confident in our backups. Listening to him on sirius yesterday morning (he's on every tues mon around 10 am if you care to tune in) and he thinks Williams can fill the role and has high expectations from Lee. Rouse to me is a joke...its almost like he is scared to tackle...We need the reckless rasta man back in a big way. You can't give enough props to chuckie who could be on his way to his best year yet. Not practicing and then shutting TO? Superstud.

Side note..kind of wished we would have signed fletcher...Didnt know he was a FA.

If we win this week I think we can sweep in october....get some rest and then do the stretch run. I look for the pack to rebound big time this weekend. If the bears can put up 24 on the bucs then we can get back our offensive swagger. Look for the defense to come up big... Reading a few blogs regarding pickett after the cowboys game and the d will be fired up!.

Can't wait to get there on sunday! Go Pack Go!

BlueGuy said...

Scott I'm surprised there is only a very brief mention of Al Harris going down - does this mean his loss is not as huge as I think?

Whats your take on him going down?

BlueGuy said...

On a side-note, here's a take from my buddy who is a Bucs fan:

"Our O-Line is extremely solid as proved by not allowing 1 sack vs a very good bears rush. If the Packers start bringing LB’s in the rush, Griese will find Dunn or Stevens for gains and that will slow the LB’s rush. 2, he says you can run on the Bucs, in the past, yes that was true, but they have worked and improved on stopping the run. They have not allowed a 100 yard rusher this season and aside from a 38 yard run to a backup RB on Chi, they are barely allowing 100 yards a game vs very good running teams (ATL, NO and CHI). I agree with his assessment of Ronde Barber, he is exploitable, but last week we were without 2 young corners who could have helped. I don’t think that the defense will continue to allow the big play as the season goes on. He also has not mentioned how strong our Safeties are at providing run support and owning the middle of the field. I also disagree with his final score. I think that the bucs will try to go more down field and Bryant will make some big plays. I also think the Bucs will win, and force Rogers into a pick or 2. I think the Bucs will win 24-21"

Michael J. said...

I was surprised that the Packers were so deficient offensively.
They should still be considered favorites for the division, but that's like being the world's tallest midget. Tampa was beaten in Chicago...until Beard Neck handed them 7...and Tillman nullified a third down stop in OT by being a bonehead. If you can pressire Griese...he will be Griese.
Packers win 27-17.

Go Cubs.

porterbela said...

Trotta said it best. Buccaneers are not a very good football team. The Bears Offense along with a very stupid penalty ended the game for the Bears in what should have been another victory.

Buccaneers running game is far from impressive. I'd expect to see a lot of blitz's from the Packers. And I'd also expect to see Greise try to take advantage of Harris being out.

Regardless, the Packers should win fairly easy...

A few things I noticed from the Packers on Sunday night. It's only a matter of time before Rodgers kills one of his WR's. The guy loves to throw the ball over his WR's head when they are crossing the middle of the field.

The Packers were just beaten by the better team. I'm not talkin shit about the Packers, it's just the way it is. You can't say the Packers are the in the top 3 or top 5 just yet. It's only Week 4. You need to see how certain injuries play out, how other teams off to slow starts gel, and a multitude of other things. Could they be in the top 3? Sure, but we need to wait a few weeks to be certain.

I'd be concerned about the lack of DL depth for the Packers. Everyone knows that running the ball in the 4th quarter is huge when you have the lead. If the Packers want to be contenders they need to start controlling the line of scrimmage on defense in the 4th. Without any help that is what could separate them and everyone else in the playoffs.

Talkin' S-Mac said...

Agreed - Packers are not in top 3. Maybe not even top 5. Agreed that it's too early to judge. But, right now the top 3 might all be in the NFC East.

The Al Harris injury is massive. Devastating. You cannot replace him. An island guy. Leave him there. Let him be. With the exception of the Giants & Cowboys games last year, Harris was terrific last year. His lost will hurt abundantly.

Tallest midget! Hilarious. I'll take the title if it's packaged with a home playoff game.

vargas said...

Where the heck is g-force this year? We've got more anti packers fans posting than the best phans in the nation? Chern-what's up? Madison got your tongue?

The pack lost one game to the best team in NFL b/c of a few blown assignments in the secondary and a confused offensive line. Well, let me tell you...we get Wells back finally this week which will hopefully eliminate the fumbled snaps and our line can get back to creating some holes for Grant. Grant gets his vision and the cutback this week while Rodgers throws to Jennings over the top on Barber. We are leaving tampa 3-1!

Bear fan....come on.. What did you think? You really thought your team was that good? come on..the colts are horrible so far this year. Rest your cubs this weekend...so you can beat the crew in the playoffs...

Stack said...

Late buzz in for me this week. From everything I see, Tampa actually seems to be the pick around most of the experts' tables. Certainly will be a tough game. Gruden is an inventive coach and he will attack the secondary to be sure. But he'll force them to tackle as well as cover.

I think the Bears laid the blueprint for Griese, gut pressure, pressure up the middle will fluster him since he is definitely unable to get out of the pocket. He'll check down to backs and TEs.

I agree with Joe's take on that. However, I'm looking at Green Bay and scratching my head three games into the season. All offseason all we were hearing about was the additional pressure that we were going to bring from the D side of the ball. We saw some exotic looks in the preseason. And then we haven't really tried to pressure anyone aggressively with much other than the front four. Of course we've sent some pressure on blitzes, but not with the aggressive nature, imagination, and consistency for which I had hoped.

I am of the inclination that the Bucs will try and run the ball, despite the state of the secondary. I had this conversation with Scott. I just see Gruden attacking us with Graham and Dunn. The school of thought that the Bucs will attack through the air was actually backed up by MM on his show saying that passing the ball is a tactic frequently employed by the southern teams against the northern teams when playing below the Mason-Dixon.

I look back at our first three games and ask...is our weakness in the secondary or is it up front?

Bigby goes down, Harris goes down, Wood is banged up. Did that suddenly cause us to forget the problems we have with the front four? The front four was the biggest question going into the season and nothing has happened to solve that question.

Jenkins has played well, Kamp is solid as is Pickett, but what else do we have?

Minnesota - 187 yards rushing
Dallas - 217 yards rushing

I think Gruden is at least as likely to test this area of our team as the new-look secondary.

Against the run of opinions, I see two teams who want to run the football today and control the clock and the game.

Wells is back helping us to control the middle.

In a throwback to the old Central divison, the Pack emerges victorious.

Packers 17
Bucs 13

Michael J. said...

Jenkins is done for the year.