We matched every "Go Back Home!" barks from Buc fans with a hearty "Go Pack Go!" It seemed right. When Woodson picked off Griese, it seemed destined! We were going to be 3-1. From that point on, our season might have ended.
Cullen Jenkins goes down an a shoulder injury. Two days later, he is declared out for the year. AJ goes down with an injury - the extent is unknown. KGB showed that he is not back from injury. Rouse goes down. Collins reinjures his back. Woodson does the same with his toe. Did I mention that Ras-A-tari & Ras-Al are out? Snake bit.
Offensively, Rodgers goes down. A team that prides itself on going to 5 wide and spreading you out is largely playing without it's 3rd & 4th WR's. Though we are presently getting healthier, our OL has been decimated with injury. Grant has been bothered by his hamstring injury. Sometimes it's just not your year. This appears to be the case for us in '08.
Vargas & PatRad have claimed "Worst. Madden. Jinx. Ever." They may be right.
As for the Buc game, we saw a young QB on the road against a great defensive coordinator. Monte Kiffin has confused young QB's before. He'll do so again. The same will probably happen to Rodgers when we visit Tennessee and J'ville later this year. But, what concerns me is that Rodgers did not seem to see the field very well. For 2.5 quarters, I was saying THROW THE BALL DEEP DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE FIELD! Finally, they tried it ONCE, and it was a TD to Greg Jennings. Donald Driver was WIDE open all day down the middle of the field. And his body actions showed frustration. On at least 2 occasions, I saw him streaking 5 yards beyond the defense with his arm in the air. When he did not get the football, he dropped his shoulders & his head back in disbelief.
While Greg Jennings is quickly becoming an elite WR in the NFL, Rodgers stays focused on him for too long. Often, this is the case with a young QB. But, Driver is not the only guy that I'm seeing who is open. Nelson was also open on a number of plays. Rodgers looked rattled. Nervous. Confused. Uncertain. His check down is to the RB. It was not to Driver, Nelson or the TE.
When you watch the replay of his final interception. Watch the TE's. We were in a double TE set. Both TE's run sit down routes. One at 5 yards. The other at 10. He misses the read on the play. And throws into the defensive strong side of the field.
Rodgers is struggling to know down & distance. Instead of just looking for 1st downs, he's looking for home runs on third down. Twice on 3rd & 5 or less, Nelson was open for 1st downs. Rodgers never saw him as his eyes seemed to be focused too far downfield.
Naturally, Rodgers rolls to his left, which punishes his playmaking ability as it's taking away his arm strength. He's a right handed QB. He should look to roll to his right. Additionally, while often times we are lined up with 3 WR's to the left hand side, the Packers are running crossing routes. This leaves Rodgers with 1 option as he rolls left. Coach him up, McCarthy. This is a bad habit.
Speaking of McCarthy. Can we please see some creativity? 3rd & 1. Why not try a pass into the flat to the FB? What about a quick rollout that leads to a 3 yard down & out to the WR or the TE. There's no innovation. It's predictable. It's bland. It's boring. It's frustrating. My wife thinks I'm a genius because I can predict 75-80% of the plays when we are under center.
Our OL is pathetic. We don't provide enough time for Rodgers & we are not opening holes for Grant. Tauscher & Clifton have aged mightily over the offseason. And the Colledge experiment seems to be a failure. We consistently try to run behind him and we consistently fail. To a degree, the same could be said for Spitz.
Grant is missing the cut-back! He made his living with a 1-cut running style last year. This year, he's simply pounding into the line. Look for the cut-back. It's available. Coach him up, Mike!
At the beginning of the year, it seemed we were built for special teams. Two weeks in a row, we've been demoralized on special teams. Frost was signed for his angled punting and good hang time. Instead, they're down the center of the field, short, and low. A recipe for disaster. He was supposed to be good at downing the ball inside the 20. Instead, they're bouncing into the end zone.
I have not lost hope. If we win more than we lose this year, we've had a good year. If we grow as a unit, this remains possible. Most games are going to come down to the last 10 minutes. Don't get stressed. Remain positive. Watch our team either show progress or digress into a top 10 pick team.
This week - it's the Falcons. A game that, if healthy, we should win by 20. We aren't & I have no idea who is even going to play this week. Frankly, it makes a "take" impossible to write. If Flynn is our starting QB, the Packers lose. If Rodgers plays and is capable of throwing, I imagine the Packers can outgun the Falcons.
The Falcons are going to pound away at us. I imagine that Norwood & Turner will combine for 150 yards or more. They'll punish our decimated defense. But, ultimately, the awe of Lambeau will get to Matt Ryan. I'm still not convinced that he can play in this league. Our injuries force Bob Sanders to bring the blitz. We're in the young Ryan's face & turnovers fall into our lap.
Rodgers plays. Packers win.
Green Bay 27. Atlanta 23.