As a prerequisite to writing this week, I required the influence of tequila. So, as I sit, a margarita rests by my side.
Growing up in Green Bay, some of my earliest childhood memories came in 1982 when I was 5 years old. I remember the 1st Packer game I went to against the Detroit Lions. On the way to the game, my Dad talked to me about Freddie Scott, a WR for Detroit. I thought it was so cool that a guy shared a name with me. Freddie Scott scored that day. I remember asking my Dad if I was supposed to cheer. He made certain that it was not OK to cheer for the opposition at Lambeau Field. I vividly remember the 1982 Wild Card playoff game against the St. Louis Cardinals. I went to the game with my Mom, my Dad, and my brother Chad. We sat in section 22. Beautiful seats. I remember watching John Jefferson score 2 TD's leading to the famous JJ & James Lofton high five! I remember Gary Lewis block a kick. I remember seeing Ezra Johnson sack Neil Lomax and throwing his arms in the air. I remember seeing Ezra Johnson in the mall the following day and then seeing Lynn Dickey at K-Mart later that same evening. In my youth, that was football ecstasy.
Since 1982, I've been a Green Bay Packers addict. Without counting, I'm confident that I've gone to over 150 games. Through the years, I've probably gone to close to 100 practices as well. I've always wore my Packer colors with great pride. Then came this past Sunday.
If at one time you lived in Green Bay and you no longer do, you'll be able to relate to my next paragraph: as a transplant, in some way, you feel like a Packers bully. You always value others opinions of the team. You love to read about them. You enjoy watching them on TV. But, in the end, you don't make your final judgment on the team until you've seen them in person.
For the first time in my life, as a fan, I was embarrassed. Of course, I was talking noise in the parking lot. Walking with confidence. Responding to nonsensical Favre jokes with an I'm over it type flair. And then, the team responds as though they were fake imitations.
Good teams don't lose that game. Teams with strong leadership don't lose those games. Championship teams don't lose those games. When is it OK to call AK-74, Driver, Woodson, Pickett, Barnett, Harris, Jenkins, Clifton, and Wells leaders? Not until we win, I guess. We need an influx of players that have played in a Super Bowl. Players that have tasted winning. Mix that with our youth to install a winning culture. Presently, our mentality is dreadful.
While it's nice to catch replays on the TV, I'd rather see what happens off the ball. Like how do WR's react on busted plays? What types of routes do our WR's run? How do RB's, TE's adjust to plays that are slower to develop when they are originally called upon to block? Are CB's taking plays off when the action appears to be directed towards the other side of the field. How do our LB's drop in coverage? These are things that are best seen in person.
Against Tampa, we failed. Miserably. It looks to me as though this team is lazy, unmotivated, and extremely predictable. Greg Jennings is clearly annoyed. He's lost confidence in Rodgers. I guarantee it. His body language shows it all. Busted plays used to lead to dump offs to our TE's, FB's, and RB's. Often times, they led to first down gains. Today, our team lacks football instincts. We're robotic. If we're initially instructed to block, forget the improvisation. It's not happening.
I've been extremely critical of Rodgers holding onto the ball too long. But, man, often times, he only has TWO guys running routes. And NO ONE releases for him. He has TWO options. Tampa often rushed 4 guys. We were running pass plays with TWO offensive players against SEVEN defenders. Terrible coaching imagination. No creativity. No faith in the front line. How can you blame McCarthy, I guess?
Where did the play action roll out pass to the TE go? You know the one where the TE immediately breaks off the line of scrimmage about 2-3 yards down field? Havner turned that into a TD against Cleveland, but why don't we see it more often? Rodgers is on the move. He's out of the pocket. Clearly, right now, Rodgers is afraid to step up into the pocket. He does not trust it, for whatever reason.
While Rodgers was learning to play QB in the NFL in the preseason, his greatest weapon was the crossing route. He was in great rhythm. He was able to get his WR's in position to grab yards after the catch. Today, whenever we run three WR routes with one crossing the face of the defense, Rodgers is slow to find him. He's always open. Normally, it's James Jones running the route.
I know we have injuries at WR, but I can't be convinced that Jake Allen is the best WR that we can find.
Defensively, I can't take watching AK-74 drop in coverage any more. It's annoying. It's frustrating. He left the game as he supposedly had a concussion. It sure felt like he had a bruised ego. He, too, is frustrated. It's all over his face. He used to be the guy standing first in line to watch the offense on the field. Now, he stands in the distance - three rows deep.
This defense needs desire. It needs attitude. Four defensive players were walking around like they wanted that game: Raji, Woodson, Harris, and Collins. The rest stood around hanging their heads with their hands on their hips. This defense does not intimidate. In no way.
Why is J-Bush on the field? Why? I saw that the Broncos picked up Ty Law. Why didn't we do that? Clearly, we needed another DB. Yet, we continue to allow for our team to lose games due to J-Bush giving up a big play.
Metaphorically, let me explain the difference between Ted Thompson in Ron Wolf. Ron Wolf wanted to like Lenny McGill. McGill was a decent gunner on special teams. Played hard. Was in a 2-year battle to become our Dime DB. He was given the role in 1995. We played the Steelers on Christmas Eve. If we won, we won the NFC Central. We had the lead in the closing seconds. On 4th down, McGill got smoked by Yancy Thigpen. Thankfully, Thigpen dropped the ball. That year, Wolf spent a 3rd round pick on Tyrone Williams. McGill never played another down in Green Bay. I'm not going to waste my breath rehashing the J-Bush story.
Paul Simon once sang, "and isn't strange that after changes upon changes, we are more or less the same. After changes, we are more or less the same." Such is life for the Green Bay Packers defense. In the offseason, we made immense coaching changes to top-grade our staff. Brought in a new intensity. A heightened passion for football. Still, Nick Barnett can't bring down a QB on a blitz. Still, we can't get off the field on 3rd down. Still, when the game is on the line, our defense can't get the stop we needed. Thus, we just lost to the worst team in the NFL. Miserable. Freaking pathetic. 4 games this year, our defense has had a chance to either win or game or keep us in a game in the 4th Quarter. In each game, we gave up points. Sure, eventually, we picked off Cutler on the last drive, but remember we gave up the lead late in the game on the possession before. In the last Minnesota game, if we would have stopped them after the Crosby missed FG, we would have still been in the game. Instead, it was 4 plays & 59 yards. We lack an identity on defense.
We're a miserable zone defense. It strips Nintendo Nick's playmaking sills. He is an artist at safety. He needs to be creative. Jumping routes. Playing free. We don't put enough pressure on the QB to play a zone defense. It's too easy to read. Our LB's can't cover in space. And our LB's can't get to the QB. We don't pursue with a viscous mentality.
Paul Simon must have also been talking about our special teams unit. Each week - our special teams unit fails us.
This week against the Cowboys is the job that could determine Mike McCarthy's career as coach of the Green Bay Packers. A loss and the Packers drop to 2-3 at Lambeau Field. We fall to 4-5 on the season. And Wild Card hopes are all but mathematically eliminated.
Frankly, it's hard for me to imagine a scenario in which the Packers win this game. Unless, of course, we play with EXTREME desperation.
DeMarcus Ware scares me. Miles Austin is terrific. Tony Romo is elusive. Marion Barber III is a bruiser. Jason Witten is a tough cover. Felix Jones is fast and tough to stop in the open field. Roy Williams & Romo are finding continuity. Mike Jenkins is a fast improving CB. Dallas is playing solid football.
But, the purpose of the blog is to provide a glimpse as to how the Packers can win each & every game. So here goes.
You have to be patient against the Dallas offense. Understand that they're going to pound away at you, but know that Jason Garrett will go away from constantly running the ball. You can't play zone. If you do, Romo will murder you. You have to man up against them. Beware of the long ball. Romo will go deep to Austin at least 2-3 times especially if matched up against T-Mon. It'll happen.
We're going to need Chuckie to jump an out pattern. Have him line up against Crayton in the slot. Crayton runs a solid down & out. Chuckie MUST jump one of these. If so, it'll be 6 points.
Romo also likes to take shots deep down the middle of the field. There will be an opportunity for a Safety to make a play. Once Romo crosses midfield, he's thinking about the HR strike.
We're going to need to force at least two turnovers in order to win this game.
Offensively, we must go in with a game plan in which we understand that Dallas will score at least 23 points. They will score at least 5 times in this game. So, we must be prepared to match them.
Short passes. Short passes. Short passes.
LET OUR WR'S RUN AFTER THE CATCH! PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! I'M BEGGING! PLEASE!
RUN THE SCREEN!
SHORT DROP TO THE TE!
Run the draw. No sweeps. Our OL can't hold their blocks.
Quick positive note - Quinn Johnson has done wonders for our running game.
More 3 step drops than 5 or 7 step drops. In fact, eliminate the 7 step drop. It's unnecessary. Aaron, get rid of the ball.
We need both Jennings & Driver to top 75 yards. Jones over 50 yards. Rodgers over 300 yards. Grant & Green helping with ball possession. We need at least 31 points.
Green Bay 34. Dallas 30.
Sorry for the rant.
Go Pack Go.