We're 1-0 baby!
Props to the fans of Lambeau for staying proud and true to the organization. Monday's effort provided a much needed supporting cast in a gorilla sized win over the hated 'Queens. Boots, Santa Wehner, Mom, Dad, Chico -> I have confirmation that you were in attendance. You all did your part. Thank you!
At times, the play was sloppy. A number of times, our O-Line lacked toughness and concentration. The D-Line lacked significant pressure out of the Front 4. The blocked FG was inexcusable. The win was sublime.
The Green Bay Packers and the G-Force showed great heart in times of tremendous adversity. I anticipate that the 2008 season will be full of nail-biting, stressful, action packed drama. Monday was just exactly that & it concluded with an exciting celebration. Just as he did last year in Minnesota, Ras-A-tari played thief on the 'qeens last ditched attempt to salvage a victory.
Can you say enough about Aaron Rodgers? How impressive! He attacked the vaunted Minnesota defense with the coolness of a veteran and the confidence of an All-Pro. Save the missed pass to Donald Lee and the fumbled snap & Rodgers performance was brilliant. Add on the Donald Driver TD and Rodgers has 250 yards & 2 TD's.
Two things stood out to me with Rodgers:
1.) For years, we have watched the Packers line up in a running play only to see Driver run a slant when he was on the same page as #4. The rest of the team expected run. Except for the QB/WR. We saw big plays out of Driver in this set. On Monday, it was the same thing. You cannot blame Moll as he was thinking run. Instead credit Driver and Rodgers for being on the same page. It was the first sign of chemistry clicking. What makes it even more exciting is that Driver's slant route was well defended and he audibled his route in mid-play. Rodgers saw the same thing. It was a work of art. Truly, a positive indication of things to come.
2.) During the mini-camp/training camp, we continuously read/heard that Rodgers had happy feet. He looked to run. On the 1st series of the game, the third play from scrimmage, the Packers faced 3rd & 4. Rodgers rolled right. He could have easily run for a 1st down right away. Instead he patiently looked down field for something to develop. He did not see anything and he still scrambled for 6 yards and a Packer first down. On that play we learned that Rodgers is looking to pass first and run second. Additionally, when he gets out of the pocket, he is still looking to make a play downfield. We saw that Rodgers was both smart enough to know where the yardage stick was and mobile enough to get there in front of a pursuing LB.
Rodgers will go through the trials and tribulations that first-year QB's must battle. He will see defenses that he has not see before. He will throw into coverage. He will make mistakes. I am prepared for all of these to occur this year. But, right now, it's time to harness in the positive play of his first test.
Monday Night might have marked AJ Hawk's best game as a Packer.
By the way, how bad must Allen Barbre be? For 6 months, we read that he was going to push for a starting guard spot. But, in Week 1, he was the 8th best OL on the roster? What a joke!
Poppinga still cannot catch. But, against the run, he & Barnett were pursuing with a menacing mentality.
Johnny Jolly & Ryan Pickett are an underrated run-stuffing combo. At the end of the 1st quarter, AP hit us for two carries that totalled 45 yards. Other than those two carries, AP's numbers were 17 carries for 58 yards or a 3.4 yards per carry. Jolly and Pickett were forceful.
One thing on AP. Much like Barry Sanders, you hated that he was in the Division. You hated that he played for the team that he does. You hated that he was a consummate threat. You hated his helmet. And his uniform. But, man, to watch him run. So elegant. I'm glad we don't see him again until November.
In Week 2, the Packers take on another NFC North enemy. In order for the Packers to accomplish the first goal - repeating as the NFC North Champions - the Packers must win in the Division. Therefore, Week 2 is another must win! Yes, it is absolutely a MUST WIN!
I have a hard time believing that the Lions are as bad as they were in Week 1 against the Falcons. After watching the replay of the game last night, I am convinced that the Lions are better than their Week 1 blunder. To state it lightly, the Lions got off to a slow start. Their defense gave up 2 big plays of 62 & 66 yards. A Calvin Johnson dropped pass led to decent field position and in the blink of an eye - it was 21-0 Falcons. The Lions never seemed to recover.
The Lions defense has tried to stock up on Buccanneer defenders. They have brought in Dewayne White, Dwight Smith, Ryan Nece, and Brian Kelly. Still, clearly, the Lions have a "Shaun Rogers" sized hole in the middle of their Defensive Line. Shaun Cody is an absolute sieve against the run. Jared DeVries is not a starting DE. In all, the Lions looked putrid against the run, but on pass downs they did show decent pressure on stunts. Langston Moore is a fighter. A below average football player, but he plays with heart and he is not afraid of taking a cheap shot. Chuck Darby is no threat.
Dewayne White & Cory Redding are their two best defensive lineman. Both can pressure the QB. Both rush with passion and are a threat on passing downs.
Ernie Sims finds the football. He's aggressive. He's fast. Most of his plays are made 5-8 yards down field, but he's a sure tackler and a solid pass defending LB. He has game changing potential.
I thought Alex Lewis was below average at Wisconsin. I still think he's below average.
Simply put: Attack Paris Lenon.
Assuming Ryan Grant is healthy, the Packers should have success running the ball against the Lions defense. The Falcons have a similar zone blocking scheme and the Packers should be able to mimic the Falcons tactics. I know B-Jack had a big game against the Lions last year in Green Bay, but I do not trust a repeat performance. If Grant is limited, I hope Lumpkin gets his carries. In fact, I predict we see Lumpkin getting carries this week. Lumpkin cuts back well and falls forward on contact.
While Dwight Smith and Brian Kelly are good additions to the Lions defensive backfield. They still do not have the manpower to match up with the Packers arsenal at WR. Especially if James Jones is healthy. Line 'em up. Spread 'em out. Let Aaron Rodgers go to work.
Offensively, the Lions are dangerous. They'll spread us out and attack out of the shotgun - much like we did last year. Kevin Smith showed his is an elusive back last week. Calvin Johnson, Shaun McDonald, Roy Williams, and Mike Furrey make up a dangerous 4-some at WR. Jon Kitna is a competitor but he is mistake prone. Rudi Johnson is a physical back-up RB.
In Week 2, the Lions jump out first. The annoying dome crowd is animated. Somewhat boisterous. The Lions offense takes spreads us out. They attack T-Mon & Al Harris. Both Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams make plays.
The crowd irritates our offense.
Kevin Smith is slippery. Sliding off of our defense which is not allowed to play our base defense. He picks up yardage in chunks. 4, 5, and 6 yards per carry. But, AK-74 makes a play and we hold to a FG.
Calmly, Rodgers collects himself and the offense finds their stride. Grant takes a hit and pushes forward for a 1st down.
It's play action and Rodgers is rolling right. He finds the TE for a 1st down. We did not see this play last week. Expect to see a 2 TE set. One of the TE's lined up on the weak side. Showing power left. Running formation. I'll be interested to see whether it is Humphrey or Lee who is lined up on the right side.
Rodgers shows patience as he hits Driver over the middle. Exposing Lenon's weakness in coverage.
Lenon's lack of awareness comes into play on a number of occaions throughout the game as the Packers bury the Lions with crossing routes.
The Lions stay competitive. They're going to score points. They're going to threaten our offense deep down the field. They're going to test our defensive patience. McDonald will knife away at us for a couple of short receptions on short down and outs.
We are built to play special teams in 2008. We win the field position battle, which is necessary in a road game against a Division foe. We see Mason Crosby's kickoffs at the goal line and beyond. We see Derrick Frost's angled punts limiting return yards for Mike Furrey. We see Havner, Montgomery, Hall, Hunter, T-Mon flying down the field and making tackles without much threat. We see Willie B. looking special on both kickoff and punt returns and flipping the field. We dominate special teams. We win the third aspect of the football game. Welcome to the 2008 version of the Green Bay Packers.
And in the end, we witness the changing of the guard at the back-up RB spot. I've been asking for it for weeks. It comes via injury on Sunday. It's Lumpkin pounding away from short yardage for a Packer TD. Couple Lumpkin's TD with a late Kitna interception and the Packers fans are dancing in the streets at 2-0.
Green Bay 34. Detroit 27.
No matter where we go, the Packers are the Lions of this Kingdom.
Give me that Reggae beat,
***It was a heartfelt goodbye to Brett Favre last week. He was sparkling. A vintage performance. One for the archives. Interesting to note: Both the Jets and the Packers had an opportunity to throw for a game clinching 1st down late. In both occasions, the team ran the football only to need a late interception to seal the victory.
This week- the Jets stake their flag in the AFC East as they defeat the Patriots in New Jersey. Again, the Packers take another step towards a 2nd round draft pick.