I find it comical when I read the press and the utter negativity that surrounds the present state of our organization. I read blogs and others opinions and it's full of hate. Instead of rejoicing in a 26-0 victory, an emphasis is placed on our faults. Quite sickening, it is.
Sure, the penalties are unacceptable. Rodgers still held onto the ball too long. For the most part, the OL looked pathetic. Our running game is below expectations, even though Grant did rush for 90 yards. I was frustrated as Quinn Johnson blew up LB's to open up holes, only to have a guard not be able to sustain a block. But, the reality is that we SHUT OUT an NFL franchise. I believe that I read the Lions had not been shut out since 2001. I also heard that the Packers had not shut out the Lions since the 1950's. To me, these are significant achievements.
Don't get me wrong, I'm frustrated in McCarthy's tolerance for inexcusable performance. We consistent fail to hold ourselves accountable for our actions. I'm also disappointed by Thompson's refraining of veteran FA's. Additionally, I heard rumors of Joe Thomas being on the trading block. I would have offered Bishop, AK-74, Hawk and a 1st rounder for Thomas to be the pillar of Rodgers' backside for the next 12 years. Instead, the Packers remain at the center of trade rumors and on the outside looking in when the deadline passes.
Any way, I was stoked to see Ras-A-tari back on the field making the interception in the end zone to preserve the shut out. I was stoked to see Nick Barnett beat Kevin Smith to the corner on 4th & 1, which forced Smith to the inside where CM3 was able to make the play behind the line of scrimmage. I was stoked to see CM3 record 2 sacks in a game. Cullen Jenkins making a pick on a well designed screen play! Reading the play perfectly. AK-74 with his best game of the year, the first time he's looked comfortable. Ras-Al coming on the blitz and getting home! Double-D setting the Packers receptions record. Greg Jennings getting into the open field. James Jones getting deep on a beautiful look-off by Rodgers which created the wide open big play. J-Mike continues to impress. Jordy and T-Mon both looked strong returning kicks. Rodgers connected with 9 different receivers!
I'm not saying that we don't have a ton of work ahead of us. In fact, we're an average football team. But, with our schedule, we can do some damage. And, it's important to remember that in Week 5, the Detroit Lions were trailing the Super Bowl champions 28-20 late. They had the ball inside the 30 yard line and looking like they were to equalize. G-Force, a win is a win just as a loss is a loss. In the standings, this win is the equivalent of the loss to the 'queens. And, it's important for us to keep this in perspective. We also must remember that there's two ways to get into the playoffs: 1.) you win the division. 2.) you qualify for the wild card. After 5 games, we're in decent shape.
As fans, we become obsessed with the quality of team that we've defeated. We use that as THE barometer to measure ourselves. Whatever happened to the days of 1994? In '94, we squeaked out wins against bottom feeders such as the Jets & Rams. In no way were we dominant. However, as fans, we cherished those victories and thought of them as monumental. The only reason that '09 is different is because of the expectations we've placed on the season. Admittedly, I'm one of those that predicted great things. Even today, I still believe that we are in solid position to be playoff bound. And as the Giants displayed in '07, once in the playoffs, anything can happen.
This week, we have the Browns. Another contest in the 8 game swing stretch that will decide our season. As I think about this game, if we don't become arrogant and overlook this game, we should win it easily. But, we CANNOT look ahead to the November 1 show down. Stay focused on the task at hand.
As I mentioned this 8 game swing stretch will decide our fate. If you can't win at home and if you can't win against inferior teams in a league intended to breed parity, you may as well pack up your bags and start the offseason. I'm confident that we will perform.
A trip to Cleveland should continue to provide some much needed momentum to our locker room. Let's remember that Cleveland was an opponent that we demolished in the preseason when we looked primed for big things. But, in the same breath, let's remind ourselves that the Browns have played better over the last three weeks. They played the Bengals nose-to-nose for 75 minutes only to lose on the last play of OT. They beat Buffalo in swirling winds. They played the Steelers tough and were threatening midway through the 4th Quarter to make it a one-score game.
If you haven't been paying attention, Mohammed Massaquoi is quietly becoming a dangerous weapon for the Browns. Since Derek Anderson took over as the QB for the Browns 3 games ago, Massaquoi has 14 catches for nearly 250 yards. Anderson can throw the deep ball and Massaquoi is a deep threat. Expect the Browns to challenge T-Mon deep.
Josh Cribbs is the NFL's elite kick return man. He's averaging nearly 30 yards per kickoff and 17 yards per punt return. He's returned two kicks for TD's. It would not surprise me if Cribbs has a BIG return this weekend.
Chansi Stuckey recently joined Cleveland in the Braylon Edwards trade. He'll add a decent slot option for Anderson on short, check-down routes.
The right side of the Browns line is a couple of sieve's. AK-74 gets to the QB this weekend.
It's a homecoming-of-sorts for CM3. Too bad he has to go against Joe Thomas, one of the elite young LT's in football. It'll be an interesting challenge for CM3. If he can impress this week, it'll be a huge step in his development as a player. Over the next 2 weeks, we'll learn a lot about where CM3 is at in the early stages of his career.
Defensively, outside of Shaun Rogers, the Browns are vulnerable. Kamerion Wimbley, Brandon McDonald, Brodney Pool and Eric Wright are all young, athletic, aggressive and improving, but they are not ready to carry a defense. With the loss to leading tackler, D'Qwell Jackson, they have a major void in the middle of their defense. I'd attack the right side of their defense with Robaire Smith and David Bowens. I'd also go over the top of Abram Elam.
The Packers come out and grab an early 7-0 lead. Rodgers gets the TE's involved early. Lee & J-Mike both move the chains. Forcing the LB's to drop back in coverage, Grant breaks through the left side of the line for a 12 yard gain. It's Rodgers to Driver for a TD.
The defense holds and Rodgers goes to work. It's James Jones on a short ball. He goes back to the TE's. Again to Lee. Again to J-Mike down the seam. 10-0 Packers.
Midway through the 2nd Quarter, Cribbs turns the tide with a kick return. Mixing Jerome Harrison and Jamal Lewis, the Browns punch it in to make it 10-7. The Dawg Pound rises and makes life tough for Rodgers to close the half. 13-7 Packers at the break.
At 16-7, it looks like the Packers will pull away until Anderson finds Massaquoi deep. The Browns close to 16-14.
Then the Packers respond. Rodgers finds Jennings behind the defense and the Packers respond with a quick strike behind Abram Elam. 23-14 Packers.
Derek Anderson has thrown 6 interceptions compared to 2 TD's. With the Browns trailing, the offense becomes predictable and so do Anderson's results. Nintendo Nick steps in front of a pass and takes it to the house.
Rodgers finishes with 250 yards and 2 TD's. Grant tops 100 yards. We move to 4-2 and we're in the thick of the Wild Card Race.
Packers 30. Browns 14.
Welcome back Ahman Green. I hope you spend time with our youngsters educating them on what it means to be a member of the Green Bay Packers. I wish for you to elevate our mental state through veteran leadership. I believe that you can still give us 30 offensive yards a game. That would be an upgrade over what we're currently getting from our back-up RB's.
Finally, I'm presenting a solution to our red zone woes: BACK SHOULDER PASS TO J-MIKE! GET IT DONE!
Have a Little Faith,