Our memories are short. We don't remember what this feels like. After being righteously spoiled for a 22 game stretch, as fans, we are in a distasteful state of mind. Kind of like the team that we follow.
Here are my takeaways from the loss to the Colts:
* Most seem to be blaming McCarthy, Capers or the loss of Philbin. All are convenient, easy thoughts. For me, it's not the case. For the most part, I've liked our schemes and play calling. But, sometimes, in sports, it's not about the coaching. It's about the players. Coaches put players in position to make plays. Players are supposed to make those plays. And, this year, the Packers players aren't making plays. No one is making plays. Take - for instance - the first drive of the game. 3rd & 6. McCarthy gets Nelson isolated on the outside. Nelson beats his man. Last year, this was 6 points. This year - Rodgers missed Nelson. Incomplete pass. Packers punt.
* Play of the game last week: 3rd & 2 from the Packers 28. 3rd Quarter. Packers leading the Colts 21-3. Game seemingly in hand. One more solid drive and the Packers can deliver a 3rd Quarter dagger. 3 wide to the left. 1 to the right. McCarthy calls a bubble screen to Cobb. He wants the ball in Cobb's hands. I loved the design. Would have had a first down. Easily. Instead, Rodgers looks right. Similar to the final 3rd down play a week earlier against the Saints. Rodgers looks for Jones in man-coverage. His throw is off target. It's intercepted. The Packers never regained momentum. Never. Maybe I'm being too critical, but we've come to expect magic from #12. He's as cerebral as anyone in the game. He's as accurate as anyone in the game. But, thus far in 2012, his mental game and accuracy have not been what we're accustomed to seeing throughout his career. Oddly, in the last 8 games in which Rodgers has started at QB, the Packers are 3-5. With that said, he's the NFL's MVP. He's a Super Bowl MVP. He'll get it turned around.
* Continuing with the thread of not making plays, no one loves Sir Charles more than me. But, come on, man. How many picks are going to hit him in the hands before he grabs another? He's dropped 3 in the last two games. None of them have been easy, but we're accustomed to seeing him make those plays.
* T-Mon & Sammy Swagga also had opportunities to provide game changing plays. Neither held onto the football.
* The Packers haven't been able to seize the moment. 3rd & 12. Late in the 4th. A stop and the Packers move to 3-2. Burnett gets stymied by a RB. Clay has Luck from the blindside, but can't seal the deal. Players need to make plays.
* Nick Perry. Watched a lot of him in college. Loved his intensity. He attacked lineman. Today, he seems to be thinking rather than playing. He is lacking instincts. Just play, Nick. Just play.
* Speaking of Perry, that penalty on the sack was absolutely terrible. A game changer. It was 14-0. The Packers were in complete control. The Packers recovered the fumble. Would have been 21-0. Frankly, as my good friend Stack said, "it's penalties like that which are encouraging me to watch less of the NFL than I've ever watched in my life." It's not your Grandpa's and your Dad's NFL anymore. I'm not sure what's a penalty and what's not a penalty.
* The Packers need better ILB play. DJ Smith seems to be a step slow. He struggles in coverage. AJ Hawk has been decent, but all of his plays seem to be 3-6 yards down field. Nothing behind the line of scrimmage. Ever.
* The pass-rush from the DL has been a yawner. Yes, it was nice to see Mike Neal recording a sack. Overall, though, I thought Neal was less active than I hoped. Worthy has been a disappointment. He's getting stuffed - with no movement - way too much.
* Donald Driver, thanks for the memories. You're a Packers Hall of Famer. But, the old-man clock is ticking. In his limited reps, we have no time for dropped passes. I'm at the point where I'd like to see Jarrett Boykin active for a game. I'd like to see him in action. Throughout the pre-season, Boykin had stellar hands. Right now, this offense needs consistency. Boykin offered consistency when he was on the field.
* Sammy Swagga seems cursed. He's playing great football when he's lined up on the outside, but man, these pass interference calls are absolutely ridiculous. Absolutely unjustified.
* Randall Cobb is fast emerging as an ELITE player in the NFL. He's been my favorite Packer in the 2012 campaign.
* Cedric Benson. Injury. Out 8 weeks. Ouch.
* Alex Green, keep it going, kid. Keep it going. Liked the bounce to the outside.
* Way to be Casey Hayward! The first interception in his NFL career! I'm on record as predicting that he'll get a minimum of 4 interceptions this year.
* Through 5 games, Randall Cobb is our Offensive MVP.
* Through 5 games, Clay Matthews is our Defensive MVP.
* Through 5 games, Tim Masthay is our Special Teams MVP.
2-3. Two games out of first. Heading into Houston to face the Texans. If it hadn't been for a Matt Schaub injury late in the year last year, the Texans might be the defending Super Bowl Champions. We're staring 2-4 dead in the face. And, this is when McCarthy teams have played their best football.
I believe the Colts loss is the 2nd worst in the McCarthy era. The worst being the 2009 loss to the Buccaneers in Tampa. We'll bounce back. If not this week, it'll be next week. This team has a long winning streak ahead of them. We've been close, we just haven't sealed the deal.
Through 5 weeks, the Texans are the NFL's best team. With or without Cushing. On both sides of the ball, this team dominates the line of scrimmage. JJ Watt, Shaun Cody, Connor Barwin, Brooks Reed, and Whitney Mercilus have been intimidating. Their OL is underrated. The OL consistently opens holes in their zone running attack.
In order for the Packers to beat the Texans, we have to stop the run game. Not just Arian Foster, but Ben Tate as well. We all know the damage that Foster can do, but Tate has emerged as one of the best back-up RB's in the NFL. Tate's success might be scheme related, but nonetheless, he's been great when given opportunities.
The Texans offensive design is as dynamite as anyone in the NFL. They use the run to set up the play action. Then they hit you deep. We all know what Andre Johnson brings to the table, but Kevin Walters is a reliable 2nd option. He can get over the top. He's a solid route runner. He'll challenge our secondary as well. Once again, DJ Smith's coverage skills will be tested. This time, it'll be Owen Daniels who'll threaten significant damage to the Packers defense.
So far, the Texans defense has been tough to move the ball on. But, their competition has been light. Big plays can be made. But, we'll need to slow down the pass rush with either a run game or more likely, the screen pass. Let's get Alex Green in the open field. Early in the game - likely the first drive - look for the aggressive Texans defense to be tested. McCarthy tries to get his guards into the 2nd line of defense and the ball into Green's hands. Green on the screen, good things might happen.
If our WR's return to their 2011 form, the Texans cannot cover us on the outside. They can't. But, if we're mediocre, like we have been throughout the first 5 weeks, we're going to be in trouble. Big trouble.
The guess is this: Rodgers finds his stride. Hits his rhythm. It becomes a shootout. And, finally, the football gods smile on us. And, once again, everything is right in the world.
Packers 34. Texans 30.
Play by Play. Move on. Think positive thoughts. We knew this would be a frustrating start to the season. Youth requires patience. But, we're getting to a spot where wins need to be present. Or the season will be lost. A season with so much promise will suffer in despair. Unite, G-Force. Unite. We still have another with the Bears. We have two with the Viqueens. We can get back in this thing. But, it won't come without frustration. We expected our best football to come towards the end of the year. We just have to make certain that those games still have meaning. We need a win.
Go Pack Go!