The Green Bay Packers got a taste of what the rest of the 2011 season will be like: 9 more teams, throwing everything and anything at them, trying to break the mystique of the Super Bowl Champion, trying to be the team that breaks up the winning streak and the perfect season.
But the Minnesota Vikings may have had the best opportunity of anybody: a new, unknown QB, throwing caution to the wind, plus what may be the best running back in the NFL in Adrian Peterson. They threw their best shot and came up short and I’m not going to rag on them: They found their QB of the future this afternoon and Christian Ponder will be a force to be reckoned with before the 2011 season is all over.
Win or lose, I’ve got some thoughts on this game and you, my friend, are going to have to sit hear and read them:
Lose: The Green Bay Packers have a real problem in the defensive secondary -- they give up too many easy third down conversions and too many yards after the catch. Call it “missing Collins” or call it “our best safety is using a club instead of a hand” but it’s real. Someday, somewhere, some quarterback is going to be able to make them pay for that (Ponder almost did) and then we are all going to wring our hands and ask ourselves what is wrong with our defense.
Win: Aaron Rodgers appears to be the poster child for unflappable quarterbacks in the NFL. Knock him down and he comes right back. Blitz him and he makes you pay. Get up by multiple scores and it’s only an opportunity to pad his stats. In a critical North game, he goes 24-for-30, 331 yards and 3 TD’s and the best statistical start for a QB in NFL history. When he dropped to the Packers in the first round of the 2008 draft, the best move Ted Thompson ever made (or may ever make) was to jump all over that and pick A-Rodg. Yes, Brett Favre was still the starter but TT had his eye on the future and can any of us really fault him right now? If you can, you’re really not paying attention.
Lose: As I’m typing this I’m watching the NBC SNF game and I just have to mention the vast superiority of the Faith Hill intro versus the Monday Night Football Hank Williams intro. What? Hank got dumped due to his Neanderthal-like political comments? Oh, well: I liked Faith better anyway.
Win: The Packers gave up over 200 yards rushing but only 219 through the air. This is a major victory: You Know Peterson is going to get his yards! He is just that good. But you have to keep him from winning the game and the Packers did that. Credit the defensive front (and Ryan Pickett who could have very well been held out due to a concussion) and the linebackers for making that happen.
Lose: I have no clue why Dom Capers didn’t do the “Unleash Hell” speech from Gladiator on Ponder. Rookie QB, first NFL start versus the SB Champs...and we spend the first half very, very soft on D.
Win: Despite that vanilla start, Clay Matthews played like a man on fire. He was in on tackles, he was in on pass defense and he was instrumental on run defense. For a guy who earns his money on the pass rush, he was doing an awfully good impression of a man on fire.
Lose: There is no lose in this segment. Or at least there wouldn’t have been had Randall Cobb done his job. He fumbled a punt that led to a ViQueen’s TD and he dropped a sure first down pass that probably would have led to a Packer TD or at least a FG. That’s a 10 to 14 point swing in a Division game. If you want to be the heir-apparent to Donald Driver, Randall, you have to make those plays.
Win: Lang tweeted that his junk is in stable condition and expected to recover fully. Good news. But let’s think about that: a player throws a punch and gets ejected but if he attempts to de-nut an opponent on a meaningless snap, he only incurs a 15-yard penalty on the ensuing kick. Time for the NFL to enforce something a little more nasty on that kind of personal foul. If Hawk gets $10K fine for flipping off his own sideline, what is that kind of play worth?