Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Monday Morning Quarterback

Packers rebound from a tough loss on a short week to give Da Bears a good thrashing.

Cut Graham Harrell! Who needs a back-up QB in Green Bay when you’ve got a punter with a perfect passer rating in a Bears game! That’s right, sports fans: Tim Masthay was 1-for-1 for 27 yards and a touchdown and a perfect 158.3 passer rating. On the other sideline, Jay Cutler’s line looked a tad bit sorrier than our punter’s: 11-for-27, 126 yards, 1 TD and four picks for an anemic 28.2 on the old passer rate-o-tron. 

All seriousness aside, when a straightforward guy like Mike McCarthy pulls out a trick play, you have to just stop and marvel at it. And it wasn’t your ordinary risk he was running. That was fourth-and-26, not some sneaky attempt to pick up four yards and a first down. That was a shot at six points all the way and it set the Packers on fire after that.

Some great things to see in this game and a few not-so-great:

  • Great - Donald Driver! After being totally absent last week and generally missing this week, he runs a perfect route and provides the dagger score after a turnover. He’s only on the field because Gregg Jennings was inactive but I think the Packers may try to get him some more work after that play. Fantastic!
  • Not great - Marshall Newhouse. I know this guy is young but much of the hammering Aaron Rodgers was subjected to can be traced right back to big number 74. He had a big task tonight, taking on Julius Peppers much of the time, but he did not fare too well. He’ll get better but the Packers need to give the guy more help and not leave him on an island against a premiere pass rush.
  • Great - Clay Matthews. This guy was all OVER the freaking field! He tied for the lead in tackles (4) and assists (3) and recorded 3.5 sacks on the evening. He even tipped a pass and was all up in Cutler’s face all night long. 
  • Not great - Replacement Refs. When Clay Matthews wasn’t performing rectal surgery on Cutler, he was being held and held in obvious and egregious fashion. On one play (that lasted quite a while as Cutler scrambled about) the offensive tackle (whom I’ll refer to as Mr. Holdy McHoldster) grabbed Clay by the helmet, held on (with both hands) and twisted him around until the whistle blew, Matthews ending up at the feet of the ref who was looking right at him the whole time. No flag. And that head ref, (who I swear taught me remedial math in 9th grade), seemed a bit befuddled all night long. Perhaps it was past his bedtime or maybe he thought he was working a lacrosse match ‘cause he sure as all get-out wasn’t familiar with the game of football.
  • Great - Cedric Benson. The guy was a dud last week but he made a real impact in his first foray in a Packer uniform against his old team. He had 20 attempts for 81 net yards and caught 4 passes for 35 yards. If he can keep this up, he will become not just a distraction for opposing defenses so Rodgers can light them up, but a real offensive weapon that teams will have to scheme how to stop. Nice to see that.
  • Not Great - Dropped passes. Listen to me, Packer receivers (and I’m looking right at you Finley) if the NFL MVP drops back and throws the ball to you and hits you in the hands, YOU HAVE TO CATCH THE BALL! And Finley, I am so out of love with you. You are a pretty good player on early downs but if the ball comes to you on third down, you suddenly come down with a case of stone hands. You want to be a star in the NFL? Catch the damn balls. Catch the really important ones.
  • Great - Packer interceptions. Tramon Williams got two, Woodson got one and McMillan got the first one of his career. YAH! Nothing is more deflating to a team than giving up turnovers and four of them is nigh-on impossible to recover from. THIS is the kind of defense we like to see. This is late 2010-style defense. It all starts with the pass rush and (if we’re lucky) ends with picks. 

It was very, very important for the Pack to come away with a victory, bordering on must-win. To be 0-2, down by two games to the Bears, even this early in the season, would have been a big, deep hole to climb out of. This is the toughest September schedule in a long while for Green Bay and they showed character, swagger and poise in this victory. It wasn’t pretty (unless you call sacking Cutler seven times pretty) (hmmm...I guess that would be pretty, now that I think about it) and it certainly wasn’t perfect, but it was a huge win and will hopefully propel the Packers to bigger and better things.

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