Friday, November 29, 2013

Lions embarrass the Packers in every possible way in historic Thanksgiving ass-kicking

I am thankful for many, many things in my life. I have great co-workers, tremendous friends, a wonderful family. I live in place and time overflowing with great beer, great places to ride my bike and great entertainment opportunities. However on Thanksgiving, I was most thankful for Mrs. MMQB. Aside from the fact that she’s a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother and all-around great partner in life, I’m thankful for the fact that she ignores what I say.

Ever since the Packers schedule came out and I knew we had a Thanksgiving game against the Lions, I told her (in every forceful manner possible) that our Turkey Day meal needed to occur after the end of the game. 3-3:30 or so, due to the 11:30 AM kick-off. Such a simple thing, right? Well, as she often does, she ignored my simple request and planned our (wonderful) fest smack dab in the middle of the game. Having been married for 33 years, I know when to relax and accept the inevitable - you learn to pick your battles and I knew this was one I wasn’t going to win. So why am I so thankful she did what she did? I got to miss almost the entire second half of one of the most embarrassing losses in Packer history. For that, Mrs. MMQB, my love, I will be eternally grateful.

As soon as the after-dinner conversation wound down and the clean up began, of course I had the TV turned on, just missing the end. Having watched or listened to the first half and a bit of the third quarter, I was under no illusions as to the outcome - there was no way in hell that team I had seen was going to win a football game that day. As the FOX studio commentators discussed the game, it slowly dawned on me that it wasn’t just another loss I had missed. Soon I saw the video evidence and was so despondent that I was unable to watch any more football the rest of the day, one of the true joys (for me) of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Being the sad and pathetic masochist I am, I just had to go online and check out all the stats and all the video, just to ensure that the gaping wound that was this game was open, raw and completely seasoned with salt. Not dinner table salt, I mean the big, rocky kind they spread on the roads when it snows. Yeah, that’s the ticket...GRIND it in there! You know which of the low-lights hurt the worst? The safety. Oh, that stung. Here you have a double-team on Suh, the Lions best (and worst) defensive lineman. He not only beats two supposedly professional offensive linemen, he swims through their feeble efforts like they’re not even there. He then swarms over Matt Flynn like he’s a grade-schooler and then, just as he is about to sling him forcefully to the turf, he lets up! Yes, that’s how bad the Detroit Lions beat our Packers on Thursday. It was so bad Ndamukong Suh, possibly the dirtiest player in the NFL, took pity on our quarterback. 

In the first quarter, the Packers were able to put up their entire pitiful scoring output of the day in the form of a weak drive that ended in an XL field goal by Mason Crosby and a strip sack by Perry resulting in a fumble recovery for a TD. That’s right, Cheesehead Nation, the great and powerful Packer offense, facing an entirely forgettable Lion secondary, could not generate any points or even more than one penetration into enemy territory to justify trotting the FG team back out. That’s not just bad, it’s awful.

I guess we need to be thankful that the Lions were so bad at ball security (2 interceptions, 2 fumbles, 7 points given up) on Thursday. Thankful it kept the Pack in the game? Please. The Pack was NEVER in that game. No, I’m thankful the Lions kept giving us the ball because if they hadn’t, they would have put up 70 points. Or more. I’m not sure we Packer fans could have survived that.

I know we are going to hear the drumbeat, over and over again, during the next 12 days, for the immediate dismissal of Dom Capers, Green Bay’s defensive coordinator. His troops were so inept at every phase of the game, it became almost comical. Do you think any of the Packer defensive backs had ever seen a slant pattern? Sure didn’t look like it to me. Do you think any emphasis was put on covering Calvin Johnson? You know that big guy nicknamed after a giant Transformer character? Didn’t seem like they thought it wise to cover him at all. Do you think after the awful tackling performances over the last month something might have been mentioned about squaring up, wrapping up and taking running backs down? You know, like kids have been taught since their first practice as grade-schoolers? Didn’t seem like the defense was even aware that tackling was allowed in the NFL. So I think Dom Capers certainly has to shoulder his share of the blame for that awful, awful game. But to all of you “experts” who will call for his heard, I say “shut the hell up.” This wasn’t about scheme or technique or about calls. It was completely, 100% about lack of execution by every man, up and down that defense. Will firing Dom Capers heal the injured? Will it keep Hawk from getting caught up in the wash of blockers? Will it help Matthews beat a triple team? Will hit magically transport Shields or Williams into a position where they are actually covering the receiver instead of chasing him or locking down an empty patch of turf? I’m not giving Dom a pass here (it may well be time for new blood), I’m just saying it takes all eleven guys on the field completely screwing up to absorb an ass-kicking of this proportion.

This was the game we had to have: beat the Lions and you still remain relevant in the NFL. So it was time for the Packers to step up and prove their mettle on a national stage, with every NFL fan in the world watching. Sadly, they played their worst game of the year, possibly their worst in the last decade. It proved they do not belong in the elite and will have to take a long, hard look in the collective mirror to figure out how to get back there.

One other thing we should all be thankful for: we should thank our lucky stars this truly bad Packer team is going to be sitting at home and watching games with the rest of us in January.  Sure, the return of Aaron Rodgers will improve the offense a great deal and I suppose it could magically heal the defense (as his injury seemed to magically degrade it) and the Packers could, in theory, win out and end up 9-6-1. But 9 wins won’t be good enough for a wild card in the NFC - you’d have to win the North to get in. The Lions and/or Bears could go into an absolute tailspin and the unlikely could happen. But imagine if a so-so team like the Lions (and the Vikings, Giants, Eagles and Bears) can dominate and embarrass this team, what kind of beat-down one of the truly elite teams would administer. No, Rodgers can’t fix the offensive line, one of the absolute strengths of the team over the first half of the season and now one of the absolute weaknesses. Rodgers can’t help our terrible secondary cover opposing receivers and he can’t tackle for the defense either. If I were Mike McCarthy, I would seriously be considering putting Rodgers on the IR and calling it a year, taking whatever humiliation the last month of the season dishes out. It couldn’t possibly be any worse that what they got on Thanksgiving Day.

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