Monday, September 12, 2005

Packers/Lions Week 1

It took me less than 3 quarters to fire my hat into the wall. It usually takes longer than that, but yesterday had me ready to snap. I'm still speechless...I have been sitting here for 5 minutes trying to figure out how to follow up the previous sentence, and I don't have the words to do it.

Let's start with the good: Green ran well, even though he didn't get many opportunities to carry the ball (more on that later). BJ Sander is going to be a great punter (even though that was a lousy hold on the first FG). He had six punts for a 41.3 yard average, but more importantly, the ever-dangerous Eddie Drummond could only return those 6 punts for 12 total yards. Longwell is still money in the bank.

And the defense. Holy crap, the defense. They actually got some pressure on the QB (not sure how KGB got shut out in the sack department. I thought they'd credit him with at least 1 sack...2 half-sacks put together). The linebackers played decently well. And the secondary held the Lions "vaunted" receiving corps to 6 catches and under 100 yards. Williams, Williams, and Rogers were pretty much non-factors in the game. Mike Williams had a 3 yard TD, but that was his only catch of the day, and from the way the media was spooging over the Lions WRs coming into the season, you'd swear they were all going for 100 and a score every game. Mark Roman looked like a completely different player from last year. He actually made some plays, was a sure-tackler, and didn't go Ryan Mundy on us.

The bad: Favre was way off in that game. He missed about 4 deep balls down the field, and the only one he hit (to Walker) was called back on a push off that probably wasn't actually a push-off, given how that game was called. Wouldn't know though because Fox never showed a replay. He missed a couple more wide-open WRs. The three turnovers are excusable, IMO. The first (the fumble) is on Mike Sherman for not challenging it. It was clearly a forward pass. The second was a case of #1) Ferguson "Pinkstoning" the ball and #2) Not having a good replay of it. From the end-zone cam, it looked like the ball hit the ground. But I agreed that there was not enough evidence to overturn the call on the field. If they had ruled it incomplete it would've stayed that way. As such, they called it a pick and it stood. Fair enough. And the last pick was on a fourth down at the end of the game where he's just throwing it up.

Also bad was JWalk. Losing one of the top 5 receivers in the game for the rest of the season doesn't make me feel good about where this season is going. Thankfully Terrance Murphy should be back soon, and from all accounts he looked great before he went down. He's got deep-threat speed if nothing else. The bright side of JWalk being out is that I bet Drew Rosenhaus is pissed. That, if nothing else makes me smile.

The offensive line is going to get Favre killed. I'll be shocked if his consecutive games started streak doesn't come to an end this year, if that keeps up. Granted the Lions have one of the best front-fours in the league, but the interior of the line was just getting blown up. The most troubling play for me was when Tauscher got beat to the outside by Kalimba Edwards. Tauscher shouldn't be letting guys come in untouched. Favre was pissed at Will Whittacker after one play.

The playcalling was horrible. They had a nice start. The first drive they completed a couple passes, and ended up not being able to convert a second and 1. The second drive was 14 plays and got down to the goalline before the fumbled FG attempt. After that--I guess after the scripted first 15 plays--the offense sputtered.

They scored a FG on the next drive, but after that they went: 3 and out, halftime after a kneel-down, a fumble on a 3rd down sack that would've been a punt if Favre hadn't "fumbled", 3 and out, 3 and out, 3 and out, 3 and out, "interception" after 1 first down, interception after a nice drive to end the game.

The Packers had 0 first downs in the second half until the 3rd play of their 6th drive. The playcalling was uncreative, and the coaching staff panicked and started trying to make it all up on one play. Michigan did a similar thing against Oregon a couple years ago. They got down big, started throwing to play catch-up, but when they made it a one-possession game, they still didn't entertain the idea of running the ball. I remember we were down about 7 with 10 minutes left in the game and still never ran it. Favre threw the ball 44 times in this game, and for most of the game, the Packers were within one score. Green had close to 5 ypc, and that doesn't include about 30 yards in runs wiped out by penalties. They still insist on Favre chucking the ball downfield too often. He's never been a great deep-ball thrower, and after Walker went out he really didn't have a "deep threat" on the field. Not a good gameplan by Sherman and Rossley.

The ugly: The penalties. 14 for an even 100 yards. Not including several that were declined. The Lions had 4 and 3 of those were in the last 19 minutes of the game. So either the Packers are now coached by John L Smith, the Lions are the most disciplined team to ever play football, or we have a serious problem here. I have always shuddered when Jeff Triplette does a Packers game, much in the way Michigan fans tremble when Scott Hansen is out there in hockey.

Ahmad Carroll got flagged 4 times for using his hands on the receiver, and honest-to-God I think one of them was legit. I know he has a reputation, but they showed the replays of 3 of them, and there was nothing remotely looking like a penalty there. One time, Mike Williams pushed off of him using his elbow, but somehow that's illegal contact on Carroll. The big problem I have with this is that it's a free first down every time. If you're going to hold a player to that standard, then you god-damn better well hold everyone to that standard. The Lions four penalties were a BS PI call on Bryant, 2 block in the backs, and a legit PI call on Boss Bailey. So the officials are telling me that at NO point during that game did a Lions defensive back lay a finger on a Packers receiver after 5 yards? Please. The Packers put the ball up 44 times. And with the frequency that they were flagging the GB defensive backs, it's absolutely absurd that the Lions NEVER got called for one of those. Before GB's fumbled FG, Driver was mauled in the end zone on 3rd down. No call. They showed Bly chucking one of GB's receivers 10 yards down the field. No call. At 2:36 of the 4th quarter, Bly blatantly interfered with Ferguson. Nothing. Those are just the ones I noticed.

Final Thoughts: You can't blame the refs totally for this one, though I can't remember the last time I saw penalty numbers that skewed. Even Lions fans have to admit they got some gifts yesterday. The offense didn't execute, and they didn't capitalize on their few chances in Lions territory. They went on an inexcusable stretch where they went 3 and out on six straight possessions and followed that up with 2 turnovers.

That said, I came away from this game feeling great about the Packers. They usually only have about a 40% chance of winning in Detroit as it is, and the Lions usually win on opening day, so the loss is ok. They didn't lose any ground to the Vikings--who by the way didn't look like a Super Bowl contender, go figure. But losing Javon Walker is just a killer. In terms of his size, speed, jumping ability, and hands, he might be second to only Randy Moss. That's 2000 yards, and 21 touchdown the last 2 seasons going out of the lineup. Driver is capable of being a #1 WR. He made the Pro-Bowl doing it a few years back. Ferguson can get open, but after that the WR corps is really really thin. Hopefully Murphy can come in and make an impact, but rookie WRs seldom do.

I haven’t even mentioned the Lions thus far. Take nothing away from their defense. They’ve got a great front 7 and pretty decent DBs (Bly is excellent). They put constant pressure on Favre and didn’t give him time to find his open guys. The offense I was less-than-impressed with. Harrington actually had a pretty good game, but the triumvirate of Rogers, Williams and Williams did nothing against Green Bay’s shoddy secondary. I haven’t been drinking the Kool-Aid all along and I’m not about to start. Rogers hasn’t done anything in his career but break collar bones. Mike Williams is going to end up at tight end, because he’s just not fast enough to be effective at WR. His one catch came when he got open on a little out in the endzone and gave Joey Heisman a big target to throw at. Roy Williams is gonna be a great one though. But even he didn’t show anything yesterday. I was also surprised that Jones didn’t have a better game. He closed the year by leading the league in rushing the last 7 games, and Green Bay doesn’t have a great run defense. Even still, they were the better of the two teams offensively, and I can’t believe I just said that.

I just can't believe the Packers and Wolverines combined to allow 34 points this weekend and my teams went 0-2. Never would have believed that one before the weekend. The 47 total points scored in those 2 games is less than I would have expected in one game. The defenses kept the offenses in it and the offenses blew the chances they had. That's probably the worst offensive performance we'll see out of both teams all year, so I guess it's good they happened the same weekend.

Lastly, Torry Holt was channeling Brendan Morrison after the Rams loss yesterday to San Francisco.

And for the record, it was the "push-off" negating Walker's 50+ yard catch & ACL tear that had me chuck my hat into the window. After that I accepted that nothing was going to go right and they weren't winning that game. The rest of the game was just a big joke to me.


Rash said...

As a Lions fan, I will definitely agree with you that the penalties seemed to be very inconsistently-called. The Lions aren't exactly known for being a well-disciplined team, and I was shocked at how many penalties the Packers were getting.

While it's nice that we came out with a victory in the opener, I'm still not terribly optimistic about the season. Although, at this point, is there any team in the North that really looks to be positioned to take charge?

Packer487 said...

Yeah, it's been awhile since I've seen a game that one-sided. It makes me happy that even some Lions fans admit it. I'm not sure how Triplette still has a job. He's screwed up his share of games.

I was asking my friends how much they think a team owner would pay to guarantee that his team have Ed Hochuli every game. I bet it'd be a large amount.

The Lions have got a great defense and very good special teams. If Jones picks up where he left off last year they should be in the thick of things, even if I don't think much of Harrington and I think the WRs are overrated.

Minnesota--just like every year--is the sexy pick to win the division (or more!)...I have a hard time believing this year is any different from the years past.

I'd be confident about the Pack, but they took a huge hit with JWalk going down and I'm going to need to see the defense do it for a few more weeks before I'm a total believer (remember they looked like world beaters last year in week 1 against Carolina).

And the Bears still suck.

This division's wide open. It's going to be a fun race. But you're one looks ready to take charge, and the division winner might just be the team that screws up the least.

Tom said...

I didn't get to see the game because I was driving south, but I was able to listen to the first 3 quarters or so before I finally lost the station. On some of the Lions' first half drives, it was just unbelievable. The announcers would call an incompletion on 3rd down and long and I would think, "Same old Harrington, same old Lions." But then the announcers would be like, "wait, penalty on the play!" For about fifteen minutes there it was just incredible to be a Lions fan. I can only assume that it was a little lopsided because in the 15+ years of Lions dissapointment that I have followed, they have never been a particularly well disciplined team.

As for Minnesota being the division favorite, they sure didn't look like it on Sunday. I obviously hope that Detroit wins the division, but I also hope that the Vikings start playing Mewelde and that he carries them so that I don't look like such a schmuck over in the fantasy league.

Packer487 said...

At one point, every time there was an incomplete pass, I would yell "Illegal Contact, #28 defense" and sure enough, the little flag icon would pop up on the screen.

During a long return for the Packers, I was like "C'mon call something on Carroll"...flag icon pops up "Illegal block in the back, #28 of the return team"...then he corrected himself that it was #48. He was just used to saying #28. It was unreal.

Whatever though, GB played horribly. Favre played horribly, and they didn't deserve to win that game.

Heh, how you want them to play Mewelde was like how I wanted the Packers to start playing JWalk his rookie year. Took him in fantasy, got made fun of. He had a couple of nice games, but I had long since cut him. If it had been a keeper league though I wouldn't have done that. I knew that kid was gonna be good. I was just 1 year off.