Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Packers 38, Chicago 23. The Packers went up 17-0 by the end of the first quarter and the second half just felt like garbage time because of the big early lead. But the fact that a mediocre Chicago offense was still able to score 23 points, on a number of scoring drives because Chicago has trouble scoring touchdowns against anybody, is an ongoing concern.

First Quarter: Boom! On the Packers second drive, Ahman Green rips off his 60 yard run and freezes Jerry Azumah on one of the best moves by a running back I have seen this season. Javon Walker had a key block on the play which is great to see because the best rushing teams have solid blocking from their receivers. Chicago's offense plays like they are always in the red zone; nothing is drawn up more than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. Chicago has quality receivers and Kordell Stewart can throw it down the field. They need to open up this offense if they want to succeed. Watching the Packers drive for a field goal, it seems like Chicago plays with only 9 men on defense. Their outside linebackers, Warrick Holdman (coming back from a serious injury) and Brian Knight (first year starter), are not involved unless Knight is committing a penalty. Brian Urlacher has great range but he can't cover the entire middle of the field by himself. Paris Hilton is at the game wearing an Urlacher jersey? Would someone please remind Urlacher that hanging out in the Playboy mansion did not do Cade McNown's career any favors. Has a celebrity relationship with an NFL star ever been successful? Blocked punt! Special teams was MIA last season; keep it up! Green shows his power game by running through a Chicago player and into the end zone. Great way to end the quarter. Packers 17, Chicago 0.

Second Quarter: Brett Favre throws an interception. I don't know if Favre's throw was too weak or if Walker ran his route too long, or maybe a bit of both, but its the only turnover and its not critical. I'll bring it up again about Walker; he has obvious talent but he just isn't running great routes yet. He is still a work in progress. Chicago starts running Stewart, which is a good idea because he is successful at it, but they are an Stewart rushing injury and Chris Chandler concussion from seeing if Rex Grossman is ready (probably not) so Chicago should be frugal with running Stewart. Great run by Anthony Thomas (fortunately called back by David Terrell's tackle of Antuan Edwards) and makes me question why Chicago isn't playing this guy full time? He looks like a big back, and he ran away from the supposedly fast Nick Barnett on the long run. Antonio Chapman is so much better than any return man the Packers had in 2002. Chapman had a couple of returns in the game that seemed like he was one tackler away from a touchdown. I don't know why the Packers picked up Reggie Swinton from Dallas on Tuesday, because Chapman is the guy I want to see returning kicks until he runs himself out of the job. I love seeing William Henderson catch passes (including the touchdown) because it shows how the Packers are spreading the ball around, keeping players involved, and making the defense respect all of the ball carriers and receivers. Chicago drives for another field goal, but you need touchdowns to come back when you were outscored 17-0 in the first quarter. Packers 24, Chicago 6.

Third Quarter: Nice opening drive by Chicago stopped by a Na'il Diggs interception. The Packers defense isn't a great defense, but they are very good at creating turnovers, and that is how this defense is going to stop good offensive drives. Nifty fake field goal attempt, too bad it didn't work, but it was as good as a punt. Stewart's running gets Chicago another field goal, but they still need touchdowns. Three long drives take up most of this quarter. Chicago has to stop nickel and diming the Packers if they want to get back in this game. Packers 24, Chicago 9.

Fourth Quarter: Boom! Thomas does a replay of his touchdown run called back earlier in the game, this time running away from Darren Sharper. Thomas should be starting full time in the NFL. On both of Thomas's long touchdown runs, Edwards was the key because after Thomas got past Edwards, he was gone. This is Edwards fourth start of the season at strong safety, and maybe he started at the position one or two other times in 2002. He still has to learn the position and make those touchdown saving tackles. Sharper blitzed to the wrong gap on the line, but Edwards has to hold those long runs to ten to twenty yard runs. Chicago's defense is tired (and not very good) and Green runs right at them and Favre does a nifty bootleg with a nice move by Walker to ditch his defender for a wide open touchdown. Walker showed his inconsistancy by looking like a rookie on the earlier interception, and a quarter later he looks like a veteran on a touchdown catch. Nice answering touchdown. Stupid clipping block by Olin Kreutz ends any Chicago hope of another touchdown drive, and the Packers unleash Bubba Franks (who should be more involved in this offense) and get an iffy pass interference call to score again. A three man backfield (a rare Nick Luchey sighting) fakes the power run so Franks can find himself open in the back of the end zone. Chicago comes up with another touchdown drive, but it takes too long. This is the concern of the defense, because an offense like Chicago's can actually make plays against it. I don't know how this happened on the onside kick but a guy who is banged up (Robert Ferguson) ended up being the guy trying to make the play, which was probably not the best strategy. But Diggs comes up with his second interception to end any Chicago dreams of comeback. Packers 38, Chicago 23.

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