Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Packers 28, Jacksonville 25. The good news is that this game truly didn't matter. When the Packers beat Minnesota next week, the Packers essentially assure themselves the #3 seat and the NFC North championship. A Packers loss would result in the top wild card spot and a game at probably Seattle (someone has to win the NFC West). All the problems that resulted in the Packers loss were fundamental problems with the team that aren't going to be fixed this season if ever.

First Half: Jacksonville scores an easy TD. Who's fault is it? Just about everyone (defensive coaches and players) can take some blame. QB Brett Favre/RB Ahman Green fumble in the red zone (1 of 3 red zone turnovers). Fumbles and Green just seem to go together and there is nothing to be done about it. Then the defensive penalties start...Are the Packers defensive players frustrated or poorly coached or both? All 3 top CBs Al Harris, Ahmad Carroll and Joey Thomas keep constantly grabbing the receivers. Jacksonville has two of the top DTs in the NFL in Marcus Stroud and John Henderson, rookie 3rd string C Scott Wells held his own, and he even handled Henderson one-on-one on a big Green run play. Great heads up play by FS Darren Sharper (everyone on both sides gave up on an apparent incompletion except Sharper who stripped the ball from an offensive lineman who picked up the ball and ran in it for a TD). K Ryan Longwell missed his first field goal within the 40 yard line in a long while and it cost in this game (this again isn't a problem that needs or can be fixed but it cost the Packers big in this game). Overall it was a very poor half with a lot of Packer turnovers and penalties. Packers 10, Jacksonville 14.

Second Half: TE Ben Steele has been useless for weeks, but he caught a couple of short passes in
this game and finally started to show his usefulness. The Packers took advantage of their blocker overload on short yardage running plays to set up the TD pass to WR Donald Driver (who is sneaking up on an outstanding season). They had been overloading blockers to the strong side all season, usually ran for the short gain for the first down, and used that tendency to set up the TD pass. How did the Packers run defense set up a big RB Fred Taylor TD run? Everyone (coaches and players) can take some blame. Sharper blitzed to the wrong side and took himself out of the play (was it his fault or a bad scheme?), DT Cletidus Hunt was blocked by one blocker and pushed out of the hole, NT Grady Jackson was blocked by the left guard one-on-one, if either Hunt or Jackson had occupied more than one blocker then the center couldn't have come out and blocked LB Nick Barnett out of the play, and finally SS Mark Roman (who has had a bad last few games and might have played his way out of the lineup for next season) took a bad angle and couldn't make the tackle. Maybe LB Hannibal Navies should be the middle linebacker (he is bigger than Barnett) because he showed again that he can't cover anybody. Rookie DE Corey Williams had a lot more playing time this game and made some plays to show that he might be a starter next season. How many times can Favre throw an interception in the end zone? In this game, the answer is twice. The interception to CR Rashean Mathis in the end zone was a true stinker (Favre just lost sight of him) and Mathis's second interception appeared to be caused by the cold when Favre's out pass just lost its zip across the field. FS Deon Grant's interception was a great play on Grant's part with perfect timing. How can coach Jack Del Rio defend SS Donovan Darius's attempt to take WR Robert Ferguson's head off? That was the most vicious attempt to intentionally hurt a Packer since DT Warren Sapp broke LT Chad Clifton's hip a couple of seasons ago and it can't be defended. WR Antonio Chatman got his first TD reception for his career, which is great for him since he has played better than now injured WR Robert Ferguson and truly is the 3rd wide receiver. The Packers almost got the onside kick, but that was a long shot anyway. Packers 25, Jacksonville 28.

Overall the Packers should just forget about this game, threaten to amputate the cornerbacks' hands if any of them keep grabbing at the wide receivers, and go win in Minnesota next week.

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