Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Packers 16, Tampa 17. K Ryan Longwell has been automatic under 45 yards for the past few seasons, and his two misses, including the missed extra point were the difference. Is Longwell struggling with P B.J. Sander holding? It might be time to bring QB Doug Pederson out of retirement just to hold kicks, then send Sander to NFL Europe to work on his holds (just kidding). This has to be fixed immediately.

10 to 1. The ratio of Packer turnovers against versus recovered. If you don't feel like blaming Longwell or Sander, then the turnovers are to blame. If this ratio were 1 to 1 (or 2 to 2, etc.), then the Packers would beat Cleveland and Tampa. Plus they would have had a shot against Detroit, but the offense was really struggling anyway at Detroit. If Favre stops all the turnovers, this team is on its way to a division championship. But can they do it?

Favre's interceptions and the running game could be improved immediately if the Packers would just stop being so incredibly predictible on offense. When backup RT Kevin Barry comes in as tackle eligible; its a run play. When Barry is off the field; its a pass play. I haven't tracked Barry coming in and out of the game on every play, but Barry's presense in the huddle is a very reliable sign. Barry isn't apparently helping the running game either, because RB Ahman Green hasn't rushed over 20 times in any one game or rushed for over 100 yards.

Favre's first interception was a deflection that lucky bounced at CB Brian Kelly. Tampa did miss at least two interceptions, once when WR Robert Ferguson cut a route short and another when Favre didn't see the middle linebacker playing center field. But the other two big interceptions by S Will Allen happened because the Packers offense is too predictable. Both happened when Barry wasn't in the game (attention defense: a pass playing is coming!) and S Will Allen was playing deep. Allen came over from the middle of the field in both plays to make the interception.

The defense has struggled with pass coverage, pass rush, and creating turnovers. The run defense has played well through three weeks, and RB Cadillac Williams only ended with big numbers because he had so many opportunities and finally had a few big rushes when the defense was wearing down at the end of the 4th quarter. DE Aaron Kampman had been quiet the first two weeks, but he abused RT Kenyatta Walker and put a lot of pressure on QB Brian Griese. DE KGB didn't make a lot of plays, but LT Anthony Davis was called for several penalties trying to stop him. The defense is not losing games for the Packers.

The bottom line is that the offense is too predictable. The predictability is crippling the run offense and forcing Favre to throw into too much coverage. The Packers offense can be much better and Mike Sherman should know how to fix it.

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