Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Packers 24, Cleveland 26. There was a lot of good with the offense and a lot of bad with the defense. The best that can be said about an 0-2 start is that the rest of the NFC North doesn't look much better.
First quarter: QB Brett Favre proved it was just one bad game in Detroit and scored a TD on the first drive. Unfortunately after this scoring drive, the offense was shut down until the 4th quarter. The Packers run defense struggled a little early, but then was excellent the rest of the game. The Packers started undrafted rookie LB Roy Manning, presumably for some more strong side run support, but that left LB Robert Thomas in coverage. Thomas has excellent speed, but he doesn't look good in coverage. LB Paris Lenon has looked good in coverage, but struggled during this game. LB Nick Barnett looks good in coverage at times, but he often struggles, such as in the 2nd quarter when a big pass interference penalty kept a Cleveland drive alive. The Packers haven't gotten quality pass coverage from a linebacker since LB Na'il Diggs was healthy in 2003.
Second quarter: Packers penalties on defense helped keep Cleveland's offense on the field and helped them sustain drives all quarter. The Packers offense did nothing when the did get the ball. Just an awful quarter all around. The only good news was that Cleveland only scored two field goals.
Third quarter: For the second week in a row, a pass intended for WR Robert Ferguson was intercepted. Ferguson has made some plays on special teams this season, but not as a receiver. He should be playing behind WR Antonio Chatman at this point. Last week, CB Ahmad Carroll played well but committed four penalties. I said that he should be benched in favor of CB Joey Thomas and Thomas did start ahead of Carroll. Thomas proceeded to have an awful game. He struggled in the first half, and then was burned badly on WR Braylon Edwards 80 yard TD pass. Edwards got off the line quick, turned Thomas around, and ran right by him. Rookie S Nick Collins contributed to the bad defense by taking a bad angle on the tackle and running himself out of the play.
Fourth quarter: Hello offense! Favre threw two TD passes and almost threw a third when they settled for a field goal. The real success in the 4th quarter was that Favre did a great job of spreading the ball out and he got into a rhythm. FB William Henderson really had his first action in the passing game this season after being a Pro Bowl pass outlet last season. WR Robert Ferguson caught a TD pass. Even rookie WR Terrence Murphy had his first action ever as a Packer and caught 3 passes in the quarter. Unfortunately the defense just gave up. After eight quarters, the defense has still not created a single turnover. Defensive coordinator Jim Bates started blitzing to put some pressure on QB Trent Dilfer, but the blitzes backfired badly. They biltzed on a long 3rd down, the blitz was picked up and the 3rd down was converted. Then they blitzed again and Dilfer hooked up with TE Steve Heiden on a long TD pass to seal the defeat. With the combination of all the penalties, no turnovers, and poor pass defense, the defense is really struggling.

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