Sunday, September 11, 2005

Packers 3, Detroit 17. WR Javon Walker was lost during the game. There is a lot to talk about with this game, but Walker's injury overshadows all of it. No wide receiver as good as Walker has come back from an ACL injury in recent seasons. WR Joey Galloway come to mind but it was doubtful he was as good as Walker before his injuries. The best comparisons may be the running backs trio of RB Edgerrin James, RB Willis McGahee, and RB Jamal Lewis. All three players were in their 20s when they had their ACL injuries and all three returned to elite status. The general rule of thumb I have been told is one year to return to the field from injury and two years to return to your prior level of play. Probably WR Craig Bragg or WR Chad Lucas will be added from the practice squad to replace Walker. Hopefully 2nd round pick WR Terrence Murphy will finally play next week after missing all of his first preseason with a knee injury and offer some substitute for Walker.

First Quarter: This first two quarters was the avalanche of penalties in the secondary. CB Ahmad Carroll ended the day with at least four penalties, but 4th CB Jason Horton had the key illegal use of hands penalty that kept the touchdown drive alive. The Packers had trouble covering TE Marcus Pollard, but they had a lot of trouble covering tight ends in 2004 too. The penalties called on Carroll and Horton were very weak calls that all happened very close to the line of scrimmage, but Carroll has to learn how to avoid those penalties. He probably would have been the third cornerback if CB Joey Thomas hadn't missed much of the preseason injury. Thomas played well in this game and probably should start ahead of Carroll. LB Robert Thomas got the start a week after he was traded for. He didn't make many plays, but he has a lot of speed. On one run play, he came in from off-camera to fill the rushing lane in a split second.

Second Quarter: QB Brett Favre has a lot of short drops and is throwing a lot quick slant passes. It helps the offensive line because they don't have to maintain their blocks for long. The quick passes act like running plays because they are high percentage plays. Even if all that is true, RB Ahman Green can't have only 12 carries for the game. Everytime RB Najeh Davenport came in, it was an obvious run play and it went nowhere. It wasn't a well called game. Rookie OG William Whitticker still struggled with blitz and stunt pickup, but he wasn't the problem. The Packers and Detroit traded long first half drives which limited the number of scoring opportunities in the first half. Maybe P B.J. Sander will remember his botched field goal hold and never does it again for the rest of his NFL career.

Third Quarter: Turnovers become a problem. It seems like Favre has trouble with turnovers about every fourth game, and this was his game to have turnover problems. Another big turnover problem was that the Packers defense didn't create any. The run defense and pass defense both looked in the game, but the pass rush was often absent and no turnovers were created (both were often occurances during 2004).

Fourth Quarter: Turnovers by the Packers just killed any chance they had at turning this game around.

The new starting offensive guards, LG Adrian Klemm and RG William Whitticker, both played well in this game and should not be a problem going forward. The defensive line is using a deep rotation. It might be an eight man rotation; starting DEs KGB and Aaron Kampman, alongside DTs Grady Jackson and Cullen Jenkins, with DT Corey Williams and Colin Cole, along with DE Mike Montgomery and DE/DT Kenny Peterson receiving playing time early and often. P B.J. Sander looks great so far (when punting, not when holding for field goal kicks) with long kicks and great hang time. Although the secondary had a lot of penalties, they shut down Detroit's receivers for most of the game, until WR Mike Williams caught a game clinching TD pass at the end of the 4th quarter. The defense appears to be a bend-but-don't-break unit.

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