Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Packers 27, New Orleans 34. I'm at a loss to say about this game. All the indicators either favor the Packers (fewer turnovers, more total yards, better % on 3rd downs) or are even (both teams struggled to run the ball, similar time of possession). New Orleans had more plays over 20 yards and as a result had one more scoring drive. Two home losses to start the season, this time against an inferior team.

First Quarter: The Packers pass rush took over the game and WR Greg Jennings made the first big play of his career. DE Aaron Kampman dominated on the first two possessions, taking an active part in both QB Drew Brees fumbles. Pressure from DE KGB and DT Cullen Jenkins created both fumbles. After CB Al Harris made a great circus catch for the third New Orleans turnover, the Packers had a 13-0 lead. LB A.J. Hawk continues to look better; on one running play he fought off a block from the right tackle and the tight end to stop a running play for no gain. However two things happened the rest of the game; New Orleans had no more turnovers and the Packers pass rush vanished.

Second Quarter: Four punts on offense and the defense couldn't stop New Orleans on 3rd down. New Orleans had about 10 1st down conversions during the quarter and drove down for two TD scores. CB Ahmad Carroll gave up the 2nd TD pass; it was his first play back after coming off the field injured, but he was caught looking into the backfield and Brees burned him.

Third Quarter: A great first drive was ruined when QB Brett Favre threw his only interception in the end zone. It wasn't a bad decision by Favre, he just got hit while he was throwing. Almost immediately, WR Joe Horn had a big 50+ yard reception when he beat LB Brady Poppinga (Bob Sanders really screwed up the coverage by having Poppinga cover their no. 1 receiver in the slot) that led to a field goal and swung all momentum back to New Orleans. After a disasterous first quarter for New Orleans, 6 of their next 9 possessions led to scores. Dropped passes are a huge problem for the Packers. The Packers have gotten little out of their receivers not named WR Donald Driver so far this season, but TEs Bubba Franks and David Martin had some good receptions in the second half and both WRs Jennings and Robert Ferguson caught TD passes in this game. It is starting to look better.

Fourth Quarter: FS Nick Collins got burned in coverage as WR Marques Colston ran by him into the end zone. Collins reminds me of FS Darren Sharper, who struggled in his first two seasons as he transitioned from small William and Mary college to the NFL. It looks like it will be at least two seasons of inconsistent play from Collins until he is playing at a high level. Then RB Ahman Green fumbled leading to a 25 yard TD run by RB Deuce McAlister. G Daryn Colledge got his first NFL start ahead of G Jason Spitz in this game, and he didn't look great. Both rookies, Colledge and RG Tony Moll, struggled at times. Overall, it is a lot to be asking of these guys to start immediately as rookies. G Mike Wahle looked like a bust in his first couple of NFL seasons and G Marco Rivera didn't start in his first NFL season. They might be good players but it won't be known for at least a couple of seasons. Green looked good in his first game back against Chicago, but really struggled in this games. He ran for only 2.6 yards/carry, he had this fumble, and he dropped at least two passes in the 2nd half. McAlister's big TD run was really surprising at this point, because it was the only run over 10 yards for New Orleans during the entire game. The Packers run defense has shut down the running game of two good run offenses so far this season. Unfortunately, everyone will throw the ball against the Packers because they aren't good in coverage and they have almost zero pass rush in the middle.

If the Packers can't beat New Orleans at home, then who can they beat? The next two games at Detroit and at Philadelphia look like losses and then a home game against St. Louis. They should beat St. Louis as their offense is really playing poorly so far this season. At best, it looks like a 1-4 record going into the bye week with a real possibility at 0-5.

No comments: