Friday, November 10, 2006

Packers 10, Buffalo 24. This loss was reminicent of the Packers losses during the Mike Sherman era; the Packers outplayed their opponent but the turnovers killed them. In three of their previous four 2006 losses, the Packers lost because their defense couldn't stop anyone and turnovers didn't kill them, with the exception of the St. Louis game. At least St. Louis played well in that game and deserved to win as much as the Packers did. Against Buffalo, the Packers dominated on offense and defense only to let huge turnovers swing the game against them.

First Quarter: A big kickoff return sets up an easy FG. The Packers special teams were killed in this game on kick returns and kick coverage. It was the only Buffalo unit that outplayed their counterparts. The Packers offensive line has controlled the line of scrimmage in their last few games and keeps improving each week, but they always struggle in the first quarter. The offense was slow to start out the game because of this. The defense played its best game of the season for the first three quarters, but unfortunately forced zero turnovers.

Second Quarter: Buffalo knew the Packers liked to throw the quick slant pass but the Packers made no adjustments and dared Buffalo to stop them. The interception returned for a TD by LB London Fletcher wasn't a classic bad mistake by QB Brett Favre. It was designed to be a quick pass that Favre threw immediately before the defense had a chance to react, but Fletcher reacted. Favre threw it into tight coverage, but that was how the play was designed. Mike McCarthy should have seen the coverage and adjusted his play calling. The offense came back with a nice drive until a botched snap turned the ball over. As Aaron Schatz at Football Outsiders has preached for a few years, teams can learn to force fumbles but fumbles are recovered by luck. So far this season, says Schatz, the Packers have "had poor luck with fumble recoveries." By this point of the game, Buffalo has still done nothing on offense. The Packers have another good drive to end the half, but the shotgun snap bounces off Favre's facemask and Buffalo recovers. C Scott Wells appeared to have snapped early, but how embarrasing was it for Favre to have it bounce off his facemask?

Third Quarter: FB William Henderson played a lot for the first time this season due to the injury to FB Brandon Miree and Henderson looked great. He had a reception for a first down and did a great job blocking Buffalo's linebackers on running plays. How did Henderson lose his job to Miree? The TD pass to WR Donald Driver was the same play that was intercepted in the 2nd quarter; a quick slant with Fletcher all over the passing lane, but Favre's throw just beats Fletcher. They won that gamble, but with the Packers starting to dominate Buffalo's defensive front seven, do they really need to gamble with these quick passes that Buffalo is expecting? The Packers pinned Buffalo deep in their territory on three straight possessions, but P Brian Moorman had some great punts. Finally the Packers start at midfield and a short drive leads to a long field goal.

Fourth Quarter: Buffalo's offense was dead in this game until the Packers defense gave them some life in this quarter. Why did CB Al Harris let WR Lee Evans run wide open behind him for an easy TD on a underthrown ball? The Packers have been doing this every week. At Miami, CB Charles Woodson let WR Marty Booker run by him and QB Joey Harrington threw it between 3 defenders who seemed confused who was covering Booker. CB Patrick Dendy let WR Troy Walters run wide open across the field against Arizona for a TD. Usually the cornerbacks are playing man-on-man, but sometimes they let receivers run away from them as if it were playing zone coverage and the safeties never show up in time. Are the safeties late in coverage? Are the cornerbacks playing the wrong defense? Are the coaches screwing up the signals or the defensive schemes? Just fix it. RBs Ahman Green and Noah Herron are running all over the Buffalo defense by this point, but McCarthy decides to throw one more slant pass into tight coverage. The cornerback is all over the receiver and a lucky bounce leads to a long interception return. Why throw a pass that they have been covering all game when you can run it right down their throat? A deflated defense comes back on the field and RB Anthony Thomas runs three times at DE KGB for another touchdown. I've been a big defender of KGB over the past few seasons, but he has to be taken out on running downs. He doesn't get to the quarterback like he used to and he isn't stopping the run either. Teams used to bull rush him for good yardage, but every other play he would get a step on the blocker and stop the running back. He doesn't do that anymore. He has to be reduced to a 3rd down rusher and let someone like DE Cullen Jenkins play on running downs. I skipped over DE Mike Montgomery, because he doesn't seem much better than KGB at run defense.

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