Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Packers 31, Arizona 14. The Packers first home win of the season and their best overall game of the season. The only negative is that it happened against the worst team in the NFL, especially after their collapse at home versus Chicago. Looking at the DVOA breakdown from Football Outsiders, the Packers moved a few spots on the rankings and their was a 9 place jump by special teams and a 7 place jump by the offense.

First Quarter: I don't have the stats, but there were a lot of passes thrown to WR Anquan Boldin, 4th in the NFL in receiving yards, and CB Al Harris was always covering him. Boldin ended with a decent 4 catches for 47 yards, but their offense seemed to stall with them unable to get the ball to Boldin and without WR Larry Fitzgerald to throw to. Harris played Boldin about as well as anybody could. The defense stopped Arizona, a rare quality punt return by CB Charles Woodson set up great field position, and then the whole effort was thrown out by a bizarre fake punt and run/sack of P Jon Ryan. Was he trying to throw to TE Bubba Franks? Was Franks trying to block? Did Bubba have any idea what was going on? It might have been Franks' fault or a completely botched play, but either way it should not be called again this season. Getting teams to fall for misdirection is very important to winning, but trying to be too cute (a bootleg pass attempt by a punter?) should not be done. When the Packers did get the ball back, two things happen that set the tone for the rest of the game. First, mostly runs on the left side between LT Chad Clifton and LG Daryn Colledge blocks, the Packers start dominating Arizona's defensive line. RB Vernand Morency and RB Ahman Green ran very well, and neither player fumbled, but the offensive line gave them a lot to work with. Second, after I wrote last week about how the tight ends and fullback seem to be forgotten members of the offense, QB Brett Favre threw a lot of passes to FB Brandon Miree and TE David Martin. The Packers did this all game; dominate Arizona's defensive line, no turnovers, and spread the ball around to different receivers.

Second Quarter: While the Packers offense dominates, Arizona's offense struggles. RB Edgerrin James had his best game as a Cardinal, but that is faint praise. He still only ran for 3.5 yards/carry. Arizona shuffled their offensive line and it gave QB Matt Leinart some time to throw and James some room to run. Still it took Arizona until 6 minutes left in the first half to put together their first decent drive that led to James' TD run. Leinart didn't have much help due to receivers running out of bounds (WR Bryant Johnson) and numerous dropped passes. Overall the defense looked great in this game, but other than QB Rex Grossman, it has been hard to look bad against Arizona this season.

Third Quarter: Just in case Arizona was feeling somewhat empowered after scoring right before halftime to cut the lead to 14 points, the Packers have a long drive to eat up the first 7 minutes of the third quarter, ending in Favre's first TD run since 2001, his first at home since 1998, and his first Lambeau Leap. Although Favre's TD run hurt Arizona, Arizona's answering TD pass was a sign of future (and past) trouble for the pass defense. WR Troy Walters ran wide open on a crossing route for a TD after CB Patrick Dendy let him go off the line of scrimmage. Dendy, and Woodson in previous games, seem to let receivers run away from them, like they are expecting help in the middle from the safeties. But the Packers are playing man-on-man coverage and shouldn't Dendy and Woodson always know that they have to stay with their receivers? It didn't matter in this game, but the Packers are really suspectable to crossing patterns that lead to big gains.

Fourth Quarter: The Packers ran the ball a lot, which made sense because they were dominating the line of scrimmage and wanted to run out the clock, while Arizona continued to struggle on offense. Arizona had a couple of 20+ yard plays, but for most of the game, Arizona had to slowly work their way down the field, which isn't easy with a poor offensive line.

No comments: