1. Look at the big picture
I can't believe the number of people ready to jump ship after a loss. We're only one game out of being tied for first in our division, and the season isn't even half way over.
2. ESPN sucked bad
The Favre lovefest (particularly Kornheiser) was disgusting. Favre better than Manning and Brady, Favre's wife, Favre, Favre, Favre. Whether he did well or bad, whether Cutler was driving the team down the field, it didn't matter. Favre, Favre, Favre.
As if that wasn't bad enough, the game was in DENVER! But the whole program and pregame was devoted to Favre. Oh yeah, we got a small pregame clip about another GB player named Driver.
At the very least I noticed the crew didn't do as bad talking over plays. Never the less it was nausiating to hear Favre's name mentioned an average of twice every 30 seconds.
Everyone mentioned how Cutler "needs more time to develop" and "has been inconsistent". Well Jay played a heck of a game, and his completion percentage coming into the game was better than Favre's (but you won't hear that).
3. GBs OFF did what I recommended in my "Last Minute" story
They went after the weak links, whether an injured Bailey on the 1st TD slant or Bly getting burned in OT. They also tried to run the ball and it worked.
But I want to take a moment to defend Bly against the critical remarks I read when I got home. Why in the Hell did we have both safeties up near the LBs on that play? We did it a few times in the game even when the Packers had three WR sets going.
4. DENs OFF did what I thought they should in my "Last Minute" story
Heavy dose of screens and bootlegs did well. Scheff also looked good. Surprisingly (to me), both Marshall and Stokely did better than the CBs covering them. Cutler is definitely our man of the future.
5. GBs defense followed the script
Limiting our rushing yards most of the game. They also got in Cutler's face a lot. To Cutler's credit he remained calm and threw well despite the pressure. I love this kid.
6. DENs DEF failed us
They didn't make GB one dimensional, and they didn't force turnovers. Outside of the 1st GB TD (a slant) though GB changed up their throws.
7. I don't know why Bell was inactive
I thought he should spell Young, not Hall.
8. We saw Sapp in some key run and pass situations as predicted
Now Let's take an overview of the game
First let's look at the game prep story I did last week for this game. As always, there were things I got right and wrong. Before I detail what to take from the game let's review what happened, and what didn't.
For one, my first point was that Bly would get burned. He did, and it was on the OT play that gave GB the victory.
My second point was that the play action bootleg and screens would minimize the pass rush of GB. Correct there as well. Cutler was very poised even though he was close to getting sacked several times.
Koren Robinson didn't play, so he wasn't a factor. I don't think any of us expected him in the game.
My fourth point was my confidence in Bailey and Bly, and taking away the edges. I also wrote that GB should complete many high percentage throws. One kink I didn't account for was Lynch's injury. It kept us from doing what I wanted us to do, namely placing Williams in deeper zone with Lynch beside or behind Williams for pass coverage.
Thus the trickle down effect of losing Lynch made us rely on an average Ferguson, further isolated Bailey and Bly, and badly hurt our rush defense.
Then my fifth point was about the flexibilty Lynch should have, but again, if the man is injured and we put in a back up that whole scenario goes out the window.
My next point was the weakness of GB against a two or three TE set. We used a three TE set on the first drive of the game and it seemed to do really well. It minimized one of two elite CBs the Pack has (for run plays) and created mismatches in pass. I don't know why we abandodned it. Never the less, I liked both of our TEs in the game, and Cutler even managed to get throws in against the vaunted CB duo of GB.
I predicted Cutler would continue his interception streak. The kid exceeded expectations, even in a loss.
I figured we could stop the run. My number one error, although I did mention that Lynch was a factor (but he was injured). We did a good job containing the run to the center of the field, but once we created the tunnel we didn't tackle.
I next predicted that if we got burned on a big play that Bly would be the victim. I was right. Too right in fact. It was the game losing play. Again, in Bly's defense there was zero reason for our safeties to be playing so close to the LB area of the field instead of deep coverage.
I expected Favre to get intercepted. Maybe he did, and the ESPN Favre lovers talked over it and we missed it. Seriously, Favre looked great and deserves a lot of respect. Let's not blame him (or his wonderful wife) for the disgusting lovefest / orgy that ESPN showed tonight.
And I expected the GB nickleback to get burned. Everything we threw his way seemed to get caught.
So where does that leave us?
Here's the bottom line of what I take from this game. Our rush defense is losing games. Period.
We played the fourth best team in the NFL (in terms of wins and tiebreaks) and came close to a victory. Our young QB did an excellent job (and also had another 4th quarter drive). Our depleted WRs and TEs did an excellent job despite the loss of Walker, Smith, and Alexander. We didn't have a great number of yards rushing, but you have to consider that we passed a lot, and that Young still managed to look good.
Did Bailey and Bly each give up a TD? Yes, but giving up two TDs in a game is not out of the norm. We can't stop EVERY TD pass. In both cases the safeties weren't in position to help.
Our STs continued to do well, and Elam once again did a "Toro" play by running on the field to kick a FG with seconds left.
We outplayed GB in every aspect of the game except stopping the run. There were several points in the game that we could have won the game except for fate. Now I'm not going to complain about bad calls (that's a raiders kid excuse). What I AM going to do is point out how the game might have looked if a few very small things went differently.
- Kuper knocks the ball out of Jay's hand on 1st down on the 1 yd line. TD for sure. Even a FG is the worst case scenario. But Kuper knocks it out of Jay's hand. Freak play. By the way, I don't blame Kuper. No amount of practice or experience can prevent that kind of thing. It was a freak accident.
- Run play is called back on a hold that didn't happen. Game changing? Maybe, Maybe not. I don't blame the refs. They have a hard job, and they were shorthanded (what happened to having back up refs?) Four point diff possible.
- GB blows coverage, Marshall (or was it Stokely) is streaking down the field for a TD catch, so GBs player blatently holds the WR. This was a TD all the way, but the ref misses the pass interference call.
My point is to show how well we actually played this game, well enough to beat the fourth best team in the league even with a sucky run defense. Last week we beat the team that was then ranked third. Not bad.
We are one game behind the division leaders. Let's not panic. Sure it was hard to watch, but we are still in good shape in our division.
What I'm NOT happy about is the rush defense. I've written that we should have the system down to a reasonable degree by week 8 (this week) and it hasn't happened. It bothers me that most of our team is doing their jobs, and the run defense isn't pulling their weight.
I don't think firing the DEF coordiantor solves the problem. He has a solid record with other teams, and getting a new coordiantor just means our guys start over from scratch again. We have some players that just aren't earning their pay right now. That's my opinion.
Rice didn't impress me. Let Moss, Crowder, and Doom play from here on out. They proved themselves against PITT.
Sorry if I sound like I'm rambling, but I drove 30 minutes to get home (got home around 12:30am EST) so I could type while the game was still fresh in my mind. I wanted to read Guru's game threads and check out what everyone was saying in the comments. I'm glad I did.
Don't give up fans. Let's gear up for DET next week. We're still in this race. It's not a SB year because I don't see us clearing INDY or NE. We can get past SD in the race if they lose some tough games down the stretch. We're ONE stinking game back. Be a fan and keep the faith.