By: John Linn
For those very few in the entire world that didn’t know, the Packers played the Vikings on Sunday. Brett Favre, the former favorite son returned, and did what he does best, win. I was unlucky enough to be in attendance to watch our old hero pick the Pack apart. But let me backtrack a bit. Not only was I at Lambeau this weekend for the game, I was on the field before the game, yes that’s correct, on field (well sidelines only) passes. That in and of itself was quite an experience. I was mere feet from Vikings players and Packers players and saw Favre come out onto the field. But, the game after that was not quite as much fun.The Packers made some moves I highly disagreed with. Starting with the kick offs. For some odd reason the coaching staff chose to use Ahman Green (in his return to the Green and Gold) as a kick returner. Green fared dismally. He even fell over on one return. Also, Mark Tauscher, and for that matter Chad Clifton, were inactive. The Packers could’ve have sorely used either one as the O-Line gave up massive pressure and let Rodgers get sacked six times.
The Vikings looked incredibly in control in the first half as Favre led the offense effectively. Luckily, the amazing rushing talent of Adrian Peterson was held in check for the most part. The defense looked like it would be able to control the Vikings high powered offense early on after the Packers scored first on a Mason Crosby field goal. However, that was not to be. One specific instance was when the Vikes were stopped on third down and would have been forced to kick a field goal, but instead Johnny Jolly head butted Chester Taylor after the play and the drive kept going. The penalty happened on the end of the field near where I was sitting and I saw it all, it was atrocious to see Jolly do that. It was inexcusable. The score at the half looked like it was all over 17-3 Vikings.
The Packers, however, refused to fall mounting a third quarter comeback that pulled them within striking distance. However it was not to be. A failed two point conversion, a missed field goal, and poor defense down the stretch cost the Pack the game 38-26.
What I Saw:
-In the first half it seriously looked like Aaron Rodgers didn’t know how to walk, let alone run. He was immobile and the rare times he did run it went nowhere. In the second half Rodgers ran all over the field and gained massive yards. I’m not sure why he wasn’t doing this in the first place, but he should’ve been. Rodgers is a running threat; he needs to be used that way.
-The team is still horribly undisciplined. Jolly’s head butting penalty totally exemplifies this. It’s been the same week after week. McCarthy either needs to crack down now, or get out. He is failing to show me that he can keep this team disciplined. If he can’t I would love to see Dom Capers get the job, because as of right now McCarthy is not keeping them in line.
-The O-Line they have now is not the answer. T.J. Lang looked surprisingly good against Jared Allen. While he did give up a few sacks, Allen’s name wasn’t heard every other play like it was in Minnesota. On the other side, Allen Barbre couldn’t contain Ray Edwards. Barbre has been in this system longer and has been playing longer than Lang, yet he looked about the same. Personally, I want to see Mark Tauscher back. Also, if Clifton keeps up these injury problems then the team needs to cut ties with him. Yes, Clifton has been outstanding in the past, but he seriously needs help, he can’t go a game without getting hurt. Lang seems to be coming around, but only time will tell.
-Something has to be done about the running game. Grant looked absolutely pedestrian. He has looked that way all season. Ahman Green was signed to be a change of pace for Grant but saw action mainly on kick returns. In the second half Green was used more on offense, but by that time he was needed more as a blocker. He did get a few touches, but at that point we were down big time and the ground game wasn’t going to get it back. I’m not sure what it is, but something has to click. They can’t rely on Rodgers like that.
Ratings (out of 5)
-QB: 4.Rodgers started out horribly but did so well in the second half that I felt he deserved a much better rating than I had originally planned on giving him; he put that comeback on his shoulders and made it work. He would’ve gotten a 4.5 or even a 5, but his 1st half was so bad, and several of the sacks were his fault.
-Receivers: 4. The receivers didn’t do badly at all, but like Rodgers, were non-existent in the first half. The toughness of the receivers gets a 5. Both Driver and Jennings came back from injuries quickly during the rally to help give Rodgers some veteran help. Donald Lee was rather pedestrian, but Spence Havner once again came out of nowhere to become a favorite target for Rodgers, catching two touchdowns. The receivers were harder to rate because of their pedestrian start.
-O-Line: 2. Once again something isn’t working on that line. Tauscher should be in there. Barbre has played well of late, but was horrible on Sunday. TJ Lang was passable on the other side but once again, something needs to be done. The interior of the line couldn’t break a hole for Grant at all.
-D-Line: 2.5. No pressure. None whatsoever on Favre. He could’ve retired twice more with the time he had back there. Not until late was there even a semblance of pressure and then it was too late. They would have gotten a worse rating, but for the most part Peterson didn’t have huge runs.
-Linebackers 3. Pressure! Again with the lack of pressure. Kampman needs to be blitzing more. While I did see him put his hand down a bit more this game, he still was nearly a non-factor in the pass rush. Matthews played well as did Barnett. I really like Matthews, he was one of the only guys to get in Favre’s face all night. Barnett was all over making tackles. In linebacker related news: Brandon Chillar broke his hand, but his status is unknown.
-Secondary: 3.The secondary played up well on the receivers at first. But faded more as the game went on. Percy Harvin remained uncontained. Seriously. They needed to put more pressure on Favre by keeping the receivers better covered. Though they could’ve provided pressure themselves. I only recall once seeing a secondary player in the backfield, and that was Woodson on a blitz. And on one of the touchdowns three players collided with each other allowed Harvin to walk in.
-Special teams: 1. They could not have played worse on special teams. They only got above a 0 because they showed up and would’ve gotten a .5 but Crosby hit a field goal to take the lead at the very beginning. Harvin was uncontrollable on kick-returns. They didn’t kick to him on a few occasions and it worked, but then they did after not kicking to him and he broke out again.
-Coaching: 1. That was horrible, Play calling was horrible. McCarthy for some reason used the last team timeout with most of the 4th quarter left and the team still trailing. Green was used on kickoffs. The team was massively undisciplined.
-Team as a whole: 3. While this is well above the average of the ratings I feel that the offense salvaged so much of the game that it was warranted. They almost won it in the end. It got very close.
My pick for MVP of the game for the Packers: Spencer Havner. Havner caught two touchdowns from Rodgers and is a great option with Jermichael Finley sidelined.
Final thoughts: While I would like to say I hate Favre for leaving, I can’t. Football is, first and foremost, a business. He made a business move. Neither side handled that well at all. But when all is said and done, Favre was still a Packer for 16 beautiful years and nothing can ever change that, whether its purple or not. He will be a Packer in the hall of fame. While I don’t wish him well (he still is the enemy), he still set all those records with us. My hat goes off to Brett. He was very diplomatic in his post-game talks. When Jennings was down and inured near the Vikings sidelines, Favre was there kneeling next to him, and after the game I saw him embrace Jennings with a smile on both of their faces. While Brett is the enemy, I still got chills watching him play, and not because of the color of his jersey. We miss you Brett, come home soon.
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