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From the Press Box – Week 5

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From the Press Box – Week 5

I had a rare weekday off with the kids yesterday and enjoyed it thoroughly. The busier the football season gets, the more you treasure those moments  and remember that above all else, life is short and as Ferris would say, you need to slow down or it will pass you by. It's good to enjoy what you have when you can on your terms.

Perfection is what you make of what you're given, and I'd have to say that was a perfect Monday.

I'd guess that Al Davis thought his life ended up near-perfect and I won't wax anymore poetic than that on the passing of Davis, as I covered that on Saturday and will spend some more time on it during this week's The Hard Count.

Like Al Davis throughout his career and my day yesterday , the NFL as a whole is always looking for perfection.

Some are closer than others and some are heading towards what could be termed 'anti-perfection'.

Let's take a look at the good, the bad and the imperfect.

Perfection is our goal, excellence will be tolerated.

Congrats are in order for the last two 'perfect' teams in the NFL; the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers.

The amazing thing about both teams is, they aren't perfect. I'd say the Lions are closer because they are healthier but you can't deny the Packers and we'll start with them.

I can't put it all on Aaron Rodgers, but there are times when this guy just wills a win. If you want to continue the 'elite' quarterback discussion, this is what sets a guy like Rodgers apart from pretenders like some guys we've talked about in this space before. When is the last time Eli Manning carried his team?

The offensive line is a deteriorating mess and yet Rodgers just keeps trucking long. His quick release overcomes a relentless pass rush through a banged up line—something I termed a survival technique. He's had oline issues off and on for years and as that's the case, he has developed a fast delivery. It makes it tough to stop him.

You can't speak highly enough about this offense from Greg Jennings (how is this cat THIS underrated?) to Jermichael Finley to James Starks—the offense is firing on all cylinders.

If there is one flaw here aside from injury (though affected by it), it's the defense. Ranked 21st overall defensively, and 30th against the pass you have to worry that unless it can improve it might not take much of a slip up on the offense's part for a team to jump out and stay out ahead.

The upside is the 3rd ranked rush defense, which makes it damned hard to milk the clock.

If you can't kill the clock, you give Rodgers time and that's never a good thing.

It's not a great piece of prognostication to say I doubt Green Bay goes 16-0. I have a feeling if they went 15-1 with another Super Bowl, they could live with it.

The Lions are a great story, aren't they? Proof also that when you have a decent GM, good things happen. While you can write off some of the pounding the defensive line did against the Bears as 'well the Bears' offensive line sucks', you can't deny that this front seven is very good.

Even rookie Nick Fairley looked good in his first piece of action and this Dline rolls so deep they can sub fresh legs in at any time.

The key to the Lions has long been quarterback Matt Stafford's health. We can see just how incredible this offense is when he's upright and whole. Calvin Johnson is ridiculous. Jahvid Best is a big play waiting to happen. Titus Young is a solid young talent. Brandon Pettigrew isn't fast but he's a big physical presence. The offensive line is doing some good work blocking.

Imagine if this team went from being the only 0-16 team to the second totally undefeated team (I'm including playoffs and Super Bowl of course)? Incredible.

The defense has stumbled a few times and like the Packers, that might be the achilles' heel. Despite the fact that this front gets a lot of sacks, the defense overall is middle of the road. You can run on them, you can throw on them.

Question is, can you do enough of either to keep up with the offense?

The Packers don't have a really tough matchup until the see the Lions in Week 12. The Lions have a few tougher or more unpredictable games against the Niners and Panthers who will give a tough game and the Falcons and a second Bears game between now and the Packers.

I could see this coming down to that Week 12 game. I kind of hope it does.

This is the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfection.

A fitting quote for two teams for whom expectations were high, hubris was large and whose reality is....not so very good.

The Eagles and the Jets. How can you think either team is anything but a disappointment at this point? There are worse teams (as we will see below), but for a pair often linked to the Super Bowl it doesn't get much worse.

The Jets' issues start at the offensive line which was—yet again—neglected in favor of wasting a lot of time trying to sign Nnamdi Asomugha while hoping that depth would hold one more season.

It hasn't and even with the return of center Nick Mangold, the offensive line is a shambles and a pale reflection of what it once was.

If you have a guy like the aforementioned Aaron Rodgers, you might survive. As much as I like Mark Sanchez, he's not Aaron Rodgers and never will be.

That's no slam—it's just reality. You don't need Rodgers to win a Super Bowl and having him is no guarantee. A guy like Sanchez needs a little more protection than a guy like Rodgers.

The more pressured Sanchez gets, the harder it is to move the ball. I'd also point out that if the oline can't block, the run game falters and again, it makes it harder to pass.

The play selection is a problem as well. I've harbored doubts about OC Brian Schottenheimer for years, always thinking 'well it's working so maybe it's not a big issue...'. However, I'm able to call out a lot of the plays from the couch. The Jets run a lot on first down and not well. The playcalling is uninspired and the Jets aren't even trying to go vertical despite the weapons they have. Switching to ground and pound again didn't work and made no sense against a porous New England secondary.

I said it at some point recently but maybe this is a case of Sanchez and Schottenheimer being bad fits for each other. Schotty isn't comfortable with what Sanchez can do and Sanchez isn't fitting well into the scheme Schotty runs.

Either way the Jets are in real trouble and the defense can only bail them out so many times. This three game road trip showed all the flaws the team has in lurid detail.

It may also finally show the cracks that happen when you try to put together too many 'big' names (in some cases names who think they are big) in one place.

Speaking of lurid detail and cracks—HOW BOUT DEM IGGLES?

One of my partners in crime over at Footballguys—whether it was Cecil Lammey or Sigmund Bloom I can't recall—put it really well on part one of their Sunday recap.

Basically Cec-mund basically pointed out that the Eagles are a group of individuals playing on a team together while a team like the Bills are a team buying into a team concept.

What was the line from season one of LOST? Live together or die alone?

The Eagles would be dying alone.

Like the Jets, the Eagles ignored other problems while they ran after Nnamdi Asomugha. They got him and they aren't even using him right.

Aside from that, they invested heavily in Michael Vick despite his injury history and struggles in Atlanta NOT related to dogs but in the actual playing of football.

This is a very talented team made up of very talented individuals who can take over a game at any moment, but not in a cohesive way which leads to wins.

I mentioned the Bills a minute ago but even look at the first portion of this column. The Packers and Lions are TEAMS.

At this point the Eagles—and perhaps the Jets—are not.

I don't see a turnaround here for the Eagles. The Jets maybe if they can pull the offense together. Both teams look on the verge of splintering apart.

The only nice thing about being imperfect is the joy it brings to others.

A term I really enjoy is schadenfreude. If you don't know what that is, you can click on this link or watch this NSFW video from the Broadway show Avenue Q.

We all love to see the mighty fall and the worse your team is doing the happier you are when someone is failing harder then them.

For today's schadenfreude I present to you the Miami Dolphins, St Louis Rams and the Indianapolis Colts.

The Dolphins I actually feel bad for because at some point this was a team turning things around. Nothing has gone right for them the last two years aside from beating the Jets a few times. It won't get better with quarterback Chad Henne out for the year and replaced by Matt Moore and Sage Rosenfels.

They jettisoned a good pair of backs in Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams for unproven rookie Daniel Thomas and mediocre former first round pick Reggie Bush. The offensive line is still and issue and the defense is middling.

Oh, and their owner seems to be....not very bright.

It could be a long season for the Dolphins. Jets fans, just consider you aren't Miami fans.

I feel bad for the Rams. They looked like the favorites to win the NFC West and now they're look like they might be able to trade that #1 pick to a desperate Andrew Luck-needing team.

Sam Bradford has played OK for a second year guy but the offense lacks a reliable receiver for him and Steven Jackson can only do so much. The offensive line and defense isn't as potent as it was last year.

This team is already rebuilding so in some ways this isn't a shock but it was a bigger step backwards than anyone expected.

So, if you are a sad Buccaneer or Cardinals fan... well you're still sad but at least you have a win.

Ah the Colts.

I think there is a lot of knife sharpening among fans. The Colts seem to bring out some interesting hate for some reason.

Watching the utter destruction of a team just because one player is gone is fascinating in a 'that's a terrible train wreck' way. We've long pointed out that no plan behind Peyton Manning was dangerous at best but even I didn't think that the wheels would come off, the car would bottom out and the gas tank explode.

This is a team on the verge of a big rebuild and I don't think anyone wants to talk about it. The offensive line, the defense, the quarterback—just a few of the rather large question marks the Colts will have to deal with this off season.

And yes, it's time to talk off season. This tail spin isn't righting itself and the eject button is stuck.

Even Andrew Luck isn't a sure cure. The Colts have some soul searching to do.

Take heart though Colts fans—at least you're not the fantasy owner of a Colts player, right?

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (54) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PackersRS's picture

I never thought I'd say this but, comparatively, Cutler was the best QB of the week 5.

What the Lions' DL did, or rather, what the Bears' OL allowed was unbelievable. Cutler did not have more than 2 seconds to get rid of the ball EVERY SINGLE DROPBACK.

And he didn't make many mistakes (outside of the 2 minute offense, which was vintage Cutler. The only thing lacking was an int) and he made tons of plays with Lions hanging to him.

If Cutler had a good OL and a big target, because he loves to just loft passes when pressured, he could be a very good QB in this league, and not the pathetic INT machine he is. If Cutler changed places with Stafford, IMHO he would do better right now.

He'll never be elite, he simply does not make great decisions at an elite rate. But with the defense the Bears usually have, and with Forte, he could make the Bears a contender.

But their GM is too incompetent and their owners are too cheap to let it happen. Thanks God.

andrewgarda's picture

The Bears had survived on lots of luck last year and that offensive line played better than they were. They once again let it stay as is and now Cutler is getting killed again.

What good is a franchise Qb if he's pounded into the turf?

Mel's picture

You think the Lions are closer to perfect then the packers cause they are healthier? They wouldn't be undefeated if Minn coachs didn't forget about AP in the second half of a 20-0 lead and if Romo doesn't gift wrap two pick sixs and a fumble.. They won yes but to say they are closer to perfect is insane!!! They have two play makers. Arod threw to 12 different recievers on sunday!!!

andrewgarda's picture

First off, you're talking about fractions of difference here but yes I hate to tell you the Pack isn't as solid because they once again have massive injuries. Both teams healthy, different story. But they aren't.

Two playmakers? Stafford Johnson, Best, Pettigrew? On the other side a whole dline?

Sorry, I must have imagined the 400 plus yards Drew Brees and CAM NEWTON threw for against the Pack?

That's right, the Pack is perfect. Nothing to see here move along. What was I thinking DARING to question the skill of the Pack???

I'M insane? Take off the yellow glasses bro.

I love how some fans of any team are perfectly willing to say another team doesn't earn a win but quick to say their team deserves anything similar. It's funny.

PackersRS's picture

Sorry, Andrew, you have to account QB play when talking who is better, and Stafford is not in the same league as Rodgers. Not even close. Not to mention the state of the Lions' secondary. Cutler had 1.5 seconds to throw and still found plenty of open receivers.

What really makes this Packers team exceptional is some odd circumstances.

They're a young team that has as much leadership as anyone in the league, after going what they went through last year.

They won't flinch with adversity, because they had 15 players on IR and played on the road in the playoffs.

Also, their style of play is key to avoiding letdowns.

The offense is based on ball security, with one of if not the best QB of all time in terms of not generating turnovers (1.9 int ratio, best of all time), and running backs who their primary concern is to not fumble the ball, and they usually do a great job at that.

And the defense is based on generating turnovers, being in the top 5 in that department since the arrival of Dom Capers, and even before that.

It's a young, deep, talented, well coached team that is always prepared, don't fret and is almost always in the good end of the turnover battle, one of if not the best indicator of wins in the NFL.

andrewgarda's picture

And all that is true - however BECAUSE they are banged up, they have allowed some teams tobe in games they shouldnt including the Panthers. The Packers schedule has not been all that frightening and yet they've had to fight out several wins.

QB is a big deal and yes, across the board the Pack is the better team - when they are all on the field which they aren't.

even the secondary is banged up right now. They get LIT UP by passers. How is the secondary RIGHT NOW better than Detriot's?

If you look at the team defense rankings, it's quite simply not.
The funny thing is, this isn't even a whose better discussion. It's a who is in better position to win 16.

The Pack has the schedule right now, the Lions have momentum and health, but a much tougher road.

PackersRS's picture

If you look at my post below, you'll understand why the Packers' secondary is better. Not to mention league leading 10 ints.

JerseyCheese's picture

I think what he was trying to say, maybe, is that the Packers a bit more talented than the Lions. If you honestly break it down, position by position, who would you take over the Packers. WRs? No, the Pack has more playmakers with this group. RB? I don't know. Best is a homerun threat but I like the 1-2 punch of the Pack. QB? C'mon. Rodgers is THE best in the league right now.

You go to defense and the Lions lose in all categories other than their defensive line. Packers linebackers and secondary get the nod respectively.

Maybe we are Packers homers and do have the Packers goggles on, but I see it hard to make the arguement that the Lions are a more perfect team than the Pack. The Pack just won what, 10 games in a row? The Falcons game was what, the first game they trailed by more than double digits in how long?

That being said, I do believe the Lions are contenders. The Thanksgiving matchup should be a great one. But I look at it is more playmakers, better coaching and the MVP, HANDS DOWN, at the QB position right now. The Packers are still #1 in MOST analysts polls for a reason with the Lions not even #2. Good aregument though.

andrewgarda's picture

Again, this is not a whose team is better thing - it's a who has a better chance to go undefeated.

Answer is really NEITHER but truthfully if the Packers cannot get healthy the mistakes they have made against teams like the Saints, Falcons and YES the Panthers will bite them in the ass.

Pack has no run game. The secondary is banged up and gets torched on near a weekly basis. The online is still a mess.

These should be concerns and it seems as though nobody here wants to cop to them which is unfortunate.

It's almost as if I said you guys were the worst team in the league. Amazing.

packeraaron's picture

Garda - I know I did not just see you say that Detroit's secondary is as good as Green Bay's. I just know it...

PackersRS's picture

It's not that there aren't concerns. It's that you're saying the Lions have less concerns, which is preposterous.

So is saying the secondary that ranks #2 in ints with 10 gets "torched" every week and that a rushing offense that is ahead of the lions in both yards per game and rushing touchdowns is nonexistant.

Norman's picture

"The Falcons game was what, the first game they trailed by more than double digits in how long?"

Umm, let me guess "since week 2 against the Panthers"?

Mel's picture

Never said the Packers were perfect. But the Packers haven't had to have mircles two weeks in a row to beat teams. They have their flaws yes but they have the better talent to win the games. They are the team that puts the pedal to the metal and doesn't get off the gas while the Lions were behind by 20+ points two weeks in ago and somehow with help came back to win.

PackersRS's picture

BTW, Andrew, the Saints are the #2 offense in yards per game, and the PANTHERS are #5.

That's TWO top 5 offenses in 5 games. The only team Detroit faced in the top 15 is Dallas at 6.

Packers faced:

Saints (2)
Panthers (5)
Chicago (23)
Denver (25)
Atlanta (19)

Lions faced:

Tampa (20)
Kansas City (25)
Minnesota (24)
Dallas (6) and they allowed 434 yards
Chicago (23)

andrewgarda's picture

All I can say is the Lions play who they are scheduled to play. Before the season, Tampa, Chicago and Minnesota were thought to be much harder games.

They won the games they were supposed to win. I don't really think much about the alleged strength of opponent because the teams have no control over that. It's not like USC or Texas scheduling San Jose State.

PackersRS's picture

Agreed, but don't argue that their defense is better because of stats when their stats came against lesser opponents...

PackersRS's picture

Another thing, the Packers have won every game by at least 7 points. Can't say the same about the Lions who haven't faced a winning team so far.

andrewgarda's picture

You BAREL:Y beat the Panthers and saints. Let's not start splitting that hair now.

PackersRS's picture

The Saints, yes. You saw another game against the Panthers.

Let's not talk about a 14 point game that was made 7 points with 40 seconds barely...

If so, what do you make of 3 comebacks, late 4th quarter and an OT wins?

andrewgarda's picture

OK - FINE - THE PACKERS ARE SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS AND SHALL NEVER LOSE ANOTHER GAMES.

Good grief folks. God forbid another team in your division be good and HEALTHIER than yours.

And that's what started this - the Pack being beat up YET again because as a team they are rarely healthy. Amazing.

PackersRS's picture

Thank you, that's all I ask ;)

andrewgarda's picture

I get it right some days.

Pizzadoc's picture

Didn't RS (whose commentary I normally enjoy), say he was a practicing lawyer? Thus: this.

PackersRS's picture

Thanks, and thanks I guess? At least that's what I'm taking from it ;)
(I only know that emoction)

andrewgarda's picture

"It’s not that there aren’t concerns. It’s that you’re saying the Lions have less concerns, which is preposterous.

So is saying the secondary that ranks #2 in ints with 10 gets “torched” every week and that a rushing offense that is ahead of the lions in both yards per game and rushing touchdowns is nonexistant."

The Lions are two whole two spots behind the PAck in rushing ranks. 10 INts is very impressive except that they've allowed more yards than ANYONE short of the pats and the maligned lions secondary? 7 INTs, just three behind the pack. They've also allowed just 6 Tds to the Pack's 10.

The Lions' pass D is 12th ranked, the Packers is 30th.

So yeah, it's a little closer than anyone here would li8ke to admit. Do they6 have the same playmakers in the secondary? No. Seem to be doing just fine though.

CSS's picture

The two (and most important IMHO) stats I want to see trend during the next 5 games leading up to the Packers:

- Turnover differential
- Points allowed

They've been impressive. Crazy as it sounds, Stafford is the one I believe is a bit overrated nationally at this point. Megatron has bailed him out on some jump balls (who wouldn't give him some jump balls) and he's been really inconsistent despite his physical tools.

Otherwise, impressed with the speed of their linebacker play, defensive line depth. Get the Lions in nickle and they're going to give up serious points.

PackersRS's picture

No it's not.

You make it sound like it's all the secondary in the passing game.

The Lions have one of if not the best DL in football.

But their secondary is TERRIBLE. I've watched all the Lions games. I'm not basing it on stats, or on last year's games.

The Packers biggest concern is the pass rush. By far.

The secondary has had breakdowns, particularly with Tramon and Nick Collins missing games.

But it's almost the same unit that last year was ranked #1 in opposing QB rating, which IMHO is a better indicator of playing the pass. And even in yards and touchdowns it was a top 10 unit.

Regarding opposing QB rating, the Lions are barely ahead of the Packers, 79.5 for the Lions, 83.1 for the Packers.

But, again, if you account the opponents (Brees, in particular, as he was the only QB GB faced that had a QB rating better than 80), it shouldn't be this close.

PackersRS's picture

Just to illustrate, here are the QB ratings for every game, Lions and Packers:

Packers:
Drew Brees: 110.6
Cam Newton: 69.5
Jay Cutler: 76.2
Kyle Orton: 86.1 (sorry, was wrong before)
Matt Ryan: 53.6

Lions:
Freeman: 78.8
Cassel: 41.3
Mcnabb: 84.1
Romo: 85.5
Cutler: 98.2

Again, the difference was Brees(and Cassel)

andrewgarda's picture

This is so much better than my old blog with three comments in two months. :)

LOVE YOU GUYS. :D

PackersRS's picture

Polemic brings ratings.

Please don't turn into Skip Bayless.

andrewgarda's picture

*ahem*

TONY ROMO IS THE GREATEST QB EVER

ELI MANNING SUCKS

AARON RODGERS IS OVERRATED

TOM BRADY ISN'T GOOD

WHAT IF MARK SANCHEZ WAS MARTIAN

That Bayless enough for you?

PackersRS's picture

lol at the last one.

But he is kind of an alien, isn't he?

/ducks a burrito

andrewgarda's picture

LET MY NACHO GO!

/door flies open

Rex Ryan comes in dripping cheese sauce

BrianD's picture

Last I checked, the Packers allowed 167 yards passing in Week 5, on the road, against an offense featuring Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez. I'd say the Packers' pass defense has improved based on the most recent evidence.

CSS's picture

I would like to see a trend before any declarations. Not being overly cynical, but one week isn't a trend and the receiver-less Rams are hardly a test.

BrianD's picture

I absolutely agree on needing to see more solid games against the pass. I made that statement based on all the talk about offenses being so far ahead of the defenses because of the offseason and defenses improving over time while settling down. Any MLB fan would laugh at the sample sizes we use for NFL statistics but that's just how things work in the NFL with such a short season.

andrewgarda's picture

I agree that the defenses will catch up as the season goes on - that will probably put this DET/GB discussion into sharp relief as the difference between the two would be more starkly shown.

Chris's picture

Problem is that the Packers won't face a good passing offense until after their bye week. But I am with BrianD: We need a bigger sample size to see if the pass defense is performaning better overall or if this is just a fluke.
On the other hand: The packers pass D was opportunistic last year too, and the rules shift the advantage further and further toward the passing game.

andrewgarda's picture

Definitely played well (and better). Let's see it again.

On a side note, I don't know how ANYONE stops Julio Jones. I thought he was the missing piece to the Super Bowl for the ATL! (That was for Nagler. :D)

Charlie's picture

The Packers have better depth and can absorb the injuries they've sustained. I'd hardly call them massive. Big, but not massive.

The injuries they've sustained this year through week 5 don't really compare to last year. We all know how that turned out.

andrewgarda's picture

The injuries the Packers get and SURVIVE (more than survive really) is a testament to excellent GM work and coaching.

A lot of teams in the league could take a lesson from the way the Packers approach depth.

PackersRS's picture

Not all teams can wait 5 years for a team to become contenders.

*cough* JERRY JONES *cough*

andrewgarda's picture

AH WAHNT MUH SUPERB BOWL NOW DAGUMMIT!

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHHAAAAAAAAA
*fired pistols into the air*

PackersRS's picture

Forgot the I'M FUCKING CRAZY!!!!!!!

BrianD's picture

The best part about our defense having 10 interceptions (#2 in the NFL) this year? After the change of possession, the ball is put into the hands of Aaron Rodgers. Those INTs not only keep points off the board, but are a large contributor to the Pack leading the league in passing touchdowns with 14 (#1) and also placing in the top half of the league with 5 rushing TDs (#9).

andrewgarda's picture

What is the frequency of Packer generated turnovers becoming points? I don't know it, but I'd imagine it would be pretty fat.

Packers Freak's picture

None of this matters until they play each other. The Pack will win both those games and we can all continue to wear our Green and Gold glasses knowing that we watch the best team in the league.

Besides who needs a defense when we have an offense that can't be stopped? All our d needs to do is generate a couple of turnovers a game so we get up by 14 and then coast to victory.

Cole's picture

The fact is that the Packers offense is better. And if our pass rush was even close to that of the Lions we would beat every team by at least three touchdowns. We have basically no pass rush and are still beating teams. As for Carolina, if you actually watch them play you realize that they are a good team and Newton is a good QB, the games they've lost have been by like 3-7 points each time.

The Lions should be 3-2, if it were not for two EPIC, and I mean EPIC, fails by Dallas and Minnesota.

There's no way you can convince me that Detroit is the better team. And our #3 corner is much better than anyone in the Lions secondary so you can't tell me they have a better one. The only reason they have better pass D numbers is because of their D Line, I think that's pretty obvious.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

We signed former New York Knick Shooting Guard John Starks? When did that happen Andrew? 8-)

GBP 4 LIFE

andrewgarda's picture

He's that good. Him and Charlie Ward making a transition to football!

Yeaaaaah........ thats what I meant...

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

You can't change it! Change it back, that's awesome.

FYI, listening to Rome right now, new Die-hard movie coming out. Sweet.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

And there's gonna be a McClain Jr. The franchise shall live on.

andrewgarda's picture

He should be played by Ashton Kutcher for full irony.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Lol, that's good Garda.

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