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Still A Finesse Team

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Still A Finesse Team

And it isn't even debatable.

When one goes back and re-watches the Bengals game, the evidence is there, screaming out from the broadcast film. The Packers were manhandled on every level. It didn't matter what personnel was in the game - the Bengals were quicker to the punch and that punch was harder than anything the Packers had.

And that's not even the worst part when it comes to the defense. No, the worst part is that, for all the noise about how physical their training camp was, about how observers hadn't seen 'hitting like that' in a Packers training camp in decades, for all of that - the Packers still can't tackle. Anyone.

So much for getting a more physical team. So much for hitting teams in the mouth. Thompson has assembled a fast, athletic group. That's great. But when they meet a team dead-set on pounding the ball, with a bruising back that is patient and can always find four or more yards on almost every carry, it's all over.

Maybe the addition of B.J. Raji will make a transformational difference. Maybe the coaching staff will finally give Desmond Bishop a real look rather than paying the idea lip service. Who knows what the team can do at this point. But I cringed while re-watching this game and seeing the likes of A.J. Hawk and Brandon Chillar get completely over matched in the running game. And what in the world happened to Johnny Jolly? After a stellar preseason and a fantastic opening game, Jolly was invisible. Simply washed out of almost every running play. Cullen Jenkins still did some nice things, but as was my fear this summer, was not up for doing the heavy lifting required in stopping the run on a full-time basis. I've also noticed one or two negative comments about Ryan Pickett around the Blogosphere and I'm here to tell you - Pickett was the only defensive lineman worth a damn yesterday. No, he wasn't Casey Hampton in his prime, but he was very good at attacking his gaps and he more than held his own.

And don't get me started on Aaron Kampman.

I just kept thinking, and I'm sure there are several of you reading this that were thinking the same thing, that if this is what they looked like against Benson and the Bengals, it will be an absolute bloody massacre when the Packers visit the Metrodome...

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (34) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PackersRS's picture

As it is impossible to comment on the MM topic, what scares me is that, NO, MCCARTHY CANNOT CORRECT HIS MISTAKES. I don't believe he can anymore. I watched a whole year of him not correcting the mistakes last year, and I'm seeing it again. He won't be fired this season, and probably shouldn't, but I sure want him to. I'm not a hater, and I wish us to go to the SB. I won't cheer for us to lose just so one person is fired. That is the dumbest shit a fan can do. But I'm not seeing improvement, and thus, I'm not seeing us making the playoffs this year. That's not a conclusion based on 1 loss. It's a conclusion based on one sorry performance by the whole team, and based on the fact that we had the same kind of performances last year and went nowhere.

Packsmack's picture

What if the Bengals go out and win their next 3 games against the Steelers, Browns, and Ravens? What will we be saying then?

This team has played HORRIBLY, no doubt, but all of this jumping to conclusions after 2 games is pretty sad.

I was as disgusted as anyone about the Packers and their play on 9-20-09, but that's just it. It was how they played ON THAT DAY.

This team still has a ton of talent, and you guys can't see the forest through the trees. Of course, if they continue to play like they did on Sunday, it will be irrelevant as to how much talent is on the roster. Still, can we take a break from painting this season a failure? They're 1-1, and if they win their next 2 games, they're in 1st place again. Everyone please, just breathe.

Ron La Canne's picture

Finesse Sucks. This is football. You know, block, tackle, smack somebody! Break out the tackling dummies and start beating the crap out of something for 8 hours a day.

Packnic's picture

wow. so many definite statements from one game.

Asshalo's picture

" Who knows what the team can do at this point."

The scary thing is they really didn't look a whole lot different in certain areas last week: Penalties and poor play by the offense. And now we have to deal with the run defense and special teams imploding. Two bad returns and a Ryan Grant fumble amounted to 17 points. Tightening up there will definitely help.
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I've said it once I'll say it again: Jolly is a solid-depth player but not a bona-fide starter. He's shown some flare, but he's best in a rotation. Hopefully with Raji back, he'll be able to get less reps and elevate the plays he's in.

Jayme's picture

Don't get too riled up by one game. Don't forget, the Titans lost to a team they should have beaten handily. The Steelers lost to a team that they should have destroyed. Tom Brady looked lost as the Patriots were smothered by the Jets. Good teams look bad sometimes. What you have to hope for is improvement. Hopefully the OL can figure out how to block, the receivers can remember how to catch, and the entire defense stops trying to make arm tackles. I'm not holding my breath waiting for these things, but you can bet I'm hoping for them.

PackersRS's picture

Packsmack. My opinion has nothing to do with what team we were playing. It could be the Giants, and I wouldn't care. It was about repeating the same mistakes that we had last year. It's about not improving. I didn't freak out that our offense couldn't do much against the Bears. That was not a problem last year, and I was confident they could go back to play great. But missing tackles is another issue. Against the bears, there were a ton of zero and minus yards runs. NONE against the Bengals. And there were plenty opportunities for us to tackle them behind the line.
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It's not about one game, it's the projection of the flaws on the season. Tell me, how are we going to fix the OL, the tackling problem, the playcalling problem, the ST problem, the Kicking problem, the passion problem? I know this team can pass the ball, it did it last year. I know this team can create turnovers, it did last year. The rest, it doesn't seem to have improved, and we had a whole offseason to do it. I hope we were just overconfident because of the preseason, but it doesn't seem like it.
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As I said over at packerslounge, I'm officially a skeptic, a naysayer, and won't change that approach until this team can improve and show me they're good. Until then, it's only hopes and potential.

bigfog's picture

After having a night to sleep on it, I'm reserving my judgment on this team until after the Rams game. Let's see what team turns up - the aggressive Defense and offense that torched people in the preseason, or the bunch out there that looked destined for 6-10 or worse. 2 games in is just not enough games to make firm decisions on.

One thing's for certain though, they need to show some passion out there. They need the "eye of the tiger (cheesy yes, but you know what I mean)."

packeraaron's picture

Packnic - Actually, I've been saying they're finesse for about the last 30 or so games...

Packnic's picture

i know Aaron and you may be right about this one. Im not sold on us being a finesse team because of last week, finesse teams dont win that game. Maybe we are a recovering finesse team and we just had a relapse?
-You are definitely right about the WCO. Thats what we were built and meant to do, and for some reason we aren't doing it.

I just mean all around the blogosphere today... I'm pretty sure we are the worst team to ever play football. I just dont get the suicidal tendencies today, we have problems but then again so does every single team in football. Long year.

PackersRS's picture

"Maybe we are a recovering finesse team and we just had a relapse?"
God I hope you're right.

jrarick's picture

Guys,

I think the Bengals are not nearly as bad as folks think. Palmer is a Pro Bowl QB. Bengals were bad last year when he was injured. The defense actually has a lot of good players, and some predicted the Packers would have a difficult time scoring against them. The Bengals will "surprise" many this year, as Atlanta did last year.

The Packers got caught up in the 10 point favorite stuff, coming off a tough victory over a Bear team that just be the Steelers. It was an emotional let-down, which is unacceptable for professionals. Worse, is the drops by receivers. WTF. I actually place a lot of blame at their hands (or lack there of).

Nevertheless, I expect to see a completely different team this week and the following.

My $.02.

Andrew In Atlanta's picture

Back before we hired Capers, I wrote some responses to posts indicating I was not convinced the D talent was as good as many others thought it was. In fact, I got into it a bit with someone I really respect (Professor Nagler) because I wanted to draft Raji to fill one of the holes I saw as important. Then the preseason came and I looked at the defense and thought can this be real? I thought maybe the talent + Capers was better than I originally felt. Well, now I don't know if my first thought was correct or if we are better than we appear. What I do know is we were having these same conversations last year as we went win one, lose one through the first half of the season. The conversations where some say "take it easy, it's early." I was one of those people saying "calm down" last year. Now I'm concerned after the first two games that 2009 looks an awful lot like 2008, both in terms of performance and the injury bug. Panic time - definitely not. But let's just be realistic about where the holes are and not get married to the whole "it's early in the season" thing. We're not playing very well and we are not a deep team. One or two more key injuries (particularly on the O line)and this season could get very ugly very quick. I sincerely hope the coaching staff figures this out soon

Ruppert's picture

Personally, I don't really care whether the Pack falls under the "finesse" umbrella or not. The bigger issue, to me, is the fact that everything about this team in inconsistent. We can pull up video of how this team had games where they were excellent in practically every key area, and games where they were equally as horrible. And it goes almost to a man. An inconsistent team is not going to win a championship. Unfortunately, I don't have a brilliant idea on how to change that.

Jayme's picture

What is up with the injury bug, by the way? Are the football gods punishing the Packers for something?
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Regardless, I know I'm not a football genius, so I generally use the opinions of others to help form my own. Peter King still has the Packers ranked 12th (7th in the NFC) in his "Fine 15." This isn't the best, but to still be ranked in the top half after some of the things that I've read/heard the past 24 hours or so, I'll take it. While I think they can be better, and I hope they will be, I'm not going to start my Chicken Little impression any time soon.

nerdmann's picture

I agree.
And I'm NOT making this judgement based on ONE game. Throughout MM's tenure, the offensive line has struggle. Previously, we thought it was because they were shifting guys around and playing "musical chairs" out there.
It would usually take until week 8-10 for them to "gel," or start playing decently.
Now it's coming back to bite us.

NickGBP's picture

Jesus Christ, it's one bad game. Everyone is acting as if the season is over. Grow up.
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Were there issues? Absolutely. Did they look poor in every aspect? Sure. But had they come out ahead at the end and won you can bet the attitude would be completely different in "Packer Nation." We would be talking about how Capers' defense came up with the turnovers when they needed to, and how Aaron Rodgers was hanging tough and won. Sure we'd be discussing that it was a sloppy game and the OL was horrid, but the tone would certainly not be as morose. All of a sudden everyone is running for the hills. Jesus, I wouldnt want any of you running my business; the first sign of trouble and you'd all give up.
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We all (should) know that there are going to be bumps in the road, especially with the transition on defense. That doesn't mean everything has gone to shit based on week 2's result.
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To be honest, I'm pretty dissappointed in this rash rush to judgement from Cheesehead TV. Everyone is getting caught up in the emotions of this thing and not thinking objectively. Someone mentioned going back to Lombardi's ideals. Well, none of you are following his example with all of your doom and gloom.
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As someone else mentioned the Patriots got manhandled yesterday in the exact same way. Tom Brady's offense couldn't get in the end zone ONCE. Does that mean their season is over and they're a poorly coached 'finesse' team? No. Are people freaking out about it? Probably, but if they are, they're making the same mistake that most of you are. The reason that Tom Brady and Bellicheck are consistently successful is because they don't do what everyone else does in these situations.
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And the funny thing is, next week if they trounce the Rams everyone will be back where they were after the preseason: with overinflated expectations.

Aaron's picture

Nick, again, I've been saying this is a finesse team for years. Note the use of the word 'Still' in the title? ;)

NickGBP's picture

If you get beaten of course you look like a "finesse" team by your definition. If Mike Tyson got beat sure you could say he was manhandled, but I don't think you could say that proves he is a finesse fighter, it just means he got manhandled. Just because the Packers got outmatched in this instance doesn't mean they are a finesse team. They are still a swarming, physical defense under Capers. If they missed their assignments or just got beat in one on one matchups against the Bungles, then maybe they just got "outphysicaled" (as coaches like to say). That's different. We saw the "ideal" performance of this defense in the preseason, and it was anything but finesse.

Ruppert's picture

Somebody tell me I'm reading the stat sheet wrong...THREE running plays called the entire second half (and a couple scrambles by Rodgers)??? I don't know if that's "finesse," or not, but, my friends, it is INCONCEIVABLE.

Glorious80s's picture

With all of that, still, they had a chance to pull it out in the last minutes as in the Bear game. They flash brilliance at times. Maybe they need to concentrate on what they do best. It's a passing team, has been for a long time. If they're built as a WCO, fine, but don't leave out the long game, because you need a quick score capability. It would be interesting to know why McCarthy has changed the emphasis.

NickGBP's picture

And I know you've used the word repeatedly over the years and I've always been confused by it. You always seem to use it as if it has a negative connotation but I'm unsure why. To me the word means a refined, effective performance; ie brains over brawn. If the Packers were truly a finesse team then that would mean they outclassed their opponents through cunning and scheme, and there's certainly nothing wrong with that. My point is if we truly had a finesse team in the strict sense of the word, I'm pretty confident you wouldnt be complaining ;).
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NickGBP's picture

One final note (for now). I think you're essentially saying that we got smacked in the mouth and backed down. I'd agree with that. But that's why we (theoretically) brought in a coach like Capers who will get on their asses. And that is partly why I'm not as concerned about the team as many of these guys are. I have confidence that McCarthy can and will improve the offense. He's done it in the past. Even though it should already be kicking ass and that's no excuse, I know (hope? :() that he will get it right. I didn't, however, have faith that Sanders could do the same for the defense. With another strong authority WITH credibility (actually multiple ones as you mentioned in a great post about the assistent coaches last week when you still had hopes for the team :P) , we should be able to rectify these issues unlike in the past. As Kampman said when he spoke to the press, this adversity is how you tell what kind of character you have in the locker room. I just hope the players aren't collapsing like you all are...or we truly are in trouble ;).

FITZCORE1252's picture

Yep, I think we may get embarrassed by Brent and his crew on MNF. God I hope I'm wrong, but Jared Allen might get 20 sacks... THAT NIGHT. Where the F did this all go wrong? WTF?

GBP 4 LIFE

packeraaron's picture

Nick - great points all around, but where am I 'collapsing'? Didyou read the post about the offense? I know McCarthy can get it done and have written as much. That doesn't change the fact that we saw a lot of what caused the team to go 6-10 last year pop up against the Bengals, one of the most prominent being an inability to tackle or stop the run. That is disconcerting to say the least and I have no qualms with pointing it out.

NickGBP's picture

Sorry, I was combining all of my Packer related vitriole in these few posts...most of them certainly aren't directed at you. It's just the combination of all of these negative comments I've been hearing everywhere about how our season is over. Your articles (as always) bring up great points, I just wish someone would help keep things in perspective and calm down all the people that claim that the sky is falling (not that thats your job anyway...you're free to say whatever you feel). The "collapsing" and other similar comments were meant for the "Blogosphere" as a whole, certainly not addressed at you specifically.
My last sentence reads "I just hope the players aren't collapsing like you all are..." which is again directed at everybody.

NickGBP's picture

Ruppert if it's truly as low as 2 run attempts in the second half thats one of the worst examples of play calling I've EVER heard of. If that's true McCarthy was a bonehead and playcalling is what lost us this game.
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Grant had some great runs in the first half. If I recall, late in the first quarter he had around 40 yards... I was thinking he'd clearly get over 100 today. And he was running very well...he found the end zone on a solid run. What the hell made him go away from it, ESPECIALLY when your OLine is so shakey and Clifton goes out? That defies all logic to me.
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At the same time, that gives more proof that we have great upside. Of course Rodgers will get sacked 5 times if you make him pass every damn play. Of course the oline will struggle if they are fighting off pass rushers every play. And of course receivers wont get open if we never attempt to run. If the amount of running attempts is true I'm surprised that THAT isn't getting most of the attention.
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Ruppert's picture

NickGBP, according to the gamebook available at nfl.com or packers.com/gameday, Grant had 11 rushes in the first half and 14 for the game. Aside from Rodgers' scrambles, Grant is listed as the only RB who had any rushing attempts. Blame a very good batch of homebrewed Pils, but my memory fades as to whether any of Rodgers' scrambles were called that way. I doubt it.
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McCarthy ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS abandons the run. And every week after he does it, he stands there for his presser and fesses up to the fact that maybe he shouldn't have. In some instances, it may make more sense. But yesterday, it was within 1 score the whole second half until 2 minutes were left. And everybody on earth could see passing was next to impossible due to Rodgers nearly being killed. As many have mentioned, it's always the same things...and this is one of them.

NickGBP's picture

I can't recall it ever being that low though. I understand it in the 4th quarter in a tight game. But it shouldnt be that low. Despite what some people say Grant is a competant runner...if we give him some opportunities.
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McCarthy should plan a first 15 for the second half like most coaches do for the beginning of the game.

PackersRS's picture

Playcalling would be fine... If we had a great Oline! Then with Rodgers and the receivers, those long calls would be great. MM has failed to adapt. He tried to put 7 man blocking and keep going long, instead of quick passes and SCREENS. That's just lack of intelligence IMO. You can open a locked door by keeping banging your head against it, or you can use the key.

Jrehor's picture

One of 2 things will happen this week-either we are going to come out and completely stick it to the Rams or lose everything we had coming out of preseason. Not good already in Week 3 and heading into week 4 against the Queens.

nerdmann's picture

I am concerned about the defense. They need to stop the run better. It seemed like there were alot of times we had penetration and we had guys in the backfield, but our guys couldn't make the tackle. CedBen was able to make the first guy miss. Sometimes the first THREE guys miss.
That said, I think the defense played well enough to win. Yeah, Cinci put up 31 points, but if the offense had any production whatsoever, they would have been on the field longer, keeping Cinci's offense on the sideline, where they belonged.
I put this 100% on the offense. And it's not just the offensive line. What put us in the hole originally and enabled Cinci to hang around was about 8-10 dropped passes in the first half. Luckily, I think that's a fluke. Unlike the offensive line ALWAYS being horrible under MM, the WRs are generally quite good.
Although it looks like we're starting to run the Tom Rossely offense, the way we're chucking it downfield all the time. Three step drops. Protect the QB. High percentage. That's the WCO.

FITZCORE1252's picture

We have GOT to come out and HANDLE the Rams. Just from a confidence perspective going into the queens layer. You think the O-line isn't already worrying about their D-line, I guarantee it, and rightfully so. I know it's tough to call games from week to week, but if there is a team out there to "CURE WHAT AILES YOU" it's the F'ing Rams. Gotta take advantage and get a little momentum going heading into minny.

GBP 4 LIFE

PackersRS's picture

Hey, Aaron. I know what has confused people. You misspelled. SOFT was the word you were looking for. Nick said it very well. If we were a finesse team, like the Colts, we would be a good team. We're soft, like the Lions. Yes, I've said it. Prove me wrong.

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