I have started this post about five times, but I just can’t seem to find the right, poetic words to say it. And after following the live blog and twitter and the complete craziness that seems to be gripping Packer fans, I’m just going to flat out say it.
And I’m watching the Bears win against the Eagles as I type this.
The season is not over. The Packers do not suck. The sky is not falling.
The second FOX started showing live coverage of the stadium, a panic washed over me. And despite the audible cheers of “Go Pack Go” and the mass of empty seats, nothing seemed to be able to clear my panic. I knew it then, and I think in some way we all knew it, even Mr. Corey Behnke, that this would be a dog fight. Do I want to win every game? Yes. Do I think that the Packers stand a chance to win every game? Yes. Will they? No.
Some losses are heart breaking; some losses highlight general shortcomings within the team; some losses can derail an entire season. This was not one of those losses.
This was one good team, playing another good team. Each made a couple of mistakes; Green Bay’s just being more costly.
- The Aaron Rodgers fumble. Shame on you Arod for the fumble. Shame on you for calling the first sneak, and shame on you for not calling out of the second sneak. There, that’s it. That’s all the wrath he’s getting from me. Was the fumble costly? Yes. Does it mean he sucks? No. Does his play later in the game completely make up for the fumble? No. Is he the reason we lost the game? No.
- McCarthy not challenging the fourth down “catch”. Upon viewing of the replay, it was clear to nearly everyone that Gonzalez did not make the catch. I have no idea what the status of the replay was in the coach’s box. There was talk after the game that there is a delay, or that maybe the coaches don’t get the FOX feed. Here’s what it boils down to. I wish, that even without the coaches upstairs ok, McCarthy would have thrown the challenge flag. It was late in the half, why save the timeout? At the same time, that’s my opinion after I saw the replay and knew it was not a catch. What if the play would have been closer? And McCarthy throws out the challenge flag on his own accord, and it doesn’t get over turned. It’s not just the timeout that will be missed; it’s the possibility of a second challenge in the second half. In that case, I’d probably be sitting here, cursing him for wasting the challenge. He’s the head coach, he makes the call, and he gets the credit and the blame. So I’ll blame him, but I’m not calling for his head – as some very non cowardly guest on the live blog did – nor thinking it’s the worst mistake ever.
- Special Teams. The ST problem was not the facemask penalty. No matter what, the Packers seem to be incapable of putting together one solid special teams performance. With Jordy Nelson being used more as a receiver, taking him off of kick return coverage was the right move, and I desperately want Sam Shields to be the answer, but I’m just not convinced. He has lightning fast speed, and has been catching the ball, but he still seems unable to both read the coverage and pick a lane. Watching him run, he definitely timid when running into coverage. And then there’s our own coverage. Mason, who has the ability to kick the long ball, seems unable to place a kick deep into the end zone. Our coverage lacks discipline, penalties and Jarrett Bush (hello, sideline!!!), the ability to penetrate a wedge and stay in their lanes, and seems unable to wrap up returners. I have been on the anti-Shawn Slocum bandwagon for much of this year. And I believe it’s clear that the Packers need changes when it comes to special teams. However, I’m done calling for his head. Mostly because I just don’t think it will happen and I’m done wasting my breath.
So here’s what I’m thinking. 1. We need Rodgers to not fumble on the goal line. Feel pretty confident that we won’t be seeing him put the ball on the turf again for a while. We will however see mistakes. Would like perfection, but would also like a million dollars and that’s just not happening. 2. The replay system needs to be streamlined. Not sure if this is a Green Bay problem or a Georgia Dome problem. Need to prepare better for those situations, especially if there are road playoff games. 3. Seeing as I believe Slocum will be with us through the season, I can only hope and pray here. And maybe Mason can always kick with the wind?
I have more thoughts, re running game, the last drive and such, but quite honestly, I’m tired, and there’s a long week ahead. At the end of the day, the Packers played the number one team in the NFC on the road, made some mistakes and were close to winning the game. Close only counts in kissing and horse shoes, and there are no moral victories, but our mistakes are fixable and I for one, will not be losing sleep tonight.
This Packers team showed guts and determination in this game and in the past five games, and I feel confident that they are playoff bound. Mark it.