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Who to Blame?

Who to Blame?

warner-woodson200x120

warner-woodson200x120

 

Kurt Warner came into the Cardinals - Packers playoff game with the second-best lifetime QB rating in NFL history. Only Bart Starr is better. Did everyone forget about that?

 

 

 

 

During the Sunday pregame shows on CBS, NBC and ESPN, only one football analyst picked the Cardinals to defeat the Packers (Bill Cowher). Everyone else picked the Packers. 14 out of 15 of the so-called experts were swayed. Swayed by what? The Packers meaningless win the week before against Arizona? The Cardinals lackluster play over the last four meaningless games of their season?

 

And a host of Packer fans were wrong. The prevailing sentiment in the week leading up to the game was that the Packers would win going away. I kept scratching my head at that. When I predicted the Packers pulling out a close victory (31-27), I was putting on a brave face, but inside, I feared Kurt Warner. In my mind, a close win would be the best case scenario. Packer fans kept telling me it wouldn't be that close. I wanted to believe, I really did.

 

Yet I feared that Warner would pick apart the Packers secondary like he did the Vikings secondary in week 13, the last meaningful game the Cardinals had played. Although his numbers in that game came nowhere near those from this past weekend's spectacle, I gained a healthy respect for his decision-making and timing. Kurt Warner delivers the ball to the right receiver, at the right time and in the right spot.

 

Enter the Packers secondary, an injury-depleted and seemingly easily-confused mish-mosh of over-rated players and waiver-wire pickups. There, I said it. Excluding, of course, NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Charles Woodson. Can you picture the Packers secondary without him?

 

Certainly, Kurt Warner and Ken Wisenhunt's eyes must have popped out like Marty Feldman's when they studied Packers game films. There was plenty there for them to like. From a supposed All-Pro safety that will make the occasional big play but struggles with consistency to the infamous Jarret Bush, helplessly chasing after his man while trying to locate the ball. Throw in the suspiciously disappearing Atari Bigby, athletic but mentally unprepared Brandon Underwood, and just not NFL-caliber Matt Giordano, and there was bound to be a Cardinal party in the Packers defensive backfield.

 

The only hope for the Packers, of course, would be to make Kurt Warner uncomfortable. But it had to happen from the base defense, which the Packers have not been able to do against quality opponents. With the 4-5 receiver sets the Cardinals dialed up, blitzing a DB was not a good option. Blitzing another linebacker may have helped, if the Packers had a linebacker besides Clay Matthews that can get to the quarterback.

 

Unfortunately, they don't.

Career Stats:

Barnett 15 sacks - 7 years
Hawk 8.5 sacks - 4 years
Chillar 7.5 sacks - 6 years

 

WIthout the ability to put real pressure on Warner, the Packers were forced to mostly play their nickel and dime packages, putting the defense's fate in the hands of the secondary. It was a lose-lose proposition.

 

I expected the Packers offense to be able to put up enough points to win the game, and certainly 45 points would normally qualify. And yet, it wasn't enough. Plenty of fingers are being pointed. The fault lies with Dom Capers, Aaron Rodgers turnovers, the referees, Nick Barnett, Jarret Bush, etc.

 

But there's really only one man to blame for this loss; The man who once before threw 5 TDs in a playoff game, the man with a 9-3 playoff record, the man with the second best playoff QB rating in NFL history; Kurt Warner, the quiet desert assassin who always saves his best for the big games.

 

And yes, his bust will one day reside in Canton.

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You can find more of Jersey Al Bracco’s articles on several sports websites: Jersey Al’s Blog, Packers Lounge, NFL Touchdown and Bleacher Report.

Jersey Al is the Green Bay Packers Draft Correspondent for Drafttek.com.

You can also follow Jersey Al on facebook and twitter.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (15) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

IronMan's picture

I was told by Aaron at CHTV: "We will win by 2 touchdowns. Mark it down."

Like you, I wanted to believe him, but I had a bad feeling the Packers would be over confident, and think that the Cardinals would just roll over again.

Well, the Packers were indeed a little to confident based on the previous week's meaningless game.

"But we won the one on one match ups." I was told. Yeah, we did. In a meaningless game,

After the first quarter, the Packers were shell shocked.

As far as who we should blame? Well, everyone; but the coaches did a poor job of getting the players mentally ready to play. That being said, the players should be smart enough to know , with out the coaches telling them, that week 17 was meaningless, and that Sundays game was going to be a totally different level.

Jersey Al's picture

that goes back to my long-time beef with McCarthy's motivational skills. But I didn't want to beat that dead horse again, and every time I do, I get told how these guys are pros and don't need a coach to motivate them (which I reject as total bullshit).

But in this game, I had to tip my hat to Kurt Warner. he executed the perfect gameplan and the Packers had no answer. Sometimes you just get beat by a great performance.

Aaron's picture

In my defense, my Force powers failed to see the 2 turnovers on the first 3 offensive snaps, without which they DO win by 2 TDs. ;)

Jersey Al's picture

Even nwith the turnovers, if the Packers were able to hold them to a field goal on one of those, it's probably a different outcome. But on this day, there was no answer for Kurt Warner.

Franklin Hillside's picture

I blame your fear of Kurt Warner. He could sense it...and we all know where fear leads to.

I can't fight the Empire on my own.

Jersey Al's picture

Sorry Luke, but he still had to execute the plan to perfection, which he did.

Asshalo's picture

That truley was an amazing performance by Warner even against a lackluster secondary. Hopefully Pat Lee just ran into a string of bad luck. I hope GB drafts Amaree Spivey out of Iowa in the 2nd to 4th round. Great tackler (plenty for losses this year) and is truly a shit down corner.

http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=84467&drafty...

Jersey Al's picture

What I've seen of Spivey I like. As an Iowa fan, what's your opinion on Bryan Bulaga? A lot of mock drafts have him falling down to the late first round.

Asshalo's picture

He's one of the few LTs that is an excellent pass and run blocker. I was hard on him early in the year, saying he wasn't worth a first round pick but his performance since have shown otherwise. It's rumored he has a thyroid condition, which I think has prevented him from being a higher pick. Then again, he's missed very few games at Iowa. I think he's worth it for sure at 23 (packs pick). We need a franchise LT and he may be undervalued at that spot.

Jersey Al's picture

I read that he had a thyroid condition and missed 3 games this season because of it. Supposedly it is not a serious case that will require a lifetime of medication.

RonLC's picture

The fault for the loss ws entirely Dom Capers. I say this as a great admirer. The nickle and dime defense requires competent cover guys. Going into that game who were the cover guys? He knew that from experience - Pitt and Minn.
_____
Along with the O line, the D backfield depth needs to be addresses in a serious fashion. The healthy front line is good, but lose a player or two and they have big problems. Either get better players or hope Capers cn figure out an alternative to his no pressure defenses.

Jersey Al's picture

With the personnel he had, Capers hands were tied. He tried some early pressures and Warner burnt them every time. The better odds were with trying to cover them, unfortunately, the players failed at that.

Greg C.'s picture

I was surprised by how many people on a national level picked the Packers to win. Of nine Sports Illustrated writers, every single one of them picked the Pack, and five of them predicted that the Packers would make it to the Super Bowl.

I don't think many people other than Packer fans were predicting a Packer blowout, however. Your 31-27 prediction was pretty typical of what I was seeing, and that's about what I was expecting as well. Kurt Warner's skills are well-known.

What was surprising was that the Cardinals' offense did not suffer in the least from the loss of Anquan Boldin. Of course, Larry Fitzgerald is the guy who really makes their offense go, because he's the one who stretches the field, but you would think there would be some dropoff without Boldin in the lineup. There wasn't.

As for blame, most of it has to be on either Capers or McCarthy. When almost everybody on the defense plays badly, you've got to think there were problems with their mindset and/or the defensive scheme. I think it was more the scheme. It was like the Cardinals were inside of Capers' head. But I agree that you have to tip your hat to Kurt Warner.

Jersey Al's picture

NO doubt, the national media are bandwagon jumpers, so it always bothers me when they get all giddy about the Packers. They're usually wrong.

The fact the Boldin was out and Fitzgerald was controlled to some extent just speaks more to the ability of Warner.

I mostly think it was the Packers players execution of the defensive scheme that was faulty. Arizona just confused the hell out of them.

Max's picture

It was truly a horrible defensive display. The only way I can see that you could be successful against an on-fire Warner is to blitz him heavy. We don't have talented blitzers in our LBs. Clay Mathews gets the job done to an extent, but when he's all the blitzing talent you have....forget about it. That being the case our big plan was to rely on our DBs to hold off Warner long enough for us to get pressure.... big mistake. Warner and the Cardinals simply took advantage of guys like Bush and Underwood who may as well have been doing a comedy scratch-of-head while watching the Cards WRs sail past them.

The blame can't lie solely with Capers. The Cape did the best with injury call-ups who should never have made it on the field. It's a glaring display of our lack of depth. You got the impression Capers was rubbing a rabbits foot somewhere in Lambeau before the game.

This team desperately needs a talent revaluation for next season. Some guys just weren't a great fit in the 3-4, and some simply underachieved. If we want to get anywhere we need to bolster this team. I hope Ted won't rely soley of the Draft for that.

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