Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Close But Not Quite

  • The first three-quarters of the Green Bay Packers’ game against the Carolina Panthers was an absolute disaster. The last quarter had some decent stretches in it, but it wasn’t enough. The Panthers outscored the Packers 24-0 in the second quarter on their way to 27-7 halftime lead. After a touchdown after the half, Green Bay punted four straight times before waking up and scoring touchdowns on back-to-back drives to cut the lead to eight. On the next play, Demarious Randall intercepted Cam Newton!!

  • It was all for naught, however, as the Packers couldn't finish the final drive. At fourth-and-goal at the four-yard line, the offensive line was unable to keep the pressure off (surprise!), forcing Aaron Rodgers into a desperate throw that was intercepted while poor Randall Cobb was standing wide open in the endzone. After the game, Rodgers said he got “scared” and rushed the throw. He wasn't too happy when he watched the replay and saw how open Cobb was:

  • The late surge redeemed some truly horrible stats the Packers had going on yards and third-and-longs. The first half saw Green Bay drives of -7, -1, -1, 0, and -7, and ended with a disappointing 71-yard drive that anticlimactically fizzled on the 9-yard line when the clock ran out.

  • Rodgers was sacked five times and took 14 QB hits from the Panthers. The Packers defense, on the other hand, had zero sacks and managed just two quarterback hits. Their frustration showed on the sidelines as HaHa Clinton-Dix, Julius Peppers, and BJ Raji got into it. Not a good look.

  • All the players involved downplayed it as “heat of the moment” stuff, of course, and Clinton-Dix apologized after the game.

  • All the defensive players should be angry -- they’ve given up 1,500 yards in the last three games!! It doesn’t help that they lost cornerback Casey Hayward (concussion) in the first half. They were already without cornerbacks Sam Shields and Quinten Rollins -- we don’t have any more defensive backs to spare!!

Not only was I constantly missing Jordy every time the offense was on the field, but it also made onside kicks a lot less possible. Green Bay’s onside kicks are usually drawn up for Nelson to recover because he’s so amazing. =(
In every way.

  • Our tight ends are very bad.

  • What’s going on with Eddie Lacy? Even aside from an ankle injury that has bothered him in earlier weeks, he’s seems to fallen out of favor with the coaches. James Starks has become the primary back in the past couple of weeks, and Lacy didn’t do himself any favors when he coughed up the ball in the first half. (Stupid Charles Tillman forced the fumble. Shouldn’t he be in a retirement home by now? It was the 44th forced fumble of his career!) On top of it all, Lacy suffered a groin injury in Sunday’s game.
Where have you been, Eddie??

  • One thing that’s been written about during the Packers’ struggles the last few weeks is how their scheme isn’t doing much to help the receivers, who have had trouble getting open. Some have suggested Green Bay should run more picks and crossing routes to beat man-coverage. I wonder if there’s any chance that head coach Mike McCarthy resumes play-calling duties after relinquishing them in the offseason, though I don’t know that that would improve anything.

  • I also think another thing that needs to happen is that Aaron Rodgers needs to throw more interceptions. His receivers are just not going to be as open as they were with Jordy on the field, and Rodgers is going to have to take more risks than is his preference if the Packers want to keep defenses honest on the back end. That likely means more interceptions, but so be it. When Green Bay’s back was up against the wall on Sunday, Rodgers had to take some chances and make some throws that he probably would not have attempted if the game hadn’t been on the line. The result was 158 passing yards and two touchdowns over a five-minute stretch that was in marked contrast to the offense’s inability to gain important yards the other 55 minutes of the game. Just let it go and throw some interceptions, Aaron.
I know the idea is distasteful to you, but you gotta take some for the team!

  • The good news is that the toughest two-week stretch of the Packers’ schedule is likely over and the  1-7 Detroit Lions are coming to Lambeau next week. The bad news is that Green Bay’s still got huge problems on both sides of the ball and I don’t necessarily see any solutions on the horizon.
Unless we can clone him.

  • I understand the “not in our house” mentality, but Panthers quarterback Cam Newton tearing down some Packers fans’ banner was not very nice! The fans were none too happy about the move, and even reported the “theft” to the stadium police after the game.

  • Argh the St. Louis Rams really let me down, losing 21-18 in overtime to the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are now tied with the Packers for the NFC North lead, with a matchup coming in two weeks.

  • Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater left the game with a concussion following a hit that his coach and teammates called cheap. The hit is terrifying since it appears to knock Bridgewater out cold, but am I the only one who doesn’t think it was dirty? It looks bad when you slow it down, but it happened very, very fast in real time. (I do hope Teddy’s okay!)

  • There were some entertaining games on Sunday -- only three of 11 games were decided by more than one score. Aside from the Packers’ near-comeback, the Rams-Vikings, Titans-Saints, and Cowboys-Eagles games went into overtime, the Jets-Jaguars game was decided by five points, the Raiders-Steelers and Colts-Broncos by three points, and the Falcons-49ers by one point.

  • Antonio Brown is so darn good. He had 284 receiving yards in the Pittsburgh Steelers win over the Oakland Raiders. Human highlight reel.
  • I actually predicted that the Indianapolis Colts would beat the Denver Broncos, but no one was around to hear me except my cats.
They probably weren't even listening.

  • The Colts were up 27-24 with the ball on the Broncos’ 15-yard line with 2:35 left in the game. If Denver could limit Indianapolis to a field goal, they would only be down six with a chance for Peyton Manning to lead a game-winning drive. Tough, but possible. Unfortunately for Denver fans, however, the Broncos had a huge meltdown in the form of unnecessary fouls. Cornerback Aqib Talib got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for poking Colts tight end Dwayne Allen in the eye after a play, which gave the Colts a new set of downs. (Talib was suspended one game for the poke.) The Broncos were able to hold Indy to a field goal ….buuuuut Denver had another penalty on the kick -- holding -- giving the Colts yet another first down and allowing them to kneel out the remainder of the game. Oh, but before the game ended, Talib got another unsportsmanlike conduct from the sideline for “berating an official.”

  • I enjoyed watching the Dallas Cowboys lose to the Philadelphia Eagles in overtime on Sunday night. My favorite part of the night was this ludicrous Matt Cassel touchdown. He pretty much ran backward for 20 yards, panicked, and chucked the ball to a big crowd in the endzone. Luckily for Cassel and the ‘Boys, Dez Bryant is back and can do things like this:

  • But that decision-making by Cassel is positively stupendous. He makes that throw after throwing a pick-six on the previous drive! I almost have to admire the what-are-you-going-to-do-go-back-to-Brandon-Weeden? guts of that throw. What on earth were you thinking, Matt??
I gaze into your crazy eyes for a hint, but find nothing.

  • I hate it when they show team owners and executives in their boxes. They’re always seated next to some very, very young female, and I always find myself praying out loud, “Please be his granddaughter, please be his granddaughter, please be -- ah! no!” as he leans his wrinkled old-man lips in for a drooly kiss. It’s pretty much a staple of Sunday Night Football.

  • You may have noticed that I’m slightly obsessed with Charles Woodson. How could I not be? I love every single quote in this article, from his saying, “I don’t know how to be hurt” to shouldering the blame and calling the Oakland Raiders’ secondary “the weak link.” He’s just so cool and awesome and amazing and I wish he were still a Packer.

  • I’m sputtering trying to imagine what Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn was thinking. His team was at the one-yard line with under three minutes to go, trailing the San Francisco 49ers by four points, and he decided to kick a field goal. Just to clarify, field goals are worth three points. What happened next is exactly what you would have expected: San Fran managed a couple of first downs, then kneeled out the clock for the win. After the game, Quinn actually defended the call!

  • The whole decision was predicated on the Falcons defense stopping the Blaine Gabbert-led Niners offense. If Quinn thought his defense could force a three-and-out following the field goal, why didn’t he think they could have done the same if the Falcons had missed the one-yard touchdown and turned the ball over on downs? They would have had had much better field position to boot. But congratulations to Atlanta, who became just the fourth member of the exclusive club of teams that have lost to Blaine Gabbert.
Four NFL teams -- ever.

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick of New York Jets has now beat the Jacksonville Jaguars while playing quarterback for five different teams.

  • The Tennessee Titans beat the New Orleans Saints in overtime, but the highlight of the game was an incredibly lucky (or unfair, depending on which team you were rooting for) Tennessee touchdown that came from the ball bouncing off two defenders’ hands right to Titans’ tight end Delanie Walker, who took it in for the score.

  • As you can imagine, that play drew a lot of attention, and one reporter was asking Saints safety Jairus Byrd about it when corner Brandon Browner overheard and completely flipped out, screaming obscenities at the reporter and having to be restrained by teammates. Apparently he just really did not want to hear about the play.

  • Jason Pierre-Paul played in his first game back since seriously injuring his hand in a fireworks accident. JPP looked in shape and had some good quarterback pressures, even if he didn’t blow up the box score. I happy that he’s back and hope he continues to do well!

  • Arrrgh. Jay Cutler had a fumble in the redzone AND a pick-six, and the Chicago Bears still beat the San Diego Chargers?? Jay even set a franchise record for most touchdown passes.

  • It was a roller coaster of emotion for Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. When Jay was turning the ball over, Phil was all:

  • But then, late in the fourth, this happened:

  • And then Phil was sad:

  • Rivers and the Chargers all have plenty of reasons to be sad. Not only are they 2-7, but they also without, oh, about half their roster due to injuries. They lost their #1 receiver last week when Keenan Allen was placed on the IR with a lacerated kidney (ow), and receiver Malcolm Floyd suffered a hip injury on Monday. Two cornerbacks and a defensive end left the game as well. They joined a tight end, two offensive tackles, and two linebackers who already weren't playing due to injury.

  • Last week, the Niners played the St. Louis Rams. On one play, San Francisco running back Reggie Bush ran out of bounds. As he was trying to slow down, he crossed from the turf to the uncovered concrete area, slipped, fell, and injured his knee. The injury required surgery, ending Bush’s season and, given his age, possibly his career.

  • Now Bush is planning to sue the city of St. Louis (which owns and operates the stadium). Normally I would roll my eyes at such a lawsuit, but I have to say I kind of might be maybe sort of with Reggie on this one. 1) The concrete is way, way too close to a field where very fast people are running at full speed. It’s not unlikely or uncommon for a player to end up that far from the sideline. 2) The same thing happened the week before! Cleveland quarterback Josh McCown had an odd, slow crash into the wall when he was trying to slow down on the slippery concrete. McCown appeared to suffer a minor hand injury, but shook it off and returned to the field. The St. Louis stadium is already a disaster for the city, and now it might cost the city even more.

  • Sigh. The silver lining to the season thus far is that maybe Sideline Ninja will get the proper respect for all that he does next season.


  1. I think the hit on Bridgewater was as dirty as it looked--he was already into his slide when that guy dove on him.

    1. Yes, I really do seem to be the only one who thinks it wasn't. (I do agree that it deserved a flag for being late.) I think a lot of people thought it was dirty not because it was late, but because it was at Bridgewater's head/neck area. It might sound weird, but, to me, Bridgewater slides very low -- if he slid at less of an angle, Joyner would be hitting his torso/chest, not his head. I feel for defenders in this situation since quarterbacks use defenders' fear of getting a penalty to pick up extra yardage alllll the time. Also, the two are childhood friends, so I don't think Joyner was taking a cheap shot.