Monday, September 22, 2008

Coach McCarthy: "The Dallas Cowboys are farther ahead than we are right now."

In the post-game post-mortem of the Packers' 27-16 loss to the Cowboys last night at Lambeau Field, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy stated, "The Dallas Cowboys are farther ahead than we are right now. And that's the facts. And it's Week 3. How far ahead? Time will answer that question."

Well, for starters, the Cowboys racked up over 200 yards rushing between the "thunder and lightening" duo of Marion Barber and Felix Jones. The 'boys huge offensive line continually got a push on the Packers, exposing what some have said is a lack of depth on the defensive line. The Cowboys were able to generate an average of 6.2 yards per carry on 35 rushes. They also got 13 of their 22 first downs via the run. Time of possession wasn't as large a gap as one might expect, however: 32:12 for Dallas and 27:48 for the Pack. But it's what each team did with their time that made the difference. And Dallas clearly did more.

The Cowboys converted 50 percent of their 3rd downs, while the Pack only converted 29 percent. The Packers "D" couldn't get the 'boys off the field and the Packers "O" couldn't stay on the field. That about sums up the game.

Aaron Rodgers didn't play badly and truth be told, he was under pressure for a good chunk of the game and was sacked five times. He finished 22 of 39 for 290 yards, with 0 TDs and 0 INTs. Rodgers also lost receiver James Jones to a sprained knee while one of his favorite targets, Ruvell Martin, wasn't even active for the game because of a fractured finger suffered during last week's game. That effectively short-circuited much of the Packers' passing attack options, forcing them into three-receiver sets while they prefer to use four as often as circumstances allow.

As pointed out several times by NBC commentator, video game guru, and Frank Caliendo character John Madden, the Packers had some early success on runs but got away from it, perhaps too soon. The Packers were able to run outside early, but then...? Brandon Jackson had a couple nice runs substituting for Ryan Grant. But it just didn't seem as if there was a commitment to the run at any point in the game.

The early warning indicator, though, on the outcome of the game came on its second play. Ryan Grant fumbled the ball and it was recovered by the Cowboys at the Packers' 14. Fortunately, the defense was able to hold the 'boys to a field goal. Still, things like this always seem to be a precursor of things -- usually bad -- to come.

The Pack also come out of this game a bit banged up. In addition to Jones, Al Harris, Nick Collins, and Nick Barnett all got dinged up. Jones is perhaps the one with the biggest question mark for next weekend against Tampa Bay.

More on the upcoming game later.

But, let's give props where they are due. Congrats to the 'boy from Burlington, Wisconsin, Tony Romo. With last night's road win, he goes to 13-2 in his first 15 road games as a starter. That ties him for the best ever number of wins (in this same stat category) with Daryle "The Mad Bomber" Lamonica. (More trivia: Lamonica was actually drafted by the Packers in the 12th round of the 1963 NFL draft. He was also drafted in the 24th round of the AFL draft that same year. He chose Buffalo. Guess he figured he'd have greater opportunity backing up Jack Kemp than Bart Starr. Still, it wasn't until Lamonica was traded to the Raiders in 1967 that he really flourished. Things do have a way of coming full circle though in an odd sort of way: Lamonica was the losing QB in Super Bowl the Packers, as I'm sure you'll recall.)