Monday, August 16, 2010

Packers preseason game #1 post-post-analysis

Hello, again, Packer fans! Great to be back from a little break to get refreshed and recharged for the upcoming season.

Of course, as any truly green-n-gold-blooded Packer fan knows by now, the Pack dropped their first preseason game 27-24 on a last-second field goal by the Browns. The Packers started off poorly and finished poorly. But in between, so-so.

I have to confess to not actually having seen the game. I was attending one of those ill-planned activities that, when the date was chosen, somehow failed to consider the fact that hey, it's football season! Weddings..harrumph! (I didn't get a "harrumph" out of that guy!...sorry, slight homage to a line from Blazing Saddles.) But I did hear the closing minutes of the game on radio and of course saw and heard many of the post-game reports and comments.

You can check out all the specifics of the game elsewhere, if you haven't already done so. The quick-take: Rodgers did great, defense didn't even qualify as "vanilla," special teams are still mediocre.

So, based on one preseason game, looks as if the season is...whoa, there, Packer fans! Let's not get ahead of ourselves. And this is the thing I find most amazing reading "fan" comments elsewhere. Holy shanked field goal, Batman! It's the first preseason game, for cryin' out loud! The Browns wanted to jack it up to impress new GM Mike Holmgren (remember him?); the Pack clearly just wanted to get through the game, run some of the offense, see some players, not get anyone hurt. Yet, to read some of the comments, some folks are ready to consign the Packers to a pathetic season based upon what they saw Saturday night. (I'm tempted to go into that Saturday Night Live bit about, "Really? Really?", but I will refrain.) People: get a grip. First of all, it's only a game. Secondly, it's only a preseason game! The Packers did exactly what they needed to do. Granted, a little more energy and fewer mistakes to start the game might have made for a more entertaining night. But given how hard Cleveland had to play -- blitzing (sending 5 or more players) more than 80 percent of the time when Rodgers was in the game...and how did that work out, by the way? -- just to pull it out on the leg of their robo-kicker as the clock hit zero, well, the Packers are just fine.

Now sure, adjustments still need to be made and players still need to be coached up (in coach-speak). But it's OK at this point. Yes, special teams is still a concern both in terms of coverage as well as returns. But that's really not much different than it's been since the year of Desmond Howard, let's be honest. Quite a contrast with Cleveland's approach, where they keep five players on the roster just for special teams play...and that does not include the punter and kicker. This is the one area in particular that we should keep an eye on for major progress from game #1 to game #3, which is generally considered the dress rehearsal for the regular season opener. If we don't see some improvement by then, settle in for yet another ho-hum special teams season under Coach Mike McCarthy.

But, again, back to the main point of this post: take a deep breath, Packer fans. Chill. No, not the kind you get at Lambeau in December and January. The kind you need now. The kind of chillin' that will keep you realistic. It was only preseason game #1.

Thanks for reading and checking back. We'll keep you posted on anything of interest as the Pack prepares for their next game at Seattle.