Monday, November 01, 2010

Packers' victory over Jets: no-name "D" gets it done

This NFL season for the Green Bay Packers certainly has not unfolded as many if not most folks thought it would coming out of the preseason. The injuries have bordered upon an epidemic of Biblical proportions. The inconsistency of the offense through the first half of the season is frustrating and bewildering. The special teams? Not very special early on, but as of late...not bad at all. And as for the defense, guys should be wearing name tags out there so you know who's playing on any given weekend.

And yet, somehow, this team has fought through the adversity, not used excuses, and have gotten tremendous peformances out of guys who might not even be on a NFL roster right now if not for all the Packers' injuries. Charles Woodson put it this way: "It's amazing what you can do with some athleticism and good coaching. We've got good coaches, so you can stick some guys in there who haven't been around, and they can get it done."

That's just what they did yesterday in the new Meadowlands. Despite the inability of the offense to score a touchdown -- even with 1st and goal from the 2-yard line! -- the punting of Tim Masthay and the coverage of the punt units gave the Packers the edge in field position all day long. Head coach Mike McCarthy said, tongue in cheek, at his press conference today that Masthay's punting performance was so good, it "almost makes me want to cry." Given that the Packers' punting production over the last several years has been near the bottom of the league, one can only image how giddy McCarthy must feel to have something going for a change in that area.

Anyway, as a result of Masthay's fine punting and return shutdowns by the coverage unit, the Packers' no-name defense was able to absorb the occasional big play by the Jets' reputed high-power offense. The closest the Jets got to scoring all day was a 37-yard field goal attempt that stayed right of the goal posts.

The bottom line was the Packers' first road shutout since 1991 and only their sixth in the last 50 years. Granted, the Jets helped the Packers all day long with a few dropped passes and, of course, three turnovers. But the Packers' defense took it to the Jets. Key plays by LB Desmond Bishop, S Charlie Peprah, cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams, pressures by LB Clay Matthews and a three-man front, solid play by all the linebackers...all in all, it was a great effort by the Pack's defensive unit. And another great coaching job by that Conjurer of Lombardi Avenue, defensive coordinator Dom Capers. He's working magic with the defense, somehow getting production and performances out of players that just shouldn't be playing this well. But thank goodness they are. It's the story to the season so far.

Now, if the Packers can -- as they well should -- win at home on Sunday night against the woeful Dallas Cowboys, they will go into the bye week at 6-3. Who'da thunk it???

Cowboys, anyone?
Oh, and by the way, if you want to read about the Pack's next opponent, the 'boys, check out this article in which the Big 'boy himself, Jerry Jones, apologizes for the current state of his team.

Now, the Pack can't let down. We know there is a defense that can shut down and shut out a pretty good offense. And, finally, there may be a punting game back in Green Bay that can be relied on to shift field position in favor of the Pack. But it would be nice, before going into the bye, to see the offense finally get it together. If so, it will all add up to that 6-3 record we're hoping for.

All that's left to say about that is, Go Pack Go!!!