Yep, I just pulled out the most overused quote in the last 10 years of Packer fandom. Packers fans in Wisconsin and abroad are still overjoyed by the very improbable comeback victory over the Lions last night in Detroit. A game that saw the Packers down 20-0 at one point in the 3rd quarter and looking just as lost on offense as they’ve been for virtually every game this year 1. Traditional rankings have them 28th in total offense (great at running, really really really bad passing) and 9th in total defense (mediocre vs the run, really good vs the pass). Of course, the traditional stats leave out a ton. Their pass defense is likely fairly good, but not great and certainly not top 5 or top 3 as some stats have them. Opponents don’t have to score a lot, because the Vikings offense doesn’t score a lot (21 points/gm, 26th in the league). There’s no garbage time passing in blowouts vs the Vikings either, their average scoring margin is +3.4. And since they run a lot, the Vikings have are top 10 in time of possession, so opponents aren’t getting a ton of changes to move the ball. They have a good third down defense, but that’s hidden by the fact that they don’t get in a ton of third down situations (the Vikings are middle of the league, allowing 0.314 first downs per play – all of these rankings are per teamrankings.com, btw). So all that said, the Vikings have definitely been inflated in stature by who they’ve played and how they play. They’re a good team, but I’d guess they have the ability and performance level of a team with a couple more losses than they actually have.
According to the National Football Post, the Green Bay Packers have fired their defensive coordinator.Â Hopefully the rest of the defensive staff will follow.
After watching the Packers lose 4 of their last 5 games due primarily to an inability to win games in the 4th quarter (aside from the New Orleans game), I’ve realized a few things about the team that have really been tough.
1. The Packers are a very average team without Favre.Â Forget the schedule, forget it being Rodgers’ first year, forget the injuries.Â The Packers did not have a better defense last year and their run game wasn’t great either.Â But whatever magic they had going with Favre gave them leads and let the aggressive corners stop teams.Â They didn’t have to worry about stopping the run as much, and the passing game set up big runs as secondaries were playing deep.Â The Packers haven’t been able to establish that passing game this year… they’ve become predictable and they don’t have enough talent and good coaching to overcome that.Â Some teams are predictable but can still force their will (to borrow an overused expression), but not everyone can.Â Last year the Packers were able to ride the Favre magic carpet ride.Â This year, the Jets are (see their record last year and their inevitible horrible record when he retires).
Not that it can possibly be a secret at this point, but the word is Brett Favre wants to come back and play again.Â The Packers don’t want him, they don’t want to release him either.Â They want him retired.Â Sorry Brett, should’ve thought of this before you announced your retirement.Â Bummer for Brett, but that’s life, right?
Who knows… Even if the Packers want Favre back, you’d think they would put a big front on to make sure Brett really truely wants to come back.Â You don’t want to take the guy in and have him change his mind week 2 of pre-season.Â You also don’t want your future QB, Aaron Rodgers, to think that you’ll just cast him aside one more year without a second thought if you can get any hope of Favre being around.Â And if the Packers don’t want Favre back, that makes sense too.Â They’ve invested a lot in turning over the franchise and eventually you have to see that plan into action.
ESPN.com has an article talking about the increased emphasis on the blitz during mini-camps this summer.Â It’s obvious to anyone who has watched the Jim Bates/Bob Sanders era defense that the Packers rarely send anyone but the front four after the QB.Â Last season, the Packers blitzed on about 22% of passing plays.Â The NFL average was about 30% (both according to STATS LLC).Â Some of the more memorable lack of pass-rushing performances came against the Cowboys, where Romo stayed upright the entire game, and the NFC Championship where Eli was able to spend the majority of the game comfortably picking us apart.Â Coach McCarthy claims that the defense is more comfortable in the scheme this year and the blitz is a natural progression, but I just find it hard to believe.Â This is a defensive system that has never relied on the blitz, not when Bates was in Miami and not since he went to Denver.Â Why should we expect a change now?Â I guess we’ll have to see what the regular season brings…