PD Packer Review/Vikings Week 4
Let’s get this out of the way at the top. The Minnesota Vikings are simply a better football team than the Green Bay Packers. On this night, they were head and shoulders better. And, much to the chagrin of many Packers fans, the head and shoulders belonged to none other than quarterback Brett Favre, who had one of the better performances of his accomplished career in leading his team to a 30-23 victory over Green Bay.
For those who still blame Packers General Manager Ted Thompson for not bending over backward to keep Favre in the fold, this game provided plenty of ammunition. Of course, those who do would be missing the point. The decision to move forward with quarterback Aaron Rodgers was the correct one made with an eye to the future. Given the amount of time Favre had to scan the field (up to 7 1/2 seconds according to one ESPN graphic), Jon Kitna or Vinny Testaverde could have picked the Packers defense apart. If Rodgers had even a semblance of that kind of protection, the Packers offense would rival any in the league. Considering he was running for his life most of the evening, it’s amazing that Rodgers was able to amass almost 400 yards passing. It got so bad toward the end of the game after pseudo left tackle Daryn Colledge left with a knee injury, that the Packers appeared to give up even trying to block Viking defensive end Jared Allen, preferring to just roll Rodgers away from the pressure as much as possible.
No, if Thompson is to be held accountable for anything, it should be his failure to assemble a decent offensive line after 4 years of trying. It’s not like the Packers are playing with a bunch of young players. With the exception of right guard Josh Sitton, the rest of the line has been playing together on and off for the better part of 3 seasons. If the proper pieces were in place, that should be enough time that the O-line should be coming into it’s own by now. Beyond that, the lack of any depth along the line has forced the Packers to move multiple players out of position in order to compensate for the current injury to left tackle Chad Clifton, putting them at even more of a disadvantage.
Granted, Rodgers needs to do a better job of helping himself out. At least 2 or 3 of the Vikings ridiculous 8 sacks of Rodgers were the result of him trying too long to keep the play alive. I don’t know if he watched Ben Roethlisberger Sunday night or he was just envious of the time afforded Favre. If Rodgers hasn’t figured out by this time that he can’t hold onto the ball that long behind this line, then head coach Mike McCarthy needs to get in his head and remind him, providing him with more dump off options if necessary.
Even with all of the above, the Packers managed to stay in the game, though one never really got the sense that the Vikings were ever in real danger of losing. In fact, the Vikings were their own worst enemy with some foolish clock (mis)management late in the game.
The Packers defense did manage to hold Viking uber-back Adrian Peterson to just over 2 yards per carry. Normally that would be enough to insure a victory. Rookie linebacker Clay Matthews made a fine play in stripping Peterson of the ball and taking it in for a score. Unfortunately, they did so at the expense of letting Favre go ballistic. The lack of any pass rush whatsoever allowed Favre to keep the Packers defense on it’s heels all game. I only saw one play all night that Favre was even touched, knocked down by Aaron Kampman after a completed pass. Green Bay’s defensive game plan inspired some pointed comments after the game from cornerback Charles Woodson, who complained that the Packers weren’t aggressive enough in their schemes.
Perhaps the one positive on the night was the play of tight end Jermichael Finley, who finally flashed some of the form that he exhibited in the pre-season. Finley hauled in 6 passes for 128 yards and Green Bay’s first touchdown. Finley was the one player on offense that the Vikings had trouble matching up with. That should bode well for the future.
If nothing else, the ‘bye week’ is coming at an opportune time for the Packers and their fans. Green Bay can certainly use the time to get healthy and try to solidify it’s line play. At the very least, Packer fans will be spared from witnessing this type of performance for a couple of weeks.