The Electric Commentary

Monday, January 10, 2005

What...Was...That?

That was depressing. And you could tell early on that Brett was going to have one of those days (although not having Walker, Ferguson, and Clifton made catching up nearly impossible). After pick number three, would you have faulted Sherman for pulling Favre for Nall? I don't actually think that Nall could have pulled it off, but they needed to have a drive without a turnover at some point, and the backup is almost always careful with the ball (TJ Rubley notwithstanding).

But there's plenty of blame to go around, so let's get started:

1. Brett Favre

Maybe a few of those picks were not his fault, but he always lets early picks snowball into later, careless picks. More than any of his interceptions though, what was he thinking on the "illegal forward pass" play? It was totally unnecessary, and he almost certainly could have picked up the first down (or at least made going for it on fourth down reasonable. If the Pack scores on that drive it's 24-17 going in to half time. Instead Ryan yanks a field goal try and the rout is on. Just a stupid play from someone who should know better. Can Brett really retire after a game like this?

1a. Defense

Bob Slowick should be fired, but really, he'll be lucky to make it back to Green Bay alive. What a disaster. When the defense was in "cover 2" the Vikings were powerless. With Grady Jackson and Na'il Diggs both in the lineup the Vikings could not run the ball. With safeties over the top, they were incapable of big plays. The Packers got burned almost entirely on busted plays and almost always in man-to-man coverage. Al Harris's coverage on Randy Moss's second touchdown is inexcusable. Moss could barely move and Harris bit on a slant-n-go that should have been obvious. Hannibal Navies may have played himself right off of the team. Ahmad Carroll continues to get torched, but who can blame him when he's getting called for any contact at all ("reputation calls" have affected his play for the last few weeks, more below).

Even when the Packers blitzed it worked most of the time, but Slowick was slow to get plays in. Michael Hawthorne was torched by the speedy Nate Burleson at one point because Hawthorne wasn't supposed to be on the field. Nick Barnett continued to let tight ends and slot receivers come open in the deep area of his zone. His drop is slow, and he looks for the run first even in obvious passing situations. KGB once again showed his ineffectiveness against larger offensive linemen. No one has dominated KGB quite like Bryant "Mount" McKinnie. Worst of all, the defense failed to force a turnover despite several muffed punts and a few fumbles.
Bob Slowick should be fired immediately.

2. Injuries

When Chad Clifton was injured, offense was hard to come by. Javon Walker was starting to make plays when a shin contusion ended his day leaving Driver, Chatman, and Thurman as the only WRs. They could have used Robert Ferguson greatly. When the receivers went down it made sense to switch to the run, but Ahman Green was ineffective. Najeh Davenport ran well, but a separated shoulder made it difficult for him to hang on to the ball. With so many people out the Packers could not fall behind, and had to run the ball. They were unable to do so.

3. Mike Sherman

A sloppy game plan, sloppy execution, and he didn't fire Slowick before the game. A few of those interceptions can be blamed on his playcalling.

4. The refs

They missed an obvious interception and fumble by a Viking defender which cost the Packers a first down (and probably a touchdown) when the game was still close. Their "illegal contact" calls on Ahmad Carroll were a farce. The contact occurred within five yards of the line of scrimmage. Both calls prolonged the same Viking drive which resulted in the game clinching touchdown. Randy Moss should have been flagged for taunting on his mooning celebration.

5. Javon Walker

That injury better be worse than a shin contusion.

6. Donovan Darius

It's a shame that an illegal hit that may well have cost the Packers a playoff game did not even result in a suspension. Shame on the NFL.

The bottom line is that neither the Packers nor the Vikings have a good enough team to do any serious damage in the playoffs, so this is no great lost opportunity. But they need to get better, and they need to do it fast. Time is short on the Favre era (maybe over) and a sense of urgency should be setting in. But these are concerns for the offseason. There are still games to play.

Can you think of any more goats? Drop a comment in the comment section. It will make you feel better, I promise.

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