Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Coping with morning sickness

After a day or two to fully digest and excrete Monday's game (and it certainly did resemble a pile of...well, you know), I'm nudging back from the ledge a few steps and taking a broader, and hopefully saner, view of the game. I'll start with the positives.

When he can display some accuracy, Tarvaris Jackson does have a heck of an arm. I'm still trying to figure if him rarely finding open receivers is the receivers not getting open or him not finding them. Neither are great, but I'm willing to cut him some slack if it's the receivers' fault they're hardly ever open (though the routes selected and overall playcalling by the coaches probably also bears a large share of the blame).

Yes, Jackson was forced to scramble nine times, but he was only sacked once. Overall, the O-line held up reasonably well, considering the absence of Bryant McKinnie, and the running backs averaged better than five yards a carry against what looks to be a pretty good Packer defense.

I'm not a huge fan of ball-control stats unless you can do it consistently, but there's something to be said for limiting the Packers to just 49 offensive snaps while having 69 of your own. Granted, two of the Packers' snaps netted them 113 yards. Viewed differently, that means that, apart from those two semi-flukish plays, they netted just 4.3 yards per snap.

Aaron Rodgers is actually good, and he's in his fourth year in the NFL. Let's get this whole "How did we lose to a guy making his first career start?" business out of the way. Or maybe you'd rather be the Bengals or Lions, who lost to two rookie QBs making their first start (Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan).

Yeah, it was the Packers, and that hurts. But if we'd lost to Indy by five points in the opener instead, would it have been so bad?

So, when it comes down to it, maybe I'm grasping at straws a bit. Then again, what if Bernard Berrian had stayed on his feet on that one pass in the third quarter? Then the team gets a TD instead of a FG on that drive, goes for one instead of failing on the two-point try, and...

Sure, both teams probably would have played different the rest of the way. But anytime you wind up so close to the other team, you were only one play away from winning. Yeah, there are still some things to fix, particularly in the play calling (I absolutely guarantee you that there will be some trickery -- a fake field goal, reverse pass, surprise onside kick, whatever -- in next week's game), but I'll at least go into next week's game thinking the team can still pull it out.

And hey -- Monday's game was still better than the team's last trip to Green Bay.

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