Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ongoing thoughts on Packers vs Saints

I think I'm supposed to say something about how this is not a substitute for, this is not a substitute for play-by-play.

1st Quarter
Randall Cobb with a nice little run back on the opening kick-off...C'mon Aaron, you gotta get rid of the ball when they're showing the blitz that badly...Rodgers is money on third down...Wow, I'll admit when I'm wrong: Driver looks spry...And there's your first touchdown of the 2011 season. Rodgers and Jennings have that back-shoulder pass down-pat. Unstoppable. Packers 7, Saints 0
Touch-back by Mason Crosby. I expect to see a lot of those this season...And the Pack get the ball right back. Nick Collins is the epitome of a play-maker.

Grant doesn't look bad, it just looks like he's missing that extra gear...Ugh, horrible blocking on the screen play. Looked like Grant had a lot of room. Finley catches everything, but I'd like to see him do more after the catch...And of course the Packers wait until third down to punch it in. Jordy has made some nice catches...but where is James Jones? Packers 14, Saints 0

Hawk-on-Sproles is a match-up the Saints are going to win every time. Clay almost got to Brees, though...had to be some secondary mix-up on that TD to Meachem. Williams gave him the entire middle of the field but had no help. Packers 14, Saints 7

It's worth repeating: Finley catches everything...Seriously, just put it within 5 feet of him, and he'll reel it in... Rookie Randall Cobb, who made his first reception earlier on this drive, gets his first TD. Exciting start for him. Packers 21, Saints 7

Saints moving the ball well with pass and run...Packers can't tackle.

2nd Quarter
This is the drive that will not end...Graham toasts Walden on third and long...Saints put together a great drive, but the Packers don't break. New Orleans settles for three. Packers 21, Saints 10

OUCH! Driver just got nailed. Still, I'm a little relieved to see they didn't throw a flag on that clean hit...Pack go three-and-out after back shoulder pass to Nelson is somehow defended. First punt of the game from Masthay is a beauty, but boy was the coverage team awful on that one. Sproles returns it for a TD and the Saints are right back in it. Packers 21, Saints 17

"Jeeeeeeez!" My exact word usage as Rodgers misses a wide-open Nelson deep. Nelson had two steps on the DB, but Rodgers overthrew him by another two steps...Aaron redeems himself with a pin-point pass to Jennings for a third down conversion...Seriously, where is James Jones?...Starks clearly has more speed on the edge than Grant, evident after a 10 yard burst...Cris Collinsworth nailed it: Greg Jennings is "slippery"...Crabtree, who was split-out wide, makes a big third-down catch...Screw a 50-50 split. Starks needs to get the ball way more than Grant. Heckuva 17 yard TD run with just under two minutes left in the half. Packers 28, Saints 17

We're not getting to Brees...And, as if on cue, Wynn gets a coverage sack...Sproles is single-handedly keeping the Saints in it. Huge third down catch and run...Walden steps up with a great pass break-up against Graham downfield...Pack sniff out a screen and force a punt, and kneel-down takes us to halftime.

Halftime Thoughts
Our offense has been near flawless. Rodgers is performing surgery and the WRs aren't letting him down. They're catching everything. Our defensive strategy thus far has been pretty vanilla. We've bent, but not broken too often. Still, I'd like to see us get to Brees a little more. Where are those exotic blitzes? Also, we need to figure out a way to contain Darren Sproles. He's the lone difference maker for the Saints. Speaking of, special teams made an inexcusable blunder, letting the Saints right back in the game with an easy punt return. Shawn Slocum needs to figure things out. All in all, if the Pack can keep putting up a steady stream of points, while holding the Saints to field goals, this game is ours to lose.

3rd Quarter
Sproles won't get a chance for a second TD return this time, as Crosby kicks it out the back of the endzone...We finally bring Collins on a blitz but Ingram runs it the other way...Another methodical drive by the Saints, utilizing some good runs and quick passes...Helps when Bishop pathetically misses an open-field tackle like that...Offsides by Matthews allows doesn't matter as Walden has a huge sack on third down. Pack hold 'em to three again. Packers 28, Saints 20

Randall Cobb, you are an answer to a decade worth of prayers. A sensational TD return that began 8 yards deep in his old endzone and was highlighted by an impressive barrel roll that allowed the rookie to stay on his feet. Tied for the longest kick return in NFL history. How about that for a debut? Packers 35, Saints 20

And Sproles nearly answers right back with a return across midfield...Hi, my name is Clay, and I can play the run...Shields toasted on a play eerily reminiscent of Wallace's TD in the Super Bowl. He's susceptible to double moves. Packers 35, Saints 27

Crowd chants "Kuuuuhhn" for the first time all year, after the FB has a nice snag out of the backfield...however, Pack can't pick up a first...Bad punt by Masthay and Sproles has another monster return. For the first time all night, I'm getting a little nervous.

Stupid penalty on Woodson only aids another Saints drive that is moving the chains far too easily...I love it when opposing teams burn a timeout in the third quarter...Big stop on third and inches from the five...And an even bigger stop on fourth down, as the Saints opt for play action but the Packers applied too much pressure. Jarius Wynn stepped up big time on that drive, and the Saints come away with nothing.

Greg Jennings' ball skills are just disgusting. Incredible body control...Starks is running with far more power and assertiveness than Grant...

4th Quarter
Rodgers with another incredible disappearing act to avoid a sack...Jennings has 6 catches, Nelson 5, and Driver 4. James Jones has none, and I've only seen him on the field a few times. What gives?...Kuhn caps off an impressive drive with a plunge in from a yard out. That was exactly what the doctor ordered. Packers 42, Saints 27

You can hate him all you want, but Jarrett Bush made his second huge play in as many games, with a big-time sack on third down. Cobb almost breaks the punt return for a TD, but it would've been called back for a holding penalty anyway.

Grant finally showing some burst. Maybe he's saved it all up for the 4th quarter?...I still like Starks a lot more. Grant dances too much...Well, one thing Starks does need to improve is pass-blocking. Too focused on carrying out a play-action fake and let a LB have a free run at Rodgers... James Jones lives! 3 yard catch on third and long...Masthay prevents any chance for a Sproles return by punting it out off bounds.

Our blitzes look really lackadaisical and aren't producing much...Hawk with a missed open field tackle that allows another promising Saints' drive to stay alive...Bush steps in for an injured Tramon and makes a big pass break-up in the endzone...Jarius Wynn has probably been the Defensive MVP thus far. Tackle for a loss with Saints knocking on the door...Play-action/pump fake combo completely fools Packers and the Saints are within 8. Packers 42, Saints 34

That's why we keep Driver around. Heads-up play on the hands team to thwart an onside kick...Packers don't pick up the first on 3rd down, but at least it's a completion to run the clock down a little more. Not ideal, but could've been worse...Jarrett Bush nearly pins the Saints on the one yard line, but his foot slid into the endzone.

Four passes in a row for first downs. They're on the 18...Saints kill the clock: 3 seconds left, ball on the 10...And a pass interference on AJ Hawk in the endzone will give the Saints another chance. On review, a horrible call...Doesn't matter. Once again, with their backs against the wall, the Packers D comes through and stonewalls Mark Ingram on an untimed down from the 1-yard line. A nerve-wracking finish, but the Packers get the win and are 1-0, so I'll take it.

Packers 42, Saints 34

Look for my post-game analysis early tomorrow morning.