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Sunday, August 22, 2004

The Good, the Bad--and the downright Ugly

by Frozen Tundra

The Pack is now 1-1 in the preseason, which is pretty good considering I expect both the teams they've played so far to make the playoffs. We're not exactly playing the Bears here.

Favre again played well, but believe it or not the Packer's offense has not yet scored a TD. Thankfully it's preseason and doesn't count, as the #1 Pack offense has played very well in two games (maybe three quarers total) but getting snakebitten is outright tiring. I don't think there's really anything *wrong* here, it's just been bad luck for the most part. Tonight a promising drive was interupted by a Bubba Franks fumble--and how often does that happen anyway?

The defense played superb overall, keeping the score in the Packer's hand's most the game and getting takeaways (and points!) and great plays throughout. Tyrone Rogers really stepped up, getting a sack or two, an interception and forcing a fumble. Mind you it was against the second tier-players, but even still he looked like solid gold,and not just on his exceptional plays. He showed presense of mind, brute ability and showcased some agility as well. I'd like to see more of him, as he was little more than a name to me before tonight.

Steve Josue again showcased his open-field tacking ability and pressured the QB at times---a problem overall for the Pack both last year and in the current preseason campaign. However, Kenny Peterson was probably more responsible for Roger's interception than Tyrone himself--which was damned nice to see. Having watched him as OSU extensively (or as much as I can stomach watching Buckeyes in action) I gotta feeling he's gonna be a real winner someday--the kind that steps up big when it really matters.

I thought Joey Thomas played a damn good game overall, though I am sure others will disagree. His first 'penalty' was utter horseshit as far as I'm concerned--he played it damn near perfect, and stopped a sure TD. The second penalty he got beat by half a step and was doing a fine job of recovering until he tried to headlock the reciever. That works fine as long as the ball is already there, but he was a second too soon. That's why they call them rookies and why this is preseason. A few plays later he showed how he can make that same play right by taking away a sure reception, and showcased his ability later on a tough interception. I like this guy, and letting Henderson get away for a TD can hardly be put on his shoulders alone. I think he's the sort with a steep learning curve who we should let get out there as much as possible.

The Ugly was our punting game and Tim Couch. Both looked awful--period. Sander was dreadful, and while Chapman might have ended up with a couple decent punts on the stats, his punts travelled about the same distance, but got lucky rolls. What did we do to deserve this? An absolutely pathetic performance by both of them--they gotta step up or be replaced.

Couch was just HORRIFIC again--thank the Gods our starting QB is the considered by some the Toughest Guy in the USA. I have seen Couch play outstanding games with a pedestrian to pathetic supporting cast, but he looked like *me* out there. Mebbe even worse. I was the backup QB on my YMCA team in grade school, and I swear to God I coulda made some of the passes he missed. Even where he hit occassionally I was nonplussed, as during one Davenport reception in the third quarter it was obvious to the most casual observer if he'd led Davenport a little to the left insead of hitting him on the numbers that coulda been a big play. Instead he drilled it right to his gut and we got like 5 yards instead. I know in my heart Couch can play better than this, and kept expecting him to show it---sometime. It never materialized, and I can't help thinking how fortunate we are he might never throw a ball for us this year.

Or at least until he learns the offense--I'd try spending eight hours a day on this if I were him, instead of one, he has the time, he's just gotta make it a priority. There's been times in my life I had to work 19+ hour--high stress and potentially if not downright--hazardous days with extreme physical exertion, so I gotta figure an NFL-calibre QB (which I know from watching him in Cleveland he damn well is) can do what an ordinary fellow like me can. He's gotta make learning the Packer offense the only thing important in his life, and if he can't I kinda got the feeling Scott McBrien will. That little guy can run--and throw on the run---and looked awfully impressive to me in his limited exposure. Frankly I spent much of the second half wishing we had J.T. O'Sullivan of the Saints as it appeared he knew how the game was played and only McBrien seemed to have a clue for the Pack at QB in the second half.

Couch didn't get much help from Najeh Davenport, who has yet to look good on a single play this pre-season---or if he did, I missed it. Walter Williams looked liked he wanted Davenport's job, and as Davenport seems to be progressively losing the drive that two years ago made him my favorite second-team Packer, it wouldn't shock me to see Williams make the team to keep Najah on his toes. Davenport had an outstanding year last season despite not appearing as untacklable in meaningless preseason games as he did in '01--however it must be remembered it's lot easier to look invincable against second, third, and forth-team defenses than it is against the guys you gotta play when it really matters.

In a nutshell, the Packer's second preseason looks like this to me:

The Good: Favre, Ahman and the 'D'
The Bad: second string WRs and RBs
The Ugly: Punting and Tim Couch--who might open up a new catagory below 'Ugly' if he doesn't start dedicating his life to being the best Packer that he can be.

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