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Sunday, August 21, 2005
Some Things That I Think I Think, Buffalo Game
* Brett looked great. I won't sit here and complain about the Driver drop. He was still 4/6, 1 TD, no INT, and the only quarterback to throw a TD in the preseason. When he's out of the game, the wheels come off. He looks poised, and if you saw him at the end of the game, he doesn't look like he's about to suffer fools gladly this year, least of all himself. You heard MVP here first.
Aaron Rodgers looks pretty much in over his head for the second week in a row. He has happy feet a bit early, struggles with his progressions, and is simply not throwing the ball accurately. I'm hoping he starts living up to his ballyhooed confidence soon, trust me, but I'm callin' it like I see it right now. Next week, against the Patriots defense, I hope they put Rodgers in third instead of second. He needs to cue it up against some second-stringers and get a flow of the game instead of going against first stringers. He simply hasn't had the game "slow down" for him yet. Threw an interception, too.
Craig Nall did not lead any scoring drives, and while his protection broke down at the end of the game, he did not do much in the third quarter to redeem himself. As expected, he's the same old Nall. Just enough good plays to tease you along, and too many poor plays to make the staff think he's good enough to be a starter. Trouble is, his performance probably isn't making any other teams stand up and take notice and be willing to offer us higher than a 5th rounder for him.
Running game looked better this week than in past weeks, and if you count screens as runs (like we used to in the Holmgren era), Green had a great night. No fumbles for Ahman, and three nice catches on the scoring drive. The line has a way to go to match last year's perfomers, but they looked a bit better than last week (the first stringers, at least).
Receivers were a bit more invisible this week, other than Driver's "Doh!" drop at the 5. Favre and the QB's seemed to be focusing on plays out of the backfield much more this week. Uma Thurman played with a broken finger, had one drop, one nice catch high above him. Chatty had a nice third down conversion on the scoring drive.
I hope I am not able to refer to "the scoring drive" in a game and people know exactly which one I'm talking about after this week.
Special teams were terrible. Longwell and Sander were responsible for three special team tackles. They should not be even repsonsible for one. Sander looked ticked at the end of the game and gave teh returner on the 30-yard return a bit of extra vim and vigor out of bounds...surprised they didn't throw a flag on it.
Sander looked good...I think he averaged 43 yards, including the 33 yarder that was caught on the 21 yard line. So, other than that one, he probably averaged over 45 again. Trouble is, three of the Bills scores were starting inside the Packer 30. As I watched some of the coverage, the cover guys were still sprinting on a straight line past the returner, who only needed to juke to the left or right and avoid the tackler. Bonmego needs to get his act together, quick. Sherman's interview at halftime was pretty livid. He didn't want to talk about any other squad besides the ST, and his tone was far from happy.
Collins looked good, Underwood had a very nice tackle. Underwood got schmucked you-know-where at the end of the game. I remember that feeling from high school ball (no pun intended). Hawkins, as expected, had some moments of brilliance and some over runs or lost coverages. I still expect he will be starting at corner by the end of the year. Horton also looked like he was in there trying to make a pop. Little also looked good, though inconsistent. I think Little may be the starter alongside Collins if Roman doesn't establish himself. Carroll had one pass allowed, and didn't see any defensed.
Nice to see Poppinga get some playing time. Didn't really distinguish himself, but he needs some time to get in there and get used to it.
The TV guys did a nice job pointing out Bates' scheme as a true 4-3, where they generally do not bring up a lineback as an additional rusher. So, the LB's were back off the line watching the plays develop. The starters seemed to do a pretty good job most of the time, coming up and making plays, many making their first contact near the line of scrimmage.
Linemen were a bit better this week, and far better than the scrimmage. Obviously, they were given fields with their back against the wall, but there were no real huge runs given up through the middle. Kabeer had a nice safety called back on a ticky-tack call. If we have to go to war with Lee and Washington, I guess we could do worse.
I was disappointed with Kampman on a couple of occasions. On Losman's TD run, he was in the backfield and was simply juked out of his shorts. If he has contain on that side, he has to contain, not fall down and allow the runner to score. He seemed to do that on a couple other occasions...get into the backfield but not seal the deal, and not really even make his prescence disruptive. For a guy we had to bid for, he needs to step it up on plays like that.
* I was troubled at the end of the game with the frustration level. Yeah, we got pummelled score-wise on their field, but the mental breakdowns in pass protection, the anger by Sander, even Favre's growing frustration are all some yellow flags that need to be watched. As frustrated as Sherman was at halftime, that frustration can rub off on the team. A coach has to be a problem solver, not just mad and upset, and the same goes for the team.