Monday, September 18, 2000

Baby Steps, Giant Leap

It's hard to wax rhapsodic about a victory by a score of 6-3. [Ed. note - over the Eagles.] Was this an epic battle between suffocating defensive powerhouses? Hardly. More like a match of two struggling teams, whose defenses played pretty well, but whose offenses were out of sync. One team tried and succeeded in avoiding the dreaded 0-3 record, and the other fell to a disappointing 1-2 after settling back to earth in the wake of the season opening crushing of their traditional rival, the hated Cowboys.

The Packers' defense is proving to be a bit of a pleasant surprise, playing better than most of us probably expected based on their showing in the pre-season. This week's defensive story was the play of third-stringer Tod McBride, pressed into action by injuries to Antuan Edwards and Mike McKenzie. He did just about everything one could hope for from a third string defensive back. My only little gripe about the defense is their tendency to give up first down yardage on third down plays, seemingly without regard to how many yards the opponent needs.

The offense was not impressive. Dorsey Levens' return was welcome, and he looked good in spots, but had almost no luck going up the middle, and his speed is not great enough to consistently gain big yardage around the corner. Many more near-misses on passing plays Sunday, with passes not quite where they should be, and with other passes bouncing off the hands of the receivers. Turnovers killed several promising drives.

Special teams were OK, but just slightly off. The punting game was good, but Longwell missed a makeable field goal in the first half before coming back with what I believe was his first game-winning kick in any game at any level (that's what they said, but it still seems hard to believe). Rossum had a punt return go for a touchdown before it was called back for an illegal block, but that block had a lot to do with springing him for the TD.

So this is not a big victory, just some baby steps in the right direction. The Packers' next two games are winnable (at Arizona, and a home game against the Bears). While there is no reason to think that the Packers are good enough to be predictable, if they can improve a bit each game, they could be 3-2 two weeks from today. That is a realistic goal.

So if the game victory was the "baby steps" in the title of this article, what is the "giant leap?" That's easy. The Packers' victory at the polls this past Tuesday in getting the Lambeau renovation project tax approved. It is easy for a guy like me, 2000 miles away, to say that the residents of Brown County should increase their taxes to pay for a stadium renovation. "Sure, go ahead and spend as much money as you want, so long as it is not my money." But the Green Bay community has a long history of coming to the rescue of this team when times are tough, and they have done it again. And as a non-resident, I feel like I have done my part, too, by buying shares of Packer stock three years ago for myself, my wife and two kids. Way to go, Brown County residents!

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