Friday, November 6, 2009

Wanted: Accountability

One of the problems involved in waiting five days to write about a game is that sometimes the real world rises up in the interim to remind us that, after all, football is just a game. And that, of course, is just what happened this week with the massacre at Ft. Hood, Texas. Fortunately, the Uniform Code of Military Justice provides for the death penalty (18 U.S.C. § 1111) and I hope it is used, swiftly. May the memories of those killed be as blessings to their family and friends.

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The reason I waited so long was that I wanted to take another look at the game to see if it confirmed my initial impressions. Boy, did it ever. The biggest problem with this game was that the Packers' defense put very little pressure on Favre. Beyond this weakness on defense, the Vikings' offensive game plan was smarter than the Packers' offensive game plan, in a couple of respects.

First, the Vikings relied heavily on the running game to take pressure off Favre. Obviously, given the nature of the Packers' running game, and the differences between Adrian Peterson on one hand and Ryan Grant on the other, the Packers did not have the luxury of being able to place the same amount of emphasis on the running game.

Second, the Vikings were smarter in mixing in a heavier dose of quick-release passes by Favre. This allowed the Vikings to counteract the Packers' emphasis on stopping the running game, while still protecting Favre by getting the ball out of his hands quickly. The Packers could have done the same thing, and they did occasionally, but usually when Rodgers went back to pass, it was with a full drop-back, where, in too many instances, he held the ball too long and was sacked.

The irony is that the Vikings didn't really need the quick-release passes to protect Favre, because even when he did a full drop-back, the Packers rarely tried to put any pressure on him. And, as a result, he carved them up. I complained about the same thing after the first Vikings game (here). In fairness, the Packers probably did blitz a little more this time, without much success. But I still think the Packers did not do enough in their defensive scheme to put pressure on Favre.

I can't help but ask for some accountability by the coaching staff. From my perspective, they made many of the same mistakes in this loss that they made four weeks earlier. We would like to think that the coaches learned something from the first meeting with the Vikings, as well as from watching the tapes of the Vikings' loss to the Steelers. But I just don't see the evidence that they learned much, if anything, from those games. And speaking of accountability, how many more times do we have to listen to Mike McCarthy talk about eliminating the stupid penalties before we conclude that he is either not serious about this, or not effective as a coach, or both? The Johnny Jolly head-butting penalty probably did not make the difference between winning and losing this game. But it is one of the dumbest penalties I have ever seen.

Finally, as a sidelight on the game itself, I want to point out three interesting articles I have seen in the past week, all of which shed additional light on the dysfunction that led to the Packers trading Favre away last year. Two of the articles are by Andrew Brandt, former Packer Vice-President. In the first one, Brandt explains why, in his view, Favre retired in the first place - basically because he perceived (correctly or not) that Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson were indifferent to whether he retired or continued to play. (First Brandt article.) From the article itself, it appears that Ted Thompson probably forced Brandt out of his position, so take the articles with whatever grains of salt seem justified. In the second article, Brandt picks up on Troy Aikman's comment, during the game broadcast, to the effect that maybe Favre never wanted to play for the Packers after his brief retirement last year. He lays out in some detail why this comment makes him think that this is something Favre must have said directly to Aikman. (Second Brandt article.) The last article is by the writers of the Packer Geeks blog (Stephen and Andrew Hayes). In this article, the Hayes brothers argue, with references to some of the things said at the time, that Favre was less than truthful in some of his public statements made during the retirement/unretirement saga. (Hayes brothers article.) All three of these articles are essential reading.


  1. The Brandt articles did give some insight,and although some people think that they may have been a little biased to Favre's side,I still think they are good articles. I'm with management on the side of letting Favre go. We needed to move on. I was sick of the drama and instability he wes bringing the team the last few years. Rodgers is a good quarterback, better than I even expected.

    However, we do need a lot of work as far as game-planning and execution. We are making way too many mistakes as a team and I don't think the coaches are addressing this enough. They should start issuing in-house fines for committing too many penalties, or find another effective way of getting them down. There is no reason to be a leauge leader in penalties for 3 years in a row.

  2. Joshua - I agree with you on all counts. The suggestion I had heard was that Brandt could be biased anti-Thompson, but I guess that amounts to being pro-Favre in this context. My only real issue with Rodgers is not knowing when to get rid of the ball - he seems way too tentative on that score, and I hope he learns that before he gets killed back there.

  3. My boy Ron, the big-time pharmacist, says that the Pack with Tauscher should easily grab that final playoff spot and rematch the Viks in the playoffs..

  4. Randy - I know you posted this comment while the game was still going on, but I have to say that the chances of making the playoffs look a lot worse now than when you posted this.