Saturday, October 3, 2015

Packers On the Road Again to California

Best Game-Day Attire Ever
Maybe I am crazy, but I had almost the opposite reaction from everybody else to the Monday Night Chiefs game, which the Packers won, 38-28.  I heard lots of people talking about Aaron Rodgers' game, using words like "surgical" and "masterful" and "at the very top of his game."  We went to the game, and I did not come away with that impression at all.  Sure, he had a good game, but I did not see it as one of his best of all time.  I probably am putting too much emphasis on his early missed passes (he missed his first three) and the pass that should have been intercepted in the early third quarter, which would have broken his streak of home games without an interception.  So I re-watched the game when I got back to California, and I have mellowed a little.  I still don't think it is one of his best games ever, but maybe watching the game with Jon Gruden's superlatives being drummed into my head has helped me to realize some of the finer points that I might have missed in the stands.

Turning to the defense, everybody (including me) was happy with the way the Packers' defense performed for the first 2.5 to 3 quarters.  But I have heard a lot of complaining about "taking the foot off the gas" and going into "prevent defense" mode way too early in the game.  I can see that point, but I think it is severely overstated.  This game was effectively over at halftime (when the score was 24-7), and then it was again over toward the end of the third (when it was 31-14), and then it was really over when it was 38-14 with 12 minutes left.  (And if they had not blown all their time-outs, it would have been over one last time when the 4th and 18 pass came up short but was treated as a first down anyway.)  But it just didn't feel as if it was really over.  And the only reason it didn't feel that way was because of the traumatic experience of last year's NFC Championship Game.

But this game never approached, in my view, the circumstances of that game.  It was never as close (the Chiefs trailed by at least 16 points until they reduced their deficit to 10 points with 1:25 left in the game).  While you can never say never, the chances of scoring another 10 points in 1:25, with 2 time-outs, is close to zero.  It would have required 2 successful onside kicks, and at least one very fast score (broken coverage, or a defensive back falls down, or whatever).  I just wasn't that worried.  Also, while you can say that in some sense the Packers were playing more of a prevent type defense late in the game, it wasn't the kind that drives me crazy, where they rush 3, put no pressure on the quarterback, and let him take short passes for granted.  Here, even after the two-minute warning, the Packers were still rushing 4 or 5 on every play and occasionally blitzing.

Having finally beaten the Chiefs in Lambeau Field for the first time in history, the Packers have now beaten every team there but one: the Houston Texans.  I don't know when they will next come to Lambeau Field, but I look forward to it.

When you live over 2,200 miles away from Green Bay, you don't often get to see back-to-back Packer games in person.  But that is what we get to do this week, when we venture up to Santa Clara to see the 49ers' new stadium, keep our streak alive of going to every Bay Area Packers game since 1980, and hopefully witness the exorcism of the Kaepernick evil spirit from the Packers once and for all.  While the 49ers played well against the Vikings in week one, they have looked like a mess the last two weeks.  I was never a fan of Jim Harbaugh, but he seemed like a much better coach than the new guy.  There must be some fairly serious disarray in that organization, given that they got rid of a good (but obnoxious) coach, turned Kaepernick from a Packers-killer into somebody who seems to have regressed substantially, and have seen at least 10 players retire or leave in free agency, apparently just to get the hell out of there.

I expect Clay Matthews to play most of the game at inside linebacker, probably assigned just to keep tabs on Kaepernick.  I expect the Packers to play well on offense (the 49ers defense has taken some severe hits in retirements and free agency) and I expect the Packers' defense to continue to play well, and aggressively, and hopefully put this game away early.  I am looking for a big win to take the Packers to 4-0.


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  2. This is - more or less - about how I felt/feel. Looking forward to getting back to the good " ol' " days when SF couldn't beat us in the reg. season. Where are you at, out of curiosity? I'm in OR now, but spent my first 19 years in Salinas. My mom tried to raise me a niner fan, can you imagine? When I got to about 11 yrs old (1987), I realized that SF & Dallas were like the Yankees of football - successful by just buying up all the good talent with a big budget. Went hunting for a new team, and when I learned that GB was the only the only non-profit, community-owned NFL (or any other US-based pro league) team, I was sold.

  3. Scott - sorry, apparently I no longer get email notice of comments, so I just saw it tonight. To answer your question, we moved from the Bay Area last year to the Central Coast, between San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria. Beautiful country down here. It took us about 3 hours, more or less, to get to Santa Clara yesterday.

    Your reason for becoming a Packers fan makes sense to me. What I can't figure out is why the Packers form of ownership is not the ideal form? And yet the NFL now prohibits this, with the Packers being grandfathered.