The Packers entered the game yesterday with a desperate need for a win against the Giants . I expected Mike McCarthy to dial up an aggressive game plan, one that would attack the weaknesses of the Giants defense. Instead, they went at the Giant’s strength.
The first two possessions of the game saw runs on first and second down for little gain, as the Giants did what they’ve done to other running attacks, despite their poor record. Both possessions resulted in punts – so much for getting the Packers off to that rousing start I had hoped for.
Just after the start of the second quarter, there was another set of first and second down runs, this time to James Starks, again with little gain and again, resulting in a punt.
I don’t know how it looked on TV, but watching the game from inside the stadium, in my nosebleed third tier seats, I felt an early listlessness in the Packers’ offense. As if there was a resignation that giving even their best effort would still not be enough without Aaron Rodgers. While that may be true, you don’t go out and concede right out of the gate, do you?
Luckily, the defense was playing better than they have the last few games (though still giving up some big plays), and kept the Packers within four points at halftime. I was pretty happy about that, especially with the Packers having the ball to start the second half. Surely, they would come out with a more balanced attack and march down the field to take the lead. Um… not.
First and second down runs again, for a total of 3 yards gained. I’m not saying that shouldn’t have been running, but I am saying a little more creativity was needed. And there other ways to get the ball in the hands of your running back if the defense is packing the line of scrimmage against runs. Packers did it only twice, for a 10.5yd average gain. With that kind of success, should we have seen it more often? One was actually a screen pass – a play McCarthy has seemingly moved to the back of his playbook.
Can you say “Predictable?”
And that brings me to my second point. The Packers are fooling NO ONE (or at least they sure weren’t fooling the Giants).
Putting aside special teams trick plays, when was the last time you were completely wowed and fooled by an offensive play call. A play that makes you say, “Wow, I’ve never seen that before from the Packers.” Tell me when…
Now, the good thing about watching a game from the upper tier is that it’s like watching the All-22 film. You can see all of the pre-snap adjustments the defense is making and the post-snap shifts that were disguised as something else. I took to watching the Giants defense as the Packers prepared to snap the ball. First of all, not only did they know when the Packers were running, they knew what side. In fact, I was calling out the plays based on what I saw the Giants defense doing, and most of the time I was right. And that’s not because I’m some football genius, it was just that obvious.
When the Giants knew it was a run, you see some subtle shifts among the linebackers and as soon as the ball was snapped, they had a definite east-west direction they were taking. When the Giants expected a run, they brought safeties up in the box and the corners played aggressively close to the line of scrimmage (LOS). of course, that’s what most teams will do, but the Giants were always right and always seemed to have the safety on the side the play was going to in the best position. When they expected a pitch to Lacy, the corners played aggressively at the LOS to force Lacy to cut inside where the linebackers were waiting for him.
Again, none of this is that unusual, except for how precise the Giants were in knowing not just what type of play was coming, but where it was going. And that leads us Jason Pierre-Paul.
Speaking to the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Wes Hodkiewicz after the game, Pierre-Paul stated outright he knew exactly what play was coming. he called it in the huddle, saw the formation, read the tight end’s set and was sure of the play. He put himself in the lane that he knew the pass would be thrown in, and got himself an easy pick-six, which ended the Packers’ chances at a comeback.
Finally, there was this quote from Mike McCarthy after the game: ” I’m proud of the way (the team) is handling challenges, it will only make us stronger.”
Somebody please explain to me what’s so great about how they are handling challenges. Anyone?
Are you making excuses for your team, Mike?
If so, you’re not doing them any favors off the field, either…
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.