Perusing comments on the game from the Redskins’ perspective, it quickly become evident they have a healthy respect for the Packers and are tickled pink they manage to pick up a win against them.
Here’s just a quick sampling of comments I’ve read:
Mike Shanahan: “The defensive line we played against is probably the best in the NFL. If they’re not, I don’t want to play the team that has better personnel than they do.”
That’s a pretty high compliment from a veteran coach like Shanahan. And that was without Ryan Pickett, the Packers’ best run-stopper. What that translates to is a very good sign that Mike Neal was indeed a fantastic choice by Packers GM Ted Thompson.
Guard Artis Hicks: “It was the best and most active front we’ve faced.”
Hicks is a nine-year veteran, so he’s seen his share of defensive fronts. The key phrase is “most active”. That is something the Packers have been hoping for to help improve the pass rush, so it’s not strictly linebacker-dependent. That showed big-time in this game. Cullen Jenkins could have had 3-4 sacks by himself, but with that club on one hand, just couldn’t hold onto the wily McNabb. As for B.J. Raji, he played so well that Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel named him the Packers player of the week.
Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander: “They’re going to be in the playoffs, obviously. They’ve got Aaron Rodgers, that whip he has. That defense is deep. They get after you. Only thing they’re really missing is their running game. They had that big run today. Outside of that, they just kind of mix it in to keep you honest. Because you’ve got to run the ball sometimes.”
“Because you’ve got to run the ball sometimes.” The Redskins knew they didn’t have to worry too much about the Packers running the ball. It’s the reason they played with six defensive backs for most of the game. Speaking of that…
Mike Shanahan on using six defensive backs a lot against Green Bay: “You got to be ready to play with a lot of different substitute groups.” The defensive personnel were determined by matchups with the Packers offense.”
And yet, the Packers ignored the Redskins’ adjustments and coverage sets and continued to throw the ball a very high percentage of the time. To be fair, if some of those dropped balls were caught, this game would have had a different ending. But this does further illustrate Mike McCarthy’s stubbornness when it comes to adjusting his game plan based on what the opponent is doing.
Mike Shanahan: “When you go over things time and time again, you get luckier at the end of games.”
Shanahan says he has prepared the team for close games by discussing and practicing late-game situations like Hail Marys, when to go out of bounds, and similar scenarios every day in practice. Four out of five games the Redskins have played were decided on the last play of the game, and they’ve won three of them. The Packers have played two such games (discounting the final kickoff return against the Bears) and lost them both. Are the Packers properly prepared for these situations? Not having access to their practices, we just don’t know.
An interesting Redskin fan comments I saw:
I knew we had a chance to win if we held the Packers to FGs…but to hold them to just three scores is flat out unbelievable. I’m honestly still dumbfounded how we could give up 30 to the Rams and just 13 to a team with Aaron Rodgers, Donald Driver and Greg Jennings.
And finally, this one:
In postgame interviews, the Packers had the dazed look of a man who has an alarm on his Porsche but still woke up to find it sitting on cement blocks. Green Bay just knew they should have won.
That about says it all…——————
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.