Monday, September 29, 2008

Pyrrhic Loss?

That's my feeling on the Packers' horrid showing down in Tampa. Losing at Tampa in September, playing in dark jerseys, that's not so bad. Tampa's a decent team, especially on defense. But the injuries-- Rouse with his knee, Jenkins who has been the team's best defensive lineman doing something to his chest or shoulder, and Rodgers, slamming the ground with all his weight on his throwing shoulder. That led to the words no Packer fan ever wanted to hear this season-- "Matt Flynn, now at quarterback."

Not that Rodgers was playing like a champ. He seemed to be confused, his reads were slow, and his accuracy was on and off. But man, Flynn and/or Brohm? If Rodgers is seriously hurt, the season is over. And, of course, that's the case with most offensively centered teams. But still.

Now Chuckie Woodson's continued brilliance (despite all of his penalties) was encouraging, as was the play of Nick Collins. (Wasn't it bizarre to see him make a great, difficult interception and drop an easy pick that a 15-year-old JV second-stringer would have snagged?) I don't want to jinx him, but it looks like Collins has finally blossomed. And not a moment too soon, because the rest of the defense, especially without Jenkins, has not performed particularly well. Although to be fair, they are a "bend, not break" style of D, Woodson kept giving the Bucs first downs on penalties, and the Packers' offense continued to put them in terrible spots.

Speaking of that, what's with the offense? How are the Bears, using a washout like Brandon Lloyd, able to pass all over the Bucs, but the Packers can't? And what happened to the running game? I was really hoping that with Wells back at center and Moll out of the lineup, and Grant reportedly healthy, we'd see some solid stuff on the ground. But after that first drive, the run game disappeared completely. Maybe the Bucs adjusted and the Packers failed to? I don't know. It certainly seemed like Clifton and Tauscher got beat several times. What's happened to those guys? What's happened to the line generally? Obviously, Rodgers is not as fast making reads as Favre, and so holds onto the ball longer. And obviously, although he's pretty mobile, Rodgers lacks Favre's uncanny ability to shrug off tacklers (though from watching a few Jets games this season, it looks like that ability's diminished), but it's not all QB play. Clifton and Tauscher have both just been getting beat this season. And what the hell was with that last free shot on the Rodgers' last offensive play? The TEs and the line let a defensive end run straight at an already injured Rodgers and splatter him. Rushed pick, game over. Ugh.

And all of this woudn't be so bad if it weren't for all the injuries. Harris, Harrell, Bigby, Jones, Rouse, Jenkins, now Rodgers. The Packers injury luck has definitely run out. When's the bye week?

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