Packers XLV

Packers to Saints: "Bye You"

Posted September 29th, 2012 @ 08:09pm

We'll look at this week like the old March saying: The Pack went into the week as sacrificial lambs (to end the referee lockout) and they can end the week as angry lions, using that game as a launching point as they get set for a rare three game road trip.

The Pack has said all the right things publicly and privately, it would appear. Charles Woodson relived the infamous Tom Brady "tuck rule" game that cost his Raiders a playoff game to help get his teammates in the proper frame of mind for a pivotal game against the Saints. With that long trip looming--including a prime time game at Houston--the Pack cannot afford a 1-3 start, with three of those games having been played at home.

And so we welcome the winless Saints, who are an absolute mess. One of the main storylines entering this season was 'how would they handle their unprecedented offseason? How would they cope with out Mr. Swagger, Sean Payton and his aggressive play calling? Well, we have our answer. Not well. Not well at all. After going 8-0 at home last season, they've lost to the Redskins and Chiefs at home. Last week's collapse vs. Kansas City was really ugly. They cannot stop the run, which is making it hard to stop anything.

The defense under new coordinator and former Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo has been atrocious. Their defensive line is a shell of what it was--maybe since there's no side action in play they've lost their motivation. They're thin at linebacker--down to their third string weak side guy--only free agent, former Falcon Curtis Lofton provides a challenge.

This should be the week the Packers offense awakens. If we don't see three, or four, or five Lambeau leaps on Sunday we've got problems. After dealing with the stout defenses of the 49ers, Bears and Seahawks, they will find a whole lot more open areas in this one. Expect Cedric Benson and the ground game (James Starks' debut?) to attack early. Mike McCarthy mistakenly abandoned the run in the first half Monday night. He won't do that again.

Early success on the ground will open things up for the passing game. Jennings should be close to 100% and Jordy Nelson is due for a big game. McCarthy mentioned how he patterned some plays for Randall Cobb off of what the Saints do with Darren Sproles. This is the kind of matchup where Cobb could make some noise--those linebackers will be hard-pressed to handle him.

Conversely the Packers defense will face a much tougher challenge than they faced Monday night. Youngsters DJ Smith, Jerrion McMillain, Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy will try to keep the wraps on the potentially explosive Saints offense. They'll pay closest attention to Drew Brees' favorite target, tight end Jimmy Graham and Sproles, who amassed 250 total yards in last year's season opener.

But the Saints offense has not looked anything like last season's--kind of like the Packers. Marques Colston is a bit hobbled and is more of a posession guy now. Devery Henderson can stretch the field a bit, but he's inconsistent. Lance Moore is probably their most reliable wide receiver right now. They're only running 29% of the time so far, with Pierre Thomas getting about twice the snaps that Mark Ingram gets.

The signs point to a high scoring affair with the Pack feeding off their anger and the fans, who will be behind them like never before. Expect a raucous crowd--it's the last time they'll see their guys till October 28th.

I think McCarthy and the coaches will have the team ready and I expect the Pack to make a statement.

Packers 37  Saints 24

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Comments (2):

If the Packers can't score at least 38 points in this game against this defense there's something seriously wrong in Titletown. While it's true the Packers have opened the season against three pretty good defensive teams I think there's a little more to the slow start to the offensive showing than has been mentioned much. Defensive coordinators are now on to the Packers spread passing offense and unless Green Bay can get favorable matchups to win the execution battle the defenses are jumping and disrupting the receivers' route more than last year, plus getting heavy rushes on Aaron Rodgers. The Packers need a few new wrinkles in the old scheme to adjust to this. Mike McCarthy has been way too slow and reluctant to recognize and appreciate what Cedric Benson adds to the offensive mix this season. It's no coincidence that the Packers beat the Bears and came back in the second half against Seattle when they began feeding the ball to Benson on the ground while they lost to San francisco and didnothing in the first half at Seattle when they abandoned the run. The commitment needs to be made to give Benson at least 20 carries a game. If opponents go after the deep passing game the Packers can smash mouth with the running and short passing game. When opponents turn to stop that things can open up further downfield. We can talk about coaching upheaval in New Orleans but not much has been mentioned about all the changes in the Packers assisting coaching staff since last year. Coordinator Joe Philbin left to become head coach at Miami. We saw how much he mattered when he was absent during the prep week before the Giants playoff loss dealing with the tragic drowning death of his son. Philbin's departure forced Tom Clements to move to coordinator from quarterbacks coach. They've got former tight ends coach Ben McAdoo coaching quarterbacks and former running backs coach Jerry Fontenot is coaching the tight ends. Then they've got former NFL running back Edgar Bennett working with the wide receivers. The only offensive assistant still in place from last season is o-line coach James Campen. If any one thinks coaching changes don't matter just look acorss the field at New Orleans. While it may be mostly the same guys and system it's not exactly the same offense in Green Bay as last year. If the defense was to be a work in progress over the course of the season this year the offense may have a little more of that to do as well then we reckoned.

on September 30th, 2012 at 07:36am

Randall Cobb! He's gotta get touches. He has been under utilizized by MM. No reason he can't get 6-8 balls thrown his way AND 4-6 rushes. Go Pack!

on September 30th, 2012 at 07:48am

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