A Packer Fan's Week One Confession

Things in life can often be seperated into two seperate categories: things you see coming, and things you don't.  Things you see coming give you a chance to prepare for them.  For instance, if the weatherman says there's gonna be rain, bring an umbrella with you.  If the new Madden is being released, you can be sure that they haven't really done anything to change it from last year (but you'll still buy it anyway, because you're an idiot.)  And if Adrian Peterson is your team's starting running back, you can expect to see something like this fairly regularly.

But then there's the things that catch you by surprise.  Like when you're in the middle of a fantasy football draft and your wireless connection goes out.  Or when you're backing out of a parking space and some prick decides it's a good time to test the acceleration on his BMW and he rips your bumper off.  Then there are games like the one we watched yesterday.

There was a good mix of the expected and unexpected between the Bears and Packers; it's part of why the NFL is so great to watch.  Green Bay put on quite a show (and I say that only with moderate sarcasm) on the way to a 21-15 win over Chicago.  But I'll be the first one to admit, over the course of the game, a Packer win was not what I expected.

Don't get me wrong, I was willing them with every ounce of my sports-loving being.  My participation in the open thread should show that.  But face it, as soon as Chicago took a 15-13 lead, my heart sank.  The offense simply hadn't played well enough to prove that it could score points when it needed to.  Hell, they needed to score points the whole game, and the best they could muster was a pair of field goals and a 1-yard run set up by Tramon Williams' interception. 

I don't things on faith very often; I need some form of proof until I can work with it.  The Packers simply didn't prove to have any ability to move the ball against a surprisingly feisty defense that was missing two starting linebackers (Urlacher, Tinoisamoa) and a key player in the secondary (McBride) for most of the game.

That said, when Green Bay got the ball with less than three minutes left, I was torn.  I wanted to believe that Aaron Rodgers would get his signature game-winner, that the offense would shake off the pressure applied by Chicago, and that this year would be different from last year.  But a part of me was convinced that something bad was going to happen to ruin Green Bay's chances, just like last season.

The win was unexpected, but the play that got us there was expected.  Let's go through some things I did and did not expect.


I did expect...Green Bay's defense to turn Jay Cutler into Pouty Mc-No-Chin.  Cutler has a history of forcing throws where they don't belong whenever he gets pressured, and that certainly surfaced tonight.  While the defense only sacked him twice, they forced him into numerous incompletions and put hits on him whenever an opportunity arose.  Of the four picks, three of them (Collins, Williams, and Jolly(!)) were anywhere between questionable and downright awful decisions by Cutler because he was panicked in the pocket.  Without getting too vulgar, let's just say that Urlacher may have been right about his new QB.

I did not expect...Brandon Chillar to play such a big role on the defense.  His 7 solo tackles were huge, as was his fluid pass coverage, but his sack on Cutler was a thing of beauty.  Jason McKie tried to cut block him, but Chillar simply hurdled over him and brought Cutler down.  An incredibly athletic play.

I did expect...Mason Crosby to miss his first field goal.  At this point, we simply need to accept him as he is.  Crosby has a HUGE leg, but his accuracy is downright erratic.  He's like the Jay Cutler of kickers.  Minus the sideline p-outrage.

I did not expect...Devin Hester to be limited to 2 punt returns for 7 yards.  That's right, Hester had less than 10 yards on punt returns.  Plural.  That was HUGE in this game.  Jeremy Kapinos actually played well, and the coverage units were outstanding.  Looks like there was a good reason to keep 3 FBs and 10 LBs.

I did expect...Green Bay to have trouble with Chicago's run defense.  Even without Urlacher and Tinoisamoa, the Bears have a stout defense against the run.  The fact that Ryan Grant got 61 yards on 16 carries amazed me; I figured he would get closer to 50 on 20 attempts.  That shows what a healthy offseason can do for a running back with no talent.

I did not expect...Green Bay to have as much trouble with Chicago's pass rush as they did.  With a banged up secondary, I figured that Chicago would either put more people in coverage to relieve the pressure, or they would sell out with 6+ man blitzes.  It turns out that neither was really the case.  Adewale Ogunleye made Allen Barbre look like a bellhop in the first half, and Daneal Manning and Al Afalava's sacks were on relatively rare blitzes by Chicago.  Rodgers has some work to do for next week against Cincinnatti.

I did expect...Green Bay to get at least one chance at the end of the game to score and retake the lead.  Green Bay's red zone defense was simply outstanding in this game; the Bears' lone TD came on a 36-yard strike to Hester that Nick Collins came up lame on.  Were he not suffering from cramps, I expect he would have been at least closer to the play than he was.  Anyway, I was confident that Chicago was going to take a 15-13 lead on a field goal, because the defense just played that good.

I did not expect...the Packers to pull through.  Call me a pessimist, call me a naysayer, call me a flip-flopper, or whatever else you want, I did not see a TD on that drive, especially in that fashion.  The plays called up to that point were conservative, and the 3rd & 1 timeout made me think that Rodgers was starting to crack under the pressure.  Luckily, Mike McCarthy rolled the dice on a huge playaction fake that resulted in Greg Jennings torching Nathan Vasher for the most exciting play of the weekend.  (Sorry, Denver fans, but that was a HUGE fluke, and all you Viking fans can calm down too; the game was already won when Adrian Peterson went Beast Mode on the Browns.)

No matter the case, I'm ecstatic that Green Bay showed that it can win a gritty defensive game (or a crappy offensive one, tomayto, tomahto).  I think the team has enough to work on *cough*passprotection*cough* for next week.  How do you feel about this game?

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