Warning: May Contain Football-Like Substance

For those of you who were concerned, yes, I am recovering. It’s taking time, but I’ll pull through.

I’m talking, of course, about the 23-20 loss my beloved team took this past weekend in the NFC Championship game. If you don’t care at all about football, then skip this post, and come back in mid-February, when I’ll have new things to think about. That being said, here’s my opinions concerning the game, which will likely end up being much longer than I’m intending at the moment:

1. If you have to find one person to blame the loss on (even though it usually isn’t one person’s fault) blame coach Mike McCarthy. It pains me to say that, because I respect the heck out of the guy, but he called a downright terrible game. I’ve never seen a worse-called game than this one. Ever. Ryan Grant runs for 201 yards in the snow one week, and to reward him, the next week you only give him 13 carries the whole game? That’s ridiculous, even if he only got 29 yards on those 13 carries.  If you listen to game analysis, you’ll likely hear a lot of people saying the Giants stopped the Packers running game, and that’s how they beat them. That’s not true. The Packers stopped their own running game because they didn’t run enough. You can’t expect to wear down a defense if you only run at it 13 times. In a cold weather game, you have to run the ball, plain and simple. Even if you average 2 yards a carry, like the Packers did, if you run on first and second down, you’re looking at third and six, which is much more manageable than the third and nine the Packers averaged. No one, not Brett Favre, not Tom Brady, and certainly not Eli Manning can win when their team averages nine yards to go on third down.

2. In my life, I’ve probably watched over 100 Packer games, and it didn’t take half that experience to tell that Brett Favre was damn cold. He’s 38 years old, for goodness sakes. Experience watching him is what tells me that when Favre is cold, he’s uncomfortable, and when he’s uncomfortable, he forces things, and when he forces things, he throws picks. Corey Webster now knows this better than anyone. Yet another reason to run the ball. Nothing against Brett, I would’ve just saved the heavy passing game for the warm Arizona desert, which sadly now isn’t possible.

3. Al Harris needs to shut up. He’s a big bunch of talk, but he can’t consistently back it up. Yes, he’s going to the Pro Bowl, and yes, he’s one of the best corners in the NFL, but this year, he faced only two big, physical receivers: Terrell Owens and Plaxico Burress. Their combined stats for the two games in which they faced Harris: 18 catches for 307 yards. Harris is considered one of the best because he plays bump and run, and plays it well, which means he’s shoving scrawny little receivers left and right, knocking them off their routes and throwing off their timing with the QB. But when the receiver is big enough to shove you back, you’ve got yourself into quite a pickle, and it becomes time to back off and simply cover your man, which Harris couldn’t do Sunday. So Al, until you fix that, keep your mouth shut and play the game, you’re only baiting big guys to push you around like Owens and Burress did.

4. As long as we’re on the topic of corners, the Giants did a good job taking Charles Woodson off his game as well. Woodson, like Harris, plays man-to-man bump and run, and the Giants used a whole lotta motion to freeze that. This was a very smart idea. Whereas the Giants knew real fast that Harris wasn’t going to be a problem, they used motion to neutralize Woodson, because when you use motion, you end up with a receiver who can’t just line up straight in front of his man, and you take away the option of bump-and-run, essentially forcing any corner to become a pure cover corner. The difference was that Woodson, who was on Amani Toomer most of the game, did a decent job of it, limiting Toomer to four catches.

5. For a defense that was on the field for 40 minutes in minus-23 degree temperatures, the Packers still looked fairly decent (outside of Harris) in the fourth quarter and overtime, keeping the Giants out of the end zone and tightening up towards the red zone. That being said, it’s very rare that a team that’s as much in control of the clock as the Giants were on Sunday will lose. Also, the Packers badly lost the field-position battle, which doesn’t help things any. So if you’re the Packers, how do you move towards winning the time of possession and field position battles? Well, you run the ball, of course (are we seeing a theme here?).

6. I am 99.8% sure that Brett will be back next season, and yet that .2% still makes me nervous.

7. I am not at all sure that the Packers will be any good next year, which makes the loss that much more heartbreaking. The Packers hadn’t been in an NFC Championship for 10 years, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes them another 10 or more to get back. I’m not discrediting my team here, I know there’s a heck of a lot of talent on that roster, a lot of salary cap room, and not a lot of guys slated to become free agents. All those signs point to a really successful season next year, right? Well, ask the Saints, Bears, Jets, and Ravens how they feel about maintaining success in the NFL from season to season, and they’ll tell you it isn’t always that simple.

8. …Only 11 days until the longest seven months of the year.


2 Responses to “Warning: May Contain Football-Like Substance”

  1. 1 Beau
    January 23, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    Agreed. A very sad day and a very very poorly called game. I probably blame the defensive coach for a lot of Al Harris’s piss poor performance. If he keeps getting beat, you need to get him some help. It almost seemed like they didn’t want to run the ball, they kept making Grant run up the middle with zero protection. They will win 10 games next season. I think like two of their players had ever been to the playoffs before.

    Still trying to decide what color napkins to buy…

  2. 2 andygraham
    January 23, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    I think it’s pretty obvious, don’t you?

    …orange and black.

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