Well, 24 hours (and then some) have passed since the Disaster at the Dome. . .I feel significantly better than I did yesterday after the game, that's for damn sure. Just needed to take one of those "there are more important things in life than football" moments.
(More on that in a post I'll be putting up later in the week. Gotta keep the audience hungry. It's like "24," only without Jack Bauer screaming a lot and shooting lots of people.)
Anyway, let's take a look at the game here, shall we?
WHAT WAS GOOD
The run defense. . .again - The Packers ran the ball 26 times for 47 yards, averaging roughly 1.8 yards/carry. I said in the pre-game thread that the Packers wouldn't be running the ball against the Vikings, and they didn't. If Pat Williams isn't the best run-stopping defensive tackle in the National Football League, he's somewhere in the Top 2. The man was a beast yesterday.
Cedric Griffin - Pressed into starting duty in place of the deactivated Fred Smoot, Griffin actually asserted himself pretty well, I thought. He had a couple of pass deflections, and overall did a pretty good job.
Bethel Johnson - The little guy from Texas A&M has given this team a little spark. Not just on the beautiful one-handed catch down the right sideline, but on what SHOULD have been a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown (which was called back on a horribly ticky-tack penalty, by the way). He's a guy that needs to get more involved in the offense somehow.
Billy McMullen - I've been a little harsh on Mr. McMullen on this blog since he was acquired from the Eagles. But yesterday, he put up two touchdowns. . .one on a 40-yard pass from Brad Johnson that just seemed. . .to. . .hang. . .in. . .the. . .air. . .for. . .ever, and another one by being in the right place at the right time to recover a Chester Taylor fumble at the goal line. Maybe the guy should be getting into the game a little more often. Taylor and Williamson certainly aren't getting the job done.
The sad part? His two touchdowns have moved him into a tie for the second most touchdowns on the team. We're nine games into the season, people. . .and not only does our leading TD scorer (Marcus Robinson) have only 3 touchdowns, said player hasn't played at all in the last 3 games.
Guess what territory we're heading into now?
WHAT WAS BAD
The playcalling - Dear everybody in the league,
WE'RE GOING TO RUN THE BALL ON FIRST DOWN! EVERY FIRST DOWN! EVERY SINGLE ONE ALL GAME LONG!
Seriously. . .my wife and I watch the WWE on a regular basis, and their storylines are less predictable than the Vikings' offense. Damn near every first down play is a handoff to Chester Taylor. Second down is usually a handoff to Taylor, although we do pass occasionally. On third and short, we throw long passes downfield. On third and long, we throw swing passes to Mewelde Moore.
And then, usually, we punt.
The Packers, as detailed above, rushed for 47 yards yesterday. And, despite that, managed to beat the Vikings in time of possession by 7 1/2 minutes. Why? Because the Vikings had 13 possessions in yesterday's game. . .9 of those 13 possessions were 3 plays or less. Why? Because we're the most predictable offense in the league, that's why.
Ronyell Whitaker - With Fred Smoot being out, Cedric Griffin moved up to the #2 CB spot. That meant someone had to move up to the nickel slot as well. That guy was Ronyell Whitaker.
Man, I can't wait for Devonte Edwards to get healthy. Unfortunately, we won't be seeing him until 2007.
The Vikings have given up two 70+ yard touchdowns this year. . .one to Deion Branch in the Seattle game, and one to Donald Driver yesterday, both on similar plays. The culprit on both plays? #27 in your program, and #1 in your doghouse, Ronyell Whitaker. Missing jams, taking bad angles, and generally not playing good football. Yeah, he lit up NFL Europe. . .so did Daymeune Craig. You seen that guy in an NFL uniform lately? Yeah, neither have I.
Artose Pinner - Two huge momentum-killing penalties. . .a block in the back on Bethel Johnson's 102-yard kickoff return to start the second half (which, as I mentioned, was a really ticky-tack call), and then being offsides on an onside kick that was successfully recovered by Minnesota. Not a good way to make an impression.
Dwight Smith - Benched for the first series of yesterday's game for "disciplinary reasons," as he was late to a meeting on Saturday. Is anyone still under the delusion that this team is more disciplined than they were under Mike Tice?
Ray Edwards - Was in line to get his first career NFL start, but was then mysteriously de-activated prior to kickoff. It's rumored that this one was for "disciplinary reasons" as well, but nothing further has been mentioned about it. With the complete lack of pass rush we got yesterday, we probably could have used him.
Mercifully, that's all for now. More as the week goes on.