I didn't make it very far.
Within the first five minutes, I saw three plays that would foretell how the game would unfold. Already disgusted, I threw down the remote and bailed on watching the whole game.
Why torture myself? It was clear that these three plays would give me plenty to write about.
Play No. 1: Ryan Grant Makes a Bad, Bad Decision
With Quinn Johnson as the lead blocker, Rodgers hands off to Ryan Grant on what looks like an outside zone run. Johnson meets the linebacker head-on, and the play is blocked perfectly.
Every Vikings player, except the deep safety, has a Packer in his face.
The Packers are all holding their blocks well, and you can see a nice seam for Grant to run through between Josh Sitton and Allen Barbre. Make it through that hole and at least a 10-yard gain or possibly a huge play awaits....
In the picture above, you'll see that Grant is looking to that hole. But look at the picture below.
For some reason, Grant cuts inside, trying to squeeze between Johnson and Sitton. He ends up running right into Johnson and the Vikings player he's blocking.
As you can see from the next picture, Grant goes nowhere:
Grant actually ends up fumbling on this play, but the Packers get lucky and the officials rule forward progress stopped, so Minnesota was not allowed to challenge.
With all the heat the offensive line has been taking, I have felt that their run-blocking has been good enough, and I held off laying the full blame at Grant's feet.
Well, the gloves are off.
Ryan, if this is the best you can do, then you are a thief—you are stealing the Packers' money.
I would opine that Brandon Jackson, of whom I am no fan, Ahman Green, or ex-Packer Tyrell Sutton would have hit the correct hole. Even Kregg Lumpkin, currently buried on the Packers' practice squad, would have hit the right hole.
Play No. 2: Rodgers Doesn't Sense the Pressure
There has been much discussion of Aaron Rodgers holding the ball too long, and most of it is accurate.
He is too often determined to make the big play, ignoring safer and quicker options. I devoted an entire article to this subject after the first Vikings loss.
But another issue is that he doesn't sense pressure until it is too late.
It's maddening to watch at times, and the play I will show you is very telling.
Here, Rodgers moves to his left in the pocket. Ray Edwards gets around Barbre late and is pursuing Rodgers from behind. It's 3rd-and-17, so Rodgers is looking downfield, hoping for a long completion.
As you can see from this picture, Edwards is only two steps away with no defenders in sight, but Rodgers is ignoring him and still looking downfield.
As Edwards gets closer, Rodgers is still waiting for the deep receiver to complete his pattern. Although he has room, Rodgers doesn't continue to move up in the pocket to avoid Edwards because he doesn't feel him coming. Instead he sets himself to throw.
In the next picture, you can see a wide-open Donald Driver directly in front of Rodgers, but does he unload the ball to him?
No, he does not.
He ignores Driver and Brandon Jackson (again) and tries to throw the ball further down the field. Because Rodgers didn't feel the pressure, Edwards is able to hit his arm as he throws.
Finally, in this picture you can see what Rodgers was waiting for:
It appears that third Packers receiver James Jones has just made the inside cut on a post pattern.
Unfortunately, the ball is now fluttering to nobody and Rodgers is on the ground.
While Rodgers was looking for a big play on 3rd-and-17, he ended up with nothing.
As you can see, Jackson and Driver are still wide open. If he had sensed the pressure sooner and continued to move away, Rodgers would have bought himself another half-second, which would have been enough time to get the pass off.
Coulda, woulda, shoulda.
Aaron, you have to improve this part of your game, or all those gaudy numbers you put up will mean nothing in the end.
Play No. 3: Brett Favre Will Make You Pay
Now, 3rd-and-5 on the Vikings' first possession, the Packers are showing blitz (a bit too obviously and too soon), and the Vikings make adjustments.
You can see the Vikings' right guard pointing and, no doubt, calling out a blocking assignment. (See that, Aaron?)
The Packers run their tired crossover blitz, with Aaron Kampman circling behind Clay Matthews. Barnett does not blitz and is responsible for coverage, if needed.
You can see the huge area that will be left empty when the linebackers blitz:
Favre also sees it coming (See that, Aaron?), looks over, and gestures to running back Chester Taylor to move to his right:
When the blitz does come, the Vikings offensive line is ready for it.
So is Favre.
It's so basic, and it's what Favre did to the Packers in both games: pick up the blitz, throw the ball to the area vacated by the blitz, and move the chains.
It's the reason why in both games the Packers covered more and blitzed less. Of course, that in turn allowed Favre more time to throw, and we all know he can pick you apart if you let him.
So it becomes a no-win situation for Dom Capers.
In the end, it was these three plays that showed how the game would turn out.
Rodgers continued to have issues with not feeling pressure and focusing on the big gain.
NO running game, to which Mike McCarthy's answer is to just give up on it. Can't he see how poorly Grant is playing? Why wouldn't you at least try to give Jackson or Green a few carries?
Finally, if the Packers cannot pressure, hurry, or sack the quarterback, they cannot stop a team like the Vikings.
Don't waste your time watching the whole game again, Packers fans. The first five minutes will tell the whole story.
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