By Jake McCormick
Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance.
That’s how I dealt with the Green Bay Packers’ pitiful loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, a team that rightfully deserves a reality show and is a lot like the villains in any James Bond movie. SPECTRE or any other bad guy looks like an upgrade over the previous movie, but the end results are the same.
Denial: Bolting up from my barstool in downtown Milwaukee, not caring that I had left delicious onion rings and half a beer at my seat, I ran outside and did my best Revenge of the Sith Darth Vader Frankenstein impression, screaming to the skies “NOOOOOOOO!!!!” It became evident in about the middle of the third quarter that the Packers would not win the game, but I tried convincing myself otherwise until Ed Hochuli flexed his referee muscles.
Anger: Between the Packer crapfest, some douche 49er fan running up and down the rows in the bar every time Cincinnati did something and a Viking fan that yelled “Percy!” every time Percy Harvin touched the ball, I was poised to rip the Marquette University “McCormick Hall” sign from its post a few blocks from my house. I figured at least I would have something cool with my name on it instead of the usual bar fight story or broken parking meter. I also proceeded to drop F-bombs like George Carlin, and really was tempted to drive up to Green Bay and hand every member of the offensive line a broken bicycle to ride to practice at the start of the week.
Bargaining: This one was very short lived, seeing as I don’t pray and I refuse to believe God cares about sporting events. Why bother when it’s only Week 2 and every other person in the world is praying for something on His day off?
Depression: This one set in pretty quickly once I got home. I felt like I had a bad day at work (Which, technically, I did), and had seven days to think about it. I’m pretty sure my depression after a Packer game is like a woman’s depression after watching the last episode of Sex in the City.
Acceptance: Thank god this came to me Sunday night, and without severe detrimental effects to my relationships with my girlfriend, friends, and family. It is only Week 2, the Bengals do have a good offense, and the Packers have been drinking their own Kool-Aid. At this point, it’s a good thing they get their balls tugged out through their anus by a lesser team; hopefully it’ll be a big kick in the jaw early on instead of down the road. Build off of this, teach the offensive line how to block, and move on to preparing for St. Louis. And if the team that played the Bengals shows up in two weeks, we will be slaughtered and hung to dry. Hopefully I’ll be blacked out if that happens.
Here are my positional grades, and as you’ll note, they are much more cynical and tough than last week’s:
This is the best grade I’m going to give, because Aaron Rodgers’ lack of success was pretty much determined by his porous offensive line. Rodgers was taking hit after hit, but failed to make a big mistake other than take sacks. If you don’t have enough time, just limit the turnovers, and I would prefer that to what a former Green Bay quarterback would’ve done in those situations.
When the quarterback has three less rushing yards than your starting running back (43 to 46) and only carried the ball four times, you have the typical Packer running game. Ryan Grant has shown he can push a pile if needed, but still has yet to break a run that isn’t called back by a holding penalty. Grant claimed he is more prepared than ever for the position, but talk is cheap, in the words of Tom Brady. Sure the offensive line sucks, but good running backs create something out of nothing and HOLD ONTO THE BALL. I haven’t seen that yet this year.
Donald Driver was Rodgers’ favorite target against Cincinnati, but Greg Jennings could’ve been replaced with Brett Swain and we wouldn’t have known the difference. Jennings was a non-factor all game, and I’m still trying to figure out why. The Bengal secondary isn’t filled with shutdown corners. It’s good that the ball was dropped considerably less than against the Bears and Driver got into a rhythm, but Jennings needs to get the ball when the team needs its playmakers the most.
Easily, EASILY the biggest problem spot in the team. Of course, you can’t win games if the quarterback is pulling a Jim Everett every play, nor if the line has fewer holes than a condom. Allen Barbre wasn’t the big problem, and that’s a problem. Chad Clifton was knocked out of the game and Daryn Colledge slid over to take his place in the third quarter, but neither player did their job (Paging Mark Tauscher…you’re needed on a crappy line). With 10 sacks given up already, Rodgers will not live through another full season of the line doesn’t remember that pass protection is a requirement for employment.
Typical Packer defense. After shutting down a very good Chicago running back in Week 1, they sleepwalk against a castoff Bear with drug problems. Cedric Benson is NOT an elite running back, nor is he even a starter in most fantasy leagues, but somehow he gained 141 yards on 29 carries. Giving up a guaranteed 4-5 yards on a play is not a victory for the defense, and no matter what, YOU DO NOT LET AN OFFENSE CONVERT ON A 3RD AND 34!! Was Mike Sherman on the sidelines again, or what? That was the worst mental mistake of the game, and that goes for the entire defense.
3rd and 34. It’s not that hard to stop, really. Especially when inside their 20 yard line. Either way, the linebackers were kept silent most of the game, and other than a Clay Matthews sack, looked like they were going through scout team drills. This is a deep group of players, but someone needs to step up and Ray Lewis somebody. By that I mean hit someone hard. On the football field.
The top three tacklers were Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, and Aaron Rouse (who was just cut for an Italian guy names Matt Giordano. I think I bought a pizza from his restaurant once). I had a youth football coach who used to say that if the safties and corners don’t register a tackle all game, the defense did their job. Woodson continued to make big plays with his two interceptions, including one he took to the house, but when you give up big plays, those turnovers can be negated. Letting Chad Ochenta y Cinco get into the endzone is enough to get downgraded to a C level, and his subsequent pussification of the “Lambeau Leap” was just as bad. At least Fred Smoot had the balls to do it in a group of Packer fans. (Props to the guy who gave the bird to every camera photographing or filming the move, and CBS not censoring it. That ranks right up there in Lambeau Leap lore with the fat woman that was slapping William Henderson’s ass for about 10 minutes.)
Mason Crosby looks like he’s starting to hit a groove, making a clutch fourth quarter kick and executing a beautiful onside attempt that the Packers recovered. Jason Kapinos isn’t terrible either. But the coverage units gave up a combined 181 return yards. That in itself was the deciding factor in the game. You can give bad teams great field position all day, and they will find a way to score.
I just keep telling myself there are 14 games left. After Week 2 last year, the Vikings were 0-2 and the Packers were 2-0. Look how the season ended. I’m not saying there’s a guaranteed reversal for either team, but to bet the farm when the season is still in its infancy would mean you’d probably be dead by Week 5. Let’s just hope the Packers got the memo about their extreme deficiencies on the offensive line.