Sunday, January 9, 2011

Packers - Eagles First Half Diary: Red Zone Fail

According to three out of five Fox pregame braying jackasses, there is no reason for the Eagles to play this game; hopefully they will anyway. They win the coin toss but not the return, and Green starts at their own 14. First play hijinks? From the gun, the Packers blitz and Vick never moves, taking the hit full force. Yeesh. With Vick's pads still out of uniform on second and 19 from the five, Vick from the gun sees WR Jason Avant wide open as LB Clay Mathews slips, and the wideout gets 18 of it back. Third and one sees LT Jason Peters in the backfield, and a bootleg by Vick goes nowhere. Weird play call and worse execution. Punter Sav Rocca's punt rolls around, and reseve Packer Blair Underwood touches it with his foot for a gift turnover. Wow, what a mistake. Fluke play and not reviewable, not that

Vick with the fresh drive scrambles for ten and a first. McCoy for two runs gets five and two; nice to see some attempt at balance. From the gun on third, Vick barely gets it off before the clock expires, and the pass is batted down before it gets to WR Riley Cooper. Akers into the teeth of a strong wind from 41 yards is far from a given, and it's missed wide right. The Packers dodge a bullet, and will get the ball on their own 31 yard line. Not an impressive start for the offense on either drive, really.

With the wind, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers rolls out and finds TE Andrew Quarless for an easy first down. Moving quickly, Rodgers has a clean pocket and WR Donald Driver for 12 and another first. Exactly what you were afraid of here. A deep ball to WR Jordy Nelson is covered well by CB Dmitri Patterson, and that might have even been OPI, since only the CB could have caught it, and Patterson is tripped up at the end of the play. Second and 10 from the gun is a give to RB Brandon Jackson, and it gets three yards. On third andd seven from the gun, Rodgers misses WR Greg Jennings on a hot read, but the mistake is all on the wideout -- right through the hands. Phew. Punter Tim Masthay gets it to the nine rather than try a long figgie, and PR/WR DeSean Jackson takes the fair catch.

Fox decides to demean both team's fan bases by focusing on cheese. Joy. From the gun on first, Vick draws a false start, then finds TE Brent Celek for nine yards. Reid declines the flag for second and one. A give to RB Jerome Harrison converts the first, rather than try anything too cute. From the gun on first, Vick rolls and throws back to WR Jeremy Maclin, who has it on the tips, and so does rookie CB Sam Shields. Incomplete. McCoy with some room on second, but it comes back on a hold against Cursed Celek. DJ limps off after getting rolled up in traffic; joy. He looks terrible right now. Second and 20 from the 10 is a shotgun throw to Avant, who gets back ten of it. DJ's in agony, and Philly Fan isn't much better. From the gun on third, Vick takes a timeout with 6:16 left in the first, and we get to see the man on the sidelines still trying to beat it out. This is part of the reason why you don't extend speed WRs before you have to, and that's the coldest comfort I can give, really. After the commerce, Vick from the gun takes McCoy on a screen, and the RB makes a half dozen men miss before getting stripped before the sticks. Green is very fortunate to get the ball back for a Rocca punt, and DJ limps to the locker room. Good punt and coverage into the wind, and the Packers will start at their own 32. It's a scoreless tie, but you'll forgive me for thinking that the Packers are ahead by a lot so far.

Rodgers with time is high, and CB Asante Samuel nearly had the pick. DJ's return is questionable, according to Fox. Not counting on it. RB James Starks with the big run that the Pack needed, 23 yards through MLB Jamar Cheney. Whiff on the rookie; guess we aren't getting Stewart Bradley today. They give it to him again for a yard up the middle. From the Eagles 40, they try it again for five to the left. Interesting play call sequence. Third and four is another figgie or more down, and Rodgers from the gun draws an offsides before an incomplete. Can't have mistakes like that against this caliber of opponent, and LB Keenan Clayton commits the sin.

Starks for three to the left. Swing pass to the back right,and he makes two men miss on his way to the first. LB Moises Fokou overran it. In the historically awful Eagle defensive red zone, it's a toss to Jackson for two, as S Quentin Mikell ends the play with nice form and violence. Quick action from the Pack from the gun, but Cheney stops Starks on a drag for a yard. Huge play here on third and seven, and Rodgers from the gun rolls left and finds FB Jon Kuhn for the conversion. Road Packer Fan, and there are enough to be heard from, makes the Coon Call. First down and touchdown imminent... and Green compounds the problem with wasted timeout #2. Ah, this first quarter has really had it all. After the commerce on first, it's Rodgers to some WR named Tom Crabtree, and I'm so glad that the Eagles used a timeout for that defense. Packers 7, Eagles 0, and as previously stated, it feels like a lot more than that.

Touchback as the Fox heads note how, um, the Eagle defense kind of sucks. No DJ as McCoy takes a handoff for nice yardarge, and that's the first quarter. Maybe that's how Green wins this game now, with 40 carries for 200+ yards. Kinda not expecting that, though.

Second and three from the gun with the win, and McCoy gets a shotgun draw for a yard that CB Charles Woodson ends with violence. Third and two from the gun is an ungainly keep from Vick, and the QB fights through traffic for the first. Now he's limping, too. Joy. McCoy spins for four. Vick misses Maclin, who pules for a flag to no avail; looks like the WR just missed the play. Third and six from the gun is a big damned deal, and Vick is destroyed on a blitz by Mathews for a huge loss. It's as if they have no idea how to react to a blitz, or any concept that one might come on third down. Rocca's punt with the wind is bad, and the return sets up the Packers at their own 45 yard line. My hope that the week off would revitalize Vick to be the MVP-level guy he's been this year? Not looking real good right now. In 9 out of the last 10 quarters for this football team with their starters, Green has been the lesser team, and by a lot.

Rodgers from the gun with blood in the water, and Starks gets six with room for more. Fox heads already talking about the Pack's prospects for next week, because only dumb analysts cover the game that is in front of them. A give to Kuhn, and he loses the ball near the sticks; nice play by Cheney. A measurement even gives the road team the first down, and I'm waiting for Reid to challenge this as well and give me the full gamut of wasted timeouts. Huge opportunity missed by Green there, as one player -- sorry I didn't get the number, but Fox didn't think it was important enough to show twice -- wasn't aware of the ball.

Rodgers to Kuhn on a swing pass for eight. Starks doesn't get anything on second. Third and two sees the QB avoid pressure and find reserve fullback Quinn Johnson for four and the first; multiple missed tackles prolong the drive. At least DJ's running back onto the field. After commerce -- why, Fox, why? -- we get the usual montage of Packer highlights, but a little more of hopping DJ. From the Green 35, Rodgers from the gun takes Driver for seven, and it looks easy for them because, well, it is. Starks for six more yards and a first, and we're nearly into the Automatic Touchdown Red Zone Area. Seven minutes left in the half. Rodgers fumbles on an aborted handoff, but the QB covers it for a loss of two. From the gun, Rodgers finds Jennings against Patterson, and the WR makes a high level play for 7 yards. Third down is in the red zone and doomed, so Rodgers scrambles for 8 yards and the first. He's been watching the Joe Webb tape. From the gun on first, it's more a matter of who, not if, and Rodgers connects with WR James Jones off a rollout for the score. In other news, Nmandi Asomugha might be available from Oakland in off-season free agency. And it would also be a very fine time to find someone else to take defensive coordinator Sean McDermott's paychecks. Packers 14, Eagles 0.

Meh return and if DJ's not coming back in the game, I kind of want to know why he's on the bench. OK, he's back. Vick from the gun goes to Maclin for 44 yards on a cross, and where has that been all game? Useful and stuff, and DJ looked reasonably quick on the replay. Flags pre-snap and a free hit on Vick to boot for fun; the QB probably took a dive. From the gun on first and fifteen, McCoy takes a screen for five and nearly had more. From the Packer 30 in the gun, Vick's pass is batted down against a blitz, and whenever that happens, we need to hear how tall Vick is. It's a Broadcasting Law. Third and 10 from the gun is huge, and Vick decisively carries for 14 and the first. The QB left LB AJ Hawk dusted for the first, and that was manly. McCoy for three. Vick from the gun to DJ, but the WR drops it before he can fight for the first down. That will make the third down harder, and as it's also the two minute warning, we get to think about it for a good long while. From the gun, Vick settles for Avant against a zone in the flat, and it's stopped well short. Not what they needed, not by a long shot. With the wind down, Akers connects from 29, and at least it's a score of some kind, with 1:11 left and two Pack timeouts. Packers 14, Eagles 3.

Akers with the wind gets a driving touchback; helpful. From the gun on first, Rodgers gives to Jackson for five, and that's helpfully conservative. Pack in a hurry up, but Rodgers misses Quarless. Notice how 4th and 26 doesn't ever show the terrible Favre pick that ended it? Rodgers avoids pressure to convert to Quarless for a first, and Samuel will probably get a fine for the finish of that one later. Mobile QBs just kill this team. 37 seconds left from he Packers 37. A blitz doesn't affect Rodgers at all, but Jones drops a wide open fly route, and he had Samuel toasted on the play. Phew. Yellow gets a delay penalty to make it second and 15; that tends to happen on hangover plays. From the gun, Rodgers finds Jackson, who gets 10 against shoddy coverage. Time winds, and Yellow lets it run off for no good reason at all. Well, that's charitable of them, but I guess Packers coach Mike McCarthy didn't like his chances for a long field goal into the wind. Either that, or he wanted to make Andy Reid look like he's not the only terrible clock manager in this game. Back for the second half in a bit...

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