I had visions of the offensive line putting on a running game smash mouth football clinic in hopes of a continuation from last week against the Detroit Lions. Unfortuately, I was off just a bit as the Cardinals were the team that came up with the running plays that kept the Packers defense on their heels and forced the Pack to blitz without any results as the quarterback Jeff Blake had an awesome day throwing the ball with pin-point accuracy. Throw in some mistackles by the defense and you have a long day for the defense. It wasn't that the Cardinals dominated the game through the first half, but it was the Packers' inability to stop the Cardinals in third-down situations to tie the game at the half 10-10.
To take control of a game in the National Football League is to come out and make plays to start the second half to gain that precious momentum and that's exactly what the Cardinals did to keep themselves in the game. Adjustments are made at the half and play should be improved, but the Packers did neither. The Cardinals still converted on third down to dominate time of possession and the offense couldn't gain any rhythm to maintain the ball for any sustained drives. When fullback William Henderson is the team's leading yardage receiver, Green Bay's chances of winning are slim.
In the Packers' win over the Detroit Lions they dominated with the run game, time of possessions, third down conversion and forced the ball deep at least once during the game. The defense was fresh and played with intensity and enthusiasm. In the two losses the offense had no rhythm in the running game resulting in a lack of third down conversion and the inability to throw the ball deep. Also with this you get a tired defense which leads to mistackles and players trying to make the big play only to have blown assignments and see opponents running wide open in the in a zone defense. This results in the domino effect with players being frustrated and trying to make something happen to help the team win.
Some good news is the Packers have found a return man in Antonio Chatman that can give the offense good field position resulting in a short field to work with. Sunday, however, the offense just wasn't able to take advantage. The Cardinals did what they had to do and that was to eliminate their mistakes and continue their aggressive play to win. The Green Bay Packers did not.
There's been a lot of money spent on a defensive line to put pressure on the opposition which is not happening and the Pack has added deep-threat receivers to stretch the opposition's defense and, again, that's not happening. That's why the Pack is 1-2 with too many unanswered questions. Does quarterback Brett Favre have to stand up every week like he did against the Lions to have this team perform? This team will become way too predictable. What we thought of a team that could be 6-1 going into the bye week will have a tough time winning an emotional game against an 0-2 Chicago Bears next week on Monday night in the grand opening of the renovated Soldier Field. I know it's awful to think about but 1-6 at the bye week is possible.
Editor's note: Former safety Johnnie Gray played for the Packers from 1975-84. He was inducted into the Packer Hall of Fame in 1994. E-mail him at Gray24@tds.net.