Brett Favre has played on Monday night 30 times. He has led the Packers to victories 17 times. Some were VERY memorable. None more than the game he played the day after his father Irvin passed away. On that Monday night in Oakland on December 22, 2003, Favre was incredible. He threw for 399 yards and was 22-30 with four touchdown passes and no interceptions. His quarterback rating that night was an astonishing 154.9. Favre has had other big moments on Monday night, including throwing the longest touchdown pass in NFL history, 99 yards, to Robert Brooks against the Bears in Chicago in 1995. But as of late, the Packers have been on the losing end more than not on Monday nights.
Since October of 2004, the Packers have lost four out of five Monday night games. Two were of the blowout variety. The only win was the Packers 45-17 rout over the St. Louis Rams on November 29, 2004. That was the Packers' last win on Monday night. The Packers would love to prove to the world that they belong in prime time once again. Monday night vs. the Eagles will be an excellent test.
The Packers have been ridiculed en masse for the most part by the national media all year. Some said they were the worst team in the NFL. Some said Favre was washed up. The Packers have been the Rodney Dangerfield's of the NFL the last couple of years. No respect. The Packers can change that Monday night with a good performance. Not a close, but no cigar performance. But a winning performance.
It won't be easy. The Packers have not won in Philadelphia since 1962. Lately, the city of brotherly love has been the Packers' house of horrors as the Pack has lost four games in three consecutive years to the Eagles in Philly. The one that sticks out of course is the 4th and 26 playoff game. That one will live in infamy. They were also undressed by Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook and Terrell Owens in 2004 when the Eagles whipped the Packers, especially their secondary, in a 47-17 shellacking.
The Packers secondary in 2006 has not fared much better, ranking 31st in the NFL in passing yards allowed. The Eagles are first in the league in passing yardage. The Packers have also allowed 16 pass plays of 20 yards or more already this year. That can't happen Monday night if the Packers expect to win.
Before the 2006 season started, most expected the Green Bay secondary to be one of the team's strengths. Instead it has become the team's Achilles heel. One would have expected more with a secondary that boasted two shutdown corners in Al Harris and Charles Woodson, plus a talented second-year safety in Nick Collins and a heady veteran presence in Marquand Manuel. The problem appears to be lack of communication. That needs to be fixed very soon. It hasn't been just the secondary either. Linebacker Brady Poppinga has been exposed in pass coverage as well. Tight end L.J Smith is probably licking his chops as he looks at film of Poppinga in coverage.
Poppinga is a good player, but he is a downfield type of player. In other words, he can play the run and rush the passer. Covering tight ends and running backs is not his forte. So why does the Packers coaching staff continue to put him in that position? With Poppinga and the secondary struggling, imagine the havoc the Westbrook will have in the passing game. If there is a better receiving running back in the NFL, I haven't seen him. Again, not a good omen.
It will all come down to the Packer defense on Monday night. The offense led by Favre is executing nicely, except for big yardage in the running game. Favre has had back-to-back monster games. Against both the Saints and the Lions, Favre threw 3 touchdown passes and for over 340 yards. Once the running game gets productive results, the offense will take shape. The young offensive line interior has done a nice job protecting Favre of late. The run blocking needs to get better. The competition between rookies Darren Colledge, Jason Spitz and Tony Moll will help make that happen.
Special teams have also been solid of late. Koren Robinson has looked good returning kickoffs. Charles Woodson has been sure-handed returning punts. The coverage teams are improving and punter Jon Ryan and kicker Dave Rayner have been solid. So it comes down to the defense, which can shine under the lights, or be exposed again.
The team needs to get a pass rush on McNabb, who is having a great season. In three games, McNabb has thrown for 960 yards, including seven touchdown passes with just one interception. It helps when you have a player like Westbrook who has already found the end zone five times. Westbrook is a dual threat that can break a big play at any moment. That's not a good situation against a defense that has been prone to giving up big plays. So, will the defense finally play to it's capability Monday night? It better if the Packers expect to finally look like they belong in prime time again.
Bob Fox is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.