Johnnie Gray: Post-game review

Jennings again uses smarts for big play; analysis of coverage on Gonzalez

Receiver Greg Jennings showed off his football IQ again for a sensational road win against the Kansas City Chiefs today at Arrowhead Stadium.

Last week he did a great job of recognizing that he had a third of the field to work with because of the three-deep look and he worked cornerback Dre' Bly inside and made a burst to the outside for the game winning catch. This week Jennings ran a clear-out route but recognizing that he was being covered by linebacker Donnie Edwards, Jennings continued to run down the field. Brett Favre sees the mismatch and throws it up for grabs and it's another great catch for the go-ahead touchdown.

Edwards is a heck of an athlete, but there's no way a middle linebacker covers a receiver down the middle of the field. I can still hear Favre's comments over the summer on how this was a talented team that is young and inexperienced. Favre's idea of being inexperienced is the lack of continuity, bonehead mistakes and not being able to make the big play in crunch time. These youngsters have taken it upon themselves to eliminate the inexperience out of the conversation. James Jones and Jennings have watched and listened to veterans Favre, Driver and the coaching staff to make it look like these guys have been playing together for years.

The obvious keys in the game were to stop tight end Tony Gonzalez and running back Larry Johnson. The Packers did all they could to stop Gonzalez with Atari Bigby, Charles Woodson, Al Harris, A.J. Hawk, and they even had a jam by defensive end Aaron Kampman. Gonzalez did make some great catches, but there were times when he was bracketed by two defenders that never executed the defense. One defender expected to cover outside patterns with the other playing inside coverage and deep. With the game on the line, both Harris and Bigby played inside coverage, allowing Gonzalez to make the catch and get out of bounds. Mental mistakes like these, missed tackles and penalties make Packer victories closer than they should be.

After seeing the highlights of Minnesota's running back Adrian Pederson set an NFL record with 296 yards rushing against the Chargers, I would think there will be an over emphasis on form tackling. If it weren't for the injury to Johnson's ankle, I don't know if the Packers could have pulled this one out against the Chiefs.

For you veteran readers, in the Monday night game against the Redskins middle linebacker Rich Wingo and I knocked out running back John Riggins before the half. When the then St. Louis Cardinals were here for a playoff game Mark Murphy and I knocked out running back Otis Anderson just before the half. Both players were running all over our defense and I know Anderson already had a 100-plus yards. Johnson was well on his way if it weren't for the injury that happened when he was tackled by Hawk. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

Johnnie Gray

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

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