Monday, September 28, 2009

Green Pay Packers vs. St. Louis Rams: Blind Impressions Of a Carbound Packer Fan

This weekend I traded in my Green and Gold for the Blue and White of Penn State. Once a year, we will go to a Penn State "White Out" game and put together a real "Jersey" Tailgate with about 40 friends and family.

From Friday night to Sunday morning there is no Packers talk, no TV or radio reports, no internet news or blogs. Just tailgating, Penn State football, and then a great Sunday Brunch at the famous Nittany Lion Inn.

As we hit the road for home on Sunday, usually around 12:30, my thoughts start to wander back to the Green Bay Packers. I know I won't be watching this game on TV, but in my glove compartment is my temporary savior—my Sirius Radio. God bless the NFL Network on Sirius.

Thanks to Sirius, while trapped in my car for the four hour car ride home, I can utterly annoy and then bore the three women in the car with me. Yes, to these ladies, a Packers game on radio is the perfect cure for insomnia. They are all asleep 10 minutes into the game.

For me, the dulcit voices of Wayne Larrivee and Larry McCarren are the perfect antidote to falling asleep at the wheel. Larrivee with his picture-painting play-by-play and McCarren with his commentary and analysis, keep me wide awake and hands firmly gripping the wheel.

I've always had a love affair with radio, from a very early age. I remember listening to NY Knicks and NY Rangers games on my little transistor radio hidden underneath my pillow when I was supposed to be asleep. In my mind's ear I can still hear a very young Marv Albert calling those games. Frazier to Monroe, he spins, he shoots, Yessssss!

But getting back to the Packers, I listened to the entire Packers-Rams game while making that rainy ride home on Sunday afternoon. It was up to Larrivee and McCarren to be my eyes and tell me what I was "seeing."

After enjoying the win, I decided to try a little experiment: I would keep my impressions pure and not look for any more information on the game. I didn't watch Sportscenter, didn't look for Packers highlights on the internet, didn't hit for game stats and interviews, didn't read any Packers blogs. My impressions would not be influenced by anything other than the radio call of the game.

I do plan on getting a copy of the game and doing some "film study" (time permitting), but for now I'm going to give you my thoughts on the game, thanks to the Packers' Radio announcers:

  • Stephen Jackson is a horse and we did very well containing him as much as we did. After Jackson had carried a few times, McCarren lamented (I am paraphrasing), "While unfortunate he's on the other team, it's nice to be able to watch a really good runner once in a while." Ouch. Sorry Ryan...
  • Whatever happened to JerMichael Finley owning the end zone? Every time the Packers were in the red zone, I kept waiting to hear Finley's name called there. For that matter, I'm waiting to hear Finley's name called anywhere. Did he have any catches in this game? Was he ever thrown to? My "radio" impression is no.
  • It wouldn't be a Packers game without a Jarret Bush penalty. Yet the Packers decide to cut Aaron Rouse when they have injuries at safety. There was an article in the local Jersey paper here quoting Tom Coughlin saying how fortunate the Giants were to find a safety of Rouse's quality on the waiver wire. Ouch...
  • The Packers actually ran a quarterback draw AND a reverse in the same game?! Are you kidding me? PLEASE let this be a pattern. I am a HUGE proponent of running a few trick plays EVERY game. Let's give the other teams as much as possible to think about and prepare for. Just like Capers' approach to defense.
  • So DeShawn Wynn is now officially nothing more than a blocker. With Jackson out, Sutton gone, and Lumpkin rotting on the practice squad, we have a one trick pony at running back. Easy for other teams to plan for? I would say so.
  • There were lots of Packers fans at the game. Listening on the radio, it was hard to tell from the crowd noise if something good had just happened for the Rams or for the Packers. Only until the announcers' call caught up, did I really know.
  • We still can't run a decent screen.
  • All of that "Chillar at safety" talk wasn't so crazy. I'm curious if on the two Rams TDs he was playing at LB or in the quasi-safety position?
  • I understand they are still going slow with Nick Barnett, but couldn't Bishop have gotten some more reps spelling Hawk for a series or two as well? Would there really be a drop-off?
  • The Packers finally committed to the run. Of course, they decide to be as predictable as possible and continually run on first down. Again, I haven't seen the game stats, but it felt like 70-80 percent of first down plays were running plays.
  • I am not, however, criticizing the commitment to the run. Committing to the run like this will certainly make your play-action passing game more successful. I am guessing that most of the successful long completions were off play-action. Of course, Packer fans have seen sudden commitments to the run before, and it's easy to keep running when you are winning fairly comfortably. Will Mike McCarthy have the fortitude to keep running if down by two TDs in the third quarter against Minnesota?

So those are my impressions of the game after emerging from the video-proof booth otherwise known as my Jeep Grand Cherokee. I hope to be able to get a copy of the game, find the time to break it down and see how I did with my "blind impressions." Of course, if I'm totally off-base, I'll just blame Larrivee and McCarren.


You can find more of Jersey Al Bracco’s articles on several sports websites: Jersey Al’s Blog, Packer Chatters , Packers Lounge, NFL Touchdown and Bleacher Report.

You can also follow Jersey Al on twitter.

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