Monday, September 11, 2017

Packers-Seahawks "rivalry" game: a test of strength or just exposing their respective myths?

No weekly NFL Notes this year, since my work hours are not conducive to such output, and something just seems amiss about this season; maybe it’s too much “more of the same,” or too much is different, I can’t tell which. Anyways, I will say thank god that football season is upon us to help us forget for a day or two about “real life,” as tweeted through prism of the world of unreality that has been foisted on us by this person we are forced to call “president,” that is then funneled through Jeff Sessions’ vision of hate, with the aid of his slimy worm in Trump’s ear, Stephen Miller. 

And there is no better way to forget for a few hours this reality than living in the Seattle area and being a Green Bay Packer fan, and least for this past Sunday after a 17-9 victory over the Seahawks. No gunshots or fireworks after the game from Seahawk fans, just mind-numbness after a loss which of course was not Russell Wilson’s “fault.”  I know how bad things can be; I remember Bart Starr’s final season, and the 20 years it took to find another quarterback to lead the team out of the NFL outhouse. When the Packers acquired John Hadl, I thought he would light up the passing stat sheet; he didn’t. Lynn Dickey was exciting to watch, and he was a tad more accurate than his idle, Joe Namath. But like Namath he was constantly injured, and had only one great season in 1983, in which he threw for a team record 4,458 yards, which stood for almost 30 years until broken by Aaron Rodgers in 2011. And I still remember that exciting MNF game that season (also available for viewing on the Packers “Greatest Games” DVD set) between the Packers and the defending Super Bowl champion Redskins in which both teams’ defense took the night off in a 48-47 thriller that wasn’t decided until a partially blocked field goal attempt on the final play preserved the Packer victory.

But that is old history and Packers have had the benefit of two Hall of Fame quarterbacks back-to-back and a generally unbroken string of regular season success since 1992, although only two Super Bowl titles to show for it. Will this year be any different? Difficult to say, given what we saw on Sunday. Heading into the game, many NFL “experts” gushed on the Seahawks, especially concerning their defense, and sine defense wins Super Bowls, they were the “favorite” to be the NFC representative. On the other hand, the Packers were supposed to have an “unstoppable” offense, which I personally did not get a sense of during the preseason. The Packers were shutout in the first half of Sunday’s game, with Rodgers throwing his first interception in 251 regular season pass attempts. The Packers failed to move on the opening drive in the second half, but a Wilson strip fumble led to a short field touchdown and a 7-3 lead, and afterwards the Packers did only what they needed to do, which was score a few more points while the defense continued to exploit the Seahawks’ offensive weaknesses, which isn’t just the offensive line. 

Wilson is good, but he is not Tom Brady or Rodgers; he can’t make those quick reads in which the ball just darts out of his hand before defenders can block his vision. But I did not see what I needed to see: Rodgers and his supposed great core of receivers wearing down and imposing their will on the Seahawk secondary. Rodgers did throw for 311 yards, but they were essentially just random points on a graph, as the offense only produced 10 legitimate points. This is disturbing, as was Rodgers limping around late in the game. A victory, yes; and impressive one? Well, that depends on what kind of team you think the Seahawks are. 

If you live in Seahawk country, you know the drill: it either the fault of the offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, or the offensive line. Why don’t the Seahawks run the “hurry-up” offense all the time, which seems to be the only time the offense is able to make forward progress? Hell, Wilson wants to know too, or at least that is his excuse after the game. But then again, wasn’t that the concept that Chip Kelly tried to develop on the NFL level, and it simply did not work? Look, I don’t dislike Wilson, who played one great year at Wisconsin. But a poor offensive line and running game can be overcome with quick short passes (see the Patriots), and as noted before, that is not Wilson’s game, albeit for reasons that have more to do with physical rather than mental limitations. I don’t buy the excuses anymore, and Seahawk should stop doing so as well.

In the meantime, the Packers face a tough test at Atlanta next week, and in my mind that will be a truer test as to where the team is at than this past game was. As for the Seahawks, they play the 49ers, the worst team in their division, perhaps what they need now to impress the "experts" and believe in their own myth.

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