Great piece from the fine folks over @ Grantland
Great piece from the fine folks over @ Grantland
To the question of whether or not the Pacers are back, the answer is pretty clear. No. Hell no.
Not after Washington cracked them 102-96 in a classic case of a game that wasn’t nearly as close as it indicated. But it wasn’t all bad for Indy last night. Check out Big Hibbs, finally showing up and going for 18. 18 minutes that is.
And by now, I’m sure you know how the rest of his stat line read: zero boards and the same amount of points I had. I’m telling you, one of these nights; I’m going to find a way to outscore Roy Hibbert.
The man with the monacle didn’t hit any shots, but he did get lit up with potshots from a couple of former NBA’ers, Tracy McGrady and Gilbert Arenas. What? Steve Francis and J.R. Rider didn’t want any of that. McGrady tweeted the same scud…
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Who cares … yes, the guy is a giant POS but that’s what we’re concerned with these days? Something he said in supposed confidence to his mistress … that was broken by TMZ of all places. Additionally, most everyone within his circle (NBA owners) knew the guy was a racist bigot, now that this information becomes public they want to jump in and ostracize the guy? Talk about hypocrites …
It’s amazing how quickly the media (and our president) likes to leech onto anything involving race. Isn’t there anything better going on? Like the NBA and NHL playoffs for instance and the Brewers hot start, for example.
Let’s take a look at Detroit. First of all, what was going on with Fairley and Suh? I understand Green Bay’s running game has improved but I wasn’t expecting them to put up 180 yards on the ground (I’m aware Ansah was far from healthy). In addition to stopping the run game, Detroit was only able to get to Rodgers once behind the line of scrimmage. I thought the secondary and linebackers looked tough all day aside from a few missed tackles and 1 big play to James Jones. On the plus side, the defense did a great job of buckling down in the red zone, holding Green Bay to 2 field goals on their two redzone trips.
Offensively for Detroit, there’s not a whole lot that can be said about the game when you’re essentially missing 2/3 of your offense. Green Bay was able to put a decent amount of pressure on Stafford as Detroit’s run game was never able to get going. Moving forward, I’d like to see Scott Linehan implement more 3 step drops to ease some of the pressure on the o-line and Stafford. The bright spot for the offense: Brandon Pettigrew is quickly becoming a big threat at TE, his versatility makes him a pain to matchup with.
Looking at Green Bay’s offense, the biggest concern lies in the redzone offense. If you’ve followed Green Bay since Rodgers took over then you’ve probably become accustomed to redzone TD passes, however, such has not been the case this year as McCarthy is still trying to figure out his plan of attack when he’s inside the oppositions 20. Moving forward, I think you can expect to see McCarthy lean heavily on his run game in an effort to limit the hits Rodgers takes. The o-line only gave up one sack on the day and as mentioned earlier, Green Bay racked up 180 yards on the ground. Final thoughts on the offense: Taylor and Jones each had costly drops that could’ve easily led to TD’s, Jordy Nelson continues to make incredible catches, Randall Cobb played a big role in the run game and pass game.
Defensively for Green Bay, the biggest story is 52’s thumb, reports are saying he’s probably out for a month. Thumb injuries to linebackers are extremely debilitating as they really hamper your ability to shed run/pass blockers. Overall, however, Green Bay’s defense had a great day, the d-line and linebackers dominated the line of scrimmage giving up only 64 yards on the ground and picking up 5 sacks. I’m going to avoid commenting on the secondary due to the absence of Megatron and Burleson. My only concern with Green Bay’s defense has been their inability to force turnovers. Few more thoughts on the defense: Hawk had a solid day, Perry picked up 2 sacks, Francois is lost for the season.
This is a big game for a number of reasons: Green Bay has to avoid falling to 1-3 and Detroit has a chance to jump out to a 3-0 start in divisional play. The Lions are coming off a big win against Chicago in which the Suh led defense forced 4 turnovers. Suh and the defensive line had a great day coming away with 3 sacks and one defensive touchdown. The recipe for success will once again be the play of their front seven when they face Green Bay. Suh and Fairley will have to be stout and find a way to pressure Rodgers up the middle. In addition to putting pressure on Rodgers and the passing game, Detroit will have to find an answer for Green Bay’s new found run game. Green Bay is currently averaging 128.0 ypg on the ground and will look to once again control the line of scrimmage against a strong Detroit defensive line.
Rodgers will be looking to rebound after his lackluster performance against the Bengals in which he threw two picks in a rather forgettable performance. I expect McCarthy will be using a lot of 3 & 5 step drops and some timely screens in an effort to neutralize the Detroit pass rush. I’ll be expecting Gunther Cunningham to counter with a mix of coverages on the back end and throw a good number of blitz looks and line stunts at Rodgers (Factoid – Cunningham was born in Munich, Germany in 1946). If Rodgers is able to get comfortable in the pocket it will be a long day for Detroit.
Detroit has lost 21 straight games in Wisconsin, the last win in America’s Dairyland coming on Dec. 15th of 1991. Reggie Bush and Megatron will be looking to change that. When it comes time to stopping Detroit’s aerial attack, Green Bay’s secondary and linebackers are only as good as their pass rush (Clay Matthews). If Matthews and the D-line are able to consistently get pressure on Stafford then life in the Green Bay defensive backfield will be that much easier … but then there’s Reggie Bush. Bush is averaging 5.3 ypc on 48 attempts but his real value comes in the passing game. Bush has racked up 179 yards on 11 receptions and the Detroit offense will continue to find creative ways to get Bush in the open field against the Green Bay defense. I wouldn’t be surprised if this game turns into a shootout …
Let’s start with my favorite story line so far, the 4-0 Chiefs. What’s been the winning recipe for Andy Reid and the Chiefs thus far? In my opinion, their success lies in field position and turnovers. Kansas City is tied for the league lead in the giveaway/takeaway column with a +9. Alex Smith has done a GREAT job of picking and choosing his downfield shots and he’s completing just over 60% of his passes while only throwing 2 picks to his 7 TD’s. In addition to Smith being efficient, the Chiefs have been able to do some damage on the ground, as well. Jamaal Charles is averaging 72 ypg while Smith is also putting his legs to use, averaging nearly 38 ypg. Finally, the Chiefs have the 10th ranked defense according to ESPN. McCluster and Demps have also been solid in the return game.
Moving on, let’s take a look at the Giants and Steelers, who are a combined 0-8. The Giants are experiencing some major o-line issues as Eli has been sacked 14 times and the run game is only averaging 57.8 ypg. The same can also be said for the Steelers, Big Ben has been sacked 15 times while the run game is averaging 58 ypg. Defensively, the Steeler’s defense has yet to force a turnover and find themselves at -11 in terms of turnover ratio. The Giants are sitting at -9 in turnover ratio; both teams find themselves in last place in this category in their respective conference. I think both these teams need to reevaluate their offensive line situation and figure out something to take some heat off of Eli and Big Ben, the threat of a run game is non-existent for both. While the news has been pretty dreadful for both teams this year, there is a silver lining beneath it all … both teams are only two games back in their respective division races.
And now for some final thoughts: