Johnnie Gray: Post-game review

A.J. Hawk and Corey Williams celebrate a sack.

Offense comes to life; defensive pressure impressive as is Blackmon on special teams

Ask and thou shalt receive. The offense came out firing on almost all cylinders and showed enough promise that if it can continue to improve and stay healthy, this season will be a lot more fun and enjoyable than many anticipated.

It all got started when tight end Bubba Franks caught a couple passes and was greeted by a resounding applause by the Lambeau Field crowd of 69,761. Did you notice he was not wearing his shield? After dropping an easy catch last week, I defended him by saying he wasn't comfortable with wearing a shield and that it was a distraction. During the opening series Franks continued to make plays and looked like the Bubba of old. He got first down depth, turned and used his wide body to shield off the defender and make the catch.

Just in one week's time the offense seemed to have gotten its rhythm back. Both quarterbacks, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, looked very comfortable in the pocket while having plenty of time to throw the football. The offense was quick out the huddle allowing plenty of time for everyone to survey the defense and get ready for any adjustments. I don't think there was one time when they were up against the clock.

Going into his second year, coach Mike McCarthy and his staff seem to have a handle on how things should be run. There's still a lot of work to be done, especially in the running game. One of the keys and, maybe the most important, is how well the backside is blocked. There was a lot of yardage left out on the field last night because of the backside pursuit. McCarthy attributed that to injuries and lack of depth at the fullback position. If Brandon Miree can't get healthy, look for some healthier bodies to arrive in Green Bay this week.

I can't give enough credit to the defensive line. I mentioned last week that it has been awhile since we had so much pressure being put on by the front four. Remember that's five on four or maybe six on four depending on the running back or tight end staying in to block. Therefore, by having your four being double-teamed, that allows you the luxury of sending a linebacker and that the Packers did against Seattle. Backers Brady Poppinga, Nick Barnett and A. J. Hawk were flying to Seahawks quarterback Seneca Wallace. Safety Atari Bigby was able to get a sack because of the double teaming going on up front. Because there was so much pressure coming up the middle, his blocker (running back) checked inside to help then released and never saw him. General Manager Ted Thompson is determined to be able to field a solid run and pass defense without sacrificing a linebacker.

Do you remember number 29, a corner from Colorado? Mike McCoy. That's who cornerback Will Blackmon reminds me of because of his quick feet, arms flailing, stop and go on a dime, and speed the burn. After a disappointing first year due to injuries, Blackmon has come back with a vengeance to prove that he belongs at this level. He showed promise before the injury with his aggressive bump and run and coverage skills. In the last two weeks his confidence level climbed up the ladder and if I could be a little critical, it would be that he gives up too much cushion (distance between he and the receiver) on the snap of the ball, but that will come with more playing time.


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 gray24@gbpackersfan.com.

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