After last night's debacle, I think I am going to refer to the green (and gold) clad Aaron Rodgers as "The Hulk" from now on. Every pre-game interview showed a testy, angry Rodgers as he had to answer the questions about Green Bay's (non-existent) demise and why things were not as easy as last year. The rage channeled into a sharp performance by Rodgers, who was as good as I have ever seen.
On both sides of the ball, the Packers executed their gameplan. The offensive line did a much better job of keeping Rodgers clean, while the defense kept gap integrity, moved about in space, and swarmed to the ball. This was not a defense which was going to be fooled by the play-fake or get sucked up into the zone blocking. Of course, it helps when your two best players, Rodgers and Clay Matthews, are playing angry, focused, and at the top of their games.
There really are not excuses to make. Sometimes you just get beat. Sometimes you run into a pissed off All-Pro player who can control the game. Sometimes desperation does win out. Sometimes Sunday nights happen. The key, for your Houston Texans, is the response to this. As we saw firsthand, good teams respond in kind.
Get Off...The Ledge
The Packers, as we knew, were better than 2-3. Aaron Rodgers is the league's defending MVP and, in my opinion, the best player in the league. The Packers had their backs against the wall and came out like a team that needed the win.
Houston, on the other hand, did not need the win as much. Houston seemed a bit gassed from the get-go. The gameplans seemed...uninspired. The game honestly reminded me of the Dallas game from 2010. The Texans came in undefeated, after a big emotional win, and Dallas was desperate. Dallas' defense swarmed and shutdown the offense while Houston's defense could not get a stop to save their lives.
As I said earlier, the key is the response. A good team doesn't lay back-to-back eggs at home. That 2010 Houston team did, and we all know the story there. Sunday's not the end of the season, by any means, but the Texans have to come out a bit desperate to not limp into the bye with two consecutive losses and to finally get the Baltimore monkey off their back.
Get On...the Houston Starting Defense
This does not include J.J. Watt. The man is the defense's most irreplaceable player now and, may be, the franchise's best player. He, again, impacted the game from 3-4 defensive end. He has nearly broken franchise season records in six (6!!!!) games.
I will also leave out Brooks Reed. My favorite target of criticism has made significant leaps as a talent. His pass rush is the perfect compliment to Watt, as he usually forces quarterbacks to step up. More so, I noticed that he is now able to make calls and adjustments. Last night, he made a few pre-snap adjustments and would then knife in to make a tackle or defend the flats. His play recognition has improved, and he is making plays beyond just the 'clean-up sack.'
The other 9 are not off the hook.
Johnathan Joseph was picked on, the entire secondary was torched for touchdowns, Antonio Smith was never mentioned, Connor Barwin cannot pull down a quarterback, the nose tackle position gets no push, and the inside linebackers lacked aggression. It was a bland, vanilla effort that did not resemble the Bulls on Parade at all.
Yes, the worst two performances by Wade Phillips' Bulls have come against teams who can spread Houston into a dime and lessen the pass rush, but the Texans just seemed flat and uninterested and that's why I am getting on them.
Who or what are you getting on or off? Throw them out in the comments section.
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