Jclombardi highlights Monday morning headlines.
Guest senior writer jclombardi @ http://lombardiave.com
Packers 27, Eagles 20: Packers defense nearly outrun by Vick.
Offense flops, yet team still pulls it off, a good sign: “I played terrible,” Rodgers said. I’m capable of playing. It’s got to get better. That’s the good thing.” As Rodgers noted, if he and the offense were that far off their game and the Packers were still able to win, 27-20, as they did against the Philadelphia Eagles in the season opener Sunday, that cannot be all bad. “It’s nice when the offense isn’t playing as well as it can and the special teams and defense steps up like it did,” Rodgers said.
Notes: While defensive end Justin Harrell (knee) appears lost for the season, and Cullen Jenkins (wrist) will need to play in a cast for a while, the most significant injury appeared to be the sprained right ankle that knocked running back Ryan Grant from the game in the second quarter. “They capped me,” Finley said. “I’d come off and I’d have a linebacker bump me or whatnot and then I’d have a safety over the top. So once they take you out of the game, we have to find a way for Driver, Jennings or Jones to get open. So I guess we’re going to have to adjust to that this year.”
Tackles Clifton and Tauscher: Two old pros had shabby first-half showings in the Packers’ 27-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Clifton was directly responsible for one sack and probably will be charged with a second. Tauscher gave up a sack. “We were a little surprised,” offensive coordinator Philbin said in reference to the early sacks. “I don’t know if our guys were nervous. We were a little bit out of sync early in the game as an offensive unit.” In first half, not only was Rodgers sacked three times, he was knocked down after six other passes and flushed at least twice. “As the second half wore on I think we got in a better rhythm,” said Tauscher. “Obviously, as a group and individually, we didn’t play well.”
Special start: So to see the special teams units – from Jordy Nelson’s kickoff returns, to Crosby’s team-record 56-yard field goal, to Tim Masthay’s consistent punting, to keeping dangerous returners DeSean Jackson and Ellis Hobbs from making any game-changing plays – play such a vital role in the Packers’ season-opening 27-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field was as encouraging sign as any from Sunday.“Mason hit the ball well, Jordy did well, the guys blocked very well on a couple of those returns,” special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said, summing up the day. “We identified as a football team (what) we needed to do to improve – we’ve got a good football team – and one of them is playing good special teams. Our challenge is to play consistent week-to-week and help our team win. I thought we were very solid.”
“I did. I did,” Capers replied after watching Matthews register a pair of sacks, knock starting quarterback Kevin Kolb out of the game, make a team-high seven tackles and come up with the most important stop of the game, stuffing Michael Vick on a victory-clinching fourth-and-1 sneak. “He made some really big plays tonight – the biggest one being the fourth-and-1, where he comes down and used up two blockers (and tackled Vick),” Capers continued. “You’ve heard me say before that big players influence the game, with two, three, four plays that make the difference. And I think he certainly did that tonight.”