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A good team would have smothered the Saints (09/20/2006)
By Dave DeLano
The Green Bay Packers lost their second game in as many starts Sunday when they fell victim to the New Orleans Saints by a score of 34 - 27. It was an entertaining game to watch, but it was also a game that a good Packer team would have won, especially in Lambeau.

The Saints started the game with three turnovers which the Packers quickly converted into 13 points. But in the second quarter the momentum swung around. The Packers' offense couldn't generate much of a running game. Combined with an assortment of dropped balls, ineffective blocking, and some questionable play calling, the Pack squandered their lead with 20 unanswered points by the end of the third quarter. The Packers came back to tie the game in the fourth quarter, but two quick Saint touchdowns, one following a costly fumble by Ahman Green, sealed the fate for the Pack.

The offense showed a marked improvement over last week's debacle against the Bears, but, after all, these were the Saints. The Packers' game plan left me scratching my head. Coach Mike McCarthy has said over and over how he intends to stay with the running game. Yet in this contest the Pack only attempted 20 running plays" while Brett Favre threw the ball 55 times. Such an imbalance seldom results in wins in the NFL.

Favre threw the ball pretty well against the Saints and Donald Driver looked like an all-pro wide receiver. Perhaps the reason for all the throwing was the fact that the Packers' offensive line seems incapable of generating holes for the running backs. It would seem that more personnel changes will need to be made there if there is to be a respectable running game this year. The rookie guards aren't cutting it and I suspect that left tackle Chad Clifton isn't healthy. The offensive line is a huge problem for the 2006 Packers.

The Packer defense held Reggie Bush and the Saints' running attack pretty much at bay. The bugaboo for the defense this week was the pass defense, as the Packers allowed a weak-armed Saint quarterback far too many opportunities. It is hard to put a finger on the defense's weaknesses, as they seem to rotate the bad plays amongst themselves. Aaron Kampman had a great game and rookie A.J. Hawk looked sharp, but as a group they aren't getting the job done either. The Packers need to find a way to get Abdul Hodge on the field more. He looked sensational in pre-season but has been utilized only on special teams the past two weeks.

The Packers travel to Detroit next week to face the Lions. They actually might be favored, as the Lions have severe growing pains of their own this year. Like the Packers, they have a new coach, have been unimpressive, and they are winless. Someone will get a win next week" unless we have a tie. Neither team is very good right now so it will be interesting to see which team takes the steps to improve itself in week 3. 


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