Here are some of the things I saw different today. What did you see and is there anything that still needs to be changed?
I saw a lot of good things today and I will admit that I am still on a high from this game.
- The feel - First thing I saw was the entire feel of the game was different. I don't know if this is because of Haley's attitude not being there. It felt like the players were a little looser, like they weren't waiting to get yelled at or something. The difference between Haley on the sideline and RAC on the sideline is night and day and it seemed like the players responded.
- Mistakes - There were still some dumb mistakes. like running into the kicker and 12 men on the field but is it just me or were they still better with that stuff than with Haley. There weren't the dumb mistakes that destroyed great field position or negated a crucial 3rd down. I don't know if players were more focused because Haley was fired and they realized they may be playing for their jobs as well, if it was in response to RAC's attitude, or the undefeated defending champs being here. Strangely enough, we apparently had 7 penalties which surprised me when I saw that since none were really that memorable, I mean there were no B Rich multiple false starts or major penalty that we've all come to expect from players this year.
- O-Line - it will be interesting to see the break down on how the offensive line played because Orton had a TON of time back there. Orton was not sacked at all. I only remember him being hit and knocked down a few times. That is insanely surprising considering what we have seen from this line this year and the Packers pass rushers. I think one thing that helped was we did a ton of play-action and screens this week. It seemed like we ran more of both than we had any other week this year and they worked well. I don't know why both were so much more effective this week but it was good to watch. We ran RB, TE, and WR screens. Watching those screens just reminded me of back in the day when Priest would rip those off.
- Receivers - Orton hit 10 different receivers today. He hit receivers that neither Palko or Cassel ever thought about hitting. Becht, Pope, Copper, and McClain all had catches. They didn't care who was out there they just ran their offense. Orton also didn't seem to wait until people were wide open like we had seen in the past.
- McClain - You know what I remember of McClain this year, him standing on the sideline. For the first 13 games, most of the time when I saw him it was on the sidelines. He is, if not the best, one of the best fullbacks in the league and we rarely used him. He can catch the ball, he can run the ball and the man can knock a guy out when blocking for a RB. He showed all of that today and was all over the field. Today he had 4 catches when he only had 10 coming into this game. Did anyone see the block he laid getting Battle into the endzone? He mauled that Packer, it was what I had been wanting to see all year and what I had expected to see since we signed him.
- Orton - The guy wasn't great today but he was better than anything we have seen here since Trent Green. Compared to Palko, Orton has a freaking cannon for an arm. He also throws a much more catchable ball than Cassel. What I mean by that is how many were high or behind today? I don't remember a receiver having to make a circus catch today or having to jump as high as he could and get laid out because of it. It also seemed like a lot more were caught in stride as well. Plus, Orton reads a defense and can progress through his receivers. Orton threw for 299 yards today. That is more than Cassel threw in any game this year, even the ones we were down by 20-30 and he was throwing to catch up. In fact, Cassel has only thrown for more than that 3 times since he has been here. Yup, only 3 times in 3 years (2009 wk 15 against Cleveland = 331 yds, 2010 wk 10 in the blowout loss to the Broncos = 469yds , 2010 week 16 against Tenn = 314 yds)
- Pressure - This has been picking up over the last couple of weeks so I don't know if this was a change this week but what I saw this week was the pressure was pretty constant. Against NE we had a lot of pressure on Brady in the first half but not the second. A couple other games we have had some sacks but today was the first day that I saw consistent pressure on a QB all game long on almost all plays. It also seemed to come from a lot of different players, Houston, Hali, Gilberry Bailey. Hali was a beast with 3 sacks plus a couple others he should have had but the other players came to play today as well. That defense is really coming together and with Berry back next year they could flat out be scary.
- Offense - One thing I have hated about Haley's offenses since he came here is they always start really, really, really, and i mean really run heavy. Typically in games we would start with something 10-12 runs to 2-3 passes. After a few punts we would be down and then have to start passing and it would even out some between run and pass. Today we were truly balanced and by this I mean through almost the entire game our runs and pass were the same. Until the end of the game when we were trying to run the clock out, and Orton kneeled, we mixed it up really well. I wonder who is calling plays now. Is this the real Muir? Was Haley the one calling plays before and was just that bad? Did they have so little trust in Cassel that they had to make it so run heavy? The next two weeks we will learn a lot about Haley and how he led this team.
Well, those were some of the things I saw this game. There's probably a few more but I just can't think of them right now. What did you guys see?
Here's what I still want to see in the upcoming games:
- How Orton progresses with more time with the team.
- How the O-Line handles the success from this game. I still think Barry Richardson is one of the worst tackles in the league but it seemed like they compensated for that this week and it helped.
- Continued use of McClain as an all-purpose fullback.
- How RAC handles the team. If we run the table I think the job is his. If he goes 2-1 and they are competitive the entire time I think it's his.
- I would like to see Powe and Stanzi at some point to know what we have going into next year.
So, what did you guys see and what do you still want to see for the year?
By the way, sorry for the lack of photos, I'll work on that next time to break up the giant blocks of text.