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Eight takeaways from opening night

Saints Packers Football AP

Real football is finally back. So what did we learn in Green Bay’s 42-34 Thursday night win over New Orleans?

1. The Packers offense doesn’t need OTAs. Or player-only workouts.  This looked like Green Bay’s fifth playoff game. If anything, Aaron Rodgers looked sharper than last year.

With rookie Randall Cobb a huge factor (two touchdowns) and Jermichael Finley healthy again, there just aren’t many defenses that can match up with the Packers’ ridiculous depth.

2. Cobb explodes with the ball.  It’s like he presses the turbo button.  He’s going to make Packers receiver James Jones irrelevant.

3. The only way to stop Green Bay’s offense is to pressure Rodgers.  That didn’t happen Thursday. The Packers offensive line dominated. Green Bay’s lines really controlled the game on both sides of the ball.

Take away the superlative quarterback play and special teams fun.  The two teams canceled each other out there. The difference was up front.  The Saints couldn’t get a yard when they needed it, whether they passed or ran.  This has been a recurring problem for the organization.

4. New Orleans’ free agent pickups Shaun Rogers and Aubrayo Franklin were total non-factors.  The Saints lack of depth at defensive end showed up with Will Smith gone.   They couldn’t get off the field on third downs because they couldn’t create pressure.

5. Rodgers was scary good in the first half.  He hits the flashy plays like connecting with Jordy Nelson up the sideline with pressure in his face. Rodgers also makes the under-the-radar plays by throwing the ball in just the right spot to convert a third-and-seven.

6. Sean Payton has to be happy with his backfield.  The line couldn’t get push in key moments, but Mark Ingram showed power at times. Pierre Thomas made typical Pierre Thomas plays.  Darren Sproles already looks like a big upgrade from Reggie Bush.

It was telling that Sproles was in the two minute drill with the game on the line.  He’s already a huge part of the offense (7 catches, 75 yards.) It’s almost comical watching a linebacker like A.J. Hawk try to cover him.

(Oh, and Sproles had a 72-yard punt return score.)

7. Six Saints receivers had four catches. Brees had a vintage performance, helping the team rack up 477 yards against a good defense. There was a lot to like for New Orleans.

8. James Starks looks bigger and better this year.  (12 carries, 57 yards and a TD.) He split carries with Ryan Grant, but Starks should get more touches long-term if he can handle pass protection.

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65 Responses to “Eight takeaways from opening night”
  1. iambadkid says: Sep 9, 2011 12:42 AM

    pack got lucky once again

  2. freedomispopular says: Sep 9, 2011 12:44 AM

    I hope they get a rematch in January, cause that could have definitely gone either way.

  3. shaggytoodle says: Sep 9, 2011 12:46 AM

    When GB’s offense was clicking it was clear they were going to be tough to stop.

    GBs defense needs to clean it up a bit, but the Saints have one of the best offenses in the league, the Packers d made plays that saved them with the TO early and the stuffs late.

    Woodson, should have been tossed, maybe suspended next week. That isn’t what I expect from the leader of the defense.

    Randall Cobb’s skillset was compared to Percy Harvin’s. I think he showed why.

    That was an awesome game to watch.

  4. paulbrownsrevenge says: Sep 9, 2011 12:48 AM

    Great pick of that guy getting a handful of Cobb’s A**! What an ending to a game. Hawk got screwed on that PI call.

  5. rockieschef says: Sep 9, 2011 12:48 AM

    It’s good to be a Pack fan,,,,and the Aint’s are a to 5 team in the league,,,, wait till we come to your town

  6. ishallcomment says: Sep 9, 2011 12:53 AM

    Saints pass too much for their own good,

    same thing last year, they have sucsess but continue to pass an absurd amount.

  7. dan39564 says: Sep 9, 2011 12:57 AM

    Did I see where both of you guys picked the Saints, Please tell me which teams you are going to put the kiss of death on next!

  8. axespray says: Sep 9, 2011 12:57 AM

    I think the NFL may wanna re-rank that Top Ten Opening Day Games list….

    Just sayin’.

  9. lnfinite says: Sep 9, 2011 12:59 AM

    The refs were bought by the home team. Woodson should have been ejected but of course the refs never saw it. Just like last year when a blown call was apologized to the Vikings. If called correctly, the packers never would have made the playoffs little more than win a title.

    NFL = Needless Feeble Limpdicks…..

  10. ratsofftoya says: Sep 9, 2011 1:04 AM

    Its a long season.

  11. trbowman says: Sep 9, 2011 1:04 AM

    Oh man that kickoff rule is really taking the excitement out of the return game!

  12. trbowman says: Sep 9, 2011 1:06 AM

    As for Ingram, he still hasn’t shown a lick. He’s not that powerful of a runner and he’s not really quick either. Waaaaay overrated, mostly due to heisman hype.

  13. bdert says: Sep 9, 2011 1:16 AM

    Aaron Rodgers is the savviest pocket QB I’ve ever seen…his awareness & patience in the box? off the charts!!!!

  14. woodyg says: Sep 9, 2011 1:20 AM

    The better team didn’t play their ‘A’ game but still prevailed ….. The ‘other 31′ will be looking up all season at the Pack …..

  15. itsmammoth says: Sep 9, 2011 1:23 AM

    Jordy frickin’ Nelson.

  16. bearfan51 says: Sep 9, 2011 1:23 AM

    These two teams are supposed to be “elite”…

    76 points were scored on these amazing, unstoppable, unmovable defenses.

    So either these teams offenses are amazing, or both teams defenses need a lot of work…

  17. belicheckyoself says: Sep 9, 2011 1:23 AM

    OK, first of all that extra play was BS. He Floated over the receiver to bat down the ball, and didn’t make contact until the ball was dead. If that’s legit, then every nail the guy going up and getting hands on it in the corner of the endzone play is pass interference. Would’ve been a sweet overtime though, since no team who’s record I care about until the Superbowl was involved.

    Secondly, GB looked bigger and badder than they did in December and January of last year, so I remain terrified of them, if it matters to the Pats, which I still don’t think it will this year. (Still thinking BAL in the big game for the AFC)

    Third, to all the NOLA fans who forgot the NFL existed last year, this is what is feels like, but you’ve already moved on to something else so effya. To the long time fans, hey, you put up a great fight against a great team, and Sproles is as fun to watch if not more so than on SD. Enjoy.

  18. johnnyb216 says: Sep 9, 2011 1:37 AM

    Yeah, the refs tried to fix this one and it just didn’t work. Drew Breese and his superhuman hearing child can suck my seeds.

  19. bullethead527 says: Sep 9, 2011 1:38 AM

    What a good game to start the season, aint we all glad the the lockout is over and football is really here!!!!

  20. thehighhat says: Sep 9, 2011 1:50 AM

    Ha ha… Drew Greed… thats what you get for screwing the fans all summer!

  21. joyjoy69 says: Sep 9, 2011 1:55 AM

    Funny thing about the two GB RBS – Starks looked more explosive, yet he averaged fewer yards per carry than Grant. All the hype so far seems to suggest Starks set himself apart in this game, but did he? They both did well carrying the ball, but Ryan Grant was the guy who they put in when they needed a passing play. He can block and catch better, and if he had the same number of carries, he’d have had more yards rushing. Take away the one beautiful run through everyone for a TD, and Starks wouldn’t look nearly as good as Grant. This is going to be a fun year for Packers fans, and a hard one for fantasy football hacks.

  22. ruascott says: Sep 9, 2011 1:58 AM

    Saints show that’s it very tough to win with an offense only team. Season ends early in NO this year…………

  23. echoplex89 says: Sep 9, 2011 2:25 AM

    bears look wise for letting kreutz go. dude got blown up on every 4th down goal line run.

    bears were like 0/10 at one point on goal line runs last year

  24. dino2997 says: Sep 9, 2011 2:34 AM

    Defense and Special Teams. Oh wait…what’s that?

  25. djaehne says: Sep 9, 2011 2:36 AM

    Pack looks pretty good.

  26. childressrulz says: Sep 9, 2011 2:42 AM

    The Pack looked pretty good!

  27. truthserum4u says: Sep 9, 2011 2:56 AM

    The biggest difference with Rodgers now and two years ago is he use to take sacks because he almost refused to throw unles the receiver was wide open. Now he has the confidence to fit the pass into tight spaces. You gotta make that throw in order to win in the NFL and he put it on display against the Saints.

    I’ve seen that pass interference play against Hawk about a dozen times and still don’t think he touched him until after touching the ball first. I can see why it looked like it thought to the refs.

    They never call it, but you can’t assist the runner like that Packer did for Cobb on his TD return. At first I thought it was an awesome display of balance until I saw Cobb’s teammate grab him. Years ago an Eagle player grabbed his teammate, preventing him from going down, lifted him up and turned him in the direction of the endzone. No flag. Change the rule if you’re never going to call it when it happens on the field.

    Hopefully this game is a snipet of the season to come. Nothing like an exciting football season!

  28. galatians62 says: Sep 9, 2011 4:37 AM

    Upgrade from Reggie Bush? Are you serious!?!?!? Sproles had a great 1st game, but Reggie Bush made countless spectacular plays for NO both from scrimmage and in the return game. He like Sproles, was not an effective feature back. What’s up with the Reggie Bush hate?

  29. polishkingski says: Sep 9, 2011 5:33 AM

    sweet game man….this is what we were waiting for and goddamn it did not dissapoint. welcome back nfl. remember all those nasty things we said a couple months ago? hahahahahaha.

  30. Awol.West says: Sep 9, 2011 5:44 AM

    Why can’t you just give Sproles credit?
    You have to bash Bush while you’re at it?
    Typical media, show some positivity without balancing it out and that separates you from the pack.
    Sproles was cheaper and fits the role just as well, good for New Orleans, simple as that.

    Hell of a game according to the highlights and my text alerts.
    Got it recording at 10am on NFL Replay, cause I live in San Diego and that Southwest Blackout was a reality check!
    We’re so dependent on electricity out here it’s ridiculous lol
    No worries, we handled it like champs! The next AFC Champs!

  31. weneedlinemen42 says: Sep 9, 2011 5:51 AM

    It’s far too early to say it, but Randall Cobb looks like he should have gone much earlier in the draft.

    Also, with the amount that both teams used the shotgun formation, isn’t it time to stop destroying the draft stock of college QBs because they don’t take many snaps from under centre. It’s not as though shotgun doesn’t work in the NFL. Shotgun – spread is being used more an more every year, because it works.

    I’ve never quite worked out the NFL approach to it. They were successful in college because the system makes it too easy for them. OK, why not consider trying to take advantage of that in the pro-game. The 2007 Patriots used a ton of shotgun-spread and yet even in the last draft QBs were getting skewered for playing in that sort of system.

  32. achap39 says: Sep 9, 2011 5:56 AM

    6. Sean Payton has to be happy with his backfield. The line couldn’t get push in key moments, but Mark Ingram showed power at times. Pierre Thomas made typical Pierre Thomas plays.

    Take away Thomas’ 21-yard run, and the Saints averaged 3 YPC with a long of 9 yards. If that’s what makes Sean Payton happy, then he needs to re-think his “happiness meter.”

  33. runthroughthewall says: Sep 9, 2011 7:19 AM

    Wow, the Packers are very good, I believe we are looking at a dynasty. Ted Thompson is the best personnel guy in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers is the best QB, and Mike McCarthy is among the best Head Coaches as well, so as long ans #52 and #90 are on defense and the Packers can have as many championships as there are years if they stay healthy and stay together

  34. 0 degrees Kelvin says: Sep 9, 2011 7:36 AM

    NOT happy with the Pack defense. Not in the Super Bowl and not now.

  35. tamvu says: Sep 9, 2011 8:25 AM

    But…but….the saints have been practicing all summer holding hoorah camps during the lockout. Drew brees said so…

  36. nolarules says: Sep 9, 2011 8:33 AM

    Congrats to Packers and their fans. One hell of a team you have there. Was pretty sure going in that we were not going to win that one but at least everytime the packers started to pull away the saints came back to make it a game. What a way to start off the season. Cheers. Could definitely see a rematch in the postseason. Two very good offenses. Rodgers is scary good.

  37. eaglesblow says: Sep 9, 2011 8:33 AM

    Both defenses looked like poo

  38. dbarry14 says: Sep 9, 2011 9:02 AM

    It looked like 7 on 7 out there. Neither defense showed up. I can’t take these teams seriously if they don’t play defense.

  39. expatpatfan says: Sep 9, 2011 9:04 AM

    Take away Thomas’ 21-yard run, and the Saints averaged 3 YPC with a long of 9 yards. If that’s what makes Sean Payton happy, then he needs to re-think his “happiness meter.”
    ===============================
    If you take away the longest plays of any offense, its stats suffers. Go math!

  40. brutus9448 says: Sep 9, 2011 9:04 AM

    give me break on sproles being a big upgrade over bush. You know this after 1 game? Tell me at the end of year if he’s a big upgrade.

  41. moth25 says: Sep 9, 2011 9:11 AM

    What is Tramon Williams’ status? No one seems to know. C’mon PFT, use those sources and get us an answer! Please!

  42. minkytails says: Sep 9, 2011 9:13 AM

    Rosenthal, you fail for not putting the obvious mistake the NFL (Goodell) made with the kickoff rule change. He took the most exciting play in football and effectively eliminated it. Guaranteed the rule will change in 2012, if not sooner.

  43. bendhur says: Sep 9, 2011 9:14 AM

    WHO DAT ! heh-heh-heh

  44. iamwhodat says: Sep 9, 2011 9:16 AM

    Some of you people are giving me a good laugh early this morning…hahahaha! The Packers, a dynasty? Please. Defenses will figure how to SLOW down the Packs offenses at some point this season. Remember Rodgers is one bad hit from suffering his third or fourth concussion, and the Packs defense didn’t look as good either against the Saints offense. Overall it was a great game, but please slow down on the dynasty talk.

  45. rocketdogsports says: Sep 9, 2011 9:18 AM

    The Saints two critical mistakes lost the game by violating the old adage theat clearly states: “Put the points on the board” Opting to go for it and not kick the FG with lots of time remaining and running on the final play of the game when they had the Packer D on the ropes on that final drive.

    It was a great game and only a prelude to Sunday and a very weldome 2011-12 season.

  46. kellyb9 says: Sep 9, 2011 9:21 AM

    Clearly, neither of these teams have a defense.

  47. jeffnmac says: Sep 9, 2011 9:30 AM

    I felt it was a great display of offense for both teams even though it could have been a blow out early on. Ingram impressed me just because he got the start but i didnt expect much from him having to run against the Pack. Raji is too big to move and Ingram has no stretch speed to bounce those runs to the outside like sproles can. Good game. The saints just may get a rematch in the play offs just yet.

  48. jimmysee says: Sep 9, 2011 9:35 AM

    Ted Thompson’s first personnel decision was to hire Mike McCarthy.

  49. raiderlyfe510 says: Sep 9, 2011 9:37 AM

    LOL at G.R. Calling that glorified 7 on 7 drill “Real Football”. I seen preseason games more physical.

    Wait til Monday…Then you will see real football….Commissioner, pull out your fine book.you’re about to witness the mother of all massacres in Denver when Raider Nation plants it’s flag on the field.Real Raider Football.

  50. jesse1834 says: Sep 9, 2011 9:42 AM

    Tried to warn the Saints fans about Shaun Rodgers. He looked like Pizza the Hut , slugging around out there.

  51. robf2010 says: Sep 9, 2011 10:00 AM

    “Take away Thomas’ 21-yard run, and the Saints averaged 3 YPC with a long of 9 yards.”

    It all counts. You can’t take away this, that, or the other. It was a good game and a good win for the Pack. Neither team is perfect but they’re both pretty good. Neither is also likely to see anyone like the other the rest of the season.

  52. comeonnowguys says: Sep 9, 2011 10:16 AM

    Can’t get a yard either running or passing? That should sound familiar to fans of NFC North teams.

    If Kreutz isn’t playing center, would the Saints have stolen a game they had no business being in at the end?

    And LOL @ Hawk “Floating” above the reciever. He made a bad play and came in early. He waits even a half second and it’s not PI. Not a good game for him.

  53. sportsdrenched.com says: Sep 9, 2011 10:29 AM

    That game is awesome and is why the NFL is King of America. Can you beleive there are 253 more games where that came from. I would suspect most of them won’t live up to this one, but a lot of them will.

    I see terms like “lucky”, and “take away” this or “if” that. That’s just sports, especially the NFL. Games are decided by fractions of a second. If my aunt had balls she’d by my uncle.
    It is what it is, just deal with it.

  54. gisellichek says: Sep 9, 2011 11:14 AM

    1) The new kickoff rule blows
    2) No Defense = No offseason
    3) Neither team is that good or that bad
    4) Reminded me of an NBA allstar game
    5) Bored with Al Michael and Chris Collinsworth
    6) Rodney Harrison is still awesome as an Analyst
    7) Still very entertaining game 8) Pumped and Jacked Football is back

  55. sdspec says: Sep 9, 2011 11:19 AM

    No defense? I guess you must think that both these offenses do not have top caliber QB’s. Ya see kids, a top caliber QB can “pick apart” defenses and make good defenses look bad. Especially when they are down late in the game and have to pass every play to get multiple scores.
    And you also probably put the blame on the offense when NO couldn’t convert the 4-1′s. You’re as much right as you are whitted… 1/2.
    Stay in school R-tards.

  56. isphet71 says: Sep 9, 2011 11:25 AM

    Shaun Rodgers has always been a Poor-Man’s Albert Haynesworth, through both the good AND the bad times.

    It’s sad to see just how far he’s fallen from his glory days in Detroit.

  57. bullcharger says: Sep 9, 2011 11:26 AM

    Looks like defenses are a bit rusty coming of the short training camps. The Saints had no defense at all for much of the game. The Packers receivers were wide open. Getting to Rodgers is a nice thought, but he was getting rid of the ball so fast I don’t think it would have been possible. His first or second read were wide open every time.

    The Green Bay defense getting carved up is more unexpected to me. They had pretty tight coverage but Brees was getting way too much time. The Saints stopped Matthews for most of the game. There’s some film there now that possibly will help other teams against Green Bay.

    As for the offense, both were awesome and New Orleans was actually more potent for 3/4 of the game but failed on 4 critical short yardage plays that got them 6 points out of a possible 28.

    The fact they had a chance to tie at the end is insane given how well Green Bay played. If the Saints can shore up the defense they will be winning a lot of games.

  58. gbilljb says: Sep 9, 2011 11:35 AM

    Note to Saints Fans…. Sproles will wear down as the season does and is good for a few fumbles in key times. He will cost you more games then he wins for you. 5’6” backs don’t last very long in this league.

  59. bullcharger says: Sep 9, 2011 11:40 AM

    runthroughthewall says:Sep 9, 2011 7:19 AM

    Wow, the Packers are very good, I believe we are looking at a dynasty. Ted Thompson is the best personnel guy in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers is the best QB, and Mike McCarthy is among the best Head Coaches as well, so as long ans #52 and #90 are on defense and the Packers can have as many championships as there are years if they stay healthy and stay together

    —————–

    Please don’t start calling a team that won a single super bowl from the wildcard a dynasty. That’s just disrespectful to the game. When they are on the cusp of 3 super bowls in 4 or 5 years then you can start to say it.

    The season is long and one or two key injuries can end it in a heart beat. Nothing is certain in the NFL except history.

  60. zbigern says: Sep 9, 2011 11:47 AM

    Great game. Period. Prognosticaters and armchair experts can exhale. This was only the first game. Both teams employed a “bend but dont break” defensive approach to this game and somebody had to win it. Trust that both team D’s will get their sacks, picks, and forced fumbles and both will be at the top by endo season. Expect great things from both teams all year and trust every gameWILL NOT look like this. 2 awesome teams providing EVERYTHING we wanna see in an NFL football game. Say thanks. Appreciate it. enjoy.

  61. packerfantastic says: Sep 9, 2011 11:50 AM

    @joyjoy69 says: Sep 9, 2011 1:55 AM

    Funny thing about the two GB RBS – Starks looked more explosive, yet he averaged fewer yards per carry than Grant. All the hype so far seems to suggest Starks set himself apart in this game, but did he? They both did well carrying the ball, but Ryan Grant was the guy who they put in when they needed a passing play. He can block and catch better, and if he had the same number of carries, he’d have had more yards rushing. Take away the one beautiful run through everyone for a TD, and Starks wouldn’t look nearly as good as Grant. This is going to be a fun year for Packers fans, and a hard one for fantasy football hacks.

    ———

    Starks averaged 4.8 yards per carry and Grant 4.4. Both were good, but Starks had the better average.

  62. pack15forever says: Sep 9, 2011 12:24 PM

    For all the idiots that are saying the Packer defense sucks let me point out a few things to you.
    1. New Orleans has one of the best offenses in the league.
    2. The defenses are right now behind the offenses particularly because of the lock out.
    3. It was the first game of the season and we will not know how good the defense is until a few games.
    4. The Packer defense made the plays when it mattered…fourth and inches they stopped the Saints in the third quarter and they also stopped the Saints on the last play of the game.
    I expected this game to be high scoring which is why I took the over and won. Two of the best offenses in the league in the first game of the season following a lock out spells high scoring.

  63. golfballwackerguy says: Sep 9, 2011 1:03 PM

    The Packers are not lucky…. They are just that good

  64. cometkazie says: Sep 9, 2011 2:25 PM

    “Real football” started last week.

  65. toolkien says: Sep 9, 2011 6:02 PM

    Well, the last match up between these two teams, with Rodgers and Brees, was 52-29 Saints, in 2008. In 2009, the Saints AVERAGED 32 pts per game and won the Super Bowl. In 2010, the Saints fell off a bit due to a banged up rushing game (as did the Packers). So it looks like the Packers D was about average against the potent Saints O, and improved from 2008, against a healthy Saints team.

    At the end of the day, while not loving the points given up, it seemed more due to Brees hitting small targets and escaping pressure than the Pack D being awful. The Packers got a little of what they can dish out with Rodgers. There’s only a few teams that can match it, and the Packers have shown the ability to still win.

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