Green Bay Packers vs. Cleveland Browns: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder


Running back Eddie Lacy rushes with the football during the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

The 4-2 Green Bay Packers won their game against the 3-4 Cleveland Browns Sunday by the score of 31-13.

The game featured some really good plays by the receivers, knucklehead penalties on the Packers, some offensive production (finally!) in the red zone, and in the end the Packers just made more positive plays than they did negative plays.

Oct 20, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) laughs with tight end Jake Stoneburner (85) and running back Johnathan Franklin (23) before game against the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Had the Packers been facing a team with a quality NFL-caliber quarterback this game could have gone either way or gotten really ugly in a hurry. When the team looks at the film from this one, the players will realize just how close the Packers came to losing.

A win is a win – ugly or otherwise. The Packers are now 3-0 in their throwback Acme Packers uniforms. I happen to like the throwback uniforms, but that’s my opinion – and beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.

Either way, the Packers own first place in the NFC North Division. But they have lots of work to do in order to fully integrate the next-man-ups into their roles. If any team can accomplish this it is the Packers. After all, they won a Super Bowl with enough guys on IR to sink a party boat on a Minnesota lake (insert rimshot here).

Here are my Chest Bumps and Thumps from the Browns-Packers game:

Chest Bump – to Packers WR Jarrett Boykin. Mr. Boykin was called upon to step up and he delivered in a big way. His 8 receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown led all Packers receivers. He wasn’t perfect, but he made some critically important plays and showed that he’s more than able to handle the load. Plays he made that really caught my eye were the snag of a high pass for a first down early and the touchdown late. Perhaps we need to get Boykin an 80-series number!

Thump – to Packers CB Tramon Williams. I don’t know what’s happening with Williams but whatever it is it seems to be getting worse by the week. Williams was beaten in coverage at least three times. Had the Browns been able to throw the ball accurately 38 would have been torched. He also had a personal foul for unnecessary roughness call that was, while somewhat suspect because he couldn’t be sure whether or not the Browns receiver had caught the pass, completely unnecessary and kept a Browns scoring drive alive. Williams did have a sack and four tackles in the game, but his pass coverage wasn’t what it needed or needs to be. He’s gone from being one of the strengths of the defense to a liability in a frightening hurry.

Chest Bump – to Packers CB Sam Shields. Shields had one tackle in the game. That’s it. However, he had a couple of important passes defensed that kept the Browns out of the end zone and he always seemed to be around the ball. He could potentially have picked Browns QB Weeden at least once and he didn’t allow a catch by

Cornerback Davon House (31) celebrates after intercepting a pass against the Cleveland Browns in the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Browns WR Gordon. Overall, the trend seems to be that CB Williams is slipping and CB Shields is improving. I wouldn’t have seen that coming. 37 kept Browns WRs in check much more effectively than any other Packers DB except Davon House

Chest Bump – to Packers CB Davon House. House played exceptionally good pass defense today. His interception set up a Packers touchdown. He also had at least four other big passes defensed and had a couple of tackles. House’s stock is rising. He’s getting better each week. While he may not be able to replace Williams as a starter quite yet, he’s making a case for additional playing time simply by his performance. One thing I have noticed about him is that he seems to have that quality NFL DBs have to have…amnesia. The previous play is over. It’s time for the next one.

Thump – to the Packers offensive line. Holy moly these guys really regressed this week. Really stupid and untimely penalties. Run blocking generally not up to their recent standards. The tackles whiffed in pass pro way too much. These guys have been playing together long enough that there should be more cohesiveness and consistency. There was precious little of either today. Of course they had their moments, but for every good thing they did they turned around and shot themselves in the foot a play or two later. This pattern needs to be reversed ASAP, regardless of who’s playing where. The Packers offensive linemen are all professionals. Nobody expects an offensive line to be mistake-free. Your Packers O line was way far from that kind of performance today Packer Nation.

Chest Bump – to Packers TE Jermichael Finley. “Good” Jermichael really played well today, and even better, “Bad” Jermichael seemed to take the day off. His catch and run for the Packers first touchdown was a thing of athletic beauty and violent determination. He had several

Tght end Jermichael Finley catches a pass to score a touchdown during the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

clutch third down catches and would have had at least one more had the offensive line not been trying so hard to sabotage the Packers offensive possessions. With five catches for 72 yards and the touchdown, Finley also didn’t drop any catchable balls, kept the histrionics to a minimum, and in general performed exactly the way the Packers need him to perform. We can only hope the scary collision that caused him to be carted off the field strapped to a board is not serious or life-changing. Of all the injuries the Packers have dealt with this season, the one Finley suffered today might end up being the most significant. Get well soon 88!

Thump – to the NFL officiating crew. OK…I know this seems like a perpetual thump, but come on! These guys called over 200 yards of penalties today. They completely cratered the replay of the errant ball spot. I’ll tell you folks- that little fail blew UP all over Twitter today. Mike Periera, the former NFL officiating supervisor who appears on Fox-broadcasted games, tweeted that even he thought the spot would / should be reversed. It was upheld instead. The refs called RT Don Barclay for holding when he wasn’t. They called LB A.J. Hawk for what was essentially incidental contact with QB Weeden’s noggin. They couldn’t even get their microphones to work. Look- I view these games through green and gold glasses like most if not all of you. But seriously- between the non-calls on Cleveland (holding on the long kickoff return anyone?) and the phantom calls on the Packers the zebras are ruining the watchability of not just the Packers but the entire NFL product. How about this? Get it right or just stand there and watch!

Chest Bump – to Packers ILB Jamari Lattimore. Lattimore led the Packers with nine tackles, three assists, and a sack against the Browns. He seemed to be everywhere on the field and his motor was definitely in high gear today. He’s exactly what the Packers need at the LB position especially with so many guys hurt. I especially liked his seemingly business-like approach. He didn’t go nuts after his sack. No gesticulating or gyrating. Come to think of it, Lattimore doesn’t seem to be driven by much of anything other than team success. Can we get about 52 more of that kind of guy?

Thump – to Packers DL Johnny Jolly. Johnny gets the thump for one play. Just one. He had two tackles and did a good job when he was on the field. But Jolly made one really stupid, completely avoidable, and for a veteran inexcusable mistake. He took his helmet off on the field. In a game like this, with officials on a flag-throwing hair trigger, he should have been smart enough and savvy enough not to have taken his helmet off. That’s an easy flag for the refs 97. When CBS went to the shot of Jolly on the sideline after the play he was probably thinking the infraction was minor. No- I’m positive he was thinking the infraction was minor. In the big scheme of things it’s a fairly silly rule. But Johnny Jolly knows better. C’mon man!

Cleveland Browns running back Fozzy Whittaker (35) is tackled by Green Bay Packers linebacker Jamari Lattimore in the 4th quarter at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Chest Bump – to Packers OLB Nate Palmer. Palmer was filling in at OLB and did a good job, with three tackles and three assists. He also did a pretty good job of pressuring Browns QB Weeden. He got caught inside on a couple of plays and as a result outside contain was lost, allowing Weeden to get loose and potentially make some plays downfield. Luckily the opposing QB was Weeden so several of those potential plays didn’t get made. Palmer seems to be one of those guys who will improve with every week of practice. He’s starting off strong.

Thump – to Packers TE Jake Stoneburner. Dear Jake: Jake I want to like you. I like your name, which looks awesome across the back of that number 85 throwback Packers jersey. I want to believe your back story is all simply prologue to your eventual stellar career with the Packers and that you’ll develop into the next Mark Chmura (just stay away from hot tubs). But you’re making it hard for me to get behind you when you make mistakes like roughing the kicker when playing special teams. That’s just not done Jake. You’ve got to know that. In this game it kept a drive alive for the Browns. Not that it mattered in the final outcome, but you’ve got to make up for that one gaffe before I take my currently-retired number 85 Packers jersey out of mothballs and have “STONEBURNER” affixed across the back!

Running back Eddie Lacy rushes with the football during the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Chest Bump – to Packers RB Eddie Lacy. Eddie Lacy is going to make a difference in every game he plays. Mark my words Packers fans. You might not have heard it here first, but it’s true. If he gets into the game, opposing defenses have to respect him. Already. Is that great or what? I’m not necessarily buying into the complete transformation of the Packers offense from the pass-oriented unit it has been to some kind of run-first deal at this point. But Lacy picked up 82 yards on 22 carries today, and he scored a rarity for the Packers- a rushing touchdown. He also caught 5 passes for 26 yards, which puts him over 100 all-purpose yards on the day. Again. Lacy is making a difference. I for one am excited to see where things will go from here!

Thump – to the Packers kickoff coverage team. Packers kickoff coverage teams gave up returns of 86 and 56 yards in this game. Is it possible that Tim “Thunderfoot” Masthay’s touchbacks have hidden the Packers kickoff coverage team’s inadequacies? Or is it that there are so many guys hurt that everybody on the coverage teams is playing new positions? Could be either or neither, but the coaches had better figure things out post haste or somebody’s going to take one to the house against the Packers when playing in cold weather outdoors. Early in the season the touchbacks have been pretty consistent. Winter weather will likely change that soon. Fix it!

Chest Bump – to Packers WR Jordy Nelson. Jordy didn’t have a big day statistically, with 5 catches for 42 yards and the late touchdown. But his presence on the field allowed for Boykin’s big day by soaking up coverage that would have otherwise been all over 11. I’m not saying Nelson was the most important player on offense today, but he made plays and given the coverage schemes the Browns DBs employed he did about as much as he could have done. It’s also nice for 12 to have a familiar face to feed throws to when able.

Thump – to the CBS announcing crew. I’m not a fan of the CBS telecasts in general. Living in Texans territory I see enough of them to know my business. I wasn’t a fan of the Harlan / Wilcotts crew in particular. Now I’m really not a fan! Wilcotts in particular was far from unbiased and neutral with his commentary. It seemed every call against the Packers was good call and every call for the packers was a bad call. Yes Virginia…that’s what we “insiders” call a sweeping generalization, but I wasn’t alone in my assessment of these clowns. It’s probably hard to be truly unbiased. Balanced. Impartial. But it’s not that hard. Nobody’s perfect, but CBS could have done better than this team. Oh, and guys- 55’s name? It’s pronounced “muh-lum-buh. Not “moo-loom-bah”

The Rest:

Cornerback Sam Shields breaks up the pass intended to Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) during the third quarter at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

For the first time in a while Packers LB A.J. Hawk did not lead the team in tackles today (fellow LB Jamari Lattimore did) but Hawk was credited with two tackles and ten assists- the highest assists number I’ve seen in a long time … the Packers played defense on fourth down five times today, which is a huge number of fourth downs to have to defend…they allowed two conversions and the referees allowed one more … The hit by Browns safety Tashaun Gipson on Jermichael Finley immediately drew a personal foul call from the officials but on social media debate raged over both the correctness of the call and the mindset of players and officials about hits like it … Finley was moving his hands as he was carted off the field and it has been reported he never lost feeling in any of his extremities … Will someone please explain to me how a shoulder pad hit, or a knee hit, or just about any human body part hit to the helmeted head is any different than a helmet-to-helmet hit- especially after seeing what a shoulder pad-hit did to Finley? … In this game, similar to last week’s loss, Browns QB Weeden threw an inexplicably ill-advised underhanded flip-toss to a Browns receiver in the flat while the intended receiver was covered … Attendance for the game today at cold and soggy Lambeau Field today was 77,804 … S Jerron McMillian was replaced today by Micah Hyde in the dime packages … While watching the game today with our Packers fan friends at Tailgaters in Magnolia get-down Texas, my son John and I were surrounded (both literally and figuratively) by well-lubricated Texans fans, who themselves had a small but very boisterous group of Chiefs fans surrounded across the room … For you Texans fan friends – Case Keenum Fever- catch it!

Next up the 4-2 Green Bay Packers travel to Minneapolis to take on the 1-4 Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football. The game will feature the NFC North Division-leading Packers against the cellar-dwelling Vikings.

Sound familiar?

It should.

The artificially-noisy Metrodome won’t be an easy place to play. It never is – even for the Vikings. The Packers can take a giant step toward securing the NFC North Division Championship with wins at the Vikings and at home the following week against the Bears. Both of these games will be nationally televised games. Even though tonight’s Giants at Vikings game has been called the worst Monday Night Football matchup in history, I’ll be watching to see how new Viking QB Josh Freeman plays against the Giants. Why? Do you really have to ask? For maybe the third time in fifty-something years I’ll be rooting for the Giants, that’s why!

Follow me on Twitter if you dare at @PackersTX. And always check for all the latest news and analysis about your favorite team and mine…the Green Bay Packers.

Go Pack GO!