Archive for January, 2008

This is Disturbing

January 23, 2008

Readers of this blog know that I have become an admirer and supporter of Mike McCarthy. I think he has done a remarkable job over the past two years in reshaping a team that Mike Sherman managed to damage significantly.

But these comments from his postseason press conference today, as reported by Greg Bedard at JS Online, are troubling. McCarthy “said he would not change anything they did game-plan wise.”

Huh?

Later, asked about the defensive game plan, McCarthy was similarly intransigent. “You could talk about cover 2 but we were here for a reason, our man to man defense. I wouldn’t do anything different.”

A couple of points, specific first, then general. I understand the argument about not deviating from the schemes that brought the Packers to the NFC Championship game. But he would be much more persuasive on this point if his argument also applied to the offense. Rather than run the ball (McCarthy has said the ideal would be 50 rushes per game) and utilize the short passing game (slants, etc.) to augment the run game, McCarthy abandoned the run in favor of deep shots and flat screens. So, rather than adjust to account for matchups on defense, McCarthy stuck to an ineffective gameplan because it was what had worked all season. And, rather than adhere to the offensive scheming that had worked all year, McCarthy abandoned it in order to exploit matchups. Sorry, that doesn’t make sense.

But beyond the inconsistency, there is the problem of stubbornness. How can he possibly say, having watched the game and our utter inability to defend against the Giants’ passing attack, that he would do the same thing again? (Remember, too, that as effective as the Giants were in that passing attack, they could have been even moreso. Their receivers dropped several passes — including the Burress strike down the sideline just before halftime — that would have further embarrassed the Packer defense.)

Let me oversimplify. The best coaches in the NFL do two things. First, the gameplan better than their opponents. And second, they make better adjustments than their opponents. One reason Mike Holmgren was as successful as he was in Green Bay was that he was better than virtually anybody else at halftime adjustments. Even when the Packers were down midway through a game, players (and fans) could have confidence that Holmgren would make the right adjustments to keep them competitive in the second half.

I don’t know what accounts for McCarthy’s stubbornness on this, but I hope it is not a sign of things to come. He was outcoached in this game, plain and simple. That’s too bad, but it happens. The answer is not to say that you would do the same things again, but to learn from those mistakes to ensure that you don’t do the same things again.

UPDATE: Here is the transcript. McCarthy’s comments don’t sound quite as bad in context, but there is still a stubborn quality to his thoughts about the game that strikes me as potentially problematic.

Still hungover from the Packer loss?

January 23, 2008

Snap out of it – take some Aleve! The offseason soap opera of wild speculation coupled with soaring anticipation is upon us and Packergeeks hopes to fuel it.

After a loss like Sunday, I have to admit it is hard for me to get my mind around the fact that we need to start thinking already about which players may be lost to free agency/which players we should draft. But we might as well start. Tom Silverstein did this morning in an article at jsonline.com. Here’s a quick look at the 6 players mentioned in the article and Packergeeks’ thoughts:

*Corey Williams – he was a legit starter most of the year and fairly productive. While he’s good and valued, I don’t think he would be impossible to replace. One sad part about not re-signing him though, is that he loves Green Bay. I do remember after the game on Sunday watching as the camera showed him kneeling at mid-field seemingly absorbing the moment. After the Seattle game, when he came off the field, he raised his arms in the air, paused for a solid few seconds and again, almost absorbed the moment.
*Rob Davis – if he retires, we probably wouldn’t miss him tremendously on the field (though he has been good at his job for years), but he would be missed dearly in the locker room if he retired and left the organization. However, indications are at this point (not just from Silverstein, but elsewhere too), that he’ll stay on with the team in some capacity. This would be important especially considering that a few weeks ago the team pretty much agreed that he’s the locker room leader.
*Frank Walker – I’m not sure what to make of his performance. I don’t remember any poor games or any outstanding games. This indicates to me that he may not have been given much of a chance (as he indicates in the article). Frankly, pun intended, I think it was dumb to not have him active for the Giants game – whenever a player faces an old team, you HAVE to play the guy. That was not smart. Anyway, he may have been more of a special teams acquisition from the start and he probably could be replaced easily.
*Tracy White – he should be a major priority signing in the offseason. He is outstanding on special teams and sometimes I wonder if he could outplay Poppinga as a starter.
*Ryan Krause – I don’t know much re this guy except that at one point, he openly admitted he’s not good at, nor does he like blocking. Sounds like he may have worked on that this year. Unless we drop Franks and need another body, I’m not sure Krause needs to be a priority – Tory Humphrey had a good camp last year and was said to be an up-and-comer (I feel like an 80 year-old using an expression like that).
*Craig Nall – I doubt he’ll want to settle back into his 3rd string role (assuming Favre’s return), so it’s likely he’ll pursue free agency. However, if Favre does return, I think it would be nice for Favre to have him around – they apparently get along well. And, if I were Nall, it would be a no brainer to stay in Green Bay – making probably $700,000 to sit around, throw a ball here and there, play lots of golf, have ready access to the best fishing and hunting in the country, and be part of a 2008 Super Bowl team. Now, if Favre does retire, I would think Nall would want to stay if his goal is to actually play because Rodgers will probably last 14 seconds into his first game before another Paul Molitor-type injury.

Looking Ahead

January 23, 2008

Nothing in depth yet, but in the coming weeks we’ll be looking carefully at the NFL Draft and players the Packers might take to shore up some weak spots (guard) or spots that will be weak soon enough (cornerback, quarterback). Of course, all of that time will probably be wasted when Ted Thompson trades out of the first round pick or he selects someone obscure who ends up being a quality contributor almost immediately. The Senior Bowl is this weekend and a number of the players who looked good in practices and in that contest last year went on to be quality first-year players in the NFL.

The Packers are in a very strong position regarding free agency. The most valuable unrestricted free agent this year is Corey Williams, who ranked third on the team in sacks this year. Williams made just less than $2 million this year and probably earned much more than that with his performance. Who will pay him? We don’t know, but he seems determined to play the field and the Packers seem content to let him. I think that’s a good choice.

The Packers have up-and-comer Justin Harrell at DT and given Thompson’s track record I’m eager to see what it was about Harrell that compelled Thompson to pick him earlier than many others had projected he would go. The fact that Harrell showed up at camp overweight was a very bad sign and called into question a lot of the positive attributes we had heard about him (humble, small-town guy, believes in hard work, etc).

But I won’t be terribly upset if we lose Corey Williams in free agency. He had a few very strong games but was otherwise just depth. Of course, depth is important, but I’d rather not pay the kind of money for it that he is likely to get. I’m not sure why, because most everything I’ve read about him has been positive, but I worry about the Cletidus Hunt factor, where an overperforming young gets paid and then sucks. Here is a look at Williams and the other free agents from Tom Silverstein today.

As far as this website goes, we will be posting regularly throughout the off-season — through free agency, the combine, the draft, minicamps and training camp. We are looking at the possibility of liveblogging the NFL draft from New York City and we will definitely have extensive on-site coverage of training camp next summer. At some point, we will redesign the site to incorporate additional features (including a Fantasy Football corner) and to make it easier to navigate. We’re open to additional suggestions, too, so send them our way: packergeeks@yahoo.com.

Packer Bikini Girls?

January 22, 2008

Do you believe what some people will do to generate traffic to their website? Unreal? We would never just show the Packer Bikini girls to generate interest in Packergeeks.

On an unrelated note, we continue to be shocked at how much interest our musings on Larry McCarren’s pinky generate. Several people each day manage to find our site because they have searched for McCarren and pinky. So check out Larry McCarren’s pinky in this, um, interesting video.

UPDATE: Packergeeks reader “Rido” points out that Maxim magazine has made the Packer Bikini Girls their “girl of the day” today. I can’t believe Maxim would stoop to this level to boost web traffic.

Brett, You Got It Goin’ On

January 22, 2008

After reading the lunacy below from Mr. Packernet and some similar posts on the JS Online blog, I thought Brett Favre could use a little pick-me-up.  I’ve posted this once before but it really has more meaning after such a stinging defeat.

“I think sometimes you hear what you want to hear.”

Packer Fans, Unhinged

January 21, 2008

Check out this postgame rant from the guy who runs Packernet.com.

Brett, don’t go away mad, just go away. It is clear you can’t carry a team any longer, you are no Joe Montana, you are no John Elway, you are just a chucker who should have won more championships than you did. I’m done with the Packers and you should be too. Game over. Please do not respond to this entry. In fact, go away and leave me alone. No more to come…

Judging from his bizarre posts today, that was not intended to be as funny as it was. It was for people like this that I decided to make the basic points about Favre that I made here. I won’t waste your time by reprinting here all of his feculent nonsense, but check out these lines for some flavor. He seems to have calmed down a bit at first: “OK, maybe it wasn’t all Favre’s fault…” Wow, that’s a big concession. But then he’s back at it.

“The bottom line is the Packers have so many holes to fill on both sides of the ball that trading Favre and going with Aaron Rodgers just makes the most sense…Losing to Eli Manning at home is huge embarrassment. Right up there with the Michael Vick debacle.”

The Michael Vick debacle? Mmmmmm, right. On the one hand, a Hall of Fame Quarterback who has been the most consistent quarterback in the league for nearly two decades, loses in the NFC Championship game. On the other, a thug who kills dogs for fun. Same thing. No doubt.

The rant continued: “I also have to wonder about the timing of the contract extension for Mike McCarthy as well. Shouldn’t he have been worrying about the Giants last week and not a new contract.”

This is where it helps to know what you’re talking about before you write. McCarthy was worried about the Giants last week and not his contract. In fact, he was so consumed with game preparation and so unconcerned with his contract that after his agent hammered out the details with the Packers, McCarthy set the whole thing aside. Here was the lede in one national newspaper late last week: “Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy has agreed to a five-year deal worth $4 million per season, but said he will not sign the contract until after the season because it could be a distraction.” Ah, details. Why concern yourself with pesky things like facts when you can smack around the coach?

By Monday night, this guy had reached wit’s end…with people who would question his stark mad ravings.

“I’m sorry. The Packers are great. They have great depth and a great quarterback. The defense is fantastic. I think they could win the next ten Super Bowls. The coaching staff is great, the front office is great. I can’t see any flaws anywhere in the organization. I don’t know what I was thinking. From now on I will shed not one bad word about the greatest team in the league – the Green Bay Packers. Go Pack go! Have a great 2008 season.”

I have gone to Packernet.com for a couple years now because the site aggregates Packers-related news from many sites around the internet. It’s been quite an asset. But I regret that during all of that time I somehow missed the humorous content of his blog. Count me in as a new reader.

UPDATE: Don’t take my word for it on Brett Favre. Here is Greg Jennings on his brief conversation with Favre on retirement. Note especially the last two sentences:

“I said, ‘You going to give me one more year?’ He just giggled,” Jennings said. “I did the same thing last year and he said, ‘We’ll see,’ and he was back. Who knows? Hopefully he’s back but if not, we have to move on. But I’d like to see him back in that locker one more time. I think everybody around here is hoping he comes back. Obviously we accomplished what we accomplished because of him. His leadership is most valuable to this team.”

Another Quiet Factor in the Packer Loss

January 21, 2008

I spent part of the game sitting just a little bit to the right of the lucky spot on my couch.  I’m sorry.  It’s partly my fault.

Quiet factors in the Packer loss

January 21, 2008

Here are some of the less-talked-about factors in the Packers loss:

1) Special teams. One interesting stat I found was that out of 12 total possessions, the Giants had only 4 that they started inside their own 30 yard-line. The results: 1 field goal, 2 punts and turnover on downs. As one fan commented to me this morning, the Packers lost the field position game and overall, lost on special teams too. The coverage on special teams was suspect, our return game was bad except for Tramon’s one decent 49-yard effort, and our punting was bad (but so was Feagles – and I know punting in cold weather like that is like kicking a boulder). Crosby was one bright spot.

2) Greg Jennings/James Jones were non-existent. Not sure if Favre just wasn’t looking to them or what, but they both were suspiciously absent. It’s possible the Giants defensive scheme went to great lengths to keep the ball out of Jenning’s hands in particular considering the damage he often does after the catch.

3) Woodson, Harris, Kampman and Barnett all played poorly. I wonder if the weather bothered them more than they’d let on because they seemed to be operating almost in slow motion. But these 4 are our leaders on defense and they did not rise to the occasion. Harris’ shortcomings were obvious, though Burress did push off a few times (and he’s a jackass of a person). Woodson’s gaffes would have been even more noticeable if Toomer/Smith had not dropped a few passes. But Kampman and Barnett really disappointed in this game. Kampman ended up with 3 tackles and 4 assists, but he (and Jenkins) failed to put enough pressure on Eli – no sacks between them. While Eli played very well last night, when pressured, he is a wuss and he would have struggled completing some of those throws if someone had been in his face more. And Barnett, the defensive leader, only had 4 tackles and 4 assists and on a few plays, almost looked lost out there. I think they’ll all be back and playing well again next year, but in big games, I think it’s OK for teams/fans to look to veteran leaders to step it up some and that didn’t happen.

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not…

January 21, 2008

That facial expression below is priceless, though I don’t know quite what it means.  Anyone have a better caption?

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What happened yesterday to the Packers???

January 21, 2008

Let me start by saying I’m sad – just really sad that the Packers blew it. I really thought we were headed to the Super Bowl and I genuinely think the better team lost last night.

Due to wanting to be accountable, I need to just eat it for a season’s worth of ripping on Eli Manning. He made some very good throws yesterday and very effectively led his team to victory. He has played very solid (bordering on excellent) football in the last 4 games and is a major reason his team is going to the Super Bowl. And, while I refuse to retract my loser face comments (though the irony is not lost on me), I must admit, I don’t see him quite as the horrible, whiney, jerk he was when he came into the league. One thing he doesn’t do is talk trash to the other team or behave in a cocky way and while someone shouldn’t really be commended for that, in today’s sports world, I’ll go ahead and commend him for that. As for Eli’s counterpart last night, I’m sad for Favre because he didn’t play very well and threw a costly pick at the end – eerily similar to the Philly game a few years ago.

Now, why did we lose? As Steve already noted, the playcalling was odd. I don’t know why we stopped running Grant as he could have been a major force w/re to tiring out the defense and opening up the passing game. Our pass game was off all game and I hate to say it, but it may have been due to solid defensive scheming. I did like the attempted screens as a counter to the pass rush, but I didn’t like the horrendous execution of them. I thought McCarthy may try a trick play or two or something that could potentially have jump-started the offense. None of that – just stiff, uncharacteristicly poor playcalling.

I think a major factor was simply that McCarthy was outcoached. Coughlin and the Giants did a good job on offense and defense and mostly dominated the game. Over the last week or so, I do wonder if the enormity of this whole situation may have finally caught up with McCarthy. Last week, for the first time I know of, he finally admitted with 4 minutes left in the Seattle game and the snow falling, that he was a bit awed at how great it felt to the be the coach of such a good Packers team. While we all know he’s proud that he’s coach, he hadn’t been so effusive about it until this past week. Throw in discussion of a new $20 million contract and this would present a big step up for a no-name guy EVERYONE questioned upon his hire. It’s sort of like in golf, when you go out on the front nine and play really well only to crash on the final few holes of the back nine as you start to think about breaking your personal low round. Maybe all of the truly great accomplishments thus far, finally caught up with McCarthy and the Pack.

While I won’t dwell on the officiating because we had other chances to win, but I do think the second half officiating was terrible. In the game, I counted 8 MBCs (Major Blown Calls): 5 against the Packers and 3 against the Giants. I think their touchdown drive when they took the lead 13-10 was a gift because Harris was the one who was interfered with (not Burress) on the first 3rd down play and then Collins hit was just plain not late. That was a terrible call. However, one of the biggest crap calls in the game was Steve Smith’s “catch” toward the end of the game that got them a first down. He did not have control of the ball before he hit the ground and the replay to me was conclusive. I don’t think they even looked at that – they just reviewed for spot of the ball. The problem I have with these calls is that they affected the flow of the game and arguably the outcome. Again, there were some terrible calls against the Giants too. To me, that is inexcusable. Officiating in games like this needs to be highly competent so that the outcome can be pure – and I just don’t think the crew did a good job.

The only positive spin I can think of is this: the Packers played and coached a poor-mediocre game at best, and lost in overtime in crappy conditions. I’m comforted by the thought that had they played and coached even at a slightly above-average level, they would have won the game. But they didn’t and I have to hand it to the Giants.

One last thought: I’ll bet Giants fans at Lambeau were confused after the game when Packer fans respectfully congratulated them on their victory. They were likely anticipating the verbal assaults they may dish out to fans of the opposing team after a brutally depressing loss. While I hate losing more than anyone, at the very least, because we’re genuinely nice people, we lose with class.


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