Archive for February, 2008

Obama for the Bears, Poppinga for Obama

February 17, 2008

It is really time to bench Brady Poppinga. Not because his politics have led him to support Barack Obama, but because he is supporting Obama despite the fact that Obama stopped in Green Bay yesterday and declared himself a diehard Chicago Bears fan. And Poppinga was there to witness it.

Said Obama, acknowledging Poppinga’s presence: “It is hard for a Packer to support a Bears fan…But you would not want some guy to come up here and say he was a Packers fan, when he’s a Bears fan … . You gotta stick with your team, even when they don’t break .500, even when they don’t make the playoffs, even when they make you tear your hair out.”

The crowd booed Obama when he said he was a Bears fan. But you have to give him props for choosing not to fake it, as some ass-clown did a few years back. Of course, he still won Wisconsin.

The Bears still suck, but not as much as the Vikings.

Um, Yeah — Sorry About That

February 17, 2008

I had been looking at various Pabst commercials to post and accidentally posted the wrong one. I’m told we may have lost all of our churchgoing readers, even those who agreed with the sentiments of the ad.

What does this have to do with the Packers? If you have to ask, you wouldn’t understand.

Here’s the one I meant to throw up here, though compared to Andy’s “Man-in-the-Woods” post, it comes up a little short.

Another old man injury

February 16, 2008

Today, I was using the roof rake to get some of the 1-2′ of snow off of our roof. I write that as though roof raking is normative behavior for me. Never heard of it before this year. Seems to me that it’s the Wisconsin equivalent of the Sports Hernia injury of a few years back. Suddenly, everyone has a roof rake and the big news story nowadays concerns the hardwares stores that have run out. Like most news stories, it is not a story at all. This is how it goes:

newsperson: “Has there ever been a winter quite like this before?”

hardware store person: “not that I can remember.”

newsperson: “Has it ever reached such a crisis level with regard to roof rake inventory?”

hardware store person: “not that I can remember.”

newsperson: “have you ever seen such a scramble, almost fighting, almost violent, to obtain said roof rake?”

hardware store person: “not that I can remember”.

Anyway, I was out raking the roof with a neighbor’s roof rake when I felt a sudden pull in my right quad. It wouldn’t make any sense if I had somehow injuried it – none. If there was one muscle I wasn’t using to rake the roof, it was my right quad. I tried to put it past me, not think about it, and I succeeded until I went to my neighbor’s house to return the roof rake. I could barely walk over there. I had pulled my quad pulling snow off my roof. As I write hours later, I’m not 100%.

Pabst again – forgive my brother…

February 16, 2008

We apologize for the profanity-laced Pabst post we put up yesterday. Brother Steve intended to link to something else. At Packergeeks, we pride ourselves on not resorting to foul language unless it’s absolutely necessary.

 Please enjoy the following PBR link that I think better captures the essence of PBR drinkers.

More Pabst

February 15, 2008

Briggs, Wahle, Ted Thompson – thoughts

February 13, 2008

Ted Thompson has more than proven that his style and attitude toward free agency vs the draft is sensible and effective. It’s hard to argue with the results he and McCarthy have achieved this past year. It is also hard to argue against the fact that these results were achieved with young players, many of whom were drafted by the Packers.

However, I would argue that there were players who weren’t drafted by the Packers who contributed significantly last year: Donald Lee, Charles Woodson, Ryan Grant, Tracy White, Atari Bigby and Al Harris. While I’m coming around to TT’s overall philosophy, I still think there is room for some aggressive plays in free agency for the right player. Frequent commentor, if you will, (different from commentator, commentor is newly defined today as someone who comments on a blog), RayMidge makes a strong point re the possibility of making a play for Lance Briggs. I have already heard detractors to this idea saying he’ll be way too expensive, but I’m not so sure. The Pack has lots of extra money this year due to wise management, and Briggs is the kind of young player who may have a good number of years left in the NFL. He would replace a weak Poppinga at OLB (bringing much better tackling, playmaking and coverage abilities) and give us a suddenly scary linebacking unit. That would take pressure off an aging secondary and shore up our defense.

If I were TT right now, I’d be on the phone with Wahle and Briggs. While it’s great to have a young team and now a young team with major playoff experience, veterans are still important to a team’s overall chemistry and I think we could use a couple more contributing veterans on this team.

Great Minds…

February 13, 2008

Read Tom Silverstein here about a prospective Mike Wahle return to Green Bay. But as Silverstein points out, Wahle will be in Seattle today and is much more likely to go to a team willing to spend some money on free agents. And while both parties made a point not to rule anything out, their language does not suggest a rekindled love affair.

Said Wahle: I would definitely consider it…They’re a real class organization. I’ve got a lot of respect for that franchise.”

Said GM Ted Thompson: “Obviously, Mike’s very well-regarded here and he’s a great guy,” Thompson said. “We’re always looking at possible guys. So we’ll go through the process the same way we do with everybody.”

Mike Wahle cut – same with Dan Morgan

February 12, 2008

Interesting – read here about Carolina’s decision to cut these two.

Now, I am not sure I’m ready to start lobbying for us to pick up Morgan due to the likelihood that he and Aaron Rodgers would probably both be out for the year after shaking hands. However, when he has played in his career, he’s played at an extremely high level. I can’t help but think that he could learn Poppinga’s position and play it better than Poppinga for a year (and if he gets hurt, Poppinga can back up).

But it’s the Wahle cut that surprises me. I don’t know how he’s been doing down there or if there are injuries I am not aware of, but he was darn good with the Packers so I have a hard time believing he’d just be cut. (Just checked it out, no apparent injury and he started every game last year). Perhaps it’s a financial move. Either way, I will start lobbying hard for the Packers to pick up Wahle. Guard is a position at which the Pack struggles and bringing in a bright, agile, 10-year veteran with a big-body might help us get more of a push in the zone scheme than we seem to be able to get now. (And learning the zone scheme would like be easier for him as he’s smart and savvy). I also would bet he’d be excited to come back to Green Bay.

Sherman vs. McCarthy

February 12, 2008

Over at the JS Online Packer Blog, Greg Bedard dips into the mailbag for some questions from fans. As always, it’s worth reading the entire thing. But I was particularly struck by this comment about the Packer running game from a “Matt in DC.”

He writes: “We are two years into this zone blocking BS and I would hope you guys / gals out there would get in MM and TT’s grill about how ridiculous it is for a line not to grasp this in TWO YEARS! Perhaps it’s because our tackles aren’t cut out for it. They aren’t fleet afoot. Or, perhaps the line is dumber than a bag o’ hammers…As many flaws as he had, at least Mike Sherman had the good sense to know you run north – south and he did damn good with that power running scheme.”

I think Mike Sherman sucked and I like the zone-blocking scheme, so I come to his argument as a skeptic. But facts are stubborn things, as they say. So I did a quick rundown on the numbers. Was Mike Sherman’s running scheme “damn good” and is it time to abandon the zone-blocking scheme favored by Mike McCarthy?

Sherman was coach from 2000-2005, McCarthy in 2006/07. Here are the statistics, with the year, total team rushing yards and, in parentheses, the total of the leading rusher:

MIKE SHERMAN ERA
2000
1643
(1175)

2001
1693
(1387)

2002
1933
(1240)

2003
2558
(1883)

2004
1908
(1163)

2005
1352
(582)

MIKE MCCARTHY ERA

2006
1663
(1059)

2007
1597
(956)

Two things jump out at me. First, the number from the first two years implementing Sherman’s scheme are roughly the same as the numbers from McCarthy’s two years. (In 2000, Ahman Green was in his third year, the first with the Packers. In 2006, he did not play two games and was less effective than might have been expected in others because he was injured.)

Second, the numbers from 2007 include only 10 games in which Ryan Grant was the starter. If we throw out the final game of the season against Detroit because Grant was benched early (he had 6 rushes for 57 yards when he left), Grant averaged almost exactly 100 yards per game. For an entire season, that’s 1600 yards for Grant alone. When you look at the contributions from the non-starting RBs over the past seven years, they routinely account for somewhere between 300 and 800 yards (more in the years a starting RB is hurt, of course). If we stay on the conservative side of those numbers and figure for 2007 that the other RBs — chiefly Vernand Morency and Brandon Jackson — might have provided 350 yards of production with a healthy Ryan Grant, then this year’s Packers are actually ahead of every Mike Sherman coached team other than 2003, when Ahman Green was the league’s second-leading rusher to Jamal Lewis (who finished with 2066 yards that year).

There are lots of “ifs” here, of course, including Grant’s ability to stay healthy and to keep up his impressive numbers for an entire year. That cuts both ways, though, and it’s possible to argue that Grant’s per game average would have likely increased the more comfortable he got with the scheme. What’s more, Grant was used a lot less than Ahman Green even in the games he started. In five of the nine games we’re including in this analysis, Grant rushed fewer than 20 times. Had McCarthy run the ball the way he says he wants to and had he left Grant in at the end of games the Packers were winning decisively, Grant’s numbers might have been much higher.

The bottom line: Using relatively conservative projections, the Packers running game this year would have likely been as productive as any year under Mike Sherman except for the dominant 2003 year.

All of that said, I agree with Bedard: “What really boggled my mind all season was how McCarthy, Joe Philbin and James Campen continued to talk about fundamentals being the crux of the problem – and they even said that after the loss to the Giants. Here we are now two years into this system and fundamentals are still a problem? How is that possible? Either it’s not being taught correctly or there’s a big problem on the receiving end.”

The numbers over the second half of the season were impressive. We heard on every broadcast that Ryan Grant was second only to Ladanian Tomlinson in his production over the games he started. That’s a big deal. But it is disconcerting, to say the least, that the coaches are still talking about fundamentals.

Packers Special Teams 2007 – not bad at all…

February 11, 2008

Every year, the Dallas Morning News ranks the special teams units of each NFL team. This year, in this article, you’ll see that the Packers ended up tied for 7th. That is a significant improvement over recent years and a lot of the credit ought to go to Mike Stock. As we’ve said previously on packergeeks.com, Stock has done a great job bringing along two young kickers as well as improving our overall coverage and return units. Congrats to Stock for a job well done. Also, congrats to TT and McCarthy for recognizing the importance of special teams (TT for acquiring quality special teams players and McCarthy for letting Stock do his job).


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