Archive for June, 2008

Vikings win Super Bowl? Dr. Z hammered?

June 21, 2008

Ok – here is another Vikings Super Bowl prediction, but this time, not from within. As he properly reveals Dr. Z picked New Orleans last year to win the Super Bowl…they finished 7-9. So he should definitely be viewed skeptically when it comes to prognosticating. (In the interest of full disclosure, last year Packergeeks predicted the Cowboys would be the NFC Super Bowl team – not bad).  Dr. Z makes an OK argument for why the Vikes may be good, but it’s a lot of the same stuff you’ve already heard (revamped O-Line, solid run D, Peterson, T Jackson improving and Berrian/Allen additions). Listen, I don’t think the Vikes will be too bad this year. And part of the reason for claiming this is that I think Jackson may be set for a quality year at QB. But they’re not going to the Super Bowl.

So I’m surprised that for the first time in a while, there even IS a Vikings bandwagon. One thing Dr. Z is not giving proper attention to is Coach Childress. Maybe he’ll open things up and prove me wrong this year, but he seems like a dead-end type coach to me. Similar to Mike Sherman, I find his playcalling somewhat predictable and going into this year, it’s quite obvious to me that the running game will be heavily featured. So, just stop their run (like the Pack did last year). I just can’t see Childress leading the Vikings effectively to anything more than maybe one playoff victory at best. Also, while they do have some OK players on defense (Winfield – great, Allen, Greenway, Henderson, Williams guys) the rest of their D is questionable (and no, Sharper is not that good anymore). They have half an O-line, questions still at QB (even though I think he’s good), and as I’ve written before, a terrible passing game. I’m telling you, Berrian won’t bring anything, maybe Rice will be OK, but other than those two and Peterson, Jackson will have nobody to throw to.

Now, as for Dr. Z, he is a sportsillustrated.com columnist who writes periodic stories, makes weekly picks and does a power ranking. He is not that good of a writer and his predictions are questionable at best. He tries to be funny and fails. Not sure how this guy has a job frankly.

ESPN’s Clayton: Aaron Rodgers is Very Good

June 21, 2008

This is encouraging.  I don’t always agree with ESPN’s John Clayton, but even when I don’t his views are worth considering.  Anyone who spent 12 years of his life clawing with other 300 lb men as an interior lineman has earned at least a hearing.  (We kid because we love.)

Clayton likes Aaron Rodgers.  “As it turns out, Rodgers has a very strong arm. He’s had the strong arm since he’s been in Green Bay. The football explodes off his hand on each throw in practice. Teammates have noticed it for years because they work with or against him in practice.”

Clayton continues: …it’s impossible not to notice how impressive Rodgers looks now that No. 12 runs the offense. He has a smooth, polished retreat from center. His feet are in good position for each throw out of three- and five-step drops. And then you take notice. His right arm sets up naturally, and the ball comes out unnaturally fast. He doesn’t possess an old Randy Johnson fastball, but, in baseball terms, his 6-2 body throws the fastball of a 6-5 pitcher. Sticking to baseball comparisons, Rodgers might not generate 99 or 100 mph on the radar gun, but he’d consistently hit 94 and 95, and sometimes 96. “He has a cannon,” wide receiver Greg Jennings said. “We call him the ‘Human Jugs Machine.’ He throws it like a Jugs machine every time.

I think I speak for all Packer fans when I say that Rodgers needs a better nickname than “Human Jugs Machine.”

More:

“He can make every throw on the football field, and his deep ball is one of the prettiest. Brett had a great deep ball, but Aaron has a beautiful one.”

Jennings said there are some throws Rodgers makes that have more velocity than Favre’s. As a young receiver, Jennings can only speak about Favre in his later years. “We knew that coming in that Aaron throws a lot harder, so it’s not a surprise,” the third-year Packer said. Running the West Coast offense, though, Rodgers isn’t asked to go deep much. Favre wasn’t either, but it was his nature to do it anyway. Rodgers won’t have Favre’s flair for the dramatic — who will? — but you can see he will bruise a few fingers and hands trying to move the chains out of three- and five-step drops. “He’s just throws hard,” wide receiver Donald Driver said. “He’s just one of those guys who doesn’t have any touch at all. He just throws, and that’s a good thing. He’s able to get the ball to you when he needs to get it to you.”

We’ll see.  It’s one thing to look impressive when you’re in shorts with no one hitting you.  It’s quite another to look the same with, say, Tommie Harris coming to rip your head off.

There is certainly an Aaron Rodgers bandwagon, with virtually every Packer beat writer, many of Rodgers’ teammates and coaches and some national commentators aboard.  There are reasons to be optimistic, but it’s very early.  And, perhaps most important, you have to stay healthy and remain on the field to be a good quarterback.

Jason Wilde: Poppinga to ride the pine?

June 20, 2008

Today, on Homer’s ESPN radio Milwaukee show, Jason Wilde made an official prediction that Brady Poppinga would not be starting come early September. Without going into great detail explaining why he believes this, he did mention that Poppinga would likely still see action in a 3-3-5 lineup that would have him as the 3rd linebacker either dropping in coverage or rushing the QB. He noted Poppinga has a developed talent for rushing the QB (did this a lot in college) and his thought was that he’d be used more in situational moments, but not as a starter.

Interesting. While I do worry that my ripping so hard on Poppinga for the last two years will come back to haunt me as he goes on to have a break-out year because he unleashes the wild side that he’s held in check for whatever reason – I’m more inclined to believe he’ll continue on his same path of mediocre to poor play. Chillar seems at least like a capable fill-in, though I’d have been a lot more excited if Desmond Bishop were given more of a chance at this LB position instead of being stuck behind Barnett.

Anyway, my initial reaction to Wilde’s prediction is that he will be wrong. I think Poppinga will get the nod mostly because of the experience he’s gained in the defensive scheme as well as the possibility that with an increased comfort level, he may play more instinctively. But if he does not step up and play like the monster that may be within, I think MM will be quick to turn to Chillar after even just a few games. As much as Poppinga is a likeable guy, he has not performed adequately and the coaches, players, fans and GM are all aware of this, so like Collins, this year will be the real and possibly final test.

STEVE ADDS: Interesting.  Something is going on with the LBs.  This was from Greg Bedard yesterday: “Without divulging what the situation and other personnel were, the Packers had four linebackers on the field at one point: Brandon Chillar, A.J. Hawk, Nick Barnett and Brady Poppinga. I saw that on more than one occasion during the mini-camp.”  I wonder why he couldn’t divulge the situation?  Ground rules for covering practice?  Anyway, as I say, it’s interesting.

More talk re Jason Taylor – nothing substantive though

June 20, 2008

Read here from the Miami Herald – seems like everyone at this point is at least acknowledging the discussion between the two teams, but nobody’s ready to say anything is imminent. My hope is that Greg Bedard is right in his jsonline blog post from yesterday – that once Ted Thompson gets his mind set on something, he doesn’t give up easily. I hope he’ll keep fighting and bring us a top-notch defensive player.

It is what it is

June 20, 2008

What the hell is up with this expression? Suddenly it seems, you can’t listen to a sports talk radio show without hearing this expression. I first started hearing it on the talk radio shows that are hosted by guys I find to be not that bright but who are big cliche/expression guys like Steven A Smith or WTMJ’s the “Big Unit”. But now, it’s taken hold and spreading like wildfire. This morning on Mike and Mike in the morning’s ESPN radio, Mike Greenberg used it and no more than 3 minutes later Mike Golic used it (though he varied it some by going with the past tense “it was what it was”). And these guys are intelligent guys. Locally, Homer used it a few days ago on his Milwaukee ESPN radio show and I consider him to be bright.

But what really told me that this empty, verbally wasteful expression had arrived was when Brother Steve used it a couple days ago. Now, Steve is not one to use cliche expressions – especially, newer trendy ones (like walk-off homer, trickeration, the thing of it is, is that), so I’m not sure what prompted this. I can’t remember if I was talking to him over the phone or if it was in a Packergeeks post, but regardless, my reaction was the same: “what? my intelligent Brother has fallen victim to the underlying sports-world pressure to use this newish cliche?” Please Brother Steve, tell me you were joking…

Jason Taylor, A Packer?

June 19, 2008

Lots of news today on the Jason Taylor front.  From what I can tell, Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette broke the story that the Packers had made an “exploratory inquiry” to the Dolphins about Taylor.

Demovsky writes:

The Packers recently made an exploratory inquiry with the Miami Dolphins, who are trying to decide what to do with the disgruntled Taylor. In recent days, the Dolphins have indicated they’re interested in retaining Taylor, the defensive end who won the NFL’s defensive player of the year award in 2006.

Taylor, 33, appears to be more interested in playing for another team in 2008. He has said he would like to play one more year for a team that has a legitimate chance at a Super Bowl.

Working in the Packers’ favor is Taylor’s relationship with their defensive coordinator, Bob Sanders, and defensive tackles coach Robert Nunn. Both coached Taylor when they were on the Dolphins’ staff during the early 2000s. Neither Nunn nor Sanders would say whether they’d push for General Manager Ted Thompson to acquire Taylor, but both lauded him as a player.

“Anytime you can get a guy of that caliber, you’d want to try to get him,” said Nunn, who was with the Dolphins from 2000 to 2002. “But I don’t get involved in anything like that.

“All I know is that when I coached him, he was a great football player and a great person. I hope it works out for him because he’s had such a great career, and I’d hate to see it end on a bad note in the public’s eye. The guy is such an outstanding individual and a great football player, and I just hope for the best for Jason and hope it ends well, and he’s able to compete for a Super Bowl.”

Hmmm.

Greg Bedard, who covered the Dolphins before coming to Sconi, says he had lots of reporting on the story but was holding it until there were further developments.  He seeks to dampen the prospective enthusiasm a bit.

The bottom line is the Packers and Dolphins have not yet engaged in trade talks. Not even close. And that likely won’t happen until at least right before training camp. So a deal is not even on the radar of being imminent.

(Reminder: Pick up an “imminent” radar ASAP and buy one for the Pentagon, too.)

Bedard’s details are fantastic:

  • Namely, the Packers inquired in passing about what the Dolphins wanted for Taylor before the draft. They were told a first-round pick. The Packers almost laughed. Since then, the Packers have checked in from time to time. The Dolphins outwardly are still bluffing, but inwardly they are coming off their asking price….
  • …That’s because Taylor has only pushed harder for a trade since he denied doing exactly that. Taylor is miserable with his situation with the Dolphins, from what I’ve been told, and wants out more than ever.
  • Packers GM Ted Thompson has discussed Taylor with defensive coordinator Bob Sanders and defensive tackles coach Robert Nunn. I don’t know exactly what they said to Thompson, but I know they both love Taylor.
  • There will be little, if any, discussion unless Taylor backs off his plan to only play one more season. Taylor, I’m told, is amenable to that if it’s the right situation.
  • Both sides might be willing to do the deal for a second-round pick. But that’s only if two very stubborn negotiators — Thompson and Bill Parcells — both feel they’re getting a good deal. That might be tough to do. And we all know how Thompson keeps a death grip on his draft choices.

One quibble..  I don’t get the claim that the Packers made inquiries “in passing” about Taylor.  Either they did or they didn’t.  They did.  That suggests at least a modicum of interest.  (Thompson often calls this “fishing.”)  It would be surprising to me if they didn’t do this.

The story here, in my view, is that the Packers have checked back “from time to time.”  You don’t do that unless you’re genuinely interested.

My guess is that Thompson — pushed by his two defensive coaches who know Taylor well — wants Taylor in Green Bay.

For the right price, we do too.

Grant still not practicing

June 18, 2008

Read here for more info on Ryan Grant’s holdout from practice. The article’s author is dead wrong when he claims that “it isn’t exactly a contract holdout”. Actually, that is exactly what it is: a holdout. It’s funny that by showing up and telling us he wants to participate in practice, we all seem to be willing to sort of give him a pass – “ooohh, he’s not holding out, didn’t ya see he’s at the camp anyway, what a great guy! – hey by da way, did you have flooding issues? I did. tree cases of Pabst gone and even my Usingers had to be pitched – contaminated by sewage back-up. Ya, dat sucked”. But the fact is, Grant is holding out.  In fact, here is a definition of holdout:

a refusal to agree or compromise in order to obtain better terms in any kind of settlement.

He’s holding out.

I recognize that I have no idea what the Packers are offering and I suppose it’s possible it is the Packers who are grossly undervaluing Grant and this is causing the holdout. But my suspicion is that this is more Grant’s side going after a long-term, guaranteed deal of some kind. My inclination is to feel that Grant’s side should have gotten this taken care of already and he should be practicing under a new contract.

It’s interesting, one thing that has become quite popular over the last few years in particular is this “my agent handles the business side of things” attitude. These players refer to their contract situations as though they are not involved whatsoever. Maybe this is actually true for some of them, but if it is, I think that’s really stupid. If the topic of conversation were my salary, I would definitely want to be part of that – maybe I would have an agent represent me to guide me somewhat, but I wouldn’t be so completely removed from the situation as many pro athletes act like they are. (I do recognize that some may just act like they are uninvolved to spare their public image…but…) Anyway, if Grant is so serious about being on the team and not missing practice time, it would seem to me that he could put his foot down, get more engaged in the process himself and tell both parties he wants something worked out by a certain time (for example, prior to the beginning of this mini-camp).

Now, I know there are those of you out there who will contend that I know nothing about pro athlete contract negotiations and the truth is, you’re right, in fact, I haven’t even seen Jerry McGuire! (supporting Tom Cruise in any way is just not an option for me). But I still think that if a player wants to play badly enough, there are ways to work things out in a more timely fashion and the player likely has far more control over this than these players publicly let on.

Even though I just devoted a whole post to this, I’m actually not that fired up about it. I think it will probably get done relatively soon. If it doesn’t get done I’d say in 3-4 weeks though, I will be fired up about it and my opinion of Grant will suffer.

Javon Walker in Vegas

June 16, 2008

Javon Walker was found unconscious in Las Vegas.  He was injured, perhaps from a robbery.  He had, apparently, sprayed bottles of Dom Perignon at a nightclub earlier in the evening.

Reserving judgment for now.

Wilcots: Vikings “Quietly” Confident

June 12, 2008

Seriously.  That’s what Solomon Wilcots just said — five times! — on Sirius NFL Radio.  He has just been out visiting with the Vikings (and the Packers) and said that in his talks with Vikings he could sense a “quiet confidence” — five times! — that they are going to do well this year.

The other way he might have come to the understanding that the Vikings are confident is by…reading the newspaper.  Or the two posts below.

Sirius NFL Radio is must-listening for an NFL junkie (and players and coaches).  But between Vic Carucci and Solomon Wilcots it can sometimes be hard to tune in…

Ray Edwards drinking too much ‘sky-blue water’?

June 10, 2008

Another prediction from Vikings HQ. Read this now from Vikings DE Ray Edwards. This declaration by  Edwards that he’ll break Strahan’s sack record when he may not even be the starter opposite Jared Allen, smacks of excessive Hamm’s drinking. I hope the Packers read this too so they know to just run at his side all day long (if he’s even in the game). It’s easy to prey on a guy so obviously focused on half of his job duties. (By the way, Edwards has 8 career sacks in 27 games played – good luck that Ray).


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