Archive for August, 2008

Aaron Rodgers – 2008 Preview

August 11, 2008

The Favre era is over. Aaron Rodgers is the starting QB for the Packers. Tonight, he will play in his first real action as the starter of this team. Given that there will likely be at least a few series where both teams play their starters, this may be our first decent glimpse into the Rodgers-era and what may lie ahead. I won’t read too much into this game, but it does matter.

Following is a preview of Aaron Rodgers for 2008, and what I believe we can expect from him. (We will be offering other player previews throughout the pre-season).

ON THE PLUS SIDE

  • As everyone knows, Rodgers looked very good against Dallas last year. He led an inspired effort to bring the team back into the game and showed heart doing it. He looked smart out there and made sure, nice passes. Smarts and heart may be 2 defining characteristics of Rodgers going forward.
  • Rodgers has been well coached, he knows the offense very well and he is a bright guy. Mike McCarthy is very good with QBs and will help bring Rodgers along, I think, pretty quickly.
  • Rodgers has a better arm that most think.
  • I think we’ll see that his overall confidence level will help him to be a decisive passer, which is very important at this level.
  • He has a very good team surrounding him.
  • He has gone out of his way to make his teammates feel welcome in his home and at the same time, to make his teammates fully aware that he takes leadership seriously. Smart.
  • One specific thing I think Rodgers may be quite good at is knowing when to throw the ball away. It is frustrating as a fan to watch, but it can often be the best decision a QB has. Rodgers already seems quite heady re decisions like this. If he’s truly good at this, we might see fewer interceptions from Rodgers than his predecessor.
  • He wants to win. It was very evident during the Dallas game that he wanted to win. In a huge game, to be an unheralded back-up and have come in and play as the visiting team would unnerve most guys, but Rodgers not only was up for it, he appeared to be very singularly focused on winning the game.
  • Rodgers has handled himself quite well (for the most part) through this whole sticky Favre situation. He said the right things, he didn’t come off as arrogant or clueless and he worked hard to keep focused on playing football.
  • He has the support of management/coaching staff – clearly.
  • He has spent valuable time learning from one of the best QBs to ever play the game.
  • He’s gotten rid of the goofy facial hair experiments and Amish haircut, so he’s ready to just be himself out there and lead this team.

CONCERNS

  • I have some concerns about Rodgers injury history. Rodgers has had 2 significant injuries in his short career (significant enough to keep him off the field). He needs to play most of the games this season in order to shed that injury-prone label. Hopefully strength training in the off-season will help him to be stronger and better prepared for real NFL contact this year.
  • While I really like Rodgers apparent ability to scramble and run to gain some yardage (something Favre simply seemed unwilling to do later in his career), I worry that these could be the kinds of situations that lead to injury. In the Dallas game, Rodgers got licked on a tackle (in a Philip Epps-like way) at one point – almost seemed like he was sort of out of control and not sure where the guy came from.
  • One thing I think we’ll find is that as good as Rodgers may be at scrambling, he may not be quite as good as Brett and other veterans at avoiding pressure. Scrambling and avoiding pressure aren’t necessarily the same thing (i.e. Favre was bad at scrambling but great at avoiding pressure). So we may see a few more sacks of Rodgers than we’re used to seeing.
  • Mike and Mike (ESPN Radio) were saying this morning they think Rodgers has more pressure on him than any other athlete in recent sports history. Lots and lots of pressure.
  • As well as he handled himself until now, Rodgers did have a major gaffe that was fortunately for him, concealed by Favre’s story exploding the very next day. In a Sports Illustrated article a few months ago, Rodgers said, “I don’t feel I need to sell myself to fans. They need to get on board now or keep their mouths shut.” This was a mistake by Rodgers, even if he was genuinely feeling this way or just frustrated. You never offer up that Packer fans should “keep their mouths shut”. I’m willing, however, to chalk this up as a “rookie” mistake…unless or until something similar happens again.
  • I’ll write this again at the risk of your collective wrath, but I still worry Rodgers may have a whiny quality. I know when I made this comment last year, it was unpopular, but I’ve seen some early indications of this. I very well could be wrong and hope I am because I think this is behavior that can be divisive (especially if done by a young QB). Sometimes, this just comes with players who really really really want to win (Marino, Manning). And that’s not a bad thing. But my hope is that McCarthy will help Rodgers install a mental mechanism of some kind to shut down any instinct to call out his teammates in a public way.

FINAL PREVIEW VERDICT:

I think Rodgers can be very good if he plays within himself and remembers that this growth process can be somewhat gradual, that it doesn’t have to happen over night. He can definitely try to make plays, but sometimes when there is pressure like there is on him now, the tendency can be to try too hard. I expect a bit of this very early on as he attempts to assert himself as the starter – with mixed results. But after just a few games, with McCarthy’s help, I expect that he’ll settle in and develop his own distinct playing style, and learn to more effectively play within himself. While I don’t want Rodgers to play scared, I do want him to be extra smart when he scrambles. Rodgers ability and willingness to do this opens up a whole new offensive option, especially for plays that break down. I expect Rodgers to throw fewer picks than Favre and other first-year starters, but possibly get sacked more often. I believe he may have some fumbling issues earlier on until he gets used to handling the speed and pressure of the live game. Then after the first 1/3 of the season or so, it won’t be a problem. I expect James Jones to be more active in the offense, Driver to be a bit less active, Jennings to continue his progress and the tight ends to be a bigger part of McCarthy’s offensive plans this year. But one of the most important factors this year will be how Rodgers bounces back from a poor performance, especially one in which he may have contributed heavily to a loss. My guess is that he may have several rough games this year, but he will bounce back nicely. I also expect Rodgers to be a tough player on the road. Overall, I expect a better than average performance from Rodgers, but I am not expecting a totally polished product just yet.

Favre Sells Autographed Jets Jersey — $799

August 11, 2008

Lots of changes at Brett Favre’s official website.  The “featured product” right now is an autographed #4 Jets jersey selling for $799, but the lettering is still Green and Gold and the site features lots of photos of Favre in Packer garb.

Most interesting is the statement that greets “Brett Favre Supporters” — in oversized letters — when they first arrive.  “FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME.”

Brett Favre Demands Trade to 1996 Packers – from the Onion

August 8, 2008

Read this hilarious offering from the Onion written last year. Some of you may remember it (in fact, we may have already posted this, oh well, it’s worth another read)…

Brett Favre Demands Trade To 1996 Packers

GREEN BAY—Three-time MVP and undisputed future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, disappointed with the Packers’ refusal to aggressively pursue receiver Randy Moss and frustrated with his team’s apparent indifference to making immediate improvements on offense, is demanding a trade to the team he feels will give him the best shot at winning a last Super Bowl ring before his retirement: the 1996 Green Bay Packers.

Enlarge Image Brett Favre

“I just don’t think this Packer team, and GM Ted Thompson especially, is thinking in terms of winning with me,” said Favre, speaking to reporters at his charity golf tournament in Mississippi Sunday. “On the other hand, 1996 Packers GM Ron Wolf is committed to building the team completely around me. I don’t think it’s out of the question to say that with me behind center, the 1996 Packers are looking at going all the way to the Super Bowl.”

Early reports had indicated that Favre was so upset that his team failed to close a draft-day deal for Randy Moss with the Oakland Raiders that his agent called Packers GM Ted Thompson and requested a trade to a team with capable receivers.

“Nothing against Donald [Driver] and Greg [Jennings], but if I can’t throw it to Randy Moss, then I want to throw it to Antonio Freeman, Robert Brooks, and Don Beebe,” Favre said. “I bet with them, I’d have more of a chance of throwing for, say, 3,899 yards and 39 touchdowns, with maybe as few as 13 interceptions. Who knows? That kind of production could even get me another MVP award, although of course that’s much less important than leading the ’96 Pack to another Super Bowl victory.”

Favre also noted that, unlike the young and unproven 2007 Packers, the 1996 Packers boasted seasoned veterans on both sides of the ball.

“It sure would be great to play alongside Reggie White again—I get chills just thinking about seeing him in the locker room,” Favre said. “That whole ’96 defense is great, too. Santana Dotson is a force in the middle. That LeRoy Butler, I tell you, he’s one of the most underrated safeties in the game. Desmond Howard isn’t a bad kick returner, either. And unlike the Packer backfield I got now, the ’96 Packers still feature William Henderson at fullback.”

“Mark Chmura, though, I don’t know,” Favre admitted. “Decent tight end, but something about him isn’t quite right.”

In addition to the more elite personnel, Favre praised the aggressive attitude of the coaching squad and front office of the Packers of 1996, saying he was a fan of head coach Mike Holmgren’s West Coast offense and Wolf’s aggressive recruiting strategies.

“I think Holmgren and I would make an interesting team,” Favre said. “He could teach me a lot. We could learn from each other. And I know Ron Wolf would have my back. If, say, our number-one receiver gets knocked out for the season in Week 7, I believe Wolf would go right after a great veteran free agent, like maybe Andre Rison, to give us an edge in the playoffs. I can almost guarantee that.”

“It would really be something,” Favre said. “We’d be one of the all-time great teams, a once-in-a-lifetime thing, you know? I’m going to have my agent look into it right away.”

Although the Packers had no immediate comment, head coach Mike McCarthy said the team would be “heartbroken” to part with its greatest player, although in deference to Favre’s long service, and for the good of the current team, they would be willing to consider a trade package including a first-round pick in the 2008 NFL draft and the 1996 Brett Favre.

Brother Steve on Dennis Miller radio tonight

August 8, 2008

Check here for local listings. I believe they will mostly be discussing Favre.

http://www.dennismillerradio.com/stationfinder;jsessionid=9C9432874D705A2A348941771A9961B7

Like Trav says, time to move on

August 8, 2008

I wanted to get my last post up there just to vent some of the things that had been on my mind re the Favre thing. After re-reading it, I’d say it came off a bit more anti-team/TT than I intended it to. Bottom line is that the whole thing bothered me and still does. And I will even allow that I think some of my anger ended up being misdirected at the team and management when really, it’s probably more just general anger that Favre’s nicely sealed Packer legacy that was in place starting March 6, was injured. I think Favre definitely caused a good deal of this too – but it just hurts that things didn’t end as nicely as I wanted them to.

Now, let’s move on! D-Line concerns? O-Line concerns (looks like Sitton might challenge for the starting spot)? How is Grant doing back in the fold? Is the Rouse injury serious or is he fine? Who’s a better golfer Jon Ryan or Mason Crosby? I am as pumped for this season as any other because with change comes the anticipation for the unknown. And yes Trav, we plan a position by position breakdown complete with Steve’s questionable player judgments. I also have plans for an NFC North breakdown, and of course most importantly, our predictions for how each NFL team will do this year.

One quick/important/kumbaya-type note: just want to put out there that Steve and I were talking the other day about how we really appreciate the fact that our blog and discussion forum attracts readers who not only have strong, thoughtful opinions, but also intelligent opinions. Our goal when this whole thing started was to create a blog featuring foremost, intelligent Packer discussion. I think we’ve achieved that largely because our readers really know what they’re talking about. Thanks for reading and keep commenting whether we’re dead on or way off!

Scattered thoughts from a scattered geek

August 8, 2008

I apologize for not weighing in on all this stuff more yesterday – work picked a horrible time to be out of control. But I have to admit, over lunch and at other points, even when I tried to put down my thoughts on all of this, I would start and stop and start and stop – something I usually don’t do. I found myself battling many different and at times competing thoughts. So, I have decided now to just give you many of these fragmented thoughts:

  1. When Bob McGinn wrote this in his article yesterday “just about everyone who counted in the football department reached the conclusion that Favre could never win another championship” and dated this back to the Dallas Cowboys game, I had 2 main thoughts: 1) so did TT and “others” think that Aaron Rodgers actually would give us a better chance to win starting this year? If so, I disagree with this position and frankly it concerns me that our management would view the QB situation this way. 2) Doesn’t this somewhat justify Favre’s seeming neediness? Yes, I still think Favre overdid it, but if he had working knowledge that the GM of the organization, arguably the organization’s most important person, clearly didn’t want him to play, wouldn’t that at least have some effect on a decision to continue or not?
  2. Because of the above, I think it was Ted Thompson who started this whole thing. Favre then made it more complicated by deciding to retire in the first place, the unretiring, then saying stupid stuff through the media, then saying really dumb stuff about playing for Minnesota (which was a point at which many Packer fans I believe first grew frustrated with Favre). But TT’s attitude toward Favre started this.
  3. I don’t question that TT liked Favre as a person. But I firmly believe TT did not think Favre was that good of a player anymore.
  4. It could be that this GM was brought in just because the Packers brass knew that difficult decisions may need to be made toward the end of Favre’s career. So that may be in part, why they chose such a stoic, no-affect kind of guy (thinking he’d be good for an emotionally charged situation…you decide if this worked).
  5. If the Packers were 7-9 last year and Favre waffled and then wanted to come back and said some nasty things, I would probably be more sympathetic to management. It would also assist those people out there arguing that Favre’s talent has diminished enough to send him packing. But of course, that’s not what happened. They were 14-4 (and keep in mind, they didn’t have to play a first round playoff game because their regular season record was so good – something Favre was responsible for in good part).
  6. Brett Favre was the most exciting athlete in Wisconsin sports history.
  7. Brett Favre lied to the world when he said at his retirement press conference that TT and others did not affect his decision to retire. Sure, maybe at the time he was leaning toward retirement anyway. But when he said that, I suddenly had flashbacks to a certain “I did not have relations with that woman” comment by Slick Willy. I felt the same way when Marshawn Lynch made his first public comments after he ran that woman over and denied it. You could just hear/feel the lie.
  8. I hope the Jets are really good this year and Favre can go out on a high note. As crappy as he’s been through all of this, in the future, my guess is we’ll be able to look back fondly at his career as a Packer (I think I may be too young to seriously use the word “fondly” though. I think I’ll go now and sit on my davenport).
  9. I will always love the Packers above any one player, but if this Rodgers experiment goes awry, I will be quite ticked off. I’ll still love the Packers, but not TT. Not only have TT and co mortgaged our short-term future (which was bright) on this one player, in the process, they have taken a guy who already had tons of pressure on him and dumped 5x as much pressure on him with this whole fiasco. Maybe this will make Rodgers super strong mentally, I don’t know, but right now I think the honest truth (as opposed to the false truth?) is that Rodgers and many others are just deflated. Fortunately, there is some time before the season to get re-energized.
  10. I feel like this whole thing happened at the wrong time – too early. If Favre were truly welcomed back and also accepted coming back, and had an OK year this year, I could see really thinking about moving on. But the fact is, he came off of a tremendous season and many of us were very much looking forward to rolling into this year. It’s too bad he chose to retire (because he did choose this) but it’s also too bad that that decision was apparently based in part on feeling unwanted.
  11. I didn’t like it when people kept saying that the offense now goes through Rodgers and they’ve made a bunch of changes to accommodate that so the prospect of switching back for Brett would have been a really difficult one. I don’t buy that. Favre knew a bunch of plays last year and the offense, except in the Giants game, ran like a well-oiled machine. Also, if the offense right now is so geared toward Rodgers, isn’t that a bit dangerous – putting all the eggs in one basket – for a guy who has been injured twice in limited action?
  12. I really feel like I need to know, for my own mental health, what exactly happened to make both parties so pissed off. It still doesn’t add up that Favre would act like this. We all knew he needed some convincing and coddling to return, but none of us have seen such a nasty side of Favre before. As I’ve written a few times – nasty behavior doesn’t come out of nowhere. In mental health, you study behavior patterns and considering that he had never shown a public behavior pattern like this before, I think the inescapable conclusion is that there was some precipitating event that made him so angry with the team that he wasn’t sure what to do or say. And he didn’t manage himself well at all feeling like this. He seemed kind of all over the place when he talked about all this.
  13. I don’t like TT and his personality. I’ve never been much into that personality. And I can say safely if Rodgers doesn’t pan out, TT’s time in Green Bay may be limited.
  14. One question I have is just how good does TT think Rodgers will be? He took a huge risk by at least setting the Favre-out movement in motion. Bob McGinn writes “the Packers concluded that it would be the MOTHER OF ALL MISTAKES if Aaron Rodgers got away without being properly evaluated as a starter”. Really? The Mother of ALL Mistakes? That’s overstating unless someone thinks Rodgers is the next Montana.
  15. Something happened in this whole process to seemingly cool Favre’s relationship with McCarthy as well. I wonder what that is.
  16. Favre did choose to retire. There was pressure, yes, but he did make that choice and if he’d waited or perhaps chosen to come back and then retired later, that might have worked out better.
  17. If TT is right about all of this and the packers get back into the playoffs and go deep in the next couples years, many many people will have to give credit where credit is due and TT would probably have to go down with Ron Wolf as one of the better GMs in the game. I won’t rule out that possibility and I’ll certainly cheer hard for it.
  18. Lastly, I’m glad that TT managed to get something for Favre. While it’s still not enough, considering all that happened, it was a decent salvage effort for which he deserves some credit.

Packer Super Bowl Odds get worse, Jets improve

August 8, 2008

On WTMJ radio this morning, host Jon Jagler said that the Packers, who had 10 to 1 odds to win the Super Bowl with Favre have dropped to 20 to 1 with Rodgers. The Jets Super Bowl chances went from 40 to 1 pre-Favre to 30 to 1 with Favre. For more odds, check Silversteins blog post here.

STEVE ADDS: ESPN had a similar thing on FavreCenter SportsCenter this morning. Those odds were more dramatic for the Jets and less for the Packers. Going from memory, here: The Jets went from
75 to 1 before Favre to 30 to 1 now. And the Packers fell from 10 to 1 to 15 to 1. (Okay, I was close.)  Jets went from 75-1 on January 13 to 15-1 on August 7.  The Packers odds on the same two dates were 15-2 and 10-1.  (ESPN’s reporting on this is misleading, however, when they claim that the Packers odds “fell” to 10-1 without Favre.  Favre had not yet retired on January 13, when the odds were 15-2, and I think most people assumed he’d come back.)

Also, what does Rachel Nichols do with her arms when she reports? Look carefully. She holds them at an angle, slightly away from her sides and arches her back like she’s being held-up at gunpoint. Every so often, her arms move slightly up and down, as if she’s trying to take off in flight in the middle of her stand-up.

Jets More Likely to Make Playoffs?

August 7, 2008

There is much to ignore in all of the analysis of the Brett Favre-to-the-Jets trade. So we’ll ignore most of it.

But this caught my interest. In a panel discussion on ESPN last night, all four ESPN NFL analysts said that the Jets were more likely than the Packers to reach the playoffs this year. The panelists were: Michael Irvin, Tom Jackson, Cris Carter and Emmit Smith.

I think they’re crazy. Let’s mark this prediction and return to it in January 2009.

Also, a bit of trivia: Favre will not only be reunited in New York with former Packer tight end Bubba Franks. He will also get to throw to former Packer draftee David Clowney. Clowney, picked in the 5th round last year, played in the Jets game last night against Cleveland. He caught 4 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns.

Got to love the preseason.

A PackerGeeks Swear Jar

August 7, 2008

We’ve all probably been dropping s-bombs, f-bombs and other bombs a little bit more than usual. So we’re thinking about starting a PackerGeeks “Swear Jar,” like the one discussed below. Of course, ours would buy Pabst, not Bud Light, even though Pabst has thus far neglected to sponsor PackerGeeks.

So let me make the first contribution: I think I can say, on behalf of Packer fans everywhere, although it’s been a s****y month at least we’re not like the a******s that support the Vikings. Pabst on me at the first PackerGeeks tailgate party — details to come.

Odds and dead-ends

August 7, 2008

Editor’s Note: Jim posted this nearly early Wednesday evening and because of an editing glitch, I neglected to post it until now.  It holds up incredibly well.  My apologies. SFH

It is clear this saga is ending the way it began: with very clear indications that if TT had simply shown Favre love and attention the Pack would have its best shot at winning in camp and at the helm. I manage a bunch of people, some I like more than others. Some need special attention I don’t much care to give. That is the job of a manager. It does not take an advance degree in human studies to realize Favre craves and needs public displays of affection – much more than your average guy. He wants to be loved, often and in a very expressive way. He thrives on emotion, and this cuts many ways. It allows him to play through pain, celebrate like a punch-drunk kid after a TD and throw a temper tantrum when he feels slighted.

He wanted love when he was considering retiring, when he retired, when he considered unretiring and then cried for it the past month in very public and embarrassing ways.

It is clear from the public comments of the past 48 hours that a simple realization of this – and some public groveling – would have lured Favre back. There is plenty of blame to go around here, folks. But it is indisputable that if TT had done his job and played to the strengths and weaknesses of his star player much of this could have been avoided. Yes, that would have required TT to show extreme humility and maybe even a hint of weakness. TT did not want to do that – and we may never know why.


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