Archive for October, 2008

Best stadiums in the NFL – Lambeau #1

October 15, 2008

I could have sworn sportsillustrated.com published this exact same survey not long ago. Anyway, perhaps this is an updated survey or something (or maybe I’m thinking of their baseball stadium survey…you know what…that was baseball and Miller Park was ranked 2nd for overall fan experience). Anyway, check out the above link to feel even better about being a Packer fan and even more grateful you’re not a Vikes or Lions fan.

Could we have offered a conditional pick for Gonzalez?

October 15, 2008

I promise, I’ll let this go soon – but still thinking re Gonzalez. I’m wondering if perhaps we could have swung a deal with KC similar to the one we set-up for Favre – if Gonzalez produces nicely for us this year and plays a lot, we would give up a 2nd round pick in 2009, but if he gets hurt or is not great, it bumps down to a 3rd or 4th round pick. Maybe we did make some conditional offers but the Chiefs were being ridiculous. Perhaps the Chiefs would have just pushed it until we had Rodgers, Jennings and Woodson on the table – who knows. Ok, I’ll shut up.

More support for TT’s trade efforts for Gonzalez?

October 15, 2008

Read here from Jay Glazer at foxsports.com. Funny, apparently Gonzalez himself didn’t think he was worth a 2nd round pick (though he says that with a bias considering he wants out so badly). Perhaps, as reader Joe points out, this was more of a situation where the Chiefs may not have been as willing to part with him as they initially indicated. They apparently told Gonzalez they’d be willing to consider a 3rd round pick but eventually backed off that offer when 2 teams came forward with that offer. In TT’s defense, he may have been dealing with a shifty/uncommitted trade partner. Gonzalez sounds ticked off in this interview – like he’d been misled by management.

Packers tried to get Gonzalez

October 15, 2008

Ok – I’m at least pleased that the Packers made a good run at Gonzalez. But I am worried about the pattern McGinn points out where TT tends to fall just short on our bids to pick up marque players. Read here from jsonline for more details. We apparently offered KC a 3rd round pick for Gonzalez, compensation I think is fair, but KC turned it down demanding a 2nd round pick. In the end, TT was unwilling to part with a 2nd round pick.

On the one hand, I can understand not wanting to give up too much for a 32 year old veteran who is still very good, but who is not getting younger. The fact that other teams seemed to value Gonzalez less and offer less is an indication to me that the Packers, by upping their offer to a 3rd round pick, were very serious and made a strong effort to make this happen. (And Gonzalez is apparently livid this didn’t go through – wanted to join the Packers). I am pleased that they considered this and had the football sense to consider adding a player who could contribute right away. (McGinn’s mention of Gonzalez’ value as a possession target, by the way, is dead on – he’s both tall and big/muscular so he can camp out in the zone with a guy all over him but still make the catch because he’s so huge).

That said, this failure to get Gonzalez along with the other misses (Moss, Turner – and other free agents TT didn’t even try to pick up) has furthered my belief that TT overvalues draft picks. Yes, his draft-first method has worked well overall for the most part and yes, it’s nice to have a constant influx of quality young players streaming in each year that our staff can development in our system. Makes sense. And, when McGinn points to TT’s overall 2nd round success (Collins, Jennings, Jackson – sort of, Nelson – sort of), it may seem understandable that he’d be reluctant to give that pick up. (I also think TT is a 2nd round guy – that’s his favorite draft round and the one where he finds the most value). But the problem I have with relying so heavily on this one method of acquiring players is that there is risk there too. As my grandmother always says “everything in moderation”. Free agents/traded players have value too. It’s not a slam dunk that a 2nd round pick will be a contributing member of the team within his first few years – or ever. With a proven veteran like Tony Gonzalez, removing the possibility of injury because it exists for Gonzalez as well as any 2nd round pick, it is a slam dunk that the guy will come in and contribute immediately. (Not sure what all this slam dunking is about – though it is appropriate in a way as I believe Gonzalez had a tryout a few years ago with the Orlando Magic). And, if he is truly interested in playing for 3 years (especially at a position where losing speed is a little less important), you have some assurance that you’ll enjoy his contributions for a few years yet.

What I’m getting at is that as GM, I would have probably wavered a bit, but in the end, I would have taken Gonzalez for a 2nd round pick. He not only would have brought quality play, which is most important, but he is a big-time leader and he would inject an element of excitement into this team. I think about the Woodson signing and how well that has worked out and think this would work out for very similar reasons – extremely gifted athlete, still making exceptional plays, still hungry to be good, wanting to win badly. But I would argue Gonzalez has greater leadership skills that would have also helped center the offense a bit better.

In the very end though, I am at least pleased that TT made a run at Gonzalez – just disappointed it fell short.

Lions give up Roy Williams – get new franchise

October 14, 2008

Wow – it doesn’t seem like a total crack deal, maybe just a regular crack deal that would leave Detroit with 1st, 3rd, and 6th round picks in 2009 from the Cowboys for the unhappy and lately, unproductive Roy Williams. I think this is a very clear sign that Matt Millen is no longer at the helm. Read here for the details.

While adding WIlliams certainly makes the Cowboys even scarier, (stop and think for a moment re their offense: Williams, Owens, Witten, Barber, Jones), the Cowboys sure gave up a lot to get him. Detroit did well to get rid of a player who didn’t want to be there.

Even more on the Grant/O-Line debate

October 14, 2008

As Steve said- as usual, lots of good thoughts on this stuff. As I posted earlier and some of you seem to agree with (DaveK etc), I don’t think it’s just an O-Line/Grant thing here. I think a good part of this is that the defenses know what is coming at them – particularly in the running game. I have been thinking about this. Is this because they have watched film from this year and last year and their defensive coordinators have adequately prepared them? Is it because our O-Line guys are so incredibly slow that they telegraph their movements to defensive players who are faster? Is it because every time Rodgers hands off (Favre did this too), he reaches out his arm in a very obvious hand-off motion and very obviously hands the ball off to Grant who is very obviously heading in a certain direction? (By the way, when he does this but fakes the hand off that does work well). Does this happen because MM’s overall play-calling simply isn’t as creative or because he’s holding something back due to pass rush worries and a newer QB (like keeping TEs home to block)? Are defenses stacking the box to shut down the run challenging Rodgers to make tough throws to beat them? (I’d love for you DVR people to check into whether or not opponents are putting more in the box – it seemed against Dallas, the safeties were at least cheating forward to plug running holes and cut off the slant routes – by the way, nice research before Ron L on which side Grant runs to…interesting).

It’s hard to say, but I keep going back to the Dallas game which I watched live and I remember seeing their LBs and safeties especially, being all over the plays – almost just knowing what was coming. I think some misdirection plays and screens and even a trick play or two need to get worked in more effectively to keep some of these defenses guessing more than it appears they have to now. In sum, I don’t think Grant has been terrible (could be better) and I don’t think the O-Line has been good, but I think the defenses we’re playing know what’s coming and we have to shake that up a bit.

Pacman Jones Suspended — Kudos to Goodell

October 14, 2008

Via Chris Mortensen comes news that Pacman Jones has been suspended indefinitely, and at least for four weeks.  Good.

After getting a fifteenth second-chance — making Pacman Jones something like North Korea — (Ed: Sorry, it’s true) Jones may actually have to face the consequences of his idiocy.  The guy is a disgrace and the fact that he was on the field at all this year is an embarassment to the NFL.

Almost as bad are the actions of Jerry Jones in this who, having made a dumb investment in a repeat criminal, has been speaking out publicly in defense of Pacman.  I heard a clip of Jones on Sirius NFL Radio this morning saying that it was no big deal, that Pacman’s bodyguards had gotten into a little fight at a nightclub, that we all make mistakes.  What a moron.  His leaderless team is falling apart and I’m going to enjoy watching every minute of it.

More on Grant and the O-Line

October 14, 2008

Lots of good comments on the post below about Ryan Grant and the offensive line.  I’m posting my response  here to keep the conversation going and, mostly, because I wrote a lot of words and it’ll make it look like I’m posting a lot more than Andy, who is a scrub

Let me say, too, that I’m a big Ryan Grant fan.  I liked him after seeing him in the preseason last year before he signed with the Packers and I was thrilled when we acquired him.  And I touted him all last year and thought we should sign him to a big contract.  So, yes, I’ve got a rooting interest.

But I find it amusing that some people thought it was too early to sign Grant to a long-term deal after his extraordinary ten-game stretch last year, but now seem ready to declare him “average” after six games this year.  Maybe I’m wrong, but that feels a lot more like someone trying validate their previous skepticism than giving us dispassionate analysis.

Responding to this post, PackerAaron wrote: “So when McCarthy was talking up Jackson, it was obvious coach speak. But when he’s supporting your argument, he’s telling it like it is? Please.”

Umm, yes.  That’s exactly what it was because the situations are completely different.  Before the season, McCarthy and Ted Thompson were trying to get Grant into camp and, in my view, using Jackson as a threat.  It was smart.  That doesn’t mean Jackson wasn’t playing better, it just means that they were touting him publicly in order to pressure Grant (and his agent) into signing.  It’s a tactic that teams use every year.  It’s hard to believe that anyone would doubt that that’s what was happening.

Now, McCarthy is grading his players and, most important, he is calling them out when they don’t grade out well.  He’s done that this year with Clifton and Rodgers, and if memory serves, even blamed Greg Jennings one time for running the wrong route on a Rodgers pick.  So McCarthy isn’t afraid to tell us when his players — even his stars — are not playing well.

I went back and watched most of the Grant carries.  I suppose if some of you Grant skeptics are watching coach’s film you saw holes that I did not.  But watching it on TV, there were very few.  The worst came on a handoff to the left in the third quarter, when he missed a cutback that would have gone for huge yards — maybe a touchdown — if he had beaten their corner (who was coming on a delayed blitz).

As McCarthy explained this morning on Sirius NFL Radio, after explaining exactly how the grading system works, Grant graded out well.  The line simply didn’t create holes.

If any of the Grant skeptics have the game DVR’d and can point to specific plays, I’ll be happy to take another look.

It’s the O-Line, Not Grant

October 14, 2008

Aaron at Cheesehead.tv is giving us a long “leering” look after yesterday’s game. I’m hoping that’s of the “sly” or “knowing” variety, not “desirous.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The reason? He thinks Grant sucks. He wishes we didn’t sign him to a big contract. And after Grant rushed 33 times for 90 yards on Sunday, seems to think he’s been proven right.

Nonsense.

As I wrote after the game Sunday, Grant missed a couple of holes. A couple, like two. The reality is that our offensive line has been very, very bad. There simply aren’t many holes for Grant or anyone else to run through.

After looking at the game tape, Mike McCarthy agrees. “I thought just from a decision standpoint, we grade run game decisions no different than we grade the pass protection decisions by the center, and no different than we grade the quarterback in his decision-making in the passing game, but from a decision grade, Ryan had a good day.”

Grant may end up being the bust that Aaron seems to think he is, though I’d be very surprised. But let’s reserve judgment until he actually has some holes.

To me, he looks like he has his burst back, but he’s just bursting into his own lineman. I’m guessing he has a huge day against the Colts.

ANDY ADDS: While I am not the Grant-supporter Brother Steve is, I do think he’s good with the talent to be great. And, while Brandon Jackson has certainly done well with the carries he’s had, I’m not ready to ditch Grant in favor of Jackson. I do think mixing Jackson in for a few more carries makes some sense though to give defenses a different look – but Grant still needs to be the main guy. And, while MM and others (like Brother Steve) may be looking at the O-Line, one other issue may have to do with the defenses we’re playing against. For some reason, in each of the last 4 games, the defenses we’ve played against have had a pretty good beat on where Grant was going and how to plug the holes in the zone blocking scheme. So essentially, my main concern is not that our O-Line just can’t get it together (though that is a concern), but that defenses are just better prepared to recognize running plays in this scheme. Maybe it is something the O-Line is doing to telegraph the play that’s coming, not sure. But there is just this sense I’m getting that defenses are well-prepared for what MM has coming at them. MM may need to get more creative and unleash some new plays to break that open.

Tony Gonzalez – join the Packers would ya?

October 13, 2008

A few weeks ago, in our weekly picks post, we wondered if TT was listening to the rumors that Gonzalez wants out of KC. Sounds like he really wants out now. Considering the trade deadline is tomorrow, I wonder if anyone at Packers HQ is talking about a way to bring in the Pro Bowl TE. Donald Lee is good and T Humphrey has shown some flashes of talent (Finley still looks raw and mistake prone). But adding Tony G would be an instant additional threat on our offense – both for pass receiving and blocking. He is a savvy, smart vet who could probably pick up at least some of the offense quickly. He would add value as a respected leader. He would also bring that overlooked ability to just find soft spots in defenses. And, if nothing else, he’s definitely the kind of player defenses can’t ignore – he demands attention. He would be an upgrade for the Packers.

My only concern would be that he would come with a fairly high price tag as the Chief’s are known to drive a hard bargain. If Gonzalez would agree to play for at least 2-3 more years, I think we could justify giving up a 2nd or 3rd round pick and possibly then a later round pick or a throw-in player as well. By the way, I’m not the only person to put this idea out there – this is from Peter King’s column this morning:

“I think there’s a 50-50 chance Tony Gonzalez goes to the Giants, Bills or Packers.”

UPDATE: more support for this trade over at acmepackingcompany.com. Read here.


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