Some Thoughts

by

*Anyone out there care to suggest now that I’m crazy for saying that the Packers would be lucky to be .500? I didn’t think so.

*It’s clear Mike Stock should be fired. He probably should have been fired long before this, just on performance. But his interview with Bob McGinn should have sealed the deal, as it were. Stock made clear that it’s all about him — “do you want to see my bio?” — and that performance was secondary. That’s been clear on the field all year, with Derrick Frost’s persistent mediocrity and poor special teams coverage. But it was especially on display against Carolina. Our kickoff coverage team has been awful all year long. It cost us the game on Sunday.

*For those of you who don’t like second-guessing of the playcalling — waaaah. Take your whining somewhere else. We’ll praise good playcalling when we see it — and have done so — and we’ll criticize it when we have to. If you don’t like that, too freakin’ bad.

*There was no question in my mind that the Packers should have gone for the touchdown on their final drive into Panthers’ territory rather than settle for a field goal. Even if we’d failed to convert, the Panthers would have had to drive some 60 yards in order to set themselves up for a game-winning kick. The Packers had done very little on defense, although they’d been better in the second half than the first. But of particular concern was our utter inability — again, in yet another game — to stop the opponents’ kickoff return team. (This is why I was yelling at the television — in a public bar no less — and with Andy on the phone, urging that Mike McCarthy go for the touchdown on fourth down.)

*The playcalling was terrible — running pipsqueak Brandon Jackson twice near the goal-line. The handoff to Kuhn wasn’t a bad call — but not on third and one. Should have been the call on first and goal from the seven. No pass plays? I wanted to run the clock down, too, so as to avoid giving the Panthers the ball back with much time on the clock. But the priority should have been to score a touchdown. Just weak, weak playcalling there.

*Brandon Jackson played well, though it’s unfortunate that McCarthy decided to run him twice in the red zone in the final three minutes. Terrible decisionmaking. He’s a good change-of-pace back, but he’s not the guy you want to hang your offense on as the game is winding to a close.

*The big picture is not pretty. We’ll have more on this later this week, of course. But a couple of quick thoughts. The offensive line is bad. It just isn’t good enough to open holes for runners and to protect the quarterback. On an offense with obvious strengths in the position players — Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Ryan Grant — the line is a major liability. It should be a priority for the Packers in the offseason.

The defensive line is just as bad. Aaron Kampman is a beast, but he is virtually alone on the defensive line. Ryan Pickett does a good job filling holes, just by being a fat-ass. Johnny Jolly is decent, not great. Colin Cole sucks, no matter how much the defensive coaches and some drunk fans want to make him a hero. He’s just not very good. Jeremy Thompson has some real promise, in my view. We’ll see how good he is. Justin Harrell is getting very close to the point where we can call him an absolute bust. If he doesn’t do anything next year he will be Ted Thompson’s worst pick — in both Seattle and Green Bay. And if he still sucks, let’s hope that the packers don’t continue to invest time and money in him. Cut him loose.

Our linebackers are average, at best. AJ Hawk is just a guy. He fills a hole, but is not nearly what he should be as the #5 overall pick. Brandon Chillar is exactly what he was when he got here — a backup LB with decent coverage skills. He’s nothing more. Brady Poppinga is a joke. He’s an overly-enthusiastic special teams player who has won a starting job because the Packers have no one else ot put in there. Nick Barnett was solid, but he sucked for the first half of this year — after getting his big contract. The linebackers are a major liability.

Our defensive backfield is the best in the NFL. With Charles Woodson, Al Harris, Nick Collins, and Tramon Williams — we have four of the best players in pass coverage in the league. Atari Bigby is hot and cold. Aaron Rouse is a good hitter who is somehwat weak in coverage. But as a unit, this is as good as it gets.

Bottom line: The Packers should be better than 5-7. They are not for primarily two reasons: special teams and their inability to stop the run. Even though the Packers struggled to run the ball the first half of the season, they are not hopeless on that front. They suck on special teams coverage and their run-stopping ability is awful. The playcalling has been bad. McCarthy is fond of saying that he almost always chooses the more aggressive option when he has the chance, but that’s not been evident this year. He’s been too conservative and largely ineffective.

Next year should be better than this one. The Packers have the talent to be better than a .500 team, though they won’t be this year.

UPDATE: Ryan Grant did not return to the game because he had a sprained thumb. I’m sorry, sprained thumb? Couldn’t they wrap that up? Grant just got a huge contract — and one that i think he deserved. For half a million dollars a game couldn’t Grant tough it out and get back in the game?

*Yes, there are injuries on the defensive line and our LB corps is mediocre. But should Bob Sanders be the GB defensive coordinator next year? Absolutely not.

UPDATE II: This is a smart counter-argument to my case for going for it on 4th and 1.  Wamzlee writes:

In all honesty, I would have gone for the sure-fire field goal. It put us in the lead with under two-minutes remaining and one time-out left on their side. Also, our defense had been forcing three and outs all second half except for one drive. They were well rested and should have made the stop. If our specials teams would have came through and Delhomme’s luck pass would have been deflected like it should have, we would have won the game on a kneel down by Aaron Rodgers.

In any given sunday glory, our “superb” secondary choked for a second time in a week and our special teams was as horrible as ever. I agree that Mike Stock should be fired. However, I disagree on going for it 4th and 1 with the game on the line. If anything, blame the calls on 2nd and 3rd. Running to the outside worked for us all day, it was foolish to run up the middle twice in a row. Our goal was simple, score points and then rely on our defense to do the rest. If we failed on 4th and 1 like we did on 2nd and 3rd, we would have had to rely on the defense and then worry about overtime…and I don’t like our overtime chances.

I still think we should have gone for it.  Here is the other argument.  I say win the game when you have the chance.  I don’t agree with anyone who thinks we have to put scare quotes around our “superb” secondary.  Our secondary is superb.  And if we have even a mediocre defense they would be thought of as one of the best ever.

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25 Responses to “Some Thoughts”

  1. Wamzlee Says:

    In all honesty, I would have gone for the sure-fire field goal. It put us in the lead with under two-minutes remaining and one time-out left on their side. Also, our defense had been forcing three and outs all second half except for one drive. They were well rested and should have made the stop. If our specials teams would have came through and Delhomme’s luck pass would have been deflected like it should have, we would have won the game on a kneel down by Aaron Rodgers.

    In any given sunday glory, our “superb” secondary choked for a second time in a week and our special teams was as horrible as ever. I agree that Mike Stock should be fired. However, I disagree on going for it 4th and 1 with the game on the line. If anything, blame the calls on 2nd and 3rd. Running to the outside worked for us all day, it was foolish to run up the middle twice in a row. Our goal was simple, score points and then rely on our defense to do the rest. If we failed on 4th and 1 like we did on 2nd and 3rd, we would have had to rely on the defense and then worry about overtime…and I don’t like our overtime chances.

  2. Larry the non-cable guy Says:

    I will never forget what I heard Tauscher say when I met him golfing once at University Ridge outside Madison.

    “Why would we waste the 5th pick in the draft on a guy the Badgers blocked with Owen Daniels?”

    You are so right, Hawk is just a guy. He ain’t white Jesus.

    The run defense and special teams have been a huge liability this year.

    I never would have suspected that losing Cullen Jenkins and trading Corey Williams would have made such a difference. Makes you wonder why Mr. Thompson didn’t take a chance on someone in the off season. Don’t tell me Kris Jenkins wouldn’t look good in the middle of our line.

    And I will never understand why Stock insists on kicking sky balls when you have a coverage unit that sucks. Crosby is capable of kicking it in the endzone in November. I can’t remember that last Packer kicker capable of that. Why that is not the goal every time is beyond me. I guess I’m not a genius.

    8-8 is beginning to feel like our best bet. The worst part of that will be the blame that will be shouldered by Rodgers. His only sins this season are not being Favre and being saddled with a defense that can’t protect a lead.

    This season is too reminiscent of the Packers in 78, or 84-85. Great offense at the skill positions and a defense just good enough to lose all the close games.

  3. DaveK Says:

    The Panther’s scored two TD’s in the second half. They couldn’t run the ball in the 2nd half. They couldn’t sustain a drive in the 2nd half. Their total offense in the 2nd half consisted of one long pass interference penalty and two big pass plays. Don’t give up 50 yard kick-off returns and make them drive the length of the field and they just do not score fourteen points in 4th quarter.

    The goal line play calling by MM was absurd. I was screaming at the TV for a naked bootleg by Rodgers. He could have walked in after tying his shoe the way Carolina was packing the middle. It was pure stupidity to try and run up the middle twice. He had some success with the fullback dive this season but goes to it now regardless of what the defense does to counter it. The lack of creativity in play calling just amazes me this year.

    I thought Rodgers and the offense played well. They had long sustained drivers for the 2nd game in a row. They controlled the clock and protected the ball. (Except of course for Wells 7 point gift to the Panthers before half-time) They put up 31 points and they played good enough to win this game. This is the 2nd week in a row in which the defense and ST’s failed this team.

    Well, I’ll be rooting for the Bears tonight. We at least get to play them one more time and I guess it would be easier to make up two games against them then the Vikings. I’m just not ready to talk about next year yet. We’ll have all of January till September to talk about that….

  4. Donald's Designated Driver Says:

    Breath into a paper bag or something. You criticize the play calling, but you can’t handle someone criticizing you criticizing the play calling. Waaaaah.

    As I have said elsewhere, its takes a very special type of delusion to think that after every tough loss the team would have won if only *YOU* were calling the plays. Anyhow…I am serious about that paper bag.

  5. sfhayes Says:

    DDD-And I am serious about going somewhere else. We’re happy to take criticism. We do it all the time. In a sense that’s one of the reasons we do what we do. But you’re a complete tool if you think you can come to our blog and tell us what we can and can’t write about. If you disagree with what we’ve said about playcalling, make your argument. But don’t tell us — here at our blog — that we can’t write about playcalling.

    I never said anything about the Packers winning every game if only I were calling the plays. But you know that. And of course you don’t care because you no longer actually make arguments sustained by logic and reason. You’re just here to shit on anything we write. As I say, we’re fine with criticism. And when people actually make sense (i.e. PackerAaron, Ron LaCanne, PackerBelle, Ace, Joshy, Trav, Bucky, et. al) we’ll even admit when we’re wrong. But while you used to make sense, you’ve become a useless troll — someone who has nothing better to do than whine about the opinions of football bloggers.

    I’m serious about taking your whining somewhere else.

  6. Donald's Designated Driver Says:

    Done

  7. Donald's Designated Driver Says:

    I would be interested in seeing what posts you feel have been over the line. I certainly don’t think I have resorted to calling you a “tool” or any such thing. (Nor would I).

    I’m deleting the RSS feed. The commentary on this blog has become “too conservative” anyway. Total product of the system. Overrated.

  8. Ron La Canne Says:

    DaveK,

    You mean like the one Delhomme ran for a td? That should have been the second down call. Too effective?

  9. sfhayes Says:

    DDD — Sorry you don’t think you can make valuable contributions anymore. Your early stuff was great. But given your latest rants, I’m not surprised that you’re taking the opportunity to bug out. Most of your recent posts simply don’t make sense.

    One of the things we have gone out of our way to do is to avoid the silly, juvenile namecalling that characterizes so much sportsblogging in general and, in particular, the comments sections of many football-related websites. We don’t thump our chest about it, we just avoid that. So just to clarify, I didn’t call you a tool. I did say that only a tool would come to someone else’s blog and think that it’s appropriate to dictate certain topics (i.e. playcalling) that are off-limits for discussion. It’s a fine distinction, but it’s quite revealing that you don’t see it.

    Many of us have different views about the Packers and what they should be doing on the field, in the huddle, in the front-office. We encourage the airing of those differences. As i say, it’s one of the reasons we exist. And, as you know from your regular visits, we often post the best comments that make points contrary to the ones we’ve made. (See the update above, posted well before your latest insults.) But it’s awfully presumptuous to think that you can come here and tell us what we can and can’t talk about.

  10. sfhayes Says:

    Back to football — I was saying the same thing, DaveK. Why not a naked bootleg? Rodgers is fast — he’s shown it all year. We could have done that on one of the first two downs.

  11. DaveK Says:

    Yes Ron – exactly like Delhomme’s boot-leg. You just can’t run the same 1-2 plays when you have one yard to go. Defenses do get to look at game tape! Carolina crammed everything into the middle on both those plays. You would think you might use your very athletic QB on boot-leg once awhile to throw the defense a curve ball.

  12. Ron La Canne Says:

    3D,

    We are fans. We have every right to criticize what ever we want. We may be wrong and sometimes really wrong. But being a fan allows us to be just that. No coach, no “Sports Writter”, and no one else can stop us. High ticket prices, commercial ladden games, over-priced sprots wear and paying for autographs brings with it the right to second guess. And I’ll fight for that right.

    I’m inclined to agree with the FG, but on the ensuing kickoff they should have squibed that sucker to about the 35 yard line and let it bounce to somebody. KO coverage was absolutely awful today.

    Two games out with four left means you are out of contention. Maybe not mathmatically but realistically. We are stocked with a whole lot of very ordinary to below average talent. The youth of this team is rapidly becoming its’ biggest enemy.

  13. sfhayes Says:

    Speaking of bad playcalling, amazing that Lovie Smith keeps running Matt Forte into the heart of the Vikings’ defensive line. No wonder he was stoned three times from the one yard-line shortly before the half. (The Vikings scored on a 99-yard pass play moments later.) Forte has run the ball outside twice and one of those runs went for nearly thirty yards. Mike McCarthy has given teams the model for beating the Vikings — running Grant from sideline to sideline. I’m surprised the Bears haven’t been paying attention.

  14. bucky Says:

    And when people actually make sense (i.e. PackerAaron, Ron LaCanne, PackerBelle, Ace, Joshy, Trav, Bucky, et. al) we’ll even admit when we’re wrong.

    Err- Steve, you truly won’t like me when I’m really making sense. Truly. So don’t go pulling me into your arguments.

    Look, if you want to chase away DDD, or others- hell, if you want to chase me away- that’s your right, since it’s your blog. But I gotta stick up for DDD here. You’re pretty damned thin-skinned if you can’t take his criticism. There are a good number of things wrong with this football team right now- and I think the playcalling is one of them. I don’t necessarily agree with DDD on this. I also don’t think it’s the biggest issue. Regardless, I don’t mind posting my thoughts on these problems and getting criticized for them. I also have no problem criticizing others (ie, those who continue to think that Aaron Kampman is having a great season).

    Clearly no one here has any problems criticizing those who don’t post here (including the coaching staff and admininstration). My own thoughts- for what they are worth- is that you need to simply deal with the criticism that comes with the territory.

    *edited to make this much more polite than my original intent*

  15. sfhayes Says:

    Bucky, Sorry for the compliment. In response to DDD criticism last week, I encouraged him to get more creative with his insults. So I’m fine taking criticism. I’ve got a lot of experience with it. And I’m not chasing anyone off. I merely suggested that DDD go somewhere else to whine about posts that question playcalling. Because I’m going to do it when I think it’s warranted. As I wrote: “We’re happy to take criticism. We do it all the time.”

    FWIW, I smiled the entire time I wrote this post..in response to your criticism. Thanks for weighing in.

  16. dreampipe Says:

    Look here guys.

    No self-respecting NFL coach would EVER go for it on 4th down in a tie ball game with less than 2mins remaining. You always take the points. The pleay calling error was on 3rd down just before that! WHY NOT TRY ANY MISDIRECTION AT ALL, EVEN IF YOU STILL RUN IT UP THE MIDDLE! no fakes no where, and thus easy to stop. My money play, which i was myself screaming at the TV in a public bar was fake FB, naked boot Rodgers TD! even a pass on that 3rd down would hav e been better than just running it strait ahead three straight times with no misdirection or creativity whatsoever. Playcalling was a serious factor, although not the greatest and most upsetting factor in our horrible loss today and other prior weeks. our kicking game is pitiful. kick coverage, punting, and basically every aspect of special teams save crosby’s leg and uncanny openfield tackling ability.

    Steve, 3rd and goal… misdirection, anything, counter, draw, my fake FB naked boot, any pass would have had a better chance. we we gashing them with the pass all 2nd half long. never go for it on 4th and goal at the end of a tie game.

  17. sfhayes Says:

    With you on everything but the 4th down call, though, as I say, I can see the argument for taking the points. My concern was that given our deficiencies on special teams and defense, the 7 points could have been the difference. But zero points would have been trouble — as we found out. I especially agree with you on crosby’s “uncanny openfield tackling ability.” Maybe he could play linebacker, too?

  18. dreampipe Says:

    bottom line

    the kicking game/field possition was the difference in that game. they NEVER ONCE had to drive longer than 60 yards for a TD. Five TDs on drives of 42, 55, 17, 50, and 55 yards. we could have survived those steve smith circus catches if the field possition was less out of whack. btw, if a head coach of a team i own/manage goes for it on 4th in a tie game with less than 2:00 to go and misses (here is a chance to take the lead! in close one near the end)… he’s fired before the monday morning film session.

    i’m as disgusted as the next hardcore Pack fan, but we still have an outside shot at the playoffs, right? …TT, MM need to give Todd Sauerbrun a call and let leroy butler coach special teams, anyone’s better than Mike Stock.

  19. Wamzlee Says:

    Thanks for considering my argument in your entry sfhayes! This is my first time at this blog (did a search for “aaron rodgers” right after the game was over on google blog search) and so far I am really impressed with the site. Since I haven’t been around too long, I am not too clear on what the issue is with DDD and you guys. But I feel that having my counterargument considered was pretty respectable, even if it got shot down.

    But I can sort of see where people are arguing about criticizing the playcalling. Hindsight is 20/20, and we can “Shoulda Coulda Woulda” all we want, but if everything went according to plan, the score would be 48-0, Packers win. But you know the offense got rolling on all cylinders in the second half, the way they should! McCarthy called way too many pass plays for my tastes, but you know what…they got us touchdowns.

    One play that really sticks in my mind though is that botched snap by Wells. If that didn’t happen, I wonder what position the Packers would be in?

  20. Trav Says:

    Due to the weather and normal heavy traffic heading south from GB, I had 4 hours and 37 min. (rather than the traditional <2 hrs) to discuss and debate the game with my friend who made the drive from Milwaukee with me. I am not sure if it was the amount of time we spent together trying to get home or his powers of presuasion, but I bought into his “Techmo Bowl” plan for the 3 downs at the 1. His contention was that the Packers just call 3 QB sneaks in a row if they had to, get the yard, and punch the ball in. (It was one of his go to plays from the 1 back in college with Techmo Bowl. Just run into the line and eventually he would get in from the 1.) Given the distance, the need to run some clock, and other factors, in his mind, it was the safest thing to do. I think he just wore me down in that the Tecmo Bowl option would have been better than what they had done.

    The lack of coverage on special teams and the fact that in the 2nd and 4th Q’s, Crosby could only get it to the goal line with his best kickoff effort, you knew that field position would be an issue. (which it turned out to be). In the 1st and 3rd, he was 5-8 yards deep on kickoffs.

    Looking back, I agree that the quick hitter to Kuhn would have been a great play, if used on first down. I was surprised they didn’t go play action to the TE at least one time, where Bubba and others made their living back in the day.

    On the final drive, from what I could see in my seat (and not seeing any replays as of yet), on 1st down, Jennings had a step, but was overthrown on the sideline route. Just a bad throw. Our assumption was that they would go short on 2nd down to make 3rd down more manageable. Instead, AR rolled out and threw on the run. Driver had 2 steps on the coverage, but was woefully underthrown, with Rodgers throwing off his back foot.

    The loss and the way it happened made that 4 hour ride seem like 4 days. Too frustrating.

  21. 56Coop Says:

    Does anyone know what that contraption Chillar wears on his arm is–or what it’s for?

    BTW, there are some good football minds at this blog–it’s a good read. Just reading the posts helps me keep from kickin the cat when I think about the game yesterday (Just kiddin–wouldn;t really kick my cat)

  22. bucky Says:

    Bucky, Sorry for the compliment.

    Yeah, I don’t take compliments well. If only that were my greatest failing. . . .

    In response to DDD criticism last week, I encouraged him to get more creative with his insults.

    I’m not sure what it means for DDD to “get more creative with his insults.” You bitch about playcalling, he bitches about your bitching. Sure, it gets old to read some of his criticisms, but it gets old hearing the same stuff about playcalling as well.

    So I’m fine taking criticism. I’ve got a lot of experience with it.

    Perhaps so, but I gotta say, that fact is not evident from your responses to DDD.

    And I’m not chasing anyone off. I merely suggested that DDD go somewhere else to whine about posts that question playcalling.

    What you’re saying here is you don’t want to hear this particular criticism. While it does not directly contradict your earlier statement, it’s not really consistent with it either.

    Because I’m going to do it when I think it’s warranted.

    It’s your (and Andy’s) blog, so you are of course entitled.

    As I wrote: “We’re happy to take criticism. We do it all the time.”

    That’s kinda the whole idea behind a comments-enabled blog, right? You put some ideas out there- some of which are pretty good, some which may be full of shit- and you get responses from your readers. It’s much more directly interactive than writing for a magazine or appearing on a news show; when I watched the flat-foreheaded Terry Bradshaw tell the nation that the departure of Brett Favre was the sole cause of the Packers’ troubles this season, the only creatures who benefitted from the expletives I uttered were my three cats (the wife was fortunately upstairs and out of earshot).

    That’s one of the things I like about blogs in general. I like this blog in particular because the level of discussion is exponentially higher than at, say, JSOnline, which appears to be visited only by 12 year old boys. Part of that higher level of discussion is DDD, whose points I find in general to be a lot better thought out than most. Is he right all the time? Of course not; only I am. . . .

    But I digress. He’s got a burr up his ass about criticizing the playcalling. I don’t agree with him, at least not entirely, but that’s his beef, and he’s gonna air that beef whenever the opportunity arises. I’ve got a beef about Brady Poppinga actually being paid to play professional football, and I’m gonna air my beef as well; if not here, then wherever I can, to whomever will listen (and even many who won’t, such as the aforementioned felines).

    I guess this is a long way of saying this: just let it go.

    FWIW, I smiled the entire time I wrote this post..in response to your criticism. Thanks for weighing in.

    I’m pleased that I could bring joy to someone this holiday season. I’m hopeful that our football team of choice can do the same.

  23. Aaron Says:

    56Coop – Chillar wears the brace to constrain his shoulder which he injured earlier in the year.

  24. Ace Says:

    Playcalling not the issue. In fact it was stellar for much of the game. Execution is the issue. Bad luck is the issue. O line should be able to create enough space for a back to get through most of the time. On key series Humphrey blew a block on 2d and Colledge was flattened on 3rd.
    31 points should win most NFL games. Stock is gone–influenced Ryan’s departure and engineers terrible kickoff coverage. Coaching error–last two kickoffs should have been like Carolina’s to us–grounders or squibs. Field position was key in this game–coverage and Frost made the difference. Unlucky on fumble coverage. Last year we won close games and the ball bounced right and we had few injuries. We could just as easily be 9-3 now. Look to next year—D line, linebackers, an O lineman and a PUNTER. Pack will definitely be back.

  25. awhayes Says:

    Just wanted to say something re the above comments. I want to clarify that we truly do welcome all comments on this site – including DDD’s comments. The past 2 weeks have been brutal for Packer fans as our playoff hopes dim (though there is still light…anything is possible with Frerotte and Childress). We all get worked up and ticked off about lots of things because we love our team. I have noticed, however, a few heated exchanges in the comments lately. While we continue to strive to have a wide open forum for discussion, I guess I would encourage us to move beyond these recent exchanges and get back to the norm of civil and insightful discourse re our beloved (or perhaps now beliked) Packers.

    I have to admit that I take pride in this blog in part because we appear to attract very passionate yet sensible Packer/NFL fans. Maybe it’s just a parental bias or something, but I continue to be thoroughly impressed by the consistently thoughtful commentary on this site. Under the collective direction of Packergeek Nation, the Pack might be 9-3 right now! So again, I just want to clarify that DDD and everyone else, you are always welcome at Packergeeks (and feel free to undress my next post on why the Pack may not be done yet this year).

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