Archive for February, 2009

McCarthy facing must-win season

February 5, 2009

We have written on a few occasions about how this season will be a critical one for the future of the franchise, particularly for Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy. If it’s bad, TT and MM may both be ushered out. If it’s OK (.500ish), my guess is that they’ll be given one more year to improve the team. If it’s good, they may end up being safe through the respective ends of their contracts.

Rob Reischel, a writer I must admit I’m not too familiar with, wrote a thoughtful piece this morning over at jsonline. Read here. His contention is similar to ours’ – that MM in particular needs to put together a decent season or he could lose his job.

For what it’s worth, I want to clarify my present position on Mike McCarthy. I know we were critical of him last year and I stand by that criticism. He made poor decisions at some crucial moments and his play-calling didn’t flow well too often. And, our team finished a disappointing 6-10 – which was due to some seriously poor play by some of our players, but also coaching. I like that MM took ownership of this – the first step to improving oneself of course, is admitting the problem (actually, that’s not really true – the first step is creating a problem in the first place, then you can admit it…)

But I still think he’s a good coach. I think this year, we’ll be reminded quickly that our coach does indeed have a gifted offensive mind. I have a hunch that because McCarthy has put the defense in the hands of someone he has more faith in, he’ll be able to focus more on offense. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pack’s offense ends up a top 5 offense this coming year (don’t want to reveal too much this early, but for some reason, I’m quite optimistic about this coming season). Anyway, I just wanted to make sure readers knew that I do support McCarthy and thinks he’s a good coach. Of course, if we’re 2-14 next year, I reserve the right to modify my opinion!

The Breathe Right wager

February 5, 2009

I have a sneaking suspicion that the Breathe Right company got its start because of a wager. I think two guys got hammered and one said to the other:

Guy 1: Dude, I’m so good at marketing, I’ll bet you $50 that I can get a quarter of the country to regularly wear strips of tape on their noses.

Guy 2: You’re on.

Tony Gonzalez still wants out?

February 4, 2009

Read here from Yahoo Sports. Tony Gonzalez is still talking about leaving KC. While he isn’t getting younger, all he did this year since Packergeeks lobbied hard for a mid-season trade, is dominate the TE position and end up in the Pro Bowl. His stats this past year were like WR stats. Unreal. He can still play and while he may have lost some speed etc, I think he’ll always have that ability to create space for himself to catch the ball. He uses his body so well and has such good hands. At the very least for the next year or two, he would remain a guy defenses have to account for – pay special attention to.

I’m not sure, however, that the Packers would qualify for Gonzalez as a team with possible Super Bowl chances – which is what he’s apparently looking for. We could trade Poppinga and then tell KC that as hard as it would be for us, because we view him as the next Urlacher, we’d throw in Spencer Havner. See if they buy it…

Possible 3-4 line-ups, here we go

February 4, 2009

I had originally written this post several weeks ago (early Jan). I suspected Kampman would be made into an OLB (in the mold of Mike Vrabel). Now that we know that this is apparently where he’ll play for sure (read here for more), check out some of the following line-up possibilities – I’ve taken into consideration free agent options here. Who do you think will start for our front 7 this year?

  • 3=Peppers, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Kampman, James Farrior, Barnett, Chillar;
  • 3=Jolly, Pickett, Jenkins; 4 = Kampman, Ray Lewis, Barnett, Hawk
  • 3=Jolly, Pickett, Jenkins; 4 = Jason Taylor, Barnett, Karlos Dansby, Kampman
  • Pickett, BJ Raji (read here from Boston College), Jenkins; 4=Kampman, Barnett, Farrior, Suggs
  • 3=Peppers, Pickett, Jenkins; 4 = Kampman, draft pick like Ray Maualuga from USC (Pmenadue’s suggestion), Barnett, Chillar
  • 3=Jenkins, Pickett, Jolly; 4=Suggs, Dansby, Barnett, Kampman
  • 3=Jolly, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Chillar, Kampman, Barnett, Suggs
  • 3=Jolly, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Kampman, D Bishop, Barnett, Hawk
  • 3=Chris Canty, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Chillar, Dansby, Farrior, Barnett
  • 3=Chris Canty, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Chillar, Barnett, Bishop, Suggs
  • 3=Peppers, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Kampman, Dansby, Barnett, Jason Taylor
  • 3=Peppers, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Kampman, D Bishop, Barnett, Suggs
  • 3=Peppers, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Kampman, Barnett, Hawk, Suggs
  • 3=Pickett, new huge fat guy through draft, Jenkins; 4=Kampman, Barnett, Mike Peterson, Suggs

Trade the guys who are left off, or just use them as back-ups. For those questioning the idea of putting Kampman at OLB, consider that Mike Vrabel, OLB for the NE Patriots is also 6’4″ in the 260s – and that Kampman filling gaps as a LB might be really helpful for stopping the run. (Though I’d even consider putting Kampman at ILB between two speedy players like Barnett and Chillar.) Anyway, we need better talent in this front 7 than we have presently, but we don’t need 7 new guys. We need 2-3 new guys to step in and I think there will be some decent options in free agency.

Imagine a defense that would have Aaron Kampman lining up as an OLB on the same side as Julius Peppers – only to have Terrell Suggs and Jenkins coming at you from the other side while Barnett and/or James Farrior or Ray Lewis or Bart Scott or Desmond Bishop or Karlos Dansby man the middle. Then, imagine a QB having less than a second to figure out where to throw the ball while Woodson and Collins are just waiting for an interception to run back. Throw in a few nasty hits by Atari Bigby (or a free agent safety like Leonhard, Dawkins or Atogwe) and blanket coverage by Al Harris and suddenly, we’re the Green Bay Steelers.

Anyway, I’m getting out of control here but my point is this: there are lots of ways to go as far as staffing this 3-4 and I am excited for it. In fact, I have decided to go on record here guaranteeing that the 2009 defense will be a top 12 defense.

UPDATE: Bad news for me. I just learned that James Farrior, a guy I thought would look great next to Nick Barnett in a 3-4 line-up, apparently signed a contract extension with Pittsburgh in August – a 5 year deal for a 34 year old player. That’s how good this guy is. Too bad.

What do folks think of Travis Beckum?

February 3, 2009

Many of us have watched this guy play over the last few years for the Badgers. I remember thinking to myself that he was making a mistake by not coming out after his monster 2007 season. And man, was he good that year. Double-triple teams…didn’t matter. He was thrown to on half of their offensive plays it seemed and he caught just about everything that came his way. He is incredibly athletic (assuming he recovers from his injuries OK) and a smart football player.

I wouldn’t look at him with our first few picks, but if he is around when we’re picking in the late 3rd or 4th round, I think we ought to consider him. He is not a great blocker and would probably need to bulk up to be a more productive TE in the NFL. But he is a crisp route runner, has amazing pass-catching talent (great hands, very good at adapting to poorly thrown balls), and he is quite fast for a TE (4.59 40). He is the kind of player who developed so quickly into one of the premiere college TEs that with some good coaching, could probably develop quickly into a viable NFL TE. For some reason, I just have confidence that Beckum is going to be a quality NFL player.

With Andy — Cardinals

February 1, 2009

I agree with Andy’s bottom line: The Steelers are a better team but Cardinals are better right now.

I’ve been a Cardinals fan for a few years now — they’re my #2 team, I suppose — mostly because they’re the most exciting 4pm game to watch after catching the Packers in the early game. But I’ve always liked Kurt Warner (if not his wife) and they’re just so damn exciting.

I think Cardinals will win in a relatively close game or the Steelers will win in a complete blowout. How’s that for hedging? My pick, though, is the Cardinals.

STEVE ADDS: I suck.  “I think Cardinals will win in a relatively close game or the Steelers will win in a complete blowout.”  I hedged and I couldn’t get it right.


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