Archive for December, 2011

Game Thoughts Packers/Bears

December 25, 2011
  • Nice halftime turnaround by McCarthy and staff. Sounds like he lit into the guys a bit and it may have sparked the sharper play, especially from the offense, in the second half. Chicago at this point anyway, had no business being on the field with this Packer team. They have become horrible and this game shouldn’t have been as close as it was in the first half. So I’m glad things evolved the way they should have.
  • Our defense continues to be a concern. Yes, Josh McCown playing shockingly well for a guy off the street – but overall, we simply aren’t getting it done on defense. Again, just to clarify – my main concern about our defense is for the playoffs. We have been giving up huge yards and easy drives to crappy offenses lately. Every team in the playoffs (both NFC and AFC) will have a good offense – probably San Fran being the weakest. And every team will likely may our D pay if we just let them march down the field.
  • We gave up 199 yards rushing to a 3rd string RB, 4th string RB and a just-picked-up-off-the-street QB. Not good.
  • While the D is certainly troublesome, I do have to say that the forced turnovers ease my mind some. The D is really good at forcing turnovers and this really helps swing the momentum of games.
  • Rodgers is fantastic. I figured last week was an aberration.
  • Game ball goes to the O-Line. They looked really good both in the pass game and run game. That is coaching right there. To prepare a bunch of guys to play different than normal positions against a quality 4 man pass rush says a lot about the coaching on the Packers. The players themselves obviously did well too to execute – but they were well prepared.
  • So’oto had some disruptive play tonight and I liked seeing that. Seemed he came in at ROLB before McCarthy yanked the rest of the starters so I wonder if Walden got pulled again. Should have. He just doesn’t do much.
  • Nice to see James Jones with a couple big catches and 2 TDs. It’s important that more peripheral guys like Jones finish well and have momentum going into the playoffs because I think these are the guys who might really end up being the difference makers (think Jordy last year). Driver has been making noise recently too and that should also help.
  • Overall, I’m just very pleased we turned things around in the second half. I was worked up after the lackluster showing in the first half – as I just didn’t see the sense of urgency the team will be needing on all units come playoff time. So I was really pleased to see that adjustments were made. The Packers have had a phenomenal season this year and should be proud. They should definitely rest the starters for most of the game next week and not risk anything.

Defense playing better in second half

December 25, 2011

Despite the fact that they gave up 3 points in the first half and 7 in the second so far, they are playing better in this half. Just seem more active out there.

 

So’oto getting more pressure already

December 25, 2011

I like that he’s in there. He’s aggressive and already doing more than Walden. I think his pressure on the previous plays (and on this play) in fact was a big reason for the Packers’ pick there. Nice.

 

Route on – Newhouse doing a good job no?

December 25, 2011

So far Peppers doesn’t have a tackle or a sack and it really seems like the battle over there has been won definitively by Newhouse. We’re probably bringing help or something but he’s been quite good.

Aaron Rodgers and anticipation

December 25, 2011

One thing I’ve noticed about Rodgers over time is that he is an expert at diagnosing the defense. He knows what’s coming better than just about any QB out there and I think that is often what sets him apart. He can anticipate what’s coming so well both before the play and during the play. This was clearly exemplified when he motioned for Jones to move out wider on that goal-line TD because he saw that Jones would be in single coverage. Of course part of that is play design (moving Finley in motion forced the safety to leave that area). But Rodgers is just a very heady guy who has the power to anticipate.

Why does this matter – because elite athletes in any sport are good at anticipating. It is a core fundamental of greatness in sport. Think of great batters, great tennis players, great basketball players, great hockey/soccer players. All of the elite folks in these sports have serious ability to anticipate what’s going to happen. I’ve been to one NHL game in my life. It happened to be one that featured Wayne Gretzky. What a treat. The guy was absolutely unreal to watch live. He could see plays develop 3-4 plays in advance. He had 1 goal and 3 assists I believe in that game. On the second assist, his decision to pass to one of his trailing teammates was based on him anticipating that the defender would favor another teammate. And on another play it looked like he was going to be creamed by some thug on the other team when he correctly guessed which way the guy would go and the guy made a fool of himself smashing into the glass. Anyway, the point is that anticipation helped him make great plays that average guys simply couldn’t have pulled off. Rodgers has that same quality of anticipation – and other QBs who don’t have this quality aren’t elite.

Blow them away now – come on defense

December 25, 2011

Rodgers and the offense are back. Now it’s time for the defense to rise up and shut the door on this weak rival.

Going to post soon on Rodgers and anticipation

December 25, 2011

I have some thoughts on how anticipation may be the single biggest factor in greatness in sports. I’ll explain in a minute here – but it builds off of what Collinsworth was outlining on the James Jones TD – Rodgers knew that was coming 10 seconds before the ball was snapped…

This is not a good game

December 25, 2011
  • just getting to the internet now – have been visiting some lifelong friends (thanks for having us Schaef!).
  • I’m just not impressed with the Packers tonight. There are lots of guys I want to call out so far.
  • I’ll start with Capers. Come on. Even though Martz loves to throw, you have to know that they will be running a ton when they have a new starting QB. You HAVE to know they’d gameplan to run the ball.
  • Our defense has been absolutely pathetic stopping the run. Pathetic. Again, we know they are going to run a bunch – so make the play.
  • Whenever Roy Williams catches a pass, it is a massive mistake by the entire defense. That guy is so slow it’s…spectacular.
  • AJ Hawk is just terrible. He had one OK play – but even that was a play when it happened that nobody blocked him. He has missed 3 tackles by my count and otherwise just taken way too many blocks. He and Walden are liabilities out there right now.
  • Woodson is a trooper. He makes plays and sometimes it seems he’s the only one doing anything out there.
  • All that said, Matthews has been impressive tonight – a couple tremendous effort plays.

Ok – we just scored. We should be scoring likeĀ  this. This game shouldn’t even be close. Chicago is awful and we’re making them look decent. I want to destroy these guys in the second half.

Packers/Bears Preview

December 25, 2011
  • The Packers need to win this game. Not only is home-field still up in the air, but the team needs to recapture the momentum it has had for much of the season.
  • The Chiefs aren’t that good. That was one of those situations when things just fall perfectly into place for a team. New head coach (who is a heck of a lot nicer than the previous one), new QB who can throw the ball within 10 feet of his WRs (Tyler Palko may have been the worst NFL QB I’ve seen in decades) and the serious home field advantage KC enjoys. Throw all this together with a sloppy, uninspired outing by our Pack and you have an upset. That was not the real Pack and it was not the real Chiefs either.
  • Chicago is now simply an annoying team. The Cutler and Forte injuries have hurt them massively. They were playing much better (when both were still healthy) than I thought they would this year. But they simply have not adapted well at all. Great teams can adapt even in the face of serious adversity. Chicago is not great. They haven’t played an overly difficult schedule or anything – accounting for the recent spate of losses – they just haven’t done anything to even slightly fill the void left by these two. It’s hard to believe Caleb Hanie lasted as many games as he did – but I don’t think Josh McCown will be the answer either.
  • We need to pressure the ____ out of Josh McCown. He’s not a bad QB, but he’s not that good either…he wouldn’t have been available if he were good. I had suggested earlier in the week possibly moving Bishop to ROLB, benching Walden and moving Francois into Bishop’s spot. I like this idea still but I guess I do agree with some of you who worry that by moving Bishop, we’d be losing some of his unique talents in the middle (especially stopping the run and rushing the passer). Maybe move Francois to ROLB.
  • Why am I so high on Francois? He’s tremendously athletic and he’s looked good generally in the 2 games he’s started. But importantly, much like Bishop a few years ago – the guy makes plays. AJ Hawk doesn’t. I’m repeating myself here I know because I made the same argument for Bishop a few years ago. But Francois has started 2 games this year and he’s forced 3 turnovers – 2 interceptions and 1 forced fumble. He’s also had 3 passes defensed – to go along with a number of tackles. Compare this to Hawk who has 3 passes defensed in 13 starts this year – and no forced fumbles or picks. (In fact, Francois has forced as many turnovers in 2 games started as Hawk has going back to the beginning of the 2010 regular season and this one – 3). I don’t care how “assignment sure” Hawk is or how well he “leads the defense”. Francois has done more in 2 starts than Hawk has done all year. I know there are plenty of Hawk defenders still out there – and after his better overallĀ  play last year I can’t say defending him is a ridiculous position. But within the next year or two when we have another guy in there who does much more, I think folks will realize why I’ve been campaigning against him like I have. All this said I hope Hawk has a big-time performance tonight.
  • If we get more pressure, people will be reminded quickly of how talented our CBs can be when they don’t have to defend back there for 10 seconds a pass. The Bears O-Line has been beaten up this year and we should be able to rattle McCown.
  • Starting RB Khalil Bell will be pumped about starting and may break off a few big gainers – but I see him mostly doing nothing.
  • Rodgers will be playing angry tonight. The guy was really shooting for a perfect season – it’s just who he is. So I think he will be very sharp and generally very good tonight. My only concern is the Bears injuring him – especially if Rodgers is trying to win so badly that he makes some poor decisions re running the ball.
  • Nelson had some bad calls against him early in the game last week and I think it distracted him or something. While Rodgers was also running for his life, I think the WRs weren’t on their game last week.
  • Our O-Line will need to step up tonight. Peppers being out there always scares me – even when we’re at full strength. Right now we’re nowhere near full strength. Hopefully the guys got coached up this week and know the game plan. One limitation whenever there are fairly significant personnel changes on the line (I’d imagine anyway) is with playcalling. These newer guys probably don’t have much experience executing all the plays in the playbook – so McCarthy and Rodgers may be limited to some extent with playcalling.
  • The above point shouldn’t matter. The Bears will be exposed tonight by our high-octane offense.
  • I can see Chicago making a big play early and then getting all cocky about it. They’ll show guys like Urlacher and Lovie on the sideline smiling or feeling good – only to have the Packers go into route mode – and blow them out. I don’t like this game for Chicago even though they typically play us tough.
  • Packers 43, Chicago 16.

Wanted: ROLB

December 21, 2011

Clay Matthews has 6 sacks this year…6. That is terrible. Yes, he has two picks and two forced fumbles (including 1 pick six). Those plays were definitely huge. But Clay Matthews is in there as a sack guy and he’s not getting sacks. He is getting some pressures, but he’s not getting home. So, What else is going on besides Matthews simply underperforming?

The Packers are 26th in the NFL in sacks right now. That is also terrible. I don’t think it’s possible at this point to overstate how much we miss Cullen Jenkins. (Jenkins has 5.5 sacks for Philly – and he’s not even playing DE, he’s playing DT.) While TT and MM and Capers usually do a decent job of preparing guys to step up in the case of injury/departure, they have not made the kinds of adjustments needed to fill the void left by Jenkins. Walden isn’t cutting it pressure-wise. Wynn and Wilson don’t bring enough. Zombo is injury-prone and simply not that effective anyway. We need a beast on that side to disrupt the passer.

One thought I had about 10 seconds ago, was that the Packers ought to consider moving Bishop to the right side. Hawk apparently is entrenched in the middle (despite often being ineffective), but either DJ Smith or Francois seem to be solid enough to leave in there in place of Bishop in the middle. I particularly like Francois because he appears to be better in coverage than the other 3 MLBs. Bishop is a nasty pass rusher (5 sacks from a MLB position) and if he had a few more chances to bring it opposite Matthews, I think they could end up being a very disruptive duo. We’re at that point where we might as well consider something like this because if we don’t, our secondary is going to continue to get shelled by opposing QBs because nobody can cover WRs for 10 seconds on each play.

Or – I suppose we could also look at Francois or DJ Smith at ROLB. Both of those guys would be better than Walden.


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