Archive for the ‘Lambeau’ Category

Giants Are Dirty (To Hell with New York Media, Part III)

January 17, 2008

These guys know how to gin up a controversy.

Paul Schwartz, a columnist for the New York Post, devoted an entire column today to lamenting the fact that the New York Giants have few externalities ginning them up for the game this Sunday. The Giants, he argued, need that kind of motivation to play at their best; they need a chip on their shoulder. The article was headlined: “No Chance in Hell.” The subhead: “Hey, Blue, Pin That on Your Bulletin Board.”

Schwartz wrote:

THE PACKERS probably won’t do it, won’t comply in sucker Cowboys fashion, won’t set a dumb trap for themselves by opening their mouths or escaping Green Bay to head to a warmer spot (Nome, Alaska, perhaps?) with their celebrity babes for a few days of R&R. They won’t rile up perpetually-riled Brandon Jacobs or give Plaxico Burress the desire to once again redecorate his locker or utter as much as a peep, which is all Antonio Pierce needs to sound the alarm (or air horn).

None of this works for the Giants. Mere underdog status isn’t enough. Their coach is being hailed as The Great Communicator and their quarterback is now The Younger Brother Who Could. No one is assailing their character, commitment or confidence. For a team that admittedly thrives on beat-downs and put-downs, there’s simply not enough here to whip them into an “I told you so” frenzy…

The best way to jump-start the Giants is to disrespect them, tell them, “No you can’t” when they think “Yes we can.” It’s for their own good.

What was that about no one assailing their character? If there’s no villain, make one up.

Our friend Greg Bedard had a perfectly reasonable article this morning noting that the New York Giants have a reputation for dirty play. That’s hardly a controversial thing to say. Anybody who watched the Week 2 games must remember Plaxico Burress’s late hit on A.J. Hawk, one of the more egregious late shots I saw all season. And the Sean O’Hara hit on Aaron Kampman that serves as the basis for much of Greg’s article was just as bad. The Giants did this all year long. And Bedard started his article by pointing out that Kampman didn’t want to talk smack. “Aaron Kampman didn’t want to talk about it Wednesday. He took the rather diplomatic approach of not providing the New York Giants with anything that could be deemed bulletin-board material.” The article quoted three other Packers saying that they were aware that the Giants like to take their shots and pledging not to be baited into fighting back.

It was a good, straightforward story, but otherwise unremarkable. In typical New York fashion, if the Giants need a controversy to get fired up, count on the media to do that. By day’s end, they had.

So then came this article in the New York Post. It was splashed across the front of the New York Post website under a banner “breaking news.” And the headline “Sean Says ‘We’re Not Dirty.’”

Once again, an opponent sent disparaging words hurtling toward the unsuspecting Giants. Last week, it was mouthy Cowboys receiver Patrick Crayton who conjured up Giants trash talking (that no one quite recalled) as proof they were either scared or not confident in their ability to win at Texas Stadium. The Giants took great delight in reminding Crayton of his boastful words after their 21-17 victory bounced the Cowboys from the playoffs.

The Giants sounded slightly amused that the Packers, three days before the game to determine which team gets to Super Bowl XLII, were worried about late hits and rough stuff.

Suddenly, in a quick turn that is hard to do if you’re anywhere other than New York, it wasn’t the Giants that are a dirty team, it was the Packers who were talking smack. Huh?

“If they want to talk, let ‘em talk,” said left tackle David Diehl. Umm, who was talking?

We’ll give former Packer Grey Ruegamer the last (very tasteless) word. “Any D-linemen calling offensive linemen dirty, that’s retarded. They take their shots, we take our shots. I’m not going to go home and get whiny about it.”

Good riddance.

UPDATE: Be sure to check out some of the reactions to Greg’s piece from Giants fan. He posted the publishable ones on the JS Online Packer blog. Hilarious.

UPDATE II: Tim Canavan, an AP sports writer, quotes Grey Ruegamer a little differently in this article. Did he change the quote to make it less offensive? If so, that’s offensive.

Packers vs Giants Game Keys

January 17, 2008

1) Packers will win this game because the Giants will try to run it constantly early on and this will fail. Then, Eli will need to start throwing and that will fail. If the Giants open up with some early passing and a balanced attack, the GB defense could be in for a difficult first half anyway. But most likely, the Giants will try to overpower the Packers on the ground and this strategy will not work. Eli will struggle to be effective because he’ll be intimidated by Lambeau and a lively secondary. Look for LOTS of incomplete passes and loser faces.

2) Special Teams – The flow of this game could be interesting as lots could happen in the beginning as each team tries to set the tone. It’s likely both teams open up with a score, but then a Packers special teams return will change the game. The Packers special teams unit has gotten virtually no attention at all as experts analyze this game. It will be special teams that helps give the Pack the early lead, which will be critical in this game.

3) Pack receivers on Giants secondary. The Giants secondary would have trouble with just Driver, Lee and Jennings, not to mention Robinson, Jones, Martin, Grant and the big surprise Sunday – Korey Hall. If Favre is able to throw the ball at all (I was just outside and it’s 10 degrees and windy and miserable), the Pack could have their way with the Giants.

4) Grant being more involved in the screen game. This would help counter the pass rush of the Giants, especially when they get extra aggressive and blitz linebackers/safeties.

5) Field position – punting. Hopefully Jon Ryan has a big day because getting first downs might prove to be difficult. Feagles is one player who could be severely affected by the cold weather – just imagine your grandpa out there trying to punt. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say he either has a shank or a blocked punt or something like that as frigid weather is particularly tough on osteoperosis.

6) Coaching – McCarthy’s team came out fired up last week, but promptly went down 14-0. There is no way McCarthy will let that happen in this game. No way. This team will score very early in the game and McCarthy will be insistent on grabbing the early lead. Coughlin may have a trick or two up his sleeve, but it likely won’t work out. McCarthy also may be aggressive and try a memorable trick play, but given the weather, it too, likely won’t work.

6.5) Weather – the younger team will deal better with the weather – advantage Packers.

7) The most important key: Favre is not alone this year. Over the past 10 years, Favre has placed the burden of winning largely on his shoulders. But he finally has a coach who has effectively reassured Favre, and the rest of the team, that there are 44 other players who can AND will contribute. If Favre screws up, the defense can get the ball back with a nice turnover play or special teams can provide decent field position or Grant can break an 80 yard run, or Driver (Jennings, Jones, Martin, Robinson or Lee) can break 3 tackles to get in the end zone or a rookie kicker can make a 50 yard field goal. This may be the key of the season – less pressure on Favre.

Outdoor Practice?

January 17, 2008

According to this post at cheesehead.tv, the Giants have practiced outside two days in a row while the Packers have remained indoors.

I don’t like it.

We didn’t practice outside before the Bears game and I think that was indisputably a factor in the loss. Packer players looked almost surprised by the cold and (in particular) the wind. Even if the G-men are practicing in 40 degrees, it’s better than practicing inside.

It’s hard to second-guess much that Mike McCarthy is doing these days, but this strikes me as a potentially big mistake.

Blackmon Practices, Press Conference Transcripts

January 17, 2008

That’s the news from today’s session, courtesy Greg Bedard.

Ryan Grant is here.

Chuck Wood is here.

Donald Driver is here.

Brett Favre is here.

Ryant Grant, The High School Version

January 16, 2008

Here is an interesting piece on a young Ryan Grant. Interestingly, it sounds as though he was very close on a couple of different occasions to choosing basketball over football. Check out the photo, too.

Time for a Cold Weather Super Bowl

January 15, 2008

Given all of the NFL-wide love about last week’s Packer-Seahawks game — “that’s how football should be played!” — and the subfreezing temperatures we are almost certain to see for this week’s contest against the Giants, shouldn’t we be agitating once again for the return of the Cold Weather Super Bowl?

How is it that the NFL, the manliest of manly sports, has to play its championship game in warm weather or, worse, indoors? I made the case for a Cold Weather Super Bowl in the Wall Street Journal five years ago and after a brief flurry of activity (lots of talk radio love), the idea slowly melted away.

Let’s bring it back.

Over the course of a 16-game season, an avid fan of the National Football League typically sees several dozen serious injuries. This is to be expected in a game that features 300-pound men running at one another–at full speed–like battering bighorns on the Animal Planet. (The difference is that the men are paid and, in many cases, have verbal faculties.) Over the 36-year history of the modern NFL, fans have been treated to bone-jarring hits, violent tackles and powerful blocks, resulting in hundreds of severe concussions, dislocated shoulders and mangled knees. And all of this is legal.

But one thing these fans have never seen is a cold-weather Super Bowl. A 1966 NFL rule prohibits the league from awarding outdoor Super Bowls to cities where the mean temperature at game time is below 50 degrees. True, the NFL has lots of stupid rules–banning loose socks and untucked shirts, for example. But for a league that prides–and aggressively markets–itself as the toughest of the tough, perhaps no stipulation is sillier than the one requiring a warm-weather or indoor championship.

The climate is right for change: The owners have signaled that they’re open to considering a suspension of the rule. Baseball and basketball are under increased scrutiny about their whiny, overpaid athletes…

Fans are sick of high-paid wussies. This summer, baseball’s All-Stars refused to go extra innings because pitchers’¹ arms are just too fragile. Never mind that the most productive of their kind work three hours a day, once or twice a week, for half the year. The All-Star game ended in a tie. And pro basketball isn’t much better. Despite contracts in some cases worth nine figures, some of the NBA’s marquee players refused to play for their country this summer in basketball’s world championships.

By deciding to approve cold-weather Super Bowls, the NFL has a unique opportunity to drive home the distinction between its players and the more delicate athletes that populate those other sports.

Fortunately, the cold-weather rule was the subject of heated debate at a meeting of NFL owners that wrapped up earlier this month. At issue was a proposal by the league commissioner, Paul Tagliabue, to seek a suspension of the rule as a post-Sept. 11 goodwill gesture toward New York and Washington. Neither city would qualify as a Super Bowl host without the exemption.

New York was briefly considered as a possible emergency host last season, when it appeared that New Orleans might have trouble hosting the Super Bowl after it was delayed a week by the Sept. 11 attacks. Those scheduling conflicts were eventually worked out, but the willingness to consider a cold-weather site reignited a debate long considered settled. And despite some stubborn opposition, many owners are warming to the prospect of a Super Bowl in the elements.

For good reason. Ask anyone to name the most memorable professional football championship, and nearly everyone will cite the “Ice Bowl,” the 1967 game between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field. Game temperature was 13 degrees below zero–and the wind chill, 46 below–but the stadium was filled. Even casual football fans can recall Packer coach Vince Lombardi nervously pacing the sidelines, each exhalation as visible as a thick puff of cigar smoke. And ask anyone to name the most memorable game from last year’s playoffs, and most will tell you it was the Patriots-Raiders affair that took place in a near-blizzard in New England.

Both New York and Washington made formal proposals at the recent owners’ meeting to win the 2008 Super Bowl. The rule will be revisited next spring. So far, only one NFL owner has been bold enough to challenge publicly the notion of cold-weather Super Bowls. “I think the Super Bowl should be played in championship conditions,” said Ralph Wilson, owner of the Buffalo Bills.

And what, exactly, are “championship conditions?” Astro-turf? Sunshine? A domed stadium? Wilson didn’t specify, saying only, “I’m a little uneasy about playing it in an area where there might be a lot of bad weather.”

That excludes Buffalo, home to some of the NFL’s greatest fans. But it’s not just Buffalo. The teams with the most enthusiastic fans are all in the north, and they all play their games outdoors. New York, Cleveland, Kansas City, Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver and, of course, Green Bay. No one thinks of New Orleans or Miami or Arizona. (The Arizona Cardinals filled just 29,000 of their 73,000 seats for a recent game against Seattle. The Green Bay Packers, by contrast, have a season-ticket waiting list that spans decades.)

A Lambeau Field Super Bowl in 2015. Perfect.

Packers on NFL Network

January 14, 2008

For those of you with the NFL Network, the Packer loss to Denver in Super Bowl XXXII is being replayed now (8pm EST). Among other things, it’ll be good to look at Dorsey Levens, who does look a lot like Ryan Grant just standing in his uniform. And Ed Hochuli before he, um, bulked up.

UPDATE: Ryan Grant runs exactly like Dorsey Levens.  I forgot how dominant that first drive was.  Ugh.

Ryan Grant on PTI

January 14, 2008

Over at the JS Online Packers blog, Bob Wolfley reports that Ryan Grant will appear this afternoon on “Pardon the Interruption,” which airs at 5:30pm (or 4:30pm for those of you back in the motherland). I’d love it if they asked him about being the 146th highest paid running back in the NFL. Either way, worth watching.

Peter King in Green Bay

January 14, 2008

Packer fan quote of the year? It has to be up there.

“I dream about this guy. I dream that I’m going shopping with him. I’m not kidding. I’m just saying, we worship Favre.” – Robert Ruprecht in Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback.

It’s always fun for me to see the national media get a taste of genuine Wisconsinness, as it were, and this article by Peter King captures some of it nicely. The only way for these national folks to understands what it means to be a true, Wisconsin Packer fan, is to come here and spend time at the bar or a local place (have some beers) and talk – just like Peter King did.

I was in Door County Friday night/Sat morning and I’d say at least 95% of the people I encountered Sat morning had Packer gear on. That includes the Nelson Hardware store folks who rented me cross country skiis (by the way, several old man injuries occurred on the ski effort including an IMMEDIATELY pulled groin) – the servers at Perry’s Cherry Diner in Sturgeon Bay and the woman making a lengthy trek from her house to her mailbox at the end of her driveway. I don’t want to get carried away with my out of control love for the Packers, but something special is going on here and I think getting carried away may be OK. (Also, I would be a liar if I said I couldn’t identify with having Favre dreams – though in mine he’s losing money to me on the golf course).

Geeks: Living Up to Our Name

January 14, 2008

As the Packers head to the NFC Championship, it’s worth taking a few minutes to think about the reasons we are in this position. Some time ago, I read this study, by Kevin Hasset, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute. I think about it every time I see successful players like Jason Spitz, Scott Wells, Mark Tauscher, Donald Driver, and Greg Jennings playing at a high level for relatively little money. (Driver has since gotten paid, but the Packers had him for a bargain for years.)

This analysis targets the economics of the Packers’ 2006 draft. For a number of reasons, Hassett, using a theory developed by economists at Yale University and the University of Chicago, believes the Packers did very well. He writes:

The winner? The Green Bay Packers. They pulled off a number of clever trades, shrewdly stockpiling the enormously valuable second- and third-round picks. In the end, they drafted one player in the first round, two in the second, and two in the third.

Given the history of picks in the second and third rounds, Green Bay should have a number of players locking down valuable slots on their roster for years, freeing up resources to buy veteran stars when they need them. Other teams that pursued similar strategies included the St. Louis Rams, the New York Jets, and the Minnesota Vikings.

Read the whole thing, as they say. It’s well worth your time.


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