Archive for the ‘Packer Opponents’ Category

Favre takes another shot at Packers

April 30, 2010

Nice. Read here from a quote Favre gave to Ed Werder. (Thanks 56Coop for pointing this out.) I’m less interested in the bit about the ankle surgery and more troubled by his implication (though it’s more than implicit) that his one year with the Vikings was as meaningful as 10 years with the Packers in terms of his “since of belonging” (which of course should read “sense” of belonging). This from PFT:

Favre indicated that he doesn’t want the surgery but that he might have it because of his affection for the Vikings and his belief that they can win the Super Bowl. “We have spoken,” Favre said in an e-mail to Werder. “To play again, I would need the surgery, as I suspected. This decision would be easy if not for my teammates and the fans and the entire Vikings staff. One year truly felt like 10 — much like Green Bay for many years. That’s what I was missing in my heart I suppose, a since of belonging.”

Favre didn’t have a “since” of belonging in Green Bay? The place that embraced Favre and his family for 16+ years, adoring him and showering a mostly unconditional love on the guy no matter what happened? Maybe he didn’t have a “since” of belonging because he’d dress separately from the other players, not come to camp and avoid other QBs instead of mentor them. I hesitated to publish this post because I didn’t necessarily want to bring back the Favre Wars, but this comment ticked me off. Ok, I was set back for a moment there, but I’ve moved on again.

Pregame thoughts – Seattle

December 27, 2009
  • Seattle, frankly, is not good. They do have a veteran QB in Hasselbeck who has been decent in his past, but is not that good now. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he lasts maybe 1 more season in Seattle, if that. I would wager they will be trading for a QB or drafting one in the next year. But Hasselbeck’s lack of production hasn’t totally been his fault this year – in fact some would argue it is mostly the fault of a banged up O-Line. If I’m not mistaken they’ve gone through at least 3 starting left tackles alone this year. Their line is so bad that break-out 2008 rookie TE John Carlson has been relegated to a role as essentially another O-lineman to help in protection and it still doesn’t work – and in the process his receiving talents are being wasted. It was only last week that he finally got some attention, but of course, they were already getting crushed by Tampa in Seattle.
  • Following up on the previous point, in the first half especially, Dom Capers should blitz the ____ out of Hasselbeck. We should EXPECT to force 3+ turnovers in this game. Hasselbeck has thrown several picks this year and the team fumbles too.
  • TJ Housh is a solid WR, but has not had that great of a year. He is not a danger after catching the ball despite his insistence that he is. He also has proven to be a tool this year by being unnecessarily outspoken at times.
  • Justin Forsett is a good RB. How Jim Mora justifies continuing to start Julius Jones is beyond me. He is slow, has no juke moves, and is injury prone. Forsett, on the other hand, has done well with his opportunities. We need to especially keep an eye on Forsett catching passes out of the backfield.
  • Offensively, we should be able to run over these guys and throw past them. The Seattle D just isn’t that good. Grant will continue his late season run and I’d be surprised if Rodgers doesn’t throw for 3+ TDs.
  • A quiet key to this one may be special teams. We don’t want to give them a short field or a TD on a return or something because those are the kinds of things bad teams can pull off to keep games close.
  • I hate to be so confident like this – especially when Jim Mora’s last team marched into Lambeau facing a Packers’ team that historically had never lost a playoff game at Lambeau, and beat the Packers soundly (Mike Vick, Falcons). But something just tells me that this will end up being what I’m going to start calling a “formality” game – a game that is on the schedule that has to be played, but probably doesn’t need to be played because the odds of the underdog winning are ridiculous – kind of like playing the Washington Generals.
  • I’m really looking forward to a dominant defensive performance. I think as much as the defense tries to comfort itself with the thought that the Pitt game was an aberration, they were embarrassed big-time. And they should have been. So, I can’t help but think our guys are going to come out charged up and ready to take care of business.
  • Packers 45, Seattle 13.

Packer playoff scenarios

December 21, 2009

From what I’ve been able to figure, our playoff picture is not too complicated. Ok, as I study this, it is a bit complicated. Remember that Philly has already clinched a playoff spot, though it’s possible they could lose the division title yet to Dallas. But Philly beat the NYG 2x this year, so they own the head-to-head tiebreaker against NYG:

  • Packers are in and clinch the #5 seed if we win our last 2 games no matter what other teams do.
  • Packers are in if we win 1 of our final two games and the Giants lose 1 of their final 3 games.
  • Packers are in if we win 1 of our final two games and Dallas loses 1 of its final two games.

How can the Packers still be elimintated?

  • Packers could be out if we lose both of the last two games, Dallas wins at least one of their last two games and the NYG win at least 2 of their final 3 games. (In this case, the Packers would lose a common game tiebreaker to the NYG – thanks in large part to the embarrassing TB loss).
  • Packers could be out if we lose one of the last two games, Dallas wins both of their remaining games and the NYG win all 3 of their remaining games. Again, we’d lose the tiebreaker to the NYG.

Quick thoughts on AZ/MN game

December 7, 2009

While most of my attention is presently focused on tonight’s Packer game, I wanted to throw out a few thoughts from last night’s AZ/MN game.

  • I picked AZ to win last night and was a bit surprised more people didn’t do this. AZ is a very hot team right now and their defense is evolving nicely under Billy Davis – their capable new D-Coordinator. Last night, the defense looked very sharp – and of course their offense remains so difficult to defend with those WRs and great pass blocking by Tim Hightower (great comments by Chris Collinsworth on this by the way). Warner also just looks good – and already smart player who has the luxury of being able to rely on the talent of his WRs.
  • AP should have had more than 13 carries. I know he only had a shocking 19 yards with those 13 carries and the MN line was dinged -  but he’s way to good to not eventually break one. The far bigger problem, however, with taking him out of the game like they did was that the MN offense became one-dimensional and the AZ defense was quite content to just drop back and expect passes.
  • Favre didn’t look great last night. It was the first time this season I saw that “we’re going to lose this game” look on his face – and it appeared in the 3rd quarter before they had truly lost.
  • It would be nice if this were the start of a slide – even a mini-slide. The Vikes needed their confidence shaken and I think a few more losses will accomplish this nicely.
  • I hate the Vikings, yes, but last night I felt pretty badly for EJ Henderson. He’s a very good player who is key for the Vikes and he’s obviously done for the year now. Besides the injury just being disgusting, I felt badly that he was in major pain  (I’ve heard breaking your femur is high on the list of most painful injuries). Losing Henderson may be extra painful for the Vikes though – especially for the stretch run…a time when historically, they are known to collapse.

Admit it Packer fans, Favre dominant this year

December 1, 2009

Brett Favre looks incredibly good so far this year. In fact, if I had to decide on NFL MVP right now, Favre would be in the mix (along with Charles Woodson, Manning, Chris Johnson). I don’t like to admit this because I’m still bothered by his role in the GB divorce and I hate anyone who has anything to do with the Vikings. I’ve heard the counter-arguments: that he’s played against mostly weak teams/defenses, or that he has Adrian Peterson behind him, or that the Vikes’ have a strong offensive line, or that their defense helps the team keep leads, or that the Vikes are just a very talented team overall. Those things are all true and yes they help. But I have seen him play enough this year to say confidently, Brett Favre might be playing at least close to this well just about anywhere right now. His passes are crisp, his timing is phenomenal, his pocket awareness is special, he’s shown he can still make any throw (and the MN offense hasn’t been shy about letting him let it fly), he’s not hiding behind AP and the run game and perhaps most curiously, his playcalling has been top-notch. (There have been rumors alleging that most of the offense’s success is due to Favre finally getting  the green light to call some of his own plays. Together with Bevell and possibly Childress, they are making tremendous play calls game after game.) Favre’s stats this year speak volumes: 24TDs, 3 picks, #2 in completion percentage at 69.3 and #1 in QB rating at 112.

I can’t say this surprises me though. As soon as the Vikes’ rumored interest in Favre surfaced earlier this year, I went on record saying he’d improve their record to at least 12-4. At that time, my 12-4 claim was mostly met with “Andy’s on crack again” comments. But I mostly held to it. I think it’s now safe to say the doubters were wrong. He has played extremely well this year. The offense is so smooth and very difficult to defend due largely to Favre’s performance. Heading into this season, the popular comment was “who’s he going to throw to?” Now it’s “man, look at all the weapons he has”. I think it’s fair to give some credit to Favre for making superstars out of guys who otherwise may have languished in mediocrity. He did it in Green Bay and he’s doing it in MN.

As well as Favre has played though, a question keeps popping up in my mind: did both the Packers and the Vikings end up winning in this divorce situation? I’m not saying this like the kid who says (pouting) “I didn’t want the most expensive brand new football that all of my friends got for Christmas anyway” here. I really am beginning to believe that this has worked out well for both the Pack and the Vikes. They got their franchise QB who could come in and provide competent quarterbacking while importantly bringing a strong sense of confidence to a position that had been a negative focus for years. The Packers, meanwhile, got a high quality young QB better suited to dealing with (and more willing to deal with) the ups and downs of leading a young team. The Vikings are dominating the division, but the Packers are slowly creeping back into the race – largely because of the efforts of Aaron Rodgers.

Wouldn’t it be something if these two teams squared off again this season, in the playoffs…and the Pack snatched the one that counts most!

Pre-game Pack/Lion thoughts

November 26, 2009
  • Yes, stop Kevin Smith – but make sure that when Culpepper does drop back, he’s scared into turnovers.
  • Last Detroit/Packers game, I warned about Brandon Pettigrew. I was a bit premature with that. But now he’s starting to look good and we should keep an extra eye on him.
  • Get the ball to Jennings again. Last week, I called for Jennings getting into the action early. McCarthy dutifully read through our pregame thoughts and obliged, featuring Jennings. He’s too good to lay low anymore – go to him over and over until defenses shift disproportionately his way, then pass to whoever is wide open.
  • Get Grant going and let him score some TDs. I don’t have him in my fantasy league – I just think it’s an important part of feeling like THE team’s RB. Get him some scores.
  • Even though we all had some criticism for the game plans Capers put together against the Vikes and against a few other opponents, there is something that should be said – the Packers’ defense statistically ranked fairly high and more importantly, for the first time in a long time, opponents are beginning to be concerned about facing our defense. Even when we were 13-3 in 2007, I don’t think teams were TOO concerned re what our defense might do. But with the blitzing and the turnover-causing and the occasional unpredictability, this defense is starting to show some signs of living up to the preseason billing.
  • BJ Raji may become more and more of a force – he looks pretty good to me.
  • Should be exciting to watch Brad Jones and Tramon get important/national TV starts. While I actually expect both to have good games and get Packer fans pumped for what may come, my enthusiasm will be tempered knowing this is Detroit.
  • I’d love to see a couple big returns by Jordy. He is a very patient return guy – kind of has the running patience of one Ron Dayne, when he patiently broke the NCAA rushing record at Wisconsin). He’s a smart returner and I’m guessing he’ll make a difference tomorrow.
  • I want the Packers to play a full 60 minutes tomorrow. Even if they jump out to a lead, I want them to stick with the game plan that hopefully will have gotten them the lead through at least 3.5 quarters – I don’t want them to back off and go into some prevent defense/offense crap. Detroit showed last week, albeit against Cleveland, some fight by coming back in the last seconds.
  • I can see 3-4 turnovers by the Lions and will be somewhat disappointed with fewer than 3.
  • I’ll say the same thing I said before the last Detroit/Packers game – I’m not too worried re this game. I know that’s cocky, and it’s the Thanksgiving game etc, but Rodgers is solid mentally and playing very well, Grant is finally getting the ball, McCarthy has sort of awakened to the need for playcalling balance, our defense scares opponents more than they have for quite a while and Detroit is just not a talented team.
  • Packers 34, Lions 17.

Pre-game thoughts SF @ GB

November 21, 2009
  • Patrick Willis is really good. As the MLB, it’s difficult to run plays away from him. He’s all over the place but in a role-responsible way (unlike Junior Seau years ago for SD – who apparently had zero assignment-awareness but managed to go to the Pro Bowl constantly).
  • Big match-up will be Vernon Davis vs the Pack’s safeties and LBs (and hopefully Charles Woodson). Davis and Alex Smith have developed a decent rapport already and Davis is a quality athlete who can make plays. I wouldn’t be surprised if Capers has Woodson mark Davis like Woodson did against Witten and Kellen Winslow. I believe Davis is their leading receiver so it would be smart to stick Woodson on him.
  • I could be misguided here, but I’m not as worried re Frank Gore as others seem to be. He’s a good back and Singletary and company like to stick with the running game (due most likely to their suspect passing game). But in the games I’ve seen, Gore tends to start fast and have a good game or start slow and vanish quickly. For some reason, maybe due to Capers’ recent statements re gearing our defense weekly to stop the run, I believe Gore may start slow and fizzle.
  • McCarthy needs to be aggressive on offense. If there is a 4th and 2 or 4th and 5 even in SF territory early, McCarthy should go for it. We need to be aggressive in the early part of the game and not just settle for FGs.
  • McCarthy needs to stick with running plays even if they’re not overly successful to keep the balance right. Aubrayo Franklin is a beast in the middle (with P Willis right behind him) so running Grant on the edges might be advisable in this game. But as tempting as it may be if it’s not working, McCarthy can’t abandon the run like he has before.
  • Greg Jennings has to earn his new, huge paycheck and the Packers need to do a better job of putting him in positions to succeed. At this point in the season, McCarthy and staff have done a good job making it difficult for defenses to know which guy to key on: Driver or Jennings. Taking advantage of that, I think it’s time Jennings has a huge, breakout game where he reminds us all why we shelled out tons of cash for him.
  • Capers needs to take his chances. Yes, there is the risk of picking the wrong time to blitz and getting burned by a smart call by SF to Gore (draw, screen, etc). But it’s worth taking the risk because blitzes will most likely yield a couple key turnovers.
  • Alex Smith is no Aaron Rodgers. Make Smith pay for simply not being that good.
  • Get the ball to Jermichael Finley early. Get him back in the mix and make SF remember that he’s yet another weapon they need to account for.

Childress’ contract extended

November 19, 2009

I had considered commenting on this news by writing a tongue-in-cheek post about how maybe Favre wasn’t trying to stick it to Ted, but in fact, he was looking out for the Packers all along by signing with the Vikes. I would have argued that Favre figured he could pull one over on the rival he used to hate so much by going there, playing out of his mind and putting the team in a great position at 8-1 or so. Then management would feel pressure to consider extending Childress (something the Packers having been hoping would happen, for their sake). Childress would sign the extension. Then Favre would do everything possible to orchestrate a mighty collapse down the stretch (actually this would be accomplished mostly by no longer disregarding Chilly’s ideas) – making Vikings’ management strongly regret the decision to extend Childress. Favre might gain back some of his Packer supporters – leaving MN with 4 more years of Brad Childress as coach.

I decided not to write that post though because the problem is, Brad Childress has the Vikings at 8-1 and in a surprising number of games this season, he appears to have out-coached his counterpart. Certainly he has out-coached Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy twice. Now, I’d prefer to attribute the Vikes’ success to the other coaches, Favre, Adrian Peterson, the defense, the fact that he has a team so loaded with talent it would be hard NOT to squeeze success out of them – anything or anyone but Childress. But the fact is, as much as I hate to say it, Brad Childress hasn’t done a terrible job so far this year.

Now that I’ve puked up that difficult confession, would I have extended him if I were management? Absolutely not. At least not at this point in the season. He has not been a good coach in the years leading up to this one and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the talented teams from previous years seriously underachieved. And importantly, despite the team’s success this year, Childress is still making coaching errors that hurt his team.

But it is the fat-new-contract-curse most players/coaches have to fend off that has me hopeful. If things play out according to the curse, Childress should start cranking out some shocking losses for the team really soon – perhaps starting this weekend with a loss to Seattle.

 

 

Game thoughts (from Lambeau)

November 16, 2009

Yesterday I went to the game and had a chance to see a few things I think TV viewers might not have been able to see. Let me just start by saying it was a very, very nice victory but I wasn’t shocked because I’m not sure the Cowboys are THAT good (as I said before, they almost lost to KC in KC).

  • Not once, after all of those stupid penalties (especially the dumb Havner one), did a coach come over and let the player have it. Not once. A special teams’ coach approached Havner 2 plays later to communicate something about special teams. But for all the other penalties, these guys walk off the field to nothing. That is on Mike McCarthy. Other great coaches would make it their personal mission to come over and let the guy hear it.
  • That said, Mike McCarthy was fired up yesterday. Granted it was usually about a poorly executed offensive plays (again, highlighting my concern that he’s so offensively focused, he’s not focused enough on the whole team). Still, I counted 5 times when McCarthy was visibly worked up on the sidelines yelling or carrying on. This is good and I hope it continues. I hope he coaches like his job is on the line going forward.
  • While I won’t say the offense played great (lots of dumb penalties and sacks again and some specific/untimely bad playcalls), I was encouraged that there were several clock-eating drives. That 3rd quarter drive that ate up so much clock time and ended in a TD was textbook. Using Grant to set up the pass and using short passes as essentially another form of protection for Rodgers was smart.
  • Dom Capers was money yesterday. He had Romo very edgy and confused. I spent quite a bit of time watching Romo’s feet – they were all over the place (just like what happens to Rodgers when he gets panicky). That was because Capers (and the defense) executed their plays. Sometimes in a game, it seems like a defense is constantly adapting to what and offense is doing – and the defense is usually losing that battle. In the game yesterday, Romo and the offense were spending lots of energy wondering what was coming next from our defense. And clearly, they weren’t adapting quickly enough.
  • Barnett and Hawk were active again last night. That play where both are called to blitz worked beautifully (it actually is the exact same blitz call that worked magically in preseason for Desmond Bishop and Lansanah).
  • Nick Barnett has come back from a major injury and injected some fire into this defense. He has been playing particularly well the last 3-4 games.
  • Not sure how it looked on TV, but BJ Raji had one of the more amazing tackles (I believe on T Choice) in the second half. He closed like a LB showing quickness that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen from someone so big. Several people around me thought it was Hawk (they saw the zero on the uniform) until he stood up. We were all shocked to realize it was Raji who just swallowed up an elusive Choice like that.
  • Brad Jones looked OK. He’s a big dude (not sure re his exact size, but he has a tall/big physical presence out there). He had 2 great chances for sacks, one was thwarted by a juke from Romo and the other from a weakish chip block. But he wasn’t bad. I’m a little surprised Dal didn’t game plan to go at him more esp w/their RBs on runs/screens.
  • There were several moments in the game when the whole Packer sideline was waving towels and arms in an effort to get the crowd even more worked up. There were several coaches doing this as well (couldn’t figure out which ones, though I believe Kevin Greene may have been one of them). There was far more passion in our ranks than either of the last 2 home games I’ve seen (MN and Det). Our team was ready and fired up – and to that end, I think we need to tip our hats to Mike McCarthy.
  • I love Dom Capers’ genius idea of putting Charles Woodson on opposing TEs. I told my dad prior to the game that Woodson guarded Kellen Winslow quite a bit in TB (though not on his productive catches or his TD). It just works. Put our best player on the opposing teams’ best receiver and in the case of last week, yesterday and next week, the best receiver was/is/will be a TE (Vernon Davis next week). Witten looked really frustrated after a while out there, uncharacteristically so.
  • Dallas’ decision to throw for a TD with 1st and goal at the 1 yard line with 6 minutes left in the game was unbelievably stupid. I was watching the bench and there seemed to be open wonderment re why Marion Barber wasn’t called into the game (T Choice was there). Marion Barber is one of the best RBs in the NFL in terms of getting into the endzone because he runs so hard. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I had Barber on my fantasy team… – but still, it didn’t make any sense to throw that one to Witten when he’d been frustrated all game by tight Packer coverage – and when the guy who would obviously be assigned to him had already had a game for the ages. Really dumb.
  • I’m not sure what the replay on TV showed, but after Woodson sacked/FF on Romo and Clay Matthews eventually recovered, it sure looked to me like Felix Jones had possession of the ball while on his back before being stripped by a Packer. Is that what happened?
  • Wade Phillips pulled a Mike McCarthy by dropping the run in the second half. That is the strength of the Cowboys and he just plain abandoned the run. That decision helped keep our defense fresh. Bad coaching.
  • While I certainly have my questions re Mike McCarthy, I am really glad Wade Phillips isn’t our coach (and he very well could have been if he hadn’t already been with the Cowboys – one of TT’s closest friends is Bum Phillips and he’s also good friends with Wade). Phillips has more of a vacant, deer-in-the-headlights look than Mike Sherman, who patented that look. He was unemotional and clueless on that sideline yesterday. Inspiring nobody.

Packers vs Cowboys pre-game thoughts

November 14, 2009

Concerns:

  • Romo has been playing well and the Dallas offense has a good number of guys to turn to.
  • 2 more WRs have emerged for Dallas in Miles Austin and now even Ogletree. Roy Williams is still decent, but not the threat he used to be with Detroit.
  • the 3-headed rushing attack. Barber packs a punch, Felix Jones is just difficult to track down to bring down and T Choice may in fact be the best all-around back of the 3. When they split the carries in a manner that fits with the game flow, these 3 are scary.
  • The Dallas O-line is huge and it’s possible they could end up dominating line play and pushing our D around at will. In light of this possibility, I will be starting Marion Barber for fantasy.
  • Jason Witten. He’s really, really good. I did read something about Romo converting 3rd downs 100% of the time he threw the ball Witten’s way this year. Scary. Clearly, we need to be all over him on 3rd downs. (It will be interesting to see if they bring Woodson over to keep tabs on Witten – he lined up opposite Kellen Winslow last week a few times and it seemed to work.)
  • DeMarcus Ware. I saw him switching from the right to the left in the Philly game and that could spell trouble – especially if TJ Lang gets the start at RT without having played there much before. I expect Ware to have 2-3 sacks.
  • Confidence. Dallas has it, the Packers don’t.
  • Special teams. Dallas ST has been on fire this year. The Pack’s ST is a joke. This could be a problem.

Potential Positives:

  • Romo, while playing well, is a somewhat fragile player mentally. He got a huge win for him last week – huge. And he needed mental strength to pull it off. But I think the reason many people feel the Cowboys aren’t a top tier division leader right now is because of Romo’s apparent inability to string together difficult victories. I expect to see him make some mistakes and my hope is that some of those mistakes are encouraged by some aggressive blitzes.
  • The Cowboys’ 3-headed rushing attack. When Jason Garrett (Dal O-Coordinator) gets into the game flow moving these 3 guys in and out at the right times, this is usually a very effective run game plan. However, I’ve seen a couple Cowboy games where the balance with the run and the timing of substitutions hasn’t worked well. If we can disrupt their running rhythm early, that could lead Romo to eventually force some passes.
  • Outside of Jason Witten and screen passes to the RBs, I’m not too afraid of the Cowboys’ passing attack. Yes, they’ve had some success this year, but mostly against crappier teams. If our secondary can get up for this one, I won’t be too worried about the passing game. One warning: watch the bubble pass – that immediate pass to the WR at the line of scrimmage followed by lots of WR blocking in front of the guy. Ogletree, Crayton, Williams all had great plays on that last week.
  • Aaron Rodgers has, for the most part, managed to stay above the criticism of the rest of the team mostly due to his consistently high QB rating and good play in general. But last week, Rodgers wasn’t good and his puke effort in the waning minutes didn’t help silence those who believe he struggles in the clutch. I think this game is critical to Rodgers’ QB development. We often talk about him as though he’s a veteran because he’s stepped in quite naturally and he carries himself confidently, but the fact is, he’s only started for 1.5 years. Like any young QB, he still needs big victories to help grow his confidence in both himself and his team.
  • The Packers run game. As poor as Mike McCarthy’s sense of game flow has been this year (abandoning the run at odd times in particular), our O-Line has done a progressively better job of run blocking. Hidden behind the torrent of negative press for their shoddy pass blocking, the O-Line has managed to finally open up quality holes for our RBs. (And, I should add, our RBs would have had some huge days if they could have made people miss.) If McCarthy lets Grant and Ahman Green run, the Packers might get back to setting up the pass with quality runs and in the process, control the clock. If our RBs can get past the Dal D-Line, their 2nd and 3rd level tacklers don’t scare me much.
  • By the way, look for Ahman Green to take on a bigger role this week both running the ball and a lot of 2nd and 3rd down help with pass protection.

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