Posts Tagged ‘Green Bay Packers’

Ryan Grant — RB of the Future

December 10, 2007

There has been much discussion about Ryan Grant over the past six weeks, and one of the key questions is this: Can Grant be the Packers’ running back next year and the year after that? Or is a good fill-in who simply runs through gaping holes created by a spread offense?

I’m not exactly objective in the matter, as I liked Grant before the Packers acquired him. But there is growing evidence, in my view, that he is a very good running back. Of course he did well yesterday against Oakland (30th in run defense), but as we pointed out last week, he also did well against Minnesota, Detroit and Dallas, all of whom ranked among the Top 10 rushing defenses when the Packers played them. And he has four 100-yard games in six starts.

Jason Wilde gives us an interesting statistic about the Packer running game since the win at Denver. “Entering that game, the Packers were averaging 65.7 yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry. Since Grant took over, they ‘ve averaged 115.6 yards per game and 4.5 yards per rush.”

Mike McCarthy: “I can’t say enough about Ryan Grant. I think he’s really coming into his own. You can see the comfort level that he has.”

Brett Favre: “I think he’s legit. He really can play…What we did today, to me, was as impressive as anything we’ve done this year.”

Here’s more of what McCarthy says about Grant. (It’s from a subscriber-only article by Bob McGinn at Packer Insider.) “I hope so.”

“Thing I like about him, he improves every chance he gets…I haven’t just cut this guy loose and run him 25 or 30 times, but I think he can be a 20 to 25 rush a game guy. He’s only going to get better.

Asked if Grant is a legitimate starting running back, McCarthy responded: “I think he can be. I think he needs to get a little stronger. He has the frame to do it…It was a great trade, especially at that time (Sept. 1). You usually don’t hit those. Great kid, too. Class act. Smart. Tough.”

But McGinn also got comment from a “personnel man” from the NFC East, who said: “Grant is doing well for them, but I don’t think by any means is he a legitimate starting running back in the NFL…He’s a crease runner. Runs hard in a crease and has some strength. But I think if you’re going into next year saying, ‘This is our guy,’ I don’t think many people will be scared of you.”

Another personnel guy echoed that point, going so far as to say that Ted Thompson has to draft a running back next year. “He’s probably better than I thought. But he’s run through some giant holes. He doesn’t have to face many eight-man fronts. I think Ted has to get a back.”

Sorry, I think they’re wrong. The offensive line has done better lately that it did at the beginning of the year. But not that much better. Does anyone think that either Brandon Jackson or Vernand Morency would be getting the same numbers Grant is getting? Of course not. (And, it must be said, that these guys have an incentive in downplaying Grant’s abilities as they, along with everyone else, overlooked him.)

I love that these personnel guys seem to think that their opinions matter more than performances on the field. If that were the case, David Carr would be a Pro-Bowler, Tim Couch would be in the Hall of Fame, Bob Sanders would washing cars somewhere, and Ryan Grant might be selling real estate.

Instead, he might be a 1000-yard rusher after starting only half the season.

UPDATE: More from Tom Pelissero here. A statistic that was true two games ago is true once again: Nobody in the NFL has rushed for more yards than Grant since Grant became the starter.

UPDATE II: Still more here, from Greg Bedard.

Favre Practices, Looks Good

December 6, 2007

This comes from Tom Silverstein’s Thursday practice report. Favre “threw a lot in the early drills, although he never really let one snap. He didn’t appear to have any problem gripping the ball or throwing a spiral.”

Favre also said yesterday that he didn’t anticipate having any trouble playing on Sunday. Fortunately, for the Packers, their opponent is Oakland, which has one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. It’s important for the Packers not to look past this game — a potential since their last game, against Dallas, received so much hype. Oakland has won two weeks in a row and their offense, particularly journeyman Justin Fargas, has looked decent.

Still, it makes sense for the Packers offensive gameplan to include lots of Ryan Grant. This serves two purposes. First, it should help win the game, since the Raiders struggle so mightily against the run. But second, it will also reinforce to future oppoents what should already be clear: the Packers can run the ball. Grant has had strong games against three teams who ranked in the NFL’s top 10 rushing defenses when the Packers played them (Minnesota, Detroit and Dallas).

More Favre for MVP?

December 6, 2007

JS Online’s Rick Klauer points us to an article by CBS Sportsline’s Clark Judge on the NFL MVP. Judge puts Favre in the discussion. He starts his article by writing: “Tom Brady wins, and he wins in a landslide.”

Then he gets to Favre.

All I heard this summer is how the guy should retire. Well, thank goodness he listened to himself and not radio talk. All he has done is put the Packers back on the map. They’re one of the two best teams in the NFC and one of the top four in football, and it’s no coincidence that in the one game he was hurt the Pack lost. Anyway, you can’t watch Green Bay this season and not marvel at Favre. It’s not just his energy that’s so appealing; it’s his ability to dial up big plays on command, like that 82-yard bomb on the first play of overtime in Denver. So what’s new? He has five touchdown passes of 40 or more yards this season, the third best performance of his career. So Favre is getting older. He’s getting better, too. The guy is on schedule to set single-season highs in completions, yards, passer rating and completion percentage. More important, he has the Packers on top of their division and set for a drive deep into the playoffs. Valuable? No. He’s invaluable.

I agree with all of this, except for his claim that it was no coincidence that the Packers lost the only game Favre did not finish. Did he watch that game? Favre was awful. Lord knows I will always prefer Favre to Aaron Rodgers, but Favre was (going from memory) 5 for 14 with two picks and a QB rating of 8.9 when he left. Aaron Rodgers was fantastic. We lost the Cowboys game for many reasons, but losing Favre in the game was not one of them.

There’s no question that Brady should win the award unanimously.

Profootballtalk.com: Favre for MVP?

December 5, 2007

I have my problems with the guys at profootballtalk.com, the widely-read NFL gossip site. They irresponsibly suggested that Al Harris may have tried to injure Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson to collect on a so-called “bounty.” (In fact, Harris would have been the one to pay the “bounty.”)

But their take on Favre is worth noting. If memory serves, these guys were among the loudest voices in the “Favre Should Retire” brigade last winter/spring.

In a year that started with the media’s face stapled to Peyton Manning’s rear end and is ending with the media nuzzling Tom Brady’s baby-making equipment, veteran quarterback Brett Favre has swooped in and swiped the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award. Favre never achieved this honor during any of his three MVP seasons. And he’s only the fourth quarterback to take home the hardware — if the prize actually entails any. The other winners were Terry Bradshaw (with Willie Stargell) in 1979, Joe Montana in 1990, and Tom Brady in 2005. With the Patriots suddenly not as dominant as they recently were, Favre could be seriously in the running for his fourth league MVP trophy.

Response to crack smoking accusation

December 5, 2007

To the untrained eye, Steve’s response to my Tarvaris Jackson warning may have seemed critical or “mocking” as he prefers. But my interpretation is that he is actually fighting himself right now not to agree with me. His comment that Tarvaris doesn’t “completely suck” may have seemed like a non-comment to most, but considering how many times Steve has bashed Tarvaris and overstated his poor quality, not “completely sucking” from Steve is a verbal step up from being “horrible”, the “worst QB in the NFL”, “just another one of your lame mancrushes” etc. Now, I think it’s fair we give Tarvaris until the end of the season to prove he’s got some game, but if he does that, Steve will need to hold himself accountable for his position that Tarvaris is not quality.

Packer Practice Report

December 5, 2007

Greg Bedard reports on yesterday’s practice here. The most interesting news came regarding the safeties. McCarthy says he has not decided who will start this weekend:

As far as our football team, we have a number of positions, a lot like the offensive line and corners, where you have players that are similar to where they are in their experience and level they’re playing at. We just want to keep it competitive. I thought Aaron Rouse did a very nice job in his two opportunities as a starter. And Atari and Nick, it was not their best outing at safety along with a number of people.

Smoking Crack Again

December 5, 2007

I can certainly understand the impulse to crow about Tarvaris Jackson. Brother Andy has been wrong with so many of his previous mancrushes that it must be really exciting to finally have hit on someone who doesn’t completely suck.

But let’s not get carried away. T-Jack has had a couple of decent games. Nothing outstanding, but not bad, either. But two games does not a career make. And you’re right, he is protected by one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and has what must be considered the most dangerous running game in the league right now. So defenses have to game-plan to stop Adrian Peterson (i.e. put 34 in the box) and they’re willing to let T-Jack take his shots. Add to all of that the quality of the Minnesota defense/special teams and the fact that those units are sometimes outscoring the offense, and it seems obvious that it’s way too early to be talking Jackson as a quality, long-term NFL quarterback.

I do, however, agree with your broader point: The Vikings have the makings of a very good team. I think their two young WRs that can catch the ball (a group that obviously doesn’t include Troy Williamson) will be dangerous. Sidney Rice has flashed over the course of the year and Aundrae Allison showed his natural abilities on the 103-yard kickoff return on Sunday. Oh yeah, and Adrian Peterson.

Still, it’s hard not to like the Packers as the dominant team in the NFC North for several years. We are, after all, the youngest team in the NFL — a distinction we somehow have managed to earn two years in a row despite the presence of Brett Favre and Rob Davis on the roster.

One clarification: I never criticized you for your man-crushes, I mocked you.

Live Blog Sunday — Green Bay vs. Carolina

November 17, 2007

Still no word from Pabst regarding sponsorship, so we’ll do our best without any PBR Light.

Desmond “Big Hit” Bishop to See More Time

November 16, 2007

At his news conference Friday, Mike McCarthy said that Desmond Bishop will likely get more playing time this Sunday because of an injury to Tracy White. Bishop was sixth round pick out of California who led the PAC-10 in tackles his senior year. He was beast in training camp (benched 225 lbs 33 times at the combine). Remember this hit in the Jacksonville preseason game?


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