Posts Tagged ‘green bay’

Packers 2007 Regular Season Review

December 31, 2007

Surprising is probably the word that would best sum up the Packers 2007 season. Even though I shouldn’t be surprised because I picked them to be 10-6 this year, I am surprised anyway (which may be an indication that when I made my 10-6 prediction before the season I actually didn’t have much faith that it would happen and I was just being a homer).

I’ve learned that I like the staff that McCarthy has put together. Despite our doubts re Bob Sanders, he has proven this year, that once the players adapted to his system, it can be quite effective. There is still room for improvement, but this defense has kept the Packers in several games this year. And, if you think about the last time Favre was at his best, it wasn’t when his offensive line made the offense a machine (during the Sherman years), but it was when his defense could help keep the team in games (1995-1998). I also think Mike Stock deserves credit for bringing excitement back to our return game and ensuring solid coverage – as well as bringing along 2 young kickers. And, though we can’t be sure exactly how he’s contributing, I suspect Joe Philbin has been a solid assistant for McCarthy, if for no other reason than that he and McCarthy are on the same page when it comes to calling things as they are.

And then, of course, we have Mike McCarthy, possible Coach of the Year. TT took a chance on McCarthy and now it’s obvious to the rest of us why he did. McCarthy has a lively offensive mind, a refreshingly aggressive approach and he’s not afraid to say what he’s thinking. One of the best characteristics Mike McCarthy has is his honesty. He doesn’t play the Belichick game of dodging questions and being evasive. When asked before the Dallas/GB game last month why the game was important, he didn’t launch into the “one game at a time, we’re not looking beyond this game” crap most coaches and players bore us with daily. He said that the game was important because it had possible implications for home-field advantage in the playoffs, something most coaches would never say when there are still 4 games left on the schedule. He was being honest, but he was also being confident. And, McCarthy’s confidence in his team is one of the biggest factors behind the Packers’ success this year. Going for it on 4th down, trying onside kicks, throwing 70 yard bombs on the first play of overtime, etc – aggressive coaches necessarily have more confidence in their teams and this is a welcome contrast to the previous Packer regime.

I continue to be impressed by the team that Ted Thompson (mostly) has put on the field. There are many high quality players who are young, hungry and talented. Packer fans have reason to be excited not just about this year, but for years to come. That said, the time is now to win a Super Bowl. We’re not sure how much longer Favre will be playing and given his experience in the playoffs, we are in the best position we’ve been in for a long time to win the whole thing. After the Dallas game, some speculated that the Packers tried lots of long passes and trick plays because they felt they were an inferior team going into the game. I disagree, I think this coach and this team are just confident and they had good reason to believe that any play they tried could work out. I expect to see more of this exciting brand of football in the playoffs too, as McCarthy just isn’t the kind of guy who will fall back on conventional, boring football to be safe.

While it would be easier to be pessimistic about the playoffs so that I can head off some of my own potential disappointment if things don’t go well, I’m having a hard time being genuinely pessimistic right now. I have bought into McCarthy’s plan and I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised if the Packers get to the Super Bowl. The biggest hurdle in the playoffs will be the first game, but if the Packers handle that, then the pressure will largely be off them and I think there is a good chance they’d get to the Super Bowl. If they get there and win, I’d be a bit surprised, but not shocked because if I’ve learned one thing about the team this year, it’s to expect the unexpected.

Explaining the Refs from Last Night’s Game

November 30, 2007

John Parry, meet Leslie Nielsen (as Lt. Frank Drebin). John Parry was last night’s referee.

Here is the scene that gave birth to Brother Andy’s “Leslie Nielsen Theory of Officiating,” discussed here.

Two Game-Changing Calls

November 30, 2007

For the record, I don’t think the Packers played well enough to win this game. But the officiating was horrendous. Here is a sampling of opinion on two key calls.

On Al Harris strip of Terrell Owens:

Greg Rosenthal, Rotoworld.com: “Al Harris, one of the quietest guys in the NFL, gets a delay of game penalty after spiking the ball. He stole a catch from T.O., but the ref called it dead because of forward progress. Tough call for Green Bay…”

Greg Bedard, JS Online: “Not sure what the officials saw but it sure looked like Harris had an INT.”

Mike Lucas, Capital Times: “Dallas matinee idol, Tony Romo, the transplanted Cheesehead, completed his first pass of the night to Owens, a 12-yard out. But he appeared to have lost the ball to Harris before stepping out of bounds. Harris was convinced that he had possession, but nobody else saw it that way and Harris wound up getting penalized for delay of game. That could have been huge since the Packers were already leading 3-0 and the turnover (that wasn’t) would have given them the ball at midfield.”

Drew Olsen, Onmilwaukee.com: “As was often the case back in the ’90s, the key calls went against Green Bay. Al Harris did strip the ball from Terrell Owens on the Cowboys’ first drive, but the refs had blown the whistle.”

On the Tramon Williams pass interference call:

Greg Rosenthal, Rotoworld.com: “The [pass interference call] on this drive looks shaky in retrospect.”

Greg Bedard, JS Online: There was a “ridiculous 42-yard pass interference penalty on Tramon Williams. Anybody could see that the receiver slowed down there. Well, I guess not everybody.”

Mike Lucas, Capital Times: “There were some other comical moments with this officiating crew, which included a questionable pass interference call on Tramon Williams, who got tangled up with Cowboys receiver Miles Austin. That looked like incidental contact, although you could make a case for Williams putting his right hand on Austin before they crossed paths and feet. Williams tripped Austin but the official closest to the play didn’t throw the flag. It was a delayed call and it was the equivalent of a 42-yard penalty on Green Bay. Three plays later, the Cowboys expanded their lead from 27-24 to 34-24.”

Drew Olsen, Onmilwaukee.com: “The key play of the game was a 42-yard pass interference call on Tramon Williams, who didn’t appear to impede Patrick Clayton. It was dicey at best.”

MJD at AOL’s Fanhouse: “I enjoyed the work of Cris Collinsworth last night. He’s pretty damn good as a game analyst. Especially with this point: after the officials incorrectly called Packer DB Tramon Williams for pass interference, Collinsworth suggested that these long interference calls be subject to replay, and that’s a fantastic idea… Maybe the biggest play in the game last night was that 42-yard pass interference call that was two things: 1) huge, and 2) horse(doo-doo).”

Wire reporter Todd Archer also thought the call was iffy: “Using Jason Witten for 37 yards on three catches and a questionable pass interference penalty on Tramon Williams, who tripped up Miles Austin, the Cowboys were at the Green Bay 5. Three plays later Romo whipped his second scoring throw of the game to Patrick Crayton, giving the Cowboys a 34-24 lead.”

Even Texas writers saw the Williams call for what it was. Tyler Smith, Herald-Democrat: “Dallas was aided by a questionable pass-interference penalty called against Tramon Williams that set the Cowboys up at the 5-yard line.”

But in the interest of balance, we include this, from Tom Pelissaro, with Packersnews.com: “The flag against Williams came really late, but it was correct. Williams actually had good position but, like many young players, didn’t trust his position and decided to grab Miles Austin instead. Though Austin probably couldn’t have caught the ball — and Williams did little to slow the receiver — the interference came early enough the officials weren’t going to declare the pass uncatchable. It’s borderline, but it’s going to be called nine times out of 10.”

Tramon Williams Subscribes to the Leslie Nielsen Theory of NFL Refs

November 30, 2007

Recall Brother Andy’s “Leslie Nielsen Theory of NFL Refs.” We laid it out this way in a post earlier this year:

Andy has a theory about NFL officiating. And once you hear it, I think it becomes hard to watch games without thinking it is true.

He says NFL refs are like Leslie Nielsen as the umpire in Naked Gun: They make calls that will generate applause from the home crowds. Someone who has more time than I do should look it up. Do home teams get more calls than away teams? I would guess that they do.

Then we got some scientific backing with this post, citing a Jason Wilde report.

“According to research done by The Dallas Morning News’ Rick Gosselin, NFL officials have been harsher on the road teams than the home teams each of the past nine weeks, assessing more penalties for more yards to the visitors.”

Well, it seems that Tramon Williams is now a believer in the Nielsen Theory.

Here is Tramon Williams on the crucial — and very questionable — 40-yard pass interference call. “Our legs got tangled up, but they’re the home team, so there ain’t much I can say about it.”

Keepin’ it Real, even though it’s not Thursday. You have to love Tramon Williams.

Bryant Gumbel likes “pretty” things

November 30, 2007

When Gumbel was talking about the incredibly ugly stadium last night, he mysteriously mentioned on two occasions how “pretty” it looked against the Dallas skyline. That would have been a nice comment: 1) if it were true 2) if he was a woman talking to other women or 3) if his audience was the Today Show.

Cause for Optimism

November 30, 2007

With the benefit of some 12 hours of hindsight, I’m more optimistic about the game last night and what it means for the Packers going forward. As we’ve pointed out, there are many reasons for concern — chiefly the play of the offensive and defensive lines, the secondary, and the kick coverage units.

But consider: We played on the road, against a team that has lost only once this year (to the Patriots). We played without our top defensive back and starting punt returner, without the NFL’s 6th leading sack producer, without an up-and-coming safety prospect who has an interception in each of his two starts, and two starting-caliber defensive tackles. Oh, and our Hall of Fame quarterback was knocked out early in the 2nd quarter. And it was our fourth game in 18 days.

Despite all of that, and officiating that will be embarassing when the NFL reviews the game tape, the Packers — did I mention that they are the youngest team in the league? — were in a position to win the game with 5 minutes to go.

We were outplayed and outcoached, the latter being a rarity this year.

But if we have an opportunity to return to Dallas on January 20, I like our chances.

Romo, Favre and…Anthony Bourdain?

November 30, 2007

Let’s give Tony Romo credit. No, not for posting 300 yards and 4 touchdowns on a battered and confused Packer secondary. But for being hilarious.

After the game he was asked by a reporter what he and Favre did in their on-field meeting before the game. “Exchanging recipes and stuff,” said Romo. “Normal guy stuff.”

Play of the Game

November 30, 2007

There are several nominees. The questionable pass interference on Tramon Williams, good for 40 yards on the Cowboys decisive drive. The botched call on Al Harris’ strip of Terrell Owens on the Cowboys first drive. Mason Crosby’s 52-yard field goal late in the game on 4th and 1, a decision that meant the Packers would rely on their defense to stop the Cowboys before getting another shot with the ball.

But for me, the clear play of the game was the Packers’ failure to stop the Cowboys on 3rd and 19 deep in Cowboys territory. At the time, the score was 27-24, and if the Packers had been able to hold them on that play, we would have gotten the ball back with good field position and a chance to have our second-string quarterback lead the team on its third touchdown drive. That would have not only changed the score, but would have likely been very demoralizing to a Cowboy team that looked out of sorts at the beginning of the second half.

But the Packers looked to be playing some kind of zone, and when three Packers followed Terrell Owens over the middle, Patrick Crayton was wide open — and I mean W I D E open — on the left sideline.

There wasn’t much written today about the Packers defensive scheme, but I hope we get some more analysis of it in the second-day stories. Maybe I’m wrong, but it sure seemed like we went away from our man-to-man press coverage (perhaps to compensate for the loss of Woodson). It would be great to know more.

Frustrating game review

November 30, 2007

I don’t like the Cowboys. Somehow, I find myself fighting not to dislike Wisconsin’s own Tony Romo even. He just seems cocky or something – I take it back, I kind of do like him, but I just hate Dallas. I don’t like Wade Phillips and his fat face. I don’t like Dallas fans, never have – what with their giant class rings and their hair parted to the side like a Ken doll. Losing to them doesn’t sit well with me and had we not staged that impressive comeback, I would have felt horrible because we might have been blown out. (About that comeback by the way, if you looked at the Cowboys sideline when they were up 27-10, they all assumed the game was over and were being quite cocky. Serves them right.)

Rodgers did do well with his opportunity. His scrambling abilities do offer a very new and different threat for our offense (considering Favre almost never runs past the line of scrimmage). I was concerned though when Rodgers got hit hard a few times – would the Rooster have come in to QB? Or Favre come back and thrown left-handed? I also think McCarthy did make some needed adjustments (though arguably too late on a few like benching Jarrett Bush). And, I’m not sure that all those deep passes in the first quarter were 100% McCarthy’s doing – I have a feeling Favre may have wanted to throw a couple of those. Favre looked bad last night, quite bad. He’s entitled to a game like that now and again – but I hope he doesn’t have another one like that until next year.

Steve and I talked last night about one thing we might have done differently while it was happening early in the second half. Though Rodgers was on a hot streak passing, it might have been a good idea to mix more run in with the pass (the Dallas run D was not impressive) during that time to help our defense have more time to rest.

But to me, one of the biggest problems I had last night was with the broadcast. The NFL Network absolutely sucks. They made the game feel weird and like brother Steve said, I wonder how in the world they settled on having Bryant Gumbel be the play-by-play guy. He may be the worst annoucer ever…seriously. Every time he opened his mouth, it sounded like he wanted to tell some heart-warming story about an athlete who had overcome adversity – like he was just doing a piece for the 90% female-viewed Today Show – or the Olympics. He also sounded so meek. Collinsworth was fine (mostly because he clearly wanted the Packers until an exec told him he also needed to talk about Dallas). To me, if you’re a network trying to assert itself as the future for NFL broadcasts, then you have to deliver a quality product and holy crap, did that not happen.

Anyway, no party today, no party.

Favre Leads Pro-Bowl Voting

November 15, 2007

This probably should not come as a surprise, given that Brett Favre is perhaps the greatest quarterback of all time and a very likeable figure. It doesn’t hurt that America’s Team (the Packers, not the Cowboys) has a national fan base to supplement the 100,000 strong in Green Bay.

There is little debate that Tom Brady is the runaway league MVP after ten weeks of the 2007 NFL season. Favre, in my view, is the only other person in the conversation. He probably used to drink Pabst before he quit drinking.


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