Posts Tagged ‘NFC Championship’

Mike McCarthy: I Wasn’t Committed to the Run

January 21, 2008

Packer Coach Mike McCarthy actually uttered this sentence in his postgame press conference: “I was not really committed to the running game today.”

Without hearing it, I’m not sure whether it was more a statement of fact or a self-criticism. Or both. McCarthy was asked what the Giants did to stop Ryan Grant. His entire answer: “I thought they played good run defense. We didn’t do a very good job of knocking them off the ball and I was not really committed to the running game today.”

Clearly McCarthy abandoned the run early. When he returned to it a couple of times in the second half, Grant had two of his best runs of the day. It’s silly to suggest that those gains were the beginning of a pattern, but the failure to run the ball had two corollary effects, both of which cost the Packers the football game. First, as we noted yesterday, the Packer defense was on the field for twice as long as the Giants defense. Three passes and out will do that to you. Second, I think the Packers failure to run the ball — and run the ball well — contributed directly to Brett Favre forcing the ball to his receivers as the game wore on and, ultimately, to his overtime interception. If you’re Favre, you are watching your defense give up sustained drives to the Giants in the second half and you see that the flat screens for no gain (or 2 yards) are getting your offense nowhere. This is when Favre presses – when he is not seeing success from his teammates.

Mike McCarthy has been a much better coach than I expected he would be when he was hired. I think pretty much everyone could say the same thing. And over a long season, his playcalling has not only been good, it has been exceptional. (The Bears games, particularly the first one, stand out as obvious exceptions.) His players did not perform well last night, but the playcalling, as much as anything, put them in a position to lose. It’s a bad way to end a great season.

Favre Video

January 20, 2008

The JS Online blog has posted a video of Brett Favre highlights in 2007 from NFL.com. It’s worth watching, of course.

Video here.

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.

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.

More Love for Woodson

January 15, 2008

In this Clark Judge piece over at CBS Sportsline. Judge picks up on one of the things Mike McCarthy said at his press conference that struck a chord with me. McCarthy revealed that he had gotten calls from national reporters seeking comment on Charles Woodson as the defensive MVP. Interesting.

One month later, and Charles Woodson still can’t understand why he isn’t going to the Pro Bowl.

I can’t, either, and maybe you’ll join the club after watching Woodson make another appearance this Sunday for the Packers on a national stage. If you missed Woodson this season, don’t miss him this weekend because you’re looking at the best player not to go to Honolulu.

I believe it, and so do Woodson’s teammates. And when the New York Giants rewind the videotape to this season maybe they’ll believe it, too.

UPDATE: This is in the comments, too, but it’s worth posting here. Smart commentary from Aaron over at Cheesehead.tv. Toomer has been Manning’s go-to guy and they’ll want to throw to him a lot again this week. Also, look for Steve Smtih, who had a couple of nice catches, to try to take advantage of matchups with Tramon Williams, Frank Walker and/or Jarret Bush.

Green Bay Packers, Bad Luck?

January 15, 2008

To paraphrase the old country song, Rudy Giuliani might as well take bad luck because it’s better than no luck at all. At a campaign stop in Florida yesterday, the state where the former New York City mayor is betting his candidacy on a win, Giuliani refused to sign a Green Bay Packer hat given to him by a Packer fan.

Watch the video here.

Memo to Rudy: You already said you would support the Boston Red Sox after your New York Yankees were eliminated, something akin to cheering for Lucifer if you are a Yankee fan. Now, you’re offered a Packer hat to sign and you refuse? In Florida? The Packers are America’s team. If you were to somehow win Florida — less likely now that you may have lost that vote — showing your support for the Packers could have given you a huge boost heading into the February 5, 22-state primary. (It’s entirely possible the Packers will have gotten beaten decisively in the Super Bowl two days earlier, thus driving up the sympathy vote.)

If I’m you, at this point I start campaigning in a Cheesehead to start making amends. It’s your only shot.

No Comment Necessary

January 14, 2008

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.

Seahawks Rooting for Packers?

January 13, 2008

At least one of them is. There’s this comment from Nate Burleson in Bob McGinn’s excellent piece today: “The Packers are just a good team. Hopefully, they can represent the NFC and win the whole thing.”

Review from Lambeau perspective

January 13, 2008

Like Packer Nation, I was very impressed by this win. I was at the game yesterday and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a better Packer game. They totally dominated 56 minutes of that game – and it was simply a bonus that they fell behind 14 points right away as it game them the confidence to know they’re never out of a game. Unbelievable fan excitement at Lambeau – though the silence after Seattle made it 14-0 was deafening. Key play of the game may have been McCarthy’s challenge of the arbitrary spot – because the ref then arbitrarily moved the ball to an arbitrary spot further up the field resulting in another arbitrary measurement giving us the first down. (They need to develop technology to make first down measurements less arbitrary.)

One thing I noticed a lot yesterday was some tremendous blocking. James Jones and Ruvell Martin both opened up lanes for the run game as did Bubba Franks. In fact, Bubba’s blocking in the game yesterday was one of those quiet factors that I’ll bet will be more obvious when they watch the video of the game. While we don’t miss Bubba as a pass receiver much, I do think we missed his blocking while he was out. Hall and Kuehn both had impressive seal blocks as well – not to mention the offensive line as a whole. Tremendous team blocking effort.

I agree with Steve that Bigby was a huge factor and I hope that he continues to play this aggressively as I think he effectively created a zone of fear out there for the receivers – it would be nice if he continued to do this. Bigby would get my defensive game ball. On offense, it’s difficult to overlook Grant, Favre and Jennings, but I have to agree with Greg Bedard here and give the MVP yesterday to Tauscher. Bedard pulls out an interesting stat: that was the first time in Kerney’s CAREER that he didn’t register a single defensive stat. Last week, I said to a friend that Kerney is the one who should be nervous for this match-up and the friend asked me to stop using crack. Tauscher shut down a superstar and considering the havoc Kerney has wrought (if you will?) the last 9 weeks, Tausch should get the game ball.

Holmgren should get the lame ball. I said to my dad after Seattle scored making it 14-0, perhaps out of desperate optimism, that knowing Holmgren, he’ll shut it down and play conversatively. That third quarter punt on 4th and 1 from his 41 was absoluteluy ridiculous. I don’t think Seattle belonged on the field with the Packers yesterday, but I also think Holmgren should call it quits – his conservative style of coaching is out and the aggressive/confident style of McCarthy/Sean Payton is in.

UPDATE: I completely agree with Andy on Bubba Franks. We commented on this several times throughout the course of the game. I think he had at least five key blocks – two of them on touchdowns. I don’t think we’ll see him back here next year (his cap number is prohibitive) and I won’t shed many tears about his departure, but if he plays hard now so that he can make more money somewhere else, I’m all for it.


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