Archive for June, 2008

Jared Allen hanging out with Jon Kitna?

June 10, 2008

If any of you were wondering how the Vikings might do this year, look no further: read this, from the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Apparently, Jared Allen thinks the Vikes are going to the Super Bowl.

First of all, the Vikings will not be going to the Super Bowl. Second, it’s interesting to note that the Vikes owner Wilf eagerly points out that the team filled needs in the off-season. In a day and age when many owners/GMs like TT avoid admitting that they have gone about trying to “fill needs”, in a way, it’s refreshing to hear this.

There are other reports from the Star Tribune indicating the team/staff have growing confidence in QB Tarvaris Jackson. Watch this video report. As always, this is a big point of contention between Brother Steve and me. Tarvaris scares me. I know most Packer fans think he kind of sucks and is just another harmless, bad QB in the NFC North. I don’t. I’ve seen flashes of unreal talent in this guy and if he truly has grown more comfortable in their offense, I think we’ll need adjust our level of concern upward. Now, I don’t think he’ll be good enough to get the team to the Super Bowl. Playoffs maybe, but not the Super Bowl.

The problem with the Vikings is that outside of Adrian Peterson, they have a very poor roster of WRs. People point to Berrian as an exception to that statement, but I won’t even allow that. Berrian is that guy from grade school who says in the huddle “I’ll go deep” every play. He is decent at that play because he’s fast, but I don’t think he’s that good. (I also have a hunch that Berrian may get injured this year – he seems too wiry and weak to play such a potentially dangerous position without an occasional injury). Sidney Rice could be decent perhaps, but still, having Robert Ferguson, Aundrae Allison and Bobby Wade rounding out a receiving corps is not good. And, having to throw to anyone named Shiancoe does not bode well for the MN passing game.

While I’ll admit the Vikes have made improvements over the last few years (adding Hutchinson, Peterson, Allen, Winfield, the Williams duo, Longwell, etc), we’ll see if these improvements can overcome the lameness of conservative coach Childress.


Check out this anti-Favre rant…moron

June 9, 2008

Read this article ripping on Favre. I could launch into a lengthy counter-argument, but I’ll let you read the article and write the guy to tell him what a moron he is. (Nice town name by the way…Yelm…)

More on Safeties

June 9, 2008

As if following up on Andy’s discussion of the safeties, Mike McCarthy addressed the position at some length in his press conference the other day:

(What kind of strides have you seen from Aaron Rouse?)
Aaron Rouse is having an excellent offseason. I’ll tell you, he is very instinctive. He is getting his hands on the ball. You can see the comfort level of Aaron as a second-year player. It’s kind of been the pattern around here for our young players, and I like that. It tells that the players are taking advantage of the program and the teaching. He is coming on. He is going to be someone that has a chance to maybe have an impact this year. I’m really pleased with him. I can’t say enough about the way he has picked it up and his production is something that stood out in his limited opportunities last year as a rookie, and he really has picked up on that.

(How much of an opportunity will he get to work with the first unit?)
There is competition throughout and that’s another position. I think Atari Bigby is really coming on strong. Nick Collins is as talented of a player that we have in our back end of the defensive perimeter. Charlie Peprah is another young man that just continues to improve, so that’s an excellent group. You’ll see Jarrett Bush at some point start working back there too. There is a lot of talent back there. The competition has definitely picked up, so time will answer that question.

Who should start at safety for the Packers?

June 6, 2008

This is a question I have been starting to consider more and more as the season approaches. Rob Demovsky has a decent break-down of the situation as it stands now here.

Some think that Rouse should start. After all, in his 3 starts last year, he had two picks, played solid defense and a had a few nice hits. Physically, he’s huge and according to this article he’s even bigger and stronger now after a good off-season. Having Rouse and Bigby back there could be positively terrifying for other teams and opposing receivers. As I write, I almost become convinced that this may be the better option.

However, I think there is one other factor that is very important in the back of the defense and that’s speed. Collins can fly, Rouse and Bigby are just not as fast. I can anticipate comments right now “sure, Collins is fast but it doesn’t help if you’re out of position, dropping picks and poor in coverage”. (Actually, that would be a solid counterpoint). Still, Collins was very good as a rookie – very good. He showed huge upside that we all assumed would blossom fully by now (sorry for the literary, flowery reference). But while the truth is that he hasn’t played to his potential and that he’s been somewhat shaky in coverage, I think there is just too much potential to shut him down now. I found it interesting in Demovsky’s article when he seemed to give Bigby a pass (pun intended) on the TDs allowed when he wrote “he (Collins) was responsible for giving up four touchdown passes — only one fewer than Bigby, a first-year starter who played in every game”. While we were all impressed by Bigby’s hits and his play-making abilities, I don’t think he was stellar in coverage either. And Demovsky is actually pointing to an area (TDs allowed) where Bigby was worse than Collins, not better. (I know Collins played fewer games, but still…)

But another reason why I’m not ready just yet to give up on Collins is that I don’t think the coverage errors of last year can all be pinned on him. While he was solely responsible for some gaffes I’m sure, when you have another safety with some coverage issues and a LB in Poppinga who struggled in coverage mightily at times (especially earlier on), it’s hard to say Collins is THE coverage goat. I’d even throw A.J. Hawk in there too – he wasn’t flawless in coverage (though he also wasn’t flawful either, if you will).

While my inclination at this very early point would be to stick with Collins and Bigby, I must say, I’m greatly comforted knowing Rouse is back there and ready to jump in if things don’t work out. Of course, another alternative I know Sanders wouldn’t consider would be a 4-2-5 defense. I know it sounds ridiculous but many times innovative ideas are initially considered ridiculous (a 5 receiver set…who does that!). Why not play to the strengths of our personnel and start with Rouse, Bigby AND Collins, with Barnett and Hawk manning the LB spots. Rouse is clearly more of a playmaker than Poppinga, is better in coverage and he has at least the potential to be as physical and therefore not a huge drop-off in the run game. This would make passing against the Pack brutal, assuming Harris and Woodson can maintain their games.

BBC on Aaron Rodgers

June 4, 2008

Whilst I was trolling for Packer news this afternoon, I came upon this interesting article from BBC Sport.  I spent a summer in London when I was sixteen and have been back to England several times since, and I’ve never come across anyone who uses “whilst.”  This guy uses it twice.  (I’m guessing he also says “shedjewel” for schedule and, one of Andy’s favorites, ne-go-see-ate for negotiate.)

Indeed, the fact that Rodgers has sought out the help of Steve Young (the QB who succeeded the great Joe Montana), indicates that he is fully aware of the difficulties he will face in taking over from such a revered figure.

Rodgers is aware of the fact that he is attempting to replace a man who started every game for Green Bay for 16 years with great success, and for this reason he understands why he is going to have to deal with the media and fans scrutinising every misplaced pass and every wrong decision that he makes.

I’d missed the news about Rodgers seeking out Steve Young.  It appears to come from this Greg Bedard piece from back in March.  Wrote Bedard:

Rodgers said he’s going to use the same mentality to help navigate the often treacherous road that comes with following a legend. That includes searching out former players like Steve Young and Jay Fiedler, who were “the guys” after Joe Montana and Dan Marino, respectively.

“It’s one my to-do things this off-season,” Rodgers said.

That strikes me as a good move.  Young has impressed me as very thoughtful in his role as a commentator.  And the famous video of him removing the imaginary monkey off of his back after winning the Super Bowl win suggests he might have some good advice for Rodgers.

Anyway, I find it interesting just how much attention is being paid this Rodgers-Favre storyline.  That first game against Minnesota is shaping up to be important far beyond its significance to the Packers 2008 season.

Could Rodgers be….more effective than the recent Favre?

June 4, 2008

That’s not really the title of this post is it? I don’t dare write such a thing, do I? (Credit to Scott for helping me pick “more effective” rather than “better” for this title).

Perhaps my mind finally went in this direction after the fog cleared from Favre’s retirement situation. Not sure. But this thought is something I honestly had not considered at all until a few weeks ago.

Even asking a question like this may be blasphemy in Packerland I know (and it is especially hard for me to grapple with as a massive Favre fan). For a long time, I dreaded the end of the Favre era. And, now in the aftermath of his retirement announcement, I’d be lying if I said I weren’t truly sad he’s apparently finished. It still hurts and it is still difficult for me to acknowledge that THE guy in Green Bay is now some 24 year old kid. Anyway, I think this dread I’ve carried has been based largely on my assumption that after Favre leaves, the Packers would spiral down quickly and shift into rebuilding mode, suck for several years and in a worse case scenario, relive the 80s.

Dwelling on this assumption, I have only considered the possibilities that Rodgers will get hurt, be a low-performing whiner, be easily overwhelmed following a legend, provide little or no spark – or maybe, just maybe at best, Rodgers might be Trent Dilfer-like for the Ravens a fews years back and succeed in not doing anything to hurt the team (in other words, not be value-added but not be value-subtracted, as it were). I never considered the possibility that Rodgers may indeed come in and be more effective than the recent Favre.

Of course, I am not about to compare Rodgers to Favre’s full career, because that would be dumb – Rodgers hasn’t done anything yet and he’d have to play at a high level for a long time to draw those comparisons. I am really just comparing him to Favre over the last few years. Last year, Favre was very good and really helped bring this team back from the shaky couple years before 2007. His 2007 stats were impressive: 4155 yards, 28 TDs, 95.7 rating, 66.5% completions, 14-4 record, a slew of highlight reel plays. But the 2005 and 2006 seasons were not great for Favre. (Of course, I’m on record pinning most of the fault in 2005 on Sherman, and 2006 was a transition year no doubt). So, hoping Rodgers could produce at a bit higher level than Favre’s last 3 years may not be too big of a stretch.

Here is what Rodgers has going for him:

  • he will inherit a very solid team
  • he apparently works well with the NFL’s next offensive genius in Coach McCarthy
  • he’ll have a more mature receiver corps with lots of talent who likely will make his job easier
  • judging from early comments re Finley, he may have a high quality tight end group
  • he’ll be playing behind an o-line that definitely should be melding together a bit better by now (if it doesn’t, someone needs to go)
  • he’ll have Ryan Grant (assuming contract will work out) in the backfield – a seemingly reliable guy who seems to get McCarthy’s offense well too
  • he’s bright (a must for learning MM’s massive playbook)
  • he’s very, very confident
  • he’s amassed 3 years practice experience (in many cases, with the #1 unit)
  • he learned a tremendous amount from one of the best QBs ever to play
  • he appears to have the full confidence of teammates, coaches and the Packers brass (read here for more).

Maybe it’s just spring optimism or OTA excitement but I am slowly beginning to believe that Rodgers could excel in this system. I’m not the only one who is beginning to think this. Check out this article by Ira Miller that at the least, is an encouraging look at Rodgers for Packers fans. In fact, even at this early stage, I’ll go on record predicting that if the Packers are not as good as some think they’ll be this year, it likely won’t be Rodgers’ fault (or the offense), but it will be the fault of injuries or a shaky defense.

Herron beats crap out of burglar

June 4, 2008

For the past 2 years or so, I have been fairly critical of Noah Herron. Mostly because he is a Sherman product and he happened to get the call often on those horrendous 3rd and long draw plays which drove me nuts. I like Noah Herron. He’s from Milwaukee and he’s a hard worker. That said, I still don’t think he’s good enough to make this team – we should use his RB roster spot for a player with more upside.

Anyway, read this story about a break-in at the Herron house. Good for him. I love the fact that one of the intruders is still in the hospital. That’s the way it should be.

It’s funny, maybe this will date me a bit, but doesn’t burglary seem like an out-of-style way to go about things? It seems this was more popular when I was growing up in the late 70s, early 80s. But to rob someone now just seems so ridiculous. Who does that?

Aaron Rodgers Talks Packers, Praises Ryan Grant

June 3, 2008

I just caught an interview with Aaron Rodgers on Sirius NFL Radio.  It was a good interview.  In just a few minutes, he managed to convey a maturity about him that I found surprising in a 24 year-old.  He also used the word “schematics” and gently mocked Mike McCarthy’s football-tough Pittsburgh accent.

A few other random observations.

Rodgers was asked about his performance in the game last year against the Cowboys.  He called it “an important game.”  He added, “I never doubted my confidence or my abilities,” but admitted that the game has been good for his confidence heading into the 2008 season.  He also said that his confidence comes in part from spending two years in the “McCarthy quarterback school.”

On his relationship with Brett Favre, Rodgers said it was “a lot better than it’s made out to be in the media…I don’t know where the stories in the media come from.”  Rodgers, asked what he takes away from being a backup to Favre, said that Favre was better at “anticipating guys coming open like nobody I’ve ever seen on film or in person.”

He was also asked about the draft and the fact that the Packers took two quarterbacks.  After taking a deep breath, he said that Brian Brohm was a good value in the second round and that the Packers had a high grade on Matt Flynn which made passing on him too difficult so late in the draft.  (Those comments felt to me like Rodgers repeating what he’s been told by the coaches and front office types.)

The most interesting comment, in my view, came in his assessment of the team and, in particular, Ryan Grant.  Rodgers seems to understand that he does not have to carry the Packers in order for the team to be successful.  “The pieces are in place,” he said. “I know my role and I know it’s an important role.”  But he went on to talk about the importance (and strength) of the guys around him.   In talking about those pieces he called Grant (without naming him) a “big-time starting running back.”  That’s high praise and something Grant’s agent might want to pass along to the Packers as he continues negotiations on a new contract.  The guy who the Packers have settled on as the new franchise quarterback believes his guy is a “big-time” running back.

Another Reason to Like Devin Hester

June 1, 2008

Yes, he plays for the Chicago Bears.  And, yes, he went to college at Miami.  And, it’s true that he is likely to be a nightmare for the Packers for years to come.  But Devin Hester is awesome.  I’m a lot more likely to watch a game when he’s playing and I get pissed when teams (wisely) punt away from him.

Now, he’s trying to get a new contract.  He says it’s been a slow process but he is nonetheless in camp because he an an obligation to be there.

“It’s tough, but I did sign a contract, so I’m obligated to come out here,” he said. “I’d be reneging if I didn’t show up, but at the same time it’s very frustrating. I do want to get paid. But I’m not going to sit here and complain about not getting paid enough. I’m going to come out here and play ball.”