Archive for November, 2008

Derrick Frost

November 30, 2008

32.3 net average.

What an embarrassment.

The criticism is no longer directed at Frost.  He sucks.  There’s not much he can do about sucking.

The criticism at this point is directed at Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy and Mike Stock.  If they don’t understand the problem, it raises real questions about their ability to guide the team in the future.

What an embarrassment.

Some Thoughts

November 30, 2008

*Anyone out there care to suggest now that I’m crazy for saying that the Packers would be lucky to be .500? I didn’t think so.

*It’s clear Mike Stock should be fired. He probably should have been fired long before this, just on performance. But his interview with Bob McGinn should have sealed the deal, as it were. Stock made clear that it’s all about him — “do you want to see my bio?” — and that performance was secondary. That’s been clear on the field all year, with Derrick Frost’s persistent mediocrity and poor special teams coverage. But it was especially on display against Carolina. Our kickoff coverage team has been awful all year long. It cost us the game on Sunday.

*For those of you who don’t like second-guessing of the playcalling — waaaah. Take your whining somewhere else. We’ll praise good playcalling when we see it — and have done so — and we’ll criticize it when we have to. If you don’t like that, too freakin’ bad.

*There was no question in my mind that the Packers should have gone for the touchdown on their final drive into Panthers’ territory rather than settle for a field goal. Even if we’d failed to convert, the Panthers would have had to drive some 60 yards in order to set themselves up for a game-winning kick. The Packers had done very little on defense, although they’d been better in the second half than the first. But of particular concern was our utter inability — again, in yet another game — to stop the opponents’ kickoff return team. (This is why I was yelling at the television — in a public bar no less — and with Andy on the phone, urging that Mike McCarthy go for the touchdown on fourth down.)

*The playcalling was terrible — running pipsqueak Brandon Jackson twice near the goal-line. The handoff to Kuhn wasn’t a bad call — but not on third and one. Should have been the call on first and goal from the seven. No pass plays? I wanted to run the clock down, too, so as to avoid giving the Panthers the ball back with much time on the clock. But the priority should have been to score a touchdown. Just weak, weak playcalling there.

*Brandon Jackson played well, though it’s unfortunate that McCarthy decided to run him twice in the red zone in the final three minutes. Terrible decisionmaking. He’s a good change-of-pace back, but he’s not the guy you want to hang your offense on as the game is winding to a close.

*The big picture is not pretty. We’ll have more on this later this week, of course. But a couple of quick thoughts. The offensive line is bad. It just isn’t good enough to open holes for runners and to protect the quarterback. On an offense with obvious strengths in the position players — Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Ryan Grant — the line is a major liability. It should be a priority for the Packers in the offseason.

The defensive line is just as bad. Aaron Kampman is a beast, but he is virtually alone on the defensive line. Ryan Pickett does a good job filling holes, just by being a fat-ass. Johnny Jolly is decent, not great. Colin Cole sucks, no matter how much the defensive coaches and some drunk fans want to make him a hero. He’s just not very good. Jeremy Thompson has some real promise, in my view. We’ll see how good he is. Justin Harrell is getting very close to the point where we can call him an absolute bust. If he doesn’t do anything next year he will be Ted Thompson’s worst pick — in both Seattle and Green Bay. And if he still sucks, let’s hope that the packers don’t continue to invest time and money in him. Cut him loose.

Our linebackers are average, at best. AJ Hawk is just a guy. He fills a hole, but is not nearly what he should be as the #5 overall pick. Brandon Chillar is exactly what he was when he got here — a backup LB with decent coverage skills. He’s nothing more. Brady Poppinga is a joke. He’s an overly-enthusiastic special teams player who has won a starting job because the Packers have no one else ot put in there. Nick Barnett was solid, but he sucked for the first half of this year — after getting his big contract. The linebackers are a major liability.

Our defensive backfield is the best in the NFL. With Charles Woodson, Al Harris, Nick Collins, and Tramon Williams — we have four of the best players in pass coverage in the league. Atari Bigby is hot and cold. Aaron Rouse is a good hitter who is somehwat weak in coverage. But as a unit, this is as good as it gets.

Bottom line: The Packers should be better than 5-7. They are not for primarily two reasons: special teams and their inability to stop the run. Even though the Packers struggled to run the ball the first half of the season, they are not hopeless on that front. They suck on special teams coverage and their run-stopping ability is awful. The playcalling has been bad. McCarthy is fond of saying that he almost always chooses the more aggressive option when he has the chance, but that’s not been evident this year. He’s been too conservative and largely ineffective.

Next year should be better than this one. The Packers have the talent to be better than a .500 team, though they won’t be this year.

UPDATE: Ryan Grant did not return to the game because he had a sprained thumb. I’m sorry, sprained thumb? Couldn’t they wrap that up? Grant just got a huge contract — and one that i think he deserved. For half a million dollars a game couldn’t Grant tough it out and get back in the game?

*Yes, there are injuries on the defensive line and our LB corps is mediocre. But should Bob Sanders be the GB defensive coordinator next year? Absolutely not.

UPDATE II: This is a smart counter-argument to my case for going for it on 4th and 1.  Wamzlee writes:

In all honesty, I would have gone for the sure-fire field goal. It put us in the lead with under two-minutes remaining and one time-out left on their side. Also, our defense had been forcing three and outs all second half except for one drive. They were well rested and should have made the stop. If our specials teams would have came through and Delhomme’s luck pass would have been deflected like it should have, we would have won the game on a kneel down by Aaron Rodgers.

In any given sunday glory, our “superb” secondary choked for a second time in a week and our special teams was as horrible as ever. I agree that Mike Stock should be fired. However, I disagree on going for it 4th and 1 with the game on the line. If anything, blame the calls on 2nd and 3rd. Running to the outside worked for us all day, it was foolish to run up the middle twice in a row. Our goal was simple, score points and then rely on our defense to do the rest. If we failed on 4th and 1 like we did on 2nd and 3rd, we would have had to rely on the defense and then worry about overtime…and I don’t like our overtime chances.

I still think we should have gone for it.  Here is the other argument.  I say win the game when you have the chance.  I don’t agree with anyone who thinks we have to put scare quotes around our “superb” secondary.  Our secondary is superb.  And if we have even a mediocre defense they would be thought of as one of the best ever.

Random Prediction

November 30, 2008

Lots more to the Plaxico Burress story than is being reported right now.

Game Keys – Carolina

November 29, 2008
  • Put 8 guys in the box to stop DeAngelo Williams
  • Put 2 guys on Steve Smith.
  • Use the remaining guy to cover TEs and any other players.
  • Blitz Delhomme early and often – his confidence is shaken and he’s been performing poorly over the last few games.
  • Give the ball to Grant 30+ times even if we’re down. Also, throw some screens to Grant. He is our #1 back and should be used as such.
  • Hawk should be fine this week – he plays better at home.
  • Fake a field goal attempt.
  • Play wildly aggressive as though playoffs are on the line…because they pretty much are.
  • Make Mike Stock wear a sign that says “Jon Ryan should still be here”.

More on Derrick Frost, Jon Ryan

November 29, 2008

So I started this post on Wednesday afternoon (before the Seahawk-Cowboy game on Thursday).  I see that Bob McGinn beat me to it in this morning’s JS Online — with actual reporting to accompany his statistical analysis.

Mike McCarthy said Derrick Frost will remain the Packers’ punter. So some stats.

Frost is ranked 26th in the NFL in average net punts. (Ed: There are five worse?) His net is 36.4. His gross average is 42. Jon Ryan, who has punted nine times more than Frost, is ranked 18th in net, at 37.3. His gross (45.9) makes him the 9th ranked punter in that category, Frost is 27th.

It’s hard to believe that there is not a better punter out there than Derrick Frost. But I think we can safely say at this point that this experiment has been an utter failure.

A few additional thoughts after reading the McGinn piece this morning.  Mike Stock is an idiot and his thinking, as reflected in the comments he gave McGinn, reflect the kind of deep coaching insecurities that lead to failure.  Stock was asked about Ryan’s claim that the Packers discouraged Ryan from working with an outside punting specialist.

“I don’t believe in those things, and I’ll tell you why. One voice is the most important thing when you’re coaching a team or a player. You can’t have two different voices, especially long distance.”

Let me make the obvious point.   One voice is plainly not the most important thing when you’re coaching a team or a player.  The Detroit Lions got rid of Mike Martz in order to have their “one voice” be Rod Marinelli’s.  How’s that working out?  The most important thing, of course, is results.  And Derrick Frost , even with the benefit of having only one voice, sucks.

McGinn asked whether the specific skills of punting make consulting an outsider appropriate.  “No,” said Stock.

“If you want to get into the discussion of, does this guy know more about punting than the other guy? Do you want to read my bio? I’m not promoting myself, but I know what I know and I know what I’ve done and I know the people I’ve worked with.”

Wow.  Where to begin?  Do you want to read my bio?  This is a response you’d expect to hear from a 4th grader at recess being taunted by a classmate than a professional coach being asked legitimate questions by a reporter.  Beyond questions about maturity, what does this tell us about Stock’s intellect?  What does his bio have to do with the fact that the Packers’ punter is ranked 26th in the league?  Or that the Packers dumped a guy who is in the top 10 in the NFL in gross?  We know what he’s done and who he’s worth with — at least as it matters to the Packers.  It’s not impressive.

There’s more:

“It’s a matter of, this is the guy who is coaching that position. And this is his philosophy and this is the team’s philosophy, and that’s the philosophy we’ll follow.”

More insecurity.  Follow that logic to its natural conclusion and performance doesn’t matter.  Frost could be averaging 8 yards a punt and, according to Stock, “it’s a matter of, this is the guy who is coaching that position.”  The concerns with Ryan, as I understand them, had much more to do with technique than philosophy, and an outside consultant would have focused on technique.

Bottom line: My belief is that Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy and Mike Stock cut Jon Ryan in favor of Derrick Frost for one reason: Devin Hester.  It was a classic overreaction that has demonstrably hurt the team.  And the concern now is that they are sticking with the decision — and defending the indefensible — out of a stubborn desire to be proven that it’s not the mistake it appears to be.

There is one reasons to stick with Frost at this point, I suppose.  He is the holder for Mason Crosby and introducing a new holder at this point in the season could prove disastrous.  But if that’s why they’re keeping him, they ought to be touting Frost’s holding skills in public or they’ll leave Packer fans scratching their heads.

TO bobbles – Manning no spiral

November 26, 2008

Just wanted to point out that I’ve noticed that Terrell Owens rarely catches passes cleanly without a bobble of some sort and Peyton Manning almost never throws a spiral. Two odd characteristics for two players toward the top of their respective positions.

More Thoughts on Saints Game

November 25, 2008
  • My first point is put #1 here for a reason (and it’s rare for me to start out w/something like this): Drew Brees is the best QB in the NFL by a quite a bit. Right now, Kurt Warner is up there as is Peyton Manning. But nobody can read defenses like Brees. On a huge number of plays, he got rid of the ball so fast that even the Giants or Steelers wouldn’t have gotten to him. In fact, I would go so far as to say, I don’t think many teams would have beaten the Saints last night. Into the 3rd quarter, the sense only grew that we would have to play a mistake free game just to keep up, let alone win. That is one extraordinarily confident offense.
  • Brees and the Saints may have read Packergeeks before the game. Yes, Lance Moore hurt us and Colston had one long TD catch, but only 7 passes went to WRs. A majority of the passes (especially 3rd down back-breakers) went to TEs and RBs:

Watch the short-medium passes to Jeremy Shockey, Billy Miller, Deuce McAllister and Pierre Thomas. Against our aggressive style of cornerback coverage, many offenses prefer to throw short check-down passes to players who aren’t WRs. QBs already know that the timing of many WR patterns will be disrupted by the aggressive Packer DBs right at the line of scrimmage. So, I think that may explain in good part, why tight ends, FBs, RBs in the flat etc, seem to be very popular targets for teams opposing us. Chillar, Hawk, Bigby, Collins – that’s you.

  • Atari Bigby was horrible. It seems like his instincts are a bit rusty from his time away due to injury. I know he was concerned about covering the TEs on several plays, but on Lance Moore’s TD and on Pierre Thomas’ running TD in the 4th quarter, Bigby was out of position and cost us 7 points almost by himself. Very bad game.
  • It’s amazing – I’m pretty sure that we played much of the game using the 4-2-5 line-up that worked so effectively against Indy and Chicago. I agree with Brother Steve, Hawk’s positioning seemed off, like he was a step behind, and Bibgy’s play was so bad. I almost wonder if the rest of the pass coverage group was left to compensate for their shortcomings (though Woodson, Collins also weren’t stellar either).
  • Agree with Brother Steve that Bob Sanders doesn’t seem to be great at making in-game adjustments. Now, I’m less critical of Sanders than others as I think he’s grown and improved overall. But last night, it’s hard to argue that he just didn’t get it figured out. (The only weak argument I could come up with is personnel-based).
  • McCarthy’s on-side kick was actually something I even questioned – and this from someone who would on-side kick on most kick-offs. The timing of it felt wrong. While McCarthy may have figured it was so hopeless defensively and Brees may well have driven the team down for a TD with a long field, with a short field, there was a 100% he’d drive them down for a TD. I actually would have kicked long there.
  • Why does Grant just get benched when we fall behind? We have to be about the only NFL team who just benches our #1 RB when we fall behind. It’s interesting because I love the 4-5 WR sets, but last night, I think we went to them way too much. When we abandon the backfield completely, 4-5 WR sets become incredibly easy to defend. By the 4th quarter the Saints were rushing 3 and dropping 8 into coverage because they knew we weren’t going to run. Jackson was in there for a few of the plays, but many were empty backfield. I just don’t think Grant should have been on the bench from mid 3rd quarter on.
  • Will Blackmon is a stud.
  • Many of us want Aaron Rodgers to succeed. In reading many blogs/articles out there, especially after he has a bad game, I find it very interesting how unwilling most folks are to pin ANY blame on the guy. This actually isn’t too different from how many writers and fans treated a certain former Packer QB. Just this morning The Big Unit at WTMJ seemed to give Rodgers a pass by barely mentioning his play and just focusing on the defense. Yes, the D was terrible and that was a big part of it, but so was Rodgers. I think it’s very important that when he plays badly, he’s held accountable for it and ripped for it – fair is fair. The bottom line is that he threw 3 picks in a game when we couldn’t afford those mistakes.
  • Now can people see why I thought it was ridiculous that jsonline wrote an entire article about the importance of protecting the ball and not throwing picks the day of a huge game? Though I don’t think they actually deserve blame for his picks, I do think that sometimes, in a subtle way, speaking psychobabble here, having something like this discussed in detail days before a game may even slightly raise the level of consciousness for Rodgers a bit which doesn’t help. Think about this analogy: you’re on the tee hitting to a green surrounded by water. Moments before your shot a reporter comes by to talk about how you have been very good this year at not hitting the ball in the water. So, you step up to the tee and of course your mind is saying “don’t hit it in the water, don’t hit it in the water, don’t hit it in the water”. You hit it in the water. It’s called “Focus Negative” (my term, just coined it). I’m overstating here I know, but still that should have been a bye week article.
  • Despite my grade for Rodgers of a C- last night, I must say, I LOVED the fact that he pasted Jason David after that pick. Lots of QBs adopt the chicken shit mentality after they throw a pick.
  • This is a game that we simply have to forget immediately. Again, we caught Drew Brees on a night when I’m not sure any defense could have disrupted his rhythm. If I were coach McCarthy, I would have told all players after the game that they had a mandatory party on Bourbon Street last night with a 6 beer minimum -to help them all forget about what happened. We need to look forward asap because we have a couple winnable games coming up and I don’t think we’re out of this thing yet. Yes, the winner of Bears/Vikings next week goes to 7-5 (of course, unless they tie) and would appear to make it more difficult. But we get a win next week against Carolina and we’re right back in it. Then we have Houston at home – another winnable game. And, remember that we have a pretty good divisional record right now and would do OK head-to-head for tiebreakers.


November 25, 2008

*Aaron Rodgers spent the entire game locking on his first read. It’s bad. Andy — who runs a 10.2 forty yard dash — could jump those routes.

*Ryan Grant looks very good. He’s running hard and while his numbers won’t be that impressive today, they are deceiving. He should have gotten the ball five or six more times in the first half.

*Our defensive line is weak. They got virtually no pressure on Brees all day. It’s strange, I think we miss Jeremy Thompson. Wow.

*The linebackers were awful. AJ Hawk looked out of position all day. Brandon Chillar had a few nice plays, but often seemed one step behind where he should have been. Brady Poppinga would be lucky to make half of the other NFL teams as a special teams player. But I have to give him some credit — few linebackers can jump on a pile with more intensity than he can.

*Greg Jennings is one of the best receivers in the NFL. His routes are unbelievable. He is tough as anyone who plays the game. And his hands are extraordinary.

*I can’t decide which advertising campaign is dumber — the Miller Lite “More Taste League” campaign or the Bud Light “drinkability” campaign. More Taste League? What is that? And why use that idiot from Scrubs — a show that hasn’t been funny since its first season? And what is “drinkability?” What beers aren’t drinkable? They all are. Both of these campaigns are incredibly stupid, and I thought that well before the Packers sucked up this game putting me in a very bad mood.

*Onside kick down two scores with 12 minutes left? Sheesh. If Mike McCarthy thinks his defense sucks that bad, he should fire Bob Sanders.

*On the 4th and 1 with 10 minutes left, Brandon Chillar was five yards off of the line of scrimmage and looking away from the play when the ball was snapped.

*Derrick Frost with a 33.5-yard average tonight.  He must have really been up for this game.  His final punt of the night?  A 26-yard shank.  Ted Thompson should be embarrassed that he’s on the Packers.

*Tony Kornheiser is a complete tool. He only talked about the Favre/Rodgers controversy because he knows absolutely nothing about football. I hope ESPN gets rid of him in the offseason. An empty chair would be a major improvement.

*Oh, and cut Derrick Frost.

Poor Playcalling

November 25, 2008

Not going to liveblog the end of this game, but why — with four minutes left in the third quarter — are the Packers not running the ball or throwing it short?  Mike McCarthy is executing an offensive gameplan that entirely dependent on throwing the ball downfield.  WTF?  We have seen very little running and our short passing game has been almost abandoned in favor of intermediate or long-range passes.

On defense, we are getting very little pressure on Drew Brees.  Bob Sanders seems totally incapable of making in-game adjustments.  The Saints can seemingly do whatever they want on offense.  Anytime Brees has as much time to throw as he’s had, he’ll throw darts all night and win handily.

Cut Derrick Frost

November 24, 2008

In an earlier post, in an earlier game, after a previous horrible punt, I promised not to blog again about the need for the Packers to cut Derrick Frost.

I’m breaking that promise.

The only reason Frost is still a Packer is the arrogance of the front office.  It’s going to cost us games.