Archive for December, 2008

Game Keys – Chicago

December 22, 2008
  • Big game for Tony Moll (assuming he’ll take over for Tauscher at right tackle). He needs to do a bang-up job in these last two games if he wants a shot at playing much next year.
  • Our O-Line as a whole must open up more holes than they have all year to win tonight and that could be a tall order. I expect Grant to be fired up and running hard. As always he owns some of the responsibility for hitting the holes when they’re there. But I’ll say it again – I keep watching other teams and their O-Lines and am struck by how many chances other RBs have to run through big holes. Grant rarely has the chance though it does seem whenever he has even a tiny hole, he doesn’t do his part to hit it. Even if the line can open up 2-3 lines in the whole game, that just might spring the big gainer that has been sorely missing from Grant all year.
  • Grant Grant Grant. Throw him screens, let him throw the ball, let him run – whatever it takes, involve him and make sure the Bears can’t just drop back into easy pass coverage.
  • Turnovers. Has anyone else noticed the sharp decline in forced turnovers during this losing streak? At one point, between picks and fumbles etc, we were one of the better teams in the league. Now we totally suck at it. Orton is the kind of guy who struggles once he makes a mistake. Make him fumble, pick it off. Also, punch at the ball when Forte is carrying it. It will be freezing cold and he’ll be thinking just a bit about his toe – just punch at it. I don’t care if our defense gives up an extra 10 yards on a run as long as we’re punching at the ball. If we don’t force a turnover tonight, I don’t see how we can win unless Rodgers throws for 400 or Grant runs for 200.
  • Do something in the first 5 minutes to shut up annoying Bears’ fans. They are going to be pumped because they have an outside shot at the playoffs (though I don’t see MN losing to the NYG’s 3rd stringers next week). But these are annoying fans as we all know, so it’s best to just silence them with greatness immediately.
  • Block a punt. Not sure when the last time the Packers blocked a punt was but I’m guessing it was probably leRoy Butler or someone like that. We never put pressure on the punter so punters probably love punting against us.
  • Let Jennings or someone else pass the ball. If we were all back in grade school, we’d say “Aaron, you’re hogging it – let someone else throw it for once”. Run the Wildcat maybe – anything to just mix it up. (As ridiculous as this may sound, I have a feeling McCarthy has a trick play up his sleeve tonight – and for some reason, I can see Jennings throwing a pass on a reverse of some kind. If this happens, it will be similar to my friend predicting a triple play once at a Brewer game – it happened on the very next play and goes down for me as one of the greatest sports predictions ever.
  • McCarthy needs to quickly re-examine his own approach to these final 2 games. He said something the other day like “this won’t be a tryout for anyone – we’re playing to win these games”. This strongly implies that he plans to stick with the starting units that have been playing like crap for weeks now. He needs to think about getting other players in there because there is no substitute for live game action – it is the best time to evaluate what a player may be able to bring. You’re out of playoff contention and we have some players who need serious observation before the off-season so we can evaluate what our needs are. Don’t try to lose obviously and fine, stick with a general game plan. But mix in some guys who otherwise wouldn’t get a chance like Josh Sitton, Bishop and Lansanah, Wynn – throw it to Humphrey more, try Will Blackmon at safety? let Kampman or Jeremy Thompson play off the line/in space like Wash did so effectively yesterday with Jason Taylor…anything…

Shane Lechler could be a free agent – Pack should make ridiculous offer

December 21, 2008

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how the Packers should do anything to acquire Shane Lechler. I didn’t realize at the time that Lechler is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. This is from the Oakland Tribune:

Lechler is on the verge of free agency unless the Raiders offer a contract extension that he accepts between now and the end of February. The Raiders all but tipped their hand on which way they are leaning in terms of applying the franchise tag designation by signing free agent punter Ricky Schmitt on Monday. Teams with four-time Pro Bowl punters don’t sign undrafted free agent punters without any NFL experience. That is, unless there’s a chance of losing the Pro Bowl punter. On Thursday, Raiders coach Tom Cable admitted as much, saying Schmitt was signed, in part, as a “just-in-case” insurance policy.

I like Jeremy Kapinos. He’s come in and punted well especially given the pressure he must have felt considering the collective anger Packer fans have developed re our punting situation this year. But the opportunity to acquire someone like Shane Lechler is one that needs to be taken very seriously. As the GM, I would give Lechler a ridiculous offer right away, maybe even something like 1.5x – 2x more than any other punter makes right now. He’s that good and winning the field position battle is a subtle part of the game that can really help out a defense (Oakland’s defense excepted of course because they are a sorry franchise).

I realize TT would probably rather get value with the darkhorse player he found – in this case Kapinos. But Lechler is special and TT should use some of that cap room to lock up the best punter in the game and one of the better punters to ever play.

(It’s funny, I almost wrote a similar post a few weeks ago about Asomugha, the gifted Oakland corner who is playing under the franchise designation this year. Though a quick glance at our defense would indicate corner is not really a need position – in the very near future, it will be as Harris and Woodson age. Asomugha is unreal – I read an article earlier this year about how teams work very hard to find ways to avoid throwing it in his direction…ever. He’s a guy who would immediately solidify one corner position for years and perhaps allow Woodson the opportunity to work at safety. All this written, I don’t know how much of a play I’d actually make for him – right now, I’d be more focused on picking up Lechler.)

Bedard wants Albert Haynesworth AND Jason Taylor

December 20, 2008

Read here from Greg Bedard at jsonline this morning. He argues that the Packers should consider off-season acquisitions of both Jason Taylor from the Redskins and Albert Haynesworth of Tenn. Some may find Bedard’s inclusion of Taylor here a bit odd considering how poorly he’s played this year for Washington. The easier article would have focused on just Haynesworth, who is an obvious player the Packers should pursue very hard – a special player for whom the Packers should be willing to cough up huge money. (Imagine a line of Kampman, Pickett, Haynesworth and Jenkins). But he makes a compelling argument for just picking up both players.

Now, I don’t totally disagree with Bedard’s argument in part because his argument today is similar to the ones Packergeeks made prior to this season. I do think that if we could have both Haynesworth and Taylor on the team next year, we would be in really good shape on the D-Line. (Haynesworth alone, in fact Haynesworth on the line by himself would make it a better line – perhaps we could acquire him and play a 1-7-4 line-up…) Taylor has been weak for Wash this year, but if he were playing on a D-Line with Kampman, Pickett and Haynesworth (vs being on Wash’s weaker line), I would imagine Taylor could get back to causing problems for opposing offenses.

But I have 2 main thoughts after reading this article: 1) if the Pack goes after Taylor, they shouldn’t overpay for him and/or get into a bidding war with another team; and 2) as much as I would like to have both players on the roster, I think it may be time to switch to a 3-4 defense. Year after year, I watch the Steelers pick up LBs (some even cut by other teams like James Harrison) and make superstars out of them. Dick LeBeau for some reason gets less credit than the Jim Johnsons and Monte Kiffins of the world and I don’t get it. Teams should be analyzing every move this guy makes and doing everything possible to simply copy what he does. He is a defensive genius and the fact that he believes the 3-4 line-up is a better scheme should be reason enough to at least consider making this change.

Of course, the problem for the Packers is that we have a weak LB group. So, I would recommend we spend some money in free agency, cut Poppinga, let Bishop have a chance, give Lansanah a chance – do anything necessary to come up with 4-5 high quality LBs to make this work.

Did you know…

December 19, 2008

Mike Holmgren (or Holmgrum as many Packer fans still call him for some reason…even when sober) is 6’5″ tall. I knew he was a bigger guy and that he looked like a walrus, but I didn’t realize he was so tall.

Pink eye

December 18, 2008

What if you got pink eye on an overnight flight from Los Angeles back to the east coast? You could say you got pink eye on a red eye.

Really stupid, I know.

Bears game – no win situation

December 17, 2008

I’m finding it’s a bit harder than normal for me to get pumped up for this Bears game knowing that the Packers are already out of it – and knowing that a loss would help the Bears while a win would help the Vikings. In particular, hoping for a win knowing the Vikes would be helped just sucks. This is like having to sit between an enormously fat guy on a plane who flabs into your space and breathes louder than the plane’s engine and some ‘eccentric lady’ (she refers to herself this way) who watches you come on the plane, waiting for you, for anyone, so that she can talk for the whole flight about many, many stupid things.

Anyway, read here from the Chicago Tribune, Bear DE Adewale Ogunleye:

Hate, hate relationship: Defensive end Adewale Ogunleye made it a point to express his hatred toward the Packers, Monday’s opponent.

“I think you [have to hate them] because if you don’t, the fans won’t like you,” he said. “So I hate the Packers. All the Bears fans know I hate the Packers. It’s a big rivalry. Actually, losing the way we did up there (37-3 on Nov. 16) makes it even more of a heated battle. … I can’t wait. I really, really want to try to settle the score.”

Ok, now I’m pumped – let’s embarrass them again and bring an ugly conclusion to their season.

Congrats to Collins and Woodson

December 16, 2008

Both Nick Collins and Charles Woodson were named to the Pro Bowl. Congrats to both. Woodson and Antoine Winfield are the starting corners and both deserve this honor very much. Iwas a bit more surprised that Collins was voted a starter, but he has played quality football this year and his interceptions and TD returns I’m sure didn’t hurt his cause.

130 Days Until the Draft…

December 16, 2008

Right now, the Packers would have the 10th pick. thinks they’ll look to bolster the defensive line.  (Yes, I know such mock drafts are silly, but would you rather read a post about Durant Brooks?)

Interesting quote from Ted Thompson

December 15, 2008

In Bob McGinn’s jsonline article this morning, Ted Thompson said this:

“I feel bad for these guys because they play hard and I think they deserve better,” general manager Ted Thompson said. “I’m responsible for that, ultimately. It’s been a hard year.”

For some reason, I find his taking some ownership of this situation…comforting. Not sure why. I guess I just didn’t expect such a frank ownership statement like this from him. I am comforted because I do think this season is somewhat his fault – though it’s nowhere even close to being entirely his fault as some might contend. His handling of the Favre situation, at the very least, escalated an already bad situation (though I am still glad he managed to work out a decent trade to get something in return). His handling of Rodgers (the mid-year massive contract, the Favre situation, and keeping 2 rookie back-up QBs) perhaps served to add pressure on a guy who was already under tons of pressure. He hasn’t ensured that the team has high quality back-ups – or I would argue, starters for that matter (I’d say 30-40% of our starters may not start elsewhere). He and McCarthy may not have assembled that great of a coaching staff. And, there is developing reason to suspect he may have some Sherman-like loyalty issues to players who chronically under-perform (Poppinga, how Frost lasted longer than 2 games I’ll never know).

Still, something tells me that because he has been watching every game this year like we all have and because he still does seem to have a quality eye for talent, TT will be more active this off-season in terms of exploring and signing some free agents – and/or perhaps by altering his draft approach some (i.e. being willing to trade up or drafting for need). One good thing is that it’s looking more and more like we may end up with a decent pick in the draft because we suck this year and remember, we’ll also have the pick for Favre which could be a 2nd rounder I believe if the Jets make the playoffs.

As I’ve noted before, if TT doesn’t make something good happen in the off-season, I’d be surprised if the Packers do well next year and even more surprised if TT sticks around after next year.

Tarvaris Jackson…ummm…dominating

December 15, 2008

How do you like Tarvaris now? Yes, it’s only been a couple games, yes the Detroit and AZ pass defenses are mediocre to weak, and yes playing QB ought to be easy for anyone lucky enough to have that running game (though it never did look easy for Frerotte). Still, Tarvaris has had 2 very impressive outings in a row (QB ratings of 143.8 and 135.5 respectively) and was in good part responsible for winning that Detroit game. He got more help from AP yesterday in their victory over AZ – though his 4 TDs passes weren’t disregardable, as it were. And his overall 2008 QB rating of 96.1 puts him at #4 in the NFL for starting QBs, right behind Kurt Warner. While AZ and Detroit have weak pass defenses, both of these games were very important in the Vike’s race to make the playoffs – especially the Detroit game.

Of course, the best part of this is that apparently Childress is undecided on the starter this coming week. Read here for more. Seems incredible to me that this is even a decision. Tarvaris at a 96.1 rating playing really well and Frerotte at a 73.7 rating and owning the highest percentage chance of throwing an interception in the NFL. It also seems by how he is talking and acting, that Frerotte would just rather watch from the sidelines. I’ll bet he’s told his wife “I signed on to be a back-up, not the starter – no way I’m going back in there”.

(Though, whoever starts this week for the Vikes will likely lose anyway as the Falcons are going to take advantage of Pat Williams injury and run all over them – and just play better because they’re better).

(The sensible part of me wanted to wait to write this post until after these last 2 games – the impulsive, trash-talking part of me wants to remind all you doubters out there that this Packergeek has believed all along that Tarvaris is good and has the potential to be very, very good.)