Archive for January, 2012

Philbin hired by Dolphins

January 20, 2012

Congrats Joe Philbin! Read here from Jay Glazer. While I can’t imagine even going through an interview process so shortly after such a tragic loss, I wonder if now may be as good a time as any for Joe and his family to start the process of moving forward. In his time under McCarthy, I’ve gone from thinking Philbin didn’t do anything (assumed McCarthy did everything) to realizing that Philbin really was a big part of the coaching staff. He helped put together game plans every week, was very engaged with the players and was a critical person at practice orchestrating everything. He’s smart, he can be funny and he’s a good guy by all accounts. Congrats Joe – you deserve it.

Looks like the MM/TT coaching tree is going to start having some branches removed.


And you thought the Packers’ loss upset you…

January 18, 2012

Check this out (thanks Susanah or Cecily – not sure who sent this to me!). At least we all now know why the Packers really lost.

Packers should look at Osi Umenyiora in the offseason

January 16, 2012

Interesting that I actually drafted the following post over a week ago.

“I realize it’s a bit early for this sort of post, but I think the Packers should take a careful look at the NYG’s DE Osi Umenyiora after the season ends. While Umenyiora will technically be under contract next year yet, he had been looking for a new contract or to be traded earlier this year – and if a new contract is not figured out (which looks unlikely at the moment), it is likely he’ll be traded. The Pack should get in on this. He could really help balance out the lack of pass rush and overall lack of activity on the ride side of our defense. He’ll be expensive, but by not re-signing Finley and letting Flynn go – and perhaps clearing off cap space in other ways, we could make room for a player like Umenyiora. While his injury history is a bit concerning (he missed 4 games this year), in 2011 he finished with 9 sacks and 2 forced fumbles (and of course a monster sack/forced fumble yesterday against the Pack). These aren’t bad stats considering he missed time due to injury. In 2010, he had 11.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles – 10 FORCED FUMBLES. That is astonishing.

Make a splash TT and go after someone who can play. We’ll need to focus on defense this offseason through the draft and free agency. Read here for more on Umenyiora.

Game Thoughts Packers/Giants

January 15, 2012
  • I apologize for not offering more during the game. I was at the game but typing on an iPhone as the weather got colder was a bit of a challenge. And I was also quite busy screaming at everyone as the game headed south. Man was I worked up today.
  • I blew it. My confidence heading into this game was apparently terribly misplaced. The Packers were awful. I haven’t seen them play that badly for a long time. A really long time. They just plain didn’t show up and frankly, it’s still hard to believe that they just laid an egg like that.
  • Let me say this up top here before delving into more detail – the team looked weighed down emotionally. Occasionally guys would try to get the crowd pumped up by waving their arms on the sideline, but most of the times I looked over at our sideline the general emotion level looked flat to me. After a series ended, players were walking off the field – or walking onto the field. I didn’t see much jumping up and down or playoff excitement going on. (The one exception to that of course was Jarrett Bush – and even though he’s always like that, at least he was busy being intense out there.)  I am not necessarily accusing the guys of not trying – but I am saying that something seemed to be interfering with their collective emotion out there and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the tragedy involving Michael Philbin may have been part of that. I also think this may have affected the team’s ability to recover from their mistakes. Yes the mistakes killed us, but great teams (like the Saints yesterday) can usually collect themselves and get back on track. We didn’t do that at all today and it seemed more a mental factor than anything.
  • Our WRs were not getting open. Rodgers was not good – he looked out of sync the whole game. I’ll get to him later. But our WRs just seemed totally off – almost like they couldn’t adjust to Jennings being back in there. The mix of play calls also seemed really odd. For example, on an important, clear passing 2nd down play Nelson and Jennings both weren’t on the field (Jones and Finley were spread out wide). On a number of occasions, it seemed our WRs ran their primary routes and then just stopped. A huge number of plays today seemed to quickly evolve into broken plays. Usually our WRs are awesome in those instances because they come back for the ball and work to get open. I can’t tell you how many times our WRs just seemed to stop – almost like they were expecting someone else to make a play. It was weird. I’m not sure whether to chalk this up to a lack of effort, confusion or the weather or what. Just don’t know what was going on there. The WRs (and TEs) also dropped some important passes early and it was very clear from watching Rodgers’ body language after the drops that he was pissed – REALLY pissed. In fact on one (that easy Crabtree one I believe) he got more worked up than I’ve seen him get in quite a while. And uncharacteristically, I’m not sure he ever really recovered from that mentally.
  • Rodgers was not good today. I realize that his stats would have been quite different without the 6 drops or whatever it was – but even with those as completions he was just not in rhythm today. It was windier at the game than TV could really give a person the sense for – and I do think this affected passes. But he missed so badly on some throws that it wasn’t just the wind affecting his passes.
  • Our defense was bad – and man was I wrong about that before the game. Wow. That first drive by the Giants hurt because they completed some huge 3rd down plays that really dented our defenses’ confidence. Not sure about you guys, but it looked to me that Desmond Bishop was about the only guy ready to play today. Pickett had a couple nice plays as did Burnett, but overall our D was just not there today.
  • On one play Brad Jones made a bee line for the Giants’ sideline right after the snap – presumably to set himself in some kind of zone. It was one of the oddest things I’ve ever seen. Nobody was over there. He was covering space – taking himself out of the play completely. Kevin Greene talked to him afterward and I believe after another assignment whiff, he was benched in favor of Zombo and eventually Walden. Yes he managed a blocked kick and a sack – but overall Brad Jones just wasn’t the miracle answer to our ROLB problem.
  • Woodson had several questionable plays – including some uncharacteristically weak tackle attempts.
  • I have no idea what was going on schematically, but Tramon Williams at times was starting plays nearly 20 yards off the line of scrimmage. On at least 4 of those plays, he gave up quick passes to his guy and in 2 cases – significant yardage. One of those plays ended up being a huge 3rd down conversion. It was almost as though he didn’t know it was 3rd and short. Tramon Williams went from borderline superstar CB last year to borderline liability this year. He was not good today.
  • Not sure why we didn’t have any defenders taller than 5’10” back defending on that Hail Mary pass. Of course Nicks catches that towering over the guys – especially when only one of our guys jumped.
  • I don’t think the Giants did anything special today. One of the things I kept telling my dad is that Eli was just taking whatever our defense was giving to him. He played a smart, solid game in that regard – and of course our D gave him plenty. Sadly were it not for what looked like some horrendous calls FOR the Packers, the Giants might have scored 50 points.
  • Their defense borrowed a page from the Bears’ D – and I think it helps explain why Rodgers struggled like he did. They dropped their safeties often back into coverage (not necessarily deep, just both usually dropped) and generally, it seemed like the passing lanes were clogged back there. When the Bears have slowed Rodgers before, this is just what they do. To the Giants credit, because of this clogging, our WRs couldn’t seem to find any space.
  • The turnovers obviously killed us. I feel badly for Grant – he was trying to get a few extra yards – but that fumble really hurt.
  • The coaching today was not good. McCarthy’s mix of plays felt off. He had poor playcalling rhythm and just couldn’t seem to figure stuff out. The onside kick call was even odd. Usually I’m all for such calls – but I thought the timing on that one was particularly odd. One of the things I kept calling for was a play-action deep pass. Rodgers tried a couple play action plays, but didn’t pull the trigger on long passes. And the result of this? The Giants’ D was forcing us to play a shorter field and a shorter field with 2 dropped safeties can be really tough to throw against. Usually one of the keys to our offense is an early deep pass that keeps the defense honest. That didn’t happen today. While Rolle and Grant weren’t necessarily cheating forward today, they weren’t given reason to worry about the deep ball and held about 25-30 yards deep max. I was also disappointed that we didn’t work in a few more screens to counter their aggressive pass rush.
  • Dom Capers was not good today. In the first quarter, when the Giants were building their momentum, Capers insisted on rushing just 3 – but dropping LBs back into coverage (rather than having a bunch of DBs back there). The result was that we didn’t get any pass rush, of course, and Eli was passing to WRs and TEs who had favorable matchups. He also didn’t make many adjustments out there until the 3rd quarter, which was a bit better for our D. But then it’s like he lost focus or something in the 4th as the Giants put the game out of reach. While Capers certainly didn’t work the miracles this year that he worked last year after a number of injuries, I do feel for him a bit because we very clearly suffer from a lack of defensive talent.
  • It was interesting – toward the end, I saw Bishop line up more on the outside and he was really disruptive – not sure why they haven’t tried this more before.
  • Mathews was at times being double and triple teamed. He continued to not do a whole lot out there though, even on plays when he drew one-on-one matchups. He didn’t have a great season this year.
  • Disappointing end to an exciting season. We have a very interesting offseason ahead of us with lots of situations to figure out (Flynn, Finley, Capers, Moss etc). I just hope that TT focuses some on defense in the draft and in free agency, especially OLBs and safeties, CBs and DEs (everything I guess except DTs).
  • Just a really odd game. Hats off to the team for a great season and for getting deep into the playoffs (because of the bye), but a terribly disappointing finish.
  • Happy offseason to you all and as always, thanks for reading.

Dom capers wake up

January 15, 2012

Two straight plays dropping bad lbs into coverage while rushing three

Be at the game

January 15, 2012

Hope to share some game thoughts via iPhone throughout. Go pack. Holding to my latest 34-13 score – for pack of course. Our defense goes nuts.

Branch with push off too

January 14, 2012

Goodman did make contact but Branch pushed just enough to gain separation for the TD.

I didn’t think this would be a good game. NE is scary good. They are very much like the Packers in that it’s very difficult to know who is going to be getting the ball on each play (accept near the endzone when there is a 100% chance Gronkowski will get it). Very good team – if they meet Balt next week, it should be a tremendous game.

Gronkowski pushed off for 2nd TD

January 14, 2012

OK – I can admit the guy is good and difficult to tackle at the least. But he does push off from time to time and while it was somewhat discrete, he clearly pushed Chris Harris and that’s what gave him separation. Harris was sent backward leaving Gronkowski wide open. One thing that bothers me about Phil Simms is that he doesn’t notice stuff like that. Those are the kinds of no-calls that change games.

Fantastic first game by the way. San Fran had a courageous comeback there in the final minutes. In the end, while both the Saints and the 49ers are quality teams, I’d rather play San Fran in the NFC Championship if the Pack wins tomorrow. They are tough and gritty like their coach – but I don’t like Alex Smith’s chances against Aaron Rodgers who is still bitter about the draft…and will always be.

More Packers/Giants pregame thoughts

January 14, 2012

I’ve had the week to reflect a bit on this game and per norm, my thoughts on the game have evolved since my earlier post Monday.

  • I still feel confident in a win. I don’t like the Giants’ chances in this game.
  • The one chance the Giants may have, after thinking about this match-up a bit more, is to dedicate themselves to the run. Yes Eli has been on fire and despite not wanting to admit it – I have to say he has looked “elite” in recent weeks. But the Giants were already beaten in their own house by this same Packers’ team – in a track meet. They have to know that trying to win again via the track meet method is probably not a a good game plan – especially considering this time they are on the road in the hostile (though at the same time somehow friendly) confines of Lambeau Field, but also because the weather may be a bit more of a factor than it has for them in recent weeks. If the Giants dedicate themselves to the run – especially running at the right side of our defense, the Giants could control the clock to some extent, putting more pressure on our offense to succeed with fewer opportunities. To some extent this is what the Chiefs did (though they used lots of short passes too.) This is the one approach I can see the Giants taking that would keep the game close and possibly lead to their victory.
  • I know I know – our pass D (coverage + QB pressure) has been horrendous so why would the Giants gameplan away from a Packer weakness – and away from the Giants’ recent strength? By not controlling the clock some against the Packers (again like the Chiefs did with short passes, runs – 36 minutes to Packers 24), the Giants offense will be under tremendous pressure to play mistake-free ball against a shoddy D yes, but a D that makes a killing off turnovers. With pressure comes turnovers. And again, not sure the Giants have this same hunch, but I remain confident for whatever reason that passing on the Packers Sunday will be harder than it has been all season. I think Eli will struggle Sunday. (Interesting that I came across this article at this morning. Talks about Capers pulling out all the stops to show the defense just how bad they’ve been. I continue to feel like the defense will surprise people in the playoffs by playing with the sense of urgency they seem to have lacked for most of the year. It really matters now.)
  • One guy who could do some damage against us this week is former Badger, TE Travis Beckum. Despite openly ripping our defense recently in some article for a New Jersey publication (thus putting a target on his back), I think he is a guy with talent enough to really hurt us – especially if they can get him in matchups against Hawk. We’ll be so focused on watching their WRs that I can see Eli and co game-planning to include both Ballard and Beckum.
  • Emotion plays a big part in this game. The Packers are presently dealing with an unimaginable tragedy. I feel badly writing about it in a post about the game as it deserves another, separate post. But the fact is, in a game that will be full of raw emotion, in front of the home crowd, I can see this team focusing well and putting on a show. That means guys like Finley not dropping passes. Guys like Jennings reminding everyone that he has been out recently and that when he’s in, this team cannot be defended. That means guys stoked up on drenaline doing special things – Mathews, Bishop – maybe Burnett (big hits).
  • I continue to see this game as a sure win for the Packers and of course, I’ll feel responsible if it’s not.
  • Updated Score: Packers 34, Giants 13.

Packer Fans in NYC

January 13, 2012

Check this out from friend Schaef. Schaef used to go to this bar in NY when he lived there – sounds like a great Packer bar.



Read here from Packergeeks reader and fellow blogger Tom Freeman. More on Kettle Fish. Sounds like a great place.