Archive for the ‘green bay’ Category

Charles Woodson – screwed

December 8, 2008

UPDATE: Oops- in my earlier post…didn’t clarify what I meant by “screwed”. Simply meant that Woodson may have had a chance at Defensive Player of the Year if his team were more competitive. Some of the national folk (and the NFL itself) have recognized him as being exceptional this year.

Not sure I’ve seen a player make as many great plays in one year on defense (especially a Packer) than Charles Woodson has this year. His leaping-over-another-player take down of Steve Slaton was as impressive a play from DB as I’ve seen in a long time. While some might argue that he has just been blessed with the opportunity game after game to make tons of plays because nobody else is making them, I’d first laugh and acknowledge there’s some truth in that, but then add that the kinds of plays he’s making (diving to break up pass plays, aggressive and sure tacking, interceptions for TDs, QB pressures, etc) are special by themselves. While few players on our defense will get good grades from me at the end of the season, regardless of what he does the rest of the way, Woodson gets an A.


Interesting question from 56Coop

December 4, 2008

56Coop wondered in a comment earlier today:

What would things have been like had things worked out for Mike Holmgren to stay in Green Bay? Would the Packers have been a mini-dynasty like the Patriots?

What do you all think? It’s obviously difficult to even consider such a question because so many things would have been different, especially personnel-wise. So let us know your gut reaction here. Mine is simply that the Packers would have probably won one more Super Bowl (if Holmgren stayed in GB his whole career). Not sure why, but that was my first thought.

LeRoy Butler wants Pack to pick up veteran free agents for 2009

December 2, 2008

Read here from jsonline’s fine column – 5 questions with LeRoy Butler. He makes sense most of the time and jsonline usually does a good job of asking good questions. I agree w/Butler re giving Aaron Rodgers the chance to win the game Sunday down at the 1 yard-line (and I’ve read since that McCarthy regrets the 2nd down hand-off call to Jackson).

But I especially agree with Butler’s comments this week re the need for us to pick up some veteran free agents in the off-season noting that the youth movement may not be working out so well. One of my criticisms of TT’s philosophy has been that it seems so draft-heavy and youth-oriented that, like Butler, I worry we lack proper veteran leadership (and I also worry on a more basic level that we miss out on major, proven talent in free agency). This is part of the reason why I wanted a veteran QB to back-up Rodgers…almost just to have another veteran on the team who could provide veteran guidance/leadership. Read below for Butler’s comments:

Q. If you’re the Packers’ general manager, what would be your off-season priority?

A. The first thing I’d do is bring in some veteran free agents because the youth movement now may not be the answer. I’ve got to see some veterans, whether it’s a backup running back or a linebacker or a pass rusher. Continue to draft, but I’m going to try to bring in the best available free agent veterans. If it’s trading for Kellen Winslow in Cleveland or going out and getting the best available pass rusher, I would improve the team with some free agent veterans. I think that may be the difference in this team getting where it needs to be. The leadership must improve in the locker room. These guys are in their 20s. They’re not used to being leaders, they’re used to following leaders. You need to get some guys who are used to playing in the playoffs and can lead. That would be my first mission. That was the formula for the ’96 team. We brought in a lot of free agents. Guys like Bruce Wilkerson, Desmond Howard, Andre Rison. A lot of these guys were other teams’ rejects and we brought them in to play a role, to fill a need. And one of the guys wound up being a Super Bowl MVP, Desmond Howard. He was a former first-round pick who the Jacksonville Jaguars said they couldn’t play at any position. That may be the formula you can go back to at anytime.

Leadership is an important facet of this team that has been hit hard over the last year. In one year, we’ve lost the main leader of the team in Favre, our defensive leader in Barnett and probably our emotional leaders in KGB and Rob Davis (being in the front office is different than playing). We’ve also lost a very popular player in Jon Ryan. As fluffy as some may think it is to evaluate such things, I can’t help but think these losses have affected team morale and leadership. Couple this lack of veteran leadership with inexperience at the coaching level, and I think Butler is on to something here.

My hope is that we’ve only seen the first part of TT’s team-building philosophy so far. He has focused mostly on drafting and picking up a bunch of young guys here in his first few years. Now we have a bunch of young guys on the team and we have a better sense for which players can play. And, we have been able to establish a core group of quality young guys and we’ve been able to use the available cap space to sign them – to keep them around for a while. Not a bad overall team-building plan (though again, still too shy in free agency for my tastes).

My hope is that in the second phase (starting this year), TT may start getting rid of/trading those younger guys who aren’t good enough (Poppinga, Colledge, Moll, Hawk???) along with some veterans not pulling their weight (Clifton), and will fill those spots with quality veteran free agents. Or perhaps he will add quality free agents using a “best player available” mentality, not really position-specific. Either way, adding free agents this coming year, like Butler argues, makes sense to me too. I agree when Butler implies that it just feels like the balance is off with this team in particular and some quality veteran players could make a positive difference both with their play and with intangibles like leadership.

And one last note I’d add is that we don’t have to just pick up guys through free agency – we can trade players too. I would hope we’d find a way to think outside the box here to plug the holes on our roster. And one last, last note: I’m not writing this from a doomed, we totally suck perspective. I think the team is basically decent and that it has some real potential based on some of the players we already have. I am writing this because I think we could go from decent to great with a few smart moves.

Packers not done yet

December 1, 2008

This is going to be a weak argument. I’ll forewarn you. Following is the remaining schedule for the NFC North.

  • Packers: Houston, at Jax, at Chicago, Detroit
  • Vikes: at Det, at Arizona, Atlanta, NY Giants
  • Bears: Jax, New Orleans, GB, at Houston

There is one key factor right now, that may eventually play in favor of the Pack. If the Packers win against the Bears AND Detroit and win either or both of the other games, they would be in the best position for the divisional tie-breaker (MN and Chi would presumably finish 4-2 in the NFC North and GB would be 5-1 – and the Pack would already beat the Bears in head-to-head). Should the Pack tie for the NFC North’s best record at 9-7 or 8-8, the Pack would still have a chance to move on. Yes, not too likely right now, but there is still a chance.

Perhaps a more compelling reason the season may not end Dec 28th though, is that the Vikings have Frerotte and Childress. Last year, I spent much of my time ripping on Eli Manning only to have him put it in my face big-time in the NFC Championship and then the Super Bowl. And I have been ripping steadily on Childress and Frerotte this year so a very small part of me worries that I’ll be made to eat crow again. But the difference is that we’re talking about Childress and Frerotte. While Adrian Peterson and the Vikes’ D-Line do run interference with my hope for a massive late-season Vikings collapse…again…Frerotte and Childress restore that hope. Add to it the Vikings’ long history of choking and I’m getting foolishly excited again suddenly. Ok not really, but I’m not giving up just yet.

Frost out in the cold – finally…

December 1, 2008

Thanks to Trav for bringing this to our attention. Derrick Frost is finally gone – read here.

There is a rumor going around…in my office…that a certain Packergeek may try out. Will keep you posted.

What would Belichick have done?

December 1, 2008

This is a question I often ask myself whenever there is a major coaching decision to be made. 4th and 1 on the opponents’ 1 yard line? There is no question that Belichick would have gone for it…with Matt Cassel behind center or Tom Brady…with RB BenJarvis Johnson-Smith-Claxine-Waters-Green-Ellis or Corey Dillon…wouldn’t matter. He would have gone for it. Belichick wouldn’t have run it 3 times either – would have probably tried at least one pass play.

That said, at the time, I was hesitant myself to agree with Steve who was screaming over the phone that we had to go for it. His case was understandably based in part on the horrendous kick-off coverage – noting it would be relatively easy for Carolina with that much time to get down the field to at least tie on a field goal – but much harder for them to score a TD. After talking for a minute, I agreed with him, but I was still thinking about the need to just get points on the board to take the lead. I don’t see McCarthy’s decision as an egregious, unforgivable error. It was an understandable decision. But this did strike me as one of those situations where a coach could put himself on the line a bit and make a ballsy call. So again, ask yourself what the best coach of the last decade would have done (OK yes, he probably would have had the advantage of knowing ahead of time what defensive line-up Carolina would have used due to having studied the illegal video library of their situational defenses…but still) – he would have gone for it.

Also, in the end, I would have rather lost having taken a chance with our strong offense than losing the way we did.

We could also ask what Mike Sherman would have done – probably punted.

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 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.

Game Keys – New Orleans

November 24, 2008
  • As I posted last week time of possession is huge tonight. Keep Brees off the field and our defense as fresh as it can be. Even if we fall behind, don’t give up the run. Yes, definitely, mix in a bunch of quality pass plays (including the fail-proof play I suggested last night), but keep in mind the importance of owning time of possession. Get the run going to open up the pass – just like last week’s game. Again, I want Grant to have 30 carries tonight.
  • Hurry Brees. I haven’t put much in previous “Game Keys” posts this year asking for our D-Line to do much (mostly because I haven’t felt confident they could). But tonight, I want Brees to be hurried and pressured and sacked. I want him to fumble and I want us to pick up the ball for a TD. I want Brees to get out of rhythm. I want Kampman to lead the charge and to play like the dominating DE I think he can still be (he’s been only OK this year, despite decent sack numbers). The secondary does its job week after week and Brees is already fully aware of our DBs – but if the D-Line steps it up a notch, the New Orleans pass offense, #1 in the NFL, could be in for a long night.
  • 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.
  • On offense, I want to see Lee and Humphrey (maybe Finley) get some passes. Humphrey has this big-guy-falling-forward-hard-to-get-down type running style that could some day, health permitting, make him one of those throw-to-him-you-get-an-automatic-first-down type guys.
  • If New Orleans is overcompensating for Jennings, throw it to him a few times anyway because he’ll probably still make a few good plays – but tonight, I would recommend leaning heavily on Driver. Driver will be emotionally pumped up considering his personal situation and the fact that he’s always that way. But he’s still a very good receiver and his veteran instincts against a suspect secondary could lead to a huge night. Depending on weather Jones plays or not, going to a few 4-5 WR sets might work particularly well tonight considering the opposing defense.

jsonline trying to jinx Pack?

November 24, 2008

Two articles over the last few days over at jsonline: one re Grant working hard on not fumbling and now another today about Rodgers trying not to throw picks. Wonder what jsonline writers are worried about tonight.