Archive for the ‘NFC North’ Category

Favre takes another shot at Packers

April 30, 2010

Nice. Read here from a quote Favre gave to Ed Werder. (Thanks 56Coop for pointing this out.) I’m less interested in the bit about the ankle surgery and more troubled by his implication (though it’s more than implicit) that his one year with the Vikings was as meaningful as 10 years with the Packers in terms of his “since of belonging” (which of course should read “sense” of belonging). This from PFT:

Favre indicated that he doesn’t want the surgery but that he might have it because of his affection for the Vikings and his belief that they can win the Super Bowl. “We have spoken,” Favre said in an e-mail to Werder. “To play again, I would need the surgery, as I suspected. This decision would be easy if not for my teammates and the fans and the entire Vikings staff. One year truly felt like 10 — much like Green Bay for many years. That’s what I was missing in my heart I suppose, a since of belonging.”

Favre didn’t have a “since” of belonging in Green Bay? The place that embraced Favre and his family for 16+ years, adoring him and showering a mostly unconditional love on the guy no matter what happened? Maybe he didn’t have a “since” of belonging because he’d dress separately from the other players, not come to camp and avoid other QBs instead of mentor them. I hesitated to publish this post because I didn’t necessarily want to bring back the Favre Wars, but this comment ticked me off. Ok, I was set back for a moment there, but I’ve moved on again.


Quick thoughts on AZ/MN game

December 7, 2009

While most of my attention is presently focused on tonight’s Packer game, I wanted to throw out a few thoughts from last night’s AZ/MN game.

  • I picked AZ to win last night and was a bit surprised more people didn’t do this. AZ is a very hot team right now and their defense is evolving nicely under Billy Davis – their capable new D-Coordinator. Last night, the defense looked very sharp – and of course their offense remains so difficult to defend with those WRs and great pass blocking by Tim Hightower (great comments by Chris Collinsworth on this by the way). Warner also just looks good – and already smart player who has the luxury of being able to rely on the talent of his WRs.
  • AP should have had more than 13 carries. I know he only had a shocking 19 yards with those 13 carries and the MN line was dinged –  but he’s way to good to not eventually break one. The far bigger problem, however, with taking him out of the game like they did was that the MN offense became one-dimensional and the AZ defense was quite content to just drop back and expect passes.
  • Favre didn’t look great last night. It was the first time this season I saw that “we’re going to lose this game” look on his face – and it appeared in the 3rd quarter before they had truly lost.
  • It would be nice if this were the start of a slide – even a mini-slide. The Vikes needed their confidence shaken and I think a few more losses will accomplish this nicely.
  • I hate the Vikings, yes, but last night I felt pretty badly for EJ Henderson. He’s a very good player who is key for the Vikes and he’s obviously done for the year now. Besides the injury just being disgusting, I felt badly that he was in major pain  (I’ve heard breaking your femur is high on the list of most painful injuries). Losing Henderson may be extra painful for the Vikes though – especially for the stretch run…a time when historically, they are known to collapse.

Admit it Packer fans, Favre dominant this year

December 1, 2009

Brett Favre looks incredibly good so far this year. In fact, if I had to decide on NFL MVP right now, Favre would be in the mix (along with Charles Woodson, Manning, Chris Johnson). I don’t like to admit this because I’m still bothered by his role in the GB divorce and I hate anyone who has anything to do with the Vikings. I’ve heard the counter-arguments: that he’s played against mostly weak teams/defenses, or that he has Adrian Peterson behind him, or that the Vikes’ have a strong offensive line, or that their defense helps the team keep leads, or that the Vikes are just a very talented team overall. Those things are all true and yes they help. But I have seen him play enough this year to say confidently, Brett Favre might be playing at least close to this well just about anywhere right now. His passes are crisp, his timing is phenomenal, his pocket awareness is special, he’s shown he can still make any throw (and the MN offense hasn’t been shy about letting him let it fly), he’s not hiding behind AP and the run game and perhaps most curiously, his playcalling has been top-notch. (There have been rumors alleging that most of the offense’s success is due to Favre finally getting  the green light to call some of his own plays. Together with Bevell and possibly Childress, they are making tremendous play calls game after game.) Favre’s stats this year speak volumes: 24TDs, 3 picks, #2 in completion percentage at 69.3 and #1 in QB rating at 112.

I can’t say this surprises me though. As soon as the Vikes’ rumored interest in Favre surfaced earlier this year, I went on record saying he’d improve their record to at least 12-4. At that time, my 12-4 claim was mostly met with “Andy’s on crack again” comments. But I mostly held to it. I think it’s now safe to say the doubters were wrong. He has played extremely well this year. The offense is so smooth and very difficult to defend due largely to Favre’s performance. Heading into this season, the popular comment was “who’s he going to throw to?” Now it’s “man, look at all the weapons he has”. I think it’s fair to give some credit to Favre for making superstars out of guys who otherwise may have languished in mediocrity. He did it in Green Bay and he’s doing it in MN.

As well as Favre has played though, a question keeps popping up in my mind: did both the Packers and the Vikings end up winning in this divorce situation? I’m not saying this like the kid who says (pouting) “I didn’t want the most expensive brand new football that all of my friends got for Christmas anyway” here. I really am beginning to believe that this has worked out well for both the Pack and the Vikes. They got their franchise QB who could come in and provide competent quarterbacking while importantly bringing a strong sense of confidence to a position that had been a negative focus for years. The Packers, meanwhile, got a high quality young QB better suited to dealing with (and more willing to deal with) the ups and downs of leading a young team. The Vikings are dominating the division, but the Packers are slowly creeping back into the race – largely because of the efforts of Aaron Rodgers.

Wouldn’t it be something if these two teams squared off again this season, in the playoffs…and the Pack snatched the one that counts most!

Pre-game Pack/Lion thoughts

November 26, 2009
  • Yes, stop Kevin Smith – but make sure that when Culpepper does drop back, he’s scared into turnovers.
  • Last Detroit/Packers game, I warned about Brandon Pettigrew. I was a bit premature with that. But now he’s starting to look good and we should keep an extra eye on him.
  • Get the ball to Jennings again. Last week, I called for Jennings getting into the action early. McCarthy dutifully read through our pregame thoughts and obliged, featuring Jennings. He’s too good to lay low anymore – go to him over and over until defenses shift disproportionately his way, then pass to whoever is wide open.
  • Get Grant going and let him score some TDs. I don’t have him in my fantasy league – I just think it’s an important part of feeling like THE team’s RB. Get him some scores.
  • Even though we all had some criticism for the game plans Capers put together against the Vikes and against a few other opponents, there is something that should be said – the Packers’ defense statistically ranked fairly high and more importantly, for the first time in a long time, opponents are beginning to be concerned about facing our defense. Even when we were 13-3 in 2007, I don’t think teams were TOO concerned re what our defense might do. But with the blitzing and the turnover-causing and the occasional unpredictability, this defense is starting to show some signs of living up to the preseason billing.
  • BJ Raji may become more and more of a force – he looks pretty good to me.
  • Should be exciting to watch Brad Jones and Tramon get important/national TV starts. While I actually expect both to have good games and get Packer fans pumped for what may come, my enthusiasm will be tempered knowing this is Detroit.
  • I’d love to see a couple big returns by Jordy. He is a very patient return guy – kind of has the running patience of one Ron Dayne, when he patiently broke the NCAA rushing record at Wisconsin). He’s a smart returner and I’m guessing he’ll make a difference tomorrow.
  • I want the Packers to play a full 60 minutes tomorrow. Even if they jump out to a lead, I want them to stick with the game plan that hopefully will have gotten them the lead through at least 3.5 quarters – I don’t want them to back off and go into some prevent defense/offense crap. Detroit showed last week, albeit against Cleveland, some fight by coming back in the last seconds.
  • I can see 3-4 turnovers by the Lions and will be somewhat disappointed with fewer than 3.
  • I’ll say the same thing I said before the last Detroit/Packers game – I’m not too worried re this game. I know that’s cocky, and it’s the Thanksgiving game etc, but Rodgers is solid mentally and playing very well, Grant is finally getting the ball, McCarthy has sort of awakened to the need for playcalling balance, our defense scares opponents more than they have for quite a while and Detroit is just not a talented team.
  • Packers 34, Lions 17.

Jerome Bettis on Cutler

November 25, 2009

“At some point he has to accept some blame. Look, Jay: If you smell s— everywhere you go, it just might be you.”  (Here.)

Childress’ contract extended

November 19, 2009

I had considered commenting on this news by writing a tongue-in-cheek post about how maybe Favre wasn’t trying to stick it to Ted, but in fact, he was looking out for the Packers all along by signing with the Vikes. I would have argued that Favre figured he could pull one over on the rival he used to hate so much by going there, playing out of his mind and putting the team in a great position at 8-1 or so. Then management would feel pressure to consider extending Childress (something the Packers having been hoping would happen, for their sake). Childress would sign the extension. Then Favre would do everything possible to orchestrate a mighty collapse down the stretch (actually this would be accomplished mostly by no longer disregarding Chilly’s ideas) – making Vikings’ management strongly regret the decision to extend Childress. Favre might gain back some of his Packer supporters – leaving MN with 4 more years of Brad Childress as coach.

I decided not to write that post though because the problem is, Brad Childress has the Vikings at 8-1 and in a surprising number of games this season, he appears to have out-coached his counterpart. Certainly he has out-coached Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy twice. Now, I’d prefer to attribute the Vikes’ success to the other coaches, Favre, Adrian Peterson, the defense, the fact that he has a team so loaded with talent it would be hard NOT to squeeze success out of them – anything or anyone but Childress. But the fact is, as much as I hate to say it, Brad Childress hasn’t done a terrible job so far this year.

Now that I’ve puked up that difficult confession, would I have extended him if I were management? Absolutely not. At least not at this point in the season. He has not been a good coach in the years leading up to this one and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the talented teams from previous years seriously underachieved. And importantly, despite the team’s success this year, Childress is still making coaching errors that hurt his team.

But it is the fat-new-contract-curse most players/coaches have to fend off that has me hopeful. If things play out according to the curse, Childress should start cranking out some shocking losses for the team really soon – perhaps starting this weekend with a loss to Seattle.



Packers vs Vikings Game Keys

November 1, 2009
  • Ryan Grant, Brandon Jackson, (Ahman Green??), John Kuhn and Quinn Johnson. I particularly like reader RayMidge’s suggestion that the Pack try to work in Brandon Jackson a bit more (but still get Grant 20+ carries). I think McCarthy may go heavier with the run than he has before and it will pay off. I think McCarthy is aware of the declining reputation of Minnesota’s once vaunted run defense – they’re just not as good as they used to be. Also, I know my praise for Antoine Winfield borders on ridiculous, but his absence is huge and not just for the passing game. Winfield does more from his CB position that just about any CB in the league, including stepping up and stopping big runs. Couple Winfield’s absence with EJ Henderson either not playing or playing hurt and that makes the tackling at the second/third level suspect. Look for Ryan Grant to rack up some big yardage tomorrow.
  • If I were McCarthy, I’d start early on with a few run plays right at Jared Allen, with Quinn Johnson leading the way. Johnson flattening Allen would show immediately that being hyper doesn’t always win out. I’d also chuck a few screens over his head early on. Anything we can do to slow the guy down and/or limit his impact. He’s a total idiot yes, but he’s a good football player.
  • Work Greg Jenning early until he gets too much attention, then shift to…James Jones. (Go to Driver throughout.) Jones could be a quiet factor in this game. The Vikes are down their best corner in Winfield, so that would leave their #4 corner trying to stay with Jones. That shouldn’t be close. It might be smart for McCarthy to throw in a play or two for new #4 WR Jake Allen, by the way. Chances are MN won’t know the first thing about him and he might be able to create a match-up problem here and there (he’s 6’3″+ and has decent hands).
  • Two significant Packer players didn’t play much (or at all) in game 1 against Minnesota – Clay Matthews and Atari Bigby. Matthews did play and of course had that great strip/TD. But he’ll be on the field for far more time in this game than he was in game 1 and that’s good news. Atari Bigby, like friend Mike has said before, adds stability to our secondary because he can be trusted to be in the right place, if nothing else. Favre and co will be facing a less vulnerable defense tomorrow.
  • AJ Hawk and Nick Barnett. It’s easy to be active against crappy teams like Detroit and Cleve, but both of these guys were active and looked focused/sharp. Getting production from Hawk in particular when he’s in there could be a quiet bonus.
  • Cullen Jenkins. Even though his role in the 3-4 is said to be one of taking up blockers/gaps, Jenkins still manages to get stuff done. We could use a solid effort from him tomorrow. (I’ll throw in Raji too – not many really know what he’s capable of, this may be a good time to start showing it).
  • Assuming McCarthy starts TJ Lang at LT, it will be a huge advantage in this game (especially compared to the first game) for the Packers to have two quality veteran players backing up the young starting RT and LT in Tauscher and Clifton.
  • Jeremy Kapinos. He will have to punt at least a few times and field position will be important tomorrow.
  • I’d take my chances by letting Favre beat us again. If we can shut down Peterson, but still manage to at least get some pressure on Favre when he throws, I would be absolutely shocked if the Vikes pull out the win on the strength of Favre’s play like they did in game 1. Shocked. Our defensive line-up will be stronger than it was in game 1 and their defensive line-up will be considerably worse, it’s not at Mall of America Field (still can’t get over that), and I just don’t think Favre will be mentally dialed in tomorrow. Because he’s played well in a few big games this year, for some reason, lots of people are talking about how clutch Favre is and essentially, how mentally strong he is. As great as Favre was while a Packer, one concern we did blog about toward the end of his career in GB was this tendency to seemingly check out of games mentally. You’d see it on the sidelines when the cameras showed him standing around – he’d wear this somewhat vacant “we probably can’t win this game” look. He’d do this after he made a mistake later in a game or at least when the offense had a bad turnover later in the game.  I realize that this is a totally subjective comment, but I encourage you to look for this look in the 4th quarter tomorrow because I’m pretty sure we’ll see it.

Bears’ QBs – unreal

October 16, 2009

Like Jay Cutler or hate him, the following stat cited by Clark Judge in his article today, helps to explain why Chicago gave up so much to acquire the guy:

Cutler has a passer rating of 100 or better in his past three starts, the first Bears’ quarterback to achieve that since the statistic was first introduced in 1973. When Cutler has a passer rating of 100 or better, his teams are 13-0.

Amazing no Bears’ QB has done that for 36 years, amazing.

Packers/Vikings @ Mall of America Field

October 5, 2009

Seriously, the Metrodome sold its naming rights to the Mall of America, hence, Mall of America Field. That’s just about right for a team like the Viqueens.

Packergeek: “Favre’s a tool”

October 5, 2009

Quoting myself here – I just said this to myself out loud so I figured I could go ahead now and put it in quotes and post it. I wanted to write something profound and thoughtful about this whole situation today, but frankly, I’m tired of putting much thought into it anymore. So, I’ll simply leave you with the thoughts that seem to occur to me most often:

  1. Brett Favre is a tool for playing on the Vikings.
  2. For the last year and a half, I have felt like you do when you puke inside your mouth a little bit. I haven’t felt like you do when you all-out puke, but, you know, just a mini-puke. But ever since Favre cemented his anti-Packer stance by joining the Vikings, that bad taste has gone away. Thanks for your advice Brent, I have moved on.