Archive for the ‘Packer Opponents’ Category

NFL too harsh in Matt Bryant situation

October 3, 2008

Heading into the Packers/Bucs game last week, TB was notified that there would not be a roster exemption offered to the team in order for them to pick up another kicker if the devastated Matt Bryant decided not to play. (Bryant’s 3 month old son died unexpectedly last Wednesday). The Bucs would have had to cut someone in order to make room for a temporary replacement Kicker. Read here from the Orlando Sentinel for more. There is some sentiment around the league that this was unnecessarily harsh and I agree. has the following from fellow kicker Shayne Graham:

Kicker Shayne Graham is not pleased with the way the NFL handled a situation with Tampa Bay kicker Matt Bryant, whose 3-month-old son, Matthew Tryson, died in his sleep last Wednesday. Bryant didn’t practice during the week and coach Jon Gruden left up to him the decision to play, the Associated Press said. One day after the baby’s funeral, Bryant returned to kick three field goals in a Buccaneers win over Green Bay. Graham doesn’t think Bryant had much choice in his quick return. “I just think it put him in a tough (place) where he wasn’t allowed to be selfish in that situation. And I think in that kind of situation you should be allowed to be selfish and make that decision based on just you, and how you feel and your family feels. But he had to think about his team, and think, ‘OK, well if I don’t play they’re going to have to cut somebody.’ I just think that’s a shame.” The NFL has made exemptions for suspended players or those who have been in trouble with the law, Graham said. He doesn’t think it’s right for a grieving parent to be denied the same opportunity.

I’m not sure if Graham had inside knowledge of what Bryant thought about all of this or if he was just commenting from an outsider’s perspective. Either way, a roster exemption should have been offered. Perhaps if it would make the NFL feel better they could stipulate that the extra player picked up has to play the same position as the player not playing – in this case, a kicker.


Matt Millen done in Detroit

September 24, 2008

Good. This is better for the NFL. However, as a Packer fan, this isn’t good news. I’d grown rather fond of being assured the Lions would not improve via the draft or free agency from year to year.

Game thoughts – Packers/Cowboys

September 22, 2008

I was lucky enough to go to the game last night. It was exciting and the atmosphere before the game was playoff-like. It was a fun game really until the second half. Players were pumped on both sides and the fans were all energized. Fun game to see live. In the end, the Packers were over-matched. I picked Dallas to win the Super Bowl because I expect them to continue playing like this.

The Concerns:

  • Dallas is good, very good on offense and defense. Their O-Line averages 6’6″ tall and 327.4 pounds a guy. That helps explain why our D-Line was noticeably dragging by the 3rd quarter or so.
  • The Packers were seriously out-coached. When is Wade Phillips going to get credit for being a really good coach? We couldn’t keep up with their offense and their defense seemed to know exactly what was coming.
  • Barber/Jones make for a scary duo – really good backs.
  • Nobody is better at finding space than Jason Witten – this guy is really good.
  • Aaron Rouse struggled with positioning in coverage on a few occasions – some of which were important (several Witten passes). There were a couple plays (the second Miles Austin catch) where I thought Bigby might have been in a better position to make a play. Overall he was OK but he seems a bit off in coverage
  • Collins’ injury issues hurt the Packers. He often gets hurt during games and his absence then appears to disrupt the secondary. He had one break-down in coverage on Austin’s first catch, but outside of that, he was solid. There was a big drop-off when Peprah came in.
  • Communication in the secondary was not effective, especially after the injuries.
  • At one point in the 4th quarter I asked my friend why Dallas was throwing the ball at all considering they were running at will, and then we noticed that Woodson was the only secondary starter on the field. Smart coaching by Dallas and it worked.
  • Rodgers was flustered. I don’t think he was bad necessarily, but he wasn’t good either. Romo faced similar pressure and seemed to demonstrate to me anyway, that he is a level above Rodgers because he found a way to make some key passes in the face of massive pressure. There were a few occasions when Rodgers tucked and ran prematurely. But his second half problem was that his eyes were locking on targets. He forced a few incomplete passes Jordy Nelson’s way because he was locked on him and the Cowboys knew where he was throwing it.
  • Mike McCarthy’s play-calling was poor. He had poor game-flow and a poor mix of plays. I believe it was the second quarter when McCarthy seemed to abandon the run making defending the Pack fairly predictable. But throughout the game Dallas, to their credit, appeared to know exactly what was coming.
  • Being at the game was helpful in that I noticed some stuff the TV coverage can’t pick up. One of these things was Dallas’ handling of our slant patterns. Not only was Rodgers pressured a lot, but his receivers weren’t getting too open. Dallas was dropping linebackers back and bringing safeties forward into the slant pattern zones cutting off that option – they did this very effectively. And, their corners were playing the slants big-time in part because they didn’t seem to feel threatened a pass over their heads.
  • Before the game, I had indicated that Rodgers needed to try a few deep balls early to stretch the field and keep Dallas honest. Again, the Cowboys’ safeties were able to cheat up pretty far at times to make plays on the many slant patterns run and to even stop the run. The Dallas secondary bunched the field like an U-8 soccer game.
  • Donald Lee needs to get more involved in the passing game. He wasn’t getting open in space or down the seam.
  • The O-Line was very bad. They didn’t defend the pass rush and the holes our RBs had were pretty small. Grant and Jackson did well to get the yards they did.
  • Our D-Line was dragging – lack of depth apparent. There were several 3rd and 4th quarter series-changes when a few of the guys seemed to barely make it off the field before our offense resumed play.
  • A little concern from this Packergeek re Packer depth right now.
  • Frost’s punting was not stellar. While his #s may not appear to be bad (49 yard average), his hang-time was weak.

The Positives:

  • Rodgers didn’t throw a pick or fumble in a game he could have easily done so.
  • Mason Crosby continues to show he may be one of the quietest, most effective draft picks in a long time. FGs and kickoffs.
  • Will Blackmon. I love his energy on special teams and if it weren’t for the automatic flag thrown on 2 of his returns, he would have had good return numbers. He just makes plays too as he showed on defense prying the ball loose from Barber with 5 minutes left. He also would have had an interception if Collins hadn’t picked that one off in the end zone.
  • Outside of giving up the costly TD to Miles Austin, Tramon Williams’ coverage disrupted 3 pass plays to TO. The first, he batted the ball down. The second two, Owens was Romo’s first read and Romo immediately had to alter his read (to Witten of course) because Williams was on TO tight.
  • Good pass rush by the Pack – Romo too was under a lot of pressure last night.
  • Donald Lee had some quality blocks on run plays and a few pass plays – especially against DeMarcus Ware.
  • Jennings is a major playmaker. Sorry, I’ll say it right here – at least right now, he’s better than Moss and TO.
  • Jackson was good – slippery.

Cowboy fans not belligerent or anything, just obnoxious

September 22, 2008

I was at the game last night. Very disappointing. I didn’t write this post because I’m a bad loser and I’m bitter etc. We were thoroughly outplayed, we weren’t as physical, we were out-coached big-time and we lost the game at the line of scrimmage. I write this post because the Dallas fans in attendance were obnoxious. They weren’t belligerent Eagles’ fan obnoxious – there was just a lot of annoying self-promotion and taunting going on – especially toward the end of the game. Most of their fans spent a majority of the game standing up (blocking the view of those behind them) so that they could point to Cowboy jerseys they were wearing. Several near us were making the U of Texas horns symbol with their fingers even though the U of Texas wasn’t playing (and I don’t think the Cowboys have hardly any U of T players playing for them). In fact one guy was making that symbol throughout the game and screaming “hook ’em horns” – and I don’t think he was drunk. What? He also had a blue tooth cell phone headset thing on the whole game and a giant class ring on his finger. He also appeared ruffled when the guy next to him accidentally messed up his carefully coiffed hair during one TD celebration.

I did think for a fleeting moment that maybe they were just having a good time and I wasn’t so I drifted negative/critical. But I did have a good time despite the loss and I recognize we lost to a better team. Maybe it’s just that the way they were having a good time was a lame way of having a good time.

Game Keys – Dallas

September 19, 2008

Having picked Dallas to win the Super Bowl, I obviously believe that they are a legit team. They are talented, they play hard and they are led by a guy who really, really wants to win. Romo may have what appears to be an easy-going, it’s all good, persona off the field. But when he plays, he plays really hard and wants to win badly. I still think (as I did before our fantasy draft) that Romo and Brees are this year’s Manning and Brady (I took Brees at #4 pick overall and I thought re taking Romo).

  • GB’s linebacking corps has perhaps its toughest assignment of the year this week – stopping a relentless runner in Marion Barber (as well as a shiftier runner in Felix Jones) AND, and this is a big AND, accounting for the highly talented Jason Witten. Witten is a monster out there and he is Romo’s security blanket. Some of the coverage duties may fall to Collins and/or Rouse too, so these guys also will need to step up this week. Take away Witten (and to a much lesser extent Martellus Bennett) and you take away the option Romo feels he can fall back on for 90% of their pass plays.
  • Having Woodson cover TO. I firmly agree with CheeseheadTV on this one. Harris has been known to shut down some quality receivers in the past few years, but last year both Plax and TO ate him up – and overall, Harris is not playing to the level he played at just 2 years ago. Also, Woodson adds a dimension in coverage that Harris appears to lack – the ability to jump routes, read QBs and come away with interceptions. If Woodson covers TO and has an early pick (actually, ironically, like Harris did last year if only the officiating didn’t totally suck in that game), it might make Romo even the slightest bit gun shy re firing over to TO.
  • Rouse needs a big play early. When Rouse is only peripherally involved in a game, he tends to look lost (like last week in Detroit) and importantly, he’s just not that effective. But when he makes a noticeable play, especially early on, it seems to light a fire in him. It almost reminds him that he can play at this level.
  • Keeping close tabs on DeMarcus Ware. This guy is super-talented and our O-Line and especially our RBs need to do everything possible to keep this guy at bay. He also can be a punishing hitter when he does have an open shot at the QB – so keep him away.
  • Screens – I know I often include screens in game keys mostly because I think they can be very effective, though seldom used, plays. And when you have an aggressive front 7 like Dallas, screens can also help tame that aggressiveness because they can be not-so-subtle reminders to defenders that pushing up field on every play isn’t always the best defensive strategy.
  • Countering their TE game plan with our own. After studying game film, Dallas is likely focusing on Jennings, Driver, Grant maybe, possibly James Jones – but probably not as worried re Donald Lee and Tory Humphrey. Sunday night would be a good time to remind other NFL teams going forward that they need to not only account for all 5 of our receivers and our RB when we’re passing, but also our solid TEs.
  • Writer Jason Wilde (Wisconsin State Journal) made a great point on ESPN Milwaukee radio the other day when he said that when Grant played last week, he got the ball on 15 of the 20 plays he was in. So Wilde was saying MM needs to be careful re doing something like this again because it becomes painfully obvious that when Grant goes in, chances are really good he’ll get the ball. I agree with what I believe Wilde’s larger point was – that Grant should either just play 100% as the starter or maybe not play at all. (Lumpkin is ready for primetime anyway).
  • Get the Dallas secondary on its heels right away with a few long, early bombs.
  • D-Line pressure would be nice, but Romo is very mobile so I think tight coverage is more important. Romo tends to get antsy after a bit of time if his guys are covered and that’s when he makes mistakes.
  • Mason Crosby could be called upon to decide this game. He’s ready.

Wilf – or I mean Childress benches Tarvaris

September 17, 2008

Your team is in trouble when 63% of your fans are pleading for Gus Frerotte to start.

Interesting move in MN. Read this article. In 3 days, Childress has gone from confirming that Tarvaris will be the starter this week vs Carolina to stating Frerotte will not only be the starter but that “Frerotte will be the quarterback for the rest of the season”. Childress also spent a good part of the offseason declaring at any opportunity that Tarvaris was the guy and that he had confidence in him. Now he’s flip-flopped. Wow. This leads me to believe that either Childress is arbitrary and incompetent or that this was not a decision made by Childress. Actually, it’s probably just both! I think owner-guy Wilf came down and said “Brad, I obviously made a huge mistake by hiring you. Let’s just get that on the table. But also, I don’t want Tarvaris starting anymore – your project is through. I want the ‘greatest free agent acquisition of all time’, Gus Frerotte, to start.” Like the Brewers recent firing of Yost, I just don’t think this was Childress’ decision – Childress’ only decision was to bench Tarvaris or lose his job.

Now, many (or at least Brother Steve) may be wondering how I can account for my belief that Tarvaris would be a good QB at this point. Well, it’s harder, that’s for sure. But I think there are several factors. I spent a few minutes the other night reading the Startribune and a few Viking blogs to get a pulse for whom fans blamed most for the game on Sunday. Lots of criticism of T-Jack for sure, I’d say the most criticism for Childress, and a decent lashing too for the receiving targets (there was one startribune article that talked about how bad the Vikes receivers/TE are and how they aren’t getting open). I still contend the guy has potential but I also can’t ignore some of the obvious stats like a lifetime passer rating of 68.2 and 12 career passing TDs vs 17 Ints. He has not been good in the first two games and has not had a remarkable career either.

That said, after reading these articles/posts and thinking more about this surprising move, it made me wonder: what would Tarvaris be like if he were QB of a different team with a good coach and good receivers- like the Packers? What if he were groomed by McCarthy? I wonder if he would stand a better chance on a team with a competent (or in MM’s case, near brilliant) coach and a helpful receiving corps. I’m obviously making a fairly desperate argument here at this point, but there is still something that is telling me Tarvaris might still be good under different circumstances. Despite Frerotte being incredibly mediocre, his play under Jackson’s same circumstances might be a good indication of how bad Jackson may really be or how much potential he may still have. Still, I wouldn’t have pulled the plug on the Jackson project just yet – I would have given him at least a few more games. We’ll see.

Is Tarvaris Jackson a right-handed Michael Vick?

September 9, 2008
  • Both wear #7
  • Both have the same sort of throwing motion – almost a coil of some sort and then the ball leaves like a bullet.
  • Both present a similar running threat and leaves opposing fans watching the game with the same thought “crap, he’s gonna take off and we have nobody close to contain him and even if we did there is a good chance he’d juke his way around our guy leaving us exposed for a huge gainer”. Though Vick is a shiftier runner and Tarvaris, while having some quickness, is more of a power runner, both are scary when they tuck and run.
  • Neither has had the luxury of playing with super talented WRs (though Vick did have an unstoppable Alge Crumpler back in the day).
  • Both are quite inconsistent and struggle in the accuracy department.

Now, one main difference, of course, is that Tarvaris Jackson is starting and playing QB in the NFL and Michael Vick is in prison “learning” from the error of his ways. Tarvaris, by all accounts, is a decent guy.

I still contend Tarvaris is talented and deserves a chance and Brother Steve still thinks he sucks. Last night didn’t help either side much in the debate – though his interception and overall inconsistent play tips the debate in Steve’s favor.

The Packers defense did affect T-Jack’s play quite a bit. Our D applied good pressure and our coverage appeared to be fairly tight. Still, his ability to run the ball added a dimension that was difficult for the defense to contain and he had a couple of bullets that found receivers. Importantly, he helped to lead the comeback at the end of the game (of course, only to fizzle out in the end with a badly thrown pick).

After the game, watching WISN’s post-game coverage, Andy Kendeigh took a shot at Tarvaris saying now he sees why the Vikes apparently wanted Favre. Then, seconds later, Steve “the Homer” True, who helped with WISN’s post-game coverage said that Kendeigh and Needles were a bit off for ripping on T-Jack because though he didn’t have a great first half, he was the one who led the comeback in the second (until the bad pick).

We’ll see – we have a season to go. For now though, in the Question Mark QB Division, I think it’s safe to say Rodgers takes a comfortable lead, followed by Orton, leaving Kitna and Tarvaris dueling for 3rd.

(Note: don’t read this Brad Childress but…why don’t the Vikes throw more screens to AP?)

Chicago Bears personnel decisions – horrendous

August 13, 2008

What is wrong with the Chicago Bears and GM Jerry Angelo? I hesitate to write what I’m about to write only because I wouldn’t want the Bears to read it and get smart, saying to themselves: “Holy crap, we are so freakin’ stupid!

In 2005, the Bears drafted Cedric Benson with the 4th overall pick in the draft. When they did this, I remember telling Brother Steve immediately that it was a big mistake. Steve disagreed largely because of Benson’s quality college work. But my argument was based on what the Bears already had – Thomas Jones, a rising star. The Bears could have been in a much better position long-term by drafting any of a number of other guys with the #4 pick and sticking with the Jones/Adrian Peterson duo. I know some people believe that the platooning of Benson and Jones helped the team reach the Super Bowl that year, but that is just not the case. Jones by himself was very good and Benson’s #s weren’t bad only because he was in mostly on 3rd down, free-RB-yardage plays. And the offense as a whole was just not good leaving Devin Hester and the defense to win most of the games. Deciding to then jettison Jones after the season was really shortsighted. Sure, it’s easy to say now that things have played out this way, but again, I didn’t like the move the day they drafted Benson. And, on top of everything, Benson had a horrible attitude from day 1, something there were rumblings about before the draft. He eventually would whine about not being the guy and the Bears gave him what he wanted. And then he sucked. And the Bears sucked…and they still suck.

The second major error of course is this insistence that they are fine at the QB position. Grossman and Orton both are at best back-ups and maybe even on a good number of teams, third-stringers. These guys are not good. Again, I know the floating logic in the Bears’ personnel offices is that Rex took them to the Super Bowl, but again, that is not what happened. They got to the Super Bowl despite having Rex out there and had no chance to win that big game with him on the field. Here, by the way, is case-closed evidence for their respective terribleness, if you will:

  • Orton’s career numbers: 62 QB rating, 12 TDs, 15 INTs, 52% completion rate
  • Grossman’s career numbers: 70 QB rating, 31 TDs, 33 INTs, 54% completion rate

These are horrendous numbers and the fact that these two are “battling it out” is really unbelievable, but great for the rest of us in the NFC North.

The third major error is drafting Chris Williams with the 16th pick in this year’s draft. The Bears front office was right, maybe for the only time since drafting Devin Hester (and Garrett Wolfe who will be good this year), to think about bolstering the offensive line. As bad as Benson, Orton and Grossman are, they weren’t helped especially last year by shoddy O-Line play. Williams to most observers was a highly revered O-Line guy. But many teams had taken him off their draft boards when they learned re his chronic back problem. Sure enough, camp has barely started and the guy is going to get surgery on his back – and one scout even noted here that it may not just be a season-ending injury, but possibly a career-ending injury. But it’s this kind of quote from Lovie Smith that really makes me wonder sometimes if there is a cloud of denial that hangs around the Bears front office re obvious personnel mistakes:

”We don’t know anything about [Williams being removed from other teams’ draft boards],” coach Lovie Smith said. ”He wasn’t falling off ours. This injury, from what I am told, isn’t a pre-existing injury, so that is what we’re going with. Injuries happen in camp, and you go from there. We were unlucky a little bit with this, but Chris will be OK and we’ll go from there.”

(Incidentally, their other O-lineman Terrence Metcalf also appears to be out for a while with a knee injury. So much for building up their O-line).

Again, as a Packer fan, I really like Jerry Angelo. I think he’s great at what he does if his goal is helping the Packers win the NFC North. But knowing how many Bears fans criticized the Packers for their role in pushing Favre out, I think they ought to remove the logs from their own eyes first…to get misquoted Biblical on you.

Brother Steve to be blindsided by Tarvaris Jackson?

August 12, 2008

Despite Brother Steve’s firm belief that Minnesota starting QB Tarvaris Jackson is horrible (a belief he shares with a good many other Packer fans), there is growing evidence to the contrary. Read here as Vic Carucci writes about how Jackson has matured and progressed to the point where the Vikings are quite confident in him. Also, read about how he handled the Favre’s rumors. I especially liked this snippet:

Besides, Jackson knew he wasn’t alone. He knew that in addition to the speculation that Favre could join the Vikings, there also was buzz about him winding up with a team — the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — that has a far more established quarterback.

Jeff Garcia led them to the playoffs last year, and is a pretty good quarterback, a Pro Bowl quarterback,” Jackson said. “So why do I have a right to be mad about my situation when I haven’t even done that yet?”

Steve and I continue to see Jackson’s abilities and potential very differently. I think he could be really, really good this year and in the next few years. I think it’s significant that he was 8-4 as a starter last year. Sure, he had Peterson in the fold which helps any QB, but 8-4 is a good record. He has amazing physical attributes and apparently he’s reached a much greater comfort level with the play-book and the whole being a team leader duty. And, I’m not just reacting to this article. I’ve read several other articles like it in the off-season and dating back to last year – so multiple sources have observed these improving qualities. I think it’s about time Steve and many other Packer fans who are so willing to cast this QB aside, wake up and realize that he could be responsible in good part for helping the Vikings battle for NFC North supremacy.

Favre – latest update…more bizarre stuff

August 1, 2008

Watch here on ESPN (that is, if you can get past the horrible zoom-in, zoom-out nature of the video). Anyway, more odd stuff. Now Favre is apparently considering accepting the bribe. (I’m still calling it a bribe until more info leads me to think otherwise. Here’s a definition of bribe: something, such as money or a favor, offered or given to a person in a position of trust to influence that person’s views or conduct  – that’s exactly what this offer is about). As if Favre strongly considering taking the bribe isn’t strange enough, Favre then goes on to say that if the Packers won’t let him play for the Packers, then they should at least let him play in the division against them. What? Why would he say this right after indicating he may accept the bribe? Because he worked something out in March with the Vikings?

What a really really odd situation this is. Despite our insistence that this is a bribe (again, because with the info we have in front of us presently, it is a bribe), I still want to give a bit of latitude to the Packers front office for now because I do wonder what’s really going on behind the scenes. One worry I have is if the Packers have known of Favre’s plan to try to play for the Vikings all along and they are trying their best to keep a lid on it to preserve Favre’s legacy – to essentially save him from himself. Perhaps they know how damaging Favre-to-the-Vikings would be for his legacy so they’re trying to prevent it (and of course, they don’t want to face him in the division). But for whatever reason, Favre seems to be oblivious to this.

Umm, and what happened to the Jets trade rumors that had heated up last night?