Sunday, December 11, 2011

Where is Brett Favre's Place in History?

When I went to Green Bay for the Rams game, I bought my son and daughter each things from the stadium Packers Pro Shop. I knew that these things would mean more to them because of where they came from. One of the things I got for Hunter was a 2011 Packers team set of football cards. He thought it was awesome. He looks at the cards over and over and is constantly asking questions about Not just the stats on the cards, but what I think about the team and who I think are the best Packers of all time. He also asked if I had cards from when I was a kid. Up into the attic I went. I happen to have a decent sized collection of football and baseball cards, including a Tony Gwynn rookie, 2 Ken Griffey Jr rookies and a few different Brett Favre rookies.

I also have a 1995 Team Pinnacle insert card with Favre on one side and John Elway on the other. Well, Hunter is already a Packers knowledge sponge and he knows that the Packers lost to the Broncos in Super Bowl 32. So Hunter starts asking me questions. About that Super Bowl. About why Favre was in a Falcons jersey on his rookie card. About Don Majkowski. And then he dropped the bombshell on me. "Dad do you think John Elway was a better QB than Brett Favre?"

The real bombshell to me was that the answer came to me so quickly. I told him that yes, I did think Elway was a better QB than Favre. Elway took the Broncos to a total of 5 Super Bowls and won 2. He had led the Drive. He was THE comeback QB for the Broncos before there was Tebow. And I think in a different era Elway would have had more yards and TDs.

The more I thought about it, the more frustrated I got. I'm a Packers fan. How could I dare to take Elway before Favre? I just kept coming back to the early Super Bowls and what could have been. I also remember thinking about how Elway grew as a player. As he got older, Elway became a much more thoughtful QB. His completion percentage went way up in the 2nd half of his career and his TD/INT ratio was much improved as well.

You can't say the same for Favre. He was the same gunslinger at 41 as he was at 23. The more I looked at the stats, the INTs, the playoff runs that were ended by horrible throws, the more I realized why I've been so mad at Favre for so long. It wasn't because he went to Minnesota. It wasn't because he thumbed his nose at the fans by saying the Viking fans were better. And it wasn't because of the obscene texts he sent. I'm mad at Favre because instead of continuing to grow as a QB, Favre chose to just sling the ball around. I'm mad because Brett Favre is the most talented QB I've had the pleasure to watch live. I'm mad because Brett Favre's place in History should be at the top of the mountain by a long shot and he's not.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thank You Skip Bayless

I know, I know. WTF am I thinking? Thanking Skip Bayless? Why would I do such a stupid thing? I dislike Skip just as much as the next Packers fan. He's a troll, plain and simple. I've been begging people to stop feeding him. So why am I saying thank you? I'll get there. But first, some of the tweets that get everyone so torqued off.

1. "All I'm saying about Packers: They don't have that 1 win vs. NE, Balt, Pitt, SF, .O., Dallas or any hot/healthy team that made me say wow." So, he's saying we didn't play the Saints the first week of the year I guess.

2. "You'd better believe I'm taking Tebow over ARodg in last 2 mins. I've SEEN Tebow do it again/again/again. ARodg hasn't had many chances." I was left speechless after this one.

3. "Kevin Smith lost early, more DB injuries, Hanson missed easy FG, Suh self-destructs - this season meant-to-be for Green Bay. More breaks!" Yep, they've caught every break. Nothing like the great breaks of losing one of your top DBs in the second game of the year, losing your long time LT for several weeks and having a starting DE miss more than half the season.

4. "For that matter, I dare Aaron Rodgers to try to convince me face to face how all-time great HE is. He's certainly arrogant enough to do so." This one angers me more than anything. Rodgers has never claimed to be anything. It's fans, the media and Rodgers own play (but certainly not his words) that have put him on the pedestal.

So, why do I say thanks to Skp? Simple. Rodgers himself has spoken about using falling in the draft and the fallout from trading Favre so Aaron could start as fuel to keep getting better. We as fans get to watch an 11-0 football team that still plays with a chip on their shoulder.  I truly believe that the naysayers like Skip are a big reason for it. So here's to hoping Skip can naysay Rodgers to the MVP and the Packers to the SUPER BOWL.


Monday, November 14, 2011

The Birth of a Packers Fan

The Packers are about to start their game against the Vikings. But I'm not even listening to the pregame right now. I'm watching my son Hunter. He's in his Mason Crosby jersey because "He's the best kicker in the history of ever!" He's anxiously wearing the family cheesehead (all game long). He's got his Packers socks on so he can pull them to help the defense on big plays. He's asking me about why they named the stadium Lambeau and telling me how awesome it is that the Trophy is named after a Packers head coach.

I can't describe how happy it makes me to see him picking up so much about the game. He calls holding on every play (just like his daddy). He looks at the other team's secondary and calls out the open receivers. He wants them to go for it on every 4th and short. Someone got him the Packers team set of football cards and he looks at them constantly during the game. He asks me who my favorite Packer is, who my favorite coach is, who I loved watching that doesn't play anymore.

I know I can thank his Wii Madden football game for some of this. He plays a game or two a day, learning the plays and what the defense looks like. He goes for 2 at least once a game to keep the other team off balance. He lets his 7 year old sister Mackenzie play with him. She plays WR or RB and he does his best to keep her involved too.

As the game goes on, his game face goes on. He jumps up off the couch and runs with Randall Cobb as he returns a punt for a TD. Last year around this time Hunter would maybe make it through a quarter. In a really exciting game it would be a half. This year, after every Packers score Hunter reminds me of a promise I made to him around I think week 3. He had asked me if the Packers could go undefeated. I said, "Hunter...if the Packers go undefeated...I'll take you to the Superbowl." Of course I said it because I didn't think it was possible.The Packers seem determined to prove me wrong.

And I couldn't be happier.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Is This the Week the Trap Game is Actually a Trap Game?

I say it every week. "a lot of people think this game against the Broncos is a trap game. I agree." "The Packers are 7-0, so why am I worried?" If you listen to Cheesehead Radio (Hi Guys!) you heard me in the Throwback Weekend Party Line call telling the world I thought the Packers would win a close one 27-21. Now, I'm like Brian Carriveau. Every week the team proves me wrong I'm happy. But I keep saying it. "TRAP GAME!" And I'm saying it again this week.

If you watched their game two weeks ago, you saw the Jets tear the Chargers apart in the 2nd half with 17 unanswered points to win. Then you saw the Chiefs rip the Chargers heart out on Monday Night Football with an overtime victory. In that game, the Chargers had the ball on the KC 15 with 1 minute to go preparing to kick the winning field goal. The Chargers come into this game with a 4-3 record. Philip Rivers looks like he's just off this season. Antonio Gates is playing hurt. Ryan Mathews, Shaun Phillips, Malcom Floyd and Na'il Diggs are all at least questionable on the Chargers injury report. They are missing G Kris Dielman and DE Luis Castillo due to injury. So, why am I saying trap game once again?

First, the Chargers have not lost at home this season. I know there will be a ton of Packers fans in the stadium Sunday so I'm not as concerned about the home field advantage as I would be. Also, their wins at home are against the Chiefs, the Dolphins and the Vikings. Still, undefeated is undefeated and I can't discount the long flight and the time change as well.

Second, Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates scare me. Even with Gates battling a foot injury, he can be deadly if he gets covered by LBs. And Jackson is one of the better big WRs in the league. The Packers are giving up almost 300 passing yards per game (31st in the league). Two different QBs have gone for over 400 passing yards against the Packers defense. If this is the game Rivers gets going, he could be #3 with Jackson and Gates to throw to.

Finally, the Chargers are still tied for first in the AFC West even though the Chargers seem to get off to a slow start every year under Norv Turner. They know that a win against the Packers will get them to 5-3 and right back in the hunt for a playoff spot. Heck, they'd only be a game out of a bye week in the wide open AFC. In contrast the Packers are two games in the loss column ahead of the Lions and in control of their own destiny to earn home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

I'm sure you all think I'm crazy for thinking every game is a trap game. You're probably right. I'm hoping so at least. But I can't get a certain cliche about a wounded animal out of my head. Here's to hoping the Chargers don't lash out until after they've lost to the Packers.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Packers are 7-0, So Why Am I Worried?

I struggled this week, trying to think of something to write about.  I mean it's the bye week, the team is undefeated, what's to worry about? Well, I did some thinking and I did some thinking and I found two things I'm going to be concerned about for the rest of the season. First, there are a lot of losable games left on the schedule (Detroit x2, Chicago, @ the New York Giants, and of course @ the Chargers next Sunday). I'm also worried about the amount of yardage the defense has been giving up.

Yes, I know I said the Packers would go undefeated this year, but I think every game left on on the schedule except for the Vikings game in two weeks are losable. As we get further into the season every game becomes a trap game in my opinion. There's not a lot of separation of talent in the NFL. Every player in the NFL is a great athelete so if a team gets overconfident or complacent they are in trouble. I don't think the Packers have as much of a problem with this as most teams, but I still worry. Will Aaron Rodgers find another perceived slight to drive him? Will Mike McCarthy keep finding material to keep the rest of the team fired up? Does Dom Capers have the game plan to solve the problems on defense? Can the team continue to stay relatively healthy?

With the way the defense has been giving up yards (27th in the league at 391 YPG), I think I have reason to worry. Give a team like the Giants 424 yards of net offense and they will put up a lot more than the 3 points the Rams did. I don't think the Packers can continue with this bend but don't break philosophy. The Packers only have one more rookie QB on the schedule this year (poor Christian Ponder), so it won't be as easy to cause turnovers and keep points off the board. The defense has to improve on their run stopping. Green Bay's D is 14th against the run, but it's deceptive. Opposing rushers are averaging 4.6 yards per carry against the Packers. It really puts pressure on the offense to keep putting points on the board and force the opponents to put the ball in the air. If the offense sputters for a whole game like it did in the 2nd half against the Rams, I don't think the defense will hold up.

Finally today, with the injury to Alex Green I think the Packers need to think about claiming Tashard Choice who was waived by the Dallas Cowboys earlier today. I know he's been fighting a couple injuries himself the past few weeks, but when healthy he can be a difference maker. With both James Starks and Ryan Grant having some injury issues in the past, I don't think you can trust them enough to go through the rest of the season with only two pure running backs.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

So I went to a Football Game Last Week.

I won more Championships than Lombardi!
Saturday morning came and I still couldn't believe it was happening. I WAS GOING TO GREEN BAY! You see, some twitter friends of mine at Pocket Doppler and Cheesehead TV had set up a little get together called #throwbackweekend. It was going to be epic and I had managed to talk my wife into letting me go (thank you honey I owe you huge). It would be my 4th game overall and my first game in Lambeau. Nicole and the kids dropped me off at the airport bright and early at 5AM. While I waited for the plane to Chicago I met a fellow Packers fan who was taking the same flight to Appleton as I was. We chit chatted and both of our wives had to call for directions home due to a highway closure. We had a good laugh at that and enjoyed each other's company through an uneventful flight into Chicago. My back and hip didn't much care for the mile we had to walk to get our connecting flight, but they ended up coming through with flying colors. Every minute closer I got to Green Bay I got exponentially more excited. I'm sure by the time we landed in Appleton the excitement was dripping out my pores.

I still can't believe I met Tom Crabtree. What an epic night.
I wasn't lying when I tweeted about crying as I drove by Lambeau for the first time. I can't describe the feeling to see it. To know that the next day I'd be inside that stadium, rooting my Packers on. I drove the rest of the way to the motel and checked into the room I'd be sharing with fellow Throwback Weekender Thad Collins. After a quick nap I made my way out. I met up with a bunch of my twitter friends. Then it was off to the Abbey for the official Tweet up. Everyone who was anyone was there including Packer fan icon Aunt Gert and tight end Tom Crabtree. He's smaller than I thought and bigger than I thought, all at the same time and even nicer than you'd think. Which is amazing because going in I knew he was a great guy. My son can't wait to hang his Crabtree autographed poster on the wall. I ended up staying out later than I planned to but it was well worth it.

Me and the man, the myth, the John Rehor (BUNNY EARS!)
Sunday morning was awesome. I tailgated with all my new friends and even got to wave to my wife and kids thanks to Corey Behnke's livestream of the event on I hung out more with my twitter friends and then it was time to make my way to the stadium. I walked there with PD Angel (and my most favoritest person that I know in Idaho) Colleen and her wonderful hubby Brad. The lines to get in were long but nothing nightmarish like we heard about from the Broncos game. I got into the stadium with about a half hour to go before game time so I took a while to walk around and really just try to take it all in. I was really there. I was in Lambeau Field. The Frozen Tundra. I stopped at a concession stand to get some food and a soda and made my way to my seat. I'm amazed by just how nice everyone in Green Bay is. I sat down not knowing any of the fans around me. That lasted all of 30 seconds. Everyone around was interested in my story. Where I had come from to see the game? What did I think of Green Bay and the people? All too soon, it was time for the anthem.

Look Ma, I'm at the Packer game!
I loved the anthem at Sunday's game. A simple, respectful instrumental. In the stands you could hear people singing the words. Made me proud. Then you had the flyover, deafening in it's volume. Game. Time. Mason Crosby kicked off and things were rolling. I had a superstitious moment when the Rams attempted their first FG. I pulled the right sock and they missed! So, all of you who had 0 in the first quarter in your pools, you're welcome! Soon after was the first "Go Pack Go" chant of the game. I choked back a couple of tears of joy as I belted it out with everyone else. Just another one of the many moments where the fact that I was in heaven hit me. The game itself was decided pretty early on. The Rams were just too beat up to hang with our beloved Packers.

V Formation!
Six and Oh feels great to me but I know that the reals tests are still to come. I have to be honest. I don't remember much of the game. Jordy Nelson's long TD reception. Getting to see Donald Driver catch a TD pass. The bruising 4th down run from James Starks. My real memories from Lambeau are of the history and the people. High fiving complete strangers and being treated like one of the guys. Getting to see the Ring of Honor and the retired numbers up close. Getting to "Bang on the drum all day." Those are the things I brought home and don't ever want to forget.

To those of you who thought about coming to Throwback Weekend and didn't; WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? I can't wait for version 2.0. I don't know how, but I'm sure it will be even more amazing than the first. Thanks again to everyone who put so much work into putting the event together. I can't wait for next year!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I'm Not Worried About Atlanta and I'm Over Brett Favre

So there's a big game this week. It's a rematch of the divisional playoff game last year that saw the Packers roll the Atlanta Falcons 48-21. I thought that game was Aaron Rodgers best as a pro. He was 31-36 for 366 yards with 3 TDs and he added a rushing TD as well. I say thought, because I think Rodgers bested it against the Broncos last week with his 6 total TD performance. With the way the game went last year and the way the offense is leading the league in scoring, I'm not scared at all by the Falcons D. I don't think another 40 point game is out of the question.

All the same, at the beginning of the year I saw this as one of the few losable games on the schedule. Michael Turner scares the crap out of me. He's one of the few real bruising running backs left in the league and I think his running style can give the Packers D fits. Matty Ice and the Falcons receiving core can put points on the board as well. This game had me very concerned right up until I looked at the injury report for the Falcons as saw that their starting center Todd McClure is still out for the game. He sets the tone for their running game. Without him their are one dimensional, I think the Packers D can handle a one dimensional team without concern. My prediction: Packers 45 - Falcons 24.

This is hard for me. I loved watching Favre play. I think he was great and he was great for a long time. He holds a ton of records and I'd have him in my top 5 QBs all time. I started thinking it was time for him to retire after the 4th and 26 game. I still have nightmares of the INT he threw to Brian Dawkins in OT. Even though I started feeling like it was time, I still loved the guy. I mean he's Brett Freaking Favre, how can you not like him, right? He's just out there having fun! Then he finally retired from the Packers and things really started falling apart. I hated how he ended up in Minnesota by retiring and then unretiring to get around the conditions of his trade to the Jets. No one can forget a few choice texts and voicemails he sent to a then Jets staffer. Beyond that, I really didn't he said or did enough to thank the Packers fans for all the years in GB. The Fan base worshipped him there. A lot still do. When Favre left there was a rift between some fans.

Then came the interview and all the words I took to be condescending.  I know he'll get his number retired at some point. I know he'll be welcomed back to Green Bay by the team and probably a lot of the fans. And I don't care. At this point I'm ready to put my rookie cards on Ebay and move on. I'm over you Brett Favre.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Why I Was Secretly Happy the Broncos Won the Super Bowl (And my thoughts on this week's game)

Looking back on that Packers team of the 90's is always a great time for me. Favre hitting Sharpe every other play for a first down. Edgar Bennett trucking his way through the line. Dorsey Levins working his way upfield. When Desmond Howard ran that kick back in Super Bowl XXXI, it was cathartic for me. Remember, I became a fan in the middle of the worst decade the Packers ever had; the 1980s. To see the team I loved reach the pinnacle of football was awesome. To be there in the pub with my family watching on projector screens, it was a top 5 moment in my life to that point.

Fast forward one year. It was January 1998. I was 21 years old living in Oregon with my parents and working as a bellman in a Portland hotel. I'd met the girl of my dreams and was enjoying the peak of the Packers '90s run. And as a bellman I had a little cash to spend. My aunt lived in Vegas and so I decided I would do a parlay on the Super Bowl, just to add to the fun. My parlay was this: Packers win the Coin Toss, Over in the first quarter, over in the 2nd quarter, over in the first half, over in the 3rd quarter, over in the 4th quarter, over for the game and of course the Packers to win straight up. That's an 8 way parlay folks. 100 to 1 odds. So I called my aunt a couple of days before the game. My sweet loving Aunt Sally, God rest her soul. I told her I wanted to bet $100 and told her what to bet it on. If the ticket came in it would be a cool 10 grand. I was sure that it would be a high scoring game so I thought I had a fair shot.

Game time comes. The Packers win the toss. Sweet! That's one. Of course the game was just as high scoring as I had thought it would be, but the Packers just weren't controlling the game the way they should. Then Eugene Robinson picked off Elway. Favre led the team right down the field. The game was tied and the tide had been turned. The Packers would win and cover. I was sure. It was about this time I got a call. From my Aunt. I found out that she had not been able to get to a sports book to place my bet. I was devastated. 10 grand out there that should have been mine. When Terrell Davis scored the winning touchdown, deep down I was relieved. Instead of costing me $10,000, my Aunt Sally saved me $100. And I can still smile on that day because of it.

Moving on to the Broncos game this Sunday, a lot of people think this game against the Broncos is a trap game. I agree. Von Miller and Elvis Dumerville will provide a fierce pass rush. That means the running game will have to have success for the offense to flow. Ryan Grant is out and James Starks showed no decisiveness against the Bears. That must change against the Broncos. I also have a concern about the passing game. I'm starting to feel that Rodgers is focusing on Jennings and Finley too often. They have been the target of 43% of Rodgers attempts and have 44% of the Packers receptions. I really think targets need to even up between the Packers receivers for the passing game to keep producing at the rate it has (Yes I know Rodgers is one of two QBs to have a 100+ QB rating over the first three weeks. I'd just like to see it stay that way).

As far as the defense, I was happy to hear that Nick Collins' fusion went well. I'm sad that he's out for the rest of the year but at the same time I hope that he considers his long term quality of life before he thinks about playing football again. Morgan Burnett played very well in Collin's absence last week. Hopefully with another week playing with the ones Charlie Peprah will be more prepared to actually cover people and tackle. I still see this as a fairly easy Packers victory, 31-17 sounds about right for a score.

P.S. Only 2 more weeks to #throwbackweekend!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

So there's a Bears game this week?

I mean look at that throwback!! So ugly.
Who knew? I could post a ton of stuff about how the Bears still suck (they do, by the way) but I'm late to the party. They've sucked since evolution decided that it should give big ugly and hairy a shot. The Bears are on a level of suckitude not seen since Hubert Cecil Booth invented the vacuum. But I won't. I'm going to instead talk about a few current and former Bears that I don't think suck. Ten of them to be exact.

10. Mike Haas - I lived in Oregon when he was in college so I got to see a lot of Haas on Saturdays and I grew to love the scrubby little walk on. He was drafted by the Saints but they waived him after his rookie season. I thought it was a horrible end to a good career. It was great to see him make the Bears practice squad in 2006 and then to see him on their active roster in 2007. He earned his shot and it was nice to see the Bears give it to him.

9. Brian Urlacher - I've always been a fan of the underdog. Yes, Urlacher was an underdog at one time. He came from a 3A high school. Texas Tech was his dream college, but they didn't recruit him. So he went to New Mexico where he played safety/linebacker/rover. He played big there and set all kinds of records. But, it was New Mexico. This guy couldn't do that in the NFL, could he? Well, he has and I respect that. Also, it's not his fault the media plays him up so much.

Pete Rozelle is rolling in his grave.
8. Jim McMahon - I liked the headband. I liked the sunglasses. I was young and the Packers weren't good and I liked watching McMahon and those Bears teams because they had swagger. That swagger was thanks to guys like McMahon (and a few names you'll see later).

7. Kevin Butler - Yes, it's a kicker. A kicker with the nickname of Butthead. A kicker who called his fiance from training camp and told her that they would have to move their wedding because he would be busy at the Super Bowl. Also, I've posted a pic of my son wearing a Mason Crosby jersey. So you know I like kickers.

6. Lance Briggs - He's more important to the Bears than Urlacher. He's a better all around linebacker than  Urlacher. There. I said it. So why does he get overlooked when it comes to contract negotiations? Why does the media ignore him so much? I think it's a conspiracy perpetuated by Jerry Angelo to keep the chip firmly planted on Briggs' shoulder.

I've always been a sucker for gap toothed smiles
5. William "The Refrigerator" Perry - The Super Bowl Shuffle. A 400 pound DT with rushing and receiving TDs. He was hard not to like. Now with the issues in his personal life, he feels like an everyman. I remember watching him control the middle. I remember that gap toothed smile. And I hope get can come out on the other side and smile again soon.

4. Gayle Sayers - Sayers came before my time. All I have to look at are the videos of him breaking ankles over and over again. He was Barry Sanders before Barry Sanders was Barry Sanders. Seriously. You young kids born in the 90's that only know Favre and a Bears team that doesn't instill the fear to go along with the hate better go find tape. Watch it. Learn your history.

3. Matt Forte -13 rushes a game? Come on Lovie! Forte should be your horse! He can do it all. He's the closest thing the Bears have had since Sweetness was wearing 34 and killing the Packers every week. This has nothing to do with the face that Forte is on my fantasy team. He deserves better. So start using him right. 20+ carries and 5 receptions or so and the Bears are in the playoffs again. I can't believe I'm saying this. No one show this to the Bears brass!

2. Mike Ditka - Sure, he was the head coach when the Bears were great in the 80's. That's only part of why I have him on this list. Ditka changed the tight end position in the NFL. He was the first TE inducted into the HOF and without him, there's no Mark Chmura or Jermichael Finley. Before he came into the NFL TEs where just 6th linemen who were eligible to catch passes. So thank him Packer fans.

Rest In Peace Sweetness. You're Missed.
1. Walter Payton - I don't care how much you hate the Bears he was amazing to watch. If you didn't love watching Sweetness play against every team not named Packers then you aren't a true football fan. He did it all and he looked great doing it. I've mentioned Barry Sanders before. Barry may have been more elusive but Payton was just so smooth. His game had a flow to it. He glided through cuts. Even when he improvised it looked like it was choreographed. I have never seen a running back be so smooth. Then there was his touchdown celebration:

1. Hand ball to referee
2. Return to sidelines

I like TD celebrations. The cell phone, the sharpie, the pom poms and of course the Lambeau Leap. You just scored, you should be happy! At the same time watching Sweetness just hand the ball to the ref fit. There's nothing smoother than acting like you've been there. You left too soon Sweetness.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Four Questions About the Packers/Panthers Game

Cam Newton passed all over the Cardinals in week 1.   
1. Will Cam Newton Burn the Packers like he did the Cardinals? No. Even if Tramon Williams doesn't play, I don't think you'll see near the numbers that Newton had last week against the Cardinals. The Cards secondary is not good and they also put extra defenders in the box and forced the Panthers to try to beat them through the air. People seem to be forgetting that it worked. Cam Newton was the talk of the week, but the Cardinals won that game 28-21.  The biggest reason for Newton's success last week was poor play by the Cardinals secondary. The Packers don't have that problem. My prediction for Cam is no more than 250 yards passing and that Newton will throw at least one interception. Capers will be throwing the kitchen sink at Cam and it will work.

2. What should Packers fans really be concerned about against the Panthers? The only way the Panthers can beat the Packers is to play keep away. They have the runnings backs to do it in Deangelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. In 2009, both Williams and Stewart ran for over 1000 yards. I know Mark Ingram didn't do much against the defense last week, but the Packers D had issues with the run in the preseason. I'm concerned that a more developed running game like the one the Panthers possess will be able to beat up on the Packers front 7 like Joseph Addai and Beanie Wells did in the preseason. My nightmare for this game is the Panthers running the ball 40 times for 200+ yards and winning the time of possession battle by a 2-1 margin.

3. What is the wildcard for the Panthers in this game? Darren Sproles showed us that kick coverage is still a huge issue for the Packers with his kick and punt returns last week. He ran one back for a TD and averaged over 40 yards a return on 4 total returns. Armanti Edwards is the Panthers version of Sproles. Edwards is a college QB turned NFL WR/PR. Some of you might remember him as the guy who led FCS school Appalacian State to a victory over then 5th ranked Michigan in 2007. Last week was his first chance to return kicks in a real NFL game. I'm guessing Shawn Slocum's kick coverage will make him look like he's been doing it for years.

4. How will the Packers beat the Panthers? The Packers will take to the air once again. The Panthers are very thin in the secondary and I expect the Packers offense to be able to pass at will. I'll be honest. Chris Gamble is the only name I knew out of the Panthers secondary before I looked at their depth chart. Their other starting CB is 5'8" Captain Munnerlyn, a 2009 7th round draft pick and their safeties are nothing to write home about. I'm guessing Aaron Rodgers completes passes to at least 8 different guys and I'm predicting a stat line in the range of 20-27 for 325 and 3 TDs.

On a side note, I'm confused by the Packers special teams. The KR/PR game seems much improved with a legit returner. Slocum turned Tim Masthay into a great all around punter (other than that line drive week 1). So, why are the coverage teams so horrid? Is it all on coaching or does it have more to do with players not doing their jobs on the coverage teams? Can it be quickly fixed with a coaching change? Here's hoping the biggest problem (and the only real one I see right now) the Packers have doesn't end up becoming their downfall. GO PACK GO!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Predicting the Packers Season Game by Game

Ok, so I may be a little late getting this one out, but here's my thoughts on all 16 games of the regular season.

Week 1 - Vs. the New Orleans Saints -  I think this will be a high scoring shootout. My prediction is the Packers pull out the win 42-34. Aaron Rodgers will be on fire but the defense will struggle. The game won't be over until the D has a goal line stand.

Week 2 - At the Carolina Panthers - I see the defense making every effort to confuse Cam Newton. I also see it working to the tun of 3 INTs. Newton had some success vs the Cardinals week 1, but I think the Packers defense is quite a bit stronger than the Cards. 35-14 Packers.

Week 3 - At the Chicago Bears - Ahhhhh, a rivalry renewed. I'd be a lot more scared of the Bears if Lovie didn't hate Matt Forte so much. He's their biggest weapon and they only gave him 16 carries. Were it not for him turning a screen play into a 56 yard touchdown I'd be able to make a Varsity Blues joke here. This game ends on a Rodgers INT to Urlacher. Rodgers catches him from behind, forces a fumble and runs it back for a TD. 20-17 Packers. 

Week 4 - Vs the Denver Broncos - I would have been a lot more concerned about this game if Tim Tebow were starting (/sarcasm). Knowshon doesn't scare me. Orton doesn't scare me. Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil scare me a bit. I'm guessing this will be a more run heavy game. 27-13 Packers.

Week 5 - At the Atlanta Falcons - Matty Ice sure melted against the Bears today. Michael Turner worries me though. He's big and he runs downhill. The Packers D has had a problem with big time RBs for a while now. But I really don't think any other offense will be able to keep up with the Packers O. 42-28 Packers.

Week 6 - Vs the St. Louis Rams - I will be at this game for #throwbackweekend. I can't wait to watch the greatest show on tundra run and throw all over the Rams D. I like Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson, I just don't think the Rams have a chance. 53-7 Packers.

Week 7 - At the Minnesota Vikings - Donovan McNabb? Really? Adrian Peterson could run for 220 on the Packers D but it wouldn't matter. McNabb will save the day. 33-17 Packers.

Week 8 - At Bye Week - The Packers are gonna kick the crap out of Bye Week.

Week 9 - At the San Diego Chargers - Did you watch the Chargers suck against the Vikings? I didn't know if was possible to suck that bad. Sure they won, but it was the Vikings. 56-3 Packers.

Week 10 - Vs the Minnesota Vikings - Ugh. I have to write something about the Vikings again already? I swear I already wrote something about the Vikings. Screw that. 40-7 Packers

Week 11 - Vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Legarrette Blount will want to punch a Packer after this game. I actually think the Bucs are underrated. I think Blount is a good strong RB and I like Josh Freeman and the Bucs receiving core. However, Rhonde Barber is like 80 and I just can't see him or the rest of the Bucs D stopping the Packers passing attack.  28-17 Packers.

Week 12 - At the Detroit Lions - Suh is one man that does scare me. I worry that he'll break Aaron Rodgers. That would be bad. But I don't think he'll have a chance. I think this is another game where the running attack takes over. Detroit's strength is their passing game so I look for the Packers to play a bit of keep away. 31-0 Packers.

Week 13 - At the New York Giants - Eli Manning is ugly. 74-3 Packers.

Week 14 - Vs the Oakland Raiders - Al Davis is a Zombie. 69-12 Packers.

Week 15 - At the Kansas City Chiefs - Jamaal Charles is good. Not good enough to beat the Packers, but good. Hook 'em Horns! 42-14 Packers. (P.S. It would be nice if one of those touchdowns went to Dwayne Bowe. He's a good WR and Matt Cassel needs to stop ignoring him)

Week 16 - Vs the Chicago Bears - If the Packers lose a game this year, this is the one. The Bears will be fighting for the wild card. the Packers will have shut Rodgers down with home field advantage clinched. But it's the frozen tundra. It's Christmas. How could the Packers lose on Christmas? 24-14 Packers.

Week 17 - Vs the Detroit Lions - Happy New Year Packers fans! You start the new year off cheering for Matt Flynn and the 2nd string Green Bay Packers! Good thing it's just the Paper Lions. 27-10 Packers.

That's right, the Packers are going 16-0 in the regular season this year. Write it down, book it, guarantee it, do whatever it is you want to do with it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Quick thoughts on the Season Opener Tonight

Mason Crosby's biggest fan is ready for tonight!  

I had every intention of making a big season prediction post guessing every game, but then I went on vacation over the weekend and it was all forgotten. Here's just a couple quick thoughts about te Saints game later tonight (I'll make the big season preview on Sunday while the rest of the games are on).

Look for a slow first half - I really think both offenses will struggle early on. There will be all the hype and energy from the pregame festivities and that could put both offenses out of synch. We'll have 2 of the top defensive minds gameplanning and I just see a lot of pressure in te first half. I would not be surprised to see a 7-3 score at the half. I think things will open up in the 2nd half though. I also think some early screen plays to Grant and Starks could open things up sooner.

Quarterback play will not decide the game - I think control of the game will boil down to which team can run the ball better. I'm talking in the range of 300 combined rushing yards for both teams. I give the Packers the edge in the running game but it's close. Mark Ingram was a great pickup for the Saints.

The Team with the best special teams play will win - I really think a big return late or a great deep punt will be the difference. I feel both teams are so evenly matched on offense and defense that special teams has to be where this game will be won or lost.

My pick for the game is Packer 24, Saints 20. Tim Masthay pins Brees deep with under 2 minutes and the defense holds on.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Final Preseason look at the 53 Man Roster

OK, so we're a night away from the final preseason game. It's the last chance for the players on the bubble to make an impression. My final 53 probably looks pretty close to the others you've seen around. I have the Packers keeping 1 FB, 6WR and 5TE. I have made some more changes to my last stab at it though. I have Ray Doninguez as the last OL. I know a lot of my fellow bloggers have Evan Dietrich Smith as their final guy in. I just can't see it. His only chance in my opinion is if he makes the team instead of McDonald. I can't see 3 centers being kept. I also can't see Dietrich-Smith being kept as a backup LS. I've also seen a couple people mentioning they don't think Donald Driver will make the team. I'll eat my hat if he's cut. So, here it is, rip it apart people. (Starters in italics)

QB (3) – Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Graham Harrell
RB (3) – Ryan Grant, James Starks, Alex Green
FB (1) – John Kuhn
WR (6) – Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Tori Gurley
TE (5) – Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, Tom Crabtree, DJ Williams, Ryan Taylor
OL (9) – Chad Clifton, Bryan Bulaga, Josh Sitton, T J Lang, Scott Wells, Marshall Newhouse, Derek Sherrod, Nick McDonald, Ray Dominguez
DE (4) – Ryan Pickett, Mike Neal, CJ Wilson, Jarius Wynn
DT (2) – BJ Raji, Howard Green
OLB (4) – Clay Mathews, Erik Walden, Frank Zombo, Vic So'oto
ILB (4) – AJ Hawk, Desmond Bishop, Robert Francois, DJ Smith
CB (5) – Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Josh Gordy, Davon House
S (4) – Morgan Burnett, Nick Collins, Charlie Peprah, Jarrett Bush
Specialists (3) – Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Brett Goode

My Practice Squad (8) Chris Campbell, Jamari Lattimore, Brandian Ross, Ricky Elmore, Diondre Borel, Shaky Smithson, Caleb Schlauderaff, Brandon Saine

So, where am I wrong? Let me have it, Packer Fans!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

On Wearing Jerseys

So, there was a commercial on tonight that compared wearing a jersey to a game was akin to wearing a cop uniform to watch Law and Order. It got me thinking. Am I crazy for wearing a jersey to support my team? Is it wrong that my wife and kids all have jerseys they enjoy wearing to root on the Packers? No, it’s not. It’s a great way to support your team. As my blog background photo makes obvious, I’m a jersey wearer. I own a total of four Packers jerseys; a white Charles Woodson, a green Jermichael Finley, a throwback Aaron Rodgers and a green Atari Bigby (he’ll be missed). I fully believe that the throwback Rodgers jersey and my playoff beard are a part of why the Packers won Super Bowl XLV. Don’t tell me otherwise because it won’t do any good. Because of this commercial, I started doing some internet searches to find out what the rest of the world thought about wearing jerseys to support your team. I found all kinds of lists and rules on how and when I can wear. Well, I think most of them are full of crap and it’s time to set them straight. Here are some of the “jersey rules” I found and what I think of them.

1. You cannot wear the jersey of a player no longer on the team unless they retired from the team or are in the HOF – This one I actually agree with for the most part. If you have a Favre jersey, you need to put it away until he gets his gold jacket.
2. Don’t wear your jersey in the offseason except on special days like draft day, etc. – I paid a lot of money for my jerseys; I’ll wear them whenever I want, thank you very much. Also, I’ve found wearing Packers gear makes it easy for friends to find me when we’re meeting up places.
3. Don’t tuck your jersey in and don’t buy the wrong size – These fashion rules are both valid. Jerseys just do not look good tucked in unless they’re on a player in the field. And as far as sizing goes, football jerseys are not flattering unless you’re wearing pads underneath. Remember they are designed to be worn over pads and that means the sizing will be different than what you’re used to. In other words, TRY IT ON.
4. You must buy only authentic jerseys. No replicas – This is another rule I just can’t understand. I can see making sure you’re buying a licensed replica jersey so it actually supports the team, but I don’t have the $275 to shell out for an authentic jersey.
5. Be original/Don’t go mainstream/Don’t buy the most popular player’s jersey – I get this, I really do. I have an Atari Bigby jersey. I got my Jermichael Finley jersey before he became a star. My next jersey will probably be a more obscure player. But I can’t hate on people for buying their favorite player’s jersey just because he’s popular. Will there be too many Rodgers and Matthews jerseys at Lambeau? I don’t think there’s any such thing. Besides, like I said before, it’s your money so buy whatever jersey you want. Just wear it with pride every game day and I’ll be a happy cheesehead. As long as you don’t hate on my throwback Randy Wright once I find it.

And finally, the silliest set of rules I’ve seen:

6. You’re not allowed to wear a jersey if you are over the age of 40 – This may be the dumbest thing I’ve heard in my life. What magically changes the day you go from 39 to 40? NOTHING. Not a damn thing and you can’t tell me otherwise. Senior citizens, feel free to wear your jersey with pride!

Did I miss any important jersey rules? Let us know!

And don't forget to vote in this weeks poll. I'm sad to say that Packer fans still like Brett Favre more than Lynn Dickey or Randy Wright.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Four Things to Watch in the Packers Third Preseason Game.

Well, I did have five things to watch for in Friday’s game against the Colts, but with the news that Ryan Grant's contract was restructured earlier in the month we’re down to four. With all 2.5 million of the salary due to Grant being guaranteed I just can’t see him being cut this season. That doesn’t mean that Demitri Nance has no shot at making the team, although I do think it means that it won’t be at the expense of Ryan Grant. On to the four things…

How does T. J. Lang play after getting all the 1st team reps at LG in practice?

Earlier this week I said that LG was one of my biggest concerns for the Packers heading into the regular season. Soon after, it was announced that T. J. Lang would get all of the 1st team reps over Derek Sherrod. It will be interesting to see If Lang has a noticeable improvement over his performance in the game against Arizona. Here’s hoping the Line as a whole looks better

Chastin West and Tori Gurley on ST coverage.  Does either of them play well enough to earn a roster spot over Brett Swain?

I’ve made it known that I’m a Chastin West fan. I also like what I’ve seen out of Tori Gurley the last couple weeks. Neither of them has a real shot at making this team unless they prove they can hold their own on special teams. I’ve heard good things about Gurley’s play on the ST units over the past couple days (He’s blocked 3 punts in practice). I do think the Packers will keep a 6th WR this year. It’s just a matter of if West and/or Gurley play well enough on ST to unseat Swain. The point could be rendered moot if Swain can’t get healthy in camp.

Josh Gordy and Brandian Ross playing to beat out Pat Lee for the final roster spot at CB.

I’ve said it before. I’m not a fan of Pat Lee. He can run just fine, but he has issues actually playing the position of CB. I’ve just watched him get beat too many times. I’m hoping this preseason is the last for Lee with the Packers. Ross made a big splash on Family night, picking off an Aaron Rodgers pass and running it back for a touchdown. He also had a pick against the Cardinals (I hope he learns about taking a knee in the end zone).  Gordy’s seen playing time with the 1st team defense in the preseason games and done well with it. He had a pick, a sack and a PD against the Browns.

Jarrett Bush’s play at Safety. Is it good enough to allow the Packers to only keep 3 true safeties on the roster?

I love Jarrett Bush, I really do. I just don’t think he can play man to man corner in the NFL. He’s very good when he can face the ball as evidenced by the interception he made in the big game last year. He’s also a special teams demon which is something this team needs. He just doesn’t do well when he has to turn his back on the QB and run with a WR. I really think his best position is safety. But, if he can back up at both spots, that opens up another spot on the roster for Ross or Gordy.

What are you watching for in the Colts game Friday? Oh, don't forget to vote in the poll (guess who voted for Randy Wright).

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Positions of Concern for the Packers

Is T J Lang the answer at left left guard?
I'm not one to question Ted Thompson. I was ready for Brett Favre to go a season before the trade to the Jets. I've always been a fan of building through the draft. As they say "In Ted We Trust." But, I can't get away from my concerns at two positions, left guard and defensive end.

This offseason saw the departure of the last two players to start at LG for the Packers with Daryn Colledge signing with Arizona and Jason Spitz signing with Jacksonville. The preseason has seen third year G/T T. J. Lang and rookie first round pick Derek Sherrod alternate on first team reps. Most people think Lang has the lead in the race to start the season with the first team offense. I'm not sold on either Lang or Sherrod though. I'm sure Sherrod has a lot of talent, but coming into camp so late because of the lockout I think he's too far behind. He's looked slow and at times seems to come off the ball too high. This has led to a lot of pressure on the QB. I think he has a future with the team for sure, I just think both Sherrod and the team would benefit from him learning from the sidelines this season. I'm hopeful that we'll see Lang clean up his play if he gets more reps with he first team. If Lang doesn't improve Aaron Rodgers is in trouble.

B. J. Raji is one of the top 3-4 ends in the league. The problem is you need two DEs in a 3-4 defense. With the loss of Cullen Jenkins in free agency, Mike Neal has inherited the starting spot opposite Raji. Neal has all the talent in the world and he's played well when he's been healthy. He just hasn't been healthy much. He went down early last season with a shoulder injury and ended up on I.R. This year he hurt his knee in a non contact practice drill and is listed as day to day. Backup C. J. Wilson left the Cardinals game with a concussion but he should be ready for opening day. Jarius Wynn is serviceable in the rotation but isn't more than that. I think if all four can stay healthy the position will be ok, but the Packers are an injury away from needing T J Lang to play defense again.

What concerns do you have for the Packers' upcoming season? 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thoughts from the first half of the Packers/Cards Game

I sure hope the Packers use the no huddle more. It’s the only thing the first team has been successful with so far this preseason. They really seem sluggish coming out of the huddle for some reason. Then they go no huddle, Rodgers calls the right play every down and it’s an easy touchdown. I like the back shoulder fade.

I do worry that Rodgers will rely on Finley too much again this year.

Grant looks like he’s rounding into shape. Seemed slow at first, but he made a great cut and run during the TD drive. I think he’ll be ready for the regular season.

I’m concerned about the offensive line. Way too many sacks and pressures so far. Lang has looked better than Sherrod so far, but I’m still not comfortable with him protecting Rodgers.  I know it’s too early, but I wish they’d found a way to keep Colledge. 

ALEX GREEN! What a great cut on that screen play. He ran with good power to score the TD. He also has amazing hair. I can't wait to see what he says about his first Lambeau Leap.

I’m not happy with the run defense so far. Beanie Wells had way too many big runs in the first half. Dodged a bullet with CJ Wilson. Concussions are bad, but unless it’s severe he’ll be ready for the season opener. I have concerns about the backups at pretty much every position in the front 7. Definitely a thinner team up front in my opinion.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Thanksgiving 1986: A Fan is Born

The year is 1986. I was 10 years old and torn between two teams, the Packers and the 49ers. See, dad was a big 49ers fan and they had Roger Craig, Jerry Rice and of course Joe Montana. The Packers had Randy Wright and a big legacy they weren’t living up to. But my mom was a huge Packers fan, and she got so into the games. Mom’s a bit of a screamer when it comes to football. You wouldn’t know it to look at her, but when the game starts, the veins start popping out in her neck. It was hard not to root for the Packers when they were on TV because I loved my mom and she loved the Packers. But they sucked! I mean, look back at those years. What good came out of them aside from James Lofton?  So as a normal 10 year old, I told everyone I was a 49ers fan.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving Day, 1986. Uncle Erick was down from Milwaukee. The Packers were on TV. It was a good day. Uncle Erick had the classic WI accent and I loved hearing him talk. We talked and talked about Lofton and how next year would be a good year for the Packers. He also talked about Mossy Cade, how he didn’t like Kenneth Davis (I totally disagreed, what a great name!). He also had a hunch Walter Stanley was going to have a big game against the Lions. And what a game he had. The two teams combined to score at least 17 points in every quarter. Walter Stanley was electric, catching 4 balls for 124 yards and 2 TDs. But nothing could stop the juggernaut that was the 1986 Detroit Lions and the Packers were down 10 in the 4th quarter. And then it happened. After a Wright to Carruth TD pass the defense forced a Lions punt. Stanley caught it and had some room. He cut back, he broke tackles, he just kept running. I remember it seemed to take forever. But he managed to run it back. It was electric. My mom had the biggest smile on her face I’d ever seen. And the Packers had a fan for life.

Ken's Take on the 2011 Packers 53 man roster

I won't get too wordsy on this one. This is how I think the roster will shake out barring any injuries in camp (I'm looking at you Mike Neal). And yes, I'm on the 5 TE bandwagon. You gotta keep your 53 best players. (Starters italicized)

QB (3)Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Graham Harrell
RB (3)Ryan Grant, James Starks, Alex Green
FB (1) John Kuhn
WR (6) Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Chastin West
TE (5) Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, Tom Crabtree, DJ Williams, Ryan Taylor
OL (9) Chad Clifton, Bryan Bulaga, Josh Sitton, T J Lang, Scott Wells, Marshall Newhouse, Derek Sherrod, Nick McDonald, Chris Campbell
DE (4) Ryan Pickett, Mike Neal, CJ Wilson, Jarius Wynn
DT (2) BJ Raji, Howard Green
OLB (4) Clay Mathews, Erik Walden, Brad Jones, Frank Zombo
ILB (4)AJ Hawk, Desmond Bishop, Robert Francois, DJ Smith
CB (5) Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Josh Gordy, Davon House
S (4) Morgan Burnett, Nick Collins, Charlie Peprah, Jarrett Bush
Specialists (3) – Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Brett Goode

Practice Squad Possibilities: Diondre Borel, Tori Gurley, Caleb Schlauderaff, Lawrence Guy, Cardia Jackson, Jay Ross, Brandian Ross, M D Jennings

Updated with news of Diyral Briggs being cut. Updated again with T J Lang in at LG and adding Harrell to the active roster.