Monday, December 26, 2005

With respect to The Doors...

"This is the end...". A great and haunting song by The Doors. Not so great when applied to the feeling many Packers fans have after yet one more loss at home, one more game filled with missed opportunities and turnovers, one more almost-but-not-quite comeback. Da Bearz looked liked and played like the Packers used to; the Pack looked and played like Da Bearz used to.

Actually, you could see the difference before the kickoff even took place. Cameras showed Da Bearz coming through the tunnel onto the field and they looked pumped, the body language was energetic. Cut to the Pack coming down the tunnel: heads were down, shoulders almost seemed slumped. To their credit, the Pack played much better than that initial impression would have led one to expect.

If there was any bright spot to yesterday it was that the ViQueens were knocked out of the playoffs in the late game vs. the Ravens.

One more week of a season to forget. The Seahawks come to town and will take a win back with them to Seattle as they get ready for the playoffs. Then the post-season analysis begins...or perhaps continues, as the season in effect ended months ago. The off-season will offer fans the opportunity to vent on coaching and player changes, and speculate on the upcoming draft (see this story for more). As it would look now, the Pack will get a top 5 pick, but could drop to a couple spots depending upon game outcomes next weekend. The draft won't fix all the things that are currently broken with the Pack, but it does give fans a sense of optimism. The Pack has a lot of money available under the salary cap going into next year to sign the players they want to keep, bring in free agent upgrades, and make whatever other personnel moves they feel will help bring the team back to its rightful place at the top of the NFC North. The biggest boost the Packers will get, though, is getting back the 17 players -- one-third of the team in effect -- that at one time or another were on the injured reserve list for this season. That in itself will win games. The rest should be gravy.

2006: Da Bearz are one and done, the ViQueens will continue in their usual muddle, and the Lions will flounder as long as Matt Millen is GM. C'mon, Packer fans! Looking at the future through Green'n'Gold-colored glasses is just the remedy we need for a season to forget.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Make the bad man stop!

Add to the list...and you know what list I'm talking about...Samkon Gado, Bubba Franks and B.J. Sander are placed on injured reserve.

Add to the team...yes, the MASH unit known as the 2005 Packers...a new punter, a new receiver, and a new running back. Ryan Flinn will be the new punter and perhaps field goal holder, Noah Herron will likely start at RB, and newly-signed receiver Rod Gardner may add some punch. Herron would be the Pack's 6th different starting running back this year...that about sums up the season right there. Gardner was the 15th overall pick in the 2001 draft and is not the usual waiver wire pick up. A load of demonstrated talent that for some reason didn't stick with either the Redskins or Panthers. He sounds excited about the opportunity to be in GB. And the Packers hope to evaluate a possible productive long-term addition to the team during these last 2 games. You can check out the story here.

Da Bearz 6, Pack 0 - for Pro Bowl

It's pretty much a given that teams that win have a better chance of having players selected for the Pro Bowl than will those teams that don't win. Proof in point: Da Bearz had 6 players selected for the Pro Bowl while the Packers had none, zip, zero. On the other hand, and while it is hard to admit, Da Bearz are playing with NFL caliber players while the Pack has been reduced to, as Ron Wolfe said, NFL-Europe caliber players because of the rash of injuries.

As Curly Howard used to say: "What a revoltin' set of circumstances!"

Monday, December 19, 2005

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....

What a snoozer. The Packers were so bad tonight that they made a bad Ravens team look like a Super Bowl contender. So much for playing close games. Good thing I slept through most of this one. Unfortunately, it appears the Packers did too.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Finally!!!

Pack wins! Pack wins!! Pack wins!!!

A 16-13 overtime win over the Lions courtesy at least in part to a very strange endzone now-it's-a-safety now-it's-not play, a bonehead unnecessary roughness penalty in overtime by Shaun Rodgers, and Samkon Gado's continuing emergence as a bona fide NFL running back (and a record-setting rushing game for a Packers' rookie in the process)....oh, and some very bad goal-line play calling by the Lions and some tremendous redzone stands by the Packers defense.

This is the kind of game that the Packers could have just as easily lost, and which they have over the course of this miserable season.

But for at least this night -- one of only three in this season-to-forget -- let us rejoice and be glad. (OK, someone cue the Handel Messiah chorus please: "Hallelujah!" Repeat.)

Pack wins and still loses.

The Pack will beat a pathetic Lions team tonight at Lambeau. Of course, they should have beat this same pathetic Lions team the first game of the season in Detroit. So anything could happen.

But the way this season has gone even when the Pack does something right -- like win -- they will still lose. In this case, by winning, the Packers will drop out of the Reggie Bush Sweepstakes, otherwise known as the 2006 NFL Draft. With a Monday night game next week against the Ravens, followed by a Christmas Day game at home against Da Bearz, and a New Year's Day game at home against Seattle, the Pack could wind up the year at 3-13...or 4-12 at best, counting wins today against the Lions and on Christmas versus Da Bearz. Either record will ensure that the Pack loses the number one pack next April.

The moribund Houston Texans (1-11) wrap up their season with home games against Arizona and Jacksonsville and on the road at San Fran...what a thriller that last one should be. With 2 minutes to go in the 4th quarter of today's game against the Titans, the Texans were tied 10-10. They lost in the last 30 seconds, 13-10, retaining their death grip on the number 1 pick.

The Jets took themselves out of the running with a win today against Oakland, going to 3-10. San Fran plays at Seattle in today's second round of games; they will be 2-11 after that game. They finish with two road games -- Jacksonville and St. Louis -- and at home against, as noted above, the Texans. Yawn.

The likely scenario, as it looks now, is that Houston will get the number 1 pick, the 49ers will get the number 2 pick, the Jets will get number 3, and the Pack will get number 4. Under that scenario, no Reggie Bush and no Matt Leinart. The Pack would likely trade down for additional picks.

The Pack beats the Lions today. And loses drafting an impact player that makes a difference immediately. You always have to try to win. But again, the irony of this season -- where the Packers have been so close but not quite good enough game after game -- is that they will have once again been so close, but not quite bad enough either.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Wha???

Interesting bit of info in today's online Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Given the emotional funk this season has put Packerland into, we tend to look for anything that might give us something to be proud of. Here it is: through 12 games, the Packers now have the number one rated pass defense in the entire NFL. Really. Go figure.

Through the first 7 games, the Pack ranked 18th...nothing spectacular. But in the last five games they have held opponents to just over 111 yards per game. They've not given up the big play. Al Harris, of course, has been playing at a Pro Bowl level. Unfortunately, playing on a 2-10 team doesn't get one the attention that is deserved.

While it's nice to be able to say the Pack is number one at something this year, we'd trade the number one pass defense for the number one spot in the division. Ah..the good ol' days.

Still, expect the Pack to keep it's top rating through Sunday night's game versus the Lions. I mean...c'mon...Garcia...Harrington...please.

If you want to check out the entire article, click here.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

It doesn't matter...Da Bearz still...

Yes, Packer fans. Another disheartening loss. Plot lines all the same too. Rack up a lot of offense. But another game of missed opportunities, stupid penalties, and turnovers leading to points.

Congrats to that team from Chicago. They aren't pretty, but they do what they need to do. Will be interesting to see what they are able to do in the playoffs.

As for the Pack, as today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel pointed out, as things stand now the Pack would have the second draft pick. Still some games to go. But for the first time in a long time -- and especially with this much of the season left to go -- fans can turn their thoughts to who we might be able to get as a high pick in the draft. At least Sherman won't be able to blow another high pick. Thompson will be in the hot seat to make that choice and make it correctly.

As for today's game, it was there for the taking. But once again, more of the same does the team in. Well, it doesn't matter. Because as all true Packer fans know, Da Bearz still...you know.

Da Bearz Still...

C'mon, Packer Fans...say it with me...you know what I mean.

Despite the heralded Bearz defense -- and it is a good one -- they have yet to play any offense ranked higher than 23rd in the league. Da Bearz win with their defense. They stop drives, create turnovers, and do things like hand the ball over to a bland and moribund offense at the opponents 1 yard line. Even the Little Sisters of the Poor could score from there.

Admittedly, the Pack has been cursed with injuries, penalties and turnovers this year. The two games where penalties and turnovers were not a factor -- versus the Saints and Falcons -- they won. Favre plays well in Chicago and in the cold. If the O-line can open some lanes for Gado and Gado can hang on to the ball, and if they can give Favre time to find his receivers, the Pack will score. The Packers' defense -- if it can play four full quarters -- should be able to neutralize what little offense Da Bearz can muster.

The point spread for the game is Bearz by 7. C'mon. Take the Pack against the spread. In fact, take the Pack straight up. It's time for an upset. Let's put Da Bearz back into their decades-long hibernation where they belong.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Calling number 6...number 6, please.

The Pack is about to play its sixth different halfback of the season. In this case, that would be newly-signed rookie Noah Herron, Northwestern's fifth leading rusher of all-time. The Packers grabbed him off the Steelers' practice squad and are putting him through a crash course in the offense. He ran some plays yesterday with the #1 offense. As it stands now, with Rashard Lee -- what else? -- possibly out with a rib injury, the only halfbacks on the roster are Samkon Gado and Tony Fisher. While Samkon ran for 100+ yards the last 2 out of 3 weeks, he's also fumbled 4 times in that same span. Fisher is primarily a third down back, and one still recovering from a rib injury at that. That doesn't leave much leeway in the event of yet another possible injury. And with the way this season has gone, you know it's only matter of time before Gado or Fisher get hurt

It's also possible that Herron might be used to return kickoffs. Given the problems the Packers have had in this area all year, along with the fact that Herron returned kicks in college, don't surprised to see him back returning on Sunday.

More on the upcoming game against da Bearz in a future post.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Let us count the ways...

How many ways to lose a(nother) winnable game? Let us count the ways. Five turnovers. Ten points off those turnovers. 'Nuff said, really.

It's the story of the season, kids. So it goes...and goes...and goes...

Who knows?

OK Packer Fans...it's a couple hours to game time versus the Eagles. I was wrong on my call of a loss at Atlanta and wrong on my call of a win versus the ViQueens. So what should I do with the call on this game? Make a no call I guess. The Eagles are favored by about 4-1/2. Is it possible the Pack could pull an upset like they did at Atlanta? Sure. Is it possible they will blow a game they could win with a stupid penalty, a blown coverage, a missed tackle, or a turnover leading to points late in the game? We've seen that, oh, what, something like eight times this year already? One would have to believe that scenario is more likely to occur than the upset.

Perhaps the ol' reverse psychology of me calling for a loss like I did with the Atlanta game will really work toward a win. On the other hand, it could also be just what it is. Who knows? We all will by about 6:30 p.m. today.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The party's over.

Well fellow Packer fans, the season is over. That's not just the conclusion after the Pack's heartbreaking loss at Lambeau on Monday night. It's the conclusion of former GM Ron Wolfe, quoted in an article in today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

In a revealing article, Wolfe discussed the quality of the players currently forced into play because of the host of injuries which have plagued the Pack this season. He summed up the current roster like this: "They're playing with guys who are NFL Europe-caliber. It just doesn't work." Wolfe equated the current team to an orchestra with a five-star conductor (Favre) leading a two-bit band. Thanks, Mr. Wolfe, for saying what no one else in the organization will say.

Wolfe also gave Sherman more praise than many fans do, including me. He said that as current GM Ted Thompson was evaluating Sherman as coach (and I would have to believe that is a given) that one of the things he has to take into account is whether the team has at least been competitive. Wolfe noted that five of the team's eight losses have been by three points or less; the biggest loss margin was 14 points. They have been in games, but are not talented enough to overcome even one or two mistakes.

As to the future, Wolfe apparently did not voice an opinion on whether Favre would retire or not next year. But he did say he thought it would make no sense to sit Favre down to play rookie QB Aaron Rodgers. If Favre isn't able to get the team to win, Wolfe said it wouldn't do much good to put Rodgers in in what would also obviously be a losing effort.

Wolfe also said that the turnaround from this losing season to a playoff team doesn't have to be a long-term effort. He cited the Cowboys as an example of a team that turned things around quickly. (Point taken. However, the Cowboys have Bill Parcells as coach and we have Mike Sherman.) He said that with a good draft and some key free agent signings the Pack could be back in the playoff hunt next season.

MONDAY NIGHT OBSERVATION FROM THE STANDS


Sitting in the stands along the Packers sideline, I spent some moments observing Coach Mike Sherman. Having not had the in-person opportunity to do that before, I would offer the following comments. I have never witnessed a coach having less interaction with fellow coaches or players. At critical moments in the game -- a defensive stop in the first half being a prime example -- while one would expect a coach to be exhorting his players on, Sherman had his head in his playsheet pacing the sideline. After making the stop, with jubilant players coming off the field, Sherman was walking in the opposite direction, again, head buried in his playsheet. I can only contrast that cerebral and detached (if that is what it is) behavior with the emotional involvement of coaches like Bill Cowher and Dick Vermeil, to name but a few. There are many coaching styles that work in the NFL. But I have to say that I just don't understand Sherman's style at all. In the end, that's not the point. But if at some point the players don't get it...well, the party's over. Just like this year.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Pack will win!

OK, Packer fans...time to say it loud and say it proud...

The Pack will beat the ViQueens 24-14!

Ferguson's back. Fisher's back. And ya gotta like Gado.

Yours truly will be in attendance. Not that that will have anything to do with the victory. Just that I will be among the snow suits and parkas cheering the Pack to win #2 of their 2-game winning streak. Hey, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Second half surge?

I am offering my original post on the site (by which I accomplish the same as sending an email to "packerphan" since I think he is the only one who reads this site).

Before the subtance of the post, please note my signature. I am preparing for the day when we will be starting a great number of sentences with those words.

About yesterday's game and beyond, I thought the game planning was excellent and the execution very good. Sherman and Bates did a great job of getting ready for the particular team they were playing and used their own personnel wisely. Nothing complicated, but right on target. That will go a long way toward a more enjoyable second half of the season.

Regarding the 2nd half of season: I think that Sherman coaches better under accumulated "adversity". He loves to talk about adversity. Listen to his post game comments and his Tuesday press confs. His and the team's backs are up against the wall and they will do better now. I am not sure if it will be 9-7 better, but...

Hey "packerphan", I think it might be a good idea to re-send all of the potential bloggers a re-invite or at least a reminder about this site. Just a thought.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

In Gado We Trust!

Who'da thunk it?!

The Pack wins! The Pack wins!! The Pack wins!!!

The Packers played their best all-around game since they blew out the Saints. And in the process, they find a running game. No one knows what the future holds for Samkon Gado, the 23-year-old from Nigeria, who celebrated his birthday today by gaining more than 100 yards rushing and scoring three touchdowns. Game balls to Samkon, Longwell for his four field goals, and the defense for keeping Michael Vick in check.

Looks as if my season finish of 9-7 is still in play. Next up: the ViQueens on Monday Night Football. Game two of a two-game winning streak starts that night.

But for now...in Gado we trust! Let's enjoy this win against a very good Falcons team. Win #2 has been a long time coming.

Pack set to get Dirty Bird flu

As the Pack enters today's game versus the Falcons, they find themselves nine point underdogs. Being underdogs of any kind has been rare territory for the Pack in recent history; being nearly double-digit underdogs is simply a reflection of how far the Pack has fallen this year.

Barring an injury to Falcon QB Michael Vick and a complete collapse by Atlanta's defense, the Packers will leave this game at 1-8.

Yes, it is enough to make you sick.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Even the backups to the backups are injured!

The horror! The horror!

The Packers season of injury just goes on and on. Even the backups to the backups are now being placed on injured reserve.

The latest addition to the IR is running back Walter Williams, who was just re-signed on Oct. 25 to help fill the void left by all the other injuries at RB. What a shame. As one who was anxious to see what Williams could do if given a chance, his injured hamstring -- suffered in practice yesterday -- probably signals the end, once again, of Williams time with the Pack.

What a year.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

All's Wells...

Today the Packers announced that second-year O-lineman Scott Wells has replaced veteran Adrian Klemm at left guard. While Klemm has been a better pass blocker, his ineffective overall play against the Steelers last Sunday led to his replacement. Wells is a better run blocker and with the Packers having the third worst running game in the NFL -- and on a pace to set a team record for running futility -- they decided to make the switch.

The change comes, though, against a team that has one of the best pass-rushing DTs in the league, Atlanta Falcon Rod Coleman. Wells is undersized, but a gamer. He also is faster and a more effective pulling guard than was Klemm. Given that fifth-string RB Sam Gado will be getting the lion's share of rushes this week, creating any kind of extra dimension to the offense to the take the pressure off Favre will be a plus.

The expectation for the game versus Atlanta is that the Pack will return home with loss number 8 under their belts. But maybe they will find something -- anything -- that might work in helping them pull out a few extra wins against the NFC North in the last half of the season.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Bad facts. Silver lining?

It was 1986. That was the last time the Pack was 1-7. Despite this pathetic 2005 record, the Pack has outscored its opponents 168-159. Yes, it is a bizarro world. A team with a Hall of Fame QB can't beat a team that has a QB that hasn't completed a pass in a couple years.

The last time -- and apparently the only time (?) -- the Packers won only one game in a season was 1958...the year before Vince Lombardi arrived.

So the question for today is: who will be the new Vince Lombardi arriving next year?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

It's deja vu all over again.

Same old story. Too few playmakers. Too many key penalties. Too many turnovers. Too many missed opportunities.

The Pack is 1-7. What more to say? That we may be lucky to win 4 more games this season and finish at 5-11? Or, as other pundits (not that yours truly is a pundit, of course) suggest, the Pack might be lucky to finish 3-13?

Sherman's gone. Brett may or may not be back. But the rebuilding time -- as former coach Jimmy Johnson suggested on today's Fox pre-game show -- has probably come. Settle in for a couple more years of mediocrity, folks. And through it all, looking at the NFC North, our response will probably be much like that of John Kerry last year in his campaign versus Bush: "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy!" Indeed.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Steelers toss Pack a bone.

There may be a ray of hope for Sunday's game against the Steelers at Lambeau: neither starting QB Ben Roethlisberger nor RB powerhouse Jerome Bettis will play. They are being replaced by backup QB Charlie Batch (who has only passed 8 times since 2001...and that was in the 2003 season!) and RB Duce Staley who hasn't carried the ball yet this year.

The Steelers -- and the football gods -- have finally thrown the Pack a bone. There is a slightly better chance for a win today than there was earlier in the week. Let's hope that this is one time the Pack takes advantage of an edge, however so slight it may be.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Favre goes if Sherman goes?

According to an article in today's online Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Packer QB Brett Favre told the Associated Press that he'd probably be more likely to call it quits if coach Mike Sherman is fired after this season.

Although in reading the article it seems as if Favre is more concerned with possibly having to learn a new offense than with loyalty to the coach. Favre has played in a variation of the West Coast offense for the last 14 years. He's not prone -- at this stage of his career -- to want to learn a new system that a new coach might install.

Favre doesn't sound down on the prospects for this team, this year or next. He obviously still has the fire to play and play at a high level. He's thrown 15 TD passes this year and has a career best 66.7 completion percentage despite key receivers being out for the season. But "the straw that breaks the camel's back," just could be what style of offense is being run...regardless of who the coach is.

Sherman should go, yes. Promote Jim Bates. And keep the West Coast offense -- and Brett Favre -- for at least another year or two.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Thomas waived.

Second-year CB Joey Thomas was waived by the Packers today.

The third-round pick slid from being a possible starter this year to being benched during last Sunday's game versus the Bengals.

While no GM bats a thousand on draft picks, this is just another in the series of wasted high draft picks by then-GM Mike Sherman which has left the defense, especially, with a woeful lack of talent.

Perhaps some of the recent practice squad signees of new GM Ted Thompson can pick up the slack. Riiiiiiiiiiiight.

Monday, October 31, 2005

The bottom-feeder cycle.

1992. 1998. 1999. 2005.

It's the law of gravity. What goes up must come down. It also seems to be the bottom-feeder cycle. Teams that win three division championships in a row eventually have a down year. Other than the 1998 and 1999 season, it seems like that cycle runs about once every six years.

So our lowly 1-6 record -- tied with only the Houston Texans for futility -- seems to be somewhat a law of nature, so to speak. In that context, it makes it a bit easier to take. Of course, the reasons for the collapse are not so easy to take. The plethora of injuries to key skill players leaves Brett Favre with no one to rely on to help him carry the load; Donald Driver is about as close as it gets...and that's pretty darn good most of the time. But other than that? Not much there.

And that's the maddening part. The lack of team depth arising from bad drafts and personnel decisions by then-GM Mike Sherman, as has been noted here before, is really at the heart of the current situation. He's not responsible for injuries. He is responsible for not building a team with depth beyond the starting lineup. He is responsible for not giving the best quarterback in football the supporting players on offense and defense to not merely win division championships but win playoff games and Super Bowls.

We're now left with a quarterback who is questioning whether he still has the ability to make the plays necessary to help his team win. There's no question that he still does. In yesterday's game against the Bengals, Favre practically willed the team to a win...that's the only way you can describe it.

According to the online Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Chuck Bresnahan, the Bengals' defensive coordinator, still thinks the Packers have a legitimate chance to win the NFC North despite being three games behind Chicago." And Vince Newsome, the Baltimore Ravens' assistant director of pro personnel, called the Pack, "one of the scariest 1-6 clubs you're ever going to see." All because of Number 4, Brett Favre.

Pittsburgh comes to Lambeau next weekend. Then the Pack travels to Atlanta. Chalk up two more losses. Two too many good teams ahead, and too few good players and too little head coaching ability to overcome those other teams.

Look to next year. Look to a high draft pick. Look to a new head coach, most likely the current defensive coordinator, Jim Bates. And look for ol' Number 4 to return for what might be his last year. Fans of the Packers -- and fans of pro football -- should savor the losses as much as the wins while we have the chance. "People will look back and say, 'I remember when this guy, Brett Favre, was playing,'" Vince Newsome said. "Their backs were against the wall today and everybody thought they were going to get blown out. Favre ignited them. He makes the other guys good. He never gave up." That's what we have to take heart in right now.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Still can't do it.

OK, let's just admit that this year is a write-off. The Pack falls to 1-6 after another mediocre effort. Just enough penalties at crucial times, and 5 interceptions against a Bengals defense that was just waiting to be had. But the obvious impact of the injuries has so depleted the Pack that mistakes like that just can't be overcome, late game heroics aside.

It's sad. But, hey, there's always next year! Guess it's time to start evaluating the early draft pick candidates because the Pack will be drafting high this year.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

This just in...roster moves.

From the Packers official website, this news just in:

"The Green Bay Packers Tuesday made three additions to return their roster to 53-man strength. Ted Thompson, Executive Vice President, General Manager and Director of Football Operations, made the announcement.

On Tuesday, the team made five moves on its active roster:

- Signed wide receiver Taco Wallace;
- Re-signed running back Walt Williams;
- Claimed on waivers from Tennessee wide receiver Andrae Thurman;
- Placed running back Ahman Green on injured reserve; and
- Released wide receiver Jamal Jones.

In addition Tuesday, the club replaced offensive lineman Joe Hayes on its practice squad with tight end Lyonel Anderson."

Obviously the Pack was not satisfied with the progress they were seeing from Jamal Jones. Andrae Thurman returns to the Pack and Taco Wallace rejoins Packers GM Ted Thompson from his days in Seattle. Walt Williams...welcome back!

Rock, paper, scissors?

OK, perhaps the title is not a precise metaphor for what the Packers are facing in terms of personnel issues at the moment. But it is almost that much of a game. Pick one unsigned receiver, take a flyer on that running back...or maybe that guy that's on the practice squad...what difference will it make? The Pack is going nowhere this year.

Today, just about anyone that could have walked into the Pack's practice facility probably could have gotten a tryout.

The Pack was bringing in Fred Ex, Freddie Mitchell, for a workout. He of the infamous 4th and 26 catch and the loud mouth. Donald Driver, quoted in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel today, said Mitchell was probably the best of the available receivers out there on the street right now. Former Philly teammate, Packer cornerback Al Harris, said he didn't think Mitchell would be a disruption in the locker room. Maybe a disruption in the locker room would actually be a good thing. Remember that similar comments were made when the Packers signed Andre Rison. All he did was help the Packers win their first Super Bowl in three decades. With Mitchell, the Pack would get a receiver who is capable of big plays, would take some of the pressure off likely double teams on Donald Driver, and knows the West Coast offense.

If the Pack decides that they don't want to deal with Mitchell, however, it may be they decide to stick with a wide receiver rotation of Driver, Antonio Chatman and rookie Jamal Jones along with more frequent multiple tight end sets to help stretch the defense.

As for the running back situation, the Pack is even more desperate for help. With only Tony Fisher and Rashard Lee available, someone is needed to provide a legitimate occasional breakaway threat. Former Packer Walt Williams and former Seattle Seahawk Kerry Carter are in for workouts today. Both know the system, with Williams having been a bubble player with the Packers for the last several years. The online Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel quoted Packer fullback William Henderson (speaking of Walter Williams): "I would hope they look at him. Conditioning-wise and knowledge of the offense, it's a natural fit for a guy like Walter. We love the guy in the locker room. I hope everything works out for him."

For what it's worth, I do too.

Stay tuned as the personnel wheel slowly turns...

Monday, October 24, 2005

From bad to worse.

News just in: Ahman Green is out for the rest of the season with a tendon tear in his thigh. Robert Ferguson is out at least 2-4 weeks.

So...let's review: 3 out of the Pack's top 4 receivers are out (2 of them for the year) and the Packers top 2 running backs are out for the season. Can you say, "Ouch!"?

How in the world Brett Favre will be able to carry the team on his back perhaps more than ever before remains to be seen. Given the weaknesses in the defensive backfield (i.e, Ahmad Carroll), the offense needs to be able to score points. With virtually no running game and only Donald Driver as a reliable downfield receiver, it seems highly unlikely that they will be able to do that.

The "easy" part of the Pack's schedule has now passed. The team is 1-5, tied with only San Francisco in the NFC for futility, and one game ahead of the winless Houston Texans in the entire league. Given the schedule over the next few weeks -- at Cincinnati, Pittsburgh at home, at Atlanta -- the Pack could, and likely will, go into its Nov. 21 Monday Night Football rematch against the ViQueens at 1-8.

It may very well be that if the Pack had stayed healthy there was talent enough to win the division and get to the playoffs. That was my prediction at the beginning of the season: winning the division at 9-7. Is it still possible? Sure. Is it probable? No. Given the rash of injuries, questionable personnel decisions going into and during the season, and mediocre play-calling from Coach Sherman, the Pack will be lucky to perhaps win 4 more games all year.

Still, it is a shame that our last memory of Ahman Green in a Packers uniform is of him being carted off the field following his injury. With free agency pending after this season, this injury, his declining production, and age, the Pack will likely move in a different direction next season for a starting a RB. Green deserved a better exit.

Of course, fans deserve better memories than we are being left with this year. After all, we haven't had to say, "Well, there's always next year" so early in a season for a long, long time.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Stick a fork in.

Unbelievable. Loosing to the ViQueens. Pain and misery fill the air.

Stick a fork in the Pack. This year is down the drain. Too many injuries. Too many penalties. Too few fundamentals. Poor play calling from the coach.

So...we should have what...the #1 draft pick by the time this season is done? At least we have that going for us.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Keep it simple.

It turns out that, along with all the personnel changes on the O-line, things might have just been a bit too complicated for a few of the lineman, particularly first-year Guard Will Whitticker. The Pack ranks 28th in the league in rushing. Abysmal. However, in the game against the Saints -- prior to Davenport going down -- they were actually having some success running for the first time this season.

With the return this week of Ahman Green -- who coaches say appears to be 100 percent -- and a simplified blocking scheme that the linemen can execute, there is an opportunity for the Pack to run. And they need to. When the team runs in the HumpDome effectively, results have been good. Green may have to carry the ball a lot more than he's used to so far this season. And with Davenport out for the year, the spot duty devolves to third-down back Tony Fisher and the new and unknown Rashard Lee. The coaches are anxious to see what Lee can do. But they and the fans would be more interested in seeing Green rush for 100 yards or more for the first time in a looooooonnnnngggg time.

If the Pack can shred the 'Queens the way the lowly Bears offense did last weekend, both through the ground and the air, the Pack comes away with a much needed and critical division win. With all the distractions around the 'Queens thanks to their "Love Boat" excursion, they are ripe for the picking if the Pack gets on them early. If not, the 'Queens could play like a cornered critter and give the Pack fits. Let's hope that the team that we saw play the Saints is the team that comes out to play this Sunday.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

A bye? Oh my!

So what to do on a day without any football? Well, there are games, of course, but if the Pack isn't playing does it really matter? It does, a bit. In the big scheme of things -- i.e., the NFC North -- we find ourselves in that horribly conflicted place of deciding whether to root for daBearz or the ViQueens. I think this one's easy: gotta root for daBearz...as much as that goes against everything in nature.

Why? Because the Pack stands a greater chance of beating the daBearz twice than they do the ViQueens. I know, daBearz -- as I write this -- are thoroughly outplaying the Purple People. The ViQueens are coming off a week or so filled with the turmoil over their ill-advised "Love Boat" escapade, so were apt to be a bit distracted. One can only hope that malaise carries over to next week's game with the Pack in the HumpDome. But we all know the Pack's record in that place: not encouraging. That's why I still say daBearz are the team to root for today. Because come December, and the Pack's two games versus Chicago in that month, we are more apt to sweep them than the ViQueens.

As for the Lions...who cares?

With these thoughts for this bye day, I bid you bye-bye.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Miscellaneous Meanderings

OK, Packer fans, we now remember what it feels like to win. Change that, not only win but blow out another team! 52-3...as that international man of mystery, Austin Powers, would say, "Yeah, baby!"

Turns out that the Packers' 52 points are the most scored in their first win of the season by a team starting 0-4...EVER! That's kind of a record with a dark underside to it, but still, we'll take it.

THE RUNNING GAME
The main question for Packer fans, of course, is how this win will translate to the games after the bye week and particularly the game against the ViQueens in the HumpDome. The string of Packer injuries continues on. Losing Najeh Davenport, especially with the questions regarding Ahman Green's condition, was a blow to the running game. But the Packers think they may have found at least a stop-gap runner in ReShard Lee, who the Pack picked up on Oct. 6. Packer GM, Ted Thompson, and coaches were impressed by Lee during the joint scrimmage this August with Buffalo, for whom Lee previously played. They felt he was a tough runner between the tackles, can catch the ball (always a plus), and perhaps be enough to provide at least spot duty and maybe more. Sherman said in his Tuesday press conference that he was anxious to see what he can do. Lee is getting a crash course in the Packers offense from running backs coach, Edgar Bennett. (If anyone can show a young running back what it takes to excel in this offense it's Edgar.) In the meantime, if Green can't go, Tony Fisher will get the start. While a capable back, Fisher is best suited to third down play coming out of the backfield rather than being the every-down back. If Lee can get up to speed -- and the coaches and media say he is working hard at absorbing as much of the offense as possible -- it's possible we may see split time among the backs, at least for the Oct. 23 game.

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel online, Lee "only has played running back for three years. At Middle Tennessee State University -- where he earned All-Sun Belt Conference honors -- he served as quarterback, receiver, running back and kickoff returner before declaring for the NFL draft after his junior year." Let's hope -- going against the Packers string of luck this year -- that Lee might turn out to be a diamond in the rough. We could sure use it. But only time will tell.

THE HORROR, THE HORROR

OK, enough of the (potentially) positive. Let's get back to things which, even when gone, continue to fester. That would be, oh I dunno, maybe...Cletidus Hunt?

The one-time overpaid, undermotivated poster child for taking the money and running is -- surprise, surprise -- continuing to haunt the Pack. Turns out he got a rotator cuff tear while still with the team in August. It was not discovered until recent tests confirmed the problem. So now, in addition to the salary cap hit he was already going to exert on the team this year and next, he now also receives a $1.25 million injury settlement...which gets applied to the salary cap. Combined with other smaller settlements which might be paid to Brennan Curtin and Matt O'Dwyer, the Pack's available salary cap is shriking quickly. Ten days ago, the Pack had a reasonable cap of approximately $4.1 million; with these hits to the cap, the team now has an available surplus of somewhere in the $2.5 million range. This obviously impacts available funds for re-signing free agents and giving contract extensions.

Obviously, the Packers had to do the right thing and compensate Hunt. It is unfortunate, however, that during his time with the team Hunt failed to do right by the Packers and play in the manner he was paid to do. 'Nuff said.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Pack Wins! Pack Wins!! Pack Wins!!!

I think this victory can be summed up with one word: aaaaahhhhhhhhh.

More later...have to savor the taste of this one for a while. It's been a long time coming.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Time for a fresh start...or at least a couple new starters.

So with the Packers roster resembling more of a MASH triage unit, the team has little choice but to go with some new starters. As of Friday, it sounded as if the starting offensive line could be any number of possible combinations. So put the names up on the dart board, close your eyes and -- fffttt, fffttt, fffttt -- there's your starters. Truth be told, it almost seemed as if the replacements played at least well if not better than the starters Monday night at Carolina.

Najeh Davenport will be getting a rare start in place of Ahman Green. Given that he will be a free agent next year this is an opportunity for him to show what he can do. Let's hope it's gain some ground...you know, more than 50 or 60 yards for the entire game.

Defensively, undrafted rookie Roy Manning will get his first start in place of the injured Na'il Diggs. Paris Lenon, who started last week, apparently failed to impress. The coaches have been impressed with Manning ever since training camp. Apparently they figure they don't have much to lose at this point by seeing what he can do.

Will all these new and untried starters help lead the Pack to its first win of the season against a vagabond Saints team? Going into the bye week at 1-4 would be a lot more preferable than 0-5.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Repeat after me: "It's only a game. It's only a game."

What can a Packer fan say after a game like last night? I actually don't feel as bad as I did after last week's loss. Perhaps that's just the numbness starting to set in. The realization that this is going to be a long year. The acceptance of the fact that this team just does not have much talent. The toll and roll injuries continue to play in depleting that already lean talent pool.

Or...despite all this, the fact remains that the combined point loss of the last 3 games is just 6 points. So close. But still no wins. We now share the title of worst team in the league with Houston, which is 0-3.

Listening to callers on the day-after call-in shows, you hear the whole range of emotions and predictions. Everything from the team going 0-16 to going on a run and finishing out at 8-8 and possibly winning the division title. At this point -- OK, mainly since they haven't lost 7 games yet -- my initial prediction of a 9-7 finish is still viable. Likely? Probably not. But possible. On the other hand, Packers' radio guy Wayne Larrivee was quick to point out that when the Pack has been able to dig themselves out of their slow starts the past few years they had a veteran team, not one with 11 rookies some of whom are in starting roles, and that they remained relatively injury free. There was also greater depth than there appears to be now. Larrivee noted that everything in the NFL is cyclical and it is very difficult for a team to maintain a winning record like the Packers have had for the past 13 years. As I noted in an earlier post, Sherman's personnel mistakes as GM are coming home to roost this season. As one caller noted, the Pack still has one of the best QBs in the game but he has no supporting cast. As much as he did to win the game last evening, he can't play the defensive backfield, he can't catch -- and hang on to -- his own passes, he can't block for the running backs.

The comeback in the fourth quarter offered a glimmer of hope. Depleted offensively and defensively, the team arguably gave the best effort of the year. That was good to see. Rather than the dazed "deer in the headlights" look that the players had for much of the game, we finally saw some emotion. Perhaps that will carry into the game this Sunday at Lambeau vs. the 2-2 Saints.

Today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Online poll, however, seems to reveal that Packer fans are taking off the green-n- gold colored glasses: 60 percent of more than 2,000 persons responding to the online poll agree with the statement that "this Packers season is a total loss."

Sadly, we seem to have to tell ourselves this year that "It's only a game."

Monday, October 03, 2005

Are You Ready for Some Football? It's Wavy Gravy Time!!!

OK, Packer fans...the Monday night game vs. Carolina is only hours away. Center Mike Flanagan was quoted on last evening's "Packers Blitz" show on WITI-TV6 as saying that the Pack had a very good week of practice. "You play like you practice," he noted. Let's hope it was a REALLY good week of practice.

Coach Mike Sherman's teams are notorious for their slow starts the last few years -- there's the subject of a whole other PFU blog entry! -- but a loss tonight would take this team places it hasn't been to in a long, long, long time.

So, looking at what we've seen from this team so far this year, and what we've been seeing from the coaching staff for several years now, I think it's time we break out what I like to call the "Wavy Gravy" invocation (did that Woodstock reference date me???). It goes like this (paraphrasing): "No loss. No loss. No loss." Got it? Good! All together now on three. One, two, three: "No loss. No loss. No loss." Repeat up to and through the entirety of the game. I believe it will be just as effective as a "very good" week of team practice.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

"If I only had a brain..."

You're going to get a kick out of this one, Packer fans.

My buddy, Steve (you know who you are!), forwarded on to me this story from the Oct. 1 edition of The Green Bay Press-Gazette. Seems that illustrious bastion of factoids, The Wall Street Journal, compiled the available Wonderlic intelligence test scores for each NFL team. Turns out, every time you've shouted "Stupid Packers", "Boneheads," "Dumb *$#^%" you've been exactly right! The Packers have the lowest team composite Wonderlic score in the NFL!

Granted, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to throw a block or make a tackle...although judging by the lack of both of these from much of the Packs' play this year you'd think it does. But a certain level of intelligence is required to problem solve. You know, as in "OK, who has the ball?".

Despite the fact that most of us know that tests are a moment-in-time type of thing, that the test writers write tests to test things that they do well at, that some individuals do better on certain measures of intelligence than others, etc., it still gives one pause to reflect on how this does affect team play. Although as the article points out, they don't make the coaches take any similar test now do they? Hmmm? Hmmmm? Of course not. And judging from some play calling and personnel fiascoes over the last 4-5 years...well let's leave it at that, shall we.

Here's the article for your own perusal.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

0-3. Oy!!!

Now that I've emerged from my PPLD (Post Packer Loss Depression), I have a few things to say:
  • I actually had posted a fairly thorough review of the Bay of Pigs game the day after. It got dispersed into the blogosphere junk pile without me knowing how or why. After spending so much time in the cathartic writing process only to see it vanish in the blink of an eye...I then not only had to deal with the effects of PPLD, but also PBLS (Post Blog Loss Syndrome). You can see how the combination of these two would just send a poor soul right into a week-long tailspin.
  • My trusty laptop computer, on which I write this blog, may have seen its better days. I am now in a frequent pattern of BSOD (Blue Screen of Death). So toss in the BSOD with my PPLD and PBLS and it doesn't make for a good week for blogging.
OK...last week's game. Do we really want to go there? Again, let's keep it brief:
  • Missed extra point early in the game -- always an omen of doom...and it was.
  • Missed field goal...unexpected...but fell into the pattern established early by the missed PAT.
  • Penalties...again.
  • No rushing game...again...oh, will someone tell Sherman to run Green more than 20 times a game, please?!
  • Turnovers...again. OK, we finally got one too but did that really make any difference? Nah.
If the Pack loses at Carolina Monday night, Sherman's fate might be sealed. The Packers' administration is too genteel to pull the trigger and yank him mid-season. But does anyone doubt that Jim Bates came to GB just to be Defensive Coordinator? On the other hand, ESPN's Christ Mortenson this week claimed that the next coach of the Pack will be Philly's Offensive Coordinator, Brad Childress. When asked about this, Sherman said that that just guaranteed him another 10 years because Mortenson's never right about his predictions. Ya gotta love gallows humor.

More later...if technology cooperates.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Good or bad? Sometimes it's hard to tell.

So the latest from the Packers' practice field is that CBs Joey Thomas and Ahmad Carroll sat out practice on Wednesday and may be out again today with injuries. Thomas apparently got a head injury in Sunday's game vs. Cleveland (perhaps when he dove to make the tackle on TE Heiden and wound up hitting nothing but the ground?), while Carroll came up with a groin pull early in practice.

So, both these young cornerbacks may be unavailable for this week's game vs. the Bucs. The question then for today, kids, is this: Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Discuss among yourselves.

Second-year guy Jason Horton and rookie Michael Hawkins both practiced with the #1 defensive unit. If Thomas and Carroll are unable to go Sunday Horton will probably get the nod given one more year's experience than Hawkins. Given that the Bucs will likely be running Cadillac Williams like a mule on Sunday one can only hope that an already questionable defensive backfield can at least perform no worse than it did on Sunday...which isn't saying much of anything at all, I realize.

Continuing with the injury theme, which seems to be ongoing for the team so far this year, the Pack re-signed Ben "Hands of" Steele to replace Bubba Franks if Bubba is unable to play because of the bruised knee suffered in last Sunday's game. Javon Walker was finally officially placed on injured reserve to open up the roster slot for Steele.

On the positive side, there is a good possibility LB Na'il Diggs will return for the game vs. Tampa Bay, replacing Paris Lenon. He is greatly needed, both as a player and a leader on the defensive side of the ball...hey, somebody's got to do it!!!

Monday, September 19, 2005

0-2! Oh no!!!

Say it ain't so, Joe, say it ain't so.

Sorry, kid. The Pack drops it's second straight game of this season and its third consecutive home opener...to a team that consensus holds is one of the worst in the NFL...on a day when the team retires Reggie White's number. Go figure.

What are we to make of this? Well, consider this sad stat: in the last 20 home games the Pack is 10-10, 4-6 in the last 10 games, a far cry from that run in the 90's where the Pack had the longest consecutive home winning streak in the league. Lambeau is no longer the intimidating place it once was. In the last several years, it's even seen its first two playoff losses. But a playoff game is at this point even a long shot: only two teams have ever started 0-2 and made it to the playoffs.

An analysis of all the problem areas right now could fill a novel. Let's just list a few:
  • Horrible defense with absolutely no impact players. Can't cover. Can't tackle. Can't put pressure on the quarterback. Can't generate turnovers. Even if uber-D Coordinator Jim Bates was Svengali he would have a hard time transforming this defense into a competitive unit. The legacy of bad personnel judgments, free agent signings, and drafts by then GM Mike Sherman is finally coming home to roost. This is not even a rebuilding year...it's still part of the slide.
  • Special teams that can't cover. Giving the other team starting field position from the 30-50 yard line each and every time -- albeit partially because of Ryan Longwell's well-known short kickoffs typically to the 10 -- means that an already weak defense is at an even greater disadvantage before it even takes the field.
  • A depleted offense. Losing Javon Walker was a huge loss. But losing Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera were perhaps even greater losses in many ways. The woeful line play shows more than just a group that hasn't gelled; it shows a line that just isn't very good. Center Mike Flanagan continues to look rusty and is likely on the downside of his career. Clifton and Tauscher are holding their own. Klemm and Whittacker...the verdict is still out, but it doesn't look like they will be close to providing the level of protection for Favre or the holes for Green that Wahle and Rivera did. Green and the other backs seemed to be stuck, no bursts, which again may be a result of just not being able to find any holes in the line. The receivers are serviceable but there doesn't appear to be anyone to provide the downfield threat that Walker did. And now the unidentified injury to Bubba Franks puts one of Favre's most trusted receivers in question for at least the near future.
  • Play calling on offense shows either no confidence in the O-line to protect Favre or no confidence in the receivers to be able to get separation downfield. Yesterday, judging from replays, it seemed that receivers were not able to get separation consistently. As a result, the ol' dink 'n dunk pass game came into play and did little but eat clock at a time when the Pack needed to gobble up big yards quickly. On the defensive side of the ball, the non-existence of a pass rush or blitz that gets the opposing team guessing about what's coming is indicative of two things in particular: no defensive line and no coverage ability in the secondary, both of which are required to make consistent line/blitz packages effective.
  • Coach Sherman's ongoing inability to raise the level of play of his team. Ultimately, the players are the ones who are getting paid to play and to make plays. But the coach has a responsibility to put players in a position to make plays and to get them to play beyond the mere level of their talent. While Sherman has one of the best winning percentages of all active coaches, it could be argued that a great deal of that was initially built on the talent he inherited. The talent he himself selected as GM has not sustained that early surge of wins. If the slide continues this year, expect new GM Ted Thompson -- despite Sherman's contract extension -- to cut bait and bring in his own man. Some pundits contend that that could be the return of Mike Holmgren. Whether that would be good for Holmgren or for the Pack...we'll have to wait to see.
  • Penalties. 'Nuff said.
That's the stark reality of the current situation. On the positive side of things...ummm...hmmm...well...the NFC North is the weakest division in all of football and we still have Favre. As one ESPN talking head said on its Cold Pizza show, "The Pack could start 0-5 and still win the division." Let's hope he's only right on the last part of that statement.

Next up: Tampa Bay. It doesn't get any easier from here on out.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

It's Thomas Time!

Packer fans will finally get a chance to see whether Joey Thomas can bring it as the starting left cornerback. Taking over from the perpetually handy (as in number of hand penalties) Ahmad Carroll, Thomas can claim the position as his own with a good showing Sunday against the Browns. Thomas claims to be ready and confident, two things you definitely need in a starting CB. A secondary benefit may be that with this demotion Carroll will finally get the idea that until and unless he relies on his speed to cover rather than his hands he will be relegated to a back up position at best.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Who's the new wide receiver?

Now that Javon Walker is lost for the season -- and perhaps along with him, the Packers' chances for making the playoffs -- who will the Packers pick up to replace him? Right now, they will rotate Donald Driver at flanker and Robert Ferguson at split end. Antonio Chatman and rookie Terrence Murphy will battle it out for the number 3 spot.

BUT...the Pack will today be working out 7-yr. veteran, Jerome Pathon, recently released by Seattle. Pathon is one of the best free agent wide receivers available. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, other receivers who are available include Scottie Vines, Kelvin Kight, P.K. Sam and Nate Poole. Jacksonville cut Troy Edwards -- the 13th overall pick in the '99 draft -- just before game time on Sunday. He has not been mentioned as a possibility so far, despite being the Jags 2nd leading receiver last year. The Packers also were interested in Koren Robinson, but he just signed a 1-yr. deal with the Viqueens.

If Pathon's workout goes well, the Packers would likely sign him to provide added quality talent, experience, and depth to the receiving corps. He is a proven receiver, a down-field threat, and someone who could help the Packers immediately. The Pack is high on rookie Murphy, but he is coming off injury and will likely only see limited duty this week as he gets his game legs. Murphy needs time to develop. Having another experienced receiver such as Pathon, along with Driver, can perhaps help accelerate the physical talent Murphy possesses into a real gamer.

Will there be a drop off without Walker? Undoubtedly. But how well Pathon or other pick ups, as well as the existing receivers, step up to fill the void will determine in large measure whether the season hopes can be fulfilled. Given the dismal performance in the first game, the offense can only get better.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Walker out for season???

Ouch!

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is reporting that preliminary indications are that Javon Walker has a torn ACL in his right knee and, if so, will be out for the season.

Maybe I will have to re-think that 9-7 season record prediction after all.

First Game Summary: D - OK, O - Not

That about sums it up. Everyone, including yours truly, was concerned about the defense going into this game. Aside from the ubiquitous penalties against -- guess who? -- Ahmad Carroll, the defense actually performed well. Players were flying to the ball.

But the offense was offensive! The O-line...oh my! Flanagan was at least a step slow and the guys charged with replacing Wahle and Rivera...need lots of work. Things looked terribly out of sync. And of course losing Walker early in the second half and also Ferguson for a while didn't exactly create a strong situation for the air game.

I'm still sticking with my call for a 9-7 season...just wasn't figuring this to be one of those losses. Will have to make it up with an unexpected win later on. Hey...the Viqueens lost...duhBears lost...and Detroit is undefeated in the division...you know that this bizarro world won't last long...OK, except for duhBears part! :-)

Friday, September 09, 2005

Season Prediction

Heading into the opening weekend of the season, it's time for some predictions. Hey, everyone else is doing it, so what the heck. I've listened to and read sports pundits who project the Packers to finish the season anywhere from 5-11 to 11-5. That's quite a difference. Eye of the beholder type thing. ESPN commentator, Tom Jackson, actually suggested that the Pack is the "most overrated" team going into the season, declaring that the team's slide is about to begin as Brett enters the latter years of his career. I've also listened to and read many of those same pundits who declare that the Viqueens will at long last not fade down the stretch and will save lame duck coach Mike Tice's job by actually winning the division. Have to see it to believe it. Troy Aikman, lead game analyst for Fox Sports (and someone who knows a bit about winning), did not join in this bandwagon movement to crown the 'Queens. "I just have a hard time going against a team like Green Bay," Aikman said. You can read the rest of his comments here.

With all this as prelude, my call for the season record -- for what that's worth -- is 9-7 which could still be enough to win the weak NFC North or at least qualify for a wildcard spot in the playoffs.

The first win is this Sunday in Detroit. While domes haven't always been the best of the places for the Pack to play, it seems as if Detroit is usually the exception to the rule. Despite some personnel upgrades for the Lions, QB Harrington's play will be characteristically erratic enough to give our defense enough of an assist to notch a win.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Leach & Lee Added, Luchey & Steele Cut

See, I told you they liked Leach!

Who knows how these things work? Only NFL GMs and personnel guys, I guess. A day or so after clearing waivers and being placed on the practice squad, the Packers promoted FB Vonta Leach to the regular roster and released FB Nick Luchey. The Pack also cut TE Ben "Hands of" Steele and replaced him with TE Donald Lee, a third-year player from Mississippi State who started 15 games for the Dolphins.

Looks like GM Thompson is continuing to tweak the team. We'll have to wait until after the Detroit game to find out how many more tweaks might be needed. The biggest question marks, of course, are on the defensive side of the ball. There is a lot of potential with all the young players, but whether they can make that potential reality will be one of the big keys to the season.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Practice Squad Picks

GM Ted Thompson announced the signing of 6 players to the Packers practice squad. Five of the players were in the 2005 training camp. Here are the players:
  • WR/KR Craig Bragg (6-1, 195, rookie, UCLA)
  • CB Patrick Dendy (6-0, 190, rookie, Rice)
  • CB Therrian Fontenot (5-11, 187, rookie, Fresno State)
  • FB Vonta Leach (6-0, 250, second year, East Carolina)
  • WR Chad Lucas (6-1, 201, first year, Alabama State)
  • LB Zac Woodfin (6-1, 234, rookie, Alabama-Birmingham)
The Packers have really liked Vonta Leach these last 2 years and, of all the players, he is the one they are probably most happy to have passed waivers and been able to re-sign. Bragg, who holds UCLA receiving records, showed flashes at times but ultimately was a victim of numbers at the receiving position.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Packers to Hunt: Bye-Bye Now...

The Pack finally bit the bullet and dumped malcontent DT Cletidus Hunt as part of its cuts to the 53-man roster. Rewarded by then-GM Mike Sherman with an overly generous contract after one performance year, Hunt never again reached that same level of effort. Fans have known that for a couple years now. New GM Ted Thompson -- perhaps with the grudging consent of Sherman and willing consent of new Defensive Cooordinator, Jim Bates -- was apparently willing to eat part of the contract this year and next year to make room for players who are more interested in playing football than in taking time off. The reaction, one would suspect, from most of it not all Packer fans to this cut is, "It's about time!".

As a matter of fact, one of the polls the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel did during the Packers' last mini-camp -- another one that Hunt missed -- basically said it all, and was very prescient:

Now that Cletidus Hunt is missing minicamp again, do you think he'll still be on the Packers' roster when the regular season begins?
No (73.6%)
Yes (26.4%)
Total votes: 4,633

In another good move, the Packers traded oft-injured CB Chris Johnson to the St. Louis Rams for LB Robert Thomas, a fourth-year veteran out of UCLA. The Packers also traded T/G Steve Morley to the New York Jets for a future undisclosed draft choice. The following players were placed on injured reserve: S Todd Franz and RB Joey Harris.

Here is the official release list from the Packers:
  • T/G Brad Bedell
  • WR Craig Bragg
  • WR Sam Breeden
  • CB Chris Day
  • T/G Joe Hayes
  • DT Cletidus Hunt
  • LB Corey Jenkins
  • WR Jamal Jones
  • FB Vonta Leach
  • DT James Lee
  • TE Sean McHugh
  • LB Nick McNeil
  • QB J.T. O'Sullivan
  • LB Ray Thompson
  • WR Andrae Thurman
  • CB Leigh Torrence
  • DE R-Kal Truluck
  • DE Seante Williams
  • RB Walt Williams
It will no doubt be the case that Thompson and his crew will be scouring the cut lists for possible upgrades and backups at a number of positions.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Last pre-season game? More of the same.

While the minds of some players might have been elsewhere given the effects of Hurricane Katrina, that certainly wasn't the case in the first 3 games. Yet, it was more of the same for the final game: inconsistent play (which could be attributed to the player rotations...or not), excessive penalties, and mediocre special teams play. The offensive line -- no matter which variation on the theme -- failed to open running lanes and, worse, failed to protect the quarterback. The starting defensive line, even with the return of DTs Jackson and Hunt, didn't do much. Linebackers, so-so. Defensive backs...will Ahmad Carroll EVER stop holding? If he is on the bench, yes. Joey Thompson deserves the starting nod. Several bright starts emerged among those fighting to make the final roster cuts. Brady Poppinga at LB seemed to be around the ball whenever he was in action, as did new pick up from Miami, Corey Jenkins. Rookie DE Michael Montgomery played aggressively, and Kenny Peterson showed flashes of power and quickness. CB Mike Hawkins was once again always where he needed to be to at least be in a position to make plays. On the other hand, CB Chris Johnson may have played himself out of a roster spot with blown coverage and a very stupid penalty on punt coverage. On offense, was it just me or did WR/KR Jamal Jone (#2) blow past the defensive back trying to cover him? All he needed to do was keep his feet in bounds for the best offensive play of the night. Speed though...speed...something for the Packer brass to keep in mind. And where has TE Sean McHugh been? Lining him up in his old college FB position as well as using him at TE instead of looking to perennially disappointing David Martin might be a better option for the future.

Decisions, decisions. The Pack needs to make 20+ roster cuts by the Sunday deadline. There will be some hard choices, which on the one hand is a good position to be in. On the other hand, some of those choices are not between great and great, but adequate and adequate. And if the wrong coin flip happens on those choices the overall result could just be the difference between making the playoffs and not...or worse, a winning season or not. It seems to be that kind of roster situation this year.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A moment to reflect

Like everyone, I am overwhelmed at the sight of the total devastation of New Orleans, Biloxi and the entire Gulf Coast from LA to AL. The direct impact of Hurricane Katrina on millions and millions of lives is incalcualable. The broader impact upon the entire U.S. will take years to determine.

In the meantime, those of us who are not in the direct impact zone can remember our fellow citizens in our thoughts and prayers and, if we are able to do so, make a contribution to one of the charities engaged in immediate relief efforts. If you care to donate through the Red Cross, click here. You will be taken directly to the Red Cross donation page. Just select the Hurricane 2005 Relief cause.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

It's simple: no Simon

Apparently it didn't take GM Ted Thompson long to decide the price to be paid to go after DT Corey Simon was too much to risk for the potential reward. It also apparently didn't take coaches long to figure out that Bernard Holsey, whom they auditioned yesterday, also was not an upgrade over the present set of players now in the mix. While they have hoped that some of the younger players, particularly Donnell Washington and James Lee, would have stepped up in the opportunity to oust Grady Jackson and Cletidus Hunt that hasn't happened. Kenny Peterson had a good game against the Patriots and if he shows that same spark in the last pre-season game against the Titans might find himself a regular part of the mix.

At this time, "ends Aaron Kampman and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, tackles Corey Williams, Jackson and Hunt, and swingman Cullen Jenkins appear to have nailed down six of the projected nine jobs in the defensive line," according to today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The other three who appear to be most likely to make the cut are R-Kal Truluck, rookie end Mike Montgomery and Colin Cole. Washington and Lee could find themselves looking for work.

GM Ted Thompson is quoted as saying, "I think at the end of the day our quality will be fine. I think players will have to play roles just like we anticipated in the spring." Let's hope that role playing is good enough to do the job for the entire season and through the playoffs.

Monday, August 29, 2005

DT help on the way?

With the question marks at the defensive tackle positions -- i.e., Grady Jackson and Cletidus Hunt -- the Pack is today auditioning veteran Bernard Holsey, who has been out of football for a year after being a starter at both tackle positions for the Redskins in 2003. The Redskins defensive line coach at the time is now first-year Packers' tackles coach, Robert Nunn...so that connection might be beneficial...if Holsey is fully recovered from the torn quad tendon which caused to miss all of last year. The catch, in addition to this injury and being out of the game for a year, is that at 31 years of age, Holsey would likely just be another stop-gap measure.

The Pack might also make a bold move and try to sign ex-Eagle, Corey Simon, who became a street free agent when the Eagles yanked their franchise player designation from him. It probably goes without saying that there will be a good deal of competition for his services. Certainly the Packers defense would be dramatically better with Simon in the mix rather than with the part-time play of Jackson and the non-existent play of Hunt. The only catch is how the Pack could structure the contract to stay under the salary cap and still deliver the boatload of dollars Simon is looking for.

Speaking of Hunt...on last night's "Packers Blitz" on Milwaukee's WITI Channel 6, Sports Director Tom Pippins, in a mini-editorial of sorts, called on the Packers to dump Cletidus. Pointing out the obvious to all but apparently Packers personnel staff, Pippins cited Hunt's attitude, lack of performance, and general dead-weight as a member of the team. Better to cut bait and eat the contract, and make a spot available for someone who wants to play in GB than continue to keep this guy as a member of the team. All in favor? Aye!!!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Packers to Navies: "Shove off, matey!"

In perhaps one of the surprising cuts of recent memory, the Pack announced today that they had cut starting OLB Hannibal Navies. Navies had started for the Pack the last 2 seasons. Could this be a precursor of a starting nod to free agent Ray Thompson? Or rookie, Roy Manning, who has reportedly had a great training camp? Or is Paris Lenon finally getting his due? Na'il Diggs is the old man of the LB corp, with Lenon and Barnett the only other veterans now remaining. All other LBs still on the roster are rookies. Jim Bates must obviously be comfortable with trading speed for experience. In his defensive scheme, that certainly will be needed.

Other cuts include: 11-year veteran guard Matt O'Dwyer -- signed in the off-season to challenge for a starting O guard role replacing Marco Rivera -- as well as wide receiver Vince Butler, cornerback Patrick Dendy, linebacker Jeremiah Garrison, guard/tackle Atlas Herrion, tight end Tory Humphrey, running back Derrick Johnese, defensive tackle A.J. Lindsay, wide receiver Chad Lucas and defensive tackle Quintene Newhouse.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Ouch!

What to say about the 3rd pre-season game against the Pats? Hmmm...how 'bout dismal??? From the opening kickoff you could tell it would be a long night. Is it just me or does it always seems like whenever the Pack opens like this it's always down hill? Flat play, turnovers, penalties, injuries. It just snowballs. How a team can be so flat on both sides of the ball, in all areas of the game, in front of the home crowd is something that is always hard to understand. About the only show of emotion anywhere during the game was when Aaron Rodgers got in the tackler's face after his scramble late in the game. If the team doesn't get it together better than this...well, 'nuff said. Paraphrasing Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, "It's only pre-season. It's only pre-season..."

Friday, August 26, 2005

Klemm & Whitticker @ Guards?

Looking to replace long-time O Guards Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera, it looks like the Pack is about ready to settle on veteran Adrian Klemm at LG and 7th round pick Will Whitticker at RG. Tonight's game again the Pats will be the final testing ground for Whitticker who by all reports has had a great training camp and performed well in the other 2 preseason games. It appears that the O-line might be in better shape than thought before going into training camp. With Matt O'Dwyer and Scott Wells as capable backups, and Kevin Barry for the smash 'em-bash 'em formation, the Pack looks capable of holding their own...and perhaps even gelling into a fine unit in time. As Coach Sherman pointed out in his Thurs. 8/25 radio segment on WTMJ620 Radio, while people think that the prior starting 5 were together for 5 years and had this great chemistry as a result, all 5 actually were only on the field together for perhaps 1-1/2 years due to injuries to its various members. If Whitticker does pan out as coaches hope he will, he will be another in the line of great O-line 7th rounders, joining Mark Tauscher and Adam Timmerman as significant contributors to the ongoing success of the Pack.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Bubba's back!

The Packers and Bubba Franks finally agreed to contract terms: reportedly 7 years, $28 million. No other teams were biting on Bubba during free agency as a result of the transition player tag placed on him by the Packers. The Pack, on the other hand, was unable to find any tight ends on their own roster or elsewhere who could match Bubba's abilities. In the end, Bubba got the long-term deal he was looking for and the Packers got back their much-needed tight end. Now that Bubba has what amounts to a lifetime deal -- although there must be buyout provisions in the contract just in case -- let's hope he continues to be his steady self, blocking well and catching those endzone TDs.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Sherman Gets 2 More

Coach Mike Sherman today received a 2-year extension to his existing contract. Basically, he'll still have the same contract as before -- which actually still pays him ($3.2 million/yr.) as if he was the GM/Coach. Good gig. Packer prez Bob Harlan didn't cut Sherman's pay when he yanked the GM title from him last Jan.. While Sherman is obligated to the Pack, the Pack may not be obligated to him...although no doubt there is a buy-out clause specified in the contract should the Packers decide to dump him overboard at some point.

Sherman's success as a winning coach can't be argued, although he sure seems not to always get the respect that he should get as a result. Sherman has the 3rd best winning percentage (.663) of all current active NFL coaches, although since Jim Mora, Jr. is included in that total and only has one season under his belt we should really toss that one out. In that case, Sherman trails only Philly's Andy Reid. The knock, of course, is that despite having the best quarterback in football for all 86 games of his head coaching tenure at Green Bay, Sherman has yet to lead the Pack to the NFC championship game let alone the Super Bowl. No need to rehash the blown opportunities and bad coaching decisions at some critical times in certain games -- Packer fans know those all too well. Still, Sherman's record ranks 3rd in all-time Packer coach winning percentage behind Lombardi and Holmgren and ahead of Curly Lambeau. That certainly deserves a contract extension...but until he wins more than Division championships, Sherman's legacy -- despite overall winning percentage -- will not put him on the same level as the Pack's greatest coaches.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

2nd Pre-season Game

Pretty straightforward on this one:
  • Favre great.
  • Rodgers -- roookie!
  • Defense...dunno.
  • Special teams attrocious.
Any questions? Didn't think so. Hey, it's pre-season.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Defensive tackles? What defensive tackles???

On his early morning report from Packers' training camp today, WTMJ 620 radio sports reporter (and "Voice of the Packers") Wayne Larrivee commented that from his observations over the course of camp so far the biggest worry for the team -- let alone the defense -- is that of the defensive tackle position. Larrivee observed that it appears that, once again, the middle of the defensive line will have to rely on Cletidus Hunt and Grady Jackson. Having to rely on the unreliable Hunt for yet another year doesn't bode well in itself. Toss in the oft-injured and contract-disgruntled Jackson at the other spot, along with a host of unproven and so-far unspectacular backups (e.g., Jenkins, Cole, Peterson) and there sure seems to be reason for concern regarding the middle of the D line. Watching that line get gashed last year was bad enough...let's hope we don't have to watch a repeat.

On a positive note -- yes, there is some good news -- Larrivee noted that S Nick Collins appears to be "the real deal." Also that CB Michael Hawkins may have a chance to challenge Al Harris for a starting slot, but at the very least will certainly be the nickle back.

Toss in the surprising development of undrafted LB Roy Manning and perhaps there is more room for optimism about the defense than might initially be thought. We know the offense will move score points. Whether Jim Bates' new defensive scheme can cover the D's shortcomings and maximize the talents of the players he has to work with (injuries aside) will be the key to the season.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Murphy out with sprained MCL; Carroll banged up

Terrence Murphy, the Pack's 2nd round draft choice out of TX A&M who has apparently been impressive in camp during his receiving debut, sprained his MCL on 8/17 and will sit out the Buffalo game...and maybe more. Because of this injury, reports indicate that the likelihood of the Packers trading Robert Ferguson decrease.

Today, Ahmad Carroll who had regained the #1 CB slot after Joey Thomas missed practices because of his injuries, injured his foot and was carted off the field, only to return later on.

Lots of guys getting dinged up before the season even rolls: LB Na'il Diggs and FB Vonta Leach have torn MCLs, with Diggs possibly being out a month or more.

A banged up defense, which is arguably a weak defense to begin with...let us pray...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A no-brainer

Online Poll
If the Packers had a chance to pick up Terrell Owens, should they do it?
No (87.7%)
Yes (12.3%)
Total votes: 3,607

Poll results from Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Online as of 9 a.m. Central time.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Ferguson speaks out - fan poll "no" on trade

Today's Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel has a feature article on Robert Ferguson and his dissatisfaction with his current role on the team, both as a receiver and special teams player. He's not a disgruntled and disruptive T.O. Just believes he's earned a bit more playing time. Still, he is and coaches affirm that he is a team player and will do what is asked. What a concept in pro sports!!! There is also a fan poll which asked whether or not he should be traded to Philly. The current results indicate "no". See the article here.

Monday, August 15, 2005

T.O.

I live in Philadelphia and can't help but watch the T.O. spectacle unfold each day. I have a strong feeling that Owens will never play another game for the Eagles. I'm also starting to think that fewer and fewer teams are going to be willing to sign him. Clearly he's wrecking his own career as we watch. Sad, huh? Hell no!! As a Packer fan I can't say I'm all that sorry to see this happen to the Eagles. Besides considering trading for Ferguson, they are not too deep at running back. Perhaps this is an opportunity to get some value to Davenport at the same time? Andy Reid likes trading for Packer players... this is the time to strike while the iron is hot.

Go Pack!!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Shipwreck

Stanley finally decides to take a vacation. He books himself on a Caribbean cruise and proceeds to have the time of his life - until the boat sank.

He found himself swept up on the shore of an island with no other people, no supplies...nothing. Only bananas and coconuts.

After about four months, he is lying on the beach one day when the most gorgeous woman he has ever seen rows up to him. In disbelief, he asks her, "Where did you come from? How did you get here?"

"I rowed over from the other side of the island," she says. "I landed here when my cruise ship sank."

"Amazing," he says. "You were really lucky to have a rowboat wash up with you."

"Oh, this?" replies the woman. "I made the rowboat out of raw material found on the island. I whittled the oars from gum tree branches; I wove the bottom from palm branches; and the sides and stern came from a Eucalyptus tree."

"But ... but ... that's impossible," stutters Stanley. "You had no tools or hardware. How did you manage?"

"Oh, no problem," replies the woman. "On the south side of the island, there is a very unusual strata of alluvial rock exposed. I found if I fired it to a certain temperature in my kiln, it melted into forgeable ductile iron. I used that for tools and used the tools to make the hardware."

Stanley is stunned.

"Let's row over to my place," she says.

After a few minutes of rowing, she docks the boat at a small wharf. As Stanley looks onto shore, he nearly falls out of the boat. Before him is a stone walk leading to an exquisite bungalow painted in blue and white. While the woman ties up the rowboat with an expertly woven hemp rope, he can only stare ahead, dumbstruck.

As they walk into the house, she says casually, "It's not much, but I call it home. Sit down, please. Would you like to have a drink?"

"No, no thank you," he says, still dazed. "Can't take any more coconut juice."

"It's not coconut juice," the woman replies. "I built a still. How about a Pina Colada?"

Trying to hide his continued amazement, he accepts, and they sit down on her hand-woven couch to talk. After they have exchanged their stories, the woman announces, "I'm going to slip into something more comfortable. Would you like to take a shower and shave? There is a razor upstairs in the cabinet in the bathroom."

No longer questioning anything, Stanley goes into the bathroom. There, in the cabinet, is a razor made from a bone handle. Two shells honed to a hollow-ground edge are fastened on to its end inside of a swivel mechanism. "WOW! This woman is amazing," he muses, "what next?"

When he returns, she greets him wearing 'nothing but vines' strategically positioned, and smelling faintly of gardenias. She beckons for him to sit down next to her.

"Tell me," she begins suggestively, slithering closer to him, "We've been out here for a really long time. I know you've been lonely. There's something I'm sure you really feel like doing right now, something you've been longing for all these months. You know..."

She stares into his eyes.

He can't believe what he's hearing!

"You mean...", he swallows excitedly...

"We can watch the Packer game from here?"

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Ferguson to be traded?

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel today is reporting that the Eagles, given their decimated receiving corps and T.O.'s hissy/greed fit, may likely have an interest in trading for Robert Ferguson. Would the Pack go that route? Perhaps for a defensive player? See the story here.

First Pre-Season Game

Hello, everyone!

Just an initial post re: the first pre-season game against San Diego. Favre looked great. Kids on defense late in the game were flying around. Maybe there will be some surprises on D...we can only hope. And maybe Sander is a punter after all. Let's hope he can also hold for Longwell as well as he did on that 53-yarder!

Hey, it's a start!

Go Pack!!!