Monday, November 27, 2006

Another Disappointing Loss

As indicated in the halftime report, the Packers -- by not taking advantage of the many opportunities they were handed in the first half -- were setting themselves up to lose. And they did. They could not stop Shaun Alexander, who ran at will through the Packers' defense for 201 yards -- the fourth best rushing performance on Monday Night Football. But mostly, they could not overcome themselves...again.

They could also not overcome an extremely bad roughing the passer call by the refs which kept a Seattle drive going and led to the score which put the Seahawks up 34-24 with about 8 minutes to go. And two late interceptions on Brett's passes -- to add to one in the first half -- didn't help either.

So, the Pack sits now at 4-7. Five games to go. How many more wins are there? Next up is the Jets at Lambeau...hmmm. Probably not. Then at San Fran...maybe. Then the Lions back in GB...darn well better! Then the ViQueens at home. There are two to three possible wins left. Maybe. If the moon and stars line up correctly. Like in a big "G" formation.

Halftime Report: Missed Opportunities

The Packers started strong against Seattle and got a TD following an interception. But the Pack failed to take advantage of two additional interceptions. In fact, while Seattle converted four field goals in the half, the Packers had their lone attempt blocked. Good thing with less than two minutes to go Seattle QB Matt Hasselback got hit and the ball popped up right into the arms of LB Abdul Hodge -- getting his first NFL start, replacing the injured Nick Barnett -- who took it to the endzone for a TD.

That last turnover at least temporarily reversed a pattern in the game. The pattern where the Packers are setting themselves up to lose. Not so much get beat as lose. There's still a half to go and anything can happen. But the fact is that the Packers should have gone into half leading at least 17-12, and more like 24-12. Instead, the Packers are up 14-12.

Missed opportunities is a theme of the Packers' season, along with untimely penalties, like those that helped keep a Seattle drive going late in the half. No running game has also been an unwelcome constant the last several weeks. On a cold and snowy night in Seattle, a running game would be nice to actually have for a change. Seattle's Shaun Alexander -- back off injury -- isn't having much difficulty running. Ahman Green? Not so good.

The prognosis would be that, failing to take full advantage of the four turnovers, the Packers will lose. They need to take advantage of every break they get to win. When they don't...

Let's see what the second half brings.

You May or May Not See the Pack vs. ViQueens Dec. 21

You know that Thursday night Dec. 21 game between the Pack and the ViQueens at Lambeau? Well, depending upon whether you have cable or satellite -- and which system you subscribe to -- you may or may not see the game. That's because the game will be carried by the NFL Network. And the NFL Network is not carried by all cable systems. In particular, two of the largest cable systems don't carry the NFL Network: Time Warner and Charter Communications.

There's an agreement with the league and networks (even it's own) that any game scheduled to be carried only on cable also must be carried over the air in a team's "local" markets. Here's the official verbiage: "By NFL policy, NFL Network games will also be carried on free, over-the-air television in the city of the visiting team and in the city where the game is played if it is sold out 72 hours in advance of kickoff."

In Wisconsin, the league has determined the Packers' local market to be Green Bay (duh) and Milwaukee. Not Madison. Not the entire state. Just...Green Bay and Milwaukee. So if you are outside of those "local" markets, you will not be able to get the game unless your cable system is onboard with the NFL Network, or you have either the Dish Network or DirecTV satellite. In fact, even if you are in those local markets you may not be able to see the game unless you have an over-the-air antenna. That's because Time Warner has the cable monopoly in the Milwaukee and Green Bay markets...and therefore, at present, will not be carrying the game. So, your choices -- no matter where you reside -- are: write and call Time Warner and Charter and demand they carry the NFL Network, subscribe to satellite, or get a very large antenna (yeah, baby!).

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Facing Another Angry Team...on Their Turf

Last week, the Pack had to face -- at home -- an angry Patriots team which was coming off two straight losses. The result: an embarrassing Packers' loss. Monday night, the Pack has to face a Seahawks team -- away -- coming off an embarrassing loss to San Francisco. Not only that, but starting QB Matt Hasselback returns from five weeks off due to his MCL injury. RB Shaun Alexander also returns to help give the Seahawks a boost.

The Pack, on the other hand, go into the game with QB Brett Favre at less than 100 percent. According to what the coaches are saying, Brett's passing feel is back following the injury to his elbow. But who knows? Combine that with his aching ankles and sore groin and...? In the past, Brett usually followed a poor performance or injury with a great game. Let's hope that pattern continues Monday night. Right tackle Mark Tauscher is still out and Chad Clifton will play, but also is not 100 percent. Linebacker Nick Barnett is out with his broken hand, despite thoughts earlier in the week that he'd be able to play with a "club" on the hand. Nope. Maybe next week. Abdul Hodge gets the start in his place, and he himself is just coming back off injury. Defensive lineman Aaron Kampman is doubtful as well.

What this all translates into is a 9-point spread in favor of Seattle as of this writing. The Pack needs a win to stay in second place in the NFC North, or they fall behind the ViQueens. All things considered, the Pack should beat the spread. But a win may be harder to come by.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Bouman Signed as #2, Barnett Has Broken Hand

A couple bits of news, campers. First, the Packers reportedly are set to sign 34-year-old Todd Bouman as the backup to Brett Favre, replacing the injured Aaron Rodgers. Here is the report from today's online Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
The Green Bay Packers plan to sign Todd Bouman as their No. 2 quarterback behind Brett Favre, according to a source close to one of the three quarterbacks Green Bay contacted following the season-ending injury to Aaron Rodgers.

Bouman, 34, was Minnesota's No. 3 quarterback for four seasons and a backup to Daunte Culpepper for two years. In 2003, he signed a free agent contract with New Orleans and spent three seasons there, starting three games at the end of the 2005 season. He completed 68 of 122 passes for 722 yards with two touchdowns and seven interceptions.

In addition to Bouman, the Packers contacted quarterbacks J.T. O'Sullivan and Bradlee Van Pelt Sunday night, according to an NFL source, and arranged to have them perform in front of coaches and scouts. O'Sullivan, 27, played for McCarthy in New Orleans and was on the Packers roster in 2004. Van Pelt, 26, has been in Denver's West Coast offense since being drafted in '04.

Rodgers, the Packers' first-round draft choice in 2005, broke his foot Sunday and is out for the season. Favre was knocked out of the game with an elbow injury at the end of the first half but is expected to be OK for the game Monday night at Seattle.

The Packers' No. 3 quarterback is rookie Ingle Martin, a fifth-round pick out of Furman.

In addition, it's just gradually come out that linebacker Nick Barnett broke his hand near the end of the game Sunday. He is not expected to miss any games. According to reports, he will likely be outfitted with a "club" to protect his hand. The compromise would be that he would most likely come out on passing plays and be replaced by Abdul Hodge, recently back from his injury. There would be some shifting as to which of the linebackers play which positions on those passing downs.

Injuries are never good. But they make a bad loss -- like Sunday's 35-0 spanking -- seem even worse.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Backup Brigade Begins

Less than 24 hours after QB Brett Favre injured his elbow and #2 QB Aaron Rodgers broke his foot, the Packers decided they would not make rookie QB Ingle Martin the immediate backup to Favre. Instead, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
The Packers contacted quarterbacks J.T. O'Sullivan, Todd Bouman and Bradlee Van Pelt Sunday night, according to an NFL source, and arranged to have them perform in front of coaches and scouts. O'Sullivan, 27, and Bouman, 34, both played for McCarthy in New Orleans - O'Sullivan was also on the Packers roster in 2004 - and Van Pelt, 26, has been in Denver's West Coast offense since being drafted in '04.

O'Sullivan, has bounced around the NFL and was part of the trade in which the Packers sent cornerback Mike McKenzie to the New Orleans Saints. Having played in just one game in his career, O'Sullivan is practice squad eligible and was last with New England.

Bouman, who has the strongest arm of the three, was Minnesota's No. 3 quarterback for four seasons and a backup to Daunte Culpepper for two years. In 2003, he signed a free agent contract with New Orleans and spent three seasons there, starting three games at the end of the 2005 season. He completed 68 of 122 passes for 722 yards with two touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Van Pelt was a seventh-round pick of Denver in 2004 and spent two seasons as the No. 3 quarterback. In 2005, he had a very good pre-season, completing 36 of 67 passes for 385 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. He was sacked seven times, however.

Call it a toss up. Will be interesting to see how the tryouts pan out. Hopefully as the season goes on, Brett will continue his ironman streak and who is #2 will not matter. At least not this year.

Double Owie - Rodgers Now Out for the Season

In the same game in which starting QB Brett Favre hurt a nerve in his elblow -- raising questions about his availability for next Monday night's game at Seattle -- backup QB Aaron Rodgers broke his left foot and is now out for the season. The Packers have placed Rodgers on injured reserve. If Favre is unable to play all or some of Monday's game, that leaves the team with only rookie QB Ingle Martin available. Undoubtedly, the Packers will be looking at practice squads and street free agents to bolster a suddenly short-handed quarterbacking corps.

Darn...and the Patriot's got Vinny Testaverde only a week ago. Who'da thunk it?

Here's the official email announcement from the Packers:

Unfortunately for backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers, his first extended action in
2006 turned out to be his last this season.

Rodgers broke his left foot during Sunday's game against New England and is out
for the season, Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday.

Rodgers came into Sunday's game late in the second quarter in relief of Brett
Favre, who injured his right elbow while getting sacked. Rodgers finished the
contest, completing four of 12 passes for 32 yards. He also rushed for 11
yards, was sacked three times and lost a fumble.

Rodgers was the Packers' first-round draft choice in 2005, and he played
extensively in just one game last year. At Baltimore on Dec. 19, Rodgers
completed eight of 15 passes for 65 yards with one interception.

More -

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Final Drubbing: Pats 35 - Pack 0

Ouch! The final score was not a surprise given the tone of the first half. And especially with Brett on the bench the entire second half, chances for doing anything were not good.

Some sad facts: the Pats possessed the ball for nearly 20 minutes more in this game than did the Packers; this is the first time in the history of Lambeau Field that the Packers have been shut out twice at home in the same season.

Some good news, as just reported on CBS Sports: Brett experienced numbness in his elbow and forearm, but the team's medical staff do not plan on doing an MRI; the report further stated that Brett is -- what else? -- expected to start again next weekend.

The difference in this game between one of the league's elite teams and its youngest was clear. It was, however, nice to hear CBS analyst Dan Dierdorf comment as he watched the game that in looking at this very young Packers team that the future is very bright. Agreed. It's the growing pains right now that make it difficult. Going to Seattle for the game next Monday night will also be part of this growth process. Let's hope they learned some lessons today.

Halftime: Oh-Oh Redux

This is not good. Down 21-0 with an exceptionally flat performance. Brett appeared off target on just about every throw. Obviously, his ankle and/or groin injuries were bothering him. The lack of a running game is also bothersome all the way around.

But...with less than 2 minutes to go in the first half, Brett was sacked and went down awkwardly. He came up holding his arm and wrist. Looked as if he was in a lot of discomfort. He rode the cart to the locker room at half. I don't know what X-rays will show, but my guess is Aaron Rodgers will be playing the second half. Hopefully, Brett will be back in the saddle next week.

This game looks like a goner, frankly. Look in the crystal ball and you'll see the Pack at 4-6 after this game...yet another loss at home. It ain't over 'till it's over...but...not looking good.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


According to a report in today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, QB Brett Favre is not 100 percent going into this week's game against the Patriots at Lambeau. Brett apparently suffered an ankle injury in last week's win against the ViQueens. But both ankles have been bothering him at least since August, as he told the NFL Network back then. At age 37, not surprising.

But Brett's ankles aren't all of it. Coach McCarthy revealed that Brett suffered a groin injury in practice on Thursday. But of course, Brett says he'll be ready to go. Unfortunately, right tackle Mark Tauscher won't be playing with the groin injury he sustained in last week's game. Rookie Tony Moll will be filling his place. Moll is no Tauscher, but he is one tenacious lineman nonetheless. So we're back to three rookies starting on the line again. They have performed admirably. Let's just hope they can do it again tomorrow. They'll be going against an experienced defense, albeit one with a lot of injuries. If the Pack's young line can give Brett some time and open holes for Ahman Green, Tom Brady can be kept off the field...and that would be a good thing.

Early in the week, the Pats were favored by 6. It was down to 5-1/2 by late Friday. That's a pretty big spread. The Packers are coming off a solid win in the road and are seemingly on the upswing (despite the giveaway game in Buffalo), while the 6-3 Pats have lost two in a row, the first back-to-back losses in a 57-game span. Both teams have something to prove. This could be a defining game for the young Packers. Let's hope it is defining a team still in the wildcard chase.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Packers Win! Packers Win!! Packers Win!!!

The Packers beat the ViQueens in the Humpty Dump Dome today, 23-16. In doing so, they beat my pre-game prognostication by 3 points. But at least I was closer than the spreadmakers who had the 'Queens winning by 5. NOT!

The Packers really dominated on both sides of the ball. Still, it wasn't until former Packer kicker, Ryan Longwell, booted a second attempt at an on-side kick out of bounds with about 57 seconds to go that the game was decided. The 'Queens helped the Packers with two turnovers, a fumble by Brand Johnson and an interception thrown by him as well. The Packers were also helped by two special teams' penalties -- on the same player. One cancelled out a 102-yard kickoff return and the other, in the closing minute, negated the first of the onside kicks, which had been recovered by the 'Queens. Just as the Pack can attribute at least three out of five of its losses to miscues, the 'Queens returned the favor today. The Packers had no turnovers today, although there was again one blown pass coverage in the first half which allowed a 'Queens touchdown.

Brett Favre was outstanding, throwing for over 300 yards, the 48th 300+-yard passing game of his career. Donald Driver was also exceptional, with 191 receiving yards, including an 82-yard touchdown scamper coming out of a slant route. Receiver Ruvell Martin, getting the start for Greg Jennings who played in a limited capacity today, also made some great catches, including one on the closing drive leading to the final field goal.

While not perfect, especially given the blown pass coverage yet again, this was the kind of game that the Packers are capable of playing each and every week. They are clearly demonstrating that they are not getting beat in their losses, they are beating themselves. As they learn how to win, this game gives hope for the rest of the season. There were no sacks on Brett, while the Packers' defense pressured Johnson all day, got a few sacks and caused a fumble.

The only possible injury of note coming out of the game, according to Coach McCarthy in a post-game radio interview, was a groin injury to right tackle Mark Tauscher. Rookie Tony Moll replaced Tauscher for most of the fourth quarter and acquitted himself well.

It's great to get a win. And it's especially great to get a win against the ViQueens in the Humpty Dump. It's even better when that win puts you into a tie for second place in the NFC North with the tiebreaker in your favor. Savor this one, Packer fans!

When the ViQueens Cry

With apologies to that Minneapolis artist-formerly-and-now-known-again-as-Prince for paraphrasing one of his song titles, I think the Packers are going to come out of this game with a "W". I know that that other "W" was a big loser this last week, but this "W" will bring the Pack to 4-5.

The record in this series is 44-44-1. So I guess you could say it is a toss up. Which most of the time, it seems to be. Last year, it came down to field goals in the last seconds that resulted in Packer losses. Going into this game, the 'Queens are favored by 5. Given that they haven't scored an offensive touchdown in 9 quarters, that seems to be a stretch...unless the Packers gift-wrap a victory for them the way they did for the Bills.

It will be loud in the Humpty Dump Dome, so silent snaps will be the order of the day. Let's hope center Scott Wells and QB Brett Favre have that snap thing worked out a bit better than last week. Let's also hope Ahman Green can get some yards on the league's best rushing defense so that it all doesn't fall back to the passing game. And speaking of passing game, let's hope that the Packers' defense not only gets pressure on ol' Brad Johnson, but also COMMUNICATES and COVERS in the defensive backfield.

The Pack has the better offense, the 'Queens the better defensive. It will be a squeaker. Pack by 3.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Guys Who Wear Purple...

In case you missed it this last week, and unless you happened to actually reside in Wisconsin or Minnesota you probably did, a couple members of the ViQueens' defense were whining about Packers' offensive linemen being "cowards" because they cut-block. First of all, guys who wear purple and prance around as ViQueens shouldn't be too quick to challenge someone else's manhood. Secondly, those cowardly Denver Broncos won a couple Super Bowls using this same technique. Finally, oh ye of the annoying recorded horn sound, there is nothing in the rules that prevents this type of block. So be quiet. Or do something productive with your time...maybe take a boat last year, remember?

From the sounds of things, the Packers' linemen, demonstrating their obviously superior grasp of the game, seemed to really care less about what the mouths in Minnesota are complaining about. Here are a few of the quotes from the Packers about this (as reported in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel):

"To me (Coach Mike McCarthy), that stuff is totally irrelevant to the football game. We play a certain way and they play a certain way. We try to put our players in the best situation to be successful, and that will be our plan Sunday."

"All you can do is laugh it off," center Scott Wells said. "If they're talking about it, they're talking it for a reason. Obviously, it's a concern...It's not a cowardice move so why would it be demeaning?" Wells said. "It's a legal technique and other teams have done it for years. If it was that dangerous it wouldn't be legal. If you're able to be an outstanding cut blocker, you can have a long career because a lot of teams need that."

"I could care less what Pat Williams thinks about the way we run our scheme," guard Daryn Colledge said. "I play for the Green Bay Packers, they pay me to do a job a certain way and I'm going to do it that certain way...If I had to pick my butt up off the turf 20 times a game I'd probably complain a lot, too," Colledge said. "It's just one more weapon. Those guys have no problem taking a hit on the quarterback or hitting a guy over the middle. We're out there trying to inflict a certain amount of pain and try to put them on edges."

"Whether they like it or not, that's part of the game," tight end Bubba Franks said. "Nobody's saying nothing when they're taking shots on us. You've got to get used to it and accept it and just try to beat it. They know us. We know them. Bring it on."

Wells summed it thusly: "Think about it," he said. "You're hitting the ground, too, and you got all that weight coming on you. It's not easy, especially when they know it's coming. It's all mind games and technique games. It's all part of football."

So, ViQueens, don't get your purple dirty tomorrow. Oh, forgot, you don't play on real grass either. Or outside. You don't like cut-blocks, you don't like to get dirty, you don't like to play outside and you don't like the cold. Yeah, and our guys are the cowards. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiggggghhhhhhtttttttt.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

When at the 1-Yard Line, Run! Packers Lose 24-10

The Packers' fourth turnover of the game, with about 4 minutes left, and the one which sealed their fate in today's game -- after a blown coverage giving up a 43-yard TD pass to put the Bills up 17-10 -- was a tipped pass in the endzone and about a 75-yard return...soon to be followed by the Bills final TD. The Packers had been running over the Bills defense to take the ball to the 1. And, as is still a mystery, the call was a slant pass instead of a run. Tip, interception, return, touchdown. Game, set, match.

Somebody, tell me, please: when you are running the ball down their throat, and you're first and goal at the 1-yard line, why do you then pass? So it's called the West Coast offense. Can't it be the North-South offense at the 1? Run the *&%@ ball!!!

The Packers dominated this game, although you'd never know it. Four turnovers will kill you. And they did. The Bills didn't win this game as much as the Packers lost it. Just like three out of the four earlier losses this year.


The Packers are now 0-5 playing in Buffalo. And with a realistic opportunity to get to .500 on the season, they instead fall to 3-5 going into the Hump Dome next weekend where things are never good.

Sadly, this game from the start had that kind of weird feeling you get that let's you know it's not going to be a good day. It wasn't.

The only thing that makes the day somewhat bearable -- pun intended -- is that Da Bearz lost to Miami at home. Say it with me: "Overrated!!!"

End of 1st Half: Bills-10 Packers-0

Here's all you need to know about the first half this game: it was ugly.

But don't take my word for it. Just look at the salient features:

  • Opening kickoff returned by the Bills for about 60 yards. Luckily, the Packers defense holds the Bills to a field goal.
  • Packers have an average starting field position of their own 15 yard line.
  • A quick slant pass was intercepted and returned about 13 yards for a Bills touchdown.
  • A promising drive was halted at about midfield on a botched snap. Looked as if Favre jammed a thumb on his left hand while underneath center.
  • Favre is getting hit and sacked.
  • The Packers drive down to the Bills 5-yard (on a great sideline catch by Greg Jennings) with about 14 seconds left in the half. Favre is operating from the shotgun and the ball is snapped before he's ready. Result: recovery by the Bills...and end of half.

As I said, ugly. This is a game the Packers should win. But they have to stop shooting themselves in the foot. They look like they did in the early games of the season, not the last two. The Packers defense looks good, if only the offense can get its act together.

Shuffle Off to Buffalo

It was interesting to hear some of the young Packers talk about their first impressions of Buffalo. One said that flying in felt like they flew out of Green Bay and landed a couple hours later...back in Green Bay. Another said that from what he'd seen so far, Green Bay had more to offer than Buffalo. Not sure what his point of reference was, but perhaps best not to know.

In any event, the 3-4 Pack plays the 2-5 Bills today. The Bills are coming off a bye week, the Packers off an outstanding game against the Cardinals for their second consecutive win. The Pack, despite injuries galore, seems to be a team on the upswing. The Bills? Not so much. Their defense is questionable, as is their young QB, J.P. Losman, who some compare -- although God knows why -- to Brett Favre. They do have a dangerous running threat in the form of Willis McGahee and an equally dangerous receiver in the person of former University of Wisconsin (Go Badgers!) star, Lee Evans. If the Packers' defense plays at the same level they did last week, and allows the Packers' offense the opportunity to do what it is starting to do, the Pack wins this game.

The spread on this game at the time of this posting is Buffalo by 3 -- basically the home field advantage points. That's also a sign that the oddsmakers still haven't caught on to the Packers being on the upswing. Maybe it's a good thing to fly under the radar for a while. Getting back to .500 would be key going into next week's game against the ViQueens at the Humpdome. But first, take care of business in Buffalo. Sorry, Tim Russert. Pack wins. Go Pack Go!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ryan's Story

For those unfamiliar with Packers' punter Jon Ryan, be sure to check out this story. It relates the situation about Jon's father, Bob, and his terminal cancer. In particular, it tells the story of the family's surprise visit to Green Bay for the game against Arizona last Sunday. Nice. We can only express our sincere best wishes and prayers to the entire Ryan family.