Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Packers - Cowboys: the day before the showdown

So it's the day before the big game in Big D. You know, the biggest game in the NFC this season that only those people who have the NFL Network or live in the local viewing markets will be able to see. Have you got your seat reserved at your local sports bar, fans? For most of the nation, that's the only way you'll see the game. Sad state of cable affairs, indeed.

Aside from that issue, what else do we need to know? Well, that as of the moment, the Packers are 6-1/2 point underdogs to the 'Boys. Two 10-1 teams and there is this kind of spread? Wow. As Donald Driver and some of the other Packers players noted when told about this, the team hasn't been given any respect all year and this is just another sign of that. You know, that little "no respect" chip on the shoulder seems to have served the team well throughout the season so far. I think it will provide even a bit more incentive tomorrow night.

Wayne Larrivee, the radio voice of the Packers and a seasoned all-around sports play-by-play announcer, was asked during a radio interview this morning what he thought about some of the aspects of the upcoming game. He said he felt that when the Pack goes to its 5 wideout scheme that Dallas will blitz and blitz hard. Larrivee noted that Dallas apparently only has one really good cover defensive back, so they don't want to expose their secondary problems on long downfield passes. That means, he said, that the Packers will have to run a lot of slants and short, quick passes in order to short-circuit the blitzes that will be coming. Seems to make sense. It might also be a good thing if the Packers can get a few rushing yards out of Ryan Grant early on, just to keep the defense guessing and perhaps give Brett time to find a receiver downfield on occasion. There will be opportunities to make plays, Larrivee said. Indeed. Other pundits have pointed out that this will be a high scoring game. Probably so.

As to what the Packers will look like on the field, the offensive unit should have all pieces in place. On the defense, we already know that two pieces of the defensive front rotation will not be available: Johnny Jolly and Colin Cole. KGB is also hurting. Ryan Pickett got nicked up. That puts more pressure on the players who are available. It also gives opportunities for some of the other young players to step up in a huge game. Primary among them will be the Packers first round draft pick, Justin Harrell, who to this point of the season has been nearly invisible, actually inactive for quite a few games. This will be an opportunity to show the team and the fans that his selection was not the mistake that many thought it was. How the coaches will play him in the rotation will be an interesting subplot to the game. The other critical question mark on the defensive side of things is the health of Charles Woodson's toe, which he injured on a punt return last week. He will be a gameday decision, although Larrivee said that Woodson would definitely start. The question, as Larrivee acknowledged, will be how long he is able to go. If he can play even the majority of plays, he and Al Harris can take on Dallas' receivers in ways those players haven't seen this season. If Woodson can't go, Larrivee pointed out that Jarrett Bush -- who Larrivee thinks is a fine young player making progress each week -- will be tested. Tony Romo will go right at him the way that John Kitna did last week after he replaced Woodson. Bush will have to step up his game in a hurry. If you want to read the latest on the injury front, check out this article.

That's enough for now. More later.

Breaking News: New Packers President to be Named

The Green Bay Press Gazette is reporting that the Packers will name current Northwestern University Athletic Director Mark Murphy as the new President and CEO of the Green Bay Packers. Murphy has no prior NFL administrative experience, which was something the current and outgoing President Bob Harlan indicated he felt was essential. So much for that idea. Murphy did play in the NFL for eight years as a safety for the Redskins and has some experience with the NFL Players Association. You can read more on this important story here.