Monday, June 30, 2008

A 1992 flashback

No...not that kind of flashback. This one came courtesy tonight of The NFL Network: the Sept. 20, 1992 game between the Pack and Bengals in which Wisconsin's own Tim Krumrie crunched then-starting QB Don Majkowski's left ankle allowing a 2nd-year player by the name of Brett Favre to enter the game. (I know, that was a long sentence...take a breath and start reading again when ready...)

This game marked Brett's first win and first game-winning comeback all rolled into one. It was also Mike Holmgren's first victory as Packers' head coach.

One of the interesting comments made by the NBC announcers (Jim Lampley and Ahmad Rashad) was that "You live and die with somebody like Brett Favre" after he fumbled inside the Pack's own 30, down 10-3 late in the third quarter. That statement applied as well in that first game as it did in the last. But we wouldn't have had it any other way.

Another interesting aspect of this game were some of the names involved: Edgar Bennett, Jackie Harris, Bryce Paup, Terrell Buckley (who, characteristically, dropped a sure interception...but, to be fair, he also had a punt return for a TD...but then also, characteristically, fumbled a punt at a critical time in the game), Ken Ruettgers, Robert Brooks, Johnny Holland, Vince Workman, Brian Noble, LeRoy Butler, Sterling Sharpe (who caught Brett's first NFL TD pass), John Jurkovic, Harry Sydney, Tony Bennett, Ed West, Chris Jacke, Tootie Robbins, and Sanjay Beach (who goes down in football history as being the receiver who caught Brett's first pass...other than the deflected one which Brett caught himself, of course.)

It was also fascinating to see just how bad Brett looked for much of that game...lots of fumbles, lots of sacks, lots of missed throws, lots of "What the heck is going on out there?!" (to quote the late, great Vince Lombardi). But you also saw those flashes of what would make Brett the greatest QB the game ever saw: a rocket arm, a never-give-up attitude, and a guy that could take a pounding and still keep coming back.

It was an interesting glimpse back in Packers history...and at the start of a legendary career.

Oh yeah...if you recall, the Pack won 24-23 with 13 seconds to go on a bomb down the right sideline from Brett to Kitrick Taylor, and a PAT by Jacke. The throw was a classic. And so was Brett's response: just as he did in his Super Bowl win, Brett took his helmet off and ran around like a little kid. Wow. It was the first of many "Wows" we had as Packer fans with Brett at the helm.

You can read more about this legendary game here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Su-per Bowl! Su-per Bowl!

That was the closing huddle break call as yesterday's minicamp concluded: Super Bowl!

Of course, every team and every player has a goal of making it to the big game at the start of the season. But more delusion than reality is involved for most.

The Packers -- as we sadly remember -- were arguably one play away from being in this year's Super Bowl and as we'd all like to think, the eventual Super Bowl Champs. (Sigh)

But given that the Pack has practically all of its starters back -- yes, with that one really big exception, and I don't mean Corey Williams -- and has seemingly added some playmakers through the draft and free agency, and has apparently completed one of its most successful off-seaason programs, why not believe?

The players apparently do, as do the coaches. Thankfully for Packers fans, in this case it's more reality than delusion. They know they are a talented team. Are there question marks? You bet. Beginning with the new starting QB. Followed by whether last year's surprise breakout RB, Ryan Grant, can reprise his performance of last season. And on the defense, whether the Pack can mount a consistent pass rush (hence the interest in Dolphins DE Jason Taylor) and whether the old guys in the defensive backfield can still bring it.

But there is certainly plenty of room for optimism, Packer fans, as we get ready for the start of summer training camp. This should be a fun team to watch. And when it's all said and done? Ya gotta believe! Su-per Bowl! Su-per Bowl!!!

Check out this article from today's online Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel for more on this topic.

Brohm is No. 2 QB...for now

According to a report in the Green Bay Press Gazette, rookie QB Brian Brohm is slated as Aaron Rodger's backup. Apparently, Brohm had some problems during the off-season camps. But coaches still see enough potential that they are comfortable going into summer training camp without a veteran QB on the roster. If Brohm continues to struggle, however, the team may feel some urgency in getting a more experienced backup into camp. Right now, it's Rodgers, Brohm and fellow rookie Matt Flynn. Lots of good potential talent...but also very unproven.

If you want to read more about Mr. Brohm and the QB situation, check out the article here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Receivers a-plenty! Jason Taylor in Packers' future?

As all good Packer fans know -- and, of course, that includes every reader of! -- the last team minicamp before summer training camp is currently underway. (Well, it actually finishes today.) As has been the case throughout the Spring OTAs, the coaches are getting a look at all the players, but especially the draft picks and free agents which are part of the squad. They're being assessed on not only their natural athletic ability but also their ability to pick up the Packers' playbook.

One of the things that surprised many Packers fans during this year's draft was the Packers picking up more receivers despite what many thought would be a defensive backfield oriented draft for the team. Maybe receivers are like pitchers in baseball: you can never have too many. We have definitely seen that in prior years when even Brett admitted at times he didn't know who he was throwing to.

So, perhaps it's fitting that there's a good article in today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about the competition at wide receiver, a topic which has been addressed here in prior posts. Given that the Packers have a seeming lock on at least the first five receivers -- Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Ruvell Martin and top draft pick, Jordy Nelson -- there may be only one or two other spots available. And their are currently seven competing for those slots. Can you say "performance anxiety"?

What will be the deciding factor in keeping one or two of these other receivers versus the rest of the group? Packers receivers coach Jimmy Robinson has come up with a formula of sorts after his 18 years of coaching NFL receivers. According to the article, Robinson said: “I mean, you want hard decisions. But usually there’s going to be something that says, OK, this guy is the guy I feel like in a game, he’s going to be able to play, he’s smarter maybe than the other guy, he plays more positions. And that helps makes your decision easier.” That's how long-shot seventh round pick, Donald Driver, made the team in 1999: because at least in part he was such a good special teams player. I guess you could say it worked out well for him...and the Pack.

To read the full article and get a few insights into the battle going on at receiver, go here.

Packers interested in Taylor?

At age 34, he may not be the player he used to be, but current Miami Dolphin, Jason Taylor, still is better than many at his right defensive end position. And the Packers have apparently expressed interest in him. There is a concern about KGB's surgically repaired knee. And there also is a desire to move Cullen Jenkins into the defensive tackle slot replacing the departed Corey Williams. Getting Taylor would give the Pack insurance at defensive end -- in fact, an every play type of insurance -- and make the move of Jenkins possible.

To learn more about what's cooking on the Taylor front, check out this article.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Packers have a backlog in the backfield

As OTAs continue in Green Bay, the offensive emphasis is on getting new starting QB, Aaron Rodgers, the reps he needs, as well as trying to get a pair of rookie QBs ready to be pro backups. As a result, the running backs aren't getting all the repetitions they'd like. That's partly due to the QB situation, but also a result of the fact that the Packers currently have a whole bunch of RBs in camp. Trying to spread the love around means that each back might only get a handful of carries each practice. That's tough when you are trying to come back from an injury or become more consistent or just trying to get noticed. Imagine how much more difficult it might be if starting RB, Ryan Grant, was actually around.

It's a good problem to have for the Packers. The Pack might still be one of the youngest teams in the league but, dang, they are sure gonna be talented again at wide receiver and at running back. The O-line will be solid. And if Aaron Rodgers can play most of the time as he did in that Dallas game -- yeah, without getting hurt right away -- the Pack could once again be a dangerous offense. It really is exciting to think about the potential.

If you want to read more about the RB situation, click here.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Don't come aboard Noah's ark without being invited

That's the lesson a couple knuckleheads in Green Bay got loud and clear last Friday night. Reports emerged today that the home of Packers' RB Noah Herron was the site of an attempted break-in that night. Only problem for the alleged thieves was that Herron was home at the time. And, apparently, pretty well recovered from the injury that sidelined him all of last season.

When Herron heard the doorbell ring at about 11:15 p.m. he ignored it. He wasn't expecting any guests. Hearing noises on his deck and glass break, Herron called 911 to report a break-in. He then waited in his bedroom for the intruders. And while doing so, he unscrewed a bedpost from his bed. When the boneheads entered the bedroom - BAM!!! - Herron teed up one of them as if he was playing the Wack-a-Mole game. As of today, the guy is still in the hospital. The other genius was apprehended by police outside the home.

As Jim Rome advised tongue-in-cheek today on his ESPN show, Rome's Burning, maybe you want to know who's home you plan on breaking into before you do it. A 5'11" 215-pound NFL running back with a bedpost in hand might not be something you want to run into. Even more to the point, it's not really a good career path no matter what. Remember, kids: crime doesn't pay!

Herron has not commented on the incident. But you can read more about the details here if you're curious.