Friday, October 23, 2009

Which is worst: penalties or sacks?

For Packer fans through the first five games of the season, the matter of penalties and sacks is something that keeps us up at night. Well, OK, some of us. The Pack is leading the league in both categories. Not good.

But, is one of these maladies worse than the other in terms of its impact on games? Hmmm...have to admit, it seems a bit of a chicken-egg thing, doesn't it? Maybe not.

In a very good article in today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Packers beat writer Greg Bedard makes the case that, yes, penalties are not good but sacks are worse. And he's got some interesting stats to help back up his premise. But don't take my word for it. Check it out for yourself here.

More on the Green signing
As sports writer Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette writes in a recent column, it didn't take long for the jokes to start flying -- including a few here -- about the signing of Ahman Green. But Vandermause also points out that this signing is perhaps a recognition, somewhat belatedly, by general manager Ted Thompson that having the youngest team in the league for the fourth straight year means there is not a lot veteran leadership or depth on the team. Thompson didn't sign Green to save the non-existent running game. He signed Green to be reliable backup at a position where there is now virtually none. As various sports talk shows are reminding listeners, Green was always good as a blocker -- Aaron Rodgers will be glad to hear that -- and as a receiver, especially on screen passes, which have also not been a big part of the offense lately.

One telling statement of how well the signing of Green, as well as that of Mark Tauscher, is being received in the locker room comes from fellow veteran Charles Woodson. Here's what Woodson had to say after the signing of Green was announced: "Anytime you're making moves to try to get better as a team, then I'm all for it. We know what these guys have done here in the past and we know they're eager to play. I definitely love when it's a veteran guy because I know veteran guys know exactly what it's about."

This comment by Woodson, "veteran guys know exactly what it's about," received a fair amount of attention on local sports call in shows, with more than one pundit making the point that Woodson basically was saying that the younger players just don't get what it's all about. For them, they think there will always be another game, another season in which to excel. Woodson, Green, Tauscher, Driver et al know otherwise. They know the time is now. There might not be another play to make a difference between a win and a loss, between the playoffs and a championship and going home till next season.

While leadership is part of what veterans bring, Woodson was adamant that what they bring is more than that. When a reporter suggested to Woodson that Green and Tauscher would help with leadership even if they didn't get into a game, Woodson was quick to state, "It'll help in the game. We ain't worried about the sideline. Our focus is on what happens in the game. You guys have been around a long time, you've seen Tausch, you've seen Ahman play football, so you know what kind of players they are. We look forward to having those guys out there when they're needed, when they're healthy and ready to go."

So, let's see what can happen. Tauscher is now taking part in full practices although it is doubtful he'll be ready for the Cleveland game. Green also, obviously, won't be ready to go Sunday. But having these players ready for duty when Ol' #4 returns the following week would definitely be a help. On the sideline and on the field.

Speaking of welcoming Favre back to Green Bay...
If you hadn't already heard about it, Green Bay's mayor is looking for ideas on ways to welcome Brent, er, Brett, back to town. Seriously. There's even an idea submittal form on the city's website. According to the site, "Mayor (Jim) Schmitt has fielded a wide variety of ideas from Packer fans on how to commemorate the occasion, from re-naming streets, to welcoming back other former Packers greats, to creating the world’s largest #4 waffle. The Mayor is reaching out to the community to create a list of the Mayor’s Top 4 things he can do to tastefully welcome back Brett Favre."

So good ahead, Packer fans, submit your ideas via the link above. And remember: be tasteful. I understand, that's a difficult requirement, but please try. You have until Wednesday, October 28.