Friday, December 29, 2006

Packers vs. Da Bearz: An Early Perspective

Like many Packers fans, the NFL's switch of game time for the regular season finale from noon to 7:15 p.m. on Sunday means in all likelihood I will not be able to see this game. New Year's Eve plans were made with a noon start in mind. The switch to prime time basically killed the viewing of the game for many fans. News reports this a.m. indicated that Da Bearz fans are unloading their tickets as a result of the time change. Even if the game means nothing to Da Bearz in terms of their playoff position, and even though Da Bearz fans are known for being a bit fickle, it's still the Pack vs. Da Bearz. The fact that apparently so many are trying to unload their tickets means that people made other plans counting on a noon start time.

The biggest problem with all this, of course, is the speculation that this could be Brett Favre's last game. Many fans who would like to watch -- just in case -- are out of luck unless they run out and get a Tivo or tape the game. Either way, not quite the same. And the game is also an important one, of course, because the Pack is still playing for a playoff spot. If the Packers win and the Giants lose -- which is a distinct possibility given their recent play and the fact that Michael Strahan has apparently been placed on injured reserve -- they stand a good shot at the playoffs. According to an article on AOL Sports: "If New York loses, then the Packers would need a win, coupled with either a Rams loss, Panthers win or Falcons win to reach the postseason. If New York wins, Green Bay could remain mathematically alive to win a strength of victory tiebreaker with the Giants, but would need an elaborate, unlikely combination of results from around the league to make that happen."

At the time of this posting, Da Bearz are favored by 3 points. Over the course of his career, Favre is 21-8 against Chicago. Brett has had a couple of mediocre games lately, despite being able to pull out three straight wins. I would count on Brett to have a big game. He's due. Plus, he may be going against Da Bearz' reserves for much of the game. Another lesser known aspect to this game, as reported in an article in today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, is the incentive running back Ahman Green has. Read: cash. He only needs 12 yards to hit the 1,000-yard season marker, his sixth, surpassing Jim Taylor's long-standing record of five such seasons as a Packer. He's already earned $500,000 for hitting the 950-yard provision that was part of his one-year contract. But, if he can rush for 162 yards against Da Bearz, and finish with 1,150 yards for the season, Green can cart off another $500,000. Is it possible? Playing against Chicago's back ups, sure. Is it probable? Probably not. Still, you have to admire the way Green came back off that serious thigh injury of last year. He's playing for some extra cash in this game, he's playing to help the team get to the playoffs, and he's playing for his future, either re-signing with the Packers or moving to another team in the off-season.

The prediction: Packers 17, Da Bearz 10.

So, Packer fans, in the likely event that any additional pre-game postings may not occur here, and that a post-game review might be a few days after the fact, I wish you all a very Happy New Year. I hope you are able to watch the game and cheer the Packers to a victory. Cheer hard! You'll be rooting for all those fans who can only wish that the NFL hadn't pulled this last-minute switcheroo.

Go Pack Go!!!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Re-Set Your New Year's Eve Schedule: Packers vs. Da Bearz Moved to Sunday Night

OK Packer fans, it's official: some of your New Year's Eve plans just changed. That's because the NFL decided -- courtesy of its new flexible scheduling system -- that they wanted the Packers-Bearz game to be it's final regularly scheduled game of the season. The game, set for noon originally, has been pushed back to 7:15 p.m. and will be shown on NBC. So, those who made plans to watch the game at noon and then indulge in New Year's Eve dinner or other get-togethers...basically, you may now be relegated to that uncomfortable but necessary task of excusing oneself occasionally to sneak a peak at a TV to catch a score, or to head to the car briefly to catch a radio update. C'mon, we've all done it! Or, you can set off divorce proceedings by saying, "Honey, I know we had special plans tonight. But they switched the game time! You understand, don't you?" Riiiiiiiiiiiight.

Anyway...whatever happens in the game won't affect Da Bearz whatsoever. They are in the playoffs, have a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout. Yes, that is as depressing as the lack of sun here in Packerland this time of year. The only positive that could come out of such a situation is that Da Bearz lose their first playoff game. As Seinfeld would say, "That's a shame." But back to the upcoming game. The general line of thought seems to be that the Packers will win the game because Da Bearz will be resting many of their starters for most if not all of the game. Even one of my Bearz-fan buddies said he expects the Pack to win.

But that wouldn't matter much if the Pack still didn't have a chance: going into this last game of the season, the Pack still can make the playoffs. Remarkable, really. What are the scenarios? Let us the count the ways.

Scenarios for the Packers to Reach the Playoffs

According to CBS Sportsline, here are the ways in which the Pack can make it.

  • A win and a N.Y. Giants win and a clinch of strength-of-victory tiebreaker over the N.Y. Giants OR

  • A win and a N.Y. Giants loss or tie and a St. Louis loss or tie OR

  • A win and a N.Y. Giants loss or tie and a Carolina win OR

  • A win and a N.Y. Giants loss or tie and an Atlanta win OR

  • A tie and a N.Y. Giants loss and a St. Louis loss or tie and a Carolina loss or tie.

Got it? Good. Let us pray...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Packers Win! Yowza!!!

Well, Packer fans, it wasn't pretty that's for sure. NFL Network announcer Chris Collinsworth even made the comment that if this was Brett Favre's last game at Lambeau Field he didn't think he'd be watching replays of this one with his grandkids one day. Despite outgaining the ViQueens 319 yards to 104 and limiting them to a franchise-low three first downs, the Pack was down 7-6 in the second half until about a minute-and-half left in the game when rookie kicker Dave Rayner booted the game-winning 44-yard field goal. Love those kickers!

The Pack led 6-0 at half, but went down 7-6 when one of Favre's 50 passes was picked off and returned for a touchdown; it appeared as if there was an incorrect route run by rookie Greg Jennings. The Pack again shot themselves in the foot when Bubba Franks fumbled the ball as he was fighting to get into the end zone with about 8-1/2 minutes remaining. Oh Bubba...

But the Packers defense played inspired football once again. They were aided by the play of the 'Queens rookie QB who played like, well, a rookie.

So, at 7-8, and on a three-game winning streak, the Pack is still alive in the playoff hunt believe it or not. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel compiled the following info to show who we should be rooting for and against going down to the last weekends of play. Of course, we still have to beat Da Bearz to close out the season and keep it all alive.

"You want:

* New Orleans to beat the New York Giants
* Washington to beat St. Louis
* Carolina to beat Atlanta
* Seattle to beat San Diego

There are a number of scenarios in which the Packers (7-8) can get into the playoffs, including ones where they wind up in a three-way tie with teams from other divisions and win tiebreakers because of a superior conference record. But it's all predicated on them beating Chicago in their season finale next Sunday at Soldier Field.

The scenario that seems most likely should the Packers beat the Bears would be the New York Giants losing twice, the St. Louis Rams and Atlanta Falcons losing once and the Seattle Seahawks winning once.

If you really want to pore over the possibilities, here are a couple of links to help you: the detailed breakdown on the NFL conference standings and the NFL tie-breaking procedures."

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Packers vs ViQueens: Lots of Happenings

Tonight, that small percentage of the U.S. population who actually has access to the NFL Network or lives in either of the two teams' designated home markets will watch the Packers play the ViQueens at Lambeau Field. With both teams at 6-8, it is a game both teams need to stay in second place in the NFC North division and keep slim playoff hopes alive. Looking back over the last few years' history, the game favors the road team, believe it or not. The Packers have beaten the 'Queens three out of the four last games at the Hump Dome, while the 'Queens have returned the favor at Lambeau winning the last three out of four there.

That aside, there will be a number of other things to watch or at least be aware of during this game:

  • Packers CEO Bob Harlan will be overseeing his last game at Lambeau. He will retire in May after 36 -- count 'em -- 36 years with the team. There will be a video tribute to Harlan during the game. There really couldn't be enough tributes to Harlan for all that he has done for the Packers.

  • QB Brett Favre might be making his last home start tonight. (Gulp!) Yes, it's possible. In his regular press conference earlier this week, Brett said he really didn't know. Some of the language he used made it sound as if he was talking about his career in the past tense. But he's done that before. He also said some good things about what he sees ahead for this young team. My bet is: he'll be back.

  • Right tackle Mark Tauscher will be returning to the lineup. Last week it was a maybe. Tonight, a definitely. How long he will be able to play after coming off the groin injury remains a guess. Hopefully, he can at least give a boost to the running game against a very stout 'Queens run defense.

  • The ViQueens will be starting rookie quarterback Tarvaris Jackson in place of old-timer Brad Johnson tonight. Nobody knows much about him other than he has a good arm and is quick. Shades of Michael Vick begin to haunt one's mind. On the other hand, he is a rookie. And our defense played very well last week. Another good performance from the Packers' D, and even an average performance of the offense should secure a tight win for the Pack.

The Packers are favored by 3 points going into this game. There have been more close games than blow outs recently in this series, which is tied at 45-45-1...can't get much closer than that. But let's give the Pack the edge by 6 points.

Go Pack Go!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Driver & Kampman Go Pro Bowling!

Packers WR Donald Driver and DE Aaron Kampman were named to the NFC Pro Bowl roster today as reserves. This is Driver's second Pro Bowl selection, Kampman's first. Driver joins Arizona's Anquan Boldin, St. Louis' Torry Holt and Carolina's Steve Smith as the wide receivers on the NFC squad. Kampman joins Carolina's Julius Peppers and New Orleans' Will Smith as the NFC's defensive ends.

Amazingly -- and again -- CB Al Harris was not chosen to the roster, nor was CB Charles Woodson who is tied for the league lead in interceptions with six.

That team from Chicago that will not be named garnered seven selections. San Diego had nine players chosen to the AFC squad.

In other Packer news, offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski will be taking the head coaching job next season at Boston College. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy so far is saying the new zone blocking scheme Jagodzinski brought with him from Atlanta will stay as the Packers scheme for next year. An article in yesterday's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel states that, "it's likely he'll (McCarthy) promote (Joe) Philbin to offensive coordinator, (James) Campen to offensive line coach and (Jerry) Fontenot to assistant offensive line coach once the season is over."

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Playoffs? No Way! Way!

So, let's continue our Christmas wish dream, shall we? The Packers beat the ViQueens on Thursday night at Lambeau, and then beat Da Bearz in Chicago as they rest their starters for most of the game. The Pack finishes at 8-8. Can the Packers really get into the playoffs with a wildcard spot at 8-8? Yep. If...

To see how they can do it -- who needs to win and lose, tiebreakers, etc. -- check out this blog entry from one of the sports reporters at WTMJ radio in Milwaukee. Makes your head hurt just thinking about it. But given how the season was looking a few weeks ago, to still even be talking about playoffs with two games left in the season, that's something we can be thankful for.

Whew! Packers 17 - Lions 9

OK, the Packers won an ugly game 17-9. But they WON! Two wins in a row. And -- finally -- their second home win!

Detroit had 3 turnovers, the Packers 4 (3 interceptions and a fumbled snap). The Packers also had 9 penalties vs. 2 last week in San Francisco. The offense just didn't look in sync most of the day but, when they needed it, they came up with enough first downs and enough points. The defense really won this game, with 2 interceptions and a fumble recovery. But they also had 6 sacks and kept the Lions out of the endzone all day long, even after one of the Pack's interceptions (a bobble by Ahman Green) gave them the ball on the Packers' 12-yard line. Al Harris covered the Lions' best receiver, Roy Williams, all day long and only allowed 1 catch for 11 yards in the first half. Charles Woodson had another pick, tying him for the league lead in takeaways with 7.

So, my pick on the score was a bit off. That's what I get for listening to all those pundits. But the Pack beat the spread -- for those who care about such things. And they go to 6-8 on the season, keeping them on the "Still Alive" playoff board. The ViQueens are up next on Thursday evening, again at Lambeau. That's a big game. The Packers will have to play much better on both sides of the ball to win that game. Something tells me, they will.

Packers vs. Lions? Please...

With less than an hour to go until kickoff, it's time we make the call on today's
game at Lambeau. Granted the Packers are 1-5 at home this amazingly disturbing stat
which gets even worse if you look at the last couple years.

So, the Packers are favored by 5 points. It should be more. The Lions are banged up. But, honestly, as long as Matt Millen is the GM the Lions won't be very good no matter what. The Packers may get right tackle  Mark Tauscher back today, although he is still listed as questionable. And, to be honest, the Packers' receiving corps came out of the San Fran game pretty banged up, too. Donald Driver (shoulder), Gregg Jennings (ankle) and Ruvell Martin (chest) all were nursing injuries this last week. It wasn't immediately revealed but Martin wound up spending the night in the hospital after the game after he apparently landed on the ball in the fourth quarter injurying his chest. But, this is the 13th game of the regular season. Guys are banged up. As some say, you have to know the difference between injury and least if you want to play football, that is.

The Packers have an opportunity to sweep the Lions and the Vikings if they can win the last two home games. They then can go to Chicago on New Year's Eve day and play Da Bearz, who in all likelihood will be resting a good number of their starters in preparation for the playoffs. Who'da thunk it? The Pack could wind up going 5-1 in the division if they can win these next three games, and finish at 8-8 overall. Perhaps it's too much to ask. But it is the Christmas season. Santa can make any dream come true. Well, OK, except for that Ferrari he never brought me, but other than that...

This is a game where a lot of the Packer pundits are saying the Pack scores at least 30 today, with the Lions maybe scoring 10 to 17 tops. So, let's go with that. Packers 30 - Lions 10.

Note to readers: Blogger has recently switched over to a new system and, as you can see, there are some glitches in formatting that just seem to come out of nowhere at times. Go figure. I do my best to make things readable. So where you see strange line breaks, for example, even working directly with coding doesn't seem to resolve the problem. I hope Blogger/Google gets things straightened out soon. In the meantime, I hope you'll overlook these glitches. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Packers 30 - 49ers 19

The Packers played like at least some thought they might be capable of playing: pretty well. Not perfect. The defense gave up three explosive plays. There was some sloppy special teams coverage in the fourth quarter. There were at least two occasions on which the Packers offense were inside the opponent's 10-yard line and could only come away with field goals.

But...the defense played with more fire than they did over the past several games, coming up with three turnovers, including a late key interception in the endzone by rookie LB, A. J. Hawk. Donald Driver had another spectacular game, going over 1,000 receiving yards for the third straight year. Greg Jennings played through his bum ankle and had several good catches as well. And there was a semblence of a ground game today, with Ahman Green and Vernand Morency combining for 136 yards rushing.

So, with three games left, the Packers have exceeded their win total for all of last year, going to 5-8 on the season. And Brett Favre looks like he's having fun again. That's always a good thing. The Packers now return home for two games, against Detroit and the ViQueens, before finishing the season on New Year's Eve day in Chicago. The Pack are now 4-3 on the road and 1-5 at home. Let's just hope the team can use this game as a springboard to close the season out strong, beginning with a win next weekend against Detroit. Sweeping the ViQueens would be sweet. And nothing would be finer than ruining Da Bearz'  New Year's Eve party. Ah...with this win...we can still dream!

San Francisco, Here We Come!

OK, Packer's about 5 hours to game time. The 5-7 49ers are currently listed as 4-1/2 point favorites over the 4-8 Pack. Guess with the performances of these two clubs recently, that makes sense: just a little extra than home field advantage going San Fran's way. Then throw some rain into the mix, and things favor a ground game...which the 'Niners have with Frank Gore and the Packers...well, we did have a running game once upon a time...didn't we?

These teams are, at this stage of the season, fairly evenly matched. When the season started, most folks looking at the schedule would have penciled in a "W" for the Pack. Not anymore. Both teams are at the bottom of the league in scoring defense, each giving up about 27 points per game, and more than 340 yards per game to opposing offenses. On the offensive side of the ball, each team scores about 18 points per game.

What are the keys to the game? For the Packers, finding a running game...making more than a handful of third-down conversions...taking advantage of any turnovers by scoring touchdowns...scoring inside the red zone...stopping the opponent's running game...not giving up big plays downfield...playing as if there is still something left to play for. Hey, kids, football ain't rocket science!

But can the Packers actually do it? Can they pull themselves out of their tailspin? They have been a better road team this year than home team. Call it a toss up.

Draft Talk Starting Early

When local media -- i.e., the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel -- starts writing about the April draft with four games left to go in the season you know things aren't good. That's just what happens in today's sports section (print edition - unfortunately, you'll have to subscribe to the Packer Insider service in order to access it online). Naturally, the focus is on the quarterback position. What happens in these last four games may well determine whether Brett Favre returns or retires next season. Or whether he does as some pundits suggest -- even Steve Young on today's ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown -- and moves to a team that has legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. The jury is still out on heir-apparent, Aaron Rodgers. Many think he might wind up being the Packers' version of Joey Harrington. Thus, it's only natural that QB prospects begin to be considered. If the season ended today (OK, it doesn't, so why do people even say that?!), the Packers would have the sixth pick overall. According to the experts, this year -- like last year -- there is an abundance of good QB prospects to choose from: Brady Quinn, Troy Smith, Brian Brohm, JaMarcus Russell, Drew Stanton, Kevin Kolb, and  Trent Edwards currently lead the way. None, however, present the clear cut strengths of either Matt Leinart or Vince Young coming out last year.

But the Packers may also be in need of a running back, replacing Ahman Green. Unfortunately, once you get past Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson and California's Marshawn Lynch - both juniors who are expected to declare and come out early - the running back prospects seem thin.

The Packers' have needs at just about every position. Where to go? What to do? 'Tis a puzzlement!

Friday, December 08, 2006


The Packers have been busy making a few changes this week in preparation for this Sunday's game vs. the 49ers...and beyond.

First, they signed former Notre Dame QB and converted NFL receiver Carlyle Holiday off waivers from the Cardinals. Holiday was undrafted last year and was signed to the Cardinals' practice squad. This year, he has played in four games, including two starts, but has no catches. The Packers cut receiver Chris Francies to make room for Holiday. A few days later, Francies was re-signed to the Packers' practice squad. Holiday joined practice immediately and was trying to get up to speed with the receivers coach on routes, etc. There has been some speculation that Holiday may be used to return punts on Sunday. Obviously, with the Packers basically down to Donald Driver as the only receiving threat, the Packers are looking for anyone who might be able to help the passing game. Although a running game might also be good to see...I know it's around here somewhere...where did that go???

Secondly, the long-anticipated move to remove KGB from the starting defensive end position has been made. The coaching staff announced that Corey Williams will get the starting nod against San Francisco. Williams gives the Pack a bigger body at the point of run attack. Let's see: William - 6'4" 313 lbs. or KGB - 6'4" 250 lbs. Hmmm? Packers are giving up more than 170 yards per game average over the last three games. Maybe...a larger presence on the line might help? Whaddya think? No doubt, KGB will still be used on obvious pass rushing downs. Former GM Mike Sherman paid a boatload of money to KGB for what amounts to being a pass-rushing specialist only. And so far this year, he hasn't been very successful even doing that. The move to Williams is long overdue.

Bubba is not a happy camper. In footage of a locker room interview, Franks basically just said he didn't know what's going on, he just comes to do his job and that's it. As fans, media and apparently anyone other than Bubba realize, he is not the same player he was two years ago or even last year. Not only is he dropping catches he should be making but he also is not blocking well. Even if Bubba wasn't catching passes in the past, you could at least count on his blocking ability. That seems to have disappeared. Given Bubba's performance so far this year and seemingly his equally declining attitude, expect Bubba to be gone next year.

Jim Rome of ESPN "burning" fame(?), along with a few other football pundits, yesterday were discussing what Brett Favre should do at the end of the season. All three said he should play one more year with a team that has the talent to get to the Super Bowl...and they weren't talking about the Packers. One was even promoting the idea that Brett should go to Da Bearz. Da Bearz! How many Packer fans would be left alive if Brett ever appeared in a Bearz uniform, let alone help them get to the Super Bowl? Brett could go elsewhere after this year, but if there is a God it sure won't be to Da Bearz!

Lambeau Field -- or precisely, Lambeau's field -- will be changing. As in Decembers past, portions of the playing field are currently getting re-sodded. But after the season is over, the entire field will be re-done using GrassMaster, a natural grass surface reinforced with man-made fibers. This is the same surface the team has been using on the Clark Hinkle practice field and which has received rave reviews from not only players but staff as well. By installing GrassMaster, the need to re-sod the field will be eliminated. In addition, a completely new drainage and heating system will also be installed. So, no more frozen tundra. (Sigh) Well, it will still live on in our hearts...or our backyards if the Packers once again decide to sell off chunks of the turf as they did a few years ago. You can read more about the new field here.

Monday, December 04, 2006

It Gets Worse

You know that old song lyric, "There's got to be a morning after...", or something like that...yeah, it was sappy...but it was hopeful...pointing to a brighter day. Well, this morning after following the Packers' latest debacle doesn't seem to be hopeful at all. The Packers are 4-8, which includes being 1-5 at home, giving them the worst home record in the league (it's actually worse -- the Packers are 4-12 in the last 16 home games!). And whereas some other young teams seem to be getting better as the season goes along, the Packers seem to be regressing, especially on defense.

As the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reminds us, the Pack have a "61-20-1 record in home games in December and January during both the regular season and the post-season. With Favre, they were 34-6." But here's the key stat: "Of those 20 defeats, the most lopsided margin had been 26 points (32-6) against Minnesota in 1986. Thus, this will go down as the worst late-season defeat at home in club annals."

Oh good.

Brett Favre said it best in his post-game press conference: "I was hoping I'd never see anything like that in my career," Favre said in a rambling summation. "Where do we go from here? I don't know where we go from here."

Many, including this writer, said it was a mistake for Coach McCarthy to select the inexperienced Bob Sanders as defensive coordinator over then-incumbent and experienced Jim Bates, who as last season wore on was able to wring better performances out of a so-so defense. This year, with Sanders at the helm, and arguably with better personnel (remember that defense was the focus of much of GM Ted Thompson's personnel moves this year), the Packers at or near the bottom in every defensive category. They look as if they have no confidence in themselves or each other. At the three-quarters mark of the season they continue to be out of position on play after play; this is something you expect in the preseason, not the twelth game of the year.

That means bad coaching. And lots of other Packer fans apparently think so, as well. In today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel online sports poll, the question asked is: "What best explains the Packers' poor play?" At the time of this posting, here are the results:
Bad coaching (51.7%)
Not enough talented players (25.8%)
Too many young players (15.6%)
Brett Favre is washed up (6.9%)
Total votes: 814

Earlier in the season secondary coach Kurt Schottenheimer was the primary target of defensive criticism for failing to have his players in position game after game. He definitely deserves the criticism still. But as the season has worn on, it becomes apparent that the defensive problems are larger than just the secondary. The entire defensive scheme is problematic. It is vanilla. Despite having a fairly immobile quarterback with a mediocre arm on the opposite side of the line, and after getting ripped possession after possession, it wasn't until the second half that blitzes were called for. As the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel points out, "When the Packers did blitz it wasn't very creative. It was usually one or two linebackers coming up the middle. Clearly, Sanders misjudged how the Packers would handle the Jets' spread offense and then failed to make the adjustments to stop it. It's the second time they've been drilled at home in three weeks." Indeed. Drilled to the tune of being outscored 73-10 in those two games. The players apparently knew what needed to be done more so than the coaches: "We definitely wanted to see a little more pressure and we did bring it in the second half a little bit more," linebacker Nick Barnett said. "I asked him (Sanders) to bring that (middle blitz) and we brought it about three times, in the second half; that's when I made that play in the backfield. It just helped the D-line."

There are four games left in the season, two away and two at home. Where do the Packers go from here? Again, Brett said it all: "I don't know where we go from here."

But one thing's for sure. If the Packers' defense continues its downward spiral, defensive coordinator Bob Sanders should be looking for a new job in the offseason. And so should Kurt Schottenheimer. Would GM Ted Thompson boot head coach Mike McCarthy after just one season, as Ron Wolf did with with Ray Rhodes? Not a chance. But if the Packers' management isn't very careful, especially with Brett Favre's career winding down, the team could find itself once again entering a black hole not unlike the Forrest Gregg-Lindy Infante era. The horror! The horror!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

At Least it's Over

Final score: Jets 38 - Packers 10.

About all that can said was said in the halftime post. One of the most lackluster performances in recent memory.

Unfortunately, the Jets did decide to come back out for the second half. Otherwise, the final score would have been much closer. Maybe.

A game like this is concerning on a number of levels. First, all the usual problems that have been recurring throughout the season are still present. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it almost looks as if the Packers players have packed it in for the season. There are four games left. Let's hope that the veterans on this team can show the rookies how to play with pride as the season winds down.

The Half from Hell - Jets 31 - Packers 0

The answer to my pre-game question about the Pack being able to take advantage of the cold and the home field advantage is: no.

That's being kind. This was the half from hell. The Packers defense was nowhere to be found. Receivers were -- as we've become accustomed -- wide open. Further, there was absolutely no pressure on Jets QB Chad Pennington. The Jets scored every time they had the ball. Total yardage for the Jets topped the first half!

The Packers offense was equally inept. Favre fumbled on the first series. Kicker Dave Rayner missed a 40+-yarder on the lone drive the Packers did have. And Brett tied Fran Tarkenton in the first half for third-most career interceptions with #266.

The Packers entire team looks as if they are playing in slow motion. Looks as if they'd rather be anywhere than playing football today. The fans have been raining boos upon the team for most of the first half. When you play this badly in front of the home fans, you deserve it.

Packers' radio announcers Wayne Larrivee and Larry McCarren, who have worked together as the broadcast team for the last 8 years, are both saying they have never seen a game this bad since they have been doing the broadcasts. In years -- and I mean years -- of watching the Packers, this is one of the worst performances this writer has ever seen.

I said this would be a close game, going the Packers way. That prediction still stands. As long as the Jets don't come out for the second half, we have a shot.

Cold Makes it Even - Can the Pack Take Advantage?

Yesterday, the Jets were 2 point favorites going into today's game against the Pack at Lambeau. Apparently, the cold (actually a balmy 29 degrees forecast for gametime) has evened things out. As of this morning, the line is even.

The question is, though, can the Packers take advantage of the home field advantage, including the cold. They haven't been doing much of that lately. Today might be a good time to re-establish that advantage.

One of the Wisconsin market Packer TV shows that airs weekly is "Inside Lambeau." One of the hosts is Wayne Larrivee, the radio voice of the Packers and also one of the hosts for the radio version of Pro Football Weekly. Larrivee is an excellent analyst and typically cuts right to the chase in calling things as he seems them. In reviewing the upcoming game against the Jets, Larrivee outlined what he sees as two keys to today's game: the Packers must run the ball, and they must get Jets' QB Chad Pennington to move so he doesn't get in a rhythm.

So, the Packers must run. That would be goooooooood. The problem is, since right tackle Mark Tauscher has been sidelined so has the running game. Perhaps, after 3 games of working together, the predominately rookie offensive line might be able to finally start opening some holes for Ahman Green. Maybe. Let's hope so. Let's also hope Coach McCarthy sticks to the running game. Green always gets stronger the more carries he gets. Getting him only a handful of carries isn't going to get it done. Seattle Coach Mike Holmgren -- known in some circles for liking the passing game -- gave the ball to RB Shaun Alexander more than 40 times in Monday night's win against the Packers. Holy handoff, Batman! That's alotta ground game! Maybe it's time to give the O-line a challenge to make the ground game work. Let's see what happens.

As for getting Pennington on the move, that's going to require constant pressure and good downfield coverage. Pressure has been intermittent. And downfield coverage? Do we even need to go there? Interesting stat: the 21 touchdown passes opponents have thrown against the Packers have averaged 24 yards. What was that we were saying about good downfield coverage?

The Packers have a chance today to win at home and gain some respect. But they need to play an entire 4 quarters on both sides of the ball. Giving up leads defensively and failing to take advantage of gift-wrapped scoring opportunities have been common themes this season. It's time -- long past time -- that a complete game leads to a win.

Let's call this game for the a close one.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Players Playing On

Bob Ryan, father of Packers' first-year punter Jon Ryan, passed away at the age of 54 Friday morning from a rare form of bone cancer. Jon participated in Friday morning's practice after getting the news. Ryan had been back to his home in Regina, Saskatchewan, earlier in the week to spend time with his father. Ryan says he will punt in Sunday's game against the Jets at Lambeau, before leaving Monday morning for the funeral services.

After the news was received, it was not certain whether Ryan would play or not. If he couldn't, third-string quarterback Ingle Martin would have been called upon to handle the punting duties. Martin punted for 2-½ seasons at Florida and Furman. Apparently, Coach McCarthy was comfortable with Martin handling the job. According to the online Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, McCarthy said, "I didn't realize he was that good of a punter. Doing it in a game is a different story, we're all aware of that. But he definitely has some natural punting ability."

The main thing here, though, is to remember the Ryans in your thoughts and prayers.

As for other players who were/are questionable for Sunday, LB Nick Barnett says he's ready to go despite still experiencing pain in his broken left hand. He will be outfitted with a cast with foam rubber taped around it. Dubbed the "club," Barnett says he has been able to grab using both hands. There is still a question as to how effective he will be, as well as how he will handle the pain, which he says rates about a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of pain. At the least, it would be expected that Barnett would be relieved as necessary by rookie Abdul Hodge who, despite being out of position on a few key plays during his first start last week, also showed some good instincts. That fumble/interception return for a TD sure looked as if it would be the spark for the Pack in that game. (Sigh)

Safety Nick Collins is now listed as questionable for Sunday's game, after being upgraded from doubtful. If his groin pull affects his ability to cover, the decision could still be to go with either Tyrone Culver or Atari Bigby in his place.

Unfortunately, right tackle Mark Tauscher is still out with his groin injury, leaving rookie Tony Moll to once again handle that slot. Tight end David Martin is also out with a rib injury, once again leaving Brett with fewer passing weapons. As some sports reports have noted, injuries for the second year in a row have once again left the Packers with Donald Driver as the only serious receiving threat. Thank goodness for D-squared! And, by the way, if you have not yet voted for him for the Pro Bowl, do so now! Driver is the most underrated receiver in the league. About time he gets his reward. Click here to go the official ballot.

The Jets are currently listed as 2 point favorites going into tomorrow's game. They lead the series 7-2. Who'da thunk it?

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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pope Arrives in Green Bay

That's right. The Pope has come to Green Bay. Not Benedict XVI. P.J. Pope.

Maybe you caught him in the pre-season, where he was Da Bearz' leading rusher. Da Bearz? I know. It's like getting salsa made in New York City. But as an earlier post of today indicated, the Packers' running game took a hit Sunday when Vernand Morency sustained a back injury that will sideline him at least several weeks, and FB Brandon Miree hyperextended his left elbow. That left only Ahman Green and Noah Herron as running backs, and William Henderson at fullback. It figured that GM Ted Thompson would be looking at other teams' practice squads for a warm body to add to the roster.

Thompson found Pope sitting on Da Bearz' practice squad. And with a good college career behind him at Bowling Green, Pope may very well have been the best of the bunch available right now in terms of being more than just filler.

Here's the link to the Packers' announcement re: the signing of Pope. The Packers released second-year center Chris White in order to make room for Pope on the roster.

No Trick, No Treat

Happy Halloween, Packer Fans! May all your sugar-filled dreams come true.

There is a dark side to today, however. It sure has deja vu written all over it, too...almost seems like 2005 again. You know what I mean. Injuries. And more injuries. First it was the receiving corps. Now it's the running backs.

Coming on the heels of the Packers' second-ever game where two running backs each surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark, RB Vernand Morency is going to be out at least several weeks and FB Brandon Miree is doubtful for this week's game at Buffalo. Morency -- who showed exceptional bursts hitting the holes -- suffered a lower back injury related to one of his lumbar disks. When the TV cameras showed him being carted off the field near the end of the game, a reasonable question to ask at the time was: How did that happen? Still don't know. The only thing Coach McCarthy said was that tests were still being evaluated but he doubted Morency's injury would be season-ending. Still, right at the point things start getting cranked up...BAM! (as Emeril might say).

Interestingly, one of the unsung heroes of Sunday's rushing game was the new FB, Miree. McCarthy is quoted as saying, "He played excellent," McCarthy said. "He's a big part of the success in our run scheme. I thought his decisions were very good; he played with good pad level, good finish. He was really rolling there." The average viewer might have noticed Miree making a few great blocks and catching a few passes. In fact, it was on one of those catches that Miree sustained a hyper-extended left elbow.

So who will fill these spots? Noah Herron will be Ahman Green's backup. And while not as fast as either Green or Morency, let's not forget that Herron also has a 100-yard game under his belt this year, too. And ol' reliable, William Henderson, will once again resume his starting FB duties. It's also possible that the Pack will look at adding another running back to the roster as insurance. If they do so, they'll have to look at picking up someone from outside the organization as there is presently no running back on the practice squad to bring up.

So, a great game to remember on Sunday. But it comes with a bitter aftertaste. Just like some bad trick-or-treat candy left over from 2005.

Monday, October 30, 2006

At Least We're Realistic

Still basking in the glow of yesterday's win against the Debacle from the Desert (that would be the AZ Cardinals), the online Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel asked whether this two-game winning streak (the first since 2004 if memory serves correctly) would propel the Packers into the playoffs. As Nancy Kerrigan once said, "Why? Why?". Why do they have to burst that green 'n gold balloon and bring us crashing back down to reality? We may be fans, but we also are realists. OK, maybe not all the time, but at least now.

While I would like to imagine that the Pack could somehow play well enough long enough to grab a wild card spot, it doesn't seem realistic. You never know how things can unfold. But at this point...well...I'm not the only one...

At the time of this post, 80 percent of almost 700 respondents to the online poll say "No" to the question of whether the Pack will make the playoffs. Here ya go:

Now that the Packers have won two games in a row, will they ride this winning wave into the playoffs?
    No (79.6%)
    Yes (20.4%)
    Total votes: 673

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Packers Win! Packers Win!

The Pack beat the 4-point spread for the game by 17 points, defeating the Cards 31-14, for their third win of the season. It was also Coach McCarthy's first victory at Lambeau Field, and the first win at Lambeau this season. By all accounts, it appears to also have been the occasion for Brett Favre's first Lambeau Leap following his 13th career rushing TD.

The rushing game was terrific, with both Ahman Green and Vernand Morency each rushing for more than 100 yards. It is only the second time in Packers history that two running backs have each run for more than 100 yards in the same game. It looks as if the running game which started to emerge in last week's victory over the Dolphins got even better this week. Granted, this was the Cardinals. But still, a tremendous effort from the offensive line made it all happen. Green and Morency both showed speed and power on their runs. If this combination can stay healthy for the rest of the year it can certainly give the Pack a chance to be in every game.

Donald Driver also came up big, as usual. And his biggest play of the day, a long (50-yard-plus) pass play, was called back because of a holding penalty. Driver did limp off the field after a great run after a catch. He came back in later. Hopefully, not a problem this coming week.

The defense also pressured Cards QB Matt Leinart most of the day, recording several sacks and a number of knock-downs. There was only one wide open receiver all afternoon on the Cards last touchdown, which appeared to be the result of an entirely broken coverage.

Aside from a questionable play call on the Packers' first possession -- where they were fourth-and-one, set for an apparent field goal and instead faked it, and themselves, into turning the ball over on downs -- most of the play-calling seemed on target.

Packers 31 - Cards 14. Guess that call (noted in an earlier post) by Michael Irvin saying that Matt Leinart would "dominate" the Packers' defense didn't exactly come to fruition, did it? Shocking.

It's great to be a Packers' fan anytime...but especially after a win.

Great Story About Great Green Bay

This is just a pointer to a great article by Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Packers' reporter, Bob McGinn. Unfortunately, unless you can get a print copy of the paper or are a subscriber to the online "Packer Insider," you won't see it. Sorry.

The condensed, abridged, abbreviated, and truncated version is summed up in this quote from the article: "In today's NFL, however, tiny Green Bay is better equipped to win than either of those places (referring to Miami and Arizona), and most of the others. The advantage that gives the Packers should never be underestimated."


Packers Favored by 4

By the way, the Pack is favored by 4 points going into today's game against the Cardinals. Rumors are circulating that if the Cards don't win this game today, Coach Denny Green will be fired tomorrow. Given the long and sorry state of the Cardinals' franchise, he should be so lucky. The Packers will help show him the door today. Go toward the light, Denny, go toward the light...

An addendum: that paragon of prognistication, Michael Irvin, said on this morning's ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown that Matt Leinart will "dominate" the Packers defense. Yeah...just the way he did vs. Oakland last week. Another good call,, really, you're the told us so...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Tale of Two Quarterbacks

Today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has an article about Packers backup QB Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre. Or, more precisely, Rodgers' take on Brett Favre. Rodgers states that he's had the best QB coach anyone could ever have...and that's Brett Favre. Nothing overly revealing...other than maybe what Rodgers cites as Brett's apparently omnipresent "body sounds."

Hey, when you're playing the AZ Cardinals perhaps "body sounds" isn't a bad metaphor.

Jennings Likely Out Sunday

Although the ankle injury to rookie WR Greg Jennings apparently isn't as bad as it could have been, indicators are that he probably won't play Sunday. He will have a pre-game workout on Sunday to see if he can play. But coaches are also reluctant to rush him back too quickly and risk more severe injury and down time. So look for veteran Donald Drive to be paired with the other three rookie wideouts as the receiving corps for this game. That likely means double-team coverage for Driver, and the need for the rookies to make plays. They did what they needed to do last week. That success and a full week of practice...and a home crowd...should make it click.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Ferguson Done, Jennings Questionable, Bodiford Claimed...Wait, Who...?

The Packers today placed oft-injured veteran receiver Robert Ferguson on injured reserve for the remainder of the year. As one Milwaukee TV sports pundit said last evening (obviously anticipating this move), we have likely seen the last of Ferguson in a Packers' uniform. He's a six-year vet who has been injured as much he has played. He's undoubtedly a person who has shown promise in those moments when he has been healthy. And Brett Favre just this last week stated that he admired Ferguson's work ethic. But he's got the football version of boxing's glass jaw: he just can't avoid injury. So, farewell Robert. Good luck wherever you land after this year.

As to WR Greg Jennings who was hurt in the first half of yesterday's game against the Dolphins, Coach Mike McCarthy said today that his ankle is not broken, but that he still might not be able to play in Sunday's game against the Cardinals. Will just have to wait to see how fast he heals this week. Keep your fingers and toes crossed!

In an effort to shore up its depleted receiving corps, the Packers today signed rookie Shaun Bodiford on waivers from the Detroit Lions. Bodiford is out of Portland State (yes, that's Division I...who knew?) where he was a first-team All-Big Sky Conference selection as a senior in 2005.

OK, so we have a rookies on the line and rookies in the receiving corps...we have rookies everywhere! But we also have Brett Favre and Donald Driver. And it looks as if Ahman Green is even back to being able to make an occasional impact with a big run. Even Charles Woodson played as if he's finally going to start earning his money. But perhaps the best news for this week is that the Arizona Cardinals are coming to Lambeau on Sunday. These are the same Cardinals who blew two leads against the Chiefs and infamously against Da Bearz, and just yesterday lost to what unanimously is considered the worst team in the league, the Raiders. Perhaps our young team can get another win under their belts before they shuffle off to Buffalo.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Packers Win 34-24!

As I wrote earlier today: we're having a Sunday Fish fry. And so we did. The Packers beat the Dolphins 34-24 in a surprisingly entertaining game. Only so, of course, because the Packers won.

With about 13 minutes to go in the game, RB Ahman Green broke his biggest run since midway through the 2004 season, a 70-yarder for a TD. That made it 27-13.

Unfortunately, the defense gave that lead up quickly thanks to a huge pass play -- courtesy of blown open field tackling. If Charles Woodson hadn't been hustling and knocked the ball out of the receiver's hands at about the 13-yard line it would have been a touchdown. One play later, however, it was. The Fish went for a 2-point conversion and made it. Score: Pack 27, Fish 24 with about 12 minutes to go.

The Packers next drove the ball the length of the field and scored a TD on a shoestring reception in the endzone by David Martin. With about 6 minutes to go, the score had the Pack leading 34-24.

The Fish converted two 4th down plays to keep their hopes alive. Instead of going for a 4th and 2, however, they made a late decision to try a 47-yard field goal to close within 7. Kicker Olindo Mare made it with no problem. Sadly for the Fish, however, they were called for a delay of game penalty, making the next attempt a 52-yarder...which hit the left upright good!

The Pack then ran the ball three times for virtually no gain, thus giving the Fish one more scoring opportunity, just not much time left. In a prevent defense, the Pack gave up a series of pass plays of 15-20 yards each. The Dolphins got down inside the Packers 30, but no time outs and only about 6 seconds left. One last pass to the endzone was caught out of bounds by former UW Badger standout Chris Chambers (who the Packers should have drafted instead of, a-hem, Robert Ferguson).

Final score: Packers 34 - Dolphins 24.

So...would you like your fish fried or broiled? French fries or potato pancakes?


A couple pieces of trivia related to this game...

  • Ahman Green surpassed James Lofton as the Packers' leader in total yards gained.
  • The last time before today that the Packers won a game in Miami was Super Bowl II when they defeated the Oakland 1968!
  • The Packers are 2-1 on the road this season, 0-3 at home...what's wrong with this picture?

End of 3rd Quarter: Packers 20 - Fish 13

About 50 seconds into the 2nd half, Charles Woodson intercepted a tipped pass off the hands of Fish TE Randy McMichael and returned it for a TD. Yahoo! About halfway through the quarter, Brett tossed a 33-yard TD pass to Donald Driver who made a spectacular endzone catch between two defenders. The refs initially called it incomplete, thinking the ball must have hit the ground. Replays continually showed it never did. Driver came up telling his coaches to challenge the play, which they did. Result? Call on the field was reversed. Touchdown! Ditto the yahoo!

Bad news: WR Greg Jennings looks as if he is done for the day (hopefully, no longer); he has not returned since coming up gimpy late in the first half.

At the end of the quarter, looks as if the Fish have some momentum. Harrington is in one of those rare spells where he is hitting his receivers with his passes instead of the ground. Just hope the heat isn't starting to tire the Packers defense.

End of Half: Fish 10 - Pack 6

The good news is the Packers had two interceptions in the first half. The bad news is that they only were able to get two field goals out of those turnovers. I don't think I'm the only one to realize that that's not good enough, not even against the Fish. As a result, despite being given opportunities to take command of the game, the Pack finds itself behind at half. Not that they are playing badly -- although there is virtually no running game to speak of -- it's just that, for a team coming off a bye week -- they aren't playing well, either.

Some additional possible bad news: an already-depleted receiving corps may be even more so. WR Greg Jennings made a tough catch on the Packers last drive of the half and came up limping. If he can't return today, the Fish can double or triple-team Donald Driver and force the Packers to beat them with the other unproven receivers. That would, as they say, not be good.

They better get it together in the second half, convert third downs -- they were only about 2 of 8 in the first half! -- and score in the red zone. It's a simple game really. Right?

Some other trivia for you: the Packers' longest field goal in history -- 55 yards -- was erased by a defensive penalty called before the snap. Dave Rayner then made a 40-yard kick...which was then negated due to an offensive facemask penalty. By rule, because of the offensive penalty, the 4 seconds left on the clock was run out and it was the end of the half, with no re-kick allowed. So take 3 points off the board...twice! Now, for all the longtime tried-and-true Packers fans out there, I ask this question: when weird stuff like this starts happening in a game, what is the usual result? Oh, the humanity!

End of 1st Quarter: Fish 7 - Packers 0

Something not anticipated and which has already had a major impact on the game: left tackle Chad Clifton -- Brett Favre's blindside protection -- is not playing in the game today due to illness. So the left side of the O-line consists of Daryn Colledge at tackle and Jason Spitz at guard. Colledge has given up two sacks so far to Jason Taylor, both leading to fumbles by Brett, the first one leading to the touchdown by the Fish. The coaches need to give Colledge some help out on the left side. A positive highlight near the end of the quarter: an interception, as the Fish were driving, by Brady Poppinga.

Sunday Fish Fry

As any good Wisconsinite knows, a Friday night fish fry is part of the state's cultural milieu. For those unfamiliar with this aspect of life in Wisconsin, all you need to do is wander on a Friday evening into any restaurant or bar that serves food and you can order up a plate of fish -- usually cod -- fried or broiled, french fries or potato pancakes, cole slaw, and bread or rolls. The really great places will also serve a relish tray. Often, this is an all-you-can-eat affair. Yum!

So, you may well be asking yourself, what does this have to do with today's Packers-Dolphins football game? Actually, I'm asking myself that right now, too. Hmmmm...

Oh, I know...the Dolphins are also known as the's going to be very warm in Miami...and I think the Packers are going to fry up those Fish in the form of a win! (I know, I really is a labored metaphor, but what the heck...)

Now, believe it or not, the Pack are 5-1/2 point underdogs going into this game. Against another one-win team! With Joey Harrington at quarterback! As one sports pundit put it, when you look at two not-so-good teams playing one another you look to the quarterbacks to help decide who should get the edge. Hmmm...Favre or Harrington? Gee, that's a tuffy, eh? Let's go with Favre, shall we? Brett will need a good running game today -- and getting Ahman Green back may -- may -- help in that regard. With basically only two proven wide receivers now available, the passing game needs a decent running game to have a chance of working. The Packers are 5-2 vs. Joey Harrington (how'd those 2 get in there???). OK, that was all vs. Detroit. But so far, the Fish aren't looking particularly great either.

The Packers' defense in the past has been able to rattle Harrington. If they can do the same again today, the Pack stands to come home with a win. It will be a tasty Sunday Fish fry indeed!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Bonehead Will Be Charged

OK, sports fans, whatchya gonna do? Yep, in this day and age, no threat -- even a hoax -- can be taken too lightly. In fact, you probably want some type of deterrent against hoaxes, too, let alone the real thing. So, the 20-year-old from the Milwaukee area who was allegedly involved in the stadium threat hoax of this week will be paying the piper soon. Below is the story from Associated Press:

FRIDAY, Oct. 20, 2006, 9:40 a.m.
By The Associated Press
Wisconsin man charged in NFL threat case

Newark, N.J. - Federal authorities have charged a Wisconsin man with making a hoax threat for allegedly claiming that seven football stadiums across the nation would be targeted by terrorists with radiological "dirty bombs" this weekend.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark planned to hold a news conference Friday afternoon to detail charges against the man, who was not immediately identified. A news release said the man was to make a court appearance in Milwaukee later in the day.

One of the stadiums allegedly targeted was Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

The FBI determined the threats were a hoax on Thursday.

A joint statement from the FBI and Homeland Security Department said fans "should be reassured of their security as they continue to attend sporting events this weekend."

An FBI official in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is still under investigation, told The Associated Press the Milwaukee-area man acknowledged posting the phony stadium threat as part of a "writing duel" with a man from the Brownsville, Texas, area to see who could post the scariest threat.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Kid from WI Making Stadium Threat?

Figures. According to CNN, a "young adult" from Wisconsin is currently being interviewed by the FBI in Milwaukee after apparently coming forward to identify himself as the individual responsible for yesterday's posting on the Internet of a threat against 7 NFL stadiums for this coming weekend. The FBI is still calling the threat non-credible, but is obviously taking the necessary steps to verify this person's story.

See what a losing season can do to some people? Or...maybe it's that winning season by the team south of the border (that would be Da Bearz) that's doing it?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

CNN Reporting "Dirty Bombs" Threat at 7 NFL Stadiums

CNN is currently reporting that the Homeland Security Department has notified the NFL that they have picked up a threat -- although called "non-credible" -- on a website against 7 NFL stadiums purporting that "dirty bombs" will be used in these locales...including Miami where the Packers will be playing on Sunday. For more information, check out CNN or other news sources. Here's what has to say about this.

Francies Gets Promoted, Brewster Gets Another Chance

As speculated here at yesterday -- and let's be honest, you didn't have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out -- the Packers promoted rookie wide receiver Chris Francies from the team's practice squad to the regular roster, replacing Koren Robinson (who will be sitting out his suspension for the next year). Francies was installed as the #4 receiver. The Packers also re-signed Carlton Brewster to the practice squad to take Francies' spot. Brewster was also with the team during training camp. You can read the announcement from the team here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Robinson Suspended for 1 Year, Ferguson Likely Done for This Year

Oy! The NFL finally handed down its long-anticipated suspension of Packers' receiver Koren Robinson. Robinson received a one-year suspension. According to the league statement, he can be reinstated no earlier than Sept. 18, 2007. Here's the statement as posted on

So, that's not good. Robinson was starting to emerge as an integral part of the Packers offense. Now...not.

Add to this bad news the other news that receiver Robert Ferguson is likely lost for the rest of the season with his right foot injury and the Packers are now down to three wide receivers: Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and Ruvell Martin. Either the team will have to promote someone from the practice squad, hire a street free agent, or swing a trade. It's also possible that they could move TE Donald Lee to those formations calling for four receivers.

Despite the fact that Randy Moss wants out of Oakland, it's hard to imagine that Packer GM Ted Thompson would want to make Oakland's problem our own. Given the trends in personnel, it would seem that the most likely quick fix would be that the team would move up one of the two receivers currently on the practice squad, either Chris Francies or Calvin Russell, unless they are able to claim a better prospect from another team.

Yep...starting to smell a lot like last year...

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Horror! The Horror!

For those who watched the Cardinals (football version) melt down to Da Bearz in the second half of tonight's game, all I can say is: I think I'm gonna hurl...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bye Day Bye

OK, I know that headline is a really bad take off on the song title "Day by Day"...but what the heck. No Packers game today so what's a fan to do? Watch other games? Do yard work? Read? Watch the Cowboys Cheerleaders "Making the Team" TV show? ('d that get in there? And isn't that a really...interesting...title?) Whatever you did, you had to be glad that the Saints beat the Eagles with a last second field goal. And ol' Mike Holmgren beat the Rams. And the Titans beat the Redskins for their first win of the year. The only really bad news of the day is that the Lions actually won a game.

Now if the Cardinals (that would be the football version) can actually beat Da Bearz tomorrow night...riiiiiiiiiiiight. Call me a dreamer. Hey...I said "dreamer," darnit! Come to think of it, maybe the baseball Cardinals would have a better chance at beating Da Bearz.

Oh sure, I know this week I could have written how we're down to four receivers because Robert Ferguson is out several weeks with his foot injury. Or how we might even be down to three receivers soon because of Koren Robinson's upcoming suspension (pending his appeal, of course). Or how...oh, never mind. There's a whole upcoming week to worry about that stuff before next week's game with the Fish (OK, I know technically that Dolphins aren't fish, but just go with me on this, will ya?). So until next week -- or since it's already Sunday is it already "this week"? -- just enjoy your day off. The Packers didn't lose. Nobody got hurt. And, yes, Da Bearz still suck.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Breaking News: Robinson Gets 1-Year Suspension

According to reports just starting to circulate, WR Koren Robinson has received a one-year suspension from the NFL for violation of the league's substance abuse policy, pending appeal. Given that the appeal may buy him a few weeks, it still appears likely Robinson will be gone for a good part of this season and perhaps part of next as well.

This comes at a time when he is just starting to be a trusted part of the Pack's receiving corps. It also comes at a time when the Packers will likely still be without WR Robert Ferguson due to his foot injury. Can anyone say "Ruvell Martin"?

Yup...this season is starting to smell a lot like last year.

Stick a Fork in It: Rams 23 - Packers 20

With about 20 seconds left in the game, trailing 23-20, and the ball at the Rams' 11-yard line, QB Brett Favre had the ball stripped from him while back for a pass. LG Daryn Colledge had a chance to recover but couldn't...Rams did. No TD for a last-second win. No FG to go to overtime. Just the Rams taking a knee and the Packers losing again. Record: now 1-4 going into the bye week. At least they can't lose then...can they?

Another record also falls: the Packers had been 46-0 at Lambeau when Brett didn't throw an interception. He didn't. Pack still loses.

Again, as noted earlier, this was a game of missed opportunities. Having to settle for field goals instead of getting into the endzone. Failing to hold on to passes. Failing to make interceptions that are in hand.

This team makes its own luck. And what they are making so far is a lot of bad luck. A good effort by the defense and a 106-yard rushing day by Noah Herron is just too little with a team that has no room for error. Regrettably, there are still far too many errors to be overcome.

Enjoy next weekend off. Hey, maybe Da Bearz will lose!

End of 3rd Quarter: Rams 17 - Packers 13

Momentum seemed to turn a bit during the quarter, and not in the Packers favor. Although with under 5 minutes to go and starting inside the Packers' 50-yard line due to a line-drive punt and 32-yard return by the Rams, the Packers were able to hold the Rams to a field goal after being 1st and goal inside the 10. Kudos to a good pash rush and a third-down sack by Aaron Kampman.

One does have the same feeling at this stage of the game as was experienced last week...that is...ummmm...not good. Offense is bogging down. The defense is starting to spend more time on the field. And the Rams are getting field position, thanks to poor punt coverage and penalties. Their last drive of the quarter again began inside the Packers' 50. A sure interception by Al Harris at the 5-yard line was dropped; had he hung on to it, he probably would have had a 95-yard return for touchdown.

As appears likely, the Rams will instead score a touchdown. Figure game over at that point.

End of Half: Rams 14 - Packers 13

The story of the 2nd quarter is a story of -- what else? -- missed opportunities for the Packers. After having first down at about the Rams' 10 yard line courtesy of some great plays and penalties on the Rams, the Packers had to settle for a field goal. In the Packers next possession, they stalled out at about the Rams' 30 yard line, setting up a 45-yard field goal attempt, which K Dave Rayner pushed wide left. The Rams eventually put together a solid drive and took advantage of some Packer penalties, with a TD resulting. The Packers then managed to sustain another positive drive before halftime, but again had to settle for a 32-yard field goal with 3 seconds left on the clock.

The Packers' defense is doing a respectable job holding down a high-power offense. The defense, however, suffered a possible loss with DL Cullen Jenkins being carted off to the locker room after walking gingerly to the sidelines, favoring his left foot. The diagnosis is a sprained ankle; his return is uncertain at this time.

But overall, so far, and as was the case against Philly, the offense is not able to finish its drives with touchdowns.

Oh, still no sign of Vernand Morency re-entering the game either.

End of 1st Quarter: Packers 7 - Rams 7

The Packers won the coin toss and received the kickoff. After having a fairly good start, backup RB Vernand Morency -- who is starting again today because Ahman Green is inactive due to his hamstring injuries -- fumbled the ball on about the Packers 40 yard line. Not long thereafter, the Rams are in the endzone. Al Harris appeared to actually slow up after giving a slight bump on the receiver, allowing the receiver to go by him for an easy TD. Where have we seen this before?

On the next Packer possession, moving the ball on the ground and through the air very well, Morency again fumbled the ball; he did recover it, however. Coach McCarthy wasted no time in yanking him promptly and was giving him an earful on the sideline according to the radio announcers (am I the only one that listens to the Packers radio broadcast while watching the TV?). Noah Herron replaced Morency and proceeded to make the most of his opportunity. With some great run blocking -- perhaps the best we've seen so far this year -- Herron ran with power. He got the Packers first TD of the day (I'm optimistic!) after a defensive holding penalty put the ball at the two. Don't be surprised if Morency sees more of the bench today than the playing field.

Go Pack Go!!!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Green's Back, Driver Questionable, Brett Still Sore

The best thing about tomorrow's game versus the Rams is that it is being played at Lambeau Field. Granted, that has not been the home field advantage it once was and, to be honest, might not be for a while yet. The Rams are approximately 3 point favorites going into the game. Despite all this, well, at least it will be a good day to tailgate.

Starting RB Ahman Green may be ready to go tomorrow after sitting out a few days of practice. It's likely his carries will be limited, and that's assuming his tender hamstrings don't give him any problems. Vernand Morency will certainly get his share of carries, particularly after distinguishing himself with a 99-yard running game in his first start last weekend.

WR Donald Driver is still experiencing soreness in his side after that massive hit he took in last week's game. Doctors are apparently still trying to figure out exactly what the problem is. When watching that play I thought Driver would definitely wind up with a cracked rib. Guess not. But obviously he's still feeling the effects. Driver is listed as questionable for the game, which would -- as all fans know -- not be good. That would leave the Packers with only three wide receivers for the game given that Robert Ferguson is also out with a foot injury. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Koren Robinson would start at flanker alongside split end Greg Jennings. Free agent Ruvell Martin then would be the only backup unless the Packers made a roster move today and activated one of two wide receivers, Calvin Russell or Chris Francies, from the practice squad. (Head Coach Mike) McCarthy said a move was possible."

But also of concern on the offensive side of the ball is our starting quarterback. Brett is still experiencing soreness in his neck and back after being drilled in Philly. He says he's ready to go -- shocking, isn't it? -- but backup QB Aaron Rodgers took some snaps with the number one offense on Friday...just in case.

So we have, going into the fifth game of the season, a banged up offense and a defensive backfield that has resembled a sieve. Is it starting to look a lot like last year?