Thursday, August 31, 2006

Packers Unveil Two New Websites

Just in time for the new season, the Packers today unveiled their updated website: A very nice update. Check it out.

The Packers also unveiled a totally new website for Lambeau Field. Ditto on the thumbs up. As noted on the website: "Since 1957 - The Crown Jewel of the National Football League." Ya got that right!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Packers Cut and Add

From the Green Bay Packers eNews:
The Green Bay Packers made several roster moves to reduce their roster to the NFL-mandated limit of 75 active players. The transactions were announced Tuesday by Ted Thompson, Executive Vice President, General Manager and Director of Football Operations.

First, the team claimed kicker E.J. Cochrane off waivers from the Philadelphia Eagles. A 5-foot-11, 204-pound rookie from Montana State, Cochrane originally signed as a non-drafted free agent with the Falcons in February. He had signed with Philadelphia in April and connected on one of his two field-goal attempts, as well as his only PAT try, in 2006 pre-season action.

Released Tuesday were fullback A.J. Cooper, long snapper Thomas Gafford, wide receiver Chad Lucas, defensive end Montez Murphy, defensive tackle Jerome Nichols, wide receiver Calvin Russell, cornerback Jerron Wishom and quarterback Brian Wrobel.

In addition, the Packers placed linebacker Kurt Campbell and safety Marviel Underwood on injured reserve.

More -

In a brief press conference clip, GM Ted Thompson said he picked up kicker E.J. Cochrane because Cochrane was someone he'd been keeping an eye on and had an excellent camp with the Eagles. Thompson said, "We now have a few days to see what's what." Whether he and Coach McCarthy would unseat nominal "for now" kicker Dave Rayner with Cochrane will be an interesting call at this stage of camp. Rayner's kickoffs have been consistently deep and he has been steady when called on for field goals and PATs. One of those pick ups that makes fans wonder...

What to Think?

Repeat after me, "It's only pre-season, it's only pre-season...".

On one of the Milwaukee radio stations this a.m. a bit of call-in therapy was offered to help Packer fans get past the embarrassment of last night. The announcer asked what were the positives that could be taken from last night's game. Here are a few of the comments:

  • Most of the kickoffs went to the endzone.
  • Al Harris played stark contrast to Charles Woodson.
  • The game started at 7 p.m. instead of 8 so we could all get to bed earlier...even if you sat through until the bitter end.
  • Punter Jon Ryan had good hang times and averages.
  • After the 31-0 start, the Packers played to a 17-17 draw!
  • The gun at the end of the game.
  • We're still tied for the division lead: 0-0 with everyone else.
  • Nobody got hurt.
  • There are only 16 games in the season...just think what would happen if it was a baseball season!
  • Da Bearz still suck.
  • The 1972 Dolphins lost every pre-season game and went on to win the Super Bowl.
  • Even Mother Nature is a fan and wanted to give the Packers a break by ending the game early.
  • It can only get better.

Those are just a few of the positives from last night's game. See...even in the darkest moments there is always a ray of light...especially for Packer fans.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Pack vs. Bengals - They'rrrrrrre Baaaacccckkkk

Would you believe they returned to finish the game? Of course, this was only a brief delay. The Pack had one weather delay in a game against Tennessee several years ago that was about 2-1/2 hrs. this was nothin'.

And who'da thunk it, but the Packers scored a TD, cutting the score to a mere 41-17 with 7:30 to go.


Unless something significant of note occurs in the remainder of the game, this will be the last post related to this debacle.

Nite nite.

Packers vs. Bengals - Almost Over

9:09 left to go and -- it figures -- the teams are ordered to leave the field because of potentially severe weather in the area, i.e., lightening. Ohhhhh...and if only we could play the game out! We might have a chance. Not.

The kindest thing the refs could do at this point is to just call the game. Pleeeeeaaaase. observations on the stunk. Especially the Packers part of it.

What more do you need to know?

Pack vs. Bengals - 3rd Quarter


(That would be not only viewers but the Packers themselves, or so it would appear.)

Pack vs. Bengals - Halftime Thoughts

In no particular order...

  • Someone make the bad man stop!
  • I'm thinking of my happy place!
  • Woodson missed tackles and got beat repeatedly.
  • Is it just me or does every time the Packers start off with an early and goofy turnover mean the team enters the bizarro world? Doesn't matter who the players are, or who the coach is, or even what decade it is...early goofy turnover = bizarro world and a game that goes downhill faster than a certain sitting president's approval ratings. Never fails.
  • I like Tony Kornheiser, especially on Pardon the Interruption. But his comment on Monday Night Football's broadcast about Favre in the first half that "This may be the worst start ever for a quarterback" is a bit...oh...over the top, shall we say. Others might use different adjectives, perhaps even really colorful ones, in responding to that comment. "Ever"? Tony...please. You don't look comfortable with your new broadcast buddies and the stress might be making you get off to the worst start ever for a broadcaster. Really.
  • The Pack looked flat on both sides of the ball. This first half was a reprise of the San Diego game. There were a number of personnel questions going into this game. The first half didn't resolve any of them. The question now is what kind of fire Coach McCarthy can light under this team for the second half. least Palmer's out for the second half. The bad man has stopped...maybe it will be a happy place!

Pack vs. Bengals - Halfway Through 2nd Quarter

Halfway through the 2nd quarter the answer to my 1st quarter question is: definitely can get uglier.

Pack vs Bengals - 1st Quarter

Could it be any uglier? Nuff said.

Questions for Monday Night

The Packers take on the Cincinnati Bengals tonight at 7 p.m. Central time. As the third of four pre-season games, this one figures to see the most playing time for the starters before the regular season begins. So we'll get a feel for how well that newly-configured offensive line is really coming along. We'll also get a chance to see if Brett Favre continues to exhibit the sharpness he did in last week's game against Atlanta. And we'll get another look at our two nominal kicking specialists, Dave Rayner and punter Jon Ryan. And because the Pack will have to cut up to 9 players by tomorrow, we may see some folks for the last time...even if we didn't know who they were in the first place.

But apart from these more general questions, there are some specific questions which need to be answered:

  • Can RB Ahman Green demonstrate the same quickness and explosiveness in a game that everyone says he has been showing since resuming practice earlier this month? Coming off his thigh tendon tear of last season, all the medical professionals say that the tendon is no more likely to tear now than if he hadn't had the injury at all. But, at age 29 and with lots of miles on the body in addition to the surgically-repaird tendon, can Green give the Packers another 1,000+ yard season? Despite a fantastic rehab program, the leg likely will not be at full strength for some time. Whether and to what degree that effects Green's running ability only time will tell. Tonight we may get at least a glimpse of what to expect. But still a big question mark.

  • LB Brady Poppinga is ready to roll. He was just starting to make an impact last season when he was injured in the first game he started. According to coaches -- and as he himself admits -- his motor is always going...the problem isn't getting him fired up it's calming him down. That's a great quality in any football player, but especially a linebacker. He wants that starting role back, so expect to see him on the field a good deal tonight and in the final pre-season game Friday afternoon (yes, Friday afternoon) against the Titans. Another question mark in search of an answer.

  • Safety Marquand Manuel is also itching to play, after missing most of training camp with a calf injury. Manuel is one of the Pack's free agent pick ups, and one the team is counting on to be an effective and aggressive starter. Apparently, since returning to practice, he has been showing that aggression big time. Again, the question is whether and how quickly he is able to get up to game speed after a lot of down time.

  • Najeh Davenport has been a bit on the spot this week, missing much of practice with a hip injury. Coach McCarthy even voiced comments to the effect that you have to play in order to be on the team. Was he trying to light a fire under Davenport, or perhaps setting the stage for a move to rookie RB Arliss Beach? It's fairly well known around camp and in the media that the Packers are high on Beach, who performed very well in last weekend's game against the Falcons. Davenport can be a powerful runner. But he also can't seem to avoid injury. There are only so many running back spots available. Will Davenport meet the challenge to retain one of those spots, or will he be bumped for a newcomer with potential? If you look at some of the personnel decisions made by Coach McCarthy and GM Ted Thompsons so far this camp, don't be surprised if Beach sticks and Davenport might go. Would be a shame not to get something in exchange for him, though.

  • Who will the final receiving corps be? Donald Driver, sure. Robert Ferguson and Rod Gardner, likely. Ditto for rookie Greg Jennings. After that? There are another five receivers, excluding tight ends, competing for probably one final receiver spot. Of course, the Pack could hang on to perhaps another receiver if that player demonstrates some kick or punt return ability. They thought that would be Cory Rodgers, but so far he has not been able to handle the ball. You have to wonder if the recent addition of undrafted rookie receiver Carlton Brewster, ostensibly as one of these possible specialists, can also give the Pack yet another receiving option...just in case. And, as we learned last year, you can never have enough good "just in case" players available.

So...these are a few of the questions to which tonight's game might provide some answers. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Boerigter Out, Brewster In

The Packers announced yesterday they had released veteran receiver and free agent pick up Marc Boerigter. He had only caught one or two passes in pre-season games. That reflects perhaps both Brett Favre's confidence (or lack thereof) in him as well as that of the coaches. Coach McCarthy perhaps summed it up best when asked about the release. He said that the Packers had a lot of young receivers they wanted to look at in terms of their upside potential and that to be fair to the veteran, Boerigter, they just felt it best to release him now so he might have a chance to catch on with another team before the start of the regular season. Once again, this coach doesn't delay in making decisions.

While they already have a number of young and potentially productive receivers on the roster, the Pack decided to add another, and to exchange a cornerback to get him. The Pack traded CB Therrian Fontenot to Cleveland for un-drafted rookie WR Carlton Brewster out of Division II Ferris State. In looking at his profile, seems that he has an excellent athletic history. He was not only a standout receiver at Ferris State but also performed well as a kick and punt returner. Perhaps that is where the Pack will try to have him make the team while they find out more about his receiving capabilities. Or perhaps Brewster will be someone they tuck away on the practice squad for the future. This one...'tis a puzzlement.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Oh My! Starting O-Line Set!

As some were speculating earlier today, and staying true to what is emerging as his management style, Coach Mike McCarthy didn't wait long to name his starting offensive line for the upcoming season: Chad Clifton at left tackle, Mark Tauscher at right tackle, Scott Wells at center, and 2006 draft picks Tony Moll and Jason Spitz at right and left guards respectively. Let's just hope that the performance going forward is as solid game in and game out as it was during the exhibition game Saturday night. They have two more games to gel before stomping Da Bearz in the season opener.

Packers Give Sander the Boot

The Green Bay Packers announced today that they have given former third round draft pick, punter B.J. Sander of Ohio State, the boot...something he was not able to do for the Packers since being drafted in 2004.

Sander is just another in a long list of former GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman's personnel disasters that have haunted the Pack for the last several years. The general reaction when Sherman spent a third round pick on Sander, not only among Packer fans but NFL observers in general, was, "What the...". OK, he won the Ray Guy award and was the nation's leading punter. But still...a third round pick on a punter? Even fantasy league GMs know enough not to do that.

So, despite some speculation in news reports today that the other punter in camp, Jon Ryan, might have hurt his chances with the team with his bobbled snap in the end zone during Saturday night's game, here we have yet another example of the new regime making a decision to move on with new talent. Will Ryan be the punter from here on out, or will they bring in another punter? My guess, given the general modus operandi of this coaching staff, is that they want to settle on players as soon as possible and give them as many reps as possible to get ready for the season. Having said that, as noted in an earlier posting relating to Dave Rayner being named the kicker, this could just be "for now"'s always just "for now" with kickers and punters. Perform and you keep your job. Don't, and you don't.

Jon Ryan has a strong leg and it is apparently on that strength the Packers have decided to go into the season. For now.

Ouch! Henderson Out 3-6 Weeks

The Green Bay Press-Gazette is reporting that FB William Henderson might be out 3-6 weeks as a result of a knee injury sustained in Saturday night's game against the Falcons. The injury was hardly noted during the broadcast, and wasn't really even mentioned until after the game.

According to the report, they are still waiting for the swelling to go down so they can make a better determination as to the extent of the injury. At this time, they believe it may be cartilage and perhaps ligament damage. At age 35, no one seems sure how quickly Henderson will recover.

Henderson has been nearly as much of an iron man on the Packers as Favre, missing only two games in his 11 seasons. Wow. Henderson has also been an undisputed fan favorite because of his do-whatever-it-takes-for-the-team attitude, his blocking and his great ability to catch passes out of the backfield.

The likely replacement for Henderson until he returns is Vonta Leach, who has the size of a classic fullback (6-foot-0, 250 lbs.) but perhaps lacks the skills needed in the new Packers offense. He is a good blocking back, but as demonstrated on at least two occasions Saturday night he has trouble catching the ball. The other two true fullbacks on the roster are undrafted rookies Ben Brown (6-1, 246) and A.J. Cooper (6-1, 240).

Let's hope Henderson has a speedy recovery. He may be an old warhorse these days, but he still can have a positive impact both on the field and in the locker room.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Pack vs. Falcons: 4th Quarter and Game Review

The fat lineman has sung!

Packers win 38-10 in a great rebound game.

Fourth quarter began with a fumble by Rodgers on a scramble. Looked like he was faking a throw and lost his grip and the ball. Prior to that he had had a nice pass to Jennings. Birds didn't get any points off the turnover. Montgomery had a sack in that defensive stand.

Packers ball...a tipped pass at the line finds its way to Jennings crossing over the middle, who promptly takes it 85 yards for a TD and a Lambeau Leap! Score 31-10 Packers.

Todd Williams, a lineman signed to help fill the injury-riddled offensive line now adds himself to the list, having to be carted off the field. Had hands over his face for a while, then gives a thumbs up. Brave, but probably not good by the looks of it.

Falcons have the ball after the kickoff. Rookie defensive lineman Johnny Jolly -- don't ya just love that name?! -- tips a pass at the line and intercepts it at the 13.

Packers ball. Vonta Leach drops a wide open touchdown pass...a problem for him carried over from last year. Pack gets a break on an incomplete 3rd down play as the Birds are flagged for slamming QB Rodgers to the ground. First & goal from the 5! RB Arliss Beach takes the ball to the 1. Beach was the leading Packers rusher, with about 50 yards rushing. Can't run it in, so Rodgers tosses to rookie TE Zac Alcorn. Score 38-10.

That's where the game ends. Packers 38, Falcons 10. A very good showing overall, despite a fairly ugly 3rd quarter. The Pack had three take-aways, from which they generated 17 points. Not bad at all.

If you saw the game you saw a much more physical style of play than last week. The offensive line for the most part held its own. Looks as if the new starting guard tandem of Spitz and Moll did the trick. At least this week.

Overall, Packer fans have to be pleased with tonight's performance. All those folks who were jumping off the bandwagon last week...time to think about getting back aboard.

Pack vs. Falcons: 3rd Quarter Review

An ugly quarter. No scoring.

Falcons get the first possession. Hawk had a roughing the passer penalty on third down. Carroll got a sack on third down! Birds punt.

Pack starts from the 5-yard line. Favre scrambles on a pass play and gets the ball away but also gets tackled around the ankles in the endzone. Gets up a bit gimpy on his left ankle. Not what you want to see. Brett has to scramble again and almost gets sacked for a safety. Pack has to punt. Ryan bobbles the snap but does get the punt off...for 32 yards, plus another 5 yards for illegal man downfield penalty. Birds start at the GB 35-yard line.

Pack stands firm, and the Birds get a panelty which moves them back to the point they have to punt. A personal foul penalty on the Pack, though, means half the distance to the goal line. Pack starts at the 10-yard line, with Rodgers in at QB. Rodgers scrambles for a first down, but also takes a sack.

A sideline shot showed Chad Clifton getting both knees wrapped with ice...just a precautionary thing...I hope.

Bottom line: ugly, no scoring...what I said...

Pack vs. Falcons - 2nd Quarter Review

Second quarter highlights...with Vick out, replaced by Matt Schaub at QB. Favre still in...

Nice end around by Driver...Brett tries to block -- of course. Driver comes up big the entire quarter. Looks exceptionally quick tonight. Making great catches and runs after the catch.

Fumbled snap, but recovered. Looks like Wells may have snapped before Brett was ready.

Field goal by Rayner from 30. Pack up 10-7.

Bad kick coverage allows the Falcons good starting position out near mid-field. Pack holds. Birds kick a 51-yard field goal. Score 10-10.

Pack drives about 80 yards for a TD. Brett goes 8 for 10 on the drive, hitting Driver several times again. Touchdown pass goes off the hands of Rod Gardner at the back of the endzone...tough catch to make. Brett comes back and hits a wide open Najeh Davenport for a TD. Pack up 17-10 at 2-minute warning. Favre comes off field looking totally jazzed. This is why he plays -- doesn't matter if it's preseason or not.

Falcons possession. Pressure from KGB, pass intercepted by Jason Horton who returns it 44 yards for a touchdown. Packers up 24-10 with under a minute to go till halftime. Sweet!

Prevent defense lets the Birds get a big pass play out to mid-field, but nothing comes of it.

Pack looks much more aggressive on both sides of the ball this half compared to a week ago. Coach McCarthy played mainly the starters the entire first half. He wanted to see a better effort this week, and he got it.

Another observation: nice to see kickoffs go to or into the endzone instead of to the 10 or 15 yard line as in prior years.

Pack vs. Falcons - 1st Quarter Review

We'll see if I make it through all 4 quarters or not...but for now...a brief review:

Opening so...nothing spectacular. Punt.

Falcons opening drive: not exactly sterling defense. Failure to contain on the edges. Receivers a bit too wide open. A log roll into the endzone. Score 7-0 Falcons.

Pack's second drive: very good effort at establishing the running game. Some key catches by Driver and Jennings. Face mask penalty on a reception by Ferguson. And a nice tip of the ball falling into Bubba's hands in the endzone. Hey...even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. (I have no idea what that means but just seemed to be the thing to say here.) Score 7-7.

Dirty Birds' second drive: gee...Ahmad Carroll playing soft...who'da thunk it? Nice coverage and pressure, resulting in an interception at the end of the quarter by rookie starter Tyrone Culver...the team's first take-away of the season.

End of the quarter with the Pack on offense: looks like much better pass protection and Brett appears confident in his line and receivers right now. A good sign for the second quarter coming up. First quarter score 7-7.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Miscellaneous Meanderings

This is one of those postings that is just bits and pieces related to a variety of topics. Kind of like Larry King's column (which, by the way, if you Google "Larry King Column" will return some fascinating links) but hopefully with more of a point.

Odds & Ends
For some reason still unbeknownst (yes, kids, that is a real word) to me, I received a copy of a pro and college football "insiders" guide from some online betting outfit. I don't bet. And I especially wouldn't bet online. Obviously, many folks do these days and whatever hole people choose to throw their money into is none of my business. But anyway, to the point...these "insider" editors -- whoever they are -- have this to say about the Packers chances: not much. They expect the Pack to finish at 5-11 in third place in the division behind the ViQueens and Da Bearz. At least they still pick the Pack ahead of Detroit. They call the return of Brett Favre for another year a "blessing and curse" because they see the team in need of rebuilding and developing Aaron Rodgers as the starter...which, in a fatalistic but perhaps realistic observation, would ensure the team a high draft pick. It is that old "win by losing" approach. Somehow, that has never suited the Packers. And it still doesn't. All in all, these "insider" experts place the Packers' odds at winning the division at 35 to 1 and of winning the Super Bowl at 7,500 to 1. Yikes! Seems, though, they don't proof for consistency of content because in the "Odds" section of this magazine they have the Pack's win total pegged at 6 for the season, as opposed to 5 noted in the team review area, and the comment that the team might actually be worse than the 4-12 team of last year. Different writers, I guess. Too bad there are no proofreaders. And this is supposed to be an "insider's guide"? R-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-ght.

Seems as if 6 wins might be the magic number among prognosticators. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel sports writer, Cliff Christl, said on local radio that he didn't see the Pack winning more than 6 games this year either. Hmmmm...

Moll It Up
Rookie O-lineman, Tony Moll, is getting his first start at right guard for the Packers Saturday night against the Falcons at Lambeau Field. Moll has been having a good camp, obviously good enough to replace -- at least for now -- the other nominal rookie starter Daryn Colledge, along with the accompanying switch of Jason Spitz from right to left guard. Bottom line, folks, is that we are now in year 2 of Ted Thompson still trying to replace Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera. Didn't work so well last year. And unless the Spitz-Moll combo is able to gel quickly we may wind up seeing a lot of two tight end sets just to give Brett enough time to get the ball away. Of course, this also presupposes that the line and the zone blocking scheme creates an effective running game. Without that, there will be long Sundays ahead.

Favre (Still) Says Team Has Talent
In his regular biweekly news conference this week (the one which some uninformed web nob seemed to believe was not part of the regular routine and was therefore going to be about Brett announcing his retirement), QB Brett Favre says he has confidence that his offensive line will not be as, well, offensive as it was in the pre-season opener. He believes the rookies have a good deal of talent and that things will get better. He's just not sure how much better or how long it will take to actually become better. Favre said that he sees good effort and that's what you want to see. He also said that he expects young players to make mistakes...he just doesn't want to see them over and over. He could probably have added he doesn't want to see them over and over from the prone position. So we'll have to see if some of this "betterness" (there's a new word for you, Steven Colbert!) reveals itself tomorrow night at Lambeau. Let us pray...

Rayner Boots Cundiff
The Packers announced today that they have released kicker Billy Cundiff. For the time being -- isn't it always for the time being with kickers and punters? -- second-year player Dave Rayner has the kicking job to himself. The Pack chose youth and leg strength over consistency, as Cundiff had made more of his field goal attempts in camp and obviously has a longer pro pedigree. But the coaches apparently like what they have seen in Rayner and want to find out if he can replace all-time Packer scoring leader, Ryan Longwell, as the man. They want to give him more repetitions so that he can become comfortable in all the situations that arise. One potentially positive aspect of Rayner's background is that he played college ball at Michigan State. So he is familiar with cold weather football. Of course, Cundiff's college years were spent at Drake University in Des Moines. But he has been a few more years removed from the rigors of Midwestern winters given his time in Dallas. On the other hand, Longwell was a California kid. I'm so confused...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Colledge Sent Back to School

Starting left guard, Daryn Colledge, was sent back to school...well, lineman school I guess you could say. After a poor performance Saturday night in San Diego (although that statement can be applied to the entire offensive line, as well), the Packers decided that Colledge was not up to the challenge right now of being a starting guard in the NFL. Granted, he is trying to make the transition from his tackle position at Boise State to guard with the Packers, but you still have to be up to speed. Coaches have decided instead to move the other starting rookie guard, Jason Spitz, to left guard and try yet another rookie trying to make a big transition, fifth-round draft choice Tony Moll, at right guard. Now, keep in mind that Moll is a former college tight end who is making the conversion to right tackle. Sounds problematic. Except for the fact that the coaches apparently felt Moll was the most physical of the lineman who played Saturday night. And he has had a good camp, according to reports. Not long ago he was labeled a project at right tackle who might not even play this year. But maybe things are different at guard.

Whether Moll holds up or Colledge eventually makes the grade only time will tell. For now, it is a work in progress. This is obviously a coaching staff, though, unlike the prior regime, that is willing to make changes quickly when they need to be made. That is in itself a positive sign.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Big Trouble Ahead, Packer Fans Say

After just the first pre-season game, nearly 60 percent of fans responding to an online poll in today's Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel, believe there is "big trouble ahead" for the Pack. Yikes! Folks haven't been jumping off the bandwagon this early since Lindy Infante's last year as coach.

Chill, people! Yes, the team looked flat, and was overmatched and outplayed by the Bolts Saturday night. The rookies in the line -- as well as the vets -- knew they were not in sync. It's a new blocking scheme, and only Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher are the seasoned veterans on that line...and even Tauscher admitted that perhaps players were thinking too much rather than just playing. They have four more weeks to gel. And there can be little doubt that Packer coaches will do whatever it takes to protect ol' #4.

The worry, other than two rookies starting at the guards slots, is depth. The losses of Kevin Barry and Adrian Klemm for the season already limit the options the coaches have to work with. O-line is not where you want to have problems at any time, let alone at a time when you must protect Brett Favre and open holes for the runners in order for the West Coast offense of Coach Mike McCarthy to work as designed.

The defense will be OK. The parts are there. They'll hold their own, despite not looking like it on Saturday night.

So, right now...let's wait to see, OK?

Here were the poll results at the time of this posting:
What's your take on the Packers' exhibition opener?
Big trouble ahead (59.7%)
Too early to worry (32.5%)
Didn't bother watching a meaningless game (7.8%)
Total votes: 1,724

(By the way, if you couldn't gather, my vote was for "too early to tell" in the poll.)

Big Trouble Ahead, Packer Fans Say

After just the first pre-season game, nearly 60 percent of fans responding to an online poll in today's Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel, believe there is "big trouble ahead" for the Pack. Yikes! Folks haven't been jumping off the bandwagon this early since Lindy Infante's last year as coach.

Chill, people! Yes, the team looked flat, and was overmatched and outplayed by the Bolts Saturday night. The rookies in the line -- as well as the vets -- knew they were not in sync. It's a new blocking scheme, and only Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher are the seasoned veterans on that line...and even Tauscher admitted that perhaps players were thinking too much rather than just playing. They have four more weeks to gel. And there can be little doubt that Packer coaches will do whatever it takes to protect ol' #4.

The worry, other than two rookies starting at the guards slots, is depth. The losses of Kevin Barry and Adrian Klemm for the season already limit the options the coaches have to work with. O-line is not where you want to have problems at any time, let alone at a time when you must protect Brett Favre and open holes for the runners in order for the West Coast offense of Coach Mike McCarthy to work as designed.

The defense will be OK. The parts are there. They'll hold their own, despite not looking like it on Saturday night.

So, right now...let's wait to see, OK?

Here were the poll results at the time of this posting:
What's your take on the Packers' exhibition opener?
Big trouble ahead (59.7%)
Too early to worry (32.5%)
Didn't bother watching a meaningless game (7.8%)
Total votes: 1,724

(By the way, if you couldn't gather, my vote was for "too early to tell" in the poll.)

Underwood Undercut for Year

One of the promising young safeties the Packers had in camp, Marviel Underwood, is done for the year. Reports indicate that he blew out both the ACL and MCL in his right knee during the first quarter of Saturday night's game against the San Diego Bolts.

Underwood was having an impressive camp. He had stepped in until veteran Marquand Manuel was able to get off the physically unable to perform list...which has still not happened. That means rookie sixth-round draft pick Tyrone Culver out of Fresno State now gets bumped into the starting spot until Manuel makes it back. Luckily, at least for now, Culver has also been having a good camp according to reports, and played well during the game Saturday. If he can hold his own until Manuel gets back, the loss of Underwood for this year will be mitigated a bit.

Depth. What a concept.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

OK...Well There's Always Next Week

So-o-o-o-o-o-o...the first game of the Mike McCarthy era...not so good.

The team was the football version of the old Saturday Night Live "Not Ready for Primetime Players" in losing to the San Diego Bolts 17-3 last night. Offense not ready. Biggest problem was PROTECTING THE QUARTERBACK! Sorry, got carried away there...which is what is also going to happen to Favre if that O-line doesn't get it together before the start of the regular season. As today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recap states: "On Favre's seven dropbacks in the first quarter, two ended in sacks, three in knockdowns and one on a hurried incompletion due to the rush. Favre's quick 7-yard completion to Donald Driver was the only attempt in which pressure wasn't an issue." It is not going to do much for McCarthy's West Coast offensive strategy if he has to keep two tight ends in to help block on every play.

Defense was also iffy. Didn't come out ready to play, allowing long drives on several occasions for scores. Plus, the Pack perhaps lost temporary starting safety, Marviel Underwood -- who by all accounts was having a good camp -- to a knee injury. Kendrick Allen also came out with an undisclosed side injury.

So...well...there's always another game. Which is a good thing. The team can only get better...and it needs to.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Let the (Pre-Season) Games Begin!

OK, it's just pre-season. But on the other's pre-season!

That's the good news. The other news, as any good Packer fan already knows, is that, well, nobody is quite sure what this year will bring. Will the Pack make it back to the playoffs? Or will the combination of a new coach, lots of new and young players, a couple rookies possibly starting on the offensive line, running backs coming off injuries, and a great ol' QB mean...maybe not.

I'm a glass half-full person. Or in this case, a team half-full. There are obvious talents: Brett Favre, Donald Driver, Ahman Green, Charles Woodson, Aaron Kampman, Nick Barnett, Al Harris, Bubba Franks, Chad Clifton, Mark Tauscher, Nick Collins, KGB. All need to play at peak level and avoid injury for the Pack to make the playoffs. Then there is potential: Robert Ferguson, Greg Jennings, Scott Wells, A.J. Hawk, Abdul Hodge, Donald Lee, Samkon Gado, Brady Poppinga, Jason Spitz, Daryn Colledge, Tony Moll, Cullen Jenkins, Ryan Pickett, Marc Boerigter, Colin Cole, Kenderick Allen, Jon Ryan. Some of this latter group have been around for a while. Some are rookies looking to make a mark. All in all, I think the Pack has assembled a squad that can compete for the division title once again, barring the freakish rash of injuries that occurred last year. Whether or not they in fact do that will depend upon how well new Head Coach Mike McCarthy is able to blend the old vets with the new kids and how fast they all get in sync.

We'll get our first glimpse of the new Pack tonight in San Diego. Hard to get a read on much of anything in the first preseason game, other than spotting those new players who either help themselves with their play or write their ticket out of Green Bay.

Ahhhh...don't you just love football talk?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What the New Guys Are Getting Paid

If you are wondering how they can ever stretch a buck or two to live as an NFL player, you may find this little summary in today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel worth a look.

How do they do it?