Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cullen Jenkins out for season

Not the news a shaky defensive line needs: defensive end Cullen Jenkins sustained a torn pectoral muscle attempting to sack Buccaneers' QB Bob Griese in last Sunday's game. He will have surgery and be placed on injured reserve, ending his playing season.

This is the second serious injury to defensive starters the Packers have sustained in the last two weeks. First, CB Al Harris sustained a serious spleen injury in the Dallas game; when he returns to play is anyone's guess. Now, Jenkins is done for the season.

GM Ted Thompson was counting on Jenkins to have a big year when he traded DT Corey Williams away. Packers injuries are starting to mount up, and we're only a quarter of the way into the season. Oy...

So this explains it
According to reports of an interview to air on Showtime's "Inside the NFL" tomorrow night, Tony Mandarich, the #2 overall pick in the 1989 draft taken -- how could we forget? -- by the Packers, says, "I got to the point where it was a struggle to work out three or four times a week because the priority of getting high was above the priority of working out.” To be fair, he says that that he didn't use steroids in the NFL (but did at Michigan State -- shocking, isn't it?) but was addicted to alcohol and painkillers in the NFL. Mandarich -- who went from The Incredible Hulk cover on Sports Illustrated to The Incredible Bust -- lasted just three years with the Packers.

Let's see, that was the draft in which the Packers' brain trust of GM Tom Bratz and head coach Lindy Infante took Mandarich ahead of Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, or Deion Sanders to name just those players picked immediately after Mandarich. Anyway, we have occasionally beat this Mandarich pick to death in prior posts so won't rehash all that here. That's ancient history. Especially when you have more current top-picks-who-like-sure-busts such as Justin Harrell to complain about.

More here and here on Mandarich's interview if you care to indulge.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Latest on Rodgers' shoulder

The Packers are saying that QB Aaron Rodgers has a sprained shoulder, and that he will rehab it today and tomorrow before testing it in practice on Wednesday. Head Coach Mike McCarthy said at his news conference today that they'll be able to better assess then whether Rodgers will be able to go against the Falcons this weekend or not. He indicated that there was no structural damage and that Rodgers definitely wanted to play if he is able to do so.

Trent Dilfer -- he played QB, didn't he? -- said on ESPN's "NFL Live" show today that he had talked to Rodgers and that "Rodgers is in a lot of pain." Dilfer said there are two issues: one is the pain, the other is the ability to execute. He made the point that every player has to manage pain, but it's different for a quarterback because the pain -- particularly in the throwing shoulder and arm -- can affect one's ability to execute properly, which can obviously have a major impact on a game.

Ya think???

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Separated shoulder for Rodgers?

Fourth game. That's when Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers may have sustained an injury that puts his season -- in whole or in part -- in jeopardy.

During a post-game interview, Rodgers told the media he thinks he actually may have dislocated the shoulder of his throwing arm. Rodgers will have a series of tests on Monday to evaluate the injury.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy is quoted as saying he has "no idea" if Rodgers will be able to play next week against the Falcons. "It's too early to tell," McCarthy said.

Can you say, "Oh-oh"?

If Rodgers can't go, the Packers have two rookies to fall back on. Matt Flynn was designated as the #2 QB before the start of the season, winning a battle with fellow rookie Brian Brohm. Flynn relieved Rodgers today on the series or two that Rodgers was out before returning to the game, and in mop up duty at the end. It would help if the Packers had a running game to help Flynn if he has to start. Unfortunately, that's something that seems to be missing from the Packers' offense right now. Twenty-eight yards rushing -- the total for today's game -- isn't going to do much...for any quarterback.

You can read more about this situation here and here.

Oh...and that guy who used to start for us? He threw for his own personal best and franchise tying 6 TDs today. Just sayin'...

Post-game review
Green Bay Press-Gazette sports editor Mike Vandermause has an excellent take on today's game and its implications going forward. His column's headline will give you a clue where he's coming from: "Where to begin with this mess?".

Here's just a tidbit: "There’s one big problem. The Packers are committing so many mistakes on so many levels that it will be difficult for McCarthy to figure out where to begin."

Read the entire column here. It doesn't paint a pretty picture. Nor do some of the reader comments that follow the column.

Final: Packers 21 - Buccaneers 30

The Pack was able to turn 3 interceptions courtesy of Bucs QB Brian Griese into 14 points in the second half, which included a 68-yard interception return for a TD by Charles Woodson. But, in the end, it was all for naught.

Taking the lead 21-20, the Packers found themselves without starting QB Aaron Rodgers for a series. So, for everyone who was wondering how many games it would take before Rodgers' injury proneness (is that a word???) would appear, the answer is: four. Rookie QB Matt Flynn had to come in after Rodgers left the game after throwing a 48-yard TD pass to Greg Jennings. It appeared as if Rodgers may have landed funny on an earlier play. But as soon as he threw the TD pass Rodgers went to the sidelines hanging his right arm a bit. He was seen on the sidelines throwing the ball, and eventually returned to the game. More on that in a bit.

The Packers defense also lost Cullen Jenkins to some unspecified arm/shoulder injury suffered on a missed sack on Griese, necessitating a lot of shuffling on the defensive line. Combining that personnel situation with a hot and tired line allowed for a lot of missed tackles and first down conversions that probably should not have been late in the game.

In addition, continued short punts from Derrick Frost and poor punt coverage set up Tampa Bay for the go-ahead field goal with 2:26 left in the game.

Rodgers did return to the game, as noted earlier. But...was intercepted for the third time in today's game when he was hit in the back while throwing. No one put a hand on the outside rusher. Looked as if TE Donald Lee was supposed to block before releasing to the outside; he never touched the rusher at all, allowing Rodgers to be blindsided, leading to the off-target throw and easy pick.

And it wasn't Warrick Dunne who was the back-breaker, or even Michael Bennett, who didn't see the field at all. Ernest Graham broke tackles and rushed about 40 yards to the 1-yard line to set up the final Bucs' TD.

As Darryl "Moose" Johnson said during the TV commentary, for the second time in two weeks the Buccaneers stole a game. Indeed they did. But the Packers basically kept the door open all day long with sloppy play on both sides of the ball.

So, instead of being 3-1 after today, the Pack sits at 2-2. The loss to the Cowboys was a loss to a better team. The loss today -- as with the Wisconsin Badgers' loss to Michigan yesterday -- is one which the team allowed to happen. Those are the ones that really stick in your craw.

The Packers play the Falcons at Lambeau next weekend. It could be just what the doctor ordered to try to get the wheels back on the track. But the Packers have some real work to do. And injuries are starting to take a toll far too early in the season. If it's anything more than a little tweak to Rodgers, and we have to go with our rookie QBs, the entire outlook for the season could change in a real hurry. Let's hope not.

1st half: Packers 7 - Buccaneers 13

This game started well. The Packers took the opening kickoff, looked efficient, and got a 25-yard TD pass from Aaron Roders to Greg Jennings. Then, things started to turn. Some costly and questionable penalties on the defense that kept Bucs' drives alive, sloppy tackling, sacks on Rodgers, and two interceptions on the part of Rodgers...although to be fair, the first one shouldn't have been. It was an easily catchable ball thrown to Brandon Jackson; ball popped out of his hands and right into the defender's. A score was not far behind. The second interception was just a bad throw.

The Packers' last drive of the half was pretty typical. On third and one from about mid-field and with about 10 second left, Greg Jennings dropped a wide open pass at the Bucs' 30-yard line which would have given the Packers a first down and a reasonable chance of throwing at least once into the endzone before perhaps having to settle for a field goal attempt. Instead, a fourth and one was caught out of bounds. No points.

For as much of the momentum that the Packers had initially it has all shifted to the Bucs. Warrick Dunn, as feared, started to have an impact both running and on pass routes against the Packers linebackers. Bucs QB Brian Griese, as expected, has been smart and efficient, exploiting the Packers over the middle on match ups with the linebackers.

Packers' field position has been horrible most of the half. Combined with a lack of any consistency on offense, the Pack turned the ball over to the Bucs inside their own territory on the last three drives of the half for Tampa Bay.

On the Bucs' last drive of the half, Nick Collins had an interception clearly in hand and could have had a great return. Instead, his drop kept the Bucs alive and allowed them to get their second field goal of the half.

Being down 13-7 going into half time, considering how the half turned, is actually probably a blessing. It could and probably should be worse.

If you are a Packers fan -- and I will assume are if you are reading this -- and if you are also a Wisconsin Badgers fan -- which you may or may not be -- then you may have the same feeling about now that you had watching the Wisconsin-Michigan game yesterday. In other words, if they don't get their act together at halftime this is a game that could slip away. It is, as I noted in my preview, the kind of game that the Pack could lose. Unfortunately, there are a lot of indicators emerging that that could be more of a reality than we'd care to deal with.

Pack vs Bucs preview

September in Tampa. Supposed to feel like about 99 degrees there today. Packers players have been hydrating all week in preparation. Combine the humid conditions with Packer injuries and this game could be one of those -- particularly after the loss to Dallas -- that the Packers lose in ho-hum fashion.

But don't bet on it. Even if the Buccaneers are favored by 1-1/2 points and are also 2-1 coming into this game.

Yes, Al Harris will be out today and for some time to come. Tramon Williams will have to avoid getting burned the way he did against the Cowboys after coming in to relieve Harris. While Bucs QB Brian Griese is smart, he doesn't have Tony Romo's arm. The likelihood of going deep often is just not that great, unless Packers D-backs totally blow coverages. Griese may be able to throw it around a lot -- as he did (67 times!) in last week's comeback against Da Bearz -- but hopefully the Packers pass rush will keep him under enough pressure so he will make the mistakes that he is also prone to do. The Bucs have enough offensive weapons to make things interesting if the Packers defense doesn't step up. Warrick Dunn and Michael Bennett pose real running threats. So far this season, the Packers ability to stop the run has been questionable. While this pair of backs isn't the equal of Marion Barber and Felix Jones, run defense has to tighten up or it could be a long day. Bucs WR Joey Galloway is out. But Michael Clayton, starting in his place, is starting to show signs of regaining his outstanding rookie form of 2004.

The Packers need to get their own running game in gear. Ryan Grant needs to be turned loose, along with Brandon Jackson. The Pack had early success running outside on the Cowboys and some analysts -- John Madden among them during the course of the game -- speculated that the play calling went away from the run way too soon in that game. Stick with the run, open up the passing game, and Aaron Rodgers could have another big day.

We're taking the Packers 24-17. Go Packers Go!!!

Da Bearz play at home tonight vs. Philly. The Eagles are favored by 3. Go Birds. The ViQueens play at Tennessee. The Titans are favored by 3. Go Titans. The Matt Millen-less Lions will not lose this week. They have a bye, which has come to be known as a win in Detroit.

Bottom line: the Packers will stay atop the NFC North at 3-1.

Draft decisions
If you are either a subscriber to the Packers Insider at jsonline.com or are very quick on your browser load/stop buttons, you can read a very interesting commentary by sports columnist Bob McGinn. He talks about Packers GM Ted Thompson and his draft decision which, on the whole, McGinn and most would agree have been good in terms of building a young and talented team. But McGinn also takes Thompson to task for perhaps being too conservative in his approach and as a result not improving the team as much as might be possible. Risk taking on questionable players -- ala Justin Harrell -- is not the kind of approach McGinn is talking about. In fact, it's the exact opposite.

McGinn cites the Harrell pick, as a matter of fact, as an example of missed opportunities on a couple fronts. Without going into all the details here, McGinn lays out a very realistic scenario in which -- if the Packers had traded their 16th pick last year, ultimately used for the injury-prone Harrell, to Cleveland which had made an offer to the Packers for their first round pick this year -- the Packers not only would still have Corey Williams shoring up a so-so defensive line at present, but might very well have also been able to have RB Felix Jones in a Packers uniform. Imagine that!

So, if you're ready to have your head explode with what might have been, check out McGinn's article here. Remember, though, you'll either need to subscribe to the Insider or be very quick on your load buttons to see the entire article. Barring that, see if you can get your hands on a print copy of today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel where the article is also printed in its entirety.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

No surgery for Harris

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters on Friday that veteran cornerback Al Harris will not need surgery to repair the lacerated spleen he suffered in the game against the Cowboys. Apparently, all four doctors Harris saw for opinions were unanimous in their conclusion that surgery would not be necessary. How fast Harris is able to return to play is still the question. McCarthy stated, "I'd say it's going to be at least three to four weeks. I don't have an exact time frame for you." It could be longer than that, as these types of spleen injuries can threaten not only a player's season but also career.

According to McCarthy, Harris will begin conditioning work on Monday. From there, McCarthy said, it will be a wait and see approach in terms of how fast Harris' injury heals. He'll have additional CT scans in a few weeks to see how his injury is healing. From there...?

Come back soon, Al!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Do YOU belong in the Packers Hall of Fame?

Well, not THE Packers Hall of Fame. That's for the player greats only, of course. We're talking about the Packers FAN Hall of Fame. The Packers are seeking their 11th fan enshrinee. So if you think you are deserving of the honor, or know someone who is, here's your chance.

According to the Packers news release, "The nomination phase for the 11th honoree, which began Sept. 21, will continue through Thursday, Oct. 16. Fans again are being asked to nominate themselves for the honor - or a relative or friend - in an essay of 500 words or less, telling why they should be recognized. Each nomination should be accompanied by a photo - a copy of the original photo should be submitted in case of damage or loss."

But that's just for starters. There's a selection committee who'll pick the 10 finalists, followed by an online vote of fans to choose the final honoree. To get started, mail nominations to: Green Bay Packers FAN Hall of Fame, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628, or drop them off at the Lambeau Field Atrium (1265 Lombardi Avenue) or at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 333 W. State Street, Milwaukee, WI, 53201.

What does the winner get? "The honoree's selection will be announced Dec. 12, 2008. He or she will receive four club seats to a Packers home game, at which he or she will be recognized on the Lambeau Field TundraVision video boards; a $500 Packers Pro Shop gift certificate; a road trip for two to a 2008 Packers away game, including game ticket, air fare and hotel accommodation; and a one-year subscription to Packer Plus and Packer Insider. The honoree also will have his or her name permanently displayed in a place of honor in the Packers Hall of Fame."

Pretty good perks, eh?

If you want to find out more, check out the details here. And you can find the official rules and more here.

Good luck, Packer fans! May the best fan win!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Harris might not be done yet

While saying that Packers cornerback Al Harris has a "serious" spleen injury, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy also said, "I’m hopeful he’ll be back. The time frame just hasn’t been established." McCarthy also said, "I think that’s obvious to everybody (that it's a serious injury). And really, as we move forward, it’s a different type of injury. And we will take a cautious approach, and everything we’ll do will be in his best interests.”

Harris is definitely out this week. But how long before he returns is the question. According to McCarthy, Harris got at least three medical opinions this week and there’s a “good chance” he can avoid surgery. If so, he might be able to return before the end of the season; if not, not only is Harris' season done but his career might also be in jeopardy given his age.

In Harris' absence, Tramon Williams will get the start against the Buccaneers. You can be sure Tampa Bay will test him often on Sunday. And Williams knows it. While he's performed well as the nickel back, he has been burned a few times already this season, by Calvin Johnson in Detroit and Miles Austin in the Dallas game. But remember that Williams has only played in 11 games going back to last season. So one expects to see more of the good plays and less of the bad as he gets more playing time. Will Blackmon will take Williams' spot in the nickel scheme. It's possible that intriguing rookie Patrick Lee might also get some playing time in dime packages.

No doubt about it, this injury to Harris -- apart from the personal health and career aspects for Harris himself, which are of the most concern, of course -- means the defense has to perform at an even higher level than before. But after the game against the Cowboys, that should have been one of the results anyway.

You can read more on this situation here and here and here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Report: Harris may be out for season

According to reports starting to hit the media, veteran Packers cornerback Al Harris ruptured his spleen in last night's game versus the Cowboys and may be lost for the season.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette is reporting the following:

"Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after the game that blood was detected in Harris’ urine. At his Monday afternoon press conference, McCarthy said the team was conducting further tests on Harris. The Web site National Football Post first reported the severity of Harris’ injury today and said the team was seeking a second opinion before declaring Harris out for the season. Harris’ agent, Jack Bechta, is one of the founding members of that Web site."

If Harris can't play, backup Tramon Williams -- who got burned on the long back-breaker TD pass from Cowboys QB Tony Romo to backup receiver Miles Austin last night -- will likely get the start.


Coach McCarthy: "The Dallas Cowboys are farther ahead than we are right now."

In the post-game post-mortem of the Packers' 27-16 loss to the Cowboys last night at Lambeau Field, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy stated, "The Dallas Cowboys are farther ahead than we are right now. And that's the facts. And it's Week 3. How far ahead? Time will answer that question."

Well, for starters, the Cowboys racked up over 200 yards rushing between the "thunder and lightening" duo of Marion Barber and Felix Jones. The 'boys huge offensive line continually got a push on the Packers, exposing what some have said is a lack of depth on the defensive line. The Cowboys were able to generate an average of 6.2 yards per carry on 35 rushes. They also got 13 of their 22 first downs via the run. Time of possession wasn't as large a gap as one might expect, however: 32:12 for Dallas and 27:48 for the Pack. But it's what each team did with their time that made the difference. And Dallas clearly did more.

The Cowboys converted 50 percent of their 3rd downs, while the Pack only converted 29 percent. The Packers "D" couldn't get the 'boys off the field and the Packers "O" couldn't stay on the field. That about sums up the game.

Aaron Rodgers didn't play badly and truth be told, he was under pressure for a good chunk of the game and was sacked five times. He finished 22 of 39 for 290 yards, with 0 TDs and 0 INTs. Rodgers also lost receiver James Jones to a sprained knee while one of his favorite targets, Ruvell Martin, wasn't even active for the game because of a fractured finger suffered during last week's game. That effectively short-circuited much of the Packers' passing attack options, forcing them into three-receiver sets while they prefer to use four as often as circumstances allow.

As pointed out several times by NBC commentator, video game guru, and Frank Caliendo character John Madden, the Packers had some early success on runs but got away from it, perhaps too soon. The Packers were able to run outside early, but then...? Brandon Jackson had a couple nice runs substituting for Ryan Grant. But it just didn't seem as if there was a commitment to the run at any point in the game.

The early warning indicator, though, on the outcome of the game came on its second play. Ryan Grant fumbled the ball and it was recovered by the Cowboys at the Packers' 14. Fortunately, the defense was able to hold the 'boys to a field goal. Still, things like this always seem to be a precursor of things -- usually bad -- to come.

The Pack also come out of this game a bit banged up. In addition to Jones, Al Harris, Nick Collins, and Nick Barnett all got dinged up. Jones is perhaps the one with the biggest question mark for next weekend against Tampa Bay.

More on the upcoming game later.

But, let's give props where they are due. Congrats to the 'boy from Burlington, Wisconsin, Tony Romo. With last night's road win, he goes to 13-2 in his first 15 road games as a starter. That ties him for the best ever number of wins (in this same stat category) with Daryle "The Mad Bomber" Lamonica. (More trivia: Lamonica was actually drafted by the Packers in the 12th round of the 1963 NFL draft. He was also drafted in the 24th round of the AFL draft that same year. He chose Buffalo. Guess he figured he'd have greater opportunity backing up Jack Kemp than Bart Starr. Still, it wasn't until Lamonica was traded to the Raiders in 1967 that he really flourished. Things do have a way of coming full circle though in an odd sort of way: Lamonica was the losing QB in Super Bowl II...to the Packers, as I'm sure you'll recall.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Packers drop game to Cowboys 27-16

In the end, the Packers offense couldn't take advantage of the early opportunities it had inside the Dallas red zone and couldn't generate enough multi-play series' in the second half to rest their defense. Result? Field goals instead of touchdowns, and a a worn down defense that allowed an unknown receiver by the name of Miles Austin to rack up more than 100 receiving yards and a touchdown. You make those kind of mistakes against a team like Dallas and you're going to lose. And the Packers did. For the first time in five trips to Lambeau, the Cowboys finally score a win, 27-16. They go to 3-0 and the Packers go to 2-1.

The Pack didn't play their best. Neither did the Cowboys. The Packers had opportunities early and didn't capitalize. There were crucial penalties, often on the return team that left the Pack in poor field position for a good chunk of the game.

The details become somewhat irrelevant at this point. We can review them at a later time if need be. But when you play flat on national TV and lose one at home against the hated Cowboys, what more detail do you really need to know?

The Pack still sit atop the NFC North. As predicted here in the preview post, Da Bearz lost (in OT) to the Bucs and the Lions bit the dust in San Francisco; the ViQueens, however, messed up the day with a win against the Panthers.

The Packers head to Tampa Bay next weekend. More on that game as the week moves along.

This was one the Pack could have been in more than they were. Why they weren't will be the point of conversation this week.

Halftime: Packers 6 - Cowboys 13

Courtesy of a fumble and a misdirection running play that went for a 60-yard touchdown, combined with some sloppiness on offense, the Packers find themselves behind at halftime by a score of 13-6. The Packers had one good drive stall out in the red zone, where they had to settle for a field goal. The Pack did dodge a bullet when Nick Collins picked off a Tony Romo pass in the endzone and returned it to the Cowboys' 43-yard line. Unfortunately, the Pack was again unable to keep a drive going and had to settle for another field goal.

While the Packers defense was able to hold the Cowboys out of the endzone after the Packers turned the ball over on a fumble by Ryan Grant on the second offensive play of the game, they have really not been able to get much pressure on Romo. Charles Woodson (not Al Harris) has been able to keep Terrell Owens in check so far. But running back Marion Barber has been able to keep drives going with his hard-hitting running. And Felix Jones popped that 60-yarder.

The ball seems to be bouncing Dallas' way, which always gives one that sinking feeling. Case in point: a Cowboys pass reception that was fumbled up into the air and caught by another Cowboy for a first down. Another: a fumble by Romo on a rare sack with about 17 seconds left in the half inside the red zone would have been a big stop for the defense...if we'd been able to recover. Instead, the 'boys kept the ball and were able to rack up another field goal.

The Packer offense must be much sharper and much more productive on the ground in the second half in order to open up the air game. The defense has kept the Packers in the game, only down by a touchdown. The score could be much higher on the part of the 'boys. So even though the ball has been bouncing their way, the Packers are still very much in this game. But they have to get the offense in gear.

Packers vs. Cowboys preview

First of all, apologies for no posts since Sunday's victory at Detroit. Where did the week go?

Anyway...on to today's game, or rather tonight's game at Lambeau versus the Cowboys.

Both teams enter the game 2-0. The 'boys are coming off a short week, following a hard-won game against the Eagles. This faux (look it up) "America's Team" has been touted as the odds-on favorite to be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl. They are loaded with talent, including the pride of Burlington, Wisconsin, QB Tony Romo. And, they are 3-point favorites.

But...the real "America's Team" (there is only one Title Town, after all) also has a swagger. For the first time this season, all the usual starters and primary backups on the offensive line should be available. That will be important in a game where Dallas -- despite their base 3-4 defense -- typically will rush 5. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers really hasn't had too much pressure in the first two games, but when flushed from the pocket Rodgers has certainly responded well. In addition, the coaches are sure to have schemed a game plan to use Rodgers' mobility to buy time against the rush. The Packers' running game must be respectable enough to open up the potent passing attack. If that happens, it could be another high scoring game. Add in perhaps a key punt or kickoff return by Will Blackmon and that could be the difference in the game.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Packers will need to get to Romo early and often; he is prone to make mistakes when pressured. Other concerns for the Packers will be stopping running backs Marion Barber and Felix Jones, which will be a challenge but not an impossibility. Keeping TE Jason Witten from tearing up the middle of the Pack's pass defense as he did last year, and Terrell Owens from lighting it up downfield (ditto last year), will also be key to a Packers victory. Al Harris can't roll over against T.O. like last time around or it will be a long game. Thankfully, Charles Woodson will play this year and that can only help the defensive backfield scheme. Starting safety Atari Bigby, however, is said to be out for this game, giving backup Aaron Rouse the start. Rouse always seems to be around the ball and this is a game where that will be a needed quality.

What does all this boil down to? A close game, but likely a high scoring game. Only one team will come out unbeaten. You know who I'm going with. Packers 34 - Cowboys 30.

If the Packers are able to beat the 'boys, they will be sitting pretty in the NFC North. Expect the ViQueens to lose at home against the Panthers, the Lions to lose on the road against San Fran, and Da Bearz to be beaten at home by their former QB Brian Griese and the Buccaneers. Let's see, that would mean the Packers at 3-0, Da Bearz at 1-2 and both the 'Queens and Lions at 0-3.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Packers beat Lions 48-25

The final score was really not reflective of how close the game actually was. For a brief moment.

The Lions made a game of it in the fourth quarter, to actually take a 25-24 lead with 7:41 left in the game.

How did it get that way? The Packers play calling seemed to get conservative. Field position was also not good most of the time. A fine return by Will Blackmon to the Packers 40-yard line was negated by a penalty on Jarrett Bush. On the ensuing series, the Pack went three and out, only to have the snap go through the punter's hands and out of the endzone for a safety. This made the score 24-18 Packers, but momentum was clearly turning the Lions way.

After getting good field position on the ensuing free kick, Lions' QB Jon Kitna connected with WR Calvin Johnson on a 50-yard catch and run for a TD to put the Lions up 25-24 with 7:41 remaining. Johnson beat cornerback Tramon Williams badly as a result of Williams' poor arm tackling approach and Aaron Rouse's whiff tackle attempt.

On the next series, however, on 2nd and 13 (thanks to the sixth offensive penalty of the day by the Pack), Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers hit WR Greg Jennings on a quick slant over the middle , who turned it into a 60-yard gain to the Lions' 24. On third down, RB Brandon Jackson dropped a wide open pass at about the 5-yard line. The Pack had to settle for another Mason Crosby field goal to regain the lead, 27-25.

On the first play of the first series after the kickoff, Charles Woodson picked off a Kitna pass at the Lions' 40-yard line. On 3rd and one from the 19, Brandon Jackson made up for earlier drop by rushing for a touchdown to increase the lead to 34-25 with 3:31 remaining in the game.

On the Lions' next series, Woodson again intercepted Kitna's pass and returned it about 42 yards for a touchdown. Packers 41 - Lions 25 with 3:09 left.

Having to continue to go to the air, Kitna was again picked off, this time by Nick Collins who returned it 40 yards for a touchdown. Packers 48 - Lions 25.

And that's where the game wound up. How fast things can change. The Packers had it in hand and got a bit complacent and conservative after the half. The Lions, to their credit, kept trying to exploit the passing lanes over the middle and ultimately found success. But the Packers' defense took care of business when it needed to as well, accounting for 14 of the Packers' final points.

Aaron Rodgers finished the day 24 of 38 for 328 yards and 3 touchdowns. Wide receiver Greg Jennings finished with his best receiving day yet, catching 6 passes for 167 yards.

Packers atop the division...as predicted here
So the Packers are 2-0. What about the other teams? Well, we know that the Lions are now 0-2. What about Da Bearz? Lost in a comeback victory to Carolina, 20-17. Ohhhhhh. They're now 1-1. And the ViQueens? Lost to the Colts 18-15. Ohhhhhh. Actuallly, make that 0-2.

So, as predicted here in our pre-game preview, the Packers now sit alone atop the NFC North at 2-0, followed by Da Bearz at 1-1 with the 'Queens and Lions bringing up the bottom at 0-2.

Da Bearz play Tampa Bay in Chicago next week, while the Panthers visit Minnesota. The Lions go to San Francisco. The Packers are at home next Sunday night against the Cowboys in what could be a precursor to a possible NFC Championship Game later in the season.

But for now...let's just enjoy this one. The team looked really good at the beginning and the end. Some of the middle looked a bit iffy, but in the end talent prevailed.

Ah, it's good to be a Packers fan!!!

End of 3rd quarter: Packers 24 - Lions 9

The Lions scored a field goal on their first possession of the half to make it a 21-6 game. The Packers only error of the game so far came when QB Aaron Rodgers held the ball a bit too long in the pocket and had the ball stripped from him; it was recovered by the Lions at about the Packers 30-yard line. Fortunately, the Packers defense held and the Lions again had to settle for a field goal. Packers 21 - Lions 9.

The Packers then were able to generate a drive to make it first and goal from just inside the Lions' 10-yard line. For the first time in four such occasions in this game, though, the Packers were unable to score a touchdown. They settled for a Mason Crosby 26-yard field goal to go up 24-9 with a little over 2 minutes remaining in the quarter.

Packers sacks in the quarter came courtesy of A.J. Hawk and Cullen Jenkins.

Fifteen minutes to be 2-0.

Halftime: Packers 21 - Lions 3

The Packers totally dominated the Lions in the first half. Following on their 1st quarter score, the Pack continued to exploit the Lions' pass defense. The Packers moved down field quickly at one point in the 2nd quarter on a 62-yard bomb from QB Aaron Rodgers to WR Greg Jennings. It was Rodgers' longest pass of his career. Jennings was wide open and the only thing that prevented him from scoring on the play was that he had to wait for the ball. It didn't take long after that, though, for the Pack to get into the endzone for their second score. On another 3rd-and-goal, Rodgers connected for a TD pass, this time to Donald Driver. Packers 14 - Lions 0.

The Packers' next score came on 29-yard TD from Rodgers to rookie WR Jordy Nelson who went in untouched for not only his first NFL catch but his first NFL touchdown. Packers 21 - Lions 0.

The Lions finally got a drive going in the last few minutes of the half as the Packers' defense basically went into a prevent-style defense, which of course never prevents much of anything. Detroit had to settle for a 38-yard field goal after stringing together a series of first downs.

The Packers defense registered three sacks on Lions' QB Jon Kitna in the half, two of them courtesy of Aaron Kampman. Aside from the final Lions' drive of the half, the defense acquitted itself well, albeit helped by some first quarter drops by Lions' receivers on what should have been some very easy catches that could have changed the tone of the half.

As it is, look for the Lions to come out throwing most of the second half. If the Packers' defensive front can keep getting to Kitna, and the Packers' offense can keep clicking the way it did in the first half, the Pack will be putting this one in the "W" column in another 30 minutes of game time.

End of 1st quarter: Packers 7 - Lions 0

Thanks to a 15-play, 86-yard drive, the Packers took a 7-0 lead on the Lions with about 2 minutes remaining in the 1st quarter. The touchdown came on a 3rd-and-goal play from the Lions 9 as QB Aaron Rodgers scrambled and found James Jones in the endzone. It was the first TD of Jones' NFL career.

Unfortunately, starting FB Korey Hall injured his left knee in the quarter. His return today is doubtful, according to the sideline reporter for Fox.

Packer - Lions preview

It's a few hours to kickoff and what can we say? Looking at Week #1: the Lions, on the road, got ripped a new one, as they say, by Atlanta's -- yes, Atlanta's! -- running game and a rookie quarterback; the Packers, at home, played a strong game and won against a bitter divisional rival which many pundits were saying perhaps had Super Bowl possibilities. The Packers negated the ViQueens vaunted defensive line. QB Aaron Rodgers, making his first NFL start, looked like an old pro. Not only did he pass with alacrity (look it up), but he used his legs to continue drives and add another dimension to the Packers offense when needed.

OK, I said more about the Packers in Week #1 than the Lions. Well, this is a Packers blog, after all. And the Lions are -- sorry, Lions fans -- the Lions. Meaning not so good. Still a home opener might provide the Lions with enough of a spark to pull an upset. The players and coaches might feel that their backs are against the wall. It might be just enough for them to...naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

One of the best lines in print about the prospects for the Lions in this game came from sports columnist Michael Hunt in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "The Lions could win if (Lions GM) Matt Millen shows up on the sideline and angry fans storm the field and trample Aaron Rodgers in the process." (Yes, it is one of those mysteries of life that Millen is still employed after compiling a pathetic 31-82 record during his tenure as GM. You have to wonder exactly what it is that he's got on the Ford family? But we digress...) Hunt goes on to predict that the Packers will beat the Lions 27-20.

The Packers are favored by 3. Barring injury to Rodgers via trampling, we pick the Packers 27-17 over the Lions.

This should leave the Packers alone atop the NFC North. The ViQueens are host to the Colts in their home opener. One of those teams is going to start the season 0-2 and my guess is that it's not going to be the Colts. Da Bearz play at Carolina; they may have caught Indy off guard last week but don't expect the Panthers to lay an egg in similar fashion.

With all that said, and without looking ahead to next week (wait, doesn't even the mentioning of that mean that we are looking ahead...?), let's just say, Go Pack Go!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Remembering Dave "Hawg" Hanner

It was with sadness that we learned today that one of the all-time great players, coaches and scouts in Packers' history passed away yesterday. Not to mention, of course, that he was also the holder of one of the best nicknames in football. Dave "Hawg" Hanner, a resident of Land O' Lakes, FL, suffered a massive heart attack on Tuesday before succumbing yesterday. He was 78.

Hanner's career with the Packers spanned 44 years. As an article about him in today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel states, "Hanner's career had no equals in Green Bay for his years of service."

Indeed. Hanner played defensive tackle for the Pack from 1952-64. He was named to the Pro Bowl twice. He and the late Henry Jordan were named defensive tackles on the Packer's all-time "modern era team." Hanner was part of the fourth induction class to the Packers Hall of Fame in 1974. Following his playing career, he joined Lombardi's coaching staff. Dan ("Don't shoot my dog!") Devine named Hanner defensive coordinator in 1972 -- the first in club history. He remained coordinator for the next eight years before being fired by then coach Bart Starr after the 1979 season, an event which hurt Hanner deeply. Hanner returned as a scout in 1981, spent the next year in quality control, and finally became a Packers scout for good in 1983. He retired in 1996.

Hanner was a humble man, despite his accomplishments. In an interview just prior to his retirement, he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "I guess I hope people remember me as a damn good player and coach because I worked and gave everything I knew to it. Not the greatest or anything like that, but to the best of my ability. That's all you can ask."

You bet, Dave. You bet. Thanks for being a Packer through and through.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Roller-Citizens Funeral Home in West Memphis, Ark.

You can read more about Dave "Hawg" Hanner here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A few more thoughts on the Pack's Monday night win

A couple random thoughts about the win and more...

The Pack's jury-rigged offensive line did not allow a sack on QB Aaron Rodgers. This, despite the fact that the ViQueens were supposed to have the best defensive line in the league. You know, with the half-ton of Williams' in the middle and the $75-million-man, Jared Allen, on the end. Guess what? Allen never got close to putting his helmet in Rodgers' spine, as Allen said he was looking forward to; Chad Clifton -- despite a couple of false starts -- took care of Allen this year as he did last year when Allen was with KC. Cliffy made Allen a non-factor. The Williams' also weren't much of a problem. In fact, not only did the Packers' O-line not allow a sack on Rodgers, they also were able to generate a 5.4 yards-per-carry average. Granted, a good chunk of that came on the late 57-yard run by Ryan Grant. But still...a very good first effort. Get ready of the penalties...and get Scott Wells back at center (as he is expected to be this week) and this is as solid a line as the Packers' could hope for. A key element of this line has been the ability to rotate players. But special kudos need to go to Jason Spitz, who filled in capably at center for Wells. In this regard, he's picking up right where he left off last year when he started games at all three of the interior line positions. You can read a good article on Spitz here.

Ryan Grant is still bothered by a sore hamstring. Yes, he rushed for 92 yards despite not seeing any action in the preseason. But he was reportedly sore at halftime and was being told by coaches and trainers on the sidelines not to go full speed. No doubt he'll be rehabbing and nursing this for a while. If Brandon Jackson can break off a few runs and ease the load on Grant that would be a help until Grant is fully recovered.

For any fans interested, there are apparently still about 4,000 tickets available for Sunday's game between the Lions and Packers in Detroit. If not sold out by tomorrow afternoon, the game could be blacked out in the Detroit TV market. Apparently, losing to the Atlanta Falcons on the road doesn't give long-suffering Detroit fans much incentive to see them also lose to the Packers in their home opener. In fact, they already seem to be in a win-or-else mode after one game. Check out the Lions' dire straights here.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Packers win! Packers win!! Packers win!!!

The Packers defeated the ViQueens 24-19 in the season opener at Lambeau Field tonight. Aaron Rodgers threw for one TD pass and scored another on a QB sneak. He completed his last 10 passes in a row, and in the process established himself as the person with the second highest completion percentage in NFL history for a QB in his first NFL start, with 81.8 percent.

Key plays on the Packers side were a 56-yard completion to Greg Jennings to set up the first score; a great one-yard TD pass -- yes, there are such things -- from Rodgers to FB Korey Hall; a 76-yard punt return for a TD by Will Blackmon; a 50-something-yard run by Ryan Grant to set up the final TD; and an interception with under a minute to go by Atari Bigby to preserve the win. Key plays on the 'Queens side...who cares.

Rodgers looked very good. He made all the throws: deep, sideline, over the middle, improvised. He also used his legs to scramble for three first downs.

There were a couple of negatives. Actually quite a few on the penalty front. The Pack had 12 for 118 yards, including a costly lineman downfield penalty that negated a beautiful throw and catch by Rodgers and Donald Driver that would have been a 75-yard TD play. There was also a blocked field goal at the end of the first half, which was the result of a questionable coaching decision. With perhaps 20-some seconds remaining, around the 'Queens redzone, and a timeout available, instead of going once or twice to the endzone, Coach McCarthy opted to run the clock down and try the field goal. OK, folks worry about the possible interception. But what about the possible blocked field goal? Which is exactly what happened. Missed opportunity. Another series of questionable calls by McCarthy came as the clock wound down to about the 2 minute mark. He called three straight handoffs. Punt. Fortunately, Bigby and the defense preserved the victory.

The ViQueens have now lost the last five games against the Packers. Ya gots to like it!

More analysis and commentary in the days ahead. For now, enjoy this victory. And, perhaps even more so, be comfortable knowing the new QB can handle the job just fine.

Life is good when you're a Packers fan!

Packers kickoff just minutes away

For the first time since Lynn Dickey in 1983, a quarterback other than Brett Favre will be under center for the Packers on Monday Night Football. That is the historic nature of tonight's game for Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau against the ViQueens.

Those fans attending will have a rather unique memento of the occasion, too: their ticket has the face of ol' #4 staring back at them. Why? You may recall that when Brett decided to retire -- before he decided to unretire -- tonight's game was scheduled to retire his number. Great festivities. Etc. Now...not. Well, of course there will still be the excitement and thrills of the season opener at home. Then throw in the extra buzz that comes with Monday Night Football and it does still warrant our attention. Even without you-know-who who just happened to throw a couple TD passes yesterday in a winning effort for the NY Bretts...er, Jets, sorry.

But, let's get to tonight's game. Center Scott Wells and wide receiver James Jones are both inactive tonight. But A.J. Hawk and KGB are active. Those are probably the biggest names of note for the Packers whose absence or presence could affect the game. RB Ryan Grant will literally see his first carry of this season, having been active for a mere one play in the final preseason game. Don't expect him to carry the ball 20-30 times. Instead, expect to see a fair share of Brandon Jackson. How well the offensive line can open a lane for either back will also then determine to a degree how good a night QB Aaron Rodgers will have. And, as MNF commentator Tony Kornheiser said during a brief on-air interview with WTMJ radio in Milwaukee this afternoon, the pressure on Rodgers just increased exponentially given Favre's performance yesterday. It's bad enough to have to replace a legend, he said; it's even worse when that same guy threw a couple TD's and won the day before.

So...let's go. Packers 17 - Vikings 14.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Packer predictions and more

Even though the NFL season officially kicked off last Thursday night, for most fans it starts today. And for Packer fans, it comes Monday night, when the Pack meets the ViQueens at Lambeau Field and retire Brett Favre's number...no, wait...forgot...that last part was supposed to be on the agenda but, well, things happen as they say. The number retirement thing will have to wait a year or two. Never mind.

So, as we root for Brett's success in that funky Jets uniform beginning today against Miami -- after all, the better he does and the Jets do, the higher the draft pick the Packers receive next year -- we might also want to take a few moments to take a look at what some of the pundits are saying.

Might as well take first things first, which would be tomorrow night's game. Adam Duerson's "Inside the NFL" feature for Sports Illustrated has the Pack vs 'Queens game as the Game of the Week. He has a number of things to watch for in the game. But his bottom line? "I see Rodgers getting tossed around in this one, maybe even handing Minnesota a few defensive points. Add a score for A.P. (Adrian Peterson) and I've got the Vikings winning 14-9."

Admittedly, this game will be a tough one, as most games are these days between the Pack and 'Queens. Minnesota has arguably the best defensive front in the league. And the Packers' O-line is a bit nicked up with center Scott Wells questionable for the game. Factor in that the Pack's #3 receiver, James Jones, is also questionable and the ability of the Pack to use the passing game -- as it did last year against Minnesota -- to open up the run is a big question mark. Throw in the new QB and this will be a challenging opener. If the Packers defense can bottle up Peterson and force 'Queen's QB Tarvaris Jackson to win the game, the home field advantage may do the trick for the Pack.

I'll take the Pack 17-14 in a game that goes down to the wire.

You can read Duerson's SI.com article here.

Season overviews

While we have addressed the first game, there is plenty to be said about the entire season, of course. Most pundits are predicting the ViQueens to come out on top of the NFC North Division. Detroit, as usual, doesn't have much. Da Bearz still suck. Expectations are that, without Favre, the Pack will have a precipitous fall from the top, which basically leaves Minnesota on top by default.

If you care to read one reporter's opinion (again) of how the Packers blew it by letting Favre escape, and how this will affect the Packers fortunes this season, go here.

If you want to enter into a whole section of articles about virtually every aspect of the Packers -- beginning with Rodgers, to the defense, to the running game, etc. -- go here, and then check out the links in the righthand column for the individual stories of interest.

In particular, be sure to check out Bob McGinn's article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Rating the 2008 Packers." McGinn is the Journal-Sentinel's longtime Packers beat reporter. He conducted the interview with Coach McCarthy linked to in yesterday's post. He's been around awhile and is well respected for his observations and insights. That's why it's a bit disturbing to have McGinn rate the Packers as having anywhere from a 4 to 8 game drop off in wins versus a season ago (in an article available in the print edition of the paper and the subscription-only Packers Insider online edition...if you are really quick on your browser stop/refresh buttons you may be able to see the entire article here before you get the "pay up" screen if you are not a subscriber).

In fact, in looking at all the Journal-Sentinel's sportswriters' predictions, McGinn is the most pessimistic, giving the Packers a 6-10 final record. Two of the others give the Pack a 10-6 final record and the remaining two give the Pack an 11-5 record.

PackerFansUnited.com season prediction
In looking at the Packers' schedule, I have to concur with those who are giving the Pack a final 10-6 record. There will be perhaps two games the Packers loose that they should have won. Conversely, there will be two games the Pack shouldn't win that they do. So those games are a wash. They will win the series with both Da Bearz and the Lions. There's four wins. I think they will split with the ViQueens, that's five wins. They beat Atlanta and Tennessee...we're up to seven wins. Ditto for the Saints and Texans. There's nine wins. Take your pick for (at least) one more against Tampa Bay, Seattle, Carolina or Jacksonville.

Packers. 10-6. Playoffs. Whether as division champ -- if they can pull off a sweep of the 'Queens -- or as a wild card team remains to be seen.

As always, a lot depends upon injuries. The Pack goes in to the opener a bit banged up. But if key players can stay healthy, our prediction is a good one. On the other hand, a lot of this depends upon whether new starting QB Aaron Rodgers can stay healthy and play in all 16 games. If he goes down early -- or often -- McGinn's 8-game drop off from last year could come into play quite easily. But it's the start of the season and we're thinking nothing but positives here.

Go Pack Go!!!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

A moment with McCarthy

As the Packers head into their season opener Monday night at Lambeau Field against the ViQueens, Head Coach Mike McCarthy had a one-on-one interview with Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Packers reporter, Bob McGinn.

It's worth a read. It covers a lot of territory that Packer fans will be interested in. Check it out here.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Center Scott Wells doubtful for opener

Just when you thought it was safe to have a solid starting offensive line geared up for Monday night's opener against the ViQueens...bam! (to quote Emeril). Not so fast. Seems as if center Scott Wells' lower back muscle injury reared its ugly head again. After being held out of practice for 16 days and seeing a specialist recently, it turns out the back is still causing problems. Wells says he can deal with the pain but, as he says in this article, "it’s just sometimes when you have back pain you get weak in your legs and so on and so forth. So that’s the whole thing we’re trying to avoid.” Yeah, weak legs on the center would not be a good thing.

So, if Wells is unable to go Monday night, the lineup that started against the Titans in the last preseason game would be called upon again: LT Chad Clifton, LG Daryn Colledge, C Jason Spitz, RG Tony Moll and RT Mark Tauscher. Pretty darn good, usually, thanks in no small measure to the Packers' penchant for shuffling players at multiple positions. If Spitz gets injured, Colledge would be next at center. Still, given that the 'Queens D-line is one of the best in the league, it would be best if Wells could play, but only if he is at 100 percent.

So, start saying those novenas for healing, Packer fans. We could use a fully healthy O-line going into the opener. A number of other players are also sore in various places, so maybe make it a blanket type thing. And, of course, be sure to ask for special intercessionary help from St. Vince.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Packers punt Ryan, name Flynn #2 QB

News came late yesterday that the Packers released their punter of a couple years, Jon Ryan, and replaced him with former Redskins' punter, Derrick Frost. This was one of those possibilities that seemed to fly under the radar most of training camp. Ryan had a poor opening preseason game against Cincinnati, but boomed his way back to a 54.8 yards per punt average in the last two games.

Apparently, though, it was this inconsistency issue that doomed Ryan's stay with the Packers. There has never been a question about his leg strength. But, to paraphrase Forrest Gump, Ryan's punting was like a box of chocolates: you never knew what you're going to get.

The same, it would seem, could also be said about Frost, however. According to an article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Last season, Frost started like gangbusters, averaging 45.9 yards per punt in the first three games, but his season gradually went south, starting with a poor performance against the Packers Oct. 14. He went from fourth in the league in gross average and seventh in net after three games to 28th and 16th after seven weeks." The article continued with the comparative stats: Ryan ranked ninth in gross average (44.4) and 11th in net (37.6) while Frost was 28th (41.0) in gross and 22nd in net (36.4).

So, why the move? Apparently, like many jobs, it's who you know. In this case, Packers' special teams coach, Mike Stock, had coached at Washington when Frost was first trying to land a position as an undrafted free agent. He liked Frost then. In fact, according to the above-mentioned article, "When Stock was special teams coach in Washington, he tried to get Frost to sign as an undrafted rookie, but Frost wound up signing with Philadelphia. Later, Frost attended a tryout camp for NFL Europa where he worked with Stock. 'If it makes any sense, Mike Stock is the special teams coach I know the most and haven’t played for,' Frost said."

Stock was apparently able to convince GM Ted Thompson that Frost was a safer pick to go forward with than Ryan.

Frost will also take over the holding duties on field goals and extra points from Ryan. He held for kickers all four of his seasons in the NFL and also in college at Northern Iowa.

Given that the Packers also now have a new long snapper, Brett Goode, and Frost as the new holder, and less than a week to get in sync with kicker Mason Crosby, things could be quite an adventure for the kicking game early on. Expect opposing special teams units to test things with additional pressure.

Not a situation one would have hoped for less than a week before the regular season kickoff.

Flynn named #2 QB
Not too surprisingly based upon performances in the preseason, seventh-round pick Matt Flynn was named yesterday by Coach Mike McCarthy as the immediate backup to starting QB Aaron Rodgers. He beat out the more highly regarded Brian Brohm.

According to a report in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Coach McCarthy said, “We just felt Matt was a little more productive than Brian in the preseason. But it’s a competition that will continue. Matt has to hold the spot, and Brian will have an opportunity to get the spot back. Competition is healthy. They’re both young. I’ve said it all along, they just need to play; they just need reps.” But, as the article points out, most of Brohm's reps now will come with the scout team while the few backup QB snaps with the first team offense will go to Flynn.

It was clear to those watching the preseason games that -- barring the Pack picking up a veteran QB to back up Rodgers -- Flynn should have the job. Particularly in the last game against the Titans, leading an excellent two-minute drive that brought the Pack within a 2-point conversion of tying the game, Flynn reminded at least a few fans of another young gun once upon a time. What was that guy's name? Oh, yeah...Brett Favre.

Congrats, Mr. Flynn. And, Mr. Brohm...keep on keepin' on. Many Packer fans thought you were a steal in the draft. You didn't perform up to even your own expectations so far. But that's so far. There are many miles to go...

Monday, September 01, 2008

Packers snap up snapper

OK, it's a bit of a trite headline, but sans the morning cuppa java...well, anyway...

Who would have thought that one of the biggest pieces of news coming out of the weekend's roster moves would be the naming of a long snapper? But that's what happened after J.J. Jansen was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury sustained Thursday night against the Titans. The prevailing wisdom was that the Pack would put in a waiver claim on Thomas Gafford who had been in two Packers' training camps and had been released by the Bears. Instead, for the first time in his tenure as the Packers’ GM, Ted Thompson didn't put in a waiver claim on any player released by another team.

As noted in a post here yesterday and reported widely in the media, the Packers were holding a three-way tryout for snapper. And the winner? Brett Goode. He won a snap-off (copyright!!!) against Tim Bugg and Ryan Senser. According to the online edition of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Goode was a four-year letterman at Arkansas, where he snapped on punts for four years and placements his final three. Goode was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2007 and lasted until Aug. 21. He was signed by the Jaguars again in the spring but was released June 19." He is 6 feet 1 inch tall and claims he weighed in at 260.

What was he doing since being released by the Jags? Remember in yesterday's post that I suggested if you happened to be driving near Green Bay you might want to just stop in and try out? Well, it wasn't quite like that. But not far from it. Goode is quoted as follows in the Journal-Sentinel article: "We were forming up a driveway, getting ready to pour concrete and my agent called and said they were wanting to bring me in for a workout,” Brett Goode said Sunday night. “It wasn’t too hard of a decision to quit doing that. Just headed on the way.” So, he was pouring concrete. A noble profession indeed...where would we be without it after all? But, when given the chance to snap a football in Green Bay or pour concrete in Arkansas, what would you do? Exactly.

So, Mr. Goode has until next Monday night to work with placekicker Mason Crosby and punter Jon Ryan, who had previously had four months working with J.J. Jansen. Let's hope -- get ready for the mundane cliche! -- that Goode is in fact good. We'd all hate to see the season opener with the ViQueens come down to how a long snap is handled.

The flip side of this roster addition, of course, is that somebody on the existing squad has got to go. Among the "bubble" players that could be released to make room for Goode are said to be LB Tracy White, S Charlie Peprah, OT Breno Giacomini or CB Jarrett Bush.