Sunday, September 27, 2009

Final: Packers 36 - Rams 17

The 4th quarter began with a TD follow up to one of those long pass plays mentioned in my last post. Sure 'nuff, that was the key today. QB Aaron Rodgers scored on about a 6-yard QB draw play to put the Pack up 29-17 early in the quarter. K Mason Crosby, who had a PAT partially blocked earlier in the game, wound up shanking this PAT.

The Pack's final TD was set up on an interception by Charles Woodson on the Rams side of the field. A few plays later, Rodgers hit FB John Kuhn on a short pass play who wound up running it in for the score. Crosby made the PAT. (Guess that needs to be said given the prior miss.)

This was one of those games the Packers really should have won, needed to win...and did.

There still are plenty of things to work on: the running game, stopping the running game, dropped passes, penalties...there's a long way to go. Including, for the second week in a row, really not getting much pressure on the opposing quarterback. But being able to build off the positives from this game -- and there were some -- going into Minnesota for the the Monday night game on October 5, is sure a lot sweeter than the alternative. Especially, too, with the ViQueens having a hard time in their home opener against San Francisco, winning in the last seconds 27-24.

The Packers are 2-1; the ViQueens are 3-0.

See ya in eight days, Mr. Favre.

End of 3rd quarter: Packers 23 - Rams 17

The only scoring in the 3rd quarter was a field goal by the Rams.

The Pack had scored on each of its 5 possessions in the first half; in its 3 full possessions of the 3rd quarter, nada...had to punt the ball away each time. Rodgers had a few balls which he overthrew and receivers, again, had some drops.

The running game, still, blah. The Pack's ability to stop the run, again, weak.

The game should not be this close. Give the Rams credit. They lost their starting QB and a defensive back early in the game and they're only a TD down going into the last quarter.

The Pack's big scores of the day have occurred after long pass plays. Seems like that will have to be the way again. It will be closer than Packers fans will like. But the Pack should be able to put up a "W", barring turnovers or giving up a big play.

Halftime: Packers 23 - Rams 14

The second quarter had a few penalties for the Pack, including a needless 15-yard face mask penalty on Charles Woodson which helped the Rams in their TD drive. The Packers running game is still stuck in neutral, although the first TD of the game came on 1-yard run by fullback John Kuhn. The passing game turned it up a notch, with a long pass and great one-handed catch by Donald Driver early in the quarter to help set up the first TD, and later on a 50-yard pass play from Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings. Not long after came a 21-yard TD pass to Donald Driver.

The Packers defense, sadly, allowed the Rams to march about 80 yards down the field in the last minute or so. They had one shot at the endzone with about 8 seconds left and got it on a TD pass, despite the Packers dropping 8 men into coverage. Unexcusable. And Coach Mike McCarthy did not look happy on the sidelines. Rightly so.

Packers 23 - Rams 14 at half. The Rams have scored twice the number of touchdowns in the first half as they did their entire two first games.

The Pack should be able to get this win. But they still are suspect on a number of fronts.

End of 1st quarter: Packers 9 - Rams 0

The story of the 1st quarter is missed opportunities for the Packers. Three possessions on the Rams side of the field, with two turnover recoveries near the Rams red zone, and all the Pack can came up with is three field goals. Better than nothing. But the running game is again anemic, leaving 2nd and 3rd and long, forcing the Packers to go to the passing game constantly. There have already be two sacks by Leonard Little. Aaron Rodgers overthrew a wide open Donald Driver in the endzone which would have put the Pack up 10-0. Not.

For the Rams, starting QB Marc Bulger was knocked out of the game with an injury to his right shoulder, which resulted in one of the turnovers deep in the Rams' own end of the field. Kyle Boller is on in relief.

Still seeing the disturbing trends of the first two games. The Packers could have already put this game out of reach. As it stands...not.

Packers - Rams preview

Pack beats Da Bearz at Lambeau. 1-0. Packers lose to the Bengals -- the Bengals! -- at Lambeau. 1-1.


Packers on the road in St. Louis to play the Rams in their season home opener. A not very good team. That would be the Rams, just to clarify. Of course, the same thing was said last week when the Pack was facing the Bengals. Look at how that worked out.

So, we're back to once again being in the position of not knowing which team will actually show up. We have yet to see the team that was unstoppable in the preseason. Instead, we have seen penalties, sacks and knock-downs, dropped passes, and an inconsistent defensive run-stopping ability. Still, the Packers are favored by 6-1/2 points. Last week the Pack was favored by 9. So at least to this point, let's not put much stock in these spreads, shall we?

If the Packers defense does no better stopping the run today than they did against Cedric Benson -- Cedric Benson! -- RB Steven Jackson could rush for 200 yards. Despite their other offensive woes, scoring only one TD in its first two games, the Rams running back situation is not one of them. The Packers "D" has to stop Jackson or it will be another long day. If the Packers can get up early, say by 14 or more points, they can effectively remove Jackson from the Rams' game plan. That would be to the Packers great advantage, obviously.

On defense, the Bengals showed the rest of the league how to mess with the Pack. The Rams don't have much, but if they are able to get pressure early -- particularly from DE Leonard Little -- it could bode ill for the Pack. The Packers have to find a way to protect Aaron Rodgers. That means Mike McCarthy, as he has admitted, also has to make more of commitment to the run to keep the defense from loading up on a pass rush every play.

So the Pack is favored by 6-1/2. While this could be a trap game for the Pack, are they really going to want to go into the Hump Dome next Monday night on a two-game losing streak against teams they should have beaten? Nope. Not goin' to happen.

Let's go with the Pack -- shocking, I know -- 27-13 over the Rams.

Go Pack Go!!!

Raji good to go today
Word is out that NT B. J. Raji is active today, so he'll get his first NFL regular season play. Also active today is rookie free agent G/C Evan Dietrich-Smith, which obviously gives an indication that the Packers have concerns about their offensive line depth. Getting the start at safety today will be Derrick Martin, a late trade pick up with Baltimore. Nick Collins will also play despite his injury from last week.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Accountability -- what a concept!

Apparently, the notion of actually being accountable for one's performance as a member of the Green Bay Packers hasn't entirely kicked in with some members of (again) the NFL's youngest team.

But if the release of third-year player Aaron Rouse yesterday doesn't get somebody's attention, well, then perhaps it's time for coaches and players to start being a bit more vocal about this matter. And, according to a report in today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, that has seemingly begun. Check out the article for yourself here.

As the article points out, the Pack hasn't exactly been a bastion of accountability in recent years. As fans well know, and have shouted at the TV probably on more than one occasion, Vince Lombardi would have never abided with some of the antics and level of play that goes on. Players that crossed Lombardi's level of professionalism would find themselves gone...immediately. Of course, as the article points out, it's a different time. Too bad. Lombardi's name is on that Super Bowl trophy for a reason. And a lot of it had to do with him knowing what to put up with from his players and what not to.

Perhaps Packers coaches and management might want to ponder this past as they work on the future.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rouse cut, Giordano picked up

The Packers' defensive backfield situation, from the preseason on, has been getting dicier and dicier, particularly at safety. Atari Bigby is out for probably a month with the knee injury he sustained in the game versus Da Bearz. Nick Collins sustained an unspecified chest injury in the loss to the Bengals, but did practice today. Aaron Rouse, the third-year player whom the Packers kept over Anthony Smith and who started Sunday's game in place of Bigby, was cut by the Packers today. According to the Packers official website, "His roster spot was filled by free-agent safety Matt Giordano, who spent his first four seasons in the NFL (2005-08) with Indianapolis before being released just prior to the start of the regular season." The Packers had earlier this month picked up safety Derrick Martin in a trade with the Baltimore after cutting Anthony Smith in the last roster cutdown.

A portion of Packers-related talk radio late today was reiterating the fact that Ted Thompson took a chance on Rouse when he drafted him and the team seems to have been disappointed with his ongoing lack of development and consistency. The team was intrigued with his size and potential. Didn't pan out. According to coach Mike McCarthy, "In our conversation with (Aaron) I just felt that his ability to be consistent and the growth part of it is one of the reasons that we made the change," McCarthy said. "But there are other factors involved based on availability, without getting into all of that. That's really the landscape of personnel in the National Football League, timing and things like that, special teams. That was all part of our decision."

It's unclear whether Collins will play Sunday. According to the Packers website, "If Collins can't play, Martin and Bush are expected to get their first starts with the Packers at safety with Giordano as the backup. If Collins can go, either Martin or Bush would start next to him with the other as the top backup, and McCarthy said Wednesday that the week of practice will help the coaches make that decision."

It's not time to panic. Yet. But certainly there are beginning to be real areas of concern about this team. Injuries can sap a team's depth and potential. But also betting on the wrong players for too long can have long-lasting effects. Not saying we're there. Just...well...ya know...

Favre opens mouth, inserts foot...again
A report at says that Ol' #4 today defended the problems he created for the Jets recently talking about his injury status by now saying the same situation applied with the Packers. "I can't tell you how many times I probably should have been on the injury report and was not," Favre said.

As several readers of that story said in their online comments, doesn't Brett know when to just be quiet? Guess not. Bottom line seems to be that the NFL is expressing no interest in checking out the Pack on this allegation. Maybe the league, like most Packer fans, already figures Brett has stuck it to the Packers enough already.

Anyway, if you care to get more on this story, check out the article for yourself here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The morning after

It's now the morning after the Packers' surprise loss at home to the Cincinnati Bengals, the 9-point underdogs who wound up beating the Pack by 7. And rather than having a better sense where the team is going into Game #3 of the season, Packer fans really don't have much to rely on. When every phase of the game graded out at a "D" level, it's not a matter of fixing one or two things.

For the third straight year, the offensive line is off to a slow start. This, despite this summer naming the starters well in advance of the regular season to try to establish the continuity that wasn't there before. So much for that idea. And now, add in a serious ankle sprain (X-rays were negative) on left tack Chad Clifton and the Pack once again has a line in flux. If anything, it seems to have regressed. Last season, if memory serves (don't count on it), QB Aaron Rodgers was sacked roughly 34 times. In the first two games of this season, he's already been sacked 10 times. That doesn't even count the knock-downs, rushes, etc. that Rodgers has also been subjected to early in this season.

Of course, to be honest, a few of those problems are Rodgers' own doing. For whatever reason, he seems to be hanging onto the ball far too long and taking a sack or hit when he should just be throwing it away. That's something he did earlier in his career as a backup. But after a full year as a starter, he should know better. Trying to do too much, perhaps. Get over it, Aaron: get rid of the dang ball!!!

Aside from the offensive line's pass protection woes, they also aren't showing any ability to open running lanes. Ryan Grant still doesn't garner great respect around the league or among many Packers fans for that matter. Still, over the last several years there's only been a handful of running backs that have performed better. But ill-timed fumbles, like yesterday, leading to go-ahead touchdowns for the opposition will not do much to calm the naysayers. The fact is that for the first two weeks the running game has consisted of just Grant and DeShawn Wynn -- Brandon Jackson has been inactive because of his nagging ankle injury -- and certainly hasn't created much punch. Rather underwhelming, really. Just allows the opposing defense to come all out on the pass rush and continue to batter Rodgers.

The receiving corps? Again, inconsistent. A couple early drops really set the tone for the rest of the game. Greg Jennings, for the first time in his 4-year career, was shut out without a catch yesterday.

On the defensive side of the ball, we knew that the 3-4 would not be a challenge for Cincy since they see it a good deal in their division and conference. But the absolute inability to stop the run -- I mean, we're talking Cedric Benson here, kids -- was inexcusable. Ditto getting pressure on Carson Palmer. Didn't happen much. Then take out Nick Collins with a shoulder injury and replace him with Jarrett Bush, and with Aaron Rouse already replacing the injured Atari Bigby, the defense may not be able to run all the things that Dom Capers would like.

As for special teams, they weren't. K Mason Crosby missed an early 55-yarder. Punt coverage was deplorable. Penalties also helped Cincy to gain the field advantage position most of the afternoon.

Again, plenty of blame to go around. If the players and coaches don't get things turned around this week they could find themselves losing to the 0-2 Rams in St. Louis this next weekend. And if that happens, all bets are off as to how the season goes as it will show that the team's preseason performance was just a mirage. The team can either go into Minnesota on Oct. 5 at 1-2 or 2-1. Sad to think that at the start of the season the consensus seemed to be the Pack would be heading to the HumpDome at 3-0 with the division lead on the line.

I know: this is why they play the games. Someone might want to share that news flash with the team.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Final: Packers 24 - Bengals 31

Pain and misery fill the air.

I'm guessing when everyone was looking at the schedule and making their season record projections that a loss to the Bengals in Game #2 wasn't one they were counting in the loss column. But that's how things wound up today.

The Packers were flat on offense and defense. On defense, they had no answer for stopping RB Cedric Benson who, like most folks, came to life by getting out of Chicago. He ran for 141 yards. On offense, the Packers had no answer for DE Antwan Odom, who tied the Cincinnati record for most sacks in a game with five. The not-very-good Bengals offensive line was better than the Packers D-line on this day. And the Packers offense was stuck in neutral. For the second week in a row, yhey couldn't get any running game going, which made the passing game key, which allowed Cincy's defense to tee off on QB Aaron Rodgers. (Remember how the running game was a point of emphasis, supposedly, during the preseason? And who was their leading rusher? Oh yeah, Tyrell Sutton...whom they cut. OKaaaaay...)

Ryan Grant gave a up key fumble on a Packers drive after a short pass completion. That turnover eventually led to the Bengals go-ahead TD. They added a late field goal to make the margin 10 points. The Pack wound up kicking a field goal on 2nd down with about 50 seconds to go to then set up an onside kick and have one last shot at tying things up. Tramon Williams recovered the onside kick with 43 seconds remaining to give the Packers one last blast of hope. But that's all it was. Without any timeouts, the Packers were able to get it down to about the 10-yard line with only a few seconds to go. Even the TV game announcers said that the refs didn't seem to be in any hurry to spot the ball and then said the clock ran out before they could get a snap off (which replays showed was incorrect), although even if they had there was a motion penalty on the offense which would have negated any remaining time anyway. Nice try but no cigar, as the saying goes. No win either.

The Packers lost left tackle Chad Clifton early in the 3rd quarter with an ankle injury; no word on the seriousness of the injury, but he was taken off on a cart. Daryn Colledge, already nursing a sore ankle, slid over from his left guard spot and got beat as bad on that side as Allen Barbre did on the right side last week.

To say this game is a disappointment is an understatement. Discombobulated on both sides of the ball -- and special teams, which gave up two big punt returns -- the Pack have their work cut out for them this week before heading into next week's game at St. Louis. Which was another of those games we thought should add to a 3-0 start to the season. After today's game, hmmmm...

Halftime: Packers 21 - Bengals 21

Flat. Sloppy. Penalties. Turnovers. Big plays. Close game.

How's that for a summary of the first half. The Packers, despite scoring 21 points, have frankly had that flat look we have often seen over the years after a big emotional win such as that against Da Bearz last Sunday night.

The defense, for the most part, doesn't seem to have the energy. With 3rd and 34 -- yes, 34 yards to go -- from near the Bengals endzone, the Bengals got a first down late in the half (albeit including a forward fumble they recovered). A few plays later, courtesy of a long pass play and a same-play roughing the QB penalty, the Bengals were handed a chance to tie the game just before half, which they proceeded to do. To be fair, the defense -- thanks to Charles Woodson -- got two INTs, one of which Woodson returned for a touchdown.

And the Packers offense has also been sloppy including, like last week, a few key dropped passes early and late in the half. Poor concentration. Which also showed itself in the penalties which have also been in abundance.

I said in my preview that if the Packers could survive the Bengals initial onslaught they would win the game. I stick with that. But the onslaught has lasted longer than expected. Didn't think it would go the entire first half.

But the game is back to all square. Yes, there was the outside chance of the Pack going in ahead by 3 if K Mason Crosby had made his last second 55-yard field goal attempt; but nope...wide left. So, whichever of the two teams makes the best adjustments at halftime will emerge the winner. I'd expect coach McCarthy to kick a little butt at halftime. The Pack is not playing anywhere near what they are capable of, on any side of the ball.

Cincy is a good team and they could pull this game out. But I'm betting the Pack will get their act together in the second half. The game will be closer than earlier expected. But the Pack will win.

One of the downsides to the first half is the possible loss for the rest of the game of S Nick Collins, who left with a shoulder injury. He was replaced by Jarrett Bush (gulp).

Packers - Bengals preview

Yesterday we had the pre-preview for the Pack vs. the Bengals. Well, Packer fans, as it turned out, that was pretty much the preview. So not much to add with only about an hour to go before kickoff. Except that B. J. Raji is again on the game day inactive list. Even though he practiced this last week, the game day decision is to let that sprained ankle continue to heal a bit. He wasn't missed last week and shouldn't be this week either.

The Pack is still favored by 9. My guess is the Bengals will come out fired up, holding a grudge from that typical Bengals-style loss to the Broncos last weekend. If the Pack can hold off that initial surge of attitude, which they will, it should be a solid win for the Pack. The Packers offensive line will not have a repeat of last week. Aaron Rodgers will have time to hit his receivers. And we should once again see the offense which we saw most of the preseason. The Packers defense will handle a weak Bengals offensive line and cause QB Carson Palmer all sorts of problems. RB Cedric Benson will reprise his years with Da Bearz. And WR Chad Ocho-etc. will not be making it into the stands.

So, my pick for today is the Packers 27 - Bengals 14.

Go Pack Go!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Packers - Bengals pre-preview

After a week's worth of blissing out over the Pack's win versus Da Bearz, finally getting around to taking a look at the upcoming game with that team from The Queen City, the Bengals. (BTW, do you know that there are a heckuva lot of cities in the U.S. that use this same nickname? And do we really want to know why it has that nickname? I think not...moving along...) There will be more in the actual game preview. But as the headline says, this is the pre-preview. So, let's get on with the pre-, shall we?

For starters, the Packers are currently installed as 9 point favorites. That sounds about right. Not ready to predict a score yet, but we're comfortable with that spread.

One of the things to keep in mind is that the Bengals will not be in awe of the 3-4 defense. They see it frequently. And done well. Particularly from that team in Pittsburgh wearing the Super Bowl rings from last season. So Cincy QB Carson Palmer won't be flinging passes around like the deer-in-the-headlights Jay Cutler, although he did toss 2 INTs in last weekend's heartbreaking loss to the Broncos. The problem Palmer will have, however, is his offensive line just isn't very good. Hence, if the Pack's front 3 can enable the linebacking corps to do their slash 'n' grab job, Palmer could be under pressure a good part of the afternoon. And that can make all sorts of things happen. The Bengals do have a running back in a supposedly rejuvenated Cedric Benson. Granted, getting out of Chicago would rejuvenate anybody. Apparently, even a draft pick bust. And, let's not forget Cincy's Mr. Goodtime receiver, Chad Ochocinco. He gives Palmer that downfield threat. Don't be surprised if they try to exploit safety Aaron Rouse, this week's starter by virtue of the sprained knee to Atari Bigby who will be out at least a month.

Oh, one other thing about Ochocinco, especially for those Packer fans who will be sitting in the endzone seats...especially in the first rows: Mr. Ocho-etc. said this week that if he scores a TD at Lambeau he will be doing a Lambeau leap. Now, the general sense from most of the sports folks about this is that Ocho-etc. doesn't plan to do this out of any maliciousness, such as a Terrell Owens or Randy Moss might. Rather, Ocho-etc. just wants to have some fun. And apparently won't mind if a lot of beer is dumped on him. So, in the event that Ocho-etc. does happen to make it to the endzone, firstly, do not let him even get up on the wall and, secondly, let him enjoy what might have been by virtue of a beer baptism. Again, since he apparently is doing it good-naturedly, Packer fans should oblige in kind...just havin' fun. But the best alternative of all, of course, is for the defense to just shut him out of the endzone altogether.

For the Packers, the obvious area of improvement over last week has to be on the offensive line. It was apparent to one and all, especially the coaches and players, that a repeat performance would likely land their starting QB on the barely-able-to-stand list. While all the line members had problems last week, new starting right tackle Allen Barbre was the focal point of discussion. He will get the start once again. But if he struggles, things might get interesting. Last week, backup right tackle Breno Giacomini was on the game day inactive list. If he is active this week, that might mean a short leash for Barbre. Barbre did pick up his play in the second half against Da Bearz. Let's hope he continues that upgrade this week.

Guard Daryn Colledge is supposed to play this weekend despite a sprained ankle. Will have to keep an eye on that as the game progresses. The other sprained ankle of note, that of rookie NT B. J. Raji, is also supposed to be good to go this weekend. Look for Raji to get his first NFL regular season play, although it will no doubt be limited to avoid aggravating the injury.

Kicker Mason Crosby pulled an abdominal muscle lifting weights early in the week and didn't kick for a day or two, but he'll be good to go Sunday. WR Greg Jennings had a wrist injury and also was limited in practice this week. Good news was that CB and returner Will Blackmon returned to full practice and will resume his duties as the primary punt and kick returner.'s that for a pre-preview? Good enough until game day.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Packers Monday

There's nothing better than a Packers win. Especially when it comes over Da Bearz. But the day after is pretty sweet, too. There is a sense that, yes, the universe is still in order. Packers win. Da Bearz lose. Yep...that sounds about right.

But of course, there are things that need to be worked on coming out of every game. And in this one, we learned that new starting right tackle, Allen Barbre, was getting taken to the cleaners for a a good part of the game and was directly responsible for probably at least three of the sacks or hits Da Bearz got on QB Aaron Rodgers. That was especially true in the first half where he looked like he was walking in cement. Supposedly, he is supposed to be one of the most athletic linemen the Packers have. OK. And, perhaps, just chalk it up to a bad game. Every player has them. Wayne Larrivee, the radio voice of the Packers, said this morning on a radio interview that even the great Jerry Kramer had a horrible opening game one season against Alex Karras of the Lions. Now, there's no comparison -- at least yet -- between Barbre and Kramer. But the point is well taken. Coach Mike McCarthy said that Barbre didn't have a good game, but improved in the second half. And, McCarthy was quick to add, Barbre wasn't the only offensive linemen that didn't have a good game. That was evidenced by the way Da Bearz were able to get to Rodgers throughout the game, throwing off his rhythm, as well as by the fact that the Packers running game was pretty nonexistent, too. Granted, Da Bearz always bring their best defensive play against the Pack. But, you can bet that that offensive line will be getting some extra work this week. Rodgers won't make it through 16 games if he keeps getting pounded like last night.

Along those lines, and as any number of Wisconsin sports pundits were saying last evening and today, and many callers to sports shows also mentioned, there sure is a lot of hope that former long-time starter and free agent Mark Tauscher's rehab continues to go well...just in case.

The worst injury that we know of coming out of last night's game, at least so far, is perhaps a sprained knee on Atari Bigby. Reports were he was being evaluated today.

Da Bearz, on the other hand, were not so fortunate. A few of their players left the game last night. But the biggest news emerging today was that LB Brian Urlacher dislocated his wrist, was reportedly having surgery on it today, and would be lost for the season. Ouch. That certainly deals a blow to the heart of Da Bearz defense. Some sports folks even speculate that that effectively now ends any hopes of contending that Da Bearz may have had for this season. I think it's far too early to make that claim. Even if you kinda like the ring of it all.

Pack Must Cherish This Win

Tough wins like this will lead to character development of this Packer team. I am very happy about the outcome and the learnings that can come from this game. They will have to realize that they are in a very difficult battle in the division this year.

Rodgers now remembers what it is like to be hit, hit often, and hit hard. I can not imagine a game in which it will be worse, though future Bear and Vikings games will likely be as tough.

Observations: running game was average - there is ample room and real potential for improvement; Donald Driver will not drop more than one pass in a game from here on out, and in most games he will have none; Rodgers needs to learn to escape to his left on occasion - he has a clear tendency to his right; Bears' players should be fined for Urlacher hit on Rodgers early in game and others for the hit on Rodgers during last drive; Barbre can only get better; O-line needs to do a pride-check regarding pass protection; McCarthy did not game plan Chicago's zone pass defense well-enough - he needs to prepare for new schemes that opponents will develop to stop the offense; Back Judge (or, whichever official) who threw the flag on Harris ought to be fined!; Woodson should be confident and not cocky - I think "cocky" cost him on Knox and Hester long plays; Collins needs to learn what it takes to stay hydrated - this is "professional" football and physical preparation like hydration is key.

Let's hope the Packers have fake field goal and punt plays that do not rely upon the center to make the call! I can't wait to hear the full explanation on the Bears call. There is no way the center should be allowed to make that call, for us!

Finally, as Packrphan likes to repeat, and is known to have chanted as far away as the Superdome in New Orleans after a Packer win against the Saints: "The Bears still suck!" (Inebriated Saints fans, and sober as well, did not understand the timing of this chant within the bowels of their stadium. But, Packrphan clearly explained to the uneducated that "the Bears suck, always and everywhere!)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Final: Packers 21 - Da Bearz 15

As Jerry Seinfeld might, say, "Ohhhhhhhhhh....that's a shame."

Da Bearz. So close. And yet, so far. As in Jay Cutler tossing 4 interceptions, a career high. (As Jay Leno said on air at halftime, the Packers had a great quarterback playing for them...pause, wait for it...Jay Cutler!) And as in a fake punt play that was ultimately a giveaway of points to the Packers, leaving the announcers mystified and even Bearz fans wondering, "What the (insert expletive here) was that?!"

Yes, the Pack got hosed on few calls by the refs, including the critical illegal use of hands call on Al Harris which led to Da Bearz being able to keep a drive going and leading to their last score.

It was, as expected in the Black 'n' Blue Division, a very physical game. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers took more than his share of hits during the game due to some major blocking breakdowns by his line. But when the game was on the line, he connected big time with Greg Jennings for the winning touchdown with just over one minute to go. And then, the Packers defense came up big again, with Al Harris making up for that earlier penalty to award Cutler his fourth pick of the night.

Final score: Packers 21, Da Bearz 15.

One other thing I know coming out of this game -- and Packer fans in the Wisconsin-Illinois border area will be well aware of this -- is that listening to the Chicago sports call in shows tonight and tomorrow will be a pure joy. There are no fans on the planet that turn faster on their hometown team than Chicago fans. But I can save myself all that time because I already heard most of the complaints that Bearz fans will be spouting courtesy of my good friend, Billy Da Bearz Fan, after tonight's game. Starting with, "Cutler sucks!". And it just gets better from there. Use your imagination.

More game review and analysis tomorrow. For tonight, just know that the last time the Packers opened the season with a victory against Da Bearz was 1997. Oh, and the Pack went to the Super Bowl that year, too. Good omen? Good start anyway. And we'll definitely take it. Border bragging rights until at least the December game in Chicago.

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

It's halftime and Da Bearz still suck

We know a couple things after the first half of tonight's Packers - Da Bearz game. One, Jay Cutler is ... Oh, who cares? The other is, of course, that Da Bearz still suck.

Beyond these, the Pack leads 10-2.

Cutler threw 3 interceptions in the half and is making my buddy, Billy Da Bearz Fan, yearn for the days of Kyle Orton.

Other than a safety, the Pack has kept Da Bearz off the board. I'm sticking with my prediction. It's a hard fought game. But there's no reason the Pack should lose this game. The Packers defense is playing at a high level. The Pack offense is still misfiring a bit.

This is only the third game in NFL history to be 10-2 at halftime.

Packers - Bears Preview

Actually, this won't be much of a "preview," folks. Kinda put that one out there on Thursday. As in "Packers get ready to tear Da Bearz a new one." Pretty well sums it up, don't you think?

And, as with many things in life, sometimes less is more. As with this particular post.

My friend, Billy Da Bearz Fan, (yes, I do associate from time to time with those less fortunate football fans amongst us), predicts Da Bearz over the Packers, 38-34. "Stick that in your pipe and smoke it," he said this morning. Of course, after that kind of a prediction one might well wonder what he's smokin'. But we won't go there. At least...for the time being...

The prediction that matters is what this prognosticator is ready to predict. The current line on this game is Packers by 4. My prediction is Packers over Da Bearz (like that would actually be in doubt) by a final score of 27-17.

Da Bearz secondary is really more of a tertiary. Cutler can make plays. For both Da Bearz and the Packers. He's a wingnut like Ol' #4: he trusts his arm to make every play and that can add up to interceptions. If the Pack can keep Da Bearz special teams in check, this game should not be in doubt.

Bank on it. Pack 27 - Da Bearz 17.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pack gets ready to tear Da Bearz a new one you think that headline is too over the top?


This is Packers-Bearz, baby! The greatest rivalry in football. Yeah, I know, the Pack vs. ViQueens thing has come on in recent years -- and has always been there for the Wisconsin-Minnesota border folks -- but really, there's nothing better than the epic clashes between the Packers and Da Bearz. Regardless of their respective records, the two games played each season take on an almost other-worldly aura.

With the season opener coming up Sunday night at Lambeau Field as the major primetime game, and based upon the Pack's preseason performance, how do you feel? Are you cautiously optimistic? Confident? Over-confident?

Packers players yesterday in their locker room media interviews indicated they are confident...but not overconfident. They all realize that, while performing well in the preseason, all that means nothing. Charles Woodson reminded reporters yesterday that for as good as they looked, the starters hadn't even played an entire game yet. He said the defense has come together faster than expected but he noted that there will still be errors made. Just telling it like it is.

The Packers have been installed (so far) as 3-1/2 point favorites. That's probably about right, practically speaking. Although as a fan, and considering the apparent disarray in Da Bearz secondary, one would think the Packers offense could have a very big night. Granted, the Pack is 2-4 in Mike McCarthy's tenure as head coach. But a stat was mentioned yesterday which was also stating the obvious: that in each of those six games the number of turnovers in favor of the winning team was extreme. Da Bearz, as even their fans will admit, have been winning games on defense for years. If the Packers offense doesn't turn the ball over, the Pack wins. If the Packers defense is able to rattle Jay Cutler -- who one commentator sarcastically said is the best QB Da Bearz have had since Sid Luckman -- and what few offensive weapons he has, maybe get a turnover or two, the Pack wins big. Still have to keep Da Bearz special teams in check, of course. That could be the Pack's Achilles heel, as it was when the Packers played at Chicago last season. And, of course, special teams is really the great unknown, especially going into the first game. Who knows how well they will cover punts and kicks? If they do at least a reasonable job, again, the Pack wins.

There are a few articles you might want to check out regarding the upcoming game. This one from today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel discusses the Packers offensive preparation and some of the challenges Da Bearz secondary is facing. There is also an interesting midweek report from Bill "The Big Unit" Michaels at 620WTMJ radio. Check out his blog here.

Raji might not play
The ankle injury that rookie NT B. J. Raji sustained in the final preseason game is not responding as well as he and coaches hoped. If Raji can't go as the back up to Ryan Pickett at nose tackle, Johnny Jolly will be the man in the middle. As noted in the game report post here regarding Raji's injury, it often seems as if these ankle injuries on big bubbas linger throughout the season and affect the player's productivity and impact. Let's hope that's not the case with Raji. The Packers drafted him to play an important role in this new defense. While you want to see him on the field against Da Bearz, you also don't want to aggravate an injury that could affect him the entire season. Will be interesting to see how the Packers trainers and coaching staff manage this injury. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Regis picks the Pack!

Alert the media!

Wait. We are the media. Kinda.

Anyway, on this morning's Live with Regis and Kelly (don't ask), Regis Philbin -- a major sports fan -- announced, as he does prior to the start of every NFL season (I know, who knew?) his surprise pick to win the Super Bowl. His pick? None other than our beloved Green Bay Packers!

Normally Regis bleeds the blue and gold of his alma mater, Notre Dame, and after that all things New York. This year, he's also going to be rooting for the Green 'n Gold.

Thanks, Regis. Glad to know you kept an eye on the preseason and are as optimistic as we Packer fans are.

C'mon, Reg...say it with me: Go Pack Go!!!

A new link

Just a quick heads up for those enlightened souls among our readership -- two things about that: (1) you are a Packers fan and (2) you are reading, so by definition you are indeed already among the enlightened -- who use a Mac computer, iPhone or iPod Touch...I have added a link, just below the initial schedule link in the (obviously) "Links" area of the righthand column, for a page where you can download an iCal calendar. There are several available, but this one on the Apple site seems to be the most complete. It lists the games (a-duh), stadium where played, TV network covering the game, and start time (Central, Eastern, Pacific and Hawaiian...hey, where's Mountain??? No respect!)

Yes, there are also PDF and other versions of the schedule available...the more the merrier! But, dang, iCal is just another one of those great reasons to have a Mac or iPhone or iPod Touch. A shameless plug...Apple, if you're listening...if you care to send me your new, yet-to-be-announced whizbang computer thingie machine I would be most appreciative.

And now, back to your regularly-scheduled Packers blog...

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Green Bay is still home to Brohm after all

Stop the presses!

After yesterday cutting last year's second round pick, QB Brian Brohm, the Packers apparently waited to see if he cleared waivers today. He did. And they offered him a spot on their practice squad, which Brohm accepted. Good move for both. Brohm's home is still in Green Bay.

Other members of the practice squad include: WR Jake Allen, CB Trevor Ford, LB Cyril Obiozior, RB Kregg Lumpkin, OT Jamon Meredith, DE Ronald Talley, and NT Anthony Toribio.

According to what Packers GM Ted Thompson said at his news conference this afternoon, Brohm was a casualty of the strength of the Packers roster. And he added that the Packers are not at this time looking for any additional quarterback help. As to placing Justin Harrell on injured reserve for the season, Thompson indicated that "No one is giving up on anybody." He said Harrell will (once again) go through ongoing rehab to see if they can resolve his back issues. One has to assume, though, that this next season will be Harrell's last chance to make any contribution whatsoever. As to the Packers' take on rookie free agent Tyrell Sutton, Thompson said, "Came down to us having a number of good backs. Sorry to lose him. But we gave him a big hug." I'm sure he appreciated that, Ted. At least he got picked up by Carolina. Thompson said that the team did not put in a waiver claim on any player.

Thompson also said, "There's a confident air in our locker room." (Add your own joke here.)

A week from today the Packers open at Lambeau against Da Bearz. Need we say more than, Go Pack Go!??? Well, yes, and we will as the week moves along. In the meantime, feel good about this team. Whether or not you breathe in that locker room air. (In the Chicago locker room I think that air is just the after effects of a bad burrito.)

Practice squad additions, waiver losses

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, RB Kregg Lumpkin cleared waivers and has been signed to the Packers practice squad. Rookie fan fave Tyrell Sutton, sadly, was claimed by Carolina. The Pack had offered him a practice squad contract if he cleared waivers. Dang.

LB Cyril Obiozor also cleared waivers and chose to sign onto the Packers practice squad rather than with another team's practice squad despite that team having fewer linebackers.

QB Brian Brohm, the biggest name among the Packer cuts, according to the Journal-Sentinel "has cleared waivers, but he is taking his time deciding which practice squad he plans to join. The Packers are waiting to hear from him and are holding a spot open, but he's definitely talking with other clubs, a league source said."

That's the latest. Stay tuned.

Green Bay no longer home to Brohm

Last year's second round draft pick, QB Brian Brohm, was one of 18 players cut by the Packers yesterday to get down to the league-mandated roster of 53. As my post after the Titans game indicated, I thought it might be possible that his recent play saved his job. Wrong. Just not enough there. Brohm becomes the highest draft pick of Ted Thompson to be cut. The Pack will be going with just Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn...unless they find another QB on the waiver wire. Interestingly, veteran QB Jeff Garcia was released by the Oakland Raiders. Not saying the Pack would pick up him, just that there are some possibilities out there if the Pack would want to tweak the roster again. Which can still happen. Teams have until 11 a.m. today to put in waiver claims. So some of the players the Packers release have a chance of being added to the practice squad. And players other teams released could still find themselves a spot in Green Bay. Stay tuned.

In addition to Brohm, other cuts included: wide receiver Jake Allen, cornerback Trevor Ford, guard/tackle Andrew Hartline, wide receiver Kole Heckendorf, linebacker Danny Lansanah, running back Kregg Lumpkin, defensive end Alfred Malone, wide receiver Ruvell Martin, tackle Jamon Meredith, nose tackle Dean Muhtadi, linebacker Cyril Obiozor, cornerback Joe Porter, tackle Dane Randolph, safety Anthony Smith, running back Tyrell Sutton, defensive end Ronald Talley and nose tackle Anthony Toribio.

Not surprisingly, the perennially injured Justin Harrell was placed on the shelf, that is injured reserve, for the entire season as were cornerback Pat Lee, tight end Evan Moore and safety Charlie Peprah. Lee was seeing his first playing time of the exhibition season Thursday night when he hyperextended his knee...not a good time for an injury. Word had it that he wouldn't likely be able to return until the middle of the season and the Pack obviously wanted to make use of that roster spot.

Moll traded for safety
Safety Anthony Smith, who seemed to be in contention for a starting spot, also was a surprise release. This was probably triggered by the trade the Packers pulled off with the Ravens for safety Derrick Martin. As noted here in an earlier post, rumors had been circulating that the Packers where shopping Moll around. Seems as if that rumor was right on the money. Martin is only 24 years of age and is apparently a fast, hard-hitting safety that will fit in well with the Packers new coverage scheme

Sutton and Martin also axed
Rookie fan fave RB Tyrell Sutton and veteran WR Ruvell Martin also were sent packing. Although it's possible -- and hoped -- that Sutton goes unclaimed and can be added to the Packers practice squad. Martin, who has been a reliable #5 receiver for several seasons was bumped by second-year player Brett Swain. They are different types of receivers. But Martin's play seemed to be a bit inconsistent this preseason and Swain was apparently improving his play, especially on special teams. And on Thursday night, when the Pack ran short of defensive backs, Swain was able to play cornerback. The Pack likes versatility and that nod -- as well as less salary -- went in Swain's favor over Martin.

So, stay tuned for further developments as the Packers make their waiver claims, if any, as well as build their practice squad.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Titans beat Pack 27-13 in final exhibition

To no one's surprise, the final exhibition game was a bit of a slopfest. That's generally what happens when a team such as the Packers pretty much has as its sole purpose the evaluation of back up players. The result was a game that didn't even hit the sloppy-but-entertaining level: Titans 27, Pack 13. The Packers finished their preseason with a 3-1 record.

So, what can we take from this game?

Well, back up QB Brian Brohm acquitted himself well in the two games in which he was featured prominently. Last night, other than the first series, he was the quarterback. And he played well, going 20 of 28 for 154 yards, no TDs and no INTs. He was throwing slant route passes to perfection. He seemed to be much more sure of himself. No surprise, though. As Brohm said in a post-game radio interview, when you get a lot of repetitions in practice and in a game you have an opportunity to improve. Brohm's performance over the last few weeks may actually have saved him a roster spot. There was talk circulating that without that improvement the Packers might go as far as to cut him. While he still could be traded at some point, it's this observer's opinion that the Packers will once again have three quarterbacks on the roster.

Offensive lineman Tony Moll didn't help himself last night, getting beat badly on a sack. There is scuttlebutt that the Packers are shopping him around to see if anyone is interested in a trade for a low-round draft pick. They'd rather get something than nothing and that's what will happen if they cut him. But cutting Moll is also a possibility given some of the other lineman the Packers would seem to wish to retain.

Kicker Mason Crosby again missed a long field goal, despite having his regular holder, back up QB Matt Flynn, back in place. He did finish 2 for 3, however. Still, given Crosby's failure to convert in several key situations last season, as well as his somewhat scattered performance in this preseason, it seems like we should keep our collective fingers crossed every time he attempts a field goal. That has to change or the Pack could once again be on the short end of the win column because of a missed kick. It's part of the game. But it can't be an ongoing situation.

Injuries among the Pack's defensive backs, before and during last night's game, meant that wide receiver Brett Swain wound up playing cornerback for a fair portion of the second half. He actually did a decent job considering he hadn't played in the defensive backfield since high school. Swain and Ruvell Martin are said to be battling for the fifth and final wide receiver slot. Both are capable receivers, with the experience nod going to Martin. Both can also be used as kick or punt returners. Martin can hold for field goals, although apparently not well enough given what was said after the Arizona game. Swain can play as a defensive back if needed. Hmmm...who gets the nod for a spot?

Speaking of injuries, the one which is most concerning is the ankle injury sustained by rookie defensive lineman B. J. Raji, who left in the second quarter. Raji wasn't talking after the game, but head coach Mike McCarthy said he didn't think it was serious. But when those big bubbas get ankle injuries, it can sometimes be something that nags them and affects performance the entire season. Let's hope that's not the case with Mr. Raji. The Pack is counting on him, and from what he's shown in his limited preseason play, Raji can definitely be a disruptive force.

Other injuries, as noted earlier, which might affect final roster spots seem to have hit the defensive backfield particularly hard. Aaron Rouse and Charlie Peprah have missed extensive time this preseason. In last night's game, Anthony Smith sustained a concussion, Pat Lee hyperextended a knee and Brandon Underwood had to leave to leave the game twice, first after getting the wind knocked out of him and finally with a neck stinger. Underwood was picked on all night long by the Titans' passing game. He did not fare well. Combine the poor play with his injuries and it may have been Underwood's last day in a Packers' uniform.

The Packers -- and all teams -- need to get down to 53 men by 3 p.m. tomorrow. Some of the cuts might be surprising, some not. Fullback and running back cuts will be interesting, as will perhaps some of the offensive and defensive line decisions. With a team this deep, some of those cuts will be very difficult. But in the end, you want the best 53 players possible. And if the Packers are able to keep those 53 players healthy through the season, this will be a good year.

It's great to be a Packer fan!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Pack vs Titans Preview

Less than 30 minutes to kick off on the final preseason game. Here are a few things to keep an eye on:

  • How Nick Barnett plays in his first action since his injury last season.

  • How Clay Matthews plays in his first action of his pro career.

  • How QB Brian Brohm fares playing essentially the entire game. Starter Aaron Rodgers will play only perhaps the first series, and backup Matt Flynn will once again sit with his sprained shoulder. This is Brohm's chance to either hold onto his roster spot, or showcase himself for a possible trade.

  • Whether defensive back Anthony Smith is able to unseat Atari Bigby as a starter.

  • Which two of the three fullbacks will likely make the cut. John Kuhn and Korey Hall are somewhat the same type of player. The Packers will definitely keep rookie Quinn Johnson for his power blocking skills.

  • Whether defensive end Jarius Wynn will not only make the cut but, based on his play this preseason, garner sufficient playing time...and perhaps force the Packers to place perpetually-injured Justin Harrell on the injured reserve list for the entire season.

  • Whether free agent rookie running back Tyrell Sutton is able to unseat Kregg Lumpkin...and maybe one of the other backs. The Pack will definitely not want to expose Sutton to the possibility of getting picked up. They might prefer to stash him on the practice squad. But Sutton's preseason stats would make it likely he'd never make it there if the Pack left him unprotected.

There will be plenty more to watch for, but it will primarily be in the area of those approximately 20 or so players who will be playing their hearts out trying to secure one of those final 53 roster spots on Saturday. Won't see much of the starters on either side of the ball. But this final exhibition game can be entertaining -- if sometimes sloppy.

Go Pack Go!