Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Packers playoff scenarios

Following the upset victory of the ViQueens over the Eagles in Philly last evening, the playoff scenarios start to come into focus for the Green Bay Packers. Sort of.

First, of course, the Packers actually have to make the playoffs. And that, as any true Green-n-Gold-blooded fan of the Pack knows, requires the Pack to beat Da Bearz Sunday afternoon in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field.

It's possible that Chicago has a chance at playing for the #1 NFC seed (can you believe it?), but they'll know whether that's in play by gametime. It's already a given that they have secured the #2 spot and a bye. So the question for coach Lovie Dovie Smith is whether and how long he will play his starters against the Pack. Yes, Smith relishes his team's battles against the Pack. But would he jeopardize a run in the playoffs by exposing his starters to possible injury in what for all practical purposes is a meaningless game for them? Doubtful.

So the odds of the Packers beating Da Bearz have seemingly increased courtesy of the 'Queens beating Philly.

The outcome of last night's game also means that instead of back-to-back games against Chicago, as was originally speculated as the primary playoff scenario, the Packers will now instead be looking to take a trip east to play the Eagles. Many fans, judging from comments on blogs, radio call-in shows, etc., preferred to take on Da Bearz instead of the Eagles. However, given that Philly will now be playing 3 games in about 11 or 12 days time, and that QB Michael Vick got banged up a bit in last night's game, some fans are beginning to look forward to playing Philadelphia.

If the Packers make the playoffs, and then beat Philly, they would likely take on Atlanta. There are scenarios which, if correct, show that it's possible that the Packers could match up against Da Bearz in the NFC Championship game. Wouldn't that be something?!

The one thing you will notice about these scenarios, though, is that the Packers are on the road throughout the playoffs. The Giants, as is all too clear in memory, won out on the road and went on to win the Super Bowl just a few years ago. But no #6 seeded team coming out of the NFC has ever gone on to win the Super Bowl; the only instance of any #6 seed winning the big game is that of the Steelers.

But, again, nothing happens unless the Packers win Sunday. That's the only game that matters now.

See Tom Silverstein's blog about the matchups in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Go Pack Go!!!

On this day...
The late great Ray Nitschke was born on this day in 1936.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Five Packers named to Pro Bowl

The Pro Bowl selections have been announced by the NFL, and five Green Bay Packers were named to the team: left tackle Chad Clifton, safety Nick Collins, wide receiver Greg Jennings, linebacker Clay Matthews and cornerback Charles Woodson. Collins, Matthews and Woodson were named starters for the NFC squad.

What about QB Aaron Rodgers? Or CB Tramon Williams? Well you may ask. They were named as first alternates.

Yes, it is a bizarro world indeed where Rodgers and Williams are "alternates." That should go on one of the ESPN segments of "C'mon, Man!".

Other alternates include wide receiver Donald Driver, linebacker A.J. Hawk, nose tackle B.J. Raji and guard Josh Sitton.

You can read more about the selections here.

If there's football in 2011, here's the Pack's schedule

Assuming that football is played in 2011, the Green Bay Packers will have the following home and away schedule (as determined by the NFL):

HOME: Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Denver, Oakland, NFC West second-place team (still to be determined).

AWAY: Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, Atlanta, Carolina, Kansas City, San Diego, New York Giants.

As the article in the Green Bay Press Gazette notes, "By the rotation, the Packers were actually supposed to play at San Diego and have Kansas City at home, but the NFL separated Oakland and San Diego, so that teams playing the AFC West don’t have two long flights to California in the same season."

Go Pack Go!!! In 2010...and beyond!

Early Packers - Bears Week Insights

OK, the word "insights" in the headline might be a bit over-the-top. I mean, insights? Insights??? You know better than that.

However, here is what we do know: the Green Bay Packers will be playing the Chicago Bears this weekend for the final seed as a Wild Card team in the playoffs. Courtesy of the New Orleans Saints' victory over the Falcons in Atlanta last evening, that's the best that can be achieved. (Thanks, Atlanta! Where was that loss when we needed it, eh?) We also know that Da Bearz might have something to play for depending upon the outcome of tonight's game between the Eagles and ViQueens; they could be playing for a first-round bye. Not to mention, of course, the pleasure of keeping the Pack out of the playoffs. With a Bears' loss, however, it's a distinct possibility that the two teams could meet up again the following week in Chicago in the Wild Card game. Yowza!

As might be imagined, the Packer blogosphere and radio talk shows have been filled with much jubilation following the Packers' victory over the Giants on Sunday. And there are the usual and expected projections regarding the upcoming game versus Da Bearz. The opinion here is that, if the Packers team that shows up this weekend is the same one that showed up on Sunday, yes, they should come away with a win. While we also think that Da Bearz were winning with a lot of luck earlier in the season -- and admittedly, luck is part of the game -- they have become more solid as the season progressed. Their defense was and is solid, and their special teams very special courtesy of Devin Hester. The offense has also become more consistent with fewer 7-step drops by QB Jay Cutler. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz has Cutler operating more quickly, which has exposed him to fewer sack possibilities. The Bears' running game has also been solid with Matt Forte.

Yeah, Da Bearz put up a lot of points on the Jets on Sunday. But they gave up a lot, too. So does this set up as a shoot out for the Packers, or a defensive struggle? If the Packers are able to be as physical with Da Bearz as they were against the Giants they will get a victory. If the Packers are able to bottle up the running game and make Cutler get happy feet in the pocket, the defense could once again generate a number of turnovers. Aaron Rodgers and company should have a good day if they can again muster even a semblance of a rushing attack. The area that is always a concern with the Packers, however, and especially against a team like Da Bearz, is the special teams. That's the area that has to not make a mistake, or it could be the difference between a win and a loss...and a trip to the playoffs.

More as the week goes on...

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Packers demolish Giants 45-17

In perhaps their best outing of the season, and in a game they absolutely had to win in order to keep their playoff chances alive, the Green Bay Packers sliced, diced, and otherwise beat down the NY Giants in a 45-17 victory at Lambeau Field.

The Packers racked up more than 500 yards in total offense, with QB Aaron Rodgers throwing for a career high 404 yards on 25 of 37 passing, and 4 touchdowns. FB John Kuhn rushed for 2 TDs and picked up 1 receiving TD, as well. Some great catches by Packers receivers, but also some drops which in close games make the difference between winning and losing. Not so today, however.

The Packers defense bottled up the vaunted Giants running attack and created 6 turnovers against the Giants, including 4 interceptions off NY QB Eli Manning.

A great victory for the Pack.

Next up in the season finale is Da Bearz at Lambeau Field. More on that as the week goes on. For now, it's enough to know that if the Pack wins that game they secure a Wild Card spot in the playoffs. Lose and...well...they could still make it, with some help. But let's just figure that if the Pack can bring this same level of play next week, they will indeed be playoff bound.

Go Pack Go!!!

Packers vs. Giants Preview

It's the day after Christmas and all we want is for the Green Bay Packers to still be in a gift-giving mode. No, not the kind of gifts they've given other teams in the six narrow losses of this season, but rather things NY Giants head coach Tom Coughlin another couple hours in a darkened room after yet another heartbreaking loss. Or giving Packer fans everywhere yet another week of hope that this injury-riddled and over-achieving season will continue into the playoffs.

Those would be just a few gift ideas. Both, of course, are contingent upon the Packers beating the Giants at Lambeau Field today. The Packers are favored by 3 points, the home field advantage spread, meaning the game is basically a toss up. There are many out in the pundit-sphere, though, that are calling this game in favor of the Giants. To be honest, they do have a better rushing game (but, really, who doesn't?), a better defensive front, and a better return game (ditto my earlier who doesn't comment). And, after the Giants' epic 4th quarter collapse against the Eagles last weekend, you have to figure they will come out ready to play (a cliche, but still true). Of course, they could also still be feeling the after-effects of that loss. If the Pack were to get up early, the Giants just might have the air sucked right out of them. Don't expect that to happen, though.

This is a game which both teams need in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. But the Packers need it more: lose today and they are out. Period. Win and, even should they lose to Da Bearz in the regular season finale, they still have a chance but would need a few other things to fall into place in order for them to squeak in. The Packers understand very well that going into this game they control their own destiny, as the saying goes. Win their remaining two games and they clinch a Wild Card spot. Lose today and start making plans for the offseason.

If the Packers defense can't contain the Giants two-headed running attack of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, it's going to be a long day, as that will allow QB Eli Manning to do what he can do very well when given the time. The Packers' task will be made even more difficult today with the absence, for yet one more week, of DE Cullen Jenkins and a question at outside linebacker. LB Frank Zombo is listed as doubtful after sustaining a knee injury in the game against the Pats, and even the two players signed in recent weeks to provide depth there have injuries to deal with. Not good. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers will need to bring his most creative schemes to bear today if the Pack is to have a chance at winning this game.

Likewise, head coach Mike McCarthy will have to have his play-calling abilities on target...something which, in these close games, has not always seemed to be the case. Aaron Rodgers needs a big game and, coming off his second concussion of the season, the scenario makes him vulnerable to the Giants' pass rush, particularly if the Packers are not able to find a way to run the ball. The O-line needs to play its best game of the season if the Pack is to win this game. They will have their hands full against a great Giants defensive front. If they allow that D-line to control the line of scrimmage and -- worse -- get pressure on QB Aaron Rodgers, it will be a long day and a likely loss. Not sure what the running game will look like for the Packers, but if they can at least come close to duplicating last week's performance against the Patriots it will provide Rodgers with some breathing room. And, if not...let's not even think about that, shall we?

This will be a close game. It could be decided with a turnover -- which the Pack didn't create last week despite several clear opportunities. It could also be decided on special teams. That edge, as we all too well know, does not go to the Pack. The Giants are the healthier of the two teams and the more physical. A lot will depend upon the emotion of the game. This would be a great time for the Giants to come in nursing that Eagles hangover. Don't count on that, however.

Still, because the game is at Lambeau and the Packers know their playoff lives depend on this game, we're calling it 27-24 in favor of the Packers.

Let us pray...

Go Pack Go!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Packers' hope: Wild Card spot

Yet another example of why Green Bay Packers fans loathe the Minnesota Vikings: on one of the rare occasions when Packer fans actually root for the 'Queens, they blow it. They lose. To Da Bearz. And, in the process, allow those same Bearz to clinch the NFC North. With Jay Cutler at QB, nonetheless.

Yes, it is yet another sign of the impending Apocalypse.

So, where does that leave the Packers? Pretty much where we thought they'd be after their second consecutive loss: in control of their own destiny. If they win their last two remaining games against the Giants and Da Bearz, both at Lambeau Field, they cinch a Wild Card spot for the playoffs. In a sense, they are already in playoff mode now. Win Sunday and they are still alive; lose to the Giants and, as the late, great Dandy Don Meredith might sing, "The party's over."

There is still no word as to whether QB Aaron Rodgers will be available. But at least we can rest comfortably that backup Matt Flynn can hold his own if he has to get the start again. The worries are the Unholy Trinity for the Pack: short-yardage conversions (especially at the goal line), penalties, and very un-special special teams. When a team loses its six games by a combined total of 20 points, it's those little things -- and some not-so-little -- that make the difference.

Perhaps the Packers, with their league-leading injury list all season long, have been running on fumes longer than we think? We'll begin to get the answer to that question with the game against the Giants. Win and get ready for a smackdown with Da Bearz, lose and start looking to draft picks and signings for next season. It's as simple as that. And cleaning up those areas of play that have been the thorn in the Packers' side all season long.

Oh, and Da Bearz still suck. And so do the ViQueens.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Packers lose another close one

Six losses by a combined total of 20 points. That sums up the Green Bay Packers' season so far. Close, but no cigar, as the saying goes. Many of the problems responsible for early close losses have been present in the last two: missed opportunities both offensively and defensively, and special teams' breakdowns that suck any momentum the Pack may have achieved right out of the game.

All this was on display again last night in the Pack's loss to the New England Patriots. Despite outplaying the Pats for virtually the entire game, the Packers' defenders at least twice dropped possible interceptions, receivers dropped passes, and special teams were -- again! -- very un-special when it counted. Please, someone, anyone, tell me in what bizarro world a 300+ pound offensive lineman almost returns a squib kick for a touchdown. Anyone? Seventy-one freakin' yards! Anyone???

Still, while the disappointment in a second straight loss is real, it must be said that most folks (including yours truly) did not give the Packers much of a chance going into the game. Aaron Rodgers was on the sidelines and backup Matt Flynn was getting his first NFL start. To his credit, Flynn did an outstanding job, throwing for 3 touchdowns and notching a passer rating of over 100. The Packer running game was also doing things we hadn't seen in a long time. Brandon Jackson gained 99 yards and FB John Kuhn picked up some huge first downs.

But the offensive line, while creating some holes, also couldn't get it done at the goal line -- again -- causing the Packers to have to settle for 3 points instead of 7. How many times has that happened over the course of this season? Too many. And they also gave up sacks at inopportune times. Such as in the last minute of play with the Packers driving for a winning TD with no timeouts remaining.

Clock management was not handled well in that last minute or so. Coach McCarthy, despite a generally good game plan, failed to put his young QB in a position to win going down the stretch.

This season is a woulda-shoulda-coulda year. It's amazing what GM Ted Thompson and the coaching staff have done with a roster depleted by injury from the first game onward. Perhaps they have overachieved given the talent actually on the field. But when you are continually this close and fail to get it done, that has to fall back on the coaches. Special teams coach Shawn Slocum should definitely be out the door once the season concludes. He should have been gone by now. Breakdowns have continued all year. Yes, the players available have also changed which affects continuity. But that's happened on offense and defense, as well, and somehow those coaches get their players ready. Slocum doesn't. That's clear.

At 8-6, the Packers are still alive for a Wild Card playoff berth, however, thanks to the great Eagles' comeback versus the Giants yesterday and the Lions upsetting the Buccaneers. If Da Bearz beat the ViQueens in Minnesota tonight they win the NFC North. But if the Pack can beat the Giants and Da Bearz at Lambeau in the next two weeks they will secure a Wild Card spot.

So, there is still hope, Packers fans. At least we have that.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Packers vs. Patriots Preview

For those readers short on time, the quick take on tonight's game between the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots is this: Pats are favored by 14 points. Bottom line: not many outside of the Packers' locker room are giving the 8-5 Pack much of a chance against the 11-2 Pats. Given the level of play of QB Tom Brady and his teammates over the last few weeks, and compared to the Packers' debacle in Detroit last Sunday, seems reasonable to pick the Pats over the Pack. Especially with starting QB Aaron Rodgers on the sidelines and backup Matt Flynn getting his first NFL start.

As stated in our post of yesterday noting that Rodgers was out and Flynn was in, the possibility of the Packers beating the Patriots does exist. It's just not probable. Yes, the Packers have one of the top-ranked defenses in the league, even with the bevy of injuries that have occurred to that unit since the start of the season. It's been a remarkable run, all things considered. And, while the Pats have Tom Brady and a potent offense, their defense is so-so.

So...if the Packers could somehow generate an offense that kept Tom Brady on the bench as long as possible, maybe there's a chance. But if the Packers offense fails to do that, and if they play as pathetically as they did in Detroit, this game could be a blow out.

Still, former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Packers reporter and current Boston Globe Patriots reporter, Greg Bedard, has written a 5-point plan as to how the Packers can beat the Patriots, just as the Cleveland Browns did in their 34-14 victory over the Patriots on Nov. 7, the last time the Pats were defeated, by the way, and with Colt McCoy at quarterback for the Browns.

To summarize Bedard's 5 main points: run the ball; get an early lead; push the Patriots' pocket from the inside; press the Patriots' receivers; don't turn the ball over.

Do these things, Bedard says, and there's a chance at an upset.

As for us, even with the Green 'n' Gold-colored glasses, we see this game going in favor of the Pats, 38-13. Hope we're as wrong on this prediction as with that for last week's game.

Go Pack Go!!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's in like Flynn for Packers

Late this morning it was made official: Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is out for Sunday night's game against the Patriots and third-year backup Matt Flynn will get his first NFL start. Practice squad QB Graham Harrell will reportedly be activated to the 53-man squad and defensive back Anthony Smith put on injured reserve to make room for Harrell.

Rodgers apparently did not receive the medical clearance required to be allowed to play. Given this was Rodgers' second concussion in about two months, the protocol is reportedly a bit different than with a first concussion. And even though head coach Mike McCarthy said that Rodgers was outfitted with a new helmet to provide him with greater protection that only matters if Rodgers can play. And he won't, at least for another week.

If there were any game where Rodgers' presence would be needed to even be in the game, this is it. Given what the Patriots have done to their competition over the last several weeks, a healthy Aaron Rodgers would give the Pack a fighting chance of staying in the game.

We'll get a chance, instead, to see what Matt Flynn can do. He's been on a big stage before, winning a National Championship while at LSU, and being named the MVP of that game, in fact. In reports out of Green Bay all week, Packers players to a man were saying they had full confidence in Flynn and what he can do. No doubt, being able to work with the first unit offense all week and get his timing down with the receivers will be an advantage he didn't have when he had to jump into the Detroit game last weekend.

But unless the Packers can somehow generate a semblance of a running game, it could be a long night for Flynn. McCarthy's play calling cannot rely upon Flynn to be the throwing machine he's asked Rodgers to be all season long. The offensive line -- which was embarrassed by their poor level of play versus the Lions -- must create holes for running backs to get a few yards every once in a while. The best defense against Pats' QB Tom Brady is keeping him on the bench with long possessions. That works against McCarthy's typical mode of operation. Let's hope that he at least acknowledges the situation he and his team is in and does what's necessary to perhaps, maybe, possibly pull an upset. If he implements the same type of game plan that's been on display of late the game could be over for the Packers before the first half is out.

That's not to minimize the Packers' defense, which is the number one scoring defense in the league (if memory serves). It's just that they've been playing on fumes for quite a while, too. Injuries have plagued that unit all season long and this weekend is no exception. While S Atari Bigby might see some action, DE Cullen Jenkins is still out and LB Frank Zombo -- who himself was a starter by virtue of the injury parade -- is also likely out for the game and will be replaced as a starter by street free agent Erik Walden. Oy.

The players and coaches know that they put themselves in severe jeopardy of missing the playoffs as a result of the egg they laid in Detroit last Sunday. They lost ground on Da Bearz, not because of the loss as Chicago lost as well, but in terms of a second loss in the division, which comes into play should any tiebreakers be needed for playoff seeding. The Pack basically needs to look at winning out, winning their three remaining games. If the Pack loses Sunday night, even if Da Bearz lose versus the ViQueens on Monday night, Da Bearz win the NFC North and the Pack's playoff chances are as close to being on life support as it gets.

It's a big challenge for Matt Flynn and the Packers to rise to the occasion Sunday night. Is it possible that they will beat the Patriots? Sure. Is it probable? No.

Check back here tomorrow for a gameday preview and prediction.

Go Pack Go!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rodgers likely out for Packers vs. Pats

OK. Let's be clear. This is NOT an official statement of any kind by the Green Bay Packers about their starting quarterback. It is purely speculation by yours truly -- and not a few media pundits -- that Aaron Rodgers will be not be available when the Pack meets the New England Patriots on Sunday night. The Packers, officially, are saying that no final decision on Rodgers' status will be made until Saturday.

What leads us to the conclusion regarding Rodgers' availability is that he has not been at meetings so far this week and did not even participate in a walk-through today at practice. Sports reporters noted that with Rodgers' earlier concussion in October he was at meetings and did attend the Wednesday practice. Apparently, the advice he is getting is to do nothing but allow the recovery to occur without doing anything to jeopardize himself.

So, given that, it's not looking good for Sunday,

Of course, playing New England on their home field, where the Patriots have not lost since 2008, by the way, is not easy under the best of circumstances. The Pats are red hot and have beat the bejeesus out of the their last two opponents, the Jets and Da Bearz, two ostensibly bound playoff teams. For the Packers, the injury to Rodgers is just a capper on what has a been a season filled with injuries to key personnel. The fact that the Pack has done as well as they have under these circumstances -- and without players or coaches making any excuses to the contrary -- is really a tribute to the entire team. But it might just be, with three games left in the season, that it's all just finally starting to catch up with them.

We should likely be looking for backup Matt Flynn to be under center come Sunday. It's not a sure thing, but it seems likely at this point. Practice squad QB Graham Harrell might be activated for the game. If something happened to Flynn, and if Harrell is not active, the emergency QB would be WR Jordy Nelson. One would figure Harrell will get the call-up for this weekend.

There are other walking-wounded for the Packers as well, whose availability and impact even if available is questionable. No need to review those here at this time. We'll see where everything is nearer game time.

For now, let's just hope Rodgers gets better in his own time and doesn't put his health at risk in trying to come back too quickly from his concussion. Of course, there are systems in place that make sure that doesn't happen until he really is ready from a medical standpoint. Having Rodgers around for years to come is more important to the Packers than having him available for a game which, frankly, would probably go in the loss column regardless given all the other circumstances involved.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Which was the biggest NFC North collapse?

Here's a quick one for you, folks: which was the worst collapse of this past weekend in the NFC North?
    1. The collapse of the Metrodome (aka the Humpty Dump) roof in Minneapolis thanks to Snowmageddon 2010?
    2. The blowout of Da Bearz by the Patriots in Chicago?
    3. The loss by the Green Bay Packers to the Lions (the Lions!) in Detroit?
Tell us what you think in the online poll in the righthand column. You can vote until midnight Friday, Dec. 17.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's official: Hell frozen over - Packers lose to Lions

The blizzard that blanketed the upper Midwest yesterday and today brought two things to light: Hell has frozen over and the Packers lost to the Detroit Lions. Actually, I think it was the second event that brought about the first.

In a game of epic futility and ineptitude, the Packers' offense could muster only a field goal all day long. While the offense was not clicking even when QB Aaron Rodgers was at the helm, the Pack's chances for a victory became even more suspect when he scrambled for a first down in the first half and failed to slide. Result? He took a shot to the back going down and wound up bouncing his head off the turf. He was immediately woozy. On the Packers' next offensive series, he was replaced by backup Matt Flynn and word spread quickly that Rodgers had a concussion and was done for the day.

This is Rodger's second concussion of the season, with his first coming in early October. This, to say the least, is not good. For Rodgers or the Packers. And the sad part is that Rodgers could have avoided it if he had just slid; he must have been absent for that training during quarterback school because he rarely does so. Perhaps if head coach Mike McCarthy starts fining him for every time he scrambles and doesn't slide maybe he'll start to get the hint. Rodgers' absence today, while not guaranteeing a Packers' loss to the lowly Lions, sure didn't help matters any on a day when the offense seemed totally lethargic.

In particular, the offensive line was beaten like a rented mule all day by the Lions' defensive front four. It was, simply put, a pathetic performance.

The Packers' defense, to its credit, only gave up 7 points which should make the Pack's high-powered offense a sure-fire winner. Except today. Three turnovers by the Packers' offense and the loss of Rodgers made a key division game yet another giveaway by the Packers. The Packers had previously had all four losses by 3 points; today, they lost by 4. Five losses by a combined total of 16 points.

This game severly hurt the Packers chances not only to win the NFC North but more importantly their chances for the playoffs. It's not a certainty yet, but the Packers did not take care of business today. Not even close. And that's what makes this loss so maddening.

If there is any silver lining right now it is that Da Bearz are getting whupped by the Patriots in Chicago 33-0 at halftime. So at least the Pack won't lose ground there. But they had an opportunity to gain ground and let it slip through their fingers.'s cold!!!

Packers vs. Lions Game Day

Yesterday's preview here indicated the obvious: that the Green Bay Packers will beat the Lions in Detroit today. Not that there isn't talent on the Lions team, because there is. Not that the players have quit on their head coach as Dallas and Minnesota did on their two now ex-head coaches, because they haven't. It's just that...well...the Packers have more talent in the key positions, more depth, and more incentive to win. The Packers need this game to keep pace in the race for the NFC North Division title and a playoff spot.

Refer to yesterday's post for more details on the game as I see it. While prognosticators seem to be split between those who think the Pack will win this game handily and those who think the Pack will win a close game much like the first meeting between the two teams, yours truly sees the Packers winning this one by a good margin. That's not to say it won't be a battle for a while. Especially if the Packers come out with one of their patented slow starts on offense. Still, the Packers needs this game and will win this game.

I'm calling this game Packers 38 - Lions 17.

Go Pack Go!!!

Follow me on Twitter for my in-game Tweets...which some followers tell me they find...not bad. Hey, that's at least as good as some of the name-brand coverage out there!'s FREE!

(Just as an aside: isn't the collapse of the Metrodome roof in Minneapolis a good metaphor for the ViQueens' season? Sometimes it's just too too obvious, isn't it? Still, in a bizarre twist, Packer fans will wind up having to root for the 'Queens against the Giants...whenever and wherever it is that the league can reschedule the game.)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Packers vs. Lions Preview

As a blizzard is set to hit Wisconsin, the Green Bay Packers are set to hit the Lions in Detroit. The Pack took to the air in time to beat the snowstorm. Still, a few players will not be on the field Sunday when gametime arrives. Key among them from the Packers' standpoint is DE Cullen Jenkins; he strained a calf muscle in last weekend's game vs. the 49ers. Trying to fill that sizable void on the D-line will be C. J. Wilson and Jarius Wynn. It's possible Howard Green might also be moved around in the rotation as well with B. J. Raji and Ryan Pickett.

But it's not the running game that is of primary concern from a defensive standpoint. It's the passing game of the Lions. And even though their starting quarterback, Matthew Stafford, is still sidelined, the backup to the backup, Drew Stanton, is a serviceable QB. Kinda like Jay Cutler...on a good day. (Ouch!) More importantly, whoever is tossing the ball in Motor City has WR Calvin Johnson on his side. His size and speed make him the Lions' main offensive weapon. But he's not the only one. TE Brandon Pettigrew benefits from Johnson opening things up. He's a big tight end, although not fast. Since linebackers A. J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop will likely wind up covering him, he may get some opportunities. But he should be able to be kept in check.

While a few Packers won't be on the field this time around, there was at least some good news going into the game: it appears that LT Chad Clifton is cleared to play, and the ankle sprain sustained during practice this week by Charles Woodson was not as serious as initially suspected; he'll also likely be good to go's a game in Michigan, right? Woodson won't miss that one!

The Packers are 10-4 in dome games under head coach Mike McCarthy. Is it surprising? The Packers offense is geared to the air game. And there's no better place to air out the ball, especially in December, than inside. I know, I know, that's almost heresy in Packerland. But given perfect conditions in which to throw the ball, guess what's going to happen? The Packers are going to light up the Lions, particularly given the sorry state of Detroit's secondary. QB Aaron Rodgers will have a big day, as will his receiving corps. Toss in a seemingly resurgent (yes, for the Packers that does mean just one game) running game with rookie James Starks and the Pack will be far more than the Lions can handle, even if they do happen to make it a game for a while.

Coach McCarthy, if memory serves, is 9-0 against the Lions. Sunday will make it 10-0. Despite the final score of the first meeting this season, most games aren't that close. The Packers are currently favored by 6-1/2 points. They'll take care of that going away.

What's my prediction on the final score? You'll have to check back Sunday morning for that. Barring a blizzard-born power outage, you'll get my call then.

For now...Go Pack Go!!!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Packers at mid-week

We've all had time to bask in the glow of a nice beat-down of the 49ers by our beloved Green Bay Packers last Sunday. After a bit of a sputtering first quarter or so, the offense clicked and the bend-don't-break defense did what it's been doing pretty much all season. We got to see Donald Driver make a TD catch and run that goes down in the all-time highlight reel. We saw a rookie running back, James Starks, finally get on the field for the Pack and rush for the most yards -- 73 -- by a Packer in a rookie debut since 1948. We saw QB Aaron Rodgers continue his streak of games and passes without an interception: 5 and 177 respectively. Oh, and that last one is now second in Packers' history behind Bart Starr. We saw WR Greg Jennings continue to light things up in a big way.

Unfortunately, though, the Packers lost DE Cullen Jenkins for at least a few weeks with a calf strain. And practice this week revealed that LT Chad Clifton actually sustained a concussion during the game, so he is going through the league protocol this week required to be cleared to play this coming Sunday. He did a jog-through at Wednesday's practice and that's usually seen as a good sign of being cleared to play in the next game. But Wednesday's practice also saw CB Charles Woodson depart the field with an ankle sprain, the severity of which is still unknown...or at least, undiscussed at this moment.

So, the Packers are on a bit of a roll. The upcoming opponent, the Detroit Lions, hmmm...not so much. To their credit, it's a 2-10 team that really should have a few more wins under their belt (e.g., remember the TD catch in Chicago to win that was overturned???). But they don't know how to close out games. This weekend's game versus the Packers is not the time for them to start figuring that out.

Observers and the Packers themselves know this will be a hard-fought game. The Lions, lest we forget, gave the Packers everything in a frightful near-comeback on Oct. 3. The Pack wound up winning by just 2 points while grinding out the clock. The Lions scored the most points against the Packers of any opponent the Packers have faced so far. They also racked up the most offensive yardage. Of course, this was also early in the season when the Packers were still adjusting to the onslaught of injuries on both sides of the ball. As we approach this week's game, the Packers have made their adjustments. If the players are focused -- and you can be sure coach Mike McCarthy and his assistants will have them very focused -- this game should not be in doubt. The Lions will give it all they have for as long as they can. But if the Packers get off to a fast start for a change, the game should be over long before it's over, if you know what I mean. And I think you do.

We'll do a more detailed preview closer to game time. So keep checking back for more.

Also, follow us on Twitter for more regular quick hits. Just click the icon in the righthand column, or click here. Or check the Twitter scroll here for the Tweets.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Packers down 49ers 34-16

On a typical December day in Wisconsin, the Green Bay Packers did what they typically do on a December game day at home: win. The Packers beat a capable, but subpar, San Francisco 49ers squad 34-16.

The first half, however, was ugly. The Packers offense started crisply, combining runs and passes to move the ball before petering out deep in the redzone (again) and watching K Mason Crosby's field goal attempt ding (again) off the left upright for no points. After that, coach Mike McCarthy's itchy trigger finger abandoned the run altogether and saw the offense sputter as a result. The Packers were down 3-0 at the end of the 1st quarter. They only led at half 14-10 after giving up a late TD after their own score.

But coming out of the locker room following the halftime break, the Packers' offense put up 20 points, 14 in the third quarter and 6 in the fourth, while only allowing the Niners 3 more points the entire second half.

The game also witnessed the first play of rookie RB James Starks, who many fans -- and coaches -- have been waiting to see on the field. Starks was a 6th round draft pick out of Buffalo who missed his entire senior year due to injury. He hadn't played a down of football since 2008. He also started this season with the Pack on the PUP list. Still, many were enamored with the possibility of what he might bring to the Pack's running game, which has been woeful at best following the loss of starter Ryan Grant in game #1. Fans got a glimpse of that today. Starks rushed 18 times for 73 yards, or a 4.1 yard-per-carry average. He had a long run of 16 yards. Starks has an upright running style which exposes him to possible injury more so than someone who runs with a lower pad level. Whether this is something running backs coach Edgar Bennett can work with him on or whether this is just his natural style remains to be seen. But any time a Packers running back actually leads in rushing yards rather than the Packers' QB, that's a plus. He didn't turn the ball over and always got positive yards, if memory serves. Expect to see more of Mr. Starks in the future for the Pack. Yay!

This was a game the Packers were expected to win and did. It might not have been pretty, especially in the early going, but it's what's up on the scoreboard when the clock reads 0:00 that matters. And that was: Packers 34 - 49ers 16.

Next up, the Lions in Detroit. The Packers will need to focus on them and not look past them to the Patriots a week later. That will be the biggest challenge.

But more about the Pack and the Lions in the week ahead. For now, let's savor this return to victory.

Go Pack Go!!!

Packers - 49ers Preview

It's less than two hours to kickoff at a nippy (that's Wisconsin-ese for cold) Lambeau Field. It's the first game the Green Bay Packers have played back home since whupping the Cowboys back on Nov. 7. The weather has changed a bit since then. Today the forecast is for temps in the mid-20s and windy.

December, as we all know -- or are at least told -- is when the running game is supposed to carry the day in these bad weather games. Now, for folks outside of the Midwest, let's just say upfront that temperatures in the mid-20s is not exactly bad weather. At least for these parts. But cold and wind can affect the passing game. Given the fact that the weak spot of the Packers' offense is its running game, or more appropriately, lack thereof, this could be a concern. It shouldn't be today, however,

The 49ers have a decent run defense. But that's a bit moot when you're playing a team like the Packers who don't count on much from their running game anyway, right? Of course right. So, given that Aaron Rodgers doesn't seem to be bothered by the cold, expect the Pack to continue to do what they do, which is to spread out the defense and attack through the air. There should be plenty of opportunities to do just that today. Yes, it will be to the Packers' advantage for the rest of the season if they at least can muster a token rushing attack. But, the Packers are who they are and, perhaps more specifically, head coach Mike McCarthy is who he is, and the Pack's offense is centered around the passing game. It will either work or not like it is for the rest of the season. You just have to hope, however, they figure out how to rush for a yard or two at the goal line or to convert first downs on 3rd-and-one.

As for the Packers defense, they should have a good day going against the 49ers QB, Troy Smith. He's led the Niners to three wins in the last four games since replacing Alex Smith. He's more of a scrambler than a passer, which can cause some problems for a team like the Pack. But he's no Michael Vick. TE Vernon Davis is the 49ers version of Jermichael Finley. He can cause problems. And it's possible that LB A. J. Hawk might be matched up on coverage of Davis. Hawk has done a better job in coverage this year than last, but this is one of the times that the absence of Brandon Chillar might be very evident. The Packers should be able to handle the 49ers running game, although last week Brian Westbrook looked like the player of old, replacing Frank Gore and rushing for more than 100 yards. Westbrook always seemed to cause the Pack headaches when he was with Philadelphia. Let's hope those days are long gone.

There are many other aspects of this game which we could break down, including special teams which is always an adventure with the Packers. We don't, for example, know how Sam Shields will field kickoffs for the first time in cold weather. Nor do we know how punter Tim Masthay will punt in these conditions. Keep your fingers crossed that special teams do not cost the Packers a win again. Honestly, though, if it comes down to the special teams deciding the outcome of this game in yet another 3-point situation, there were bigger problems in the game than just special teams. That's not going to happen today.

The Packers are favored by 9-1/2 points. For our part, we're calling this game Packers 31 - 49ers 17.

Go Pack Go!!!

BTW...the Packers will be wearing their throwback uniforms today. Brown helmets (an homage to the original leather helmet days) and blue jerseys honoring the 1929 championship team. Some are referring to the look as the "Powerball" uniforms. You'll see why when you watch the game or see the highlights.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Packers players news and notes

As the Green Bay Packers sit at 7-4, with all four losses by 3 points, and looking up at Da Bearz atop the NFC North (as disgusting a thought as there can possibly be!), roster moves continue. It has been the theme of this season for the Packers.

What's the difference between Da Bearz and the Packers? Yes, I know, we can go a lot of ways with that answer, all of them rip-roaringly funny. But for our purposes today, the correct answer is: health.

The Packers yesterday added LB Brandon Chillar (shoulder) and TE/LB Spencer Havner (hamstring) to the injured reserve list, bringing the team's league-leading total to 13. The Packers' IR list is a squad in its own right. And if you look at the names on that list, it's a pretty good squad at that. Just imagine what the Pack could have done this season if even half of that list was actually on the field. Wow. Still, it's a testament to the personnel moves of GM Ted Thompson that the Packers have been able to field players who haven't led to a complete collapse. And credit the coaching staff with coaching those players, some street and undrafted free agents, in such a way that they are ready to play at a high level. Truly remarkable given the circumstances.

Today, the Pack promoted LB Robert Francois and CB Josh Gordy from the practice squad to take the roster spots of Chillar and Havner. This is Francois' second time this season on the active roster, while it is Gordy's first call-up. Their spots on the practice squad were taken by new signees WR Terrance Smith and LB/DE Curtis Young.

Tramon Williams gets a payday
News broke Tuesday that the Packers and CB Tramon Williams had signed a four-year contract extension that will keep Williams in Green Bay through 2014. Williams is one of those great success stories in the NFL. An undrafted player out of Louisiana Tech who was cut by Houston in 2006, Williams was signed to the Packers' practice squad. The rest, as they say, is history. Williams worked hard, apprenticed behind Al Harris, and earned his payoff by performing at a Pro Bowl level ever since replacing Harris last year as the starting cornerback opposite Charles Woodson. He has been very good.

But now that he's gotten his big payday -- reportedly worth more than $33 million over the life of the extension -- Williams will be expected to continue performing at a high level. And there are no signs that he won't. He is a well-liked and well-respected member not only of the Packers but the broader Green Bay community. And he also is a player who even his agent says wants to stay in Green Bay. Williams is a player and person it is easy to root for. Congratulations, Mr. Williams. Well done. Keep up the great work.

If you want to read more about Williams' new contract, you can do so here.

Starks to see action...maybe
According to head coach Mike McCarthy's comments earlier this week, the woeful status of the Packers' rushing attack (I know, that seems to be a real oxymoron at the moment) is apparently making him think seriously about giving rookie RB James Starks some action this weekend. No one knows quite what to expect as Starks hasn't played any football since 2008; he missed his entire senior season at Buffalo with injury. Running backs coach Edgar Bennett -- a darn good running back in his own day -- says he likes what he sees in the youngster in practice. But what happens when he takes his first game hit in a couple years? And his first NFL hit besides? No clue. But given that QB Aaron Rodgers was the leading rusher for the Packers in the game against the Falcons this last weekend, clearly a change is in order.

That change, however, honestly needs to start with McCarthy actually committing to the run -- something his history indicates isn't overly likely -- and the offensive line opening some holes for whomever is carrying the ball. But the inability of Brandon Jackson to consistently perform and the total disappearance over the last two games of John Kuhn (although it's not clear why he hasn't factored into McCarthy's schemes recently), mean it's time to shake things up. Let's see what Starks can do. Maybe the Packers catch lightening in a bottle. That would be a surprise, granted. And the way this season has gone, it's probably more likely Starks also will wind up getting hurt and going on IR.

But let's be optimistic. At least until we see what we've got.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Packers fall to Falcons 20-17

This was literally a situation of whoever had the ball last would win the game. Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers directed a final drive to tie the game at 17-17. But Atlanta got the ball back with under a minute left and, courtesy of a facemask penalty on the kickoff return, started at mid-field.

As TV commentators are saying, the one-dimensionality of the Packers' offense -- i.e., no rushing game by the Pack -- is showing up big time in a game like this, and was the difference today between these two teams. One could run the ball, the other couldn't. I don't have to tell you which is which.

Add in the inability of the Packers' special teams to do something big when it mattered most, with time running out. Instead, they gave up a big return and then added another 15 yards with a stupid penalty to allow a short amount of yardage needed for a winning field goal. (Sigh)

A turnover at the goal line by Aaron Rodgers meant two trips inside the 10-yard line with only 3 points to show for it. Killer.

Missed opportunities. As with the 3 other losses this season, that's the theme of today's game.

The Packers go to 7-4 and need Philadelphia to beat Chicago in the second game today.

Packers 3 - Falcons 10 at halftime

The first half of the Green Bay Packers - Atlanta Falcons game played out somewhat as expected: a battle of very good teams, but with a few glitches on both sides. For the Falcons, those glitches were penalties. For the Packers, those glitches were missed opportunities, including failure to challenge a 4th down pass reception by Tony Gonzales on the go-ahead TD drive by the Falcons.

The biggest missed opportunity, though, was a fumble on a quarterback sneak by Aaron Rodgers in the endzone, where the Pack would have gone up 10-3. Instead, the Falcons took the ball at the 20 and put together that 80-yard drive (incl. the non-catch catch on 4th down) to convert their own TD on a blown 3rd-and-goal coverage on TE Tony Gonzales. The Falcons are up 10-3 at halftime.

As Howie Long is saying during halftime comments on Fox, the failure of the Packers to challenge a bad spot on a 3rd down slide by Aaron Rodgers and then the non-catch by Gonzales account for 11 points in this game.

The Packers have to get it going at a higher level than they are now. There will be no help from the refs on spots. The team is playing sharp, just not sharp enough to overcome any mistakes against a team like the Falcons. Gotta kick it up a notch!

Go Pack Go!!!

Packers vs. Falcons Preview

Happy Dirty Birds Day to you, Packer fans! No, I'm not referring to the recent day on which you dropped turkey on the kitchen floor after carving, tossed it back on the plate, and then served it to your relatives. I'm talking about today's game in Atlanta between our Green Bay Packers and the Falcons.

The Falcons are coming into the game with a NFC-leading 8-2 record, with the Pack at 7-3. Atlanta is favored by 2 points.

The Birds fly high in their dome. They are 18-3 at home over the last three seasons. This team is not like the last two teams the Pack has faced. They are good and they won't quit on their coach the way those teams did. Statistically (you can look elsewhere today for that info if you are a stat geek), the Packers and Falcons are fairly close in many areas. However, the Packers have an overall better defense, particularly in the secondary. That is an area that will need to execute well today, as they have been doing, for the Packers to come out on top. WR Roddy White leads the league in receptions, if memory serves, and is up there in reception yards as well, not surprisingly. Expect the Packers to likely have CB Tramon Williams on White most of the time, although they may shift Williams and Charles Woodson around as needed so that rookie safety Sam Shields isn't stuck on an island against White.

The Falcons also have veteran TE Tony Gonzalez as a receiving threat and RB Michael Turner as the featured rusher. Gonzalez is still dangerous, despite perhaps losing a step, and Turner is quick and powerful and can move the chains and eat clock. The Packers' defensive line has handled running backs all season long and I expect them to bottle up Turner today as well; he may get some yards, but as long as they don't allow him to break long runs or get 5+ yards per carry, it will be OK. QB Matt Ryan is similar to the Packers' own Aaron Rodgers: cerebral, strong arm, and generally won't make mistakes.

So, if the Packers' defense can continue to do what they have been doing, and special teams holds its own, it comes down to the offense executing its game plan. The Packers have more weapons in the receiving game and they are going against a 24th-ranked passing defense. So if the offensive line gives Rodgers time and he's on his game, the Pack have the advantage. But expect a closer game than we've seen recently.

This is a game which will tell us a great deal about how good the Packers really are. As fans, we are all beginning to think they are very good. A win in Atlanta today will reinforce that perception. More importantly, though, it will also go a long way to helping determine homefield advantage in the playoffs. If the Pack plucks this one away from the Falcons, things are looking rosy.*

I'm calling this one 27-24 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!

* Rosy reference: Have to give a shout out to the University of Wisconsin Badgers who finished their regular season yesterday with a 70-23 beat down of the Northwestern Wildcats at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. The currently 7th-ranked Badgers share the Big Ten championship title, and should receive the bid for the Rose Bowl. Go Badgers!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Packers - Vikings post-mortem: nice!

Green Bay Packers 31...Minnesota Vikings 3.

Stick a fork in 'em, Danno...the 'Queens are done.

What a tremendous victory for the Pack in the Humpty Dump. A place that had often been a house of horrors for the Green 'n' Gold instead became exactly that for the guys in the funky purple. Aside from the final score and total domination by the Packers from the 2nd quarter on, the other key indicator to revel in was the passer ratings: Rodgers 141+, Favre 51.2.

Yes, it was a nice game. Is that too understated? Well, let's see. Wasn't it nice that coach Mike McCarthy deferred after winning the coin toss and let his defense set the tone with a 3-and-out series against Favre and his offense? Wasn't it nice not to hear that stupid Viking horn blaring for no apparent reason? Wasn't it nice to hear the home fans chanting, "Fire Childress" in the 4th quarter? Wasn't it nice to hear Packers fans -- the best in the universe! -- chanting, "Go Pack Go" as score after score was tallied up? Wasn't it nice to see QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Greg Jennings light up the 'Queens secondary? Wasn't it nice to see the Packers defense totally shut down Minnesota's weapons and make Ol' #4 look like the grampa he is? Wasn't it nice to see the Packers special teams act somewhat special? Wasn't it nice to see 'Queens' players and coaches going at one another on the sideline? The list could go on and on. Yep, I'd say it was a very nice game indeed.

So, the Pack go to 7-3 on the season, tied with five teams for the second best record in the NFC. We share the division lead with Da Bearz. And we travel to Atlanta to take on the 8-2 Falcons on Sunday. That will be a challenging game, and more on that as actual game time nears.

But let's just look at where the Packers are right now. Their season point differential is plus-106, 36 points more than the next closest team, the Steelers. During this current four-game winning streak (which Atlanta also has going into the upcoming game), they have been penalized only eight times for 60 yards. And in the turnover margin, the Packers are ahead in that part of the game as well. Finally, in the last three games, the Packers have outscored their opponents 85-10. Holy blowout, Batman!

The offense is rolling. The defense is controlling. Special teams are trolling. (Sorry, got into a goofy rhyming thing bad...)

The Packers are putting the pedal to the metal, and they're driving to the playoffs. Might still be a few speed bumps on the way. But, man, ya gotta like it. Ya gotta like it.

Go Pack Go!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Packers vs. Vikings Preview

Favremageddon 2010 - Part Deux is upon us. The Tempest in the Twin Cities. The Oh-The-Humanity in the Humpty Dump. The Overused Hyperbole in...well...

OK, you get the idea. The Green Bay Packers meet the Minnesota Vikings in the second of their two 2010 showdowns. Round #1 went in favor of the Pack. Round #2? That should also go in favor of the Packers, and the line seems to reflect that: the Pack is favored by 3 despite the game being played on the 'Queens home field where they are very good and the Packers usually aren't.

But we all know that these games in the Humpty Dump are never easy. It is one of the loudest venues in all of sports. It is made even louder this time around with all the Minnesota fans shouting for the firing of head coach Brad Childress. But that's a whole other story. The key thing for the Packers will be to get up early and take the crowd out of it. If you are the Packers, you want them booing their own team not creating signal calling problems for you.

Coming out of the bye week, and with time to re-gear and build upon the momentum and offensive rhythm established over the last three games, the offense should click. The defense, with Cullen Jenkins working without the club on his broken hand for the first time since the first game, and the possibility of Ryan Picket returning in even limited play, should pick right up where it left off. Contain RB Adrian Peterson and pressure Ol' #4. The Packers' opportunistic defense should be able to generate a couple turnovers and in a close game that can be the difference. The 'Queens got some good news today, however, when WR Sidney Rice was activated off the PUP list. How much action he'll see, and how in sync he'll be with his quarterback, is a big question.

As for special teams, the Packers will have cornerback and speedster Sam Shields returning kickoffs. He opened eyes with a big return against the Cowboys. Coaches have decided that, until fumbles prove otherwise, he creates more problems for opponents that he does for the Packers. Expect the usual suspects back to return punts. On special teams, look also for the return of TE/LB Spencer Havner to the mix. He was a great special teams player in his prior time with the Packers and one would expect more of the same now that he's back in the fold. Throw in the bonus of his rapport as a tight end with QB Aaron Rodgers in the red zone and the Packers have yet another receiving threat for the 'Queens to worry about.

This will be Brett Favre's Super Bowl: his chance to win one last time against his former team before calling it quits. You know he's going to do all he can to stick a fork into GM Ted Thompson one last time. But there should be no doubt that the Packers are the better team. And by the end of the game, the score will reflect that.

I'm calling it Packers 31 - Vikings 24.

Go Pack Go!!!

In the spirit of the season...

In keeping with the spirit of the holiday season and its rampant commercialism, we decided to jump onboard and sell out like everyone else. So, from today (Nov. 20) through Nov. 23, you can save $10 on orders of $50 or more at the Packer Fans United online shop. Just use code Friend10 at checkout. You will find all sorts of great apparel and gift items. Caps, t-shirts, sweatshirts, stuff for the ladies, stuff for the kids...stuff for everyone! Let the good times roll, Packer fans! Grab some cool stuff for yourself, pick up some gifts for your buddies and save some green to boot. It's what made America great, my friends. Time to start stimulatin' the economy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday before Favre's Super Bowl

No, we aren't doing a flash back to the late 1990's. We're talking this upcoming Sunday, when Ol' #4 himself might have his own personal Super Bowl against the Green Bay Packers. Because this might, maybe, perhaps, who knows?, be the last time Brett Favre suits up against his old team. And with one loss already under his belt against the Pack this season, you know he's really gonna want to stick it to Packers GM Ted Thompson just one more time before riding off into the sunset on his lawnmower.

This, of course, despite the fact that Favre is surrounded by perhaps the most dysfunctional team in football this season. The Drama 'Queens have given a whole new meaning to the expression "They eat their own." When players do not respect their head coach -- as various comments out of the ViQueens' locker room over the past few weeks clearly suggest -- anything can happen. Yes, these are professional athletes who play for their own pride, if nothing else. But even these days, that sometimes isn't enough to get the most out of players.

Take, for example, the case of WR Sidney Rice. By many reports it seems as if he is capable of returning to the field from his hip injury. Yet, there are also reports -- or, at least, speculation -- that with a free agent year on the horizon, Rice is in no hurry to get back on the field for a 3-6 team that is as much of a mess as this one is. Why risk injury again and jeopardize a potentially huge free agent payday?

So, with arguably the 'Queens best receiver likely not playing on Sunday, and the other receivers also nursing some injuries, Ol' #4 just doesn't have the downfield targets he has been accustomed to. He does have a good tight end in Visanthe Shiancoe who has become a favorite. And, of course, he does have that running back...what's his name? Ah, yes, Adrian Peterson.

So, Favre's Super Bowl? Think he'll come up just a bit short of the mark. You know, like in the last two big games he's played that would get him there. The Pack is favored by 3 right now. Past history says this game will be a close one. Hope it's not. And the directions the two teams are going in indicates that it shouldn't be.

We'll do a a bit more of a preview later. But for now, just wanted to get back into the blogging game. The Packers took a bye week and I did too. Sometimes we all need a break.

Sales underway in the Packer Fans United online shop!
In a move of blatant commercialism, we wished to call your attention to the sales currently underway at the Packer Fans United online shop. Today, Friday, you can take $5 off orders of $45 or more by using code PRETG5 at checkout. And running from tomorrow, Nov. 20, through Nov. 23, you can save $10 on orders of $50+. Just use code Friend10 at checkout. You will find all sorts of great apparel and gift items. With the holidays coming up, stock up now and save some bucks in the process!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tauscher on IR, Havner re-signed

Given the outstanding play of rookie offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, the Green Bay Packers have opted to place veteran right tackle Mark Tauscher on the injured reserve list for the remainder of the season. Out since sustaining a shoulder injury in week #4 against the Lions, this move not only ends Tauscher's season but perhaps also his least with the Pack.

Tauscher is an 11-year veteran, with all his career spent with his home state Packers. But at age 33, and with several severe injuries already under his belt, plus a scheduled $4.1 million salary set to kick in next season, it would seem doubtful the Packers would bring him back at that price.

Last year, Tauscher had his second reconstructive knee surgery before finally being re-signed and helping turn around an offensive line that looked more like a sieve in his absence. This season, though, even before the shoulder injury, it sometimes seemed as if the years might finally be catching up with this sure-fire future Packers Hall of Fame member. We'll have to see how things play out in the off-season. But whichever way the cards fall, we have to thank Mark Tauscher for being a true Packer for so long and so well, and wish him the very best in the future.

The other news of the day was that the Packers re-signed TE/LB Spencer Havner. This was rumored to be a strong possibility and was, actually, projected here and many other places. No big surprise, really. When the Packers tight end corps thinned greatly, it was likely that management started to regret their decision at final cut-down to release the reliable Havner. The kid could not only catch passes -- he was a red zone touch down machine last season -- but could also fill in on the defense and play special teams. It didn't make sense to many fans when he was released. Havner was picked up by the Lions but sustained a hamstring injury in mid-October and was waived. The Pack, thankfully, picked him up. Good to have Havner back in the fold.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Who ya got? Da Bearz or ViQueens?

One of the joys of this particular bye week for fans of the Green Bay Packers is that the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings play each other this Sunday. And while it's not as joyous as it could be if there were actually a way to have both teams lose, we can still be thankful for a couple things. First, one team will lose. Secondly, both teams will get beat up.

My friend, Billy Da Bearz Fan, asked me today who I was rooting for. I told him I'd have to agree with the radio voice of the Packers who said on Monday that he believes the 'Queens have the most talent on paper in the NFC North (despite their record). Thus, Wayne Larrivee said, the Pack really has more to fear from Minnesota than Da Bearz, who he sees falling apart as the season goes on. Seems a reasonable argument.

So, on this given Sunday, yours truly will be rooting for Da Bearz to beat the 'Queens. Yes, this will keep Chicago in the running with the Pack, at least for another week. But it will put more distance between the Packers and Minnesota, which, if you believe Larrivee, is the greater challenger for the division title. And if Chicago can help send the 'Queens broken and battered into the game with the Pack the following week, all the better.

For those reasons, a victory by Da Bearz is on my wish list for this weekend.

How do you feel about it? Are you rooting for Chicago or Minnesota this weekend? Tell us by voting in the poll in the righthand column.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Packers release CB Al Harris

Today was the decision day for the Green Bay Packers as to what to do with veteran cornerback Al Harris: activate him, put him on IR for the rest of the season, or release him. The Pack went with door #3: they released the veteran who had been with the team since being acquired from Philadelphia in 2003.

Harris suffered a severe knee injury last season and has been rehabbing it ever since in the hope of rejoining the team. Despite being hit by injuries throughout the team, including the defensive backfield, it appears that Packers' management felt going with younger players who have played beyond expectations to this point -- including undrafted rookie CB Sam Shields who has performed very well as the nickel back -- was preferrable to a 35-year-old player attempting a return after what is often a career-ending injury. The decision was obviously also made easier by the fact that Tramon Williams has really raised his level of play and become a very good cornerback for the Packers. The Pack will want to lock him in long-term. Salary implications and roster spots obviously become part of the equation in making the decision the Packers had to make. So does the variable about whether players have more good years ahead of them or less. Yes, Virginia, it's a business. And sometimes it can be that fundamental.

Harris started every game in which he played for the Packers from 2003-09, 102 in all. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2007 and 2008 and earned second-team All Pro honors in 2007. In 2004, Harris set the Packers' single-season record of passes defenses with 28. During his time with the Pack, Harris had 14 interceptions -- including some very memorable ones...right, Matt Hasselbeck? -- and 108 passes defensed. Harris may not have been the fastest cornerback in the league, but he always seemed to have a knack for being around the ball and making big plays.

The downside for the Packers, other than saying goodbye to a valued veteran, is that Harris can be picked up by any team. Hmmm...which team in the NFC, in the NFC North to be exact, winds up scrounging Packers' castoffs? Oh tends to be those guys in the funky purple uniforms, doesn't it? Don't be surprised if that's where Harris lands.

But, regardless, our best wishes to Al Harris. Thanks for all your great play on behalf of the Packers. As the statement from GM Ted Thompson said, "We wish him the very best in the future and he will always be a part of the Packer family."

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Packers whoop Cowboys 45-7

As the TV announcers were quick to point out, this game was an embarrassment for the Cowboys. Conversely, it was perhaps the most complete game of the season for the Green Bay Packers. At 45-7, you'd sure think so.

But let's just savor this one for tonight. There's plenty of time to review the details in the days ahead.

So, enjoy, Packer fans! The Packers are 6-3 atop the NFC North going into the bye week.

It's great to be a Packer fan. Especially when you put a hurt on the 'boys from Big D like the Pack did tonight. "America's Team" ... yeah, right.

Packers must beat Cowboys tonight

Granted, nothing surprising in that headline. But given that both Da Bearz and the ViQueens pulled wins out of you-know-where earlier today, the Green Bay Packers must do what they are favored to do: beat the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field.

This would give the Pack a three-game winning streak going into the bye week, and set them up to play what will no doubt be a battered 'Queens team at the Humpty Dump the week after; the 'Queens play Da Bearz in Chicago next weekend...which begs the question: can both teams lose? Yes, wishful thinking, I know. (Sigh)

But back to tonight's game. The point spread favoring the Pack over the past few days has gone from 8-1/2 points to 7. Tells you that those who wager see a Dallas team that could, perhaps, maybe, reverse their downward spiral. Certainly they have the talent to do so. We just need to hope they don't pick tonight to get off the turnover-penalty bandwagon they've been riding all the way to their 1-6 season record...or as owner Jerry Jones prematurely stated after last week's loss, a 1-7 record.

It will be an intriguing game to watch, as this will be a game of match ups. We can continue to look to Packers' defensive coordinator Dom Capers to weave his magic with players and schemes. That will be needed to keep Dallas' three-headed running attack in check and force Jon Kitna to carry the day. Conversely, Packers' head coach Mike McCarthy needs to start walking his own talk about committing more to the run on offense. RB Brandon Jackson has shown flashes. But it seems just when he gets rolling, McCarthy's play-calling turns into an ongoing series of shotgun formations with no running backs to be seen anywhere. Gotta keep the 'boys honest tonight, coach. Please. It might just be the thing to provide enough of a rhythm for the offense, the kind that seems to have been missing for a large part of the season.

So, without further ado...let the game begin!

Go Pack Go!!!

Lets' get ready to play music! Wait...what???

If it's game day in Green Bay then it must be time to talk about...symphonic music???

Yes, this is the place you come to read about our beloved Green Bay Packers. And you will, just not in the usual way. Bear with me.

"The Civic Symphony of Green Bay has a surprising concert lined up Friday – rousing football themes. Many of the pieces are bursts of heroics and adrenaline made for NFL Films. The man who wrote much of that music is coming from Munich, Germany, to conduct."

So begins an article in yesterday's Green Bay Press-Gazette. It tells the improbable story of how a chance pick up two years ago of a CD, "Power and the Glory," containing a compilation of that great music from NFL Films led to this upcoming multi-media orchestral presentation. And the characters involved have interesting connections going back to Vince Lombardi himself. The article details how the key players had to navigate a lack of musical score availability, rights to play the music, etc. Certainly it's all a tribute to an idea and the perseverance to see it through. Worth reading.

According to the article, "Narrating and hosting the concert will be Bill Jartz, WBAY, Channel 2, anchorman and stadium announcer at Lambeau Field. The Green Bay Press-Gazette has supplied photos from most eras of Packers history for projecting on a screen. Augmenting the orchestra will be players from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the community."

You can learn about the Civic Symphony of Green Bay's performance here. Tickets are just $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, $5 for students and families can attend for just $35. Holy helmet-to-helmet hit, Batman! That's a deal! And with the Packers bye week coming up, here's a way for you to get your football fix and even get a dose of culture at the same time. Thank goodness, though, it's still football culture. I mean...c'mon, right? It is Green Bay after all.

Thanks again to fellow Packer fan and friend, Steve, for passing this along.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Packers - Cowboys Preview: Sunday Night Showdown

Two teams headed in different directions. That pretty well sums up the contest Sunday evening between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys. After giving away a couple games they should have won, and sitting at a mediocre 3-3, the Pack put together great wins over the ViQueens and the Jets.

Both of those wins can be attributed more to the Packers' defense -- which, lest we forget, is the unit that has been hurt the most with injuries -- than the offense. At the mid-point of the season, the Packers' offense still has yet to play a complete game. Sunday night against the 'boys would be as good a time as any to put a complete game together.

The offense will be without veteran WR Donald Driver for the first time in...oh...forever, it seems. He was on crutches late in the practice week just to give some added relief to his quad injury. That means, likely, that Greg Jennings will take Driver's spot in the slot and has the potential for some big plays. As radio voice of the Packers, Wayne Larrivee points out about Dallas in his blog, "There is a gap of coverage between the linebacking corps, the safeties and cornerbacks that is wide open" because "Dallas will blitz a lot and they like to play quarters coverage behind those blitzes." Jennings and fellow receivers James Jones and Jordy Nelson should be chompin' at the bit to against the Dallas secondary. Let's just hope that they and their QB, Aaron Rodgers, are a bit more in sync than they seem to have been over the last few games. And that they hold on to the passes that come their way. If so, the Pack could rack up some points.

Rookie TE Andrew Quarless was battling a shoulder problem throughout the week and he is listed as questionable for the game. It was clear in some of head coach Mike McCarthy's comments during the week that he was less than satisfied with Quarless' ability to work through the discomfort and be on the practice field. McCarthy noted that the players that practice are the ones who will get the nod on game day...hint, hint, Mr. Quarless.

On the Packers' offensive line, rookie Bryan Bulaga will once again get the start at right tackle in place of the still gimpy Mark Tauscher. LG Daryn Colledge missed a bit of practice during the week with a bad back and it wasn't certain he'd be available for the game. Jason Spitz and T. J. Lang would be the backups if Colledge couldn't go. But he did practice Friday and says he'll be ready.

On defense, it was announced late Saturday afternoon that S Atari Bigby was activated off the PUP (physically unable to perform) list and now fills the last open roster spot which was made available earlier in the week when the Packers cut DE Michael Montgomery. Rookie Morgan Burnett had filled Bigby's starting spot at the beginning of the season until he was lost to season-ending injury. Charlie Peprah has been filling the role well the last few weeks. It will be interesting to see just how much play Bigby gets in the game against Dallas.

It will also be interesting to see if CB Al Harris is activated before game time. Ditto for the other member of the PUP list, rookie RB James Starks. The Packers have until Monday to decide what to do with them. There is some speculation that CB Pat Lee might be placed on IR after sustaining a high ankle sprain in the game against the Jets. Lee is listed as out for the Dallas game. If that's the case, and the prognosis on the sprain is not good, it would make sense that the Packers put him on IR opening up a roster spot for Harris. The consensus on Starks seems to be that the Packers will put him on IR for the rest of the season and then see what they have with him next year.

As for the Cowboys, at 1-6 they are, to say the least, underperforming given the talent on the roster. But a lot of talent doesn't necessarily add up to a team. The 'boys seemingly are in disarray, much like that team in the funky purple. But as a character in a Monty Python sketch reminds us (please say with an Australian accent), "There's nothing as dangerous as a wounded mosquito."

What has cost the Cowboys this season has been turnovers and penalties. If the Packers can create turnovers and convert them into points, that will help seal the deal for a win. If the Packers allow veteran QB Jon Kitna -- replacing the injured Tony Romo -- time to find any among the band of talented receivers, things could get interesting. The running backs seem good enough, but they have been underutilized it would seem. The special teams have a dangerous returner in Dez Bryant, who is also the receiver Kitna seems to have developed a quick rapport with. The Pack will have to shut him down.

Bottom line is if the Packers defense plays the way it has been playing, the special teams continues its fine turn-around, and the offense finally gets it in gear and can get up early on the 'boys, the Pack should come out of this game with a win and be at 6-3 going into the bye week. That would also leave them well in charge of the NFC North. And given what a mess there is in Minnesota right now, what some (or many) figured might be a loss in the Humpty Dump in two weeks could very well be the Pack's seventh victory. But we'll worry about that game then. Gotta take care of business at Lambeau against the Cowboys first.

The Packers are favored by 7-1/2 points (depending upon who you tend to be looking at for that type of info). I'm calling this game 30-20 in favor of the Pack.

Go Pack Go!!!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

New book details Lombardi-years' Packers and St. Norbert College

St. Norbert College Press, De Pere, WI, has just released the first book under its imprint: “A Championship Team: The Packers and St. Norbert College in the Lombardi Years”. Why should Packer fans care about this? Well, because the Packers have been holding their summer training camps at St. Norbert College (SNC), just outside Green Bay, since 1958 and the days of Vince Lombardi himself. (You will find a link to SNC in the righthand column of this blog, by the way.)

According to news on the college's website, the book was the brainchild of SNC President Thomas Kunkel, who took over the helm of SNC in 2008. It wasn't long afterward that he started hearing Lombardi stories from the Rev. Rowland De Peaux, O.Praem., and others.

Kunkel eventually asked veteran Packers beat writer and sports journalist Cliff Christl to put togehter an oral history of the Packers training camps at SNC during the Lombardi years. “We were fortunate to have Cliff take on this project with us,” Kunkel is quoted as saying. “He knows the team, he knows the players and he knows the campus. He was the perfect person for the job.”

If you're interested in the book, it's available at the Packers Pro Shop and will be available in Shopko stores in Wisconsin and upper Michigan (a shout out to all you Yoopers!) in early November. The book will also be available at the new SNC bookstore in Todd Wehr Hall (for those in the neighborhood of De Pere) and as a featured item in the college’s online store.

The news release notes that the strong relationship between the Packers and St. Norbert College continues: "This past summer, Kunkel was elected to the team’s board of directors. Former Packers general manager Ron Wolf will be December’s guest on 'Conversations from St. Norbert College,' and Packers CEO Mark Murphy has contributed a guest editorial to the upcoming issue of St. Norbert College Magazine, in mailboxes next week.

"In addition, the Packers will be co-sponsoring the college’s second sport and society conference in 2012. And, of course, the team will be back on campus when next year’s training camp rolls around."

The book sounds like a terrific addition to the library for Packers fans.'s perfect for parties...and ideal for gifts!

Oh, and for those looking for a great small college for the kids, you won't do any better than St. Norbert College. Hey...if it's good enough for the Packers...

And finally, thanks to friend and Packer fan, Steve, for passing this story along.

Favre as zombie? Hmmm...

There certainly have been many twists and turns in the life and NFL career of Ol' #4. Eschewing (look it up!) a big bankroll from the Green Bay Packers to ride off into the sunset as a legend and ambassador of sorts for the Pack, Brett Favre instead opted for more gridiron glory. Or not, as this year is sadly bringing home to roost for him in more ways than one.

But that aside, and no matter how we may feel about Ol' #4 on any given day, we mere mortals stand in awe of his ongoing ability to seemingly be the football equivalent of the Energizer Bunny, who just keeps going and going and going and going...even on an ankle with two fractures.

One writer has finally figured out Favre's secret: he's a zombie!

Check out the article and evidence for yourself. decide!!!

By the way, thanks to displaced -- and occasionally deranged -- Packer fan, Gonz, for passing along this story.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Packers' victory over Jets: no-name "D" gets it done

This NFL season for the Green Bay Packers certainly has not unfolded as many if not most folks thought it would coming out of the preseason. The injuries have bordered upon an epidemic of Biblical proportions. The inconsistency of the offense through the first half of the season is frustrating and bewildering. The special teams? Not very special early on, but as of late...not bad at all. And as for the defense, guys should be wearing name tags out there so you know who's playing on any given weekend.

And yet, somehow, this team has fought through the adversity, not used excuses, and have gotten tremendous peformances out of guys who might not even be on a NFL roster right now if not for all the Packers' injuries. Charles Woodson put it this way: "It's amazing what you can do with some athleticism and good coaching. We've got good coaches, so you can stick some guys in there who haven't been around, and they can get it done."

That's just what they did yesterday in the new Meadowlands. Despite the inability of the offense to score a touchdown -- even with 1st and goal from the 2-yard line! -- the punting of Tim Masthay and the coverage of the punt units gave the Packers the edge in field position all day long. Head coach Mike McCarthy said, tongue in cheek, at his press conference today that Masthay's punting performance was so good, it "almost makes me want to cry." Given that the Packers' punting production over the last several years has been near the bottom of the league, one can only image how giddy McCarthy must feel to have something going for a change in that area.

Anyway, as a result of Masthay's fine punting and return shutdowns by the coverage unit, the Packers' no-name defense was able to absorb the occasional big play by the Jets' reputed high-power offense. The closest the Jets got to scoring all day was a 37-yard field goal attempt that stayed right of the goal posts.

The bottom line was the Packers' first road shutout since 1991 and only their sixth in the last 50 years. Granted, the Jets helped the Packers all day long with a few dropped passes and, of course, three turnovers. But the Packers' defense took it to the Jets. Key plays by LB Desmond Bishop, S Charlie Peprah, cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams, pressures by LB Clay Matthews and a three-man front, solid play by all the linebackers...all in all, it was a great effort by the Pack's defensive unit. And another great coaching job by that Conjurer of Lombardi Avenue, defensive coordinator Dom Capers. He's working magic with the defense, somehow getting production and performances out of players that just shouldn't be playing this well. But thank goodness they are. It's the story to the season so far.

Now, if the Packers can -- as they well should -- win at home on Sunday night against the woeful Dallas Cowboys, they will go into the bye week at 6-3. Who'da thunk it???

Cowboys, anyone?
Oh, and by the way, if you want to read about the Pack's next opponent, the 'boys, check out this article in which the Big 'boy himself, Jerry Jones, apologizes for the current state of his team.

Now, the Pack can't let down. We know there is a defense that can shut down and shut out a pretty good offense. And, finally, there may be a punting game back in Green Bay that can be relied on to shift field position in favor of the Pack. But it would be nice, before going into the bye, to see the offense finally get it together. If so, it will all add up to that 6-3 record we're hoping for.

All that's left to say about that is, Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Packers shut out Jets 9-0

It wasn't a thing of beauty from the offense, but the Green Bay Packers defense and special teams came up huge as the Pack beat the NY Jets 9-0.

There will be more review on this game in the next day or so. But right now, the Pack goes to 5-3 on the season, claiming 1st place in the NFC North division with Da Bearz inactive today...I know, many would say they are inactive even when they play, but that's another conversation. The ViQueens, are playing right now with Ol' #4 at QB...we'll see how long he goes today. The Patriots should deal the 'Queens yet another loss, further extending the Packers' lead on them.

With the dysfunctional Cowboys coming to Lambeau next Sunday night, if the Pack can come out of that game with a victory -- and with these two quality wins under their belts you have to expect their chances of that are very good -- the Packers will go into the bye week at 6-3. Who would have imagined that given the injuries and personnel turnover they have had to deal with in this first half of the season? Remarkable.

So, let's just enjoy this right now, as the Packers are showing a lot of heart, particularly on defense. The offense still seems to be misfiring and out of sync more than it should be at this point of the season. But perhaps they can finally get that in gear for the stretch run. That would make them very tough to beat for the division title. (Fingers crossed!)

Go Pack Go!!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Packers vs. Jets Preview

The recently-victorious but serially-injured Green Bay Packers travel to the Big Apple this weekend to take on the NY Jets, who are pretty healthy and coming off a bye week. The Jets also have one of the best rushing games in the NFL to this stage of the season (#2 overall) courtesy of one of the best O-lines in the league blowing holes open for RB LaDainian Tomlinson, who the Packers and many other teams thought was over-the-hill at age 31 and passed him by when he was let go by the Chargers -- oops. Oh, and the Jets also have a pretty good young quarterback, although they rank just 27th overall in passing.

Seems as if no one is giving the Pack much of chance in Sunday's game: they are currently listed as 6-1/2-point underdogs.

Interestingly, at least if you are a stat geek, the Jets actually lead the all-time regular-season series, 8-2. What's more, the Jets have won the last three contests against the Packers. Hmmmm...

OK, the Pack is coming off an emotional and physically demanding game against the guys in the funky purple. Pundits and fans both wonder how much the Packers will have in the tank for this game, which, while important, is a non-division and non-conference game. And with roughly half the roster (as shown in a post here earlier this month) on some type of injury list (either full IR or the game-to-game variety), the Packers are seemingly undermanned and probably underwhelmed at the prospect of this game.

Seems as if some players, e.g., Ryan Pickett, Cullen Jenkins and Mark Tauscher among them, might be held out this week so they are ready for the upcoming Sunday night showdown in Lambeau with the 'boys from Dallas. Seems a reasonable call. Granted, you don't want to ever go in thinking of a loss. But at this stage of the season and the roster as it is -- including several new linebackers and linemen added just this week -- keeping some key players healthy to go another day might be a fair trade in the long run.

And that's really what the Packers have to look at at this point: the rest of the season and how they are going to make the playoffs. They either need to win the division -- and, let's face it, it will either be the Pack or the 'Queens by a game or a tiebreaker (my apologies to my friend, Billy Da Bearz Fan)-- or somehow grab a wildcard spot. Getting that win against the 'Queens was a biggie, and that's why perhaps being 4-4 after this game, instead of 3-5, is all the difference in the world getting ready for Dallas and then, thankfully, the bye week.

So, what's the call on this game? Look for a lot of rushing attack by the Jets against the Packers' understaffed defensive line. If, somehow, the Pack can bend but not break in that area and force young QB Mark Sanchez into some bad decisions, the Packers have a chance. Or, if the Packers offense can do what it did for some of the game against the 'Queens, and stay on the field and minimize Jets' offensive plays, there is also a chance the Pack could steal a victory.

My head says Jets but my heart says (of course) Packers. I'll call it 24-21 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

If it's a new week there must be new Packers

You know that old saying, "You can't tell your players without a program"? Perhaps never has that been more true for fans of the Green Bay Packers than this season.

We're just coming up on the half-way point and there are now 10 Packers on the season-ending injured reserve list, eight of them from the defense (see my post from Tuesday regarding the situation Dom Capers has been dealing with as the defensive coordinator). Defensive lineman Mike Neal and linebackers Brady Poppinga and Brad Jones -- the latter of the Favre-ankle-fracture tackle -- are the latest.

So, over the course of this week, GM Ted Thompson has had to find some bodies. He's added several linebackers and a D-lineman who, perhaps not coincidentally, was picked up on waivers from the Packers' next opponent, the Jets.

You can read more about the new pick ups in the following articles: DT Howard Green, LB Erik Walden, LBs Diyarl Briggs and Erik Wilhelm.

To make room on the roster, LB Maurice Simpkins was cut.

With CB Al Harris and S Atari Bigby ready to be activated either this week or next, the roster is still very much in flux.

While the Packers' linebacking corps has certainly been decimated with injuries, it's interesting that only one defensive lineman has been added given its current lack of depth, as well. Sunday evening against the ViQueens, for example, the Pack was down basically to only three available D-linemen: B. J. Raji, C. J. Wilson and Jarius Wynn. Ryan Pickett was sidelined after a mere seven snaps with a bum ankle and Cullen Jenkins -- already playing one-handed with his other in a cast for the rest of the season -- strained a calf muscle in warmups and was unable to play.

There's no other team in the league that has been hit as hard as the Packers with injuries this early in the season: 10 players on IR among whom are eight members of the defense and which also includes five starters from both sides of the ball. Wow.

If somehow Thompson and the coaches can keep this all together with string and baling wire it will be one heckuva personnel job from top to bottom. Still a long way to go in the season. But it can't get any worse from an injury standpoint, can it? No, really, it can't. Can it???

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kudos to Capers, the Packers' MacGyver

With a large chunk of the Green Bay Packers' defense lost to season-ending injuries (eight players now on IR) or game-to-game unavailability, the abilities of defensive coordinator Dom Capers have certainly been put to the test. Perhaps, as he even alludes, more than ever in his 25-year career in the NFL.

The fact that his defense was able to do what it did against the ViQueens on Sunday night is a testament to Capers and his assistants. When you look at who he had available to play the defensive line, as well as all the other make-dos he's had to make do with through the first seven games of the season, well, Capers seems to be holding the Packers "D" together in a very MacGyver-esque fashion. How long he can keep it working remains to be seen. With most of the key injuries on the defensive side of the roster, the fact remains that it has primarily been the misfirings of the Packers' offense and special teams, more so than the patchwork defense, that has led to the Pack's three losses.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a great article about Capers and the defensive challenges he's facing. It's a great read for any fan of the Pack and, for that matter, any fan of football. Check it out.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Packers gift to Favre? Two fractures in ankle

It turns out that Ol' #4, Brett Favre, not only left Lambeau Field last night with a loss to his old team, the Green Bay Packers, but two fractures in his left ankle. The injury likely happened on the tackle by LB Brad Jones on which fellow linebacker A. J. Hawk also picked off Favre's pass. Reports are that Favre is today in a walking boot. The Minnesota Vikings say that surgery will not be necessary but Favre's status for Sunday's game against the Patriots is uncertain.

That puts Favre's streak of 291 consecutive regular season games started in jeopardy. Something ironic, if it works out that way, that the streak began with the Packers in 1992 and, in a manner of speaking, ended with the Pack in 2010.

Of course, the way his coach, Brad Childress, threw Favre under the bus last night with his blame game comments also probably isn't going to provide Brett with much incentive to get beat up some more.

Ol' #4 was looking more ol' than #4 last night. With all the off-field stuff that's flying around, you also have to believe that Brett is regretting his decision to play this year.

Hate to say we told you so, Brett. Two years ago you could have walked away from the Packers with a reported $20 million appearance fee contract and no more football. Yeah, you still wanted to play. Got that. But look where it got you: New York and an alleged scandal, whether true or not, that pops up (no pun intended) 2 years later and further tarnishes your reputation; and Minnesota, the hated rival of the team where you made your reputation and where the fans made you. You had one good year in stats. Didn't make the big game. Got talked into trying it again. And you've the grandpa you are. Not a great way to end your career, Brett. Not at all. Especially compared to the white horse and Green 'n' Gold robe of glory you could have ridden out on and still be riding all the way to the bank.

Sad. Sad indeed.