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.

Packers beat Favre and Vikings...finally!

As the football world knows today, the Green Bay Packers -- depleted by injuries coming into the game and wounded even more throughout it -- prevailed last evening over their border rival Minnesota Vikings, 28-24.

This was a much-needed win, a character win, as they say. What else can you call a game where you overcome two turnovers by your own QB in or near the red zone by getting three interceptions of your own and holding the opponent scoreless in the final 15 minutes of play? Where you have only one of your starting defensive lineman still playing at the end of the game? Where backups on offense and defense -- in some cases, players way down on the depth charts -- had to perform at a level and on a national stage they never had before?

Yes, character. That's what this game was about. Granted, it was also about getting a win against a divisional opponent that the Pack will be battling for the NFC North title (yes, we are writing off Da Bearz and Lions as contenders...I mean, c'mon...). But a game like this can go a long way to bringing a team together perhaps in a way which nothing else can. Injuries have made the journey to the playoffs and Super Bowl not what anyone expected prior to the start of the season. The games to date have not been pretty. And a couple were giftwrapped for the opponent. Last evening had it's ugly moments as well. How many times, for example, were Aaron Rodgers and his receivers running apparently different plays? Looked occasionally as if Rodgers was using the Jay Cutler Pocket Guide to Being a Mediocre Quarterback. But he threw for nearly 300 yards. And many of his passes that were on target were, dare I say, Favre-esque in their zippiness (is that a word?). In his post-game comments, Rodgers admitted the game meant not only a lot to the team but to him personally. I bet. Exorcising the ghost of quarterbacks past is no small thing. Especially in Green Bay.

Rodgers and company did enough on offense, despite missing opportunities to score which has been an unsettling and ongoing trend to date. Head coach Mike McCarthy mixed up his play calling enough to keep the ViQueens defense from blitzing on every play. The running backs made just enough contributions. Veteran TE Donald Lee came up large on two screen passes. And WR James Jones was the receiver du jour, also making big plays. Huge kudos to LT Chad Clifton who made 'Queens DE Jared Allen a non-factor. Yes, Allen got that one interception handed to him...almost literally; but that was on Rodgers, not Clifton. Rookie RT Bryan Bulaga, filling in admirably for the still injured Mark Tauscher, also held up his end of the line. All together, the Packers offensive line held up well, and that was a big difference over last season's two meetings with the funky purple folks. The only disappointment, as Rodgers himself noted, was that Donald Driver was unable to get a catch, snapping his 133 consecutive game streak. Hampered as he was with a quad injury, it was to Driver's credit that he was even on the field. Warrior. That's Donald Driver. And that was this entire Packers team last evening.

Ol' #4 for the 'Queens was also looking very old limping out of Lambeau. He got knocked around quite a bit last night, something that didn't happen at all in the meetings of last year. Sure, there was only one sack recorded (by Jarius Wynn, who just recently rejoined the team). But C. J. Wilson got a great lick on Favre, and Clay Matthews was breathing down his neck most of the night. All that pressure led, not surprisingly, to Favre mistakes. Interceptions by A. J. Hawk, Desmond Bishop (returned for a TD!) and an acrobatic Nick Collins (who promised his young son he'd get a pick in the game) helped turn the game in favor of the Pack.

Favre was feeling and looking every bit the grandfather he is as he left to a mix of applause and boos (bad show on that note, by the way, fans). Favre said in his post-game comments that he was "devastated" by the loss. With all the off-the-field mess going on around him, this was -- to quote Packers' radio voice, Wayne Larrivee -- no doubt a "dagger" that he was looking to avoid.

Think about it. Favre's last time on the field as a Packer was a loss. And now, in all likelihood, his last time on this hallowed field as a player is also a loss. Ouch. Hopefully, when all the dust settles and time soothes the wounds on both sides of things, Brett will be welcomed back to Lambeau Field with cheers, the same kind he brought to life for so many years wearing the Green 'n' Gold. It will happen again someday. But on this night, before the third-largest crowd to ever see a game at this historic venue called Lambeau Field, the cheers rightly went to the home team for an outstanding and gutsy win.

Now, the Packers have a day off and then begin to get ready for their next opponent: the Jets. On the road. The Jets are, at this stage of the season, arguably one of the better teams in the league. The Packers are still beat up. Going on the road and winning after this emotional victory will be a challenge. But we can at least now be confident that this team knows how to face such challenges and come out on top.

Let's just enjoy this victory a while longer. We'll get back to worrying about the Jets later this week.

Say it with me: It's great to be a Packer fan!

By the way, if you want to read a great article on last night's game, check out this one from Gregg Rosenthal at But whatever you do, be sure to read the comments which follow. Priceless.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Packers outlast Vikings 28-24

The Green Bay Packers finally won a close one. A very close one. They held on to beat the arch-rival Minnesota Vikings by a score of 28-24. But it came down to an incompletion on a desperation throw by Ol' #4 in the waning seconds before the Packers' victory became clear.

It was a wild game, with 2 interceptions thrown by Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and 3 INTs thrown by Brett Favre.

There will be more analysis and comment coming in the day ahead. For now, as Packer fans, let's just really savor this one. The Pack sent Ol' #4 packing indeed; shuffling out of Lambeau Field, likely for the last time as a player, with a loss. Finally.

The Packers, at 4-3, now sit atop the NFC North tied with Da Bearz who lost today versus the Redskins.

It's great to be a Packer fan!!!

Packers vs. Vikings: Sunday eve Favremageddon

Installment #3 of the duel between the Green Bay Packers and the Ol' #4-led Minnesota ViQueens kicks off at 7:20 p.m. tonight at Lambeau Field. The Packers are favored by 3 points -- the home field advantage. Temps will be in the mid-50s, great for late October. Showers are expected to taper off. If rain persists, it may turn the event into a running game...which would favor the 'Queens and RB Adrian Peterson. Especially since the Packers' running game has basically been put on the back burner of head coach Mike McCarthy's play calling, despite his protestations to the contrary. One of the keys to this game, though, is really about keeping Peterson contained more so than getting the moribund (look it up!) running game of the Packers going. Keep Peterson in check, as the Pack did in their two games last season, make Ol' #4 have to throw the ball, get pressure on him -- as the Pack did not in their two games last season -- and that will go a long way to determining the outcome of this game.

On the flip side, Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers has to play better than he did against his counterpart in the two meetings of last season. It would help, of course, if his offensive line also protected him better than it did then. 'Queens DE Jared Allen isn't the sack machine he was a year ago and tonight is no time for him to begin reprising that role. Chad Clifton and Bryan Bulaga -- likely getting the start at tackle again for Mark Tauscher -- will have to be on their game. Rodgers, for his part, needs to get rid of the ball more quickly than when these teams last met. Of late, he seems to have reverted a bit to this old habit which could come back to haunt him and the Pack. Let's hope not. RB Brandon Jackson and whomever else coach McCarthy tosses in to run a few times need to do enough to keep the Minnesota defense honest and out of a constant blitz barrage. Rodgers and his receivers also need to do a much better job of converting third downs. To date, that has been a situation which has contributed directly to the Pack's three losses. If it's the same old tune tonight...well, that wouldn't be good.

The Packers' defense should get a boost from having linebackers Brandon Chillar and Clay Matthews back in the lineup, along with DE Ryan Pickett. All three are still listed as questionable on the Packers' injury report, but expectations are that they will see action. Matthews is obviously critical to getting pressure on Favre. And Chillar's ability to cover over the middle will also play a role in the defense's success tonight. Pickett's ability to anchor the end of the line will also be key to helping contain Peterson. The news on the return to practice of CB Al Harris and S Atari Bigby this week was a plus, but no moves were made to make them active as of yet. Newly-acquired S Anthony Smith should see some action today backing up Charlie Peprah.

Special teams? Well...containing Minnesota returner Percy Harvin will be a challenge. And if they don't that could be the difference between winning and losing this game. Add in the need by punter Tim Masthay to do a much better job than he has done recently in helping the Packers manage the opponents' starting field position and this is still a major area of concern.

What's the bottom line? For a lot of reasons, the Packers need to win this game. The season is not done, however, if they don't. But getting the 'Queens at Lambeau, with a distracted (we hope) Brett Favre, and with a healthier (relatively speaking) defense, is a plus. If the Packers offense can just put 4 quarters of consistent effort across, the Pack should take this game. But it will be close. Very close, as most of the games between these two teams are.

I'm calling it 24-23 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!

SNL parodies Favre
If you happened to catch Saturday Night Live last night, you saw them lampoon Ol' #4's recent alleged "incident," so to speak. They created a parody of Favre's Wrangler Jeans ads (which, by the way, Wrangler has pulled from airing recently) which is spot-on. If you didn't catch it, you can see it here. Very funny. But also very sad for the QB who once was known for something other than this.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A long week for Packer fans; Vikings come to Lambeau Field

This week has been a long one for fans of the Green Bay Packers. Coming off a second 3-point overtime loss in two consecutive weeks can suck the life right out of you. Couple that with the other 3-point loss of the season -- to Da Bearz, no less! --'s been a tough start to the season, to say the least.

From what was expected to be a Super Bowl-caliber team to one which can't put four good quarters together in a single game, the 2010 edition of the Pack has yet to find its stride. That's not something that should be happening in the 7th week of the NFL season. Coaching begins to be called into question when you see the same problems cropping up over and over again, game after game. And let's not even start the debate over trades vs. drafting to build a championship-capable roster.

Yet, the good news is, the rest of the NFL is nearly equally as inept at this point. Within the NFC North, we're just a game behind Chicago (yeah, go figure), and a game up on the ViQueens. That other team, the Lions, is still at the bottom...although lest we forget, they gave the Pack a serious run for the money during their visit to Lambeau.

The tale of the late-game stats
There's a disquieting stat which has started to show up in some reports. Namely, that since Aaron Rodgers took over as the starting QB in 2008, the Packers are 1-11 in the 12 games that have been decided since then by four points or less. The lone victory, by the way, was in that game earlier this season against the Lions. Just as a point of reference, from 1992-2007 (is this even fair???), Ol' #4 was 33-30 in games (including playoffs) decided by 4 points or less.

Now, this is not about bashing Rodgers, although right now he's certainly not performing like the QB we saw last season either. You win as a team and lose as a team, and certainly the Packers of late have found more ways to do the latter than the former. The inability of the Packers to close out opponents when they've had opportunities to do so has come back to haunt them time and again. As has the Packers' woeful 4th quarter and overtime scoring ability: opponents have outscored the Pack 52-24 in that critical time range.

Now, as Ol' #4 and his ViQueen teammates come to Lambeau, the Pack can either get their season back on track, or continue to slide into the abyss of mediocrity. The good news is that a few players, CB Al Harris, S Atari Bigby and RB James Starks are back at practice after having come off the PUP list. According to reports, Harris looks as if he'll be the most ready to see action on Sunday. Even better, LB Clay Matthews looks as if he'll be ready to go on Sunday, as will DE Ryan Pickett. And GM Ted Thompson actually executed a trade -- a trade! -- after the loss to Miami to pick up S Anthony Smith from the Jaguars for a conditional 7th round pick. None of that matters, however, if the Packers can't get pressure on Favre. They didn't in either of the two games last season and he ate the Pack for lunch.

It's expected that the 'Queens will try to rely more on RB Adrian Peterson. Don't forget Randy Moss. And certainly don't forget Percy Harvin who is not only a solid receiving threat but also a very dangerous return man. And with special teams being as bad as they are for the Packers -- and a punter who may be on the verge of losing a job -- Harvin is not somebody you want to see get loose on a return.

We'll have more to say in the way of a preview before Sunday's game. Keep checking back.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Packers lose 2nd OT game in 2 weeks

For the second time in two weeks, the Green Bay Packers lost a game in overtime. Last week it was to the Redskins. Today, the much depleted Packers dropped a game to the Miami Dolphins 23-20. In the process, the Pack failed to gain on Da Bearz, who lost by the same score to the Seahawks in Chicago.

More review will be forthcoming in the next day or so. For now, the Pack did better than I expected them to. And when you get that close, you want the win, of course.

The Packers are now 1 for 6 in overtimes under head coach Mike McCarthy and starting QB Aaron Rodgers is now 1 for 5 in OT.

At least Da Bearz lost. And the Badgers beat Ohio State last night. And just maybe Wisconsin home state QB Tony Romo can engineer a win for the 'Boys against the ViQueens in the HumpDome. That would help soothe the pain of back-to-back Packer losses...overtime losses.

Packers vs. Dolphins Preview

The Miami Dolphins pay a visit to Lambeau Field today to meet the Green Bay Packers. The Fish are 2-2, the Pack 3-2. Believe it or not, the Dolphins lead the all-time series 9-3. But today, the Packers are listed as 3-1/2 point favorites, basically as a result of the home field advantage.

The Dolphins come in healthy and off their bye week. The NFL schedulers really dropped a gift in their laps by having them visit Green Bay on a balmy 60-degree mid-October day. (Gee, couldn't it have been in mid-December? What's a couple months among friends, right?)

But the Pack, as the entire football world is aware, has...oh...just a few injury issues to deal with. On both sides of the ball. And that will undoubtedly affect the game. A few players on defense that could perhaps play -- e.g., Clay Matthews and Ryan Pickett -- probably won't. This is a non-division, non-conference game. It won't figure in most tiebreaker situations. Not that you don't always want to get the "W". But when do you want Matthews and others available? For the Fish? Or next weekend versus the ViQueens? Please. Let's get 'em as healthy as possible for the game against the 'Queens.

While it's not final until gametime, QB Aaron Rodgers is expected to get the OK to play. That's a big plus for the offense, although the game plan likely won't feature the emphasis on the play of the tight ends quite as much with the loss of Jermichael Finley and, possibly for this game, Donald Lee, although he's listed as "probable" on the injury list. The wide receivers will need to do a much better job than they did against Washington, where they had seven dropped passes. On the line, rookie Bryan Bulaga will once again get the start at right tackle in place of an ailing Mark Tauscher.

And the running game? Wha-a-a...??? The Pack has a running game? Yes, it just hasn't been counted on much this season -- especially after the first-game loss of Ryan Grant -- so no reason to expect that to change now. As a matter of fact, there's a good article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about head coach Mike McCarthy's commitment, or lack thereof, to the running game. Great insights into the coach's mindset, using his own words to have a look inside, so to speak.

As for the Packers' defense, that's where the injuries will show up against a capable Fish offense. The absence of Matthews, Pickett, Brandon Chillar and Nick Barnett (who is done for the season) leave the Pack with basically its second unit linebacking corps and perhaps even rookie C. J. Wilson starting on the line for the still-injured Mike Neal. The Fish have a two-headed running attack with Ronnie Brown and Rickie "One Toke Over the Line" Williams. The primary receiving threat is Brandon Marshall, who is a good one. Starting QB Chad Henne has a strong arm but is a bit cumbersome in the pocket and, in only his second season as a starting QB, still locks onto receivers a bit too often. If the Packers could generate any pash rush today they could create some turnovers. But against a very good offensive line, and with the Pack's best pass rushers out, that type of rush doesn't seem very likely.

The Dolphins got beat 41-14 in their game versus New England the week before their bye. Thirty-five of the Patriots' points came in the second half. Hmmm...considering that the Packers seem to have a second-half drop off in most games so far this season, that certainly doesn't mean much.

Given that the Packers' special teams are yet again in flux because of the injuries to key players and the movement of some special teams players into those starting or key back up roles, don't count on much out of this unit today. But again, we haven't really counted on much from them most of the season. So anything we get in the way of returns from Tramon Williams, Jordy Nelson or whomever the coaches decide to throw back there today is a bonus. On the flip side, it's possible coverage units could give up big yardage because of the new mix of players.

Could the Pack rise to the occasion, kind of like a wounded rogue elephant, and pull out a victory at home today? It's possible. But I think the injury situation for the Packers just might be too much to overcome. The Packers have lost -- given away -- two games they should have won. Here's a game today that, by all counts, they should probably lose.

This game is one of those toss-up games for me. My head says the Fish will swim out of Lambeau with a victory because of the state of the triage unit known as the Packers. My heart, of course, bleeds Green 'n' Gold and says somehow, someway, the Pack will get a much-needed "W". This is one time when a score prediction eludes me. It's much more basic than that.

Go Pack Go!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

For the Packers, the bad news just keeps coming: Barnett on IR

The Green Bay Packers wound up doing today what has been anticipated for at least the last week: they placed starting LB Nick Barnett on injured reserve following his wrist surgery Wednesday. This is the second time in three years that Barnett's season has been cut short with injury. Understandably, Barnett tweeted this morning, and I quote, ":-( f#%^*". And he added, ":-( f......k".

Guess that not only sums up Barnett's frame of mind today but that of many if not most Packer fans regarding not only the loss of Barnett but the entire injury situation with the Pack. Lost for the season, of course, are RB Ryan Grant, S Morgan Burnett, S Derrick Martin, and DE Justin Harrell. The jury is still out on TE Jermichael Finley, but given that he will be out perhaps 8 weeks at least, the Packers might just decide to shut him down for the season, as well, to open up a roster spot in a roster that has quickly been depleted only about a third of the way into the NFL season.

Here's a quick look -- unofficial -- at the Pack's injury status:

LB Nick Barnett Wrist Out for Season
RB Ryan Grant Ankle Out for Season
DE Justin Harrell Knee Out for Season
S Derrick Martin Knee Out for Season
S Morgan Burnett Knee Out for Season
S Atari Bigby Knee PUP List - eligible after Game 6
CB Al Harris Knee PUP List - eligible after Game 6
TE Jermichael Finley Knee Likely Out for Season
RT Mark Tauscher Shoulder Likely out for Sunday, Week to Week
LB Brandon Chillar Shoulder Has missed 2 games, may play Sunday
CB Sam Shields Calf Has missed 2 games, may play Sunday
TE Donald Lee Chest Sprain Likely out for 1-2 games
LB Clay Matthews Hamstring Likely to miss Sunday's game
DL Ryan Pickett Ankle Questionable for Sunday
QB Aaron Rodgers Concussion Probable for Sunday pending tests
WR Donald Driver Quad Probable
LT Chad Clifton Knee Probable
S Nick Collins Knee Probable
DL Cullen Jenkins Hamstring/Hand Probable
FB Quinn Johnson Glute Probable
DE Mike Neal Shoulder Questionable
CB Charles Woodson Toe Probable

Obviously, the plethora (look it up!) of injuries which have hit the Packers will not only impact this Sunday's game against the Fish, but the remainder of the season. Whether or not the young and untested players can rise to the occasion will determine to a great extent whether or not the Pack will make the playoffs. Two-thirds of the season remains. But the bye week is still a month off. The coaching staff will have to be very wise as to who, how and when they utilize the members of the roster. Special teams coach Shawn Slocum is having to scramble to fill spots on his squads because a number of those regulars are now being called upon to fill more pressing spots on offense and defense. So a weak spot on the team has become even weaker. Oh boy...

All together now...Let us pray...

Packers re-sign DE Mike Montgomery
To fill Barnett's roster spot, the Packers wasted little time re-signing DE Mike Montgomery who was a sixth round draft choice by the Pack in the 2005 NFL Draft. He played in 56 games with eight starts during his five seasons with the team. He had signed with the ViQueens in March but was released on their final roster cutdown. He'll be wearing number 99. With rookie DE Mike Neal possibly out Sunday, and Ryan Pickett having a sore ankle, being able to plug Montgomery in immediately with a system he knows is a good re-signing by GM Ted Thompson.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Packers' Finley likely out for season

This is not the kind of news Green Bay Packers fans wanted to hear: TE Jermichael Finley may be done for the season.

Oh man. After initial reports indicated Finley might be out 3-6 weeks, Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting in her blog that fellow reporter Greg Bedard "has learned from a source that the surgery revealed more damage than initially thought and Finley is likely done for 2010." Reported recovery time is 8-10 weeks so team management is deciding what to do.

Oh man. Oh man...

By the way, S Derrick Martin is also done for the season.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What now for the Packers?

Both local and national sports talk shows have been abuzz since Sunday discussing the injury woes of the Green Bay Packers. Expect that to continue for quite some time.

This morning, starting TE and emerging NFL star, Jermichael Finley -- a huge part of the Packers' offensive game plans -- is undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. He'll be out 3 to 6 weeks, not the 2 to 3 initially speculated here and elsewhere. Ouch. In more ways than one. TE Donald Lee is likely also out a couple weeks with a chest sprain. So we'll be seeing a lot more of the young tight ends, Andrew Quarless and Tom Crabtree.

Starting LB Nick Barnett will undergo surgery on his wrist tomorrow, after which they will be able to determine whether it's a season-ending situation (the second in three years for Barnett) or whether he can make it back. Some reports are indicating that it might be 8 weeks before Barnett could return. Given that leaves only about 2 regular season games and playoffs (assuming the Pack could actually make it given their current situation), the question then becomes whether or not GM Ted Thompson would hold that roster spot for Barnett. Given the hits nearly across the board with injuries of varying kinds, Thompson might be hard pressed to do so. It seems unlikely.

QB Aaron Rodgers will be held out of practice at least some of this week due to the concussion he suffered on Sunday. It's possible he could miss the game against Miami if he is not cleared by a third-party neurologist. Backup Matt Flynn will be preparing, as he must, as if he'll get the start.

S Derrick Martin is also out at least several weeks with a knee injury. Again, it might be a numbers game here with Thompson: hold the roster spot or put Martin on injured reserve to get a body? My guess is the latter.

The news on LB Clay Matthews was good, all things considered: his hamstring strain is not as serious as it's been in the past. Having said that, however, it's possible Matthews could still be held out of the Miami game so he's ready to go against the ViQueens (who, by the way, lost to the Jets last night in New York...or wherever that new stadium is...oh, and did I mention the 'Queens fate was sealed on -- what else? -- an interception in the closing minutes off a pass by Ol' #4? Say it with me: awwwwwwww...).

DE Ryan Pickett has an ankle sprain with no apparent timetable for playing. He could be ready to go this weekend.

On the good news front -- yes, there is at least one silver lining -- LB Brandon Chillar will practice this week and could also see action against the Dolphins.

Keep in mind, also, that S Atari Bigby, CB Al Harris and RB James Starks will technically be available to rejoin the team after this next game. But if in fact they will be activated and ready to make contributions of the kind needed right now, that's anyone's guess.

Guess it's that time, Packer fans...let us pray...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hard week ahead for decimated Packers

Coming off a heartbreaking -- and injury-riddled -- loss in overtime to the Washington Redskins, the Green Bay Packers this week are probably going to be spending as much time getting medical evaluations as practicing.

The Pack limped into the game already having a couple starters lost for the season, namely RB Ryan Grant and S Morgan Burnett, while a decision about season-ending wrist surgery is still in the air concerning LB Nick Burnett (and just for good measure, let's remember Justin Harrell, as well, while we're on the subject). A few other players were out for the game, including RT Mark Tauscher, LB Brandon Chillar, S Sam Shields, and FB Quinn Johnson.

By the end of the game, they had lost TE Jermichael Finley (possibly for 2-3 weeks...and that's the optimistic view!), TE Donald Lee, DE Ryan Pickett, LB Clay Matthews, CB and special teams demon Derrick Martin (may be the most serious with an ankle injury), and LB Frank Zombo.

Oh yes, let's not forget the concussion which QB Aaron Rodgers sustained supposedly on his last throw (intercepted) where he clearly had head-to-head contact from the defender (with no flag at all, of course...just like the blow to the head no-call in the playoff game loss at Arizona). So in order for Rodgers to be available for the upcoming game against Miami, he's going to have to clear a number of tests before he gets the OK to play.

Ryan Pickett was quoted as saying, "I've not been part of anything like this that so many guys are injured...It's never been this bad. I've never experienced it in my 10 years."

The bottom line right now is that a team which many picked to go not only to but to win the Super Bowl based upon its talented roster now seems like it's on life support. The injuries are everywhere. Not what you want as you head into one of the toughest stretches of the schedule: Dolphins, ViQueens, Jets, and Cowgirls. It's a month before the Packers get their bye week. And, even without any other players going down, the Pack might be hard pressed to win another game before that bye week.

Yes, injuries played a big part in yesterday's loss by the Packers. You can't lose two of your top playmakers -- Finley and Matthews -- and not have it affect the outcome. But the Packers just left too many opportunities on the field. Failing to push it into the endzone when you have 1st and goal from the 2-yard line, with a chance to go up 14-0 early, just left the door open for the 'skins to hang around. It never should have come down to K Mason Crosby needing to hit a 53-yarder at the close of regulation to win that game. Never. Yes, he was 2 of 4 on the day and needs to make those kicks. But the Pack also needs to convert 3rd downs -- they didn't -- and not give their opponent multiple 1st downs through penalties.

And when, oh when, will the Packers ever get their special teams together?!

The consistent pattern we see emerging in and across games is not the pattern we want to see: fast start, followed by tailing off in the second half, little to no commitment to the running game by head coach Mike McCarthy, and continued penalties and lapses at critical junctures of a game.

Yes, as the players say, they feel they should be 5-0 right now instead of 3-2. But truth be told, they could also just as easily be 1-4 right now. The Buffalo game was the only game that has been a complete, or nearly complete, game by this team. By the time you hit game #5 of the schedule you should know who you are and what you can do and do it in a consistent way. The Packers just aren't.

Granted, the injuries started taking their toll early and often this season on the Pack. And now, it's gotten even worse. The prognosis for the immediate future is not a good one. There are still 11 games remaining. But it's possible, given the injuries let alone other problems which seem to be plaguing this team, that the Packers could go into their bye week at 3-6. They would likely have to win out in order to have a shot at the playoffs. And that's not a position in which you wish to find yourself.

The mettle of this team, coaching staff and management is going to be tested this week and over the coming month. The Packers' season could very well be riding on what happens in these next four games.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Packers lose to Redskins in OT, 16-13

A sickening loss for the Green Bay Packers vs. the Washington Redskins in overtime, 16-13.

Now I know why I was so troubled in making my prediction.

The Pack has had 3 lousy games in a row, and are 1-2 in those games, to now go 3-2 on the season, now a game behind...Da Bearz, at 4-1? Ya gotta be kidding me?!

As if the Packers injury situation couldn't get any worse, they lost another 4 starters at least for today and maybe beyond. Wow.

Can't even write anymore at this point. Will have to wait until Monday or beyond before I get the bad taste of this one out of my mouth.

Overtime in Packers - Redskins game

The Green Bay Packers left way too many opportunities on the field, and gave the Washington Redskins an opportunity to get back in the game...and they did. K Mason Crosby had a chance to win the game in the closing seconds on a 53-yard field goal attempt which had plenty of distance, but clanged off the left upright. That was his second consecutive miss, missing a 48-yarder earlier, while making two.

Didn't have a good feeling about this game. This is why.

Packers win the toss and elect to receive.

Packers vs. Redskins - let's call it...

I offered my preview, for the most part, in my post of late yesterday afternoon. In today's match up between our beloved Green Bay Packers and the Washington Redskins I just have to admit that on this one...I am a bit, oh, unclear as to outcome.

It's a very strange space in which to be. The first two games of the season, I had it pretty well called. In fact, I nailed the score of both teams right on the money in the opener versus Philadelphia, had the Packers' score right on the button in the game against the Bills, and had the score of the winning team in game #3, too. Unfortunately, that score turned out to be in favor of Da Bearz not the Pack as I had anticipated. Last week, I figured coming off that horrible performance in Chicago they'd have the guns blazing and blow out Detroit at Lambeau. Didn't quite turn out that way, as the Pack were lucky to survive their many mistakes in that game and come out with a squeaker of a win.

So the performances of the last two weeks by the Pack leaves me underwhelmed, particularly with the inconsistency on offense. But if ever there was an opportunity to get things going it should be against Washington: they have the NFL's 31st-ranked pass defense. They also haven't exhibited much in the way of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. If the Packers' makeshift running game can at least keep the defense honest, QB Aaron Rodgers could and should have a big day.

Now, however, toss in to the mix the fact that the defensive unit, because of injuries, will resemble more of a preseason squad than regulars and it gives a Packer fan pause, ya know? After all, if the Lions were able to do what they did at Lambeau Field last weekend, what might the Redskins do on their home turf?

Offensively, the 'skins have enough weapons to not only test but do damage against the Pack's beat up defense. It will really take great effort on the part of the backups who are now called upon to start to keep QB Donovan McNabb in check. He's got a good tight end in Chris Cooley who could cause problems in coverage for the Pack's linebackers, who will be missing starter Nick Barnett and their best coverage linebacker, Brandon Chillar. There is also a Redskins' deep threat in WR Anthony Armstrong who caught a 57-yarder last week. And RB Ryan Torain will be getting just his second start, filling in for the injured Clinton Portis. Washington head coach Mike Shanahan drafted Torain while in Denver, and believes he is -- or can be -- a big-time running back. Let's hope that doesn't start today.

So, where does this leave us besides very confused about what to expect today? I guess nowhere. The Packers are favored by 2-1/2 points. I have the sense that it will be a high scoring game with neither defense holding serve, so to speak. Could look like some of the games we saw late last season where which team has the ball last wins. Prior to the season, I had this game going into the "W" column when giving my overall win/loss prediction. But that was before all the injuries and inconsistent play. The Pack is the better team. But over the past two weeks, especially, they haven't played like it. And with the hits to the defense this past week, they've gotten weaker. Aaron Rodgers and the offense is going to have carry the day big-time if the Pack is to come out of this game with a win. They can do it. But will they? No clue. I have just as much a sense that the Redskins could get the "W" as could the Packers. (I hate it when that happens!)

Right now, I see this game as a toss up, unfortunately. But I'll put on the Green-'n'-Gold-colored glasses and take the Packers 31-30.

Go Pack Go!!!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Packers vs. Redskins Preview

The Green Bay Packers go into Sunday's game with the Washington Redskins as a wounded team. A rash of injuries beginning in game #1 has led any number of pundits who were onboard the Packers Super Bowl train to now say...well, maybe not. Two starters, RB Ryan Grant and S Morgan Burnett, are done for the year. LB Nick Barnett is out for Sunday's game and may be done for the season pending the decision on wrist surgery. Barnett Tweeted Saturday afternoon that, "Just finished another scan.. We are getting very close to putting together a plan... Meet with dr.. So.. Things are getting closer". Hmmm...

Other injured starters and key backups on both sides of the ball mean the eight-cylinder engine is now firing on six (not exactly a football metaphor, but you get the point). LB Brandon Chillar, FB Quinn Johnson, CB Sam Shields are all listed as out for Sunday, as well. T Mark Tauscher is listed as doubtful, but most reports are projecting rookie Bryan Bulaga will get the start. To fill the other spots, such players as Desmond Bishop, Charlie Peprah and others who usually get their playing time on special teams will be called upon to fill mighty big shoes. It's their chance to show what they can do. And it will likely be that way for a while. Bishop, for his part, says he's ready.

As the Pack goes into a stretch of games starting with an improved Washington team, followed by Miami and Minnesota at Lambeau, then at the Jets, and finally back home to face the Cowboys before heading into their bye week, this game shapes up as a rather pivotal game. If the Packers can play even a semblance of a complete game on offense, they should win this game against the 'skins. Because it's likely going to take lots of points to do so given the state of the defense.

With a depleted secondary and linebacking corps, the Packers are exposed against Washington's underneath passing game using their tight ends, as well as the downfield passing game when QB Donovan McNabb wants to take his shots with their limited wide receiver corps. And, let's not forget the problem that the Packers have trying to corral scrambling quarterbacks. McNabb has generally played well against the Packers in the past and there is no reason to suspect he won't play well Sunday. The question is whether he'll have an emotional letdown after the 'skins big victory in Philly last weekend.

Washington comes in much healthier than do the Packers. The only starter out for the 'skins is RB Clinton Portis. DT Albert Haynesworth will also reportedly miss the game; his younger brother, Lance, was killed in a motorcycle accident late this last week. (Our sincere condolences to the Haynesworth family.)

The current line on the game has the Packers favored by 2-1/2 points. This is a difficult game to predict given the Packers' narrow victory at home over the Lions last weekend. Yes, the Lions are an improved team. But the Pack played very poorly in almost every phase of the game. Fortunately, the Packers were finally able to get a grind-it-out running game going to eat up the clock at the end to preserve the victory. According to all reports and comments from coaches and players alike, the feeling in the locker room afterward was one where they had to be reminded that they won the game. Perhaps that will be the motivation they need to start playing the type of football they are capable of playing, and which we have yet to see this season. Even with the injuries, players need to step up. Coaches have made it clear they are not going to change schemes because of who is and who isn't available. Do we really buy that?

The Pack will have to make to do. Whether that will be good enough to get them a win in Washington or not...?

Check here for the complete Packers "Dope Sheet" on the match up.

Check back here Sunday morning to get my final prediction. This is one I definitely need to sleep on.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Packers starting to get thin

No, Packer fans, we're not talking about some new diet regimen in the Pack's dining facility. We're addressing the fact the the roster of the Green Bay Packers is starting (continuing?) to take some hits.

Obviously, we're aware of the injuries which have carried over from last season: Al Harris, Atari Bigby, etc. Then the Pack loses Ryan Grant in the first game of the season for the season. Ditto for the perpetually-injured Justin Harrell. Rookie D-lineman Mike Neal has yet to really be available for a game. LB Brandon Chillar has been dinged up. Rookie safety Morgan Burnett was lost for the season in the game versus Detroit. And, of course, Johnny Jolly was suspended for the season before he even got a chance to get injured.

So analysts are now making the argument that the Packers' team that many thought would be ready to take a step toward the Super Bowl -- some even going so far as to say the Packers were the favorites to win the Super Bowl -- is not the team on the field now...and that changes the dynamics considerably.

Yes, even without Grant, the Pack still has a potent offense although they have yet to really establish any consistency over four quarters. But it's the defense that is starting to look thin.
Especially now that reports indicate that LB Nick Burnett could be lost for the season for the second time in three years. He's seeking a second opinion on an injured wrist so nothing final yet.

But with all the recent clamor among Packer fans over the fact that GM Ted Thompson hasn't gone after any running back help, i.e., Marshawn Lynch, we may lose sight of the fact that it's the defense that is looking vulnerable from a roster standpoint at the moment. (Oh, by the way, there is a report by Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the Packers were in fact heavily involved in discussions with Buffalo to work a deal for Lynch. See that article for the complete details.)

So, while the Pack will be getting Harris and Bigby back in a couple weeks there's no saying exactly what that will mean. What will they be able to do and how quickly can they get up to game speed?

It's still early in the season and the Packers sit atop the NFC North with that bunch from south of the Border (that would be Chicago for the uninformed and Midwesternly-geographically-challenged). But Minnesota may -- may -- have gotten better with the acquisition today of WR Randy Moss. Either the current Packer players will need to step up if more of the starters go down...or...Thompson will need, despite his tendencies not to want to do so, to pull the trigger on a deal or deals to bolster the defense.

A quarter of the way into the season things are getting slightly more iffy than they were when the season started.

P.S. We're running a poll for the next 7 days about what you think the Packers should do in terms of their roster. You'll find it in the righthand column. Let's hear from you!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Packers vs. Lions...Whew!

Sometimes, Packer fans, the only thing that can be said about a game is: Whew!

The Green Bay Packers narrowly hung on to garner a 28-26 victory over the Detroit Lions in Lambeau Field yesterday. For those who watched it, it was painful. We will not recount the ways; you can find all that coverage and angst elsewhere this time around. For those who didn't see it, consider yourselves blessed.

My prediction of a blowout in favor of the Pack was clearly off the mark. Apparently, there was still a bit of a hangover from the Monday night loss to Da Bearz. And, also apparently, Detroit does have more ability than perhaps they've been given credit for. When some of the people they are currently missing from the lineup return, they could actually be a dangerous team now and then. They are very close. But, as their mistakes revealed on Sunday, not yet close enough.

What can the Packers take out of this game? Besides the "W" and a share of the lead in the NFC North with Da Bearz, who lost to the Giants last night (yeah!), the Pack might also be able to recognize their vulnerability on defense to the dink and dunk offenses that show up during a game, their difficulty handling scrambling quarterbacks, and the fact that they can win a game -- or, at least, put one away -- with the running game when they need to. Granted, there's nothing flashy about it, and there is little to no threat of a Packers' running back taking one to the house from a long way out. But they can grind it out. Perhaps, that's at least one area of good news emerging through the ugly games of the past two weeks.

Other than that....whew!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Packers vs. Lions Preview

First, Packer fans, in the interest of full disclosure I offer the following: due to my own schedule this weekend, I'm writing this a few days ahead of time. So it's possible some things might change between now and noon Sunday. But one thing that won't change will be the outcome. The Green Bay Packers will take out a Monday night hangover on the Lions. It should be pointed out, by the way, that the Lions haven't beaten the Packers in Green Bay since before Brett Favre was the Pack's starting QB...and that's now two teams ago! (For the stat geeks out there, that would be 1991.)

Anyway, currently the spread has the Pack favored by 14.5 points. That's the biggest spread of the weekend, folks, and generally when things get that out of whack it doesn't pan out so well. But you just have to believe that after their disappointing showing in ChiTown Monday evening, and now back on home turf, the Pack will play like the team they are and take out their frustrations on the guys from MoTown.

There really aren't many phases of the game which favor Detroit. They have a good defensive line and a good rookie running back, but the latter is a bit hobbled with turf toe. Starting QB Matthew Stafford is still out and replacement Shaun Hill is the Lions equivalent of Trent Edwards. We already know how well he fared at Lambeau. Hill doesn't have the arm to allow the Lions to take advantage of some of their receivers' abilities. Bad for them, good for us.

Detroit, as I noted in my review of Da Bearz game, is just what the doctor ordered for the Pack to get back on track.

I'm calling this one 38-10 in favor of the Pack.

Go Pack Go!!!