It was stated earlier this week in the Packer-Bills Preview…don’t bring a knife to a gun fight. With all due respect to the anemic Bills offense, that analogy is so far over the gap between the UW coverage teams and the ASU return teams it isn’t even funny. So we’ll just use a visual analogy. On the left is the UW coverage teams (not Clint Eastwood–great actor, great movie…) on the right is the lovely star of Modern Family, representing the ASU return units. This almost cost the game and potentially a BCS berth.
I also have a few questions I need answered in the coming weeks about this football team:
1. Why is it that UW is one of the rare teams in the big ten without a special teams coach?
2. Why is it that John Clay can play one play at a time before he needs a 20 minute break?
3. Where is the leadership along this OL?
4. Why does Kyle Jefferson get reps? I’m sorry but watching him short arm every pass across the middle is understandable after that near decaptitation 2 years ago, but he is no longer an option as a result.
5. Why does Isaac Anderson catch the ball and stop running so often?
6. How different will this defense look after losing Borland? How long will he be out?
7. How good is Lance Kendricks?
8. When will this team tackle like a big ten team?
9. Can Louis Nzegwu build off his fine performance?
10. Can I get tickets to tO$U game?
Even with our offensive performance last week and the loss of Ryan Grant, it’s still a great week to be a Packers fan. Look at some of the other teams and fan bases around the league; Dallas, Minnesota, the Jets, Indy, San Diego and San Francisco. All of the build up, the expectations, the HBO specials and they all stunk in more ways than one and are all sitting at 0-1. We’ll take 1-0 and a 13 point spread in the home opener against a team with no expectations of success.
Stats of the Week
1) The Packers are the only NFC team to win their last four season openers
2) Under McCarthy, the Packers are 5-0 in their opening road game of the season
3) In week 1, the Bills had 166 total yards and never visited the red zone
4) The Packers joined the Ravens and Bears as the only teams to win with a negative turnover margin in week 1.
Keys to the Game
1) Keep the Flags Hidden– The Packers, flagged often in the McCarthy era, saw only two penalties against them in Philadelphia Sunday. In contrast, the Eagles were hit for 10 penalties for 80 yards. Hopefully the two turnovers were a fluke and the flag-free football was a trend. The Packers shouldn’t have to cheat to win Sunday.
2) Don’t Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight– The Bills offense was brutal. 23:07 of offensive possession, 166 yards, a stable of running backs who managed 50 yds rushing, and a quarterback who looked like he showed up at the wrong party. There is no way the Packers’ defense should let the Bills breath. This is a complete mismatch…on paper.
3) Welcome to the Show Mr. Jackson– My guess is the Packers are going to get Brandon Jackson involved immediately Sunday. I’m thinking a couple runs and a screen pass right off the bat. Get him going early so he’s in the flow of the game. 22-25 touches for Jackson.
4) The Pick to Click– The Packers O is in for a big day. Perfect weather, home-field, and a chance to get the swagger back. I’m expecting a quick six-play drive and Rodgers TD pass to Finley to start out the afternoon and keep rolling from there.
5) Home, Home on the Range– Like Bill Simmons said in his post this week, “Super Bowl contenders blow out crummy teams at home.” Not much else to say on this one.
Prediction: Green Bay 44 Buffalo 9
Badgerphan, our new hunting contributor Berlo, and I have finalized our menu for Sunday’s game at Lambeau. We’ll be washing it all down with a fine selection of Wisconsin ales, but all that really matters is what’s on the grill…
-Pork tenderloin with an Asian peanut sauce marinade
-Stuffed chicken wings
-Bison burgers with sauteed onions and Wisconsin cheddar
I found a website called www.fakeposters.com. It’s fabulous. Here’s one of my creations…
I’d like to throw two “thank-you’s” out to the Eagles this week. To Michael Vick- thanks for thinking you’re a passing quarterback on 3rd and goal. To Andy Reid- thanks for thinking Vick can run between the tackles on 4th and 1. What was that? We have seven on the line, five of which are inside their ends and they don’t get Vick in space? He gashed us for more than a half and you run that play??? Again, thank you.
I’d also like to throw out an apology. In my season preview, I questioned our offensive line and compared Mark Tauscher to an 80-year old man. I’d like to apologize to all 80-year old men. You all have much quicker feet than either of our tackles. Paint dries faster than Tauscher and Clifton.
Any road win in the NFL is gold. Add to it an NFC team you haven’t beaten in their hometown since 1962, and there should be little complaining.
One last thing…I also mentioned in the season preview how Brandon Jackson would eventually be asked to be a 1st and 2nd down back. I hate being right.
KEYS TO THE GAME (from my preview)
1) Our defense- It was all-world until Vick was forced into action. Even though Vick moved the chains, the Packers still had 5 sacks, three of which were on Vick. McCoy only had seven carries and they limited DeSean Jackson to four touches on offense for 30 yards. Woodson was Woodson and Matthews was better than last year. Holy crap! His first sack, Matthews looked like a cheetah pouncing on an impala.
2) Special teams- Kudos to the Packers’ special teams Sunday. That was one of the top ST performances in recent memory. Across the board: returns, especially KO returns, were solid. Coverage was solid. On punts, we had four punts and Jackson only managed two returns for 11 yards. Very nice. And besides the kick-off out of bounds, Mason Crosby was huge. We’ll re-visit him later. Now do it all again this week and prove it wasn’t a fluke.
3) Offensive dominance- Perhaps the greatest part of Sunday was that the offense was, in their own eyes, terrible and yet we put 27 points on the board. Rodgers was off most of the day. Grant goes down. Finley found out that teams are going to be forced to double-team him or Rodgers is going to target him EVERY TIME. I see vast improvement Sunday.
4) Andy Reid’s gameplan- Wow, the Eagles sucked in the first half. They were setting all kinds of records…in futility. They couldn’t get Jackson the ball and Kolb looked like a scared, confused rookie. Vick saved them and created a huge problem in the process. Glad I’m not an Eagles fan.
PLAY OF THE GAME
I’m going with Crosby’s 56 yard field goal to end the 1st half. Not only did it put the Pack up two scores going into the half and put all the momentum in Green Bay’s favor, but how many of you thought there was any chance that was going through as they were lining up? Come on, 5% of you? Too high? Huge play.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Clay Matthews- I guess Allen Iverson is right. We’re talking about practice. 7 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, and 1 FF. He looked quicker than last year. His dropped interception could cost him the NFL Defensive Player of the Week, but wow, how can I pick anyone else.
Do the Badgers suck? Well…in the pages of this blog, you know my preseason opinion was clearly no. I still feel there are the second best team in the big ten and when the dust settles they’ll play in the BCS series. The better question is what is going on with this team?
- Schedule: Michigan is a good example of a team that can ascend through a competitive schedule. UConn has been a developing program, they opened the big house with some renovations and then they play their historic rival, all while introducing America to the current Heisman frontrunner. Wisconsin on the other hand, opens with a home game 2000 miles away at like 1:00 in the morning in front of a small TV audience on the Versus channel which I didn’t even know existed. They began the game by punching UNLV in the face and then malaise seemed to settle in, they seemed bored and began this disturbing trend of turning it over inside the five. They return to Camp Randall for a early morning game with San Jose State. Only thing most diehards could tell you about SJSU is that Packer James Jones came from that school. No rivalry, no history, a game of little interest, that saw empty seats at Camp Randall. Result? Badgers punch SJSU in the face early, fumble inside their five trying to score and then go into a haze for the next 30 minutes. Bottom line remains, this team won’t have freakish turnovers all year…but they probably will have the ability to punch other teams in the mouth early and hopefully more often. This team seems to play to the level of their opponent—we’ll see how they fare when a more formidable opponent emerges. Their schedule early did them no favors.
- Turnovers: enough said. All ROTQ readers know you can’t turnover the football anywhere and be successful…turning it over where UW has is completely unacceptable.
- Injuries: we haven’t seen the whole UW roster on the field at the same time. Injuries to key players, namely guys like Chris Borland and Mike Taylor haven’t helped.
Prognosis: I think Peter Konz was right earlier this week when he noted that this type of performance will certainly get their attention and the attention of the coaching staff. These foolish mistakes will be corrected, the waning attention span will be stop and we’ll see the type of team we expect this Saturday. I expect ASU to present some intriguing challenges, namely to the secondary…but again this is a PAC-10 team where the defenses are not particularly rugged. UW has always fared well against strong PAC-10 teams, yet alone one in a rebuilding mode. I expect them to really establish their identity in advance of their home tilt with mighty Austin Peay and the forthcoming road trip to MSU and then the big one…hosting OSU. You’ll read it here. This team will be undefeated going into Iowa.
You know how they say being the President of the United States ages you? Just look at the pictures. Clinton, W and Obama look like death warmed over compared to their inauguration picture. What does becoming a head coach do to you? I say lots of weight. Jon Gruden is basically the only former Packer coach to escape the bulge. Mike Sherman’s ass took up half my big-screen television. Mike McCarthy finally went on a diet, and Mike Holmgren birthed Andy Reid. Seriously, Andy Reid is Holmgren’s son. They spend their off-seasons hunting for fish in the Arctic Ocean preparing their blubber for winter. I laugh every time I see Andy Reid. Can’t wait for Sunday. One quick question- Did William Howard Taft ever coach for the Pack?
KEYS TO THE GAME
1) The Great Unknown- We have many questions about our defense. I know, most of the guys are back from last year, but there are new faces who are stepping into high pressure roles. We have some amazing players, but they haven’t really practiced until this week. Their first hits will be Sunday. Their first full speed action will be Sunday. Like I said in my season preview, the starting 11 have not played a snap together yet. We’ll see what happens. Note to Clay Matthews: You are not Pat Listach, you are not Pat Listach.
2) The Great Known- Our special teams are awful. Just find a way to contain DeSean Jackson. PLEASE? Keep Kolb and the Eagles from starting on our half and make them go 80-90 yds to score.
3) Is the offense really this good? The first team played the equivalent of four quarters this preseason. They scored 7 touchdowns. That’s sick. IMO, the offense clicking in the preseason means as much as the defense not playing together. I sense a huge game for Rodgers and the O.
4) Andy Reid- This is not a typo. Reid and his staff have had 5+ months to figure out an offense minus Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook. They showed the vanilla package in the preseason. Our ability to figure out what the Eagles are trying to accomplish with Kolb, McCoy, Jackson and Maclin will go a long way. The problem is the last three names are “to the house” talents. Very scary.
Prediction- GREEN BAY 33, Philadelphia 23
If you remember back to the early 90’s, the Packers slowly worked their way up the playoff ladder. Divisional game to NFC Championship game to Super Bowl. They took their painful playoff losses and it prepared them for the next time. 2009 was step one of the playoff ladder for the Aaron Rodgers Packers. Is 2010 the next rung on the ladder, or do they jump all the way to the SB rung?
2010 is quite a different animal than last year’s model. Last year, the NFL’s 2nd ranked defense was the key to success in Green Bay. This year, the starting defense has yet to play a snap together while the Packers’ offense is the talk of the national circuit and Aaron Rodgers is a media darling. Is he a sure thing? Let’s see…
1) Aaron Rodgers- Of course he’s a sure thing! He’s your steady 12% return on investment. No severe ups and downs in his portfolio. He is in complete control of this offense and all of its parts. It’s no surprise that many NFL writers have picked Rodgers as the 2010 MVP.
2) Charles Woodson- Being a year older will do Woodson no favors, but you can still close off whatever part of the field Woodson is on. His ability to make plays in the running game and off the blitz are what separate him from Revis Island.
3) Jermichael Finley in Honolulu in January. He’s a manchild. There’s gotta be an option route for Finley dependant on who lines up across from him. Corner= jump ball, Safety= anything, Backer= anything to the nth power.
4) The end of the line for Shawn Slocum- I understand the failure to go get someone in the return game is not Slocum’s fault, but we continue to see the Packers give up field position in special teams. What does it say about your special teams when a guy finally takes it the house on a punt return and is cut nine days later. Ouch babe. If Greg Jennings is out there on Sunday, I’m going to close my eyes. I would say Slocum’s gone during the bye in week 10, more because of issues in the coverage game.
5) 11 wins- When you look at the 2010 Packers, you look at one thing. Who can outscore them? I see issues against Minnesota, Dallas, Atlanta, and New England. They’ll win some of these and my sure bet is 11-5. I hope they win more, but remember, this schedule is BRUTAL.
1) The O-Line- Someone needs to explain to me how Clifton and Tauscher get out of bed in the morning. Seriously, when Tauscher runs out of the tunnel for starting lineups, I always wonder if he’s going to make it. He moves like an 80 year old man. The line was a disaster the first half of last season, and I can’t make them a sure thing for 2010.
2) Al Harris and the rest of the secondary not named Woodson- There’s a lot to be concerned about in the defensive backfield. Even if Harris is back full strength after his stay on the PUP, the thought of Brandon Underwood or “the one who shall not be named” seeing the field at crunch time makes me nauseous.
3) Brandon Jackson- We keep four tight ends, three fullbacks and only two halfbacks. OK? I’ll give you that Jackson has shown flashes of brilliance, but he’s going to be on the field A LOT. I think he’s an above average 3rd down back, but he’s going to be asked at some point this season to be a 1st and 2nd down back. That puts him on the not so sure list.
4) Good field position- Our punter is unproven, our coverage teams can’t live up to their name, and a return is deemed successful in Green Bay if we still have the ball when they blow the whistle. Again, we will only get field position through defensive turnovers. How dangerous would the Packers be with a short field every once in a while?
5) A Super Bowl appearance- It’s quite evident over the years that you need home field to get to the SB. Of course, the Giants proved to be the exeption a couple years ago, but that was unexplainable. I remember in 1996 and 1997 that it was a sure thing and everyone believed it. They were the best team. We will find out if the 2010 Packers are the best. Can’t wait to find out.