Apologies on the lack of Packer posts. It’s been a ridiculously hectic two weeks, but I’m back. Quite the two weeks. No Lynch trade, rumors of a DeAngelo Williams trade, Moss to the Vikings, and injuries galore. 1265 Lombardi set up a MASH unit this week in the parking lot. The only Packers signing over the last two weeks has been Hawkeye Pierce.
Some of you may have missed a key league transaction on Tuesday morning. After the Monday night disaster, the Dolphins fired their special teams coordinator John Bonamego. Granted, fans can be a little over the top sometimes, but this is evidence that there are some NFL executives who refuse to put up with poor performance. Are you following this McCarthy? In my season preview, I said Slocum would be gone by the bye week. How can he make it to week 10? It’s insane. I can’t even stand watching it anymore. As soon as Slocum threw Masthay under the bus for his 65 yard punt against the Bears because he didn’t kick it to the sideline, he should have been fired.
Let’s get on with the preview of this week’s game
KEYS TO THE GAME
1)Injuries- Burnett and Barnett are out for the year, Chillar’s out, Collins could be out, both tackles are hurt and we still don’t have a running back. On the Redskins sideline, Portis is out 4-6 weeks. Bottom line- the Packers will be playing guys they don’t trust. If they trusted Bishop, he would be starting already. If they trusted the DB who shall not be named, he would be more than a special teams penalty waiting to happen. One would assume the Redskins game plan will be to target these guys and put them on an island. My hope is they’re too dumb to figure it out.
2) Big day for Rodgers?- The Redskins are 31st in the league in total defense and passing defense. They are allowing over 300 yds per game through the air. They have one playmaker on defense, Brian Orakpo. They’ve already given up 30 points twice, to the Texans and Rams. Yes, the Rams. It’s time for Rodgers to get into a rhythm and finish drives off. I’m thinking 26-32 for 320 and 3 TDs. Book it.
3) The other guy- Let’s be honest. The Redskins beat the Eagles last week in spite of Donovan McNabb. He was 8-19 for 125 yards. In the NFC, only Derek Anderson has a lower completion %. Only Brett Favre has thrown fewer TDs (how’s that for a stat!!!). He’s past his prime and the Packers D should be chomping at the bit.
4) Attitude- Seriously, what are we playing for? The Packers played uninspiring football Sunday against the Lions. Even Tony Robbins would have left Lambeau depressed. We need to see some attitude and passion. This is a huge game. The Skins are back home and in need of a win to stay in the NFC East race. They’ve got a running back in Ryan Torain who wants to put Clinton Portis in his rearview mirror in over the next 6 weeks. The Packers have to show up.
PREDICTION- Green Bay 31, Washington 16
Let’s be honest. The NFC North was supposed to be a two horse race between the Packers and Vikings. It still might turn out that way, but right now, the Bears have crashed the party. In fact, they may be imposters, or even decoys. I think they’re GLG-20s. Spies, Like Us. So without further ado, the Monday Night preview, Akroyd and Chase style.
Keys to the Game
“You may begin…now!” – Remember the Foreign Service Board Exams? Millbarge and Fitz-Hume need to pass to move up the ladder. Well, welcome to the big stage Mr. Bulaga. Your exam is against Julius Peppers. We don’t care how you pass this exam Monday, just pass it. Protecting Rodgers is the vital cog in the Packers’ offensive wheel. The Packers are going to have to give Bulaga some help, much like Akroyd assists Chase in this classic scene.
“For every wrong answer, I cut off a finger.” – Green Bay needs to take care of the rock Monday night. The Bears defense used to feast off of turnovers and every one Monday would be like cutting off a finger. You can include penalties in this mix as well. Eight penalties in two games is a good start. Keep it going under pressure.
“Yeah, I found it in a box of Lucky Charms.” – I can imagine Mike Martz putting Jay Cutler in the basement under Soldier Field all summer trying to figure out Martz’s complex offense. “Break it down again with the machines!” Penalties and turnovers should have cost the Bears a win in week one, but Cutler is currently the top-rated quarterback in the NFL. Cutler is historically prone to the turnover and there’s been none better getting takeaways than the Packers over the last 18 games.
“Stop right there and I’ll bring back the sun.” – The Packers are on the road on Monday night against a division rival. How the Packers respond in the first quarter is vitally important. A strong gameplan, executed, will take care of the upstart Bears. I hope the Packers respond better than Millbarge and Fitz-Hume!
PREDICTION- Green Bay 24, Chicago 20
Mike McCarthy’s halftime speech has entered the pantheon of great speeches. None of us know what was really said, except for the fact that Brady Poppinga said it was only PG-13. McCarthy has joined the elite, and his speech is now alongside such greats as John “Bluto” Blutarsky. The Packers followed one of the worst quarters in NFL history (7 plays, -4 yards) with a solid 3rd quarter (14 plays, 103 yards, 2 TDs). It wasn’t over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor and the game Sunday wasn’t over at the half. Thank goodness.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1)Wow, do the Bills suck. This is the first key, because the Packers did not play very well. Fortunately, the Bills showed up to Sunday’s gunfight with a Fisher Price plastic butter knife. At least they upped their yardage this week. Maybe next week, they can hit 200 yds. Just an FYI- I believe the NFL record for worst average in yards per game belongs to the 1933 Cincinnati Reds with 115 ypg. They also scored 3.8 ppg that year. Surprisingly, they went 3-6-1. Something to shoot for Bills fans.
2) Our linebackers were amazing Sunday. Matthews, Hawk and Barnett combined for 23 tackles, 4 TFLs and 3 sacks (the last two were all Matthews). Throw in Chillar’s pick to open the 3rd quarter and you have complete domination. Dom Capers must just giggle to himself.
3) Having a back-up tackle was definitely a key Sunday. The Bills had no sacks this week. Imagine last year at this time. I’d have put the over-under at 15½ sacks. Bulaga may never relinquish the left tackle spot.
4) Perspective. We learned nothing Sunday. This is akin to the Badgers learning anything about themselves Saturday against Austin Peay. We woodshedded a team we were supposed to woodshed. I guarantee we’ll learn something Monday night.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Props to AJ Hawk, but Clay Matthews wins this week. 3 sacks for the second week in a row. He is the defensive Jermichael Finley. There is no one-man answer to stop him. It’s actually quite ridiculous if you think about it. And how in the hell does he weigh 255 lbs?
PLAY OF THE GAME
Dead for an entire quarter, Brandon Chillar’s pick ignited the Packers and pushed them out of the doldrums. The offense took Chillar’s cue and scored on Driver’s catch to make it 20-7 Pack. The Bills went from taking the lead to asking Trent Edwards to lead a comeback. Ballgame.
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
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.
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.
Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas weekend. I was all over the place and never had time to throw a pregame post together, but on the way up to the game, I told my brother-in-law 38-3, so I was in the ballpark. Quite honestly, I would have to say that the Packers are the hottest team in the NFC right now. They’ve won 6 of 7, and are playing good football. If you look at the other teams in the NFC, the Saints and Vikings are going the wrong way, the Eagles have been playing well, but they almost tanked it at home Sunday, the Cowboys have won two games in a row (and the win in NO doesn’t look so great anymore), and the Cardinals haven’t went on a streak all season. I’m liking the Packers chances.
Also congrats to Rodgers, Woodson and Collins on being selected to the Pro Bowl. We all feel Matthews got screwed, but he could still make it. How Orakpo got in over Matthews is beyond me. Their stats are almost the same, but GB is 2nd in total defense and 9th in scoring defense. Washington is 11th and 16th. Must be the high draft choice. Also, how does the #1 run defense in the NFL have no one from the DL or LB crew on the roster? Just wondering. Hopefully, none of this matters, and no Packers play in the Pro Bowl.
Observations from Sunday…
1) Seattle is an embarrassment. I give kudos to Tampa Bay and Cleveland. They are getting better as the season goes along and have shown a tremendous amount of improvement. Seattle has gotten worse. Much worse. Worse than Detroit worse. We really didn’t learn much this week about the Packers.
2) The DB who shall not be named got toasted again, then gets a pick and runs his mouth after the game. He basically said “many more to come.” The word of the day is “humility.” Look it up DB WSNBN.
3) How about the K WSNBN? A perfect day. Now do it when it matters, not when it’s 38-3. In all seriousness, hopefully this gets him going.
4) Ryan Grant is over 1200 yards, is averaging 4.4 yds per carry and has 10 touchdowns. Pretty solid body of work, don’t you think?
5) After all the crap this season, isn’t it nice to be a Packers fan instead of a Vikings fan right now? We’re excited for the playoffs to start and feel we can make some noise. Vikings fans might as well compare it to a root canal. Two words for you…He he.