Saturday, September 29, 2012

Keys to beating New Orleans, and other thoughts.

There have been posts that have addressed the whole Seattle situation.  I don't really want to get into that because my goal is to try and stay professional when I write and I'm pretty sure that I won't if I discuss that.  But other things that have caught my attention throughout the league.

1.  The Texans offense is starting a change in the cycle of offenses.  I know that for so long that every offense was ahead of the defense when it came to the super pass happy shotgun offenses.  But it appears that defenses have caught up with more 3-4, different looks, faking blitzes, and getting better in coverage.  The other thing that this does is when all of the defensive ends are getting faster to try to pass rush.  They also are probably getting smaller and easier to run block.  The clearest example of this was Minnesota beating San Fransisco last week.  They got the lead, fed their running back, and forced Alex Smith to pass.  So I think that all of the big contracts to running back may soon pay off for their teams, except for maybe Chris Johnson, because he's just been awful.

2.  The "elite" team era seems to be over with the fall of the Patriots to 1-2.  Yes, I know that the Packers, Saints, Ravens, & Steelers have all been an automatic check in the elite column the last few years and that everyone automatically assumes that they will go to the playoffs.  But when they all have a combined record of 5-10 after 3 weeks, clearly the NFL is showing us once again how much parody plays a part in football.

3.  The NFL Head Coach might be the most important person on the field.  Sean Payton's absence has hurt the Saints in a serious way.  And for the record, I don't recall anyone having Drew Brees as a an elite quarterback in San Diego, otherwise Miami would have definitely signed him instead of Daunte Culpepper in the Summer of 2006.  Seriously, think about that for a while.  So then you have Payton showing that coaches are probably more underpaid then they should be.  I expect to see coaching salaries on the rise in the NFL over the next 5 years to a different pay scale entirely.

Now to focus on Packers @ Saints

1st Key to Victory:  Feed Benson

Why exactly have the Packers signed free agent running back Cedric Benson if he is going to get a grand total of 2 carries in the first half on Monday Night Football.  I mean, I know that the Packers are not typically a strong running team under McCarthy, but 2 carries is just sad and absurd.  46 carries through 3 games for 144 yards hardly screams starting running back.  And Yes that is 3.1 Yards per carry.  I know that he hasn't been amazing this year.  But Jamal Charles, his Texas alumnus, ran for 233 yards on them just last Sunday, and their defense is giving up a horrible 215 yards per game through 3 games.  This is the worst in the NFL by 60 yards per game.  The Bengals are at 155.  Feed Benson the ball and let him work.

2nd key to Victory:  Knock the ball down

I would love to have some turnovers in this game, but I just want to see our defense knock the ball down a few times to get things underway.  The Saints have already attempted 137 pass attempts through 3 games, with 75 completions for a total of 854 yards.  The Saints have a total of 56 carries for 278 yards this season, and don't seem to care about how many touches Ingram or Sproles gets when handing the ball off.  Watching them play the Chiefs last week, they just kept trying to pass to put the Chiefs away instead of thinking about running at any point.

Final Key to Victory:  Get ahead early

This may seem like a moot point, but teams are getting the early lead, forcing the other team to pass, and then stopping them.  Until this year, top quarterbacks haven't been getting shut down by opposing defenses.  I mean, our undefeated teams are not quarterbacked by Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.  It's Kevin Kolb, Matt Ryan, and Matt Schaub for crying out loud.  None of which have proved their greatness.  I just want us to Feed Cedric and then get some play action in to maybe take a look deep.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

NFL Screws the Packers and the Fans

By: Matt Bove
I hope Roger Goodell is happy with himself. He and the NFL owners have managed to turn the most popular sport in the U.S. into a sport with as much integrity as the WWE right now.

The Green Bay Packers got screwed out of a hard earned win on Monday night in Seattle. There is no other way to put it. Wins are very hard to come by in the NFL and in a sixteen game season one loss can make a huge difference. It can be the difference between a division title, a home playoff game, a playoff bye or the difference between making or missing the playoffs.

Goodell and his billionaire owners have been willing to ruin the integrity of the NFL over a few million dollars when their league is worth billions. They were waiting until a team got screwed out of a win to get back to serious negotiations and the Packers drew the short straw and were that team. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports that a deal with the referees could happen soon and they could return as early as Sunday That is great but it makes it seem like the Packers were just pawns and what happened to them made the NFL cave. 

I am normally not one to complain about officiating and say it is the reason as to why the Packers lost. However, in this case there is no question that it was, and what infuriates me is that it could have been avoided if Goodell and the owners weren't greedy pigs.

Obviously, you all know what play I'm referring to that cost the Packers the game. On the last play of the game Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson fired a prayer from the Packers' 24 yard- line that fell right into the hands of Packers safety M.D. Jennings, with Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate trying to rip it out. There was a point on the ground when Jennings had the ball pressed up against his chest and Tate had one arm in the air and the other around Jennings' neck. One official with a good view of the play called it a touchback, while the other official, who was fifteen yards in front of the play with not view of it, overruled him and called it a touchdown. The officials didn't even have a discussion on the field about it and the replay official was probably to scared of the home crowd's reaction to change the call.

The argument that if the Packers played better in the first half they would have won is flawed.  Their are two halves of football and the Packers completely dominated the second half. They scored on three of their four drives and dominated time of possession. The Packers out gained the Seahawks 217-90 in the second half and we know that 24 of Seattle's yards were bogus.

Seattle is a very hard place to win and you are not going to just go in there and blow them out. Yes, they were brutal on offense in the first half. Mike McCarthy waited way to long to make adjustments. He needed to keep extra blockers in, call shorter pass patterns, run the ball more, and work in more screens and draws to slow down the pass rush. With all that being said the Packers did more then enough to win the game and the officials took it away from them.

The Hail Mary "catch" was not the only egregious call that cost the Packers the game. On the drive before that, Wilson threw what would have been a game ending interception to Jerron McMillian, only to have the refs call it back on a phantom rushing the passer call on Erik Walden. Then, later in the drive on 1st and 25, Sam Shields played textbook defense to break up a pass intended for Sidney Rice, only to be called for pass interference when Rice was the one mugging Shields. That call gave Seattle the field position to set up the Hail Mary on their next drive.

The NFL was not the only thing I was sick about after the game. Watching Pete Carroll jump up and down like he won the Super Bowl next to the ref as he made the call was a joke. During his weekly radio appearance on 710- KIRO in Seattle Carroll said, "They called it and the league backed it up, and game over, we win." Nobody would expect anything less from Carroll, as everybody knows he is just a flat out imbecile. He was in charge of a cheating program at USC and left right when he knew they were going to get busted. It would be nice if him or some of his delusional players would man up and come out and say that they caught a break, but apparently that will never happen.

There was a lot of chatter on Twitter about Goodell possible overturning this call. That was never and should never have happened because of the Pandora's Box it would open. However, it would have been nice if the NFL had admitted that their was a mistake instead of releasing the garbage statement that they sent out.

Here is their statement: In Monday's game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, Seattle faced a 4th-and-10 from the Green Bay 24 with eight seconds remaining in the game.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a pass into the end zone. Several players, including Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate and Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings, jumped into the air in an attempt to catch the ball.

While the ball is in the air, Tate can be seen shoving Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields to the ground. This should have been a penalty for offensive pass interference, which would have ended the game. It was not called and is not reviewable in instant replay.

When the players hit the ground in the end zone, the officials determined that both Tate and Jennings had possession of the ball. Under the rule for simultaneous catch, the ball belongs to Tate, the offensive player. The result of the play was a touchdown.

Replay Official Howard Slavin stopped the game for an instant replay review. The aspects of the play that were reviewable included if the ball hit the ground and who had possession of the ball. In the end zone, a ruling of a simultaneous catch is reviewable. That is not the case in the field of play, only in the end zone.

Referee Wayne Elliott determined that no indisputable visual evidence existed to overturn the call on the field, and as a result, the on-field ruling of touchdown stood. The NFL Officiating Department reviewed the video today and supports the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant replay review.

The result of the game is final.

You would have to believe that pigs can fly in order to buy this statement. It would have been nice  if the NFL had apologized to Green Bay, but the bigger deal is how they try to make you believe that it was a simultaneous catch. It is a pretty cowardly move and now their actions of trying to get the real refs back onto the field speak louder than those words. 

One of two things will happen to the Packers in the aftermath of this travesty. Either they will let this linger and crash and burn or they will use this as motivation and go on to have a great season. We now get to see what the Packers are really made of. The biggest screw you the Packers can give to Goodell and the owners is to go on and win the Super Bowl. Let's see what they got.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Seattle Debacle...My View

It's the day after the big mess in Seattle so I want to share my view point on this whole blown up mess.

First let's cover some key game points :

1. The Offensive Line had some issues but Aaron Rodgers has to stop holding the football.
2. MM must run the football... the 5/4 wide stuff is passe and DC have it pegged. Once Benson started pounding things opened up.
3. The "extra" rest after lay offs  is BS. Under MM we suck when we do it.
4. Prevent defense... crap city yet again.

Let's get into officiating for just a second. I have bigger  issues with the sum of all 3 lousy calls . ( PI on Shields, Roughing that negated a INT and the last call )  more then just the end alone.

The officiating is bloody awful league wide this just brought it to the front.

Let's talk about league accountability and the rules shall we ?

Unfair Acts

Commissioner’s Authority

The Commissioner has sole authority to investigate and to take appropriate disciplinary or corrective measures if any club action, nonparticipant interference, or emergency occurs in an NFL game which he deems so unfair or outside the accepted tactics encountered in professional football that such action has a major effect on the result of a game.

No Club Protests

The authority and measures provided for in this section (UNFAIR ACTS) do not constitute a protest machinery for NFL clubs to dispute the result of a game. The Commissioner will conduct an investigation under this section only to review an act or occurrence that he deems so unfair that the result of the game in question may be inequitable to one of the participating teams. The Commissioner will not apply his authority under this section when a club registers a complaint concerning judgmental errors or routine errors of omission by game officials. Games involving such complaints will continue to stand as completed.

Penalties for Unfair Acts

The Commissioner’s powers under this section (UNFAIR ACTS) include the imposition of monetary fines and draft choice forfeitures, suspension of persons involved, and, if appropriate, the reversal of a game’s result or the rescheduling of a game, either from the beginning or from the point at which the extraordinary act occurred. In the event of rescheduling a game, the Commissioner will be guided by the procedures specified above ("Procedures for Starting and Resuming Games" under EMERGENCIES). In all cases, the Commissioner will conduct a full investigation, including the opportunity for hearings, use of game videotape, and any other procedures he deems appropriate.

Green Bay had no chance by rule to win this because the league absolves it's self of "judgmental errors" keep in mind that applies with regular refs not just the replacements. While I agree their awful the meat of the issue is the league is not culpable regardless.

But Mark we have to do something ? You have loudly but the Packers can not dwell on this loss. New Orleans is a team with their back against the wall.

It's a long season that just started. Want to show the league who's boss??? Let's win out and bring home another crown.

Don't bring yourself down to the level of "other" teams fans. Overcome and persevere this debacle.

Let's clean up the O and then crush the Saints !

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lineup Changes Key A Defensive Turnaround

By: Matt Bove
After their opening season loss to San Francisco Dom Capers had a lot to fix with his defense. He didn't have a lot of time to make them, but Capers made the decisions he should have made to begin the season.  

First, Capers Sam Shields inserted for Jarett Bush and Casey Heyward took over the dime corner, which meant Bush was back on the bench. Also, Jerron McMillian wast at safety in the nickel and dime for M.D. Jennings. It took a lot of faith for Capers to make these changes on such a short week. Then again, the defense really could not get much worse than it was with Bush and Jennings playing major time. 

Shields finally got the message about being more physical and tackling, so he earned his starting job back. Shields' huge tackle on Frank Gore on 3rd and 2 gave the Packers new life in week one, in which Aaron Rodgers gave right back with his interception to Navarro Bowman. However, it also gave Shields great confidence in himself and the coaches great confidence in him. 

Shields is much better than Bush in coverage, which is still the most important thing for the defense. Shields shut out Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey and was only targeted once in 60 plays. Jeffrey is 6'4", so one would think a physical guy like him would be a bad matchup for Shields, but he excelled. He was also only targeted once in the San Francisco game. This means his coverage has been very solid so quarterbacks have not thrown his way. Meanwhile, against San Francisco Bush was targeted seven times for four catches and 63 yards. 

McMillian and Hayward also received much expanded roles vs. Chicago and excelled. Pro Football Focus rated McMillian as the Packers' second best defensive player vs. Chicago after Clay Matthews. His grade of + 3.7 was the second highest grade Pro Football Focus had given out to a safety through the first 17 NFL games. McMillian had his fist career interception and dropped another. We have seen before how physical he is at the line and against the run. If he keeps improving in the back end in coverage like he did on Thursday, he can be a very good player. Hayward had three tackles, was used a blitzer, and was solid in coverage as well. 

Rookie Mike Daniels and Dezman Moses also saw big increases in playing time. Daniels recorded his first career sack and showed inside pressure. He should see more playing time in Seattle. Jerel Worthy also improved in this game, as he recorded his first career sack, albeit a coverage one. He was the lone lineman in the "Psycho" and seemed more active this game. 

The Packers had a great pass rush Thursday that netted seven sacks. Even though Clay Matthews was an unstoppable force, some of the sacks were coverage sacks. Tramon Williams had as many interceptions as Brandon Marshall had catches and Morgan Burnett did a great job of helping Williams. However, the main difference in the secondary that helped the coverage get so much better so fast was the increased roles of Shields, McMillian, and Hayward. 

In just one week, McMillian went from playing 15 snaps to 44; Hayward from 0 to 23; Moses from 4 to 18; and Daniels from 0 to 18. Davon House is talking like he is ready to return soon, which will make things very interesting in the secondary. He may not be able to get much playing time if Shields and Hayward keep their solid play up. It will be interesting to see in a very tough environment in Seattle, if these young players will continue to take steps forward. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

New Season and Same Problems

The Green Bay Packers have a lot of problems to fix and a short time to fix them.

Sunday's season opening loss to San Francisco exposed some major weaknesses and it doesn't look the Packers have overcome yet. Most of them reside on the defensive side of the ball, but the offense certainly was not without fault either. 

The 49ers played the same style of defense the Chiefs and Giants played against the Packers and they still have not been able to solve it.  The 49ers played two safeties back and man underneath, daring the Packers to run the ball. Unsurprisingly, against the best rushing defense in the NFL, the Packers had no success opening up any lanes for Cedric Benson.

However, I still think their running game against teams other than the 49ers will be improved. They started to use Randall Cobb out of the backfield in place of their running game, which is a very nice wrinkle and was successful. Also, it didn't seem like the receivers were getting open like they normally do and Rodgers became slightly impatient.

This is actually a new problem this year, but I am not the biggest fan of the new no huddle offense. Part of what makes the Packers offense so great is the multiple formations that they can throw at you. They can have five wide receivers in the game on one play and then three tight ends the next. That makes it very hard to match up against. When you run the no huddle offense it is tougher to make those substitutions. The offense will still be great, but if it wasn't broken then it should not have been fixed.

The other side of the ball are where the main issues still are unchanged from last season. A big argument among Packers bloggers and fans on Twitter has always been personnel vs. scheme. I always defended Dom Capers last season, saying that he just did not have enough talent to work with. However, the Packers got new players this year, so if they have the same issues again its on him.

When Capers went to the nickel and dime against the 49ers ran it down the Packers' throat. When he went to the base, which he did more then usual,  the 49ers found mismatches in the secondary. That secondary still has its issues.

Jarrett Bush is not a starting cornerback on a Super Bowl contender. On Sunday, Bush was the outside corner in the base, while it was Shields in the nickel and dime. Shields needs to be inserted as the full time starter again. He finally seems to have gotten the message about tackling, as he made a big tackle on Frank Gore on 3rd down and was solid in the preseason. According to Pro Football Focus, Bush was targeted seven times for four receptions and 63 yards. Also, Bush was trash talking after he made a big tackle on 3rd down, but the team was down 23-7. After the game Bush told reporters that "the Packers beat themselves", which is ridiculous because they really got stomped on.

The Packers tackling was better, but still not good enough. They also still had many communication problems in the secondary, especially on Randy Moss' touchdown when Morgan Burnett motioned to M.D. Jennings to cover the deep middle, which he neglected to do. After that he was relegated to the bench in favor of Jerron McMillian.

Two other things that were the same as last year were the middle of the field being wide open and the Packers' cornerbacks not pressing on the line. The middle of the field is open for most teams, but the Packers seem to take it to a different extreme. A.J. Hawk obviously has his issues in coverage, but Capers really needs to scheme better to cover the middle of the field.  

I cannot figure why Capers continually has his cornerbacks giving about a five to eight yard cushions to the wide reciever on every play. Back when Al Harris and Charles Woodson were on the outside the Packers were known for their press man schemes. That is no longer the case.

There are obviously a lot of things to fix in time for Thursday against the Bears. Remember that the Packers have a lot of new faces on defense and should improve as the season goes along. As we have seen in recent years it matters more how you are playing at the end of the season then it does at the beginning.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Jennings' Contract Should Be A Priority

Greg Jennings went on a media blitz earlier this week when he made it seem like there is a legitimate possibility that this season could be his last in Green Bay. 

" Whether that comes with Green Bay in the near future or (with) one of the other 31 teams, that's the reality of it," Jennings said. That's the way I have to approach it. My mind-set is 20 weeks of football with the Packers and then this is it."

"This is my last year with the Packers under contract. That's my mind-set. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, I have to make sure I go out there and do what I've been doing for six solid years here to get myself a chance to play somewhere." 

Jennings was not the only one who didn't sound optimistic about his future with the Packers. Aaron Rodgers, speaking on his radio show on 540 ESPN and, spoke of his time with Jennings in the past tense. 

"I think you have to be realistic about it and think that it might be (our last year together)." Rodgers said. I have loved my time with Greg, Greg and I are going to be buddies whether he's here or not. 

Now, this may all just be a negotiating ploy by Jennings and Rodgers, who obviously would love to have Jennings back. Jennings is probably trying to get the Packers to pay him more by threatening to leave.  However, Jennings will be costly and the Packers also would like to give extensions to Rodgers, Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji, so they might not be able to afford all of them. There is also the thought the Packers are so deep at wide receiver that may might consider Jennings expendable, especially at the age of 29. 

That line of thinking is extremely flawed. When Jennings has been out due to injury the Packers offense has not looked the same. Jennings and Jermichael Finley are the two players who draw the most attention from defenses. Towards the end of the season the Chiefs and Giants were very successful jamming the Packers wide outs at the line of scrimmage, which killed the timing of the offense. Jennings is much better at beating that jam of the line than Jordy Nelson.

Jennings chemistry with Rodgers is irreplaceable. Their timing on all their routes from outs, to posts, to fades,to slants and especially their back shoulder routes are impeccable. Jennings is perhaps the best route runner in the NFL. He is outstanding at understanding coverages and finding soft spots in zones. Jennings also excels at running each route at the same speed so it will be tougher for the defense to know when the deep ball is coming. 

Jennings has proved he can get the job done on the biggest stage as he caught 20 passes, for 295 yards and 2 touchdowns during the 2010 Super Bowl playoff run. Some of the receivers did not get it done on the big stage last year with all the drops against the Giants. It would be very naive to think that all the wide receivers would just move up a spot and the Packers would not miss a beat. 

The franchise tag is unlikely to be an option. First the Packers would have to be $11 million below the cap, which may be tough to get to. Also, Jennings is taking a risk at playing this year with no contract for next year, so why would he play another year under a one year deal? Also, Jennings only signed a three year contract  last time so he could cash in with another big contract while he was still in his prime. 

Rodgers and Matthews are locks to be extended, so if it come down to having to choose whether to sign Jennings or Raji long term I would go with Jennings, especially if Raji does not play more like he did in 2010 rather then how he played last season. The Packers are built based of their quarterback and their wide receivers. That is the huge advantage they have over the majority of NFL teams. The NFL is set up for the offenses and the Packers had a record breaking one in 2011. They need to keep that intact for them to continue to be a Super Bowl contender. 

Jennings will command a contract at least as much as the five year, $55 million contract, with $26 million guaranteed that Vincent Jackson received. Jennings should not be going anywhere. I believe that Thompson will realize this and all this worrying will be for naught. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Packers Mold A Roster

By 68md

Cut down day has come and gone. The PS squad is signed so now let's analyze the 2012 Green Bay packers. (Warning not for the over zeolous rah rah fan).

The first thing that stands out is 7 OL and 1 is undrafted FA Don Barclay so call it 6.
This speaks volumes for the lack of quality OL in camp. I truly believe this has been an Achilles heel in the MM/TT era. The pack placed D.Sherrod on PUP for 6 weeks further complicating matters.
You have to stop and wonder if Sherrod sees the field this year and if so can he even be effective ?
I can't see us not picking up an OT in the next 2 weeks but stranger things have happened.
The only other huge surprise offensively was keeping Brandon Saine on the roster when he showed nothing in (Touch on this latter)

On Defense once again we show very little concern for DL while overvaluing the DB positions. I thought Daniel Muir clearly won a spot at DT, while Mike Daniels was hot/cold.
I disagree with keeping a guy like Brandon Ross whom was beaten badly in coverage time and time again for ST and tackling when your run defense is affected by cutting Muir.
Personally think we could get in a pickle if injuries hit any of our DL/OL early... this should be watched closely.

I guess my biggest beef with this roster is TT/MM mantra about looking at a players body of work but keeping guys like Saine and Ross who beat out players that frankly out worked and out played them consistently.

Looming ahead is a fairly tough opening slate that will test this roster to the core. Can lack of line depth be overcome by running the high octane offense and running a nickle/dime D ?

We have seen it work in the past so one must trust that TT/MM know what they are doing but a team that can pound the rock and keep our offense on the sideline while wearing down our D may set a blueprint for the season.

Lets get ready for the niners and see what 2012 brings our Green Bay Packers. GO PACK GO !