Below is a conversation adpated from the greatest fantasy football website/messageboard
First, I’ll admit last year when Chryst left I wasn’t upset. I guess I view the step from OC to head coach as a huge advancement in one’s career, and therefore do not blame someone for making that career move.
Bielema’s move to Arkansas may be the exact same thing, but from a baised-Badger fan view it seems to have a more “middle finger to UW” vibe to it. I’ll explain.
At UW, Bielema had a culture of winning, competed for a National championship in 3 of 7 seasons, settled for a Rose Bowl in two of those seasons and an 11-1 Capital One Bowl birth in the other. Not to mention the Rose Bowl this year. So in 4 out of 7 years the Badgers have been in the national spotlight. Is Arkansas REALLY that much of a better program than what he has at UW? Now taking a step back and viewing it unbaised, Yes, it is. Football culture in the south/SEC is unlike any other and winning the SEC championship basically guarantees you a spot in the National Championship, college football’s ultimate goal. The Badger fan in me looks at Bielema’s recruitment past, which has not been good, especially when you see that his best player was the result of a transfer, and doesn’t believe he’s going to be able to pull recruits from Saban or Les Miles. I really believe he’s going to struggle in the SEC which leads me to wonder what he wants out of this move. If he truly believes he can out-recruit, out-coach Saban and Miles, not to mention teams like Texas A&M and Auburn then good for him. I just look at this and see a run of mediocrity coming, which to me, says “I’d rather be OK in the best conference than national relevance/Rose Bowl births in the B1G Ten and at Wisconsin”. Which, again as a Badger-biased person, has undertones of a middle finger.
Next, I think the move is kind of a result of Urban Meyer’s dominance this year at Ohio State. Sure, Meyer isn’t doing it all with his recruits, but 12-0 is very impressive, and he’s going to be able to grab kids from all over the midwest. As I said before, Bielema’s recruiting record wasn’t great, and it was only going to get tougher. Should you blame a guy for getting out before the going gets hot? Probably not, but I don’t need to credit him for leaving either.
Bielema was 2-4 in bowl games, with his 12-1 Capital Bowl win coming in his first year, with a handful of Barry’s recruits. He still had to guide the ship, but overall we have not had Bowl success under Bielema. My fantasy team has gone to the playoffs every year, but we haven’t done shit in the playoffs, so how successful have we really been?
I don’t think I need to like a coach to be “real fan”. I’ve heard plenty of stories about how he treats women and that he’s a prick in real life, which has always bugged me about him a little bit. I’ve never had first hand experience, and no matter how much of prick he is he’s got to be an upgrade over the slimeball John L. Smith, but Barry carried an aura of respect while Bielema seems to carry an sense of arrogance.
I know college coaches leave after the regular season but before the bowls all the time, but I don’t like it. I really don’t think a lot of recruitment gets done December 1-January 1 (I could be wrong) but these coaches preach togetherness, leadership, how nobody is above the team, then they leave them hanging. If Nick Saban left today and came to Wisconsin would I feel this way? I’d be happy we got Saban but still wouldn’t like that he left his team high and dry before a BCS game.
Now, that last part of that paragraph is ever-present in today’s society. When someone does/says/writes something contrary to their beliefs or that threatens something they believe in, they often have a hostile response. Wisconsin fans believe Bielema leaving puts us in a tougher spot to win the Rose Bowl. I agree. But I believe (I think) that if the the roles were reversed and we were getting a coach from a high profile college who left his BCS team hanging, I would still not like the decision to leave his former team high and dry.
Case and point. Sunday night Bob Costas came under a lot of fire for taking his pro-gun control stance at halftime of SNF. Fox News basically went crazy and even had a debate if Costas should get fired. Hardcore Democrats praised Costas. Now, if you are going to chastise Costas for taking a political stance on a forum basically designed to talk about football, then fine. You guys know how I feel about politics (I turned on Black Ops at half so I missed the actual segment) but I think there are rational arguments for both sides. The anti-political part of me says keep this political crap/amendment rights crap out of a spot designed to showcase the best football plays of the day. On the other hand, having a sensible discussion about a social issue that is becoming more rampant (see Chicago) is something that we all could benefit from. Should it have been done on SNF? No, Costas has Costas Live and other shows, but neither draw the audience that SNF does. My biggest problem with the furor over the Costas incident was that if he had taken the opposite stance, Fox News would have praised him and Democrats would have torn him to shreds. If you have a problem with where he said it, great. If you have a problem with what he said, you’re only mad that he took a stance contrary to yours. Can you be mad at Costas for both reasons? Absolutley. Just make sure all your anger isn’t because he was pro gun control (Bielema leaving hurts our Rosse Bowl chances)
Lastly, I went to the Capital One Bowl in 2007, have had football season tickets all four years in college 2007-2010, went to every Big Ten game except ones where I had other plans (aka monster party at Brando’s house where we still had the game on or if I had friends in town), have had Basketball season tickets for over 15 years, went to the school. I can’t remember a game I didn’t watch (Ok, I listened to the Oregon State game because I was watching Sarah run the Tough Mudder), but as stated above, I don’t think I need to like Bielema to be a true fan.
I’m sure the only thing people will take out of this is that my fantasy team hasn’t won a championship.
The Packers and Bears meet Thursday night in a huge NFC North battle that some people are heralding as a “must-win” for the Packers, who would drop to 0-2 with a loss. The Packers-Bears rivalry is the league’s longest rivalry, dating back to 1921, and the Bears lead the series 92-86-6. We here at BrentFavre.com did a little digging to uncover some little known facts about the oldest rivals in the NFL. Enjoy!
November 23rd, 1924. Bears 3, Packers 0. The Packers’ Walter Voss and the Bears’ Frank Hanny become the first documented players to be ejected from an NFL game. After a heated exchange before halftime, the two exchanged blows and were removed from the game, but entered into the record books.
December 9th, 1928 – November 9th, 1930. Not only did the Packers beat the Bears five consecutive times during this stretch, they shut them out all five times. The Packers won by scores of 6-0, 23-0, 14-0, 25-0 and 7-0. The Packers are also the only team in NFL history to shut out the same team three times in a season, which they accomplished in 1929. The final shutout resulted in the Packers winning their first NFL championship.
October 16th, 1932, September 18th, 1938. In October 1932, the Packers became the first NFL team to win a game by the score of 2-0. Amazingly, the Bears returned the favor only six years later, besting the green and gold by the same 2-0 margin. Coincidentally, this rivalry also boasts the only exhibition game that ended by a score of 2-0. That game happened August 7th, 1971. The Packers lost that contest after their quarterback dropped back to pass and stepped out of the back of the endzone. I imagine it probably looked something like this.
September 13th, 1964. Paul Hornung becomes only the second player in NFL history to successfully make a “fair catch kick”, and to this day Hornung holds the record for longest successful fair catch kick in NFL history. The 52-yard boot came at the close of the first half, and helped propel the Packers to a 23-12 victory over the Bears.
November 3rd, 1968. It took only four years for the Bears to return the favor to the Packers, as the Bears’ Mac Percival made a 43-yard fair catch kick with 20 seconds left to lift the Bears over the Packers by a score of 13-10. Percival’s game-winning fair catch kick is the only of it’s kind in NFL history.
November 10th, 1974. For the first time during the rivalry, the Packers and Bears faced off in a city not named Green Bay or Chicago. The game was played at Milwaukee County Stadium, and the Packers won 20-3. 28 years later, the Packers beat the Bears in Champaign, Illinois, the only other game played outside of Green Bay or Chicago. Soldier Field was undergoing construction at the time.
October 17th, 1991. The Bears beat the Packers in the only Thursday game in the history of their rivalry. The Packers and Bears each have six wins against the other in games that weren’t played on Sundays. The Packers are 6-5 against the Bears on Mondays.
October 31st, 1994 – December 27th, 1998. Between 1994 and 1998, the Packers rattled off 10 straight wins over the Bears, which stands as the longest winning streak in the rivalry. The Packers are 27-10 against the Bears since 1994.
Despite being the oldest rivalry in the NFL, Packers-Bears is not the oldest continuous rivalry in the NFL. That distinction goes to the Packers-Lions rivalry. The Packers and the Lions have played each other every season since 1932. The Packers-Bears rivalry would be to oldest continuous rivalry in the NFL, but they did not play each other during the strike-shortened season in 1982, while the Packers and Lions did meet.
Brett Favre went 22-10 against the Bears during his career as a Packer. Currently, Aaron Rodgers is 7-2 against Chicago.
The Bears and the Packers rank first and second in former players in the NFL Hall of Fame. The Bears have 29 former players enshrined in Canton, while the Packers have 26.
Over 182 meetings, the Bears have outscored the Packers 3145-3045. The Bears average 17.2 points a game while the Packers average 16.7.
I think the Packers move to 1-1 against the Bears in Thursday night games as Clay Matthews and the rest of the defense makes a statement. Tune in and watch history Thursday night!
Questions? Comments? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up in the Twittersphere @MikeWendt7.
The NFL regular season kicks off tonight with Jerry’s Cowboys visiting the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, but before the pigskin starts flying I thought I’d take a look into my crystal ball and see what surprises might lie ahead in 2012. I’ll finish with my Super Bowl pick.
Looking into the NFL's crystal ball
1) The 49ers will miss the playoffs
The 49ers had huge success in 2011, going 13-3 and winning the NFC West before falling in overtime to the Giants in the NFC Championship. The 49ers had one of the best defenses in the NFL, led by a daunting linebacker duo in Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman. In the 1980′s defenses won championships, but in 2012 the league is all about the quarterback. When you take a look at the other quarterbacks in the conference, it’s tough to justify ranking Alex Smith in the top half. The NFC boasts Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler, Eli Manning, Mike Vick, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton. Personally I think Robert Griffin III will be better than Alex Smith too, which means Smith is the 11th best quarterback in a 16-team conference. That doesn’t bode well for the 49ers, who will be sitting at home come January.
2) Three NFC North teams will make the playoffs
On paper, the NFC North looks like the best division in football, and I think the big three will be strong all season in 2012. The Packers improved their defense, and many believe this team is more talented than the one that won the Super Bowl in 2010. The Bears were on pace for the playoffs before Jay Cutler went down with an injury, but he’s back and the Bears added Cutler’s favorite target from his Denver days in Brandon Marshall. Detroit looks to improve upon their 10-win season from a year ago, and last year marked their first playoff appearance since 1995. If Stafford can stay healthy, the Lions should be able to score with the best of them. Look for the three teams to beat up on one another while they all use the Vikings as a doormat. The big three will all have double digits wins this year.
3) Tim Tebow, who led the Broncos to the playoffs in 2012, will not finish the season with the Jets
Love him or hate him, Tim Tebow was the talk of the 2011 NFL season. After taking over for Kyle Orton in Week 7, Tebow went 8-5, including six straight wins from Weeks 9-14. Tebow’s 2012 predicament is similar to 2011, and he will begin the season as a backup with a huge fan base. This season will unfold differently though. The Jets are the laughing stock of the NFL, and when both quarterbacks fail to produce something will need to change. The Jets will end up trading Tebow for a draft pick during the season, and they’ll begin to rebuild the franchise.
4) Adrian Peterson will lead the league in rushing
Peterson is a beast. The guy tore his ACL and MCL on Christmas Eve last year, and yet he’ll be getting carries this Sunday. Purple Jesus failed to break 1,000 yards for the first time in his career last year, but he’ll look to prove the doubters wrong in 2012. With the rest off the NFC North airing the ball out, the Vikings will look to control the clock and limit their opponents’ possessions, and giving the rock to AP is the best way to do that. It may take him a few weeks to amp up his workload, but Peterson will top the rushing charts when the season draws to close.
5) Mike Vick will play in all 16 games
Vick has had a myriad of injuries since he entered the league, and many believe he brings it upon himself by his style of play. While some of that may be true, I think Vick realizes that he needs to be on the field if the Eagles are going to win. Many of his injuries, like his broken leg and broken ribs, were a result of him trying to get an extra yard or two. It’s probably not a stat, but if it were I’d put a lot of money on Vick leading the league in slides following a rush this season. Vick’s also been a bit unlucky with his injuries, and I think the stars align and he plays each game this year.
6) Russell Wilson will not finish the season as Seattle’s starting quarterback
Let me be clear, I have a huge man-crush on Wilson and I hope he leads Seattle to the playoffs, but I just think it’s more likely the pendulum swings in the other direction. Wilson has yet to face a first team defense for an entire game, and he doesn’t have a lot of offensive weapons to work with, which will hurt him in the beginning of the year. Looking at their schedule, the Seahawks likely won’t be favored in a game until Week 9 when they host the Vikings. Before they play the Queens, the Seahawks host the Cowboys, Packers and Patriots, and are on the road against Arizona, St. Louis, Carolina, Detroit and San Francisco. They could easily be 1-7 after their first eight games. If that’s the case, Seattle’s $20 million man Matt Flynn will likely get the call.
7) The Saints will clinch a playoff bye without Sean Payton
The talk of the NFL offseason this year was the Saints bounty scandal, which resulted in head coach Sean Payton receiving a season long suspension. For a team with a lesser quarterback, this would be a huge problem, but Drew Bress is one of the smartest quarterbacks in the league, and he’ll ensure that the offense doesn’t miss a beat without Payton. With the NFL North and NFC East beating up on each other and San Fran’s return to mediocrity, the Saints should easily make the playoffs as long as they can stay ahead of the Falcons. The Saints will win 12 games and lock up a bye without their head coach.
8) No rookie quarterback will lead his team to the playoffs
Five rookie quarterbacks will start for NFL teams in Week 1, but none of them will be playing in January. Many people love Andrew Luck and RG3, but the Texans look like they have a stranglehold on the AFC South and Griffin plays in one of the tougher divisions in football. Brandon Weeden and Ryan Tannehill are stuck on terrible teams, so five or six wins would be a step in the right direction for either franchise. A lot of people are predicting that Russell Wilson could push Seattle to the top of the division, but their schedule is brutal and they’ll be lucky to start 3-5. I’m not saying I wouldn’t mind having some of these guys on my fantasy team, I just don’t see any of them pulling an Andy Dalton and reaching the playoffs.
9) The replacement refs will do a fine job until the regular refs sign a new deal
Everyone and their mother was freaking out about some of the calls during the preseason, and rightfully so, but just like the players, the preseason is a time to make sure everything runs smoothly when the season begins. Will there be bad calls? Sure. But regular season referees make bad calls all the time. In 2008, everyone’s favorite ref Ed Hochuli screwed up a call in the Broncos-Chargers game that cost San Diego a win, and it was such a bad call that it led to expanded replay during the following season. I watched the Packers-Chiefs preseason game, and didn’t even notice the refs. That’s how it’s suppose to be. There will be some minor kinks, but no team will lose a game directly resulting from a replacement ref call.
10) The Packers will win the Super Bowl
This might be the least bold prediction of them all. I love what the Packers added on the defensive side of the ball, and Aaron Rodgers will continue to dominate opposing defenses. Every year I hope for a Packers-Patriots Super Bowl because I think the Packers are the team of the 2010′s, while the Pats dominated the last decade of football. I want to see Rodgers vs Brady on the biggest stage of them all, and I think we’ll be in for a real treat come February. Rodgers will lead the Packers past Touchdown Tommy by a score of 38-34.
Got a prediction for this season? Or want to send me your Super Bowl pick? Drop me a line at email@example.com or on Twitter @MikeWendt7 and I’ll post some of the reader predictions in this column or the next one.
With preseason games in full swing and position battles coming down to the wire, depth charts are starting to solidify across the National Football League. While the Packer defense is still working out coverage assignments and adjusting to the loss of Desmond Bishop, the league’s most potent offense has most of the starting jobs already penciled in. The biggest question mark entering the final two weeks of the preseason is who will get the starting nod at tailback. James Starks entered camp as the favorite to earn the role, but he looked terrible against the Chargers and is now dealing with a turf toe injury that has him sidelined indefinitely. The Packers signed 29-year old Cedric Benson to challenge Starks for the role, and now C-Bens may have the inside track to win the gig outright. That being said, the veteran has a lot of miles on him, and the team prefers the speed and quickness that Alex Green offers. Green, though, is unproven and working his way back from an ACL injury he suffered last season.
Every year the talking heads say the same things, “You need to have a running game if you want to win in the National Football League”, “You can’t win in the NFL if you’re a one dimensional team”, and “The Packers need to establish a running game if they want to compete for a Super Bowl this season”. I understand the need to fill air-time/incite a debate/establish an angle for a column, but back up these statements with some numbers. To me, it seems like the only reason a team needs to have an efficient ground game is because they don’t have enough faith in their quarterback to throw the ball 40-plus times. The Miami Heat didn’t need to establish a low-post game early in in the playoffs, they had Lebron and Dwayne Wade. They wanted the ball to go through their best player. In fact, the Heat actually played better basketball after Chris Bosh went down with an abdominal strain, due in large part to the fact that LBJ and Wade didn’t need to try to run their offense through the post.
Back to the Packers. Green Bay has one of the the best quarterbacks in the league, they don’t need to establish a running game because they have faith in Rodgers’ ability. Same goes for teams like the Patriots, Saints and Giants. They are at their best when their best player has the ball in his hands, and that’s their quarterbacks. They don’t need to try to force a running game to emerge just because that’s how the game has always been played. Times have changed. Take a look at the stats below for the teams who have played in the Super Bowl over the last few years.
So in three of the past four Super Bowls, a team ranked dead last in rushing yards per game has made it to the big stage, and only one of the eight teams was ranked higher in rushing yards per game than they were in passing yards per game.
The NFL has entered a new era where pass-first offenses have, at its most elite level, evolved into a pass-first-and-second-and-sometimes-third offenses. It definitely doesn’t hurt to have a great running game, but no team ranked in the top five in rushing yards per game has made it to the Super Bowl over the last four years, so a 1,000-yard back isn’t a necessity anymore. Personally, I’d start the running back who is the best at picking up the blitz, because the Packers will only be successful if Rodgers is standing upright. I’ll be keeping an eye on the running back situation as it unfolds over the next few weeks, I just don’t think the battle is as important as it’s being hyped up to be.
Who do you think should run the ball for the Packers? How do you think they’ll do this season? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or get at me on Twitter @MikeWendt7.
If you read last week’s Pre-Draft column, you can probably assume that I’m pretty happy with the picks the Packers made. The prediction of Nick Perry turned out to be spot-on, and the Packers traded up in the second round to grab Jerel Worthy, another guy on the list. Now that the picks are official, let’s take a look at how the fresh faces should impact the Packers in 2012.
The Packers’ first round pick has a chance to make an impact right from the start. Perry is already listed as the starter on some unofficial depth charts, and he’ll challenge Frank Zambo and Eric Walden for the opportunity to start opposite Clay Matthews. The Packers re-signed Walden last week, but they clearly envision Perry as the future at outside linebacker. Perry has great speed off the edge and should be able to get pressure on the quarterback, something the Packers struggled to do last season. The Packers will be a force to be reckoned with if Perry can play anywhere near the level of fellow Trojan Clay Matthews.
Worthy easily could have been a first round pick, and Ted Thompson knew he wasn’t going to stay on the board until the Packers’ pick at #59, so he moved up to get the big boy from Michigan State. The Packers would love to have Worthy anchor the right side of the line, as that side lacks the size of the other starters. As it stands now, Pickett and Raji, the other two starters, are listed at 340lbs and 337lbs a piece. Worthy is only listed at 310lbs, but he’s bigger than Anthony Hargrove (272lbs) and Jarius Wynn (285lbs), the two guys who are expected to compete for the other starting defensive end position. If either Perry or Worthy plans out, this draft will be considered a success for the Packers.
Hayward is a name I hadn’t heard much of before the draft, but after doing some research I think Hayward can be a great addition to the Packers. Hayward is a ball-hawk, with 11 interceptions over the last two seasons. Some people think he lacks height, but both Tramon Williams and Sam Shields are also listed at 5-11. The biggest rumor this offseason is whether or not Charles Woodson will move from cornerback to safety, and it looks like that may very well be the case with the Packers moving up in the draft to get Hayward. Hayward could easily be starting across from Tramon Williams if the Packers roll with Woodson and Burnett at safety.
The Daniels pick was the first pick I didn’t love. Daniels is pretty small for the 3-4 system (6-0, 290lbs) and he’s stuck behind Pickett, Worthy, Hargrove and Wynn on the depth chart. I would have liked to see the Packers take a chance on a running back here, but the Packers were so bad at getting defensive pressure last season that the pick makes sense. He’ll battle to be a second-string defensive end in training camp.
McMillian has been compared to Atari Bigby, an aggressive safety who isn’t afraid to land a big hit on receivers and running backs. McMillian will likely be groomed to become a starting safety once Chuck Woodson retires, but if Chuck stays at cornerback this season McMillian could see plenty of action in 2012. McMillian has great size and speed for a safety, and his presence helps fill the void left by Nick Collins, who was released after suffering a neck injury last season.
Many people had Manning being taken earlier than the fifth round, but he continued to fall on the third day of the draft and the Packers moved up to grab him. He’ll compete with Desmond Bishop, AJ Hawk, Robert Francois and DJ Smith for reps at inside linebacker. If he play up to his ability, he could give Hawk a run for his starting spot.
Will provide depth on the offensive line. He’ll have to earn his roster spot in training camp first though.
He’ll battle Graham Harrell for the right to backup Aaron Rodgers.
So what do you think of the Packers’ draft? Thought on Perry, Worthy and the gang? Drop me a line at email@example.com or on Twitter @MikeWendt7
If you live within striking distance of Chicago, I cannot recommend highly enough making the trip to Will’s Northwoods Inn for their annual PackerPalooza. Guests in the past have included LeRoy Butler, Gilbert Brown, and Ahman Green and this year’s guests–Frank Winters, Mark Tauscher, and Chad Clifton–again do not disappoint.
Between when I got the assignment and when I made the list, I grappled with the decision as to make Will’s Northwoods Inn #1 or merely to put it on the list. I am obviously biased because I’m a huge Packers and Badgers fan living in Chicago so it makes sense that I would be a regular patron of the bar and didn’t want my personal preferences to compromise the integrity of the list.
The more I thought about it, though, the more secure I was in the decision. Out of everybody I know and perhaps everybody that they know, I am the most qualified to evaluate the quality of sports bars based on (in no particular order) screens, food, drinks, atmosphere, staff, and clientele. I spend a lot of time in sports bars and am consistently thinking about ways that they can improve and how they stack up against each other. Will’s is my favorite sports bar and there isn’t a particularly close second.
Further, even those of my friends who are not blessed to be Wisconsin sports fans love going to Will’s. It’s atmosphere for Packers games is unsurpassed and unlike any other sports bars that I have been too comes as close replicating the experience of being at the game.
If you read this blog and have never been to Will’s for a Packers game, I cannot recommend the experience highly enough. Even if you live in Wisconsin, it is worth adding to your list of destinations to check out.
Let’s be serious: there is NOTHING that you could be doing Sunday that will be 25% as fun as dusting off your favorite Packers jersey, drinking a few stadium cups of Leinie’s Original, indulging in brats and burgers, meeting some former Packers greats, and sharing the experience with hundreds of like-minded folks who you don’t know yet but would become fast friends with.
Heading into the playoffs last season, Green Bay looked like the favorite to once again win the Super Bowl and enter the NFL draft with the last pick in the first round. As it turned out, the Packers weren’t able to stop Eli Manning, probably because he was wearing his Citizen EcoDrive watch. Although the game was ugly, it pointed some flaws on the defensive side of the ball that will likely be addressed in the draft. What ultimately killed the Packers in the playoffs was their inability to get Manning and the Giants off the field on third down (8-of-16 on third down conversions, but they converted about 8-of-10 to break the game open). The Packers simply couldn’t get enough pressure on Eli and it killed them. I’ve been hearing about a few different players the Packers might draft, so instead of focusing on just one guy like in years past, we’ll give you a few guys who have a great chance to don Green and Gold as the Packers’ first round pick. With the 28th selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers might select:
Nick Perry (USC) – OLB/DE
Why the Pack would take him – Perry is listed at 6’3”, 250 pounds, which probably makes him too small to play defensive end in the Packers’ 3-4 system, but he has great speed and explosiveness off the edge and could be used opposite Clay Matthews as a pass rushing outside linebacker. He struggles when he needs to drive a tackle or tight end into the backfield, but offenses always need to account for Perry because his speed rush is so deadly. Perry would likely be one of the best three players available if he falls to the Packers, and Ted Thompson loves to grab the best player available, so if he’s there I believe he’ll be the pick.
Why the Pack wouldn’t take him – The biggest reason why the Packers wouldn’t select Perry is because some other team already did. Nobody really knows where he’ll be drafted. I’ve seen Perry go as high as #12 to the Seahawks, and as low as sliding to the second round, so it’s anybody’s guess. Perry would be a good fit in Houston and New England, who hold the two spots right before the Packers in the first round, so don’t be surprised if he’s taken right before the Packers get on the clock. Another reason why the Packers may pass on Perry is his size. As stated earlier, he struggles to get penetration when he’s not speed rushing, so he’ll need to get stronger if he wants to be effective at the next level. That being said, Perry is listed at 6’3”, 250, and Clay Matthews is listed as 6’3, 255, and we’ve seen how effective he can be.
Shea McClellin (Boise State) – OLB/DE
Why the Pack would take him – Word on the street is that Ted Thompson really likes McClellin, so much so that it would have been a no doubt pick if McClellin was available in the second round. As is common during the offseason, certain players’ stock rises because of a solid combine and interest from multiple suitors. McClellin has gone from a mid-second round pick to a potential top-25 pick over the last few months as scouts have started comparing his ability to Brooks Reed, the Arizona Wildcat standout who had a very impressive rookie season with the Texans in 2011. McClellin is built much like the other hybrid outside linebackers, as he is listed at 6’3, 258. He’s another linebacker the specializes in the pass rush, but he’s also better than average in pass coverage. He’s got a motor that doesn’t stop when he’s on the field, and could be a Packer depending how how the rest of the first round falls.
Why the Pack wouldn’t take him – Unlike Perry, McClellin will likely still be on the board when the Packers are on the clock in the first round. The main reason why the Packers would pass on McClellin is because somebody else on their big board has fallen or because there are a handful of “best players available” still on the board. Again, we know the Ted Thompson loves to draft the best player available, and although McClellin is a talented prospect, Thompson might look for better value in the second or third round. If Nick Perry is off the board and a top cornerback or running back falls to the Packers, don’t be surprised if they pass on McClellin and try to make a trade to move up in the second round.
Jerel Worthy (Michigan State) DT/DE
Why the Pack would take him – Although some scouts think he needs to play in a 4-3 defense to maximize his abilities, Worthy would be a solid addition to the Packers as a 3-4 defensive end. He’s the type of player that doesn’t necessarily fit the scheme, but he’s one of the most talented players on the defensive side of the ball and could easily be one of Ted Thompson’s “best player available” picks. The Packers have struggled to get defensive end penetration since Cullen Jenkins left in free agency, and the newly suspended Mike Neal has been hampered by injuries and lackluster play during his development as Jenkins’ replacement. I’ve seen Worthy ranked as the top DE/DT in the draft, and although he’d probably be more comfortable in a 4-3 scheme his 6’3, 310 pound frame would fit into the Packers’ system. Almost every mock I’ve seen has the Broncos grabbing Worthy at #25, so Denver is likely the last hurdle he’d have to clear for the Packers to have an opportunity to draft him. The Packers could use a guy like Worthy to help stop the run and get penetration on pass plays to take pressure off our outside linebackers.
Why the Pack wouldn’t take him – Aside from the fact that he may not be available for the Packers to draft, the biggest knock against Worthy is his inconsistency. Worthy has shown flashes of brilliance at times, but he has also faded away from the spotlight at crucial moments in games, and scouts want to see him “bring it” on every play. Some question his maturity, but a team like the Packers should be able to keep him in line without much trouble. Plus, he’s a Big Ten guy who would get a lot of love from the crowd at the first signs of success, so I think he could be a great fit if given the chance. He’s got the talent, but the few knocks against Worthy could be enough for Thompson to pass on the Michigan State star.
Peter Konz (Wisconsin) – C
The Packers added Jeff Saturday to replace Scott Wells, but they need to start thinking about a long term replacement.
Courtney Upshaw (Alabama) – OLB/DE
If Upshaw falls to the Pack he’ll likely be taken over McClellin, but most mocks have him going to the Jets at #16. He’s another hybrid 3-4 backer.
Devon Still (Penn State) – DE/DT
Much like Worthy, Still could help solidify the defensive end position in the Packers’ 3-4 scheme. I think the Packers take Worthy over Still, but he’s an option if Perry, Worthy and Upshaw are gone.
Who do you think the Packers will draft? Leave a comment or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MikeWendt7
If you’re like me, it’s taken you a few days to really digest Sunday’s loss to the Giants. The Packers, who have been so dominant over the last 21 games, looked flat and out of sync in the playoff game. Receivers were running the wrong routes (Finley on a key third down), guys were dropping balls (who didn’t) and nobody could get pressure on Eli Manning (we needed Cullen Jenkins). Watching the loss unfold was weird, because as Packer fans, this was the first time the team had lost a meaningful game since Week 15 last season against the Patriots. Last season wins and losses were tough to come by, and just getting in the playoffs was a huge accomplishment. This year, Packer fans didn’t care if we dropped one, two or five games, we knew the team was going to make the playoffs. Any losses the team suffered this year didn’t feel like losses, because we knew where the team would be come January. That’s why this loss, the one that ends our season, feels so strange to fans. But, since we’re only four months or so until OTA’s, I think it’s about time we looked ahead to next season. Here’s a list of things I’d like to see the Packers do, and since I’m an owner, I think these carry a little more weight!
1) Franchise tag Matt Flynn
The Packers need to franchise Flynn this offseason to prevent him walking away for nothing. Slap the tag on him and then ship him off somewhere. I know the NFL frowns on this practice, but since it’s completely legal the Packers might as well do it. The franchise tag salary for a quarterback is $16.4 million, but the contract can be restructured by the new team Flynn is traded to. I know some people think we should save the tag for JerMichael Finley, and I’ll get to Finley later, but we need to get value for Flynn since he looks like he is the real deal. It will be interesting to see what the Packers can get for Flynn, because both sides think they have leverage. Interested teams know the Packers only tagged Flynn in order to trade him, but the Packers will have plenty of interested teams looking to make a move for a potential franchise quarterback. The Kevin Kolb flop in Arizona probably hurts Flynn’s value the most, because like Kolb, Flynn has very little experience, although he’s looked like a stud in both contests. I think a second round pick is a bargain for Flynn, and wouldn’t be surprised to see a team trade a late first round pick for him. Personally though, I think we’ll get a early second round pick for Flynn if he gets the tag-and-deal.
2) Be reasonable with Finley, but don’t let him leave.
Let me preface this paragraph by saying that nobody on the team is more frustrating to watch than JerMichael. He dropped too many balls this season, ran some shaky routes, and his ego is still somewhat of a problem. If you yell out loud when you watched the Packers this season, you found yourself yelling at Finley more than anyone else.
That being said, all the areas he was weak in are coachable areas. Coaches can work on his hands, he can learn to run better routes and when he matures he’ll control himself better on the field. You can’t teach a guy to be 6-5, 247 pounds and run a 4.65 forty. Plus, he’s only 24. Give the guy a break, he’ll figure it out as he gets a little older.
Looking at his numbers, Finley had a decent season, but nothing crazy like Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski. Finley ranked 14th in receptions and 12th in yards by tight ends, so he shouldn’t be demanding a crazy salary. He proved he could stay healthy for a full season, but the Packers won the Super Bowl without him and lost with him, so who’s to say his presence is needed?
I’m guessing Finley is going to want Jason Witten style money. Witten inked a five-year, $37 million deal in 2011, so I think Finley believes he should be paid in the $7-9 million a year range. The franchise tag salary for a tight end is $5.9 million, so tagging him just to work out a deal for about $2-3 million more a year seems pointless. Get the 2nd rounder for Flynn, and if Finley wants more than $10 million a season, let him walk and use the pick we get for Flynn on another tight end. Tagging Finley just doesn’t seem like the Ted Thompson way of doing business. I see the Packers offering Finley a four year deal in the $20 million range. Sides will squabble and I think we’ll end up getting Finley for something like four years, $25 million with a player option for a fifth year and $12 million guaranteed. I’d be on board with this.
3) Let Ryan Gran go, and find a running back already.
I do not like Ryan Grant. If you watched the playoff game with me, you would know this. I hate watching him run for two yards on 2nd and 10. I’ll admit that he’s a better pass blocker than James Starks, but Starks is by far the better runner. That being said, Starks isn’t the running back of the of the future either. There is a lot of depth in this year’s running back class, and don’t be surprised if Thompson drafts two running backs this year. Trent Richardson, Lamar Wilson, Chris Polk, LaMichael James, David Wilson, Isaiah Pead, and Bernard Pierce are all guys that could step into a major role at the next level. I want the Packers to draft one of them.
4) Do not move Charles Woodson to safety
Woodson had a good, but not a great season in 2011. Everyone thinks he’s slowing down and that he should be moved to safety, but that would only make things worse. Chuck is at his best when he’s playing closer to the line of scrimmage. He’s better at covering receivers because it’s more of a reaction than a thought process, and when he’s at the line the offense always has to account for a potential Woody blitz (just ask Tony Romo, 4-min mark). The biggest problem for the defense this year was the lack of a pass rush, which forced our secondary to cover guys for six-to-ten seconds every play. A better pass rush from the front three would allow our blitzers to get to the quarterback faster and force the opposing quarterback into bad throws, which takes a lot of pressure off our secondary.
5) Draft another Clay Mattews with our first round pick.
Ok, this might be easier said than done, but if offenses have to account for Matthews and Matthews 2.0 blitzing from either side, that will push the quarterback up into the pocket where our big front three should be waiting. A lack of a pass rush killed the Packers against the Giants, drafting another blitzing 3-4 linebacker would help solve that problem.
6) Keep Driver
Driver is set to make $5.6 million in 2012. I know he only caught 37 balls in 2011 (he also made $5.6 million in 2011, so that’s just over $150,000 per catch), but Driver has the attitude I want in players on my favorite team. He was targeted twice in the loss to the Giants, but made nice grabs on both the balls thrown his way. He was clearly focused and wanted it bad. If you watched the Super Bowl DVD you saw how bad Driver wanted to win the Super Bowl even though he left the game with an injury. He was standing on the bench trying to get a better view, living and dying with each play. He’s got the heart of a champion and his attitude would be contagious in the locker room. I don’t even want to play the “he’s earned it” or “the Packers owe it to him” card. The guy still has something left in the tank and is the perfect locker room veteran for this team. If the Packers don’t pay him, someone else will. Driver, a Texas native, could easily sign with the young-but-very-talented Houston Texans if the Packers aren’t careful. Please Ted Thompson, Driver is the anti-Favre, he’s worth the money late in his career. If you don’t listen to me Ted, at least listen to Teddy KGB.
(P.S. Rounders may be my favorite movie of all-time. Thank you Shaun Adamson for putting that on Youtube)
What do you think the Packers should do this offseason? Drop me a line, or tweet me on Twitter @MikeWendt7. I promise to tweet ya back.
36 hours later and I’m still sort of reeling from this Packers loss. I have to start by giving an immense amount of credit to the Giants for forcing this sloppy play and playing mostly error-free football of their own. There was absolutely no doubt that the Packers were outplayed in this game. As torturous as this is going to be, I need to try to figure out how and why it all happened so I’m re-watching the game and writing a Bill Simmons-style retro diary. I will write broader takeaways at the bottom if you want to skip down to that part without re-living individual plays from the game. If you’re interested in a full photo-diary of my trip to Green Bay, read it here.
This hurts badly before I even hit Play on my Tivo remote. Times represent what is remaining on the clock…
12:19 – Giants 1st-and-10 just past midfield. Desmond Bishop drops an interception. Would have been a great play but I’m sure it’s one he’d like to make. Happens, though.
8:37 – After bending most of the way down the field and giving up two big 3rd down conversions, the Packers don’t break inside the red zone. 3-0 Giants.
7:55 – Jermichael Finley drops his first pass of the day, one that would have given the Packers a first down around midfield (although the refs missed a penalty on the play). The Packers move the chains on the next play so this one wasn’t costly but you can’t drop first downs in big games.
6:32 – And Finley drops another ball, this one is completely inexcusable – he was wide open and the pass was lofted perfectly. It would have given the Packers 3rd-and-1 at the very worst just outside the red zone.
5:38 – On third down, Rodgers misses a WIDE open Greg Jennings on what would probably have been a touchdown if he hit Jennings in stride. Worst case would have been 1st-and-goal inside the 5. I can count on one hand how many times Rodgers missed that pass this season. Packers have to settle for a field goal after that drive saw two drops and an errant throw. 3-3.
4:37 – On 3rd-and-11, Eli Manning has all day and hits Hakeem Nicks for a first down. He’s converted third downs for 8, 10, and 11 yards so far. AND NOOOOOOO….
3:47 – The next play, Manning hits Nicks over the middle, Charlie Peprah launches himself at Nicks but doesn’t wrap up, Nicks stands tall, and runs into the endzone without being touched again. AWFUL missed tackle. 10-3 Giants.
1:34 – Packers get extremely lucky. Greg Jennings fumbles before his knee is down, it gets ruled down by contact, and the Giants lose their challenge. This was pretty clearly a fumble and I’m not sure what the refs did or didn’t say on the replay. Unrelated question: why does the referee on the field have to rule challenges under the hood with what I imagine is a tiny screen? Why not have someone in the booth rule on reviews with a massive HDTV? Why not centralize challenges in NFL headquarters? It doesn’t seem as though the current system is optimal.
14:54 – Kuuuuuuuuuuuuuhn touchdown catch! Bang on the Drums! 10-10…this was a completely undeserved touchdown, though, because Jennings definitely fumbled. Packers are lucky to be tied and not down two scores.
14:52 – Packers surprise onside kick! They fail to recover it, though. I actually said to the three people who would listen to me that I wanted this to be an onside kick. Good idea but it didn’t work out – The Giants got the ball on the Packers 40. Given that they probably would have gotten the ball that far anyway, I think it was worth the gamble for a chance to get the ball back. I think that Mike McCarthy sensed that something was a bit off and tried to give his team a spark.
12:32 – Brad Jones blocks the Lawrence Tynes field goal attempt! No harm, no foul on the failed onside kick. At this point, this feels like an everything-goes-wrong game for the Giants–they lost a challenge and a timeout on a bad call, gave up a touchdown, and got a field goal blocked. In games where you are underdogs by more than a touchdown, you can’t have those things go wrong. At this point, I’m feeling pretty good.
11:15 – Rodgers rushes for a first down on 3rd-and-10. Second time he’s done this so far today and it’s an invaluable aspect of his game. He rushes for another one two plays later before I finish typing this bullet.
9:17 – Relatively inconsequential drop by James Starks. Difference between 3rd-and-3 and 3rd-and-7. Doesn’t make it right.
9:12 – More consequential drop on the next play by Tom Crabtree on a ball that hit him squarely between the numbers–past the first down marker–and the Packers are forced to punt. It goes into the endzone. Damn.
5:34 – Eli Manning intercepted by Morgan Burnett after being pressured by Bishop! Miraculous what can be achieved when the pass rush works. I would have bet a lot of money on the Packers to win at this point.
3:37 - An unforced John Kuhn fumble KILLS what I was certain was going to be a Packers scoring drive. At the very worst, they were going into halftime tied, likely were going in up 13-10, and maybe going up 17-10. Because the Packers were receiving the ball in the second half, I had expected them to be up 20-10 the next time the Giants had the ball.
1:56 – Packers stop the Giants inside the 10 and force a field goal, and will get the ball back before the half. A little close for comfort but I’m feeling pretty good…
:06 – WTF?! Ahmad Bradshaw gets out of bounds on a 23-yard run that started in the middle of the field. Horrible defense. Good thing the Giants are stupidly going for it instead of kicking the 54-yard field goal…
:00 – WTFWTFWTFWTFWTFWTF??????!!!!!!!!! Hail Mary touchdown to Hakeem Nicks. Third time I’ve seen the Badgers or Packers give up a devastating hail mary touchdown in person this season. This has to be some sort of ignominious record? This play was shellshocking and the 13-minute halftime feels like hours. Lot of ballgame left but allowing the Giants to score from their own 40 with 15 seconds left was egregious. This series really hurt the crowd.
14:52 – A drop by Ryan Taylor that would have made it 2nd-and-6 instead of 2nd-and-10. Not terribly consequential as the Packers picked up a first down on the next play but these drops have been contagious today.
13:12 – After uncharacteristically missing Jennings, Rodgers runs for another first down on 3rd-and-10. The Giants aren’t giving room for any big plays, though. This is where Favre would have started throwing INTs trying to get everything back at once.
10:28 – Man, after hitting Driver for a huge first down to get to the Giants’ 35, Rodgers gets stripped by Osi Umenyiora and the Giants recover. Jennings was wide open for a touchdown on the play. Split second difference and the Packers are only down a field goal. Every time the offense starts to get into rhythm, there’s a drop or a fumble.
9:06 – Giants go three-and-out. Other than giving up three huge plays, the defense has been pretty solid thus far. “How was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”
6:56 – Ryan Grant drops a perfect pass that will make for at worst 2nd-and-1. Six drops so far for the Packers.
3:55 – Jennings drops a touchdown. Pretty good coverage but the ball was placed directly into his hands. Seven drops. Crosby hits a field goal and the Packers are LUCKY only to be down a TD.
3:30 – The crowd hasn’t been all that great thus far but after a holding call pushes the Giants back to 1st-and-20 (then 2nd-and-20) on their own 10, we come alive. Except in rare cases, the home team has to do something to get the crowd into it. The Packers haven’t really put together a period of football to galvanize the masses yet but the crowd is making a reasonable effort to get into this. We sense that there’s a chance to steal this game even while being severely outplayed. We have faith that this team will find a way. Giants have to punt, if ever there were a time for a big Packers touchdown drive…
:49 – Rodgers picks up ANOTHER first down with his feet. That’s his fifth. Not sliding, he opens up his body for punishment. But if there was ever a time and a place for this risky behavior…
13:00 – Kind of a bad throw, but perhaps a catchable ball that Finley drops on 3rd-and-5. Rodgers is pissed about the route and the drop but Finley was WIDE open and the ball didn’t need to be thrown like a rocket. Not sure who to blame there but it’s an unforced error; Aikman says it’s on Rodgers which I suppose is fair. The frustration on offense had really started to compound. Rodgers gets sacked on 4th-and-5 and the Packers are running out of chances. They had no right to only be down seven points at this point and their tenuous hold on this deficit doesn’t feel sustainable. We can still steal this game but it’s starting to feel precarious.
12:48 - Woodson misses a tackle on Hakeem Nicks. Don’t see that often. Difference between 2nd-and-8 and 2nd-and-4.
10:00 – Victor Cruz picks up a huge first down on 3rd-and-5 and you can clearly hear the Giants fans yelling Cruuuuuuuz on TV. I would estimate that there were 7,000 Giants fans in Lambeau. Gotta give them credit. Green Bay isn’t the easiest place to get to–it requires an expensive, two-leg flight or a flight and a two-hour drive from Milwaukee or 3.5-hour drive from Chicago–and the Giants fans mobilized, got this trip scheduled one week’s notice, outbid Packers fans for tickets on Stubhub all week, and showed up in full force to perhaps make a 25% difference in net effect of the Lambeau crowd for a game that they expected to be played in a frigid climate when they bought their seats. Props. These things are more poignant in hindsight but significant nonetheless.
7:51 – Packers defense stands up and holds the Giants to a field goal. Still a chance to steal this game but those chances are wearing thin. Packers have had more than enough and failed as a team to capitalize.
6:53 – And Ryan Grand fumbles, Giants recover and return it inside the Packers’ 5 (great tackle by Rodgers). A touchdown catch by Mario Manningham on the next play will end it. Basically no way to erase three scores in less than seven minutes. Finishing this out would be an exercise in masochism above and beyond what this has been so far. Because my goal was to understand how and why this has loss happened–and I think by and large I do at this point–I’m going to spare myself the rest of this game.
Unlike many big Packer losses over the past ten years or so since I really got into them, this one left me disappointed, not angry. Mistakes were made but they were physical and not mental–and thus more excusable. There were no horrifyingly bad coaching decisions and no lack of effort or passion. It’s hard to be angry at your favorite team when everyone is trying his best and nervous tension causes drops or fumbles.
Therefore, there will be comparatively less long-lasting feelings from this game. This team is full of likable players, is well-coached, and has a tremendous front office and a nucleus that by-and-large will come back strong next year. With the Packers likely still in the first half of their window of opportunity to win championships with Rodgers at quarterback, this game feels more like the end of a chapter than the end of a book.
Off the top of my head, this game was not among the four most hurtful Packers losses of recent memory. I’m not sure whether the 4th-and-26 Eagles game in early 2004 or the Favre-to-Webster-in-overtime game against the Giants in early 2008 was the worst – probably the Giants game because it meant the end of the Favre era and cost the Packers a trip to the Super Bowl – is #1 but they are definitely both 1 and 2. In similarly unclear order, 3 and 4 are the overtime loss to the Cardinals on the Rodgers fumble and the combination of the two games where Favre beat the Packers with the Vikings in 2008. I don’t know if I am more guarded now than in the past but I’m not feeling the sting as badly as I was for those games. I might be overlooking others that also hurt more badly.
That being said, it’s never easy. This was a special team that won the Super Bowl last year and went an emphatic 15-1 in the regular season. I had very high expectations and really didn’t conceive of them losing this game. Until they did. That they had opportunity after opportunity to steal it despite being monumentally outplayed, but failed to sustain any momentum on offense, was quite disappointing. But it’s been a great run and a great season and there is not a sense of finality with this loss.
As frustrating as the Bradshaw-getting-23-yards-and-getting-out-of-bounds/Manning-Nicks hail mary sequence to end the first half was, it definitely could have been overcome–the Packers were 7.5-point favorites in this game and that series accounted for seven of them. The Packers lost this game because drops, turnovers, and, yes, some errant passes prevented the offense from ever getting into a rhythm. Every time it looked like something was building, the drive stalled. They fumbled three times – which should have been four but Jennings’ cough-up was ruled incorrectly – and recovered none of them. Credit to the Giants for forcing many of these errors but this wasn’t the sharp Packers squad that had won 21 of 22 coming into the game. This was the worst game that they played–including the loss to the Chiefs–in that stretch.
The defense is not to blame. It missed some tackles and gave up some big plays generally got its job done. It stopped the Giants several times on short fields and prevented a few red zone possessions from ending in touchdowns. It would be outstanding if they had someone who could get to the quarterback when Clay Matthews is contained but this has been a hole all season. They only allowed two Giants touchdowns before the game was out of hand–it’s hard to blame them for preventing the Manningham TD when the Giants started the drive inside the Packers 5–and did more than enough to keep the Packers in the game while the offense was sputtering.
In the third quarter, the Giants didn’t pick up a single first down. A common motif of the Packers’ past two seasons had been winning their games with great starts to the second half as they outscored their opponents in the third quarter 241-84 over a 32-game stretch. But due to forced and unforced errors, they failed to capitalize. The Giants let them hang around far longer than would be advisable but ultimately found a way to put the game solidly out of reach late.
Once again, much credit goes to the Giants organization and their fans for a successful business trip. With the exception of one Giants fan that resembled a Jersey Shore character who took exception to my common “I really,sincerely hope that the Giants lose tomorrow” refrain, said with a smile, that gets a rise out of most people, everybody we encountered was friendly, courteous, and having a blast in Green Bay. After having iceballs thrown at them by Eagles and Jets fans, they could not believe the hospitality that they were received with and were more than appreciative. They loved Lambeau and everything about and around it.
But part of me will always feel that the Packers lost this game under the auspices of controllable factors. Over the past season and a half, we have become accustomed to coming up with a big play that dramatically shifts the momentum in the Packers’ favor. It never came and the Packers couldn’t put enough small ones together to equal a big one at any point in the third quarter or early in the fourth–when they had opportunities to do so and execution was desperately needed–and suffered an early exit as a result.
As it always is, the offseason will be long and harrowing. For me, nothing in sports compares to the beauty and excitement of the Packers on an NFL Sunday and the loss of those will leave a gaping void in my life forever until mid-September. But perhaps the scarcity of these wonderful days is what makes it so special when it’s football season.
Although they certainly could have done it again this year, you can’t win the Super Bowl every season; winning one every 16 years means you are doing it twice as often as expected. It isn’t just greedy to count every season that doesn’t result in a championship as a failure unconditionally, it’s a self-effacing practice that leads to substantially more unhappiness than joy.
I love this team, am proud of what it has accomplished thus far on its journey, and am optimistic for its future. It never feels like we will make it to mid-September, but we always do. Go Pack Go.