Thursday, October 30, 2014

McCarthy Coming to Realization About Packers' Defense

That is, all they've done this season is rely on takeaways instead of just being able to force fourth downs.

"We need to be more than a football team that just has to rely on winning the turnover ratio," McCarthy told ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky earlier this week.

It's good that he finally realizes that, as the Packers, as good as they've seemingly been this year, still lead the league in rushing yards allowed. Not to mention their pass defense isn't too great either, another fact that should motivate them to improve. Again, should, but let's face it, probably won't.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Looking Ahead in the Schedule: Will the Packers Lose Again in the Regular Season?

The question's right there: will the Packers lose again this regular season? In my opinion, no, they won't.

Just look at their schedule. Granted, nothing's guaranteed with this team, but considering their only actual hard games left come at Lambeau against the Eagles and Patriots (maybe the Lions, too) the rest of 2014 definitely appears favorable for three time-defending NFC North Champs. Add onto those matchups visits to three weak teams in the Bills, Buccaneers, and Vikings and walk-in-the-parks at home against the Bears and Falcons also scheduled, and I think we can all agree these next two months will be fun to watch, and very likely undefeated.

Sorry this opinion post was short, but I just had to point something positive out here. You guys are welcome.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Apparently the Packers and Saints Made History Sunday Night

Yep, the title says it. It seems Sunday night's Packers/Saints game featured an extremely rare occurrence, as neither team punted during the contest for just the third time in NFL history.

Sports Illustrated pointed this out earlier this week, and if this whole thing is making you experience deja vu, it's probably because the Packers also somehow did this Week 4 in Chicago. In other words, something that had only happened once ever prior to this year has now struck the same team twice, in spite of the fact that both of those competitions were blowouts.

Now what are the odds of that?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rodgers Making Excuses For Peppers After He Dropped Touchdown Pass

In a surprising turn of events, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is making excuses for teammate Julius Peppers' dropping of a touchdown pass in yesterday's first quarter.

"It was a little harder than maybe he was expecting," Rodgers told ESPN.com of the play, in which the ball appeared to hit Peppers right in the numbers. "Yeah, he ran a good route and got his chest on it. Pep's a talented guy. We've ran that play at practice a number of times, and he's come down with it. That one was probably a little faster than he was used to." 

So there you have it guys. Apparently the speed of a throw cancels out its accuracy.

Reaction: Saints Snap Packers Winning Streak

My takeaways from the Packers' 44-23 loss to the Saints yesterday, their first since Week 3:

1. Mike McCarthy Needs to Stop Being Dumb:
There's just no way to sugarcoat it. Putting in Julius Peppers to drop a pass Jordy Nelson would've made in his sleep and onside kicking in the first quarter were clearly not good decisions. 

2. The Bad Defense is Back:
Just in case you actually thought the elusive "solid defense" had arrived.

3. This is Still Just One Game:
No reason to panic. They'll bounce back for sure.

Leave your thoughts below if you disagree with any of my points.

Packers Head Into The Bye Week With A 23-44 Loss To The Saints

Ironically, this 2014 loss at in the Superdome was an awful lot like their loss in the Superdome back in 2008. In both games, the score was close at halftime and neither team's defense was stopping anyone, before the Saints ran away with it in the second half. Maybe we should just expect that the defense will be taking the week off when playing QB Drew Brees in his dome. Also, the Packers have played their worst on the road this season.
It wasn't the best performance from the offense, though they weren't likely to keep pace with the Saints if the defense wasn't planning on stopping them from scoring on every drive. WR Davante Adams needs to spend some more time with Aaron Rodgers and learn what Rodgers is expecting him on his routes. The Saints proved, once again, that if you double WR Jordy Nelson with a safety over the top on every route, he won't have a big game against your team, but that's OK if Adams and WR Randall Cobb can take advantage of it. Cobb did have a great first half, but he didn't do much in the second half, when they needed him to step up. These are things to work on it, but it's not why they lost the game.

In many ways, this is nothing new for the Packers D. They've had trouble stopping the run (big game from RB Mark Ingram) and they've been inconsistent all season. I thought they would overcome the absence of SS Morgan Burnett and CB Sam Shields, and maybe the D wouldn't have been any better if those two had played, but the Packers could have used Burnett's run support and Drew Brees picked on Shields's replacement (CB Davon House) early and often.

LB Clay Matthews continues his frustrating season. There was some thought that the read option was part of the problem, but that's not a weapon in Drew Brees's arsenal. Brees seemed to be taking advantage of Matthews's tendencies on every play. He did finish the game with one sack in pursuit on one of the few times Brees was flushed from the pocket. Matthews seems like a player who hasn't watched any film, and he's fooled by any misdirection, whether it be the read option, a screen pass, or his blocker releasing into the flat to become a wide open receiver. The talent is still there but he needs to play smarter.

The biggest disappointment might be Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers. They were completely outcoached by Sean Peyton and his staff. The Saints' defense has been the worst in the NFL, but McCarthy couldn't take advantage of them. Capers took nothing away from the Saints (as the Saints did by taking WR Jordy Nelson out of the game) and everything was working for them on offense. They know football, but everyone can have a bad week.

No more Packer football until November 9th, and it's probably as good a time as any for a mid-season break. November is looking promising, with four of their next five games at Lambeau (sandwiched in-between all those home games is short trip to the frozen tundra of Minneapolis to take on the struggling Vikings). They just need to keep winning and the playoffs should take care of themselves.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Packers/Saints Final Prediction

My final prediction for Sunday's Packers/Saints game, which will be nationally televised on NBC:

Score: Packers 31, Saints 24
Or something like that. Basically I just see this one being close and high-scoring, though not exactly stressful.

Why?
Because the Saints' Rob Ryan-led defense going against Aaron Rodgers is obviously a mismatch. It won't cost them their dignity since I still expect Drew Brees to score a few points (and maybe even take a lead or two), but nonetheless, it will cause them to lose in the end. 

Leave your thoughts below on how accurate you think my thoughts are. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Packers Injury Updates

Some Packers injury updates, courtesy of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tyler Dunne:
  • Morgan Burnett (calf) questionable
  • Sam Shields (knee) doubtful
  • Datone Jones (ankle) OUT
  • James Starks (ankle) probable
According to Green Bay Head Coach Mike McCarthy, the fact that this weekend's game is a night one should improve Burnett's chances to play, as the latter is apparently on a "time-clock type thing" right now.

As for Jones, McCarthy said that it was clear he's not ready to play after watching him practice yesterday, a happening that certainly won't help the Pack this Sunday against a strong offense like New Orleans.

Preview: Saints Host The Packers Sunday Night

Playing the Saints in their dome is a tough game for any team, and the Packers are going to have to perform well to win. The good news is that the Packers have been playing almost mistake-free football during their four game winning streak.
Being down two starting defensive backs, CB Sam Shields and probably SS Morgan Burnett to a calf injury, is never a good thing when preparing to face QB Drew Brees. But the Saints might not get much from TE Jimmy Graham, who is playing through a shoulder injury, so their passing attack isn't at 100%.

Rookie S Ha Ha Clinton Dix might receive his first career start in place of Burnett, but he was going to play a lot anyway in the nickel package. I'd also expect to see a lot of SS Sean Richardson, who plays a similar role to what they've asked Burnett to play this season; closer to the line of scrimmage. Shields's absence will give additional snaps to CB Casey Hayward, who I want to see more of anyway. At least for this week, the loss of Shields and/or Burnett shouldn't be a problem.

Here are the current rankings from Football Outsiders:
Team Pass Offense Run Offense Pass Defense Run Defense
Packers 4 7 6 22
Saints 15 2 30 16

I'm not too comforted by the 15th overall ranking for the Saints's pass offense. While they're missing a healthy version of Jimmy Graham, Drew Brees is still the same old Drew Brees, at least according to his current ESPN QBR compared to previous seasons. Since the Packers's have struggled stopping the run, the Saints's running game is looking like a big problem. If they can't stop the run, Dom Capers would have to make some adjustments that could open up the passing game.

However, the Saints's running attack is not at 100% either. The Saints could be without RBs Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas, and starting C Jonathan Goodwin, none of which would help them run the ball. In any case, the Packers are facing an injured Saints's offense that could be slowed down on Sunday.

The key to the game is the Packers's passing offense. The offense is on a role, and being compared to QB Aaron Rodgers's 2011 MVP season. Even if the Saints can move the ball and score on the Packers, it's even less certain that the Saints can stop them at all. Their 30th ranked pass defense is trending down in recent weeks, while the Packers's 4th ranked pass offense has been moving upwards.

Packers 38, Saints 20.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Saints' Brees Still Doesn't Think Packers Game is a Must-Win

It appears Saints' QB Drew Brees doesn't agree with many of his team's fans, surprisingly telling The Green Bay Press-Gazette yesterday that he doesn't consider New Orleans' upcoming home game against the Packers a must-win.

"There's no must-win games until they're must-win games," Brees said. "It's important. It's really important, but nobody needs that kind of pressure."

As was just mentioned, it's safe to say many Saints supporters would disagree with that statement, as the usually-dominant contender currently sits at just 2-4. No, that bad record doesn't guarantee them a bad season, but still, since it obviously isn't likable it's strange to hear Brees say that, as confident as he usually is.