Thursday, October 27, 2005

Read this article. As if RB Ahman Green's injury isn't bad enough, Will Carroll thinks it is effectively career ending because Green will be a shadow of his former self when he does return. He also compares him to RB Terrell Davis. The next paragraph discusses WR Robert Ferguson and Carroll thinks Ferguson will provide no value for the rest of the season once he returns.

Did Mike Sherman lose his job as GM last offseason because he did such a poor job during the 2004 draft. Just take a look at how the top 4 draft choices from 2004 are playing this season. Read this about CB Joey Thomas. Thomas has been very disappointing this season because I was expecting him to really play well this season. I have never had high hopes for CB Ahmad Carroll, so his play this season is all I really expected from him. DT Donnell Washington has made very little impact and will have to show something to stay on the roster in 2006. P B.J. Sander has done very well when punting, but if he is the cause of K Ryan Longwell's bad 2005 season, then he is a big problem.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Packers 20, Minnesota 23. Just an awful loss. The Packers had 5 sacks and Minnesota had zero. The Packers forced one turnover and Minnesota forced no turnovers; only the second time all season that the Packers had won the turnover battle. Those two stats should have been enough to indicate a win, but it didn't happen. The final insult of the day; all three NFC North teams won on Sunday, putting the Packers in sole possession of last place and 2 games behind Detroit and Chicago.

K Ryan Longwell missed two field goals. Longwell has been automatic for so long that it has been hard to watch him this season. Missed kicks against Tampa Bay and Minnesota would have been the difference in both of those games. It is too hard to tell if it is Longwell's fault, the holding of P B.J. Sander, or something else. There is no reason this can't be improved this season.

Minnesota had allowed the most rushing yards per game (161.4 yards/game) in the NFL this season, but the Packers couldn't run the football and couldn't put the game away. RB Ahman Green came into the game hurt and left the game early. RB Najeh Davenport is done for the season. After this weekend, it looks like only Philadelphia runs for fewer yards per game than the Packers. If they can't start running the football, then they can't win games.

The good news is that they have still outscored their opponents this season, the NFC North is still struggling overall, and the defense is improving. The bad news is that the reliable kicking game is gone and the rushing offense is gone too. The loss of G Mike Wahle and G Marco Rivera to free agency could be blamed in part for the lack of run offense, but even bigger are the injuries to TE Bubba Franks and Green. It is unlikely that the run offense can be fixed this season, but it needs to be improved if the Packers want to win some games this season.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Wow. It didn't really interested me that the Packers are looking at ex-Cleveland WR Andre Davis or thinking about resigning RB Walter Williams. Neither player would bring anything to the Packers that RB ReShard Lee or a wide receiver on the practice squad couldn't do. What really caught my attention was that last week, RT Mark Tauscher was called for the first holding penalty in his entire 6 year NFL career. It is unbelievable that Tauscher is such a solid technical player that he has never committed an obvious holding penalty. It is the NFL and offensive lineman hold all the time, but Tauscher has never held enough to commit a penalty.

The ironic thing is that Tauscher is right; the referee called the penalty on the wrong player. On the replay, Tauscher didn't do anything that looked like a holding penalty, but RG Will Whitticker put a WWF move on the player he was blocking. The holding penalty clearly should have been called on Whitticker. The official record shows Tauscher has committed one holding penalty, but the unofficial record still notes that Tauscher has never been called for holding in his NFL career.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Packers 52, New Orleans 3. On the first series of the game, the Packers ran three plays and gained no yards. The New Orleans took over at their 45 yard line. On 3rd and 14, the Packers blitzed and New Orleans ran a screen pass that gained enough for the first down. A few plays later, New Orleans settled for a field goal and led 3-0. After that slow start, the Packers spent the rest of the game dominating New Orleans in every way. The Packers pass defense was solid and CB Al Harris was outstanding. The run defense never let RB Deuce "Mr. October" McAlister have any running room. The run offense had its best game of the season until RB Najeh Davenport broke his ankle. That is the end of the season for Davenport and might be the end of his career with the Packers. He has shown a world of potential, but his tendency for injuries has continually stalled his career. QB Brett Favre spread the ball out to several receivers and had his best game of the season. Everyone who stepped on the field for the Packers yesterday played very good or excellent and no player deserved any obvious criticism.

The defense created three turnovers and the offense had no turnovers. It was the first time this season that the Packers won the turnover battle. They head into the bye week at a good time because the Packers need a few players to heal from their injuries. With Davenport out for the season, it becomes very important that RB Ahman Green returns healthy from the bye week.

One oddity: the ratio that a team outscores their opponents usually indicates how many games over .500 that team's record is. The Packers have outscored their opponents by 29 points this season but their record stands at 1-4. The good news is that they are only one game out of first place in the win column.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The week of bad injury news continues. Now LB Na'il Diggs is out and rookie LB Roy Manning will start in his place. LB Paris Lenon has struggled badly at times, but he has been the Packers best linebacker in coverage. That is something the Packers could really use on defense. Manning is a bigger linebacker. He will play over the tight end and LB Robert Thomas will play in coverage. Thomas hasn't looked good in coverage at all this season. Diggs hasn't played well the last two seasons because of injuries, but before his injuries Diggs was solid in pass coverage and run defense. Diggs has been missed over the last two seasons and neither Thomas, Manning, or Lenon has shown the ability to replace him.

It might have been big news that RB Ahman Green is out with a knee injury and RB Najeh Davenport will start, but Green hasn't been very effective this season. Part of the blame falls on the coaches, part of it on a new offensive line, but it might be that 2003 was just a career year and this is really all that can be expected from Green. Davenport hasn't shown much this season, his botched kickoff return last week led directly to the season ending spinal injury of WR Terrence Murphy, but he should be able to replace what Green has provided so far this season.

Friday, October 07, 2005

WR Terrence Murphy was lost for the season with the neck injury he sustained at Carolina. Murphy hadn't shown much yet this season, but he had shown some promise and the potential to replace some of the production lost by WR Javon Walker's injury. With the loss of three receivers (Murphy, Walker, and TE Bubba Franks) that the Packers expected to contribute or substantially contribute this season, depth is now a major problem. Favre knows how to spread the ball around to multiple receivers, which he will have to do now more than ever with all these injuries.

C Mike Flanagan will miss some time too after having hernia surgery this week. Flanagan has played fine this season, his first playing time since 2003, but he isn't the same. No one might notice Flanagan's absence because C Scott Wells has been very solid this season. The bigger concern is that LT Chad Clifton might not return immediately. Clifton is the best offensive lineman on the team. The line played well against Carolina when Adrian Klemm moved from left guard to left tackle, but it is unlikely Klemm will play well all season at left tackle. Klemm had a couple of opportunites to start at left tackle in New England and he never established himself as an effective starter.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Packers 29, Carolina 32. Over the last three games, the Packers are 0-3 and have lost all three games by a combined 6 points. The Packers have also committed more turnovers than their opponent in every game this season. If the Packers had committed fewer turnovers in any of the last three games, the Packers would have won any of them. Both Packer turnovers led to a Carolina touchdown in this game. The Packers are so close to turning this season around. In any other division in football, the Packers season would be a lost season or a long shot. But not in the NFC North, where division leading Chicago is 1-2 and still hasn't played the Packers this season.

First quarter: TE David Martin stays back on a pass play to block, ignores DE Mike Rucker and gets in LT Chad Clifton's way as he tries to block Rucker's speed rush. Rucker gets around Martin easily and forces a fumble on QB Brett Favre. QB Jake Delhomme hooks up with TE Kris Magnum for an easy touchdown after LB Robert Thomas struggles again in pass coverage. One minute into the game and the Packers spots Carolina 7 points. At least the Packers offense gets away from the predictability that plagued it in the Tampa Bay game. Backup RT Kevin Barry is rarely in the game tonight and the Packers commit to running the ball with RB Ahman Green all game long (until Green is hurt in one of several Packers injuries in the game). Green didn't have much success in the game, but the Packers need to keep giving Green the opportunity. You never know when Green will break a long run. Martin makes up for the poor blocking and makes an excellent catch for a touchdown. Take away the poor blocking that led to the sack on the first series, and Martin has an excellent game.

Second quarter: WR Robert Ferguson continues to have a bad season. He has the ball taken from him after he catches it for an interception. Ferguson has made some plays this season, but bad things often happen when the ball is thrown to Ferguson. Just an awful quarter for the defensive secondary. CB Ahmad Carroll committed an obvious pass interference call that led to a Carolina touchdown. Then S Earl Little was dragged by RB Deshaun Foster for 25 yards on a pass play that led to another TD. Little looked bad, but rookie FS Nick Collins deserves blame for the big play. Collins took an awful angle to Foster and whiffed on the tackle. Collins isn't getting too much press for it, but he is having an awful rookie season. If anyone deserves slack for the bad start, it is Collins. He is starting as a rookie and he is making the leap from Division I-AA college football to the NFL. The Packers are asking too much from him to start in his first season. Collins has almost made numerous plays, but the bottom line is that he hasn't created any turnovers and has helped turned 10 yard gains into 80 yard touchdown passes.

Third quarter: Unfortunately, Ferguson will continue to receive more playing time, because WR Terrence Murphy was hurt on a botched kickoff return. The Packers were down to three wide receivers after Murphy left and the unit looked winded by the end of the 4th quarter. This is a good time to mention the outstanding job of the run defense. Defensive coordinator Jim Bates is rotating eight defensive lineman throughout the first four games and all of them are playing well. NT Grady Jackson comes in for obvious run downs and DE KGB is always in on passing downs, but there is no consistent pattern to the rotation. KGB, DE Aaron Kampman, and DT Cullen Jenkins are receiving the most playing time, but DT Colin Cole, DT Corey Williams, and DT Kenny Peterson are receiving substantial time too. Rookie DE Mike Montgomery comes in for at least one series to spell KGB or Kampman. Unfortunately, this unit isn't generating a consistent pass rush and the Packers efforts at blitzing usually don't work out and open the door for big offensive plays.

Fourth quarter: Carolina has their last score in large part on a weak pass interference call on SS Mark Roman. Roman probably bumped DE Julius Peppers (who was playing on offense in the slot), but Roman had clearly turned to play the ball and it was probably thrown too high for Peppers to catch. By this point, the Packers offensive line has lost two starters (Clifton and C Mike Flanagan) and is playing Adrian Klemm at left tackle, Grey Ruegamer at left guard, and Mike Wells at center. It wasn't a world beating unit, but Carolina knew the Packers had to pass nearly 100% of the time, and the unit gave Favre good protection. The revamped offensive line played well and deserves a lot of credit for helping the Packers get back in the game. Of course, nothing helps like turnovers. KGB forced a fumble which Favre turned into a quick TD pass. It was exactly like the play the Rucker made at the start of the game that led to the very early 7-0 Carolina lead. Favre hit backup TE Donald Lee. Lee was signed right after the preseason ended and he looked like a big blocking tight end, something the Packers didn't have on the roster, but he showed great hands on the TD pass. If the Packers hadn't started in such a big hole and then win the turnover battle, then they could win these close games.