Monday, September 30, 2013

Texans coach Kubiak: Schaub's our QB

After the Texans lost their home game yesterday to the Tennessee Titans, the bandwagon fans of Houston took to the WWW with a campaign to get rid of longtime starting QB Matt Schaub. In his career, Schaub has been really good, but so far this year that's not been the case. But today, much to those fans' dismay, team head coach Gary Kubiak assured ESPN.com that Schaub's job is not in danger. 

Now to all those Houston fans, I gotta say shame on you. You lost a few games, it happens. Also, if you don't have Schaub start, who will? Get over yourselves. Because by the end of the year, I gurantee you that your team will at least be competing for a playoff spot. 

Meet RB Michael Hill, The Newest Addition To The Packers 53-Man Roster

RBs Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin, and James Starks were either out or injured during the Green Bay Packers' last game against the Bengals. Also, FB John Kuhn was out with one of the team's many hamstring injuries.

We won't know for sure how they're doing until the first injury report is posted on Wednesday, but apparently there are some question marks surrounding them because the Packers just added another running back to the active roster.
My guess is that Hill will be inactive next week because at least three of the four backs will return before next Sunday. But it's now possible that Hill could be needed on the field.

I had hoped they would promote WR Charles Johnson from the practice squad to fill the roster spot opened up by WR Jeremy Ross's release, but the injury situation at running back made depth an issue.

As for Hill, he was one of three finalists for the Harlon Hill Trophy (Division II's Heisman) so he had a hell of a college career. Based on his pro day results, at 5-10 and 209 lbs. he's like a slightly slower version (4.60 40 time) of Johnathan Franklin (4.46 40 time). Though not too many players make the leap from Division II into the NFL, one of the notable exceptions is John Kuhn.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Finley gives disturbing details about what having a concussion is like

In last week's loss to the Bengals, we all saw the frightening concussion Packers TE Jermichael Finley sustained. One second he had a catch, and then the next he was down. When he got up and attempted to walk, he was limping awkwardly before collapsing again. Just watching that was bad, but now we're hearing what happened from Finley's point of view, which is truly frightening. 

"I looked to the sideline, and all I saw was jerseys. I saw the yellow pants we wear, and I didn't see no head or legs. Everybody was decapitated, and my body was just on fire," Finley told Bleacher Report. 

The story to this goes on, but that should be all you need to hear to question whether or not America's love for football is still worth it. Either something has to change here or the game must go. Fines simply don't do the trick anymore. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Packers DC Capers not worried about 1-2 start

Despite his team starting out 1-2 for the second consecutive season, Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers is not worried, stating that he feels confident the Pack will turn it around in an article recently published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 

"I think our guys know this," Capers said in the article. "A year ago we were sitting here after one of the most frustrating games I've ever been involved with 1-2, and we turned it around and won 10 out of the next 12. A lot of the guys sitting in this locker room were involved in that."

I agree with Capers that a turnaround and a winning streak this season is inevitable, but I wouldn't necessarily say this year is the same as last year. Last year, they were 1-2 because of a blown call, relatively healthy, and not having a bye week after Week 3. Also, last year's schedule resumed with a tough home game against the Saints, while this year's schedule matches them up with a team they almost definitely will beat, the Lions. So I'd stay things this season will likely be a little easier for them, but at least Capers has faith they'll do something. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Response to Bleacher Report saying Brett Favre could play for weak teams this year

While scrolling through articles today looking for something to write about, I came across something truly disturbing. Apparently, one of my favorite sports sites, Bleacher Report, is reading way too deep into a recent quote by none other than former Packers QB Brett Favre's agent, Bus Cook. In the quote, Cook states that Favre is currently in great shape, and that he could play today. Subsequently, Bleacher Report went on to name all the teams that could use Brett this year. 

Now any Packers fan will tell you that Favre has unretired way too many times in his career, so to suggest that it'll happen again, especially after he's just been gone for the last two years, is dead wrong. I'm extremely disappointed BR acknowledged this. The NFL and their fans have had enough of this guy, and a great site like BR should be one of the last that writes about stuff like this. This isn't news Bleacher Report. Move on. 

Weekend Preview: NFC North Roundup

It's the Packers' bye week but the other three NFC North teams are playing on Sunday. It's still early so the Packers shouldn't yet be rooting for one team over another. Watching these NFC North games are useful for scouting purposes only.

Bears at Lions. The Lions are favored by three because they're playing at home, but otherwise the line is considered a draw. Both teams lost a key player this week (Henry Melton for the Bears, Nate "Pizza Guy" Burleson for the Lions) so that's a push. The Bears have a better record and have been playing better than the Lions. The Lions won their 2011 home meeting during the Lions' early 2011 hot streak, while the Bears had a two point win in Week 17 in Detroit last season. It should be a good, close game, and definitely the premier NFC North matchup this weekend compared to the other one.

Steelers "at" Vikings. It's a Vikings "home" game being played in London, England. Both teams are 0-3 and both teams stink, but both of them stink equally, entering Sunday ranked No. 23 and No. 24 overall according to Football Outsiders. Last year's game in London was a real stinker, so I'm not expecting to see the cleanest game ever played, and for added stink the Vikings will be forced to start QB Matt Cassel so they can see for themselves why every Chiefs fan wanted him gone. At the end of it, one of these teams will be 1-3 and can stake the claim that they've turned their season around, though in the Vikings' case their problems looked real at the beginning of the season. There's not much to see here for Packer fans except to watch how low the Vikings sink on Sunday.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bengals Safety George Iloka fined $15k for Sunday's hit on Finley

Today, a league source told NBCSports.com that Bengals Safety George Iloka has been fined $15,000 by the NFL for his hit to the head of Packers TE Jermichael Finley in Sunday's game. According to the ruling, Finley was defenseless when it happened, and even though it was not helmet-helmet, it was apparently bad enough to deserve a fine. 

On the bright side of this situation, Finley appears to be OK and will very likely play in the team's next game. But it's still terrible that he had to have a scare like this. Last thing the Packers need right now is having their receivers get hurt, too. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rodgers: Argument with McCarthy "definitely over and done with"

In an interview earlier today with Milwaukee's ESPN 540, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers downplayed the recent media hype about possible rising tensions between him and head coach Mike McCarthy, calling them a collision between two passionate people. During Sunday's loss to the Bengals, the two could clearly be seen arguing over what plays to run late in the first half. 

"That was definitely over and done with after we talked on the sideline," Rodgers said. "Mike and I have been together for a long time and had a lot of success together, a lot of big wins, a lot of fun on the field, in the meeting room conversing during the week. There's a lot of mutual respect there and a lot of competitiveness and passion on both sides, and every now and then that passion collides. It's something that we talked about later and moved forward together."

I'll take Rodgers' word on this. I've never seen him and McCarthy get mad at each other before, so it's likely that this was just something that happened in the heat of the moment. 

Week 3 Football Outsiders Rankings: Packers At No. 9

The writers at Football Outsiders have posted their Week 3 rankings, and the Green Bay Packers come in at number nine overall. That's respectable considering their defense has been awful.

Team Overall Rank Offense Rank Defense Rank Special Teams
Chicago 6 13 8 8
Green Bay 9 2 29 13
Detroit 16 9 15 30
Minnesota 24 25 19 21

One note; these rankings are not adjusted to reflect strength of schedule, which actually should hurt all four NFC North teams because collectively the division has only played two games against a team currently ranked in the Football Outsiders Top 10. The Bears beat the Bengals in Chicago, and the Packers lost in Cincinnati. Also, that does not include the 49ers, who are currently ranked number twenty-seven overall, right below the Browns.

Which team might be expected to improve as the season goes on? The Bears defense was the top rated unit in 2012 according to Football Outsiders, but the firing of Lovie Smith and the recent season ending injury to DT Henry Melton might keep them from moving up the rankings. The Packers defense can't get much worse, and it's more likely that they get better once all the starters return from their hamstring injuries. Detroit's rankings are basically the same as last year, and their defense might slip once they start playing against above average offenses (the only good one they've played so far has been Washington's). Unless RB Adrian Peterson turns back into Superman, I don't know how the Vikings can realistically expect to improve.

Currently the Packers's divisional record stands at 0-0. Once they start winning their divisional games, which will begin on October 6th when they host the Lions, they'll start moving up in the rankings and the standings. They've had two tough road losses so far this season, but those losses will matter little if they go 6-0 in the division. Get healthy, forget the past, and just win the games they expect to win. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lacy to return to action after bye week

Today, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported some great news for Packers fans, as it appears that injured RB Eddie Lacy will return to the field when the team hosts the Lions in Week 5. 

“Yeah,” Lacy replied when asked by the Gazette if he'll return for the Detroit game. “Since I wasn’t cleared, I had no intention of playing, but I have a bye week to still get right. When I get back, we’ll see where I go from there.”
Right now, it's no secret that the Pack really need a healthy running back. James Starks and Jonathan Franklin are both minorly hurt, but since their injuries happened more recently, it's likely that they will return later than Lacy.


The Emergence of Don Barclay

The biggest surprise of the preseason might have been that Don Barclay moved ahead of Marshall Newhouse for the starting right tackle job. Newhouse allowed a sack during the preseason, sometimes that's all it takes, but the Packers didn't seem sold on Barclay as they kept moving him around the line, trying him at different positions in training camp.
Bengals LB Carlos Dunlap is a rising star, but he didn't have a lot of success against Barclay who now is ranked among the Top 10 pass blocking tackles according to Pro Football Focus. That's a far cry from where he was when he became an emergency starter last season. Ironically, he was a much better run blocker last season, while this season it seems he's better as a pass blocker. However, a couple of whiffed blocks might not be the whole story for a line that's now blocked for a 100 yard rusher in consecutive weeks. He's been an excellent find as an undrafted free agent that almost no one thought could play tackle in the NFL.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Matthews not worried about hamstring injury

After he sat out the entire second half in yesterday's heartbreaking loss to the Bengals, many people began to worry that Packers LB Clay Matthews may be seriously injured. But after the game, Matthews assured the media that there is nothing to worry about. 

“I’ll be good. I think today was more of a preventive measure than anything,” said Matthews, who missed four games last year due to his hamstring. “I felt like I could go back out there, but we have to be smart, especially going into a bye week. I don’t see myself missing any time. We have Detroit coming back and I’ll be out there.”

Let's hope he's right. 

Packers Release WR/KR Jeremy Ross

Nothing hurts an undrafted receiver's chances more than bad hands. There are too many fast, athletic players out there to compete against. The occasional big play isn't going to make up for the big turnover, or in the case of WR Jeremy Ross, a fumbled kickoff return.
Having said that, I'm really surprised they released him. I had completely written him off as a return man and I didn't trust him anymore, but I thought he would still have a role as a backup wide receiver. On the other hand, if you're a backup and you can't contribute on special teams, then it's hard to keep a roster spot.

There's not a lot going on this week before the bye, so the Packers might not be in a big hurry to fill Ross's spot. My first hope is that this gives 7th round draft pick WR Charles Johnson a chance to be promoted from the practice squad. He didn't make much noise this preseason as he dealt with injuries and he didn't see too many good passes thrown his way while the Packers struggled finding a backup QB, but I really like his potential as a James Jones type receiver. However, if the running back situation is still such an injury riddled nightmare, the open roster spot be given to practice squad RB Michael Hill. I'm not expecting much from Hill, here's a very good look at him, but they just need a healthy body at this point.

Recap: Packers Lose A Crazy Game In Cincinnati, 34-30

After watching this game, I gave up on watching football for the rest of the day. A game as inexplicable as this loss for the Green Bay Packers required some time away from the game. As LG Josh Sitton said, they had plenty of opportunities but they just didn't make the plays.

QB Aaron Rodgers. Early in the game, his receivers weren't getting open and his line wasn't blocking. The o-line continues to have trouble with stunts and C Evan Dietrich-Smith was overmatched on a few plays. After the line improved and the receivers started to create some separation, Rodgers had trouble getting back into a rhythm. He also couldn't get on the same page with his head coach. For him to throw two interceptions is very strange, especially the pass he underthrew down the sidelines that was intercepted by Leon Hall.

But then Johnathan Franklin has a huge game (pre-fumble). He got a lot of help from his blockers, but he made also made a lot of great moves in the open field. As for the fumble, it was dumb luck that the Bengals were able to return it for a touchdown. Forcing a fumble is a skill, but recovering one fumble, fumbling it again, and then recovering a second fumble on the same play, is a fluke.

As I was watching the game, I wanted them to run it on fourth down. The defense was definitely missing LB Clay Matthews in the second half, and kicking a field goal to go up by six points doesn't help if the Bengals march down for another touchdown. For Franklin to fumble in that situation is just inexcusable since ball protection should be his priority. Let the line get the push (they didn't anyway) and he should make sure he holds onto the ball.

Missing Matthews. The Bengals didn't have the ball on offense a lot after halftime, but they did score touchdowns on two of their four second half possessions. This was after the defense allowed only 37 yards on the Bengals' final six possessions of the first half. During that impressive streak, Matthews forced two fumbles. In the second half, the Bengals didn't turn the ball over once. Maybe all it would have taken was one big play from the Claymaker to turn it around. Apparently he thinks his hamstring injury will be just fine, and he'll get the bye week to make sure.

And this wouldn't have been a close game if WR Jeremy Ross hadn't completely botched his first kickoff attempt. Plus he gave me a coronary when he almost touched it before it went out of bounds at the two yard line on another. I'd give him a pass on one game, but he made bad decisions in their loss against the 49ers and now he makes a critical turnover. If CB Micah Hyde can provide a boring 20 yard return every time with sure hands, I'd hope they switch from Ross to Hyde as soon as possible.

It's going to be a long bye week.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Full list of inactives for Packers-Bengals

Now that kickoff is nearly upon us for today's Packers road game in Cincinnatti, I think it's time I post this week's full list of inactives for both sides. Looking at these lists, I didn't see a lot that excited or put me down, but here they are:

Green Bay PackersGreen Bay Packers
24 CB Jarrett Bush
27 RB Eddie Lacy
29 CB Casey Hayward
30 FB John Kuhn
42 S Morgan Burnett
65 G Lane Taylor
93 DE Josh Boyd

Cincinnati Bengals
21 CB Brandon Ghee
27 CB Dre Kirkpatrick
33 RB Rex Burkhead
67 G Mike Pollak
73 T Anthony Collins
88 WR Ryan Whalen
99 DE Margus Hunt

Maybe it's just me, but it seems the more defensive players are out for them the better the Packers play. Their backups just seem more motivated. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Lacy questionable for tomorrow's game

Today, Bleacher Report announced that Packers running back Eddie Lacy is questionable for tomorrow's Week 3 matchup with the Cincinnatti Bengals. Like I just said yesterday, I don't think Lacy playing or not will matter much in this one, but I still think this news is worth posting. 

If a running game does end up being necessary to beat the Bengals, the Packers will still have James Starks available. Last week against Washington, I thought Starks was pretty good, so I wouldn't mind having to have him start a game or two. But Lacy is definitely still my favorite runner. 

P

Friday, September 20, 2013

McCarthy: Eddie Lacy getting better

Today, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy was asked about the current condition of RB Eddie Lacy, who suffered a concussion on Sunday. McCarthy had some uplifting news to report about #27, but did say that he's still not completely back. 

"He looks good. He’s in the meetings and that’s always a positive sign, but he’s got a couple more tests in front of him that he has to pass before he’ll be able to practice." McCarthy told ESPN Milwaukee.

Going into this week, I'm not sure the Packers need Lacy. The Bengals are a very beatable team, whether Green Bay has a running game or not. 

Preview: Packers at Bengals

This is an interesting bit of trivia, and it started a tremendous run of success for the Green Bay Packers, but once it's over I'll go back to writing about the upcoming game.
The Bengals are in the AFC's middle class, they've made it to the playoffs and lost in the first round in each of the last two seasons, and they have the potential to become a Super Bowl contender. But after a road loss to the Bears and a home win against the Steelers (who have major issues on offense), I'm not sure where that leaves them. They have Wild Card potential but I'm not sure whether they're good enough to beat a playoff caliber team. Here are the team rankings courtesy of Football Outsiders:

Team Pass Offense Pass Defense Run Offense Run Defense
Packers 2 32 3 16
Bengals 13 19 8 11

I expect everyone saw RB James Starks run all over an overmatched Redskins' D last week, and of course QB Aaron Rodgers is outstanding. However, I'm not expecting a repeat performance from Starks next Sunday. The run defense is mediocre, but the big problem is their pass defense. While the advanced stats rank them as the worst, it's not much better with the traditional stats; the Packers have a QB rating of 116.6 against them. Too many touchdown passes allowed, far too few INTs (only Mike Neal, MIKE NEAL, has an INT this season) and only three sacks.

Outside of LB Clay Matthews against the 49ers (he struggled against Trent Williams last week) the Packers aren't getting any pass rush. Something has to change, and Matthews might have a relatively quiet game again this week because Bengals LT Andrew Whitworth is pretty good. The pass defense shouldn't expect the return of either S Morgan Burnett or CB Casey Hayward, but hopefully we've seen the last of the poorly designed zone scheme in Week 1 and the play everyone on the roster in the secondary strategy of Week 2. Plus, a lot of CB Tramon Williams on WR A.J. Green might have the same effect of slowing him down as the Steelers had last week with CB Ike Taylor on him.

I'd be a little bit more concerned about the Bengals running game, but they keep giving most of the carries to RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis instead of dynamic rookie RB Giovani Bernard. Hopefully that trend keeps up for another week.

While the Bengals defense gets props for having players like LB Michael Johnson and DT Geno Atkins, it's rankings are average considering they've only played against one decent offense. Johnson has been on a tear over the first two games, so hopefully the offensive line can continue it's streak of one good game in a row that began last week. The optimist in me sees a line that's been completely re-shuffled, no one was starting or starting in the same position they were in a year ago, and their communication on stunts and blitz pickups should only improve during the year.

This seems like the perfect place for a let down game, on the road against a quality team right before the bye week, so I'm not as confident as usual. Even if the Packers get the early lead, the Bengals have enough fire power to comeback, so I expect it will be a close one.

Packers 23, Bengals 21.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Vikings WR Jennings writes "Packers Suck" on autographed helmet

Today, in another pathetic attempt to gain unnecessary publicity, former Packers WR Greg Jennings wrote the words "Packers Suck" alongside an autograph he recently gave to some unlucky fan. Why Jennings feels the need to diss his former team who did nothing but good to him is beyond me, but I think I've comprised a theory about this former Packer. This, mixed in with the accusations of "brainwashing" and shots at Rodgers over the summer are clear signs to me that this guy is insecure. I bet if he was to be traded from the Vikings to the Jets today he'd be doing the exact same thing. He'd be calling Adrian Peterson and a dictator and writing Vikings suck all over Jets helmets. Anyway, if you don't already dislike this guy as an athlete you should now. He is a joke. 

The Curse of The Pulled Hamstring

The Green Bay Packers are dealing with injuries but it has been worse for them in recent years. The big problem is that players keep injuring their hamstrings and there's nothing for them to do but rest for a while. Just ask Larry Fitzgerald.
Morgan Burnett and Casey Hayward have each been out for a few weeks with a bad hammy and recently Jarrett Bush and John Kuhn joined the party. With a bye week on the horizon, I'm not expecting the Packers to rush them. Burnett is practicing but he practiced last week too.

Jermichael Finley is out with an injured toe but there's probably not much he can do about it except rest. The Packers held him out of practice last Wednesday too. But he did practice rest of the week and played on Sunday. I'd expect the same this week.

Johnny Jolly seems fine after last week's neck injury and he's back at practice. It's also good to see Josh Sitton is not listed this week; his hurting back must be feeling better.

Eddie Lacy was on the sidelines, but he didn't practice so he probably has not been cleared by two doctors yet as required by the NFL's concussion protocol. He might get that later this week.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Brandon Meriweather fined 42k by NFL for illegal hit on Lacy

According to Mike Jones of the Washington Post, Team from Washington Safety Brandon Meriweather has been fined $42,000 by the league for his illegal helmet-helmet hits in Sunday's game. The first hit of his knocked out Packers RB Eddie Lacy, while the second one on Packers backup RB James Starks ended up knocking himself out. It's safe to say that this guy completely deserves this fine. You can't break that rule once without getting in trouble, yet he stupidly did it twice. On the bright side, Lacy seems fine, so I guess I don't hate him, but he did deserve some kind of punishment. 

Trent Williams Is Very Good At His Job

Earlier I gave some props to LT Trent Williams who, unfortunately, did a great job of shutting down LB Clay Matthews for much of the game. While he was frequently asked to drop back into coverage, three tackles, one tackle for a loss, and one QB hit is a fairly quiet day for the Claymaker.

I remembered watching a big Alfred Morris run in the first half and I was surprised at how badly the run defense broke down. Looking back at the video in slow motion, it wasn't so much that the scheme failed as it was that Williams destroyed DE Johnny Jolly. I'm a big fan of Jolly, his come back is a great story and he's earned the right to start again, but this was not a play to remember. To add injury to insult, I think this was when Jolly was injured.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Packers ranked number 5 on latest ESPN Power Rankings poll

Today, ESPN.com released their latest NFL Power Rankings as the 2013 schedule heads into Week 3. On it, the 2-0 Seahawks are number 1, the 2-0 Broncos are number 2, the 1-1 49ers are number 3, the 2-0 Texans are number 4, and our 1-1 Packers are number 5. To me, these rankings seem about right. Against the 49ers, the Packers played well, but it was still obvious that they weren't gonna win. They're a good team, but not better than any of those top 4 teams. Now they'll probably get better as the season progresses, but for now number 5 is where they belong. Right now, they seem more like a team who wins divisional titles than Super Bowls. But the season did just start, so now is not the time to judge how teams will do in the postseason. But that's just what I think would happen if the the playoffs started today. 

How The Packers Look Against The Bengals

The Bengals were on Monday Night Football against the Steelers, and my kids even let me watch a little bit of it. Here are a few early thoughts about the Packers' next opponent.
I've been pretty unimpressed with the Packers' offensive line in their first two games, though LG Josh Sitton is doing his best to play through a bad back. I'm bullish on rookie LT David Bakhtiari but he's had his problems with edge rushers in his first two games. It won't get any easier for the lineman because the Bengals have a great defensive line. Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson bring the outside rush while Geno Atkins brings it from the inside. However, if the Bears were able to protect QB Jay Cutler in Week 1 against them, I would expect the Packer lineman will be able to protect QB Aaron Rodgers too.

The hamstring injuries to S Morgan Burnett and CB Casey Hayward do not appear to be going away, and the Packers threw out a bunch of different combinations in the secondary against the Redskins to see what works. The second half on Sunday almost turned into a preseason game, as the coaches used every healthy defensive back on the roster. The good news is that this isn't because they're desperate; they have some similar, quality backups to choose from and they wanted to see what CB Davon House and S Chris Banjo could do in a regular season game. Hopefully the experiment is over and they stick with their best five or six defensive backs next week.

As for the Bengals, the key to their offense remains WR A.J. Green. Against the Bears' zone coverage, Green had a big game and so did QB Andy Dalton. But against the Steelers, when CB Ike Taylor played press coverage and got in Green's face, he only had 41 yards receiving and Dalton had a QBR of 39.5. I hope to see CB Tramon Williams pressing Green early and often in coverage next Sunday.

The Bengals haven't been able to run the ball much in 2013, but their two games this season have come against two of the better (best) run defenses of 2012. The Bengals weren't a great rushing team in 2012, but they'll have more success later this season when they play teams other than the Bears and Steelers.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Burnett not sure if he'll play in Cincinnati

In this week's 38-20 win over the team from Washington, Packers Safety Morgan Burnett did not play due to a hamstring injury he suffered in Week 1. And now apparently he might now play in week 3 either, as his health still hasn't improved. 

When asked if he would play against the Bengals, Burnett admitted that he has no idea.

"We don't know yet," Burnett said. "We're taking it one day at a time and seeing the progression each time. It's getting better. The only thing we can do is keep treating it and keep getting it better."

Since the defense was much better without him, I don't care if he misses the rest of the season. I just want their defense to play half-way decent. 

Recap: Packers Trounce Team From Washington, 38-20

All the early Sunday afternoon games were close this week, except for the Green Bay Packers, who blew out their opponent at Lambeau Field. QB Aaron Rodgers had a personal best performance and he was on pace to challenge some NFL records before his defense ran into some second half troubles. However, the biggest ongoing story might be this one.
At first I was mad about S Brandon Meriweather's hit on Lacy, and his later hit on RB James Starks. For a bit of karma, his hit on Starks only concussed himself. But after reading more about how the hit on Lacy was with the crown of his helmet and should have drawn a flag, while he shouldn't have drawn a flag for his hit on Starks because it was the side of his helmet, I've given up being angry. The NFL's rules about helmet-to-helmet hits are just too subjective. Let's move on.

As for Lacy, the Packers didn't say anything specific after the game about his concussion. The NFL has a concussion protocol, and Lacy will go through it this week. No one knows at this time whether he'll play next Sunday.

Before I become too complementary about the Packers' offense, from Rodgers to his great receivers to the surprising 100 yard game from Starks; the Redskins' defense stinks. LBs Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo can get after the QB, and they combined for three sacks on Sunday, but there's no one else to write home about. LB London Fletcher has an impressive games played streak, but he looks done. LB Perry Riley had a big game last week against the Eagles, but he did little against the Packers. Their defensive line, featuring Packers' castoff DE Phillip Merling, had little impact. And their secondary did next to nothing except make tackles after long receptions.

The hits on Rodgers continue to be a concern. Four sacks and six QB hits, almost entirely from Kerrigan and Orakpo on the outside, this week after five QB hits (almost all from DE Aldon Smith on the outside) in Week 1 against the 49ers. The good news is that most of the pressure came early and the line looked better as the game went on.

While it was another bad week for the secondary, I'm still giving them a pass without S Morgan Burnett and CB Casey Hayward. They should return soon from their hamstring injuries. If not, their current players should improve in their expanded roles. Either way, the secondary should get better.

The secondary wasn't helped by the Packers' lack of a pass rush. LB Clay Matthews had a lot of trouble with Pro Bowl LT Trent Williams, the man is indestructible, and no one else picked up the pass rushing slack. The addition of two recent first round picks, DE Datone Jones and LB Nick Perry, still hasn't helped the pass rush. The pieces are in place but the results aren't there.

Having an MVP caliber QB in his prime, on one of his better days, can cover up problems elsewhere on the team. In 2011, Rodgers was so good it didn't matter much (until the playoffs) that the defense was lousy. In 2013, it hasn't mattered much that the defense is struggling when Rodgers has thrown for 813 yards, 7 TDs and only 1 INT in his first two games. But the questions about the pass rush and pass protection still remain and there is a lot of room for improvement.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Packers Lacy to get 20-25 carries today

According to a tweet sent out earlier by the NFL Network, the Packers are planning to give rookie RB Eddie Lacy 20-25 carries today. Lacy really struggled last week against the 49ers, running for just 41 yards despite getting 14 carries. Now I have no idea how good Washington's defense is, but since they lost to the Eagles last week, I'm assuming this is a smart move. 

And if Lacy does play bad today, it probably won't matter. In the end, the passing game will help the Packers prevail. It'd be nice to see Lacy make some improvements, but I just don't see it happening. I see at least 15 of those carries getting stopped at the line of scrimmage. But I could be wrong. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Finley probable for tomorrow's game

After undergoing a minor toe injury last Sunday in San Francisco, Packers TE Jermichael Finley has been listed as "probable" to play in tomorrow's home opener against the team from Washington. Finely reportedly was in Minnesota earlier this week for treatment before missing practice on Wednesday. On Thursday, the TE made a surprising return to the practice field, putting rumors that the injury was serious to rest. 

While this news is great, I don't think it really matters. Washington was terrible last week against the Eagles, so I don't think they'd have much of a chance against the Packers even if Finley's out. But still, now he's playing. At least his toe's fine. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Matthews fined 15k by league for late hit on Kaepernick

Today, NFL Network's Albert Breer reported that Packers LB Clay Matthews had been fined $15,000 by the league for his late hit Sunday on 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick. While I agree the hit wasn't necessary, a fine wasn't either. We know who to blame for this injustice: Jim Harbaugh. 

If Harbaugh would've shut up and not accused Matthews of heading a bounty program last week, the refs wouldn't have been scared into calling a penalty on the play. No penalty, no fight. No fight, no fine. So, thanks a lot Harbaugh for abusing this system of businessmen trying to make the game safer. You completely fooled every one of them. 

Preview: Team From Washington at Green Bay Packers

I'm not feeling great about their upcoming game against the Team From Washington, but the line has the Packers favored by nine points so maybe my lack of optimism is unwarranted. The fact that I didn't watch the Team From Washington get shredded early by the Eagles is probably clouding my judgment.

It's tough to look at stats after only one game, but Football Outsiders has the Packers offense ranked No. 2 while the Team From Washington is No. 12 thanks to a second-half comeback. However, both teams are licking their wounds on defense; Football Outsiders has the Packers ranked No. 30 and the Team From Washington is No. 31. While the Packers have nothing to brag about after watching WR Jeremy Ross struggle with poor kick return decisions, this week's opponent apparently had a game to forget on special teams and are currently ranked No. 31 in that category. As much as the loss to the 49ers stings, their loss to the Eagles has exposed all sorts of problems.

The biggest difference this week is that the Packers don't have to worry about a mobile quarterback and instead can go back to playing their usual style of offense. While QB Robert Griffin III is going get his legs back at some point, he looked slow (for him) last week against the Eagles. He probably won't be back to full speed after surgery until later this season, so the Packers are catching them at a good time. While it was a quiet opener for LB Nick Perry against the 49ers, he's going to be lining up against RT Tyler Polumbus on Sunday and Pro Football Focus suggested it could be a very good matchup for him. They should expect the return of S Morgan Burnett, who was badly missed against the 49ers, as his injured hamstring appears to be feeling a lot better.

The key on offense should be protecting QB Aaron Rodgers. If the protection improves from last week's struggles, Rodgers will have a big game because all of his receivers were getting open. This could be a good opportunity for RB Eddie Lacy because the Team From Washington was shredded on the ground last week by RB LeSean McCoy for 184 yards and a 5.9 ypc. It's time to break that streak without a 100 yard rusher!

Packers 31, Team From Washington 21.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Matthews: "I'm an awesome player, not a dirty player"

Well today Clay Matthews finally commented on the recent bit of drama surrounding his controversial hit on Sunday, but not in a good way. Apparently, the beloved LB of the Packers for the past 5 years is very full of himself. Instead of just denying that he's dirty player like most people would do, Matthews made sure he complimented himself in the short quote. Here it is:

“I’m an awesome player, I’m not a dirty player,” Matthews said.

Really Matthews? Was that in any way necessary. We get you're awesome and all, but your not supposed to say it. In all seriousness, I must say that now Matthews has to be rebuild his reputation. This kinda stuff is ridiculous.  

On Whether The Packers Should Bench McMillian and Start Banjo

His game against the 49ers was bad, awful, and he has to improve. It might mean that the Green Bay Packers will bench rookie safety Jerron McMillian.
This discussion might be irrelevant because S Morgan Burnett was limited in practice on Wednesday and he might be able to play on Sunday. His return would mean a change in McMillian's role anyway. However, the 49ers game might have been a long-term sign that McMillian isn't meant to play deep safety and he's better off as a nickel/slot defender.

If Burnett isn't ready to go, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Packers bench McMillian, though it wouldn't mean the Packers are giving up on him. In 2011, M.D. Jennings had a lousy game against the 49ers at Lambeau in week 1, he lost track of WR Randy Moss who was wide open for a touchdown, and he didn't play a lot over the following couple of weeks. But then Charles Woodson broke his collerbone and Jennings finished up the regular season as the starter.

The concern is that S Chris Banjo isn't any better. He was recently released by the Jaguars which is not a good sign. While he had a strong preseason, it came against backups. His promotion would be a roll of the dice and it might work out, but I expect the coaches are considering everything they've seen from both players over the past several weeks without focusing exclusively on just one game.

So I wouldn't be surprised to see a change, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them keep McMillian ahead of him either. That's not a helpful conclusion, but I don't know what the coaching staff thinks about each player and I wouldn't be disappointed to see them go with either player.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

McCarthy: "We'll stay above Harbaugh's comments"

After his starting LB, Clay Matthews, was wrongly judged and portrayed as a dirty player by the stuck up head coach of the 49ers, Jim Harbaugh, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is beginning to publicly defend #52, assuring the media that Matthews is not as horrible as Harbaugh thinks. 

“Clay Matthews is not a dirty player, by any means,” McCarthy said. “I addressed Harbaugh’s comments in the team meeting, and as always, we’ll stay above it.”

This recent attack on Matthews by Harbaugh has frustrated me. It is completely unnecessary and unprofessional for him to do what he's doing. He needs to grow up. 

The Packers Might Shuffle Their Offensive Line

This has been one bad week for LG Josh Sitton and now he might not be able to start next Sunday.
Sitton had a bad game against the 49ers, Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of -4.5 for his struggles against DE Justin Smith, and part of the problem might have been a bad back which kept him out of practice on Wednesday. Maybe he hurt it during the game. Unfortunately it's hard to tell at this point whether it's serious.

If Sitton does miss their game against the Redskins, Jason Wilde thinks Newhouse would play at right tackle and Don Barclay would move inside. They might even move T.J. Lang back to left guard. During their last preseason game, at times the Packers played the now released T Kevin Hughes at left tackle with Newhouse at RT and Barclay at RG. I don't recall seeing Barclay play on the left side this preseason, though he did play some at center early in training camp.

I don't think Mike McCarthy likes moving his lineman around, but he probably wants his five best lineman on the field. Since I can't recall Newhouse playing anywhere this preseason except at tackle, that would be where he has to go, and the guards might be shuffled around accordingly.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Harbaugh: "Matthews has some repairing to do to his image"

I don't know what Jim Harbaugh has against the Packers, but he must have something wrong with him since every time anything happens he thinks the Packers must be guilty of doing something. And you won't believe what he's saying now. At this point last week, he was accusing the Packers of running a bounty program for not wanting to give up touchdowns, and now he's attacking their defense again. Apparently, in that brief brawl in the second quarter on Sunday, in which everybody was hitting everybody, Clay Matthews was slapping 49ers LT Joe Staley. Of course, nobody else but Harbaugh noticed this, but since he's noticed it I guess it must matter. 

“I could see two punches thrown to Joe’s head -- well, one punch and one open slap, which . . . if you’re going to go to the face, come with some knuckles. I think that young man works very hard on being a tough guy. He’ll have some repairing to do to his image after the slap.”

Let me ask you something Harbaugh, why is it that nobody else cares that this happened? Name one player on your team who didn't punch, slap, of shove during those few seconds. It was a fight, what do you want them to do, hug each other? 

Monday, September 09, 2013

Matthews on hit: "It wasn't a very smart play"

In yesterday's 34-28 loss to the 49ers, Clay Matthews, who had made comments earlier in the week concerning the Packers wanting to "hit the quarterback," made a stupid play that stupider officials screwed up on. On the play, 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick had taken about 1.5 steps out of bounds before Matthews came out of nowhere and clothes-lined him. The tackle resulted in a brief of fight between the teams, in which a penalty was called on the 49ers.

 Now in this situation, both penalties should've been off set and the game should've continued from where Kaepernick stepped out. But instead, these refs allowed a replay of third down, in which the 49ers scored a TD. So really, the refs gave the 49ers four free points yesterday. Now this uncommon mistake ended up not mattering in the final score, but nobody will doubt that the momentum of the game shifted at the time that TD was scored. And it's all because Matthews just had to make an unnecessary tackle. 

“First off, it wasn’t a very smart play," Matthews said. "I had already committed to hitting the quarterback. I guess I should have figured he was going to step out of bounds. It’s nothing personal. I went up to him later and was joking around with him. But not a very smart play.”

It was stupid. I really can't even understand why he did it. There is absolutely no point in tackling defenseless players. 

Pro Football Focus: Where The Packers Struggled Against The 49ers

I wasn't expecting the Green Bay Packers to win on the road against the 49ers, the game was arguably their toughest game of the season, so I'm not going to be too critical after it. But there's always room for improvement and it's best to start improving your weakest links. It was pretty clear where that was against the 49ers.
In their weekly re-focused article, the offensive line was a major sore spot. While the young, starting tackles were far from flawless, it was the veteran guards who really struggled. The decision to flip Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang has so far not paid off. It was arguably the worst game I've ever seen from Sitton. Lang struggled last season and he didn't show much improvement in this game.

McMillian was probably being asked to do a lot more in coverage than usual with Morgan Burnett out, and it showed. Maybe this will turn out to be his worst game of the season, but his continued development is something to watch this season, especially if he is asked again to fill in for Burnett next week.

Recap: The Green Bay Packers Lose Their Second Consecutive Game In San Francisco

The score wasn't as lopsided this season (34-28) as it was during their playoff loss (45-31) but there were a lot of similarities, in a bad way. The defense couldn't stop them, they couldn't get off the field, and the Packers were killed in time of possession. The offense did it's part but couldn't keep up with a baffled defense. In defensive coordinator Dom Capers's last three games against the 49ers, his defenses have seemed overwhelmed by what the 49ers had to offer.

Unfortunately it wouldn't be a trip to the west coast without a major mess-up by the refs. At least, this time, the refs admitted their mistake. This one absolutely made a difference, it gave them a third chance to convert, and they scored a TD instead of settling for a FG. However, there's nothing to do be done about the refs, so moving on.

First off, the defensive line. DE Johnny Jolly's return continues to be a success story after recording a sack in his first regular season game since 2009. It was a quiet game for rookie DE Datone Jones, but his presence gives them another inside pass rusher who can sub for NT B.J. Raji. Still, the pass rush was lacking, however, the 49ers have a great offensive line. Maybe the rush from Jones or elsewhere will show up later this season. Eventually, they got winded, on a hot Sunday afternoon when the Packers were killed in time of possession (38:35 to 21:25), but the entire line played great against the run and they look better this season.

How could WR Anquan Boldin be left so wide open? It wasn't just Boldin; TE Vernon Davis was left free to run on a few occasions too. Unfortunately, Trent Dilfer is right. The defense usually plays a lot of man technique, but against the 49ers, after getting burned so badly by Kaepernick on the ground last January, the defense played a lot of zone to maintain a cohesive run defense. Maybe the 49ers saw that and threw out their read-option playbook against a zone coverage, but then the 49ers took what the Packers were giving in the passing game.

That zone is not their usual scheme and they played like they didn't know what they were doing. While Boldin's game icing reception on 4th down was in a man, the cornerbacks were often letting him run free, to be picked up by a safety or linebacker elsewhere in the zone coverage, and it appeared they were either confused or a step too slow in their rotation. A couple missed tackles, it was a poor game for second year S Jerron McMillian, and missing two of their best defensive backs (CB Casey Hayward and S Morgan Burnett were out with hamstring injuries), didn't help. I either hope they limit the zone schemes in the future, or hopefully they get better at them during the season. Also, the return of Hayward and Burnett can't come soon enough.

Losing the turnover battle was a big problem. They survived TE Jermichael Finley's tip ball INT (it led to a missed FG) but RB Eddie Lacy's fumble led to a touchdown, and the defense's failure to create a single one, didn't help. Also, the field position battle, where WR Jeremy Ross's poor return decisions were a clinic in what not to do, left them in terrible field position on too many possessions. I wouldn't be surprised to see someone else, maybe CB Micah Hyde, start returning kickoffs. Outside of LG Josh Sitton's first half struggles, he was called for three penalties, the Packers only had two other penalties accepted and played a disciplined game.

As for the rest of the offensive line; rookie LT David Bakhtiari did allow 1.5 sacks to one of the elite pass rushers in Aldon Smith, but he otherwise held up well considering it was his first NFL start. They often had to help him with an extra blocker, but it should only get better for him with more experience.

RB Eddie Lacy had his costly fumble, and was mostly quiet except for the one drive when the 49ers gave DL Justin Smith a breather and Lacy ran for a touchdown. He does have to hold onto the ball, but he could also use some blocking help up front. Still, he provides more of a rushing threat than anyone the Packers have had in years.

It was a pretty spectacular game for WR Jordy Nelson and WR Randall Cobb, but the MVP of the game goes again to QB Aaron Rodgers. The Packers ran 18 fewer plays than the 49ers, but they averaged the same yards per play (6.6) and almost kept up with six scoring drives (seven if you count the missed field goal). At least the offense is picking up right where it left off, and hopefully the defense can right the ship as soon as next week.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Live Game Updates: Packers 28 49ers 34 FINAL

SCORING
Packers:
Rodgers - 5 yard TD pass to Cobb, 1:05 1st
Rodgers - 16 yard TD pass to Finley, 0:16 2nd
Rodgers - 8 yard TD pass to Nelson, 3:49 3rd
Lacy - 2 yard TD run, 8:26 4th
49ers:
Kaepernick - 20 yard TD pass to Davis, 2:52 1st
Kaepernick - 10 yard TD pass to Boldin, 8:57 2nd
Kaepernick - 2 yard TD pass to Davis, 9:46 3rd
Dawson - 27 yard field goal, 14:17 4th
Gore - 1 yard TD run, 5:47 4th
Dawson - 33 yard field goal, 0:26 4th 

Rodgers ends business relationship with Brewers Braun

After discovering that his old friend Ryan Braun had lied to him about his PED use, Aaron Rodgers publicly called out the Brewers outfielder. But then, their restaurant partnership was still in effect. Today, it isn't. 

Via the Associated Press, SURGE restaurant group will change the name of the 8-Twelve MVP Bar & Grill in Milwaukee. The name will also be changed for a second location not yet opened in Bayshore. This kinda news must be disappointing for big Wisconsin sports fans, but in the end Braun deserved this. He lied and lied and lied, and now he's finally losing everything. 

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Burnett, Brad Jones questionable for 49ers game

After the team's final practice yesterday before tomorrow's season opener at San Francisco, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy announced that Safety Morgan Burnett and LB Brad Jones each have about a 50/50 chance of playing this weekend. 

"Morgan Burnett and Brad Jones both came into today with some hamstring soreness," McCarthy told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "They both had their hamstrings injured, so we’ll see how it goes. We’ll be smart with those guys. Forty-eight hours, it’s important to get those guys ready to play the game. Hopefully, it’s nothing more than that."

I'm not sure them playing or not playing in this one will really affect it's result, but I still think this news is worth posting. 

Friday, September 06, 2013

Cobb "good to go" for regular season opener

After injuring his biceps during the offseason, Packers WR Randall Cobb did not play a snap during the team's 1-3 preseason. But now, due to some rubber sleeve on his arm, he will join fellow Packers star wide receiver Jordy Nelson in the team's opener this Sunday in San Francisco. 

“I have a little padding under it,” Cobb said of the sleeve. “Just a little protection. There’s no compression on it. It’s just a sleeve, like wearing a long sleeve shirt. “I’m not having any problems with it. Good to go.”

Now that Cobb is also playing this weekend, I'm starting to believe that the Packers might win this one after all. I still consider the 49ers three point favorites, but it won't be a huge surprise to me if Green Bay come out on top. 

Preview: Green Bay Packers at 49ers

I hate previewing the first couple games of the new NFL season. It's all speculation when neither team has played any (or enough) regular season games to predict what's going to happen next. Obviously I could look at last season but how a team was playing 12 months ago isn't nearly as accurate as how they played last week. And the preseason is useless.

Will the Packers stop the 49ers' offense?

Unfortunately the Packers are poorly built to stop the run. They rarely play more than three defensive lineman and spend as much time in their nickel package as any defense in the league. On the other hand, the 49ers are built to run the ball and they're very good at even when they're not playing against the Packers. Football Outsiders ranked them No. 3 overall last season on the ground.

QB Colin Kaepernick set a rushing record for a quarterback against them in the Packers' playoff loss, and RB Frank Gore was no slouch with a 5.2 ypc average in that game. The Packers' defense can't stop them from running but they have to stop the carries of more than 20 yards. Make them work the length of the field.

The 49ers' passing game should be less this season without WR Michael Crabtree, but WR Anquan Boldin is a decent replacement and the Packers were still gashed last January by two 40+ yard passes Gore and TE Vernon Davis. That was unusual, the Packers weren't prone to giving up big pass plays, but they have to fix whatever problems they had before. I'm not expecting Kaepernick to have another record setting game, but I'm not expecting a shut-down defensive effort either. This might be another shoot out.

Will the 49ers defense stop the Packers' offense?

The 49ers defense is very good, No. 2 overall according to Football Outsiders last season, but the Packers' offense almost kept up with the 49ers' offense in their playoff game. With five minutes left in the third period, the Packers missed on a 3rd down conversion at mid-field and were forced to punt. At that point, it went from a shoot out to a blow out.

Their one big addition, who might turn this game around, is RB Eddie Lacy. I haven't seen enough from him this preseason to expect he'll be the next great franchise RB, but the Packers were killed in time of possession (21:59 to 38:01) in their last meeting and the offense has to find a way to stay on the field. They need to give the defense a break. A strong running game that can eat up the clock and take away drives from the 49ers will help the defense.

For the Packers to win, they're going to have to score a lot of points and get more from their defense. It's possible; the Packers are as healthy now as they're going to be all season, with CB Casey Hayward as the only player who's not on I.R. but expected to miss the game. If the Packers do win, it'll be because they did to the 49ers what the 49ers did to them last January in the playoffs, and win a shoot out.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

49ers head coach Harbaugh concerned Packers will target Kaepernick

According to ESPN's Ed Werder, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is for some reason showing concern that the Packers may target his QB, Colin Kaepernick. Now this is obviously coming off of Clay Matthews' comments from earlier this week, but I don't think Matthews meant that they're gonna hurt Kaepernick. He just meant that they're gonna play better defense. Anyway, here's the quote. 

 "You’re hearing some intimidating type of talk....the same thing we were hearing a couple of years ago," Harbaugh said. "It sounds a lot like targeting a specific player." 


Seriously Jim, watch Kaepernick not get hurt at all. You'll look really stupid when that happens. Accusing the Packers of conspiring to hurt your star is a misconception that can hurt reputations. So shut up and quit jumping to conclusions. 


The NFL Season Begins Tonight But The Packers Don't Play Until Sunday Afternoon

Tonight the Broncos are hosting the Ravens to start the NFL season. The league wanted to play this game in Baltimore instead of Denver but Peter Angelos is a jerk. I'm sure the fans in Baltimore really wanted to host the last place White Sox instead of seeing the defending Super Bowl champs in person. However, I don't really care about two AFC teams. As for the Packers, there hasn't been a lot of news this week about their upcoming game Sunday afternoon against 49ers, but here's what's been going on.

CB Casey Hayward will be held out because of his injured hamstring. His absence takes away a big play maker from the defense. Rookie CB Micah Hyde had a solid preseason, but he isn't as likely to grab an INT as Hayward. The good news is that Hayward is the only player who should miss the game.

WR Jordy Nelson will make his first appearance of the season. He didn't play during the preseason, so there should be some rust on him, but he brings an added dimension to their passing game that Jeremy Ross doesn't bring. Hypothetically, Ross should be a big play downfield threat too, but I haven't actually seen it happen in a game.

Jim Harbaugh is worried that Clay Matthews might want to hit Colin Kaepernick. Yes, this is stupid. Listening to the Around The League podcast, their theory was that this is Harbaugh's pre-game attempt to work the refs. Usually head coaches complain to the refs from the sidelines during the game, but Harbaugh is getting a head start. If they throw an early 15-yard roughing the passer flag for a hit on Kaepernick, you'll know that Harbaugh has done his job.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Packers WR Jordy Nelson to play in San Francisco

According to ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio, Packers WR Jordy Nelson will be available to play in this week's opener in San Francisco. Nelson has been questionable for this game for weeks now, but at least the decision that he's healthy enough has finally been made. 

"It's been easy to forget that Green Bay receiver Jordy Nelson had knee surgery in early August and missed the balance of training camp," Florio wrote. "He returned to practice last Monday, and a league source tells PFT that Nelson will be available to play in Week One at San Francisco."

This really is a sigh of relief for Packers fans. I still don't think the team will win this game, but at least now they have more of a chance. 


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Matthews: We're gonna hit QBs this year

After last season's frustrating divisional round loss to the 49ers, Packers LB Clay Matthews is claiming that his defense is ready to effectively stop read-options this year, by hitting the QB as hard as possible. Here's the quote from his appearance earlier today on ESPN:

"One of the things that the referees have told us is that when these quarterbacks carry out the fakes, they lose their right as a quarterback, a pocket-passing quarterback, the protection of a quarterback," Matthews said Monday on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike." "So with that, you do have to take your shots on the quarterback, and obviously they're too important to their offense. If that means they pull them out of that type of offense and make them run a traditional, drop-back, pocket-style offense, I think that's exactly what we're going for. So you want to put hits as early and often on the quarterback and make them uncomfortable."

In the end, the Packers defense will still be terrible this year. But at least they think this strategy'll work.

Monday, September 02, 2013

2013 Online Picks and a look back at the preseason

Finally, the NFL regular season is nearly upon us. This offseason was a long, dull one, but you know what they say, it’s always darkest before the dawn. Anyway, this year’s preseason was a waste of a month, as the Packers dropped three/four games while getting blown out in two of them. Now I never expect the preseason to be something that makes a boring day memorable, but this one was pepper spray to the eyes. Every backup QB that played looked like they were trying to lose. I could go deeper into this, but it was just preseason. If you’re gonna play awful anytime in the year, it might as well be when baseball’s still on.

Anyway, this year I predict the Packers will go 11-5 on football online picks. The five games I think they’ll lose are their road games against the 49ers, the Ravens, the Vikings, the Giants, and the Lions. If you’d like to hear from actual experts on this subject, click here. But if for some odd reason you’d still like to hear from me, I’ll tell you that I don’t really think the Packers are that good this year. In the preseason, their running game was complete crap and too many receivers got hurt. Rodgers is really good but I’m not sure he’s superman anymore. Anyway, we’ll see if I’m wrong. But don’t be surprised if this team really falls apart away from Lambeau Field in 2013.  

Packers Sign QB Seneca Wallace and Practice Squad

At least the Green Bay Packers didn't sign QB Tim Tebow as their backup quarterback.
Wallace is not a good QB, he was released twice in August and he didn't step on the field in 2012, but he's probably the best veteran backup they could have found at this point. According to Football Outsiders, he had a positive ranking in 2010, and he was OK in 2011 which is something considering his completion percentage took a surprising double-digit dive from the previous two seasons. If he can show a better feel for the pass rush and complete over 60% of his passes, he'll be an improvement over Vince Young or Graham Harrell.

The bigger surprise is that B.J. Coleman lost his spot on the practice squad to Scott Tolzien. I'm not a fan of Coleman, who didn't show a lot of improvement from his rookie preseason, and I'm glad to see a former Badger QB signed by the Packers. But it's been a rough year for Tolzien. He was well liked by the Chargers and 49ers in his first two NFL stops, but the 49ers seemed to have lost interest even though their backup QBs have been far from impressive. Maybe he's failing to improve, just as Coleman, and he might not be long for the roster either.

As for the rest of the practice squad:

OG Bryan Collins. I don't know much about Collins, other than he was released early by the Texans. The Packers appeared to have wanted OG Patrick Lewis, but he was claimed by the Browns. I don't feel too bad about it; Lewis was unimpressive in their loss to the Chiefs. Collins's signing seems like an audition. He too might not stay long on the PS.

WR Charles Johnson. I'm glad to see him back. He didn't make any plays against the Chiefs but he's got great size (6-2) and he looked like a potential deep threat. He was held back by a broken offense and he didn't get onto the field in their first couple preseason games because of an injury. I hope he can take another shot at the 53-man roster later this season or in 2014.

CB James Nixon. Of the reserve CBs, he was the one who was burned the least. Since the defense plays with more five or more defensive backs so frequently, they probably need depth in the secondary more than at any other defensive position.

TE Jake Stoneburner. I don't think they really need another TE, but at 6-3 and 249 lbs. he's got the size to play on the scout team at a couple different positions, and he's probably valuable on special teams.

WR Myles White. I really liked him at times, but then he'd struggle hanging onto the ball. He seemed to be a good route runner. I don't expect him to be a long-term keeper but he could fill in as a slot receiver (if he'd stop fumbling).

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Thompson: Young not making the team was my fault

In an article recently published on NFL.com, Packers GM Ted Thompson took the blame for Vince Young not making the team, saying that they "put a lot on his plate."

"Frankly, it wasn't fair to Vince," Thompson explained during his Sunday news conference. "We threw a lot at Vince. A lot on his plate. He was a good teammate. The fault is probably mine. Should have brought him in sooner. The fault is mine."

I guess this explanation does make some sense, but Young was still terrible whenever he played. I don't think signing him earler would've changed much.