Friday, January 31, 2014

Cobb: Hit that injured my leg "was dirty"

As you probably remember, Packers WR Randall Cobb missed a couple months this season after injuring his leg in the Packers Week 6 win over the Ravens. Now up until now, Cobb hasn't spoken a word about the incident itself, but earlier this week he apparently broke his silence, saying the hit on him was "dirty," although he doesn't believe it was meant to be.

“I think it was dirty,” Cobb said on Wednesday’s edition of Pro Football Talk at the Super Bowl. “But I don’t think it was meant to be dirty.  I think with the new rules in place he was doing the opposite and trying to protect himself from getting a fine and it just caused a low hit.”
Now I gotta say, that statement is very back-and-forth. In my opinion, you can't unintentionally commit a dirty hit, so I find these words from Cobb to be very unclear.

SB 48: The Line Has The Broncos Favored But The Stat Heads Pick The Seahawks

The line says this will be a close game and Denver is favored by 2 points. But when you pick apart how each team stack-ups against the another, there are a lot more points in Seattle's favor.

Aaron Schatz starts out his Super Bowl preview with a reminder that this Super Bowl is historic match-up with the best offense (Broncos) taking on the best defense (Seahawks). And he ends his preview with this prediction:
The Seahawks have now led the league in DVOA for two years in a row. They were better than Denver this year, they didn't decline in the second half of the season, and they are healthier than their opponents. I picked Seattle to beat Denver in the Super Bowl before this season started and I'm sticking with that pick. I'm not looking forward to having to spend the next few months constantly writing about how losing a second close Super Bowl shouldn't damage Peyton Manning's legacy, but I expect I will have to. 
The Broncos will move the ball against the Seahawks D but probably not deep down the field. They should have success running the ball and on short passes to WR Wes Welker. One very good point is that the Broncos struggled earlier this season against the Jaguars when former Seahawks DC Gus Bradley ran the Seahawks' scheme against QB Peyton Manning. The Broncos will have to work slowly down the field and try to figure out something that'll work against the Seahawks' suffocating Red Zone defense.

While QB Russell Wilson hasn't played well over the past few weeks, he hasn't been turning the ball over either and he's been playing against a host of fearsome pass defenses. Six of his last seven opponents have featured pass defenses ranked in the Top 10 by Football Outsiders. On the other hand, the Broncos were only ranked No. 21 against the pass during the regular season by Football Outsiders and that was before the season ending injury to their top CB, Chris Harris. Wilson could have a big game against them.

And the hidden game advantage also goes to the Seahawks who have a much better special teams unit, which might also be gaining Percy Harvin on kickoff returns.

So every time I looked closely at something, I saw an advantage for the Seahawks. Stuff happens, they don't play games on paper, on any given Sunday one NFL team can beat another, etc. But right now I can't see how the Seahawks will lose.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

ESPN: Liaina signing doesn't mean Kuhn's gone

This week's signing of rookie FB Ina Liaina is not expected to affect any talks this offseason between the Packers and soon-to-be unrestricted free agent John Kuhn, ESPN reports. As I said yesterday, Liaina has no real NFL experience, so it's likely that he's just being brought in as a backup, not an every week starter. 

Still, it is possible that the Pack may look to sign another FB this offseason, so Kuhn's return is definitely not guaranteed. In my opinion, it's likely, but as of now, like a lot of other stuff with this team, it's just not guaranteed. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Packers sign free agent FB Ina Liaina to two-year deal

According to a tweet recently send out by his agent, free agent FB Ina Liaina, who played college ball at San Jose State from 2009-2012, has signed a two-year deal with the Packers. In his senior year with the Spartans, Liaina rushed for a solid 98 yards on 33 carries, while also catching 10 passes for an additional 110 receiving yards. 

Last May, Liaina signed with the Dolphins as an undrafted rookie, but was cut just a month later, leaving him without a team for the entire 2013 season. Despite that, I still think he'll end up being a good acquisition, since, well, he's big.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Eddie Lacy's Pro Bowl Numbers

I don't know if you guys saw it, but Sunday's Pro Bowl was actually kind of legit. I mean, it was still a complete waste of the fans' and the players' time, but in the end, the QBs did throw, the defenders did tackle (one Chiefs guy even violently tackled another), and the coaches did coach. So yea, while it wasn't the best game ever, I guess I can call it watchable. 

Anyway, the only Packer who played in the game was RB Eddie Lacy, who had 7 carries for a total of 14 yards. Now those numbers aren't too great, but it was just the Pro Bowl, remember? It doesn't matter.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Former Lions coach Schwartz named Bills Defensive Coordinator

Former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, who was fired earlier this offseason after his team lost 6 out of their 7 last games on their way to a playoff-less 7-9 season, has been named the new defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills, reports. The Bills defense struggled mightily this year, going just 6-10, so the fact they went after a defensive-minded coach like Schwartz isn't that surprising.

In five seasons with the Lions, Schwartz went just 29-51, with an 0-1 playoff record. Despite that, I'd still say he was a pretty good coach, so yea, nice signing Buffalo.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Should the Packers re-sign John Kuhn?

It's hard to believe, but yea, it's been three seasons since the Packers won the Super Bowl. And as you may recall, after they lifted that Lombardi Trophy in Dallas, they signed their breakout FB, John Kuhn, to a three-year deal. Well, now, as I just said, it's been three years, and Kuhn's a free agent. So, what should they do with him?

In my opinion, I don't see a reason why they shouldn't re-sign him. Sure, he struggled at times this year and only had one touchdown the entire regular season, but he seemed to convert the 3rd-and-shorts pretty often. So, since they apparently aren't planning on signing anyone anyway, why not just pick this guy up. He's productive. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Packers CEO Murphy appears to be fine with ditching the extra point

In a recent interview with 95.3 WSCO, a sports radio based in Appleton, Wisconsin, Packers CEO Mark Murphy appeared to show support for the league's strange new proposal: ditching the extra point. 

“Its gotten to a point where our kickers are so good that its almost automatic," Murphy said. "I think this year there were 5 missed extra points out of over 1200 attempts.”

Now while I do understand why some people want to get rid of the PAT, I'm still not convinced it has to happen. I mean, people do sometimes get hurt on them and people do usually make them, but still, they're never guaranteed to be good. And also, why are we forgetting the obvious here? Football's a physical game. If people don't wanna get hurt playing it, then maybe they should consider doing something else with their lives.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Packers RBs coach Van Pelt to stay with team as QBs coach

Now that Ben McAdoo is officially gone, the Packers have decided to name their Running Backs coach of one year, Alex Van Pelt, their new QBs coach, reports. Van Pelt played the position with the Bills from 1994-2003, so it's likely that he'll know what he's doing when the season comes around. 

Really, this is kinda surprising, since it was recently reported by multiple sources that, if the Browns hired Mike Pettine as their head coach, which they did yesterday, Van Pelt would likely becomes their OC, but I guess the two sides' plans must've changed. Because obviously, that's not happening anymore.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

2014 Pro Bowl: Eddie Lacy on Team Sanders

For better or worse, RB Eddie Lacy was selected by Deion Sanders in the 16th round (right before WR Brandon Marshall, take that Bears!) of the first ever Pro Bowl draft. There was a draft blog if you're looking for all the pick-to-pick excitement, though the players do look extremely bored. They should have set it up with some couches, video game consoles, and ping pong tables (though it wouldn't have been epic without Matt Flynn and Kahlil Bell).

Thompson unlikely to make any big signings this offseason

In an article recently published by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Packers GM Ted Thompson, like he does every year, basically said that, unless somebody begs the Pack to sign him, he won't make any big free agent acquisitions this offseason. 

"If an opportunity presents itself and it helps us be better, then yes," Thompson said. "But I think doing it for the sake of doing it is a waste of time and energy."

So yea, there it is again Packers fans. I wish it wasn't so, but it is true. This offseason, like every other one since 2006, is gonna suck.

Early 2014 Fantasy Football Preview

With the Super Bowl still to be played, a lot of football fans are not quite getting ready for 2014 just yet. However, some Green Bay fans are preparing for fantasy football next season after the bitter ending this year. So how will the top options produce once things start up again next fall?
Aaron Rodgers was obviously a fantasy football disappointment, but injuries are bound to happen from time to time. Throughout his career, he has been a very dependable and healthy quarterback solution for fantasy owners to rely on. One down season should not spoil that. Peyton Manning seems to be a machine these days, but no other quarterback other than him should be taken over Rodgers without hesitation. People are going to have personal preferences, but expect Rodgers to return to his normal top 5 fantasy status.

Green Bay was able to make the playoffs despite Rodgers missing playing time thanks in large part to rookie Eddie Lacy. The running back had to deal with some injuries in 2013, but he was able to stay on the field long enough to be one of the most productive young offensive players in the game. After finishing well within the top 10 running backs in fantasy football in 2013, expect him to be drafted anywhere from 5-10 next season. 

Jordy Nelson was once again a popular target for Aaron Rodgers in 2013. When Rodgers went down with an injury, Nelson’s fantasy football value went down as well. However, this could just open up an opportunity for people to steal Nelson a bit in 2014. His numbers might not suggested it, but he is still easily a top 10 wide receiver. 

The Packers might not have the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL, but they do have some nice fantasy football pickups who could all be considered underrated heading into 2014. This offense has a chance to be one of the best ones in the NFL, so try and target any of these 3 players fairly early on in the draft and you should be well rewarded at the end of the season.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Nelson to make extra $500k in 2014

Recently, published an interesting article about Packers WR Jordy Nelson. Apparently Nelson, who caught a pretty incredible 85 passes for 1,314 yards this season, will be making an extra $500,000 in incentives next year, which I'll admit I find to be amazing. I mean, I knew he was good, but I didn't know he had that many catches. 

Seriously, look at his 2013 stats. He had career highs in catches, yards, yards per game (82.1), and first downs (60), while also impressively not fumbling once. Now knowing that, I almost feel that this guy deserves more incentive cash, because he clearly is a superstar.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Report: Giants might want James Starks

Due to the fact that their current starting RB, David Wilson, just had neck surgery, has reported that the Giants are planning on putting together a "contingency plan" in case he never plays in 2014, with Packers backup RB James Starks possibly being a strong candidate. This season, Starks, on 89 carries, rushed for a solid 493 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Now I like Starks, so I don't want him to leave. I mean, Eddie Lacy clearly is the starter right now, but still, he could always get hurt. And if he does, Starks is definitely a solid backup to take his spot. So Ted Thompson, please keep #44. He's not worth draft picks.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Comparing The Packers To The NFC's Elite

Now that the Seahawks have advanced to the Super Bowl, I was curious how the Packers compared to the other two teams that faced the 49ers during the playoffs. If CB Richard Sherman wasn't able to throw his hand up in just the right spot during the final minute of the NFC Championship game, the 49ers were probably on their way to a second straight Super Bowl appearance. That was arguably the best play of the season, so far, though his subsequent taunting of WR Michael Crabtree was arguably the number one dick move of it too. If the Packers had beaten the 49ers, could they have won in Seattle and found themselves in the Super Bowl?

Here are some of the game stats from the Packers playoff loss to the 49ers:
Team Total Yards Yards/Pass Yards/Run Turnovers
Packers 281 6.0 4.0 0
49ers 381 7.1 5.6 1

And here are the 49ers's game stats from their subsequent playoff games:
Team Total Yards Yards/Pass Yards/Run Turnovers
Seahawks 308 7.7 4.0 1
49ers 308 6.1 5.8 3

Team Total Yards Yards/Pass Yards/Run Turnovers
Panthers 325 9.3 3.9 2
49ers 315 6.3 3.7 0

Rodgers admitted he didn't play his best game against the 49ers, and based on the above game stats you can see what he was talking about. While there was no offensive explosion by any of these four teams, the Packers were the only one held under 300 yards of total offense. They were also the only team that didn't turn the ball over against the 49ers, which was a big reason why they scored 20 points. Obviously the incredibly frigid conditions at Lambeau played a part, but that didn't hold back the 49ers's offense.

Looking at these stats, the Packers were the weakest of these four teams. They were the lesser team on offense and defense, but the fact that they had zero turnovers helped keep the game close. Their 2013 record was deceiving because they were without Rodgers for several games, but the overall team effort still wasn't the best in the NFC after his return.

How can the Packers improve in 2014? Obviously they need better players on defense, and every position except cornerback could use some fresh blood. On offense, maybe they're a whole lot better if Rodgers and Cobb don't miss half a season, though the offensive line is due for some sort of a re-shuffle depending on the future of LT Bryan Bulaga and C Evan Dietrich-Smith. They're not that far away from another Super Bowl, so long as Rodgers is healthy, but they have more work to do than these other teams.

Does Crosby want the Packers to make him earn his job again?

In an article recently published by ESPN Milwaukee, Packers Kicker Mason Crosby, who made a career best 89.2% of his field goal attempts this season, appeared to praise General Manager Ted Thompson's decision to sign another kicker during 2013 training camp, calling it motivation. 

“You know, it was definitely a positive. There was nothing negative about it,” Crosby said. “I think it drove me to compete with myself even more, compete with what I felt like I needed to do and just go out and really battle every day."

So yea, you hear him Thompson. Go get another kicker. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Rodgers wins Bart Starr Award

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will be honored with the 2014 Bart Starr Award, Athletes in Action, the organization that sponsors the award, announced yesterday. Rodgers played in just 9 games this season, throwing for a total of 2,536 yards and 17 TDs. 

The award, given annually to an NFL Player who shows outstanding character and leadership on and off field, will be given to #12 during January 31's NFL sanctioned Super Bowl Breakfast. 

Besides Rodgers, Steelers Safety Ryan Clark and Vikings DE Jared Allen were also finalists for the prize, but, since Rodgers received just about every single counted vote, neither of them came close to winning it.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Packers OLB Coach Greene leaving team

Packers Outside LineBackers Coach Kevin Greene, in order to spend more time with his family, has decided to leave the team, the Packers Official Blog reports. According to Greene, he plans to return to the league when his kids go to college, although he did not say when that will be. 

Anyway, I don't think that will matter much in the end, as either way, it's likely that we've seen the last of Greene in Green Bay. So yea, I guess all I can say is: good bye Kevin. Your long hair, at least by me, will definitely be missed. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Lacy named PFWA Rookie of the Year

Earlier this week, the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA for short) announced that Packers RB Eddie Lacy, who was just named to the Pro Bowl Roster a couple days ago, had been named their 2013 Rookie of the Year. You guys all already know he was good, so I don't believe I need to use numbers to explain him anymore. 

Anyway, yea, that's basically all there is to this story. The PFWA did hand out some more accolades, but of all of them, Lacy was the only Packer to win one. Which, I must admit, I find a little disappointing.  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Packers RB Lacy named to Pro Bowl Roster

Due to the fact that Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is currently injured, rookie Packers RB Eddie Lacy been put on the Pro Bowl roster to replace him, the league announced yesterday. Lacy, who rushed for 1178 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, probably deserved an actual spot in the meaningless game, but I guess this is just as good. 

Anyway, from what I've heard, no other Packers are expected to be bought in as fill-ins, so unfortunetally, #27'll probably be the only guy wearing a Green and Gold helmet later this month in Hawaii. But hey, at least somebody is. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ben McAdoo To The Giants and Other NFC Coaching Changes

Unsurprisingly it's good for coaches' careers when they have a chance to work with QB Aaron Rodgers. Two years ago OC Joe Philbin became the Dolphins' head coach and now QB coach Ben McAdoo has been hired by the Giants:
McAdoo's been the next big thing for a couple of years now. He's "perhaps the hottest young offensive coordinator candidate in the league" because his contract expired at the end of the season which means that no team had to ask the Packers for permission to interview him (which they didn't give in the past) and he's a free agent. Oh, and he's got the shine of having coached Rodgers for the past couple seasons. I guess we'll ignore the other five guys he coached this season who have no business starting in the NFL.

He's probably a very smart coach who's obviously got Mike McCarthy's trust since he's been working with him for almost 10 years. But McCarthy's still the brains behind the entire operation and the offense only succeeds because of Rodgers. The Packers will be fine without McAdoo, who now faces the major challenge of rebuilding the Giants' terrible offense.

As for the two head coaching hires in the NFC North, both guys appeared to have been hired because they have the exact opposite personalities of the previous coaches. A little disclaimer first: I have no idea what type of person makes a great head coach and the successful ones can come from anywhere. I kind of like a coach to have an offensive background, but that's no guarantee of success either.

Vikings hired Mike Zimmer, who's known for screaming at players on Hard Knocks while previous HC Leslie Frazier was "a popular figure in the locker room." As I wrote above, I have no idea whether that'll make him a success or a failure, but Zimmer certainly knows how to coach defense (of course, so did Frazier) and maybe a Jim Schwartz type of guy is what the Vikings need. However, the Lions just fired Schwartz and they decided to go in a different direction.

Here's former Packer Jeff Saturday talking about new Lions' head coach, Jim Caldwell. He was the coach who was always looking calm on the Colts' sidelines versus the often confrontational Schwartz. Caldwell deserved a lot of credit for turning the Ravens' offense around in 2012 as offensive coordinator, but he might have been fired this offseason for guiding them through a disastrous 2013 campaign. His number one priority will be working with QB Matthew Stafford. Former OC Scott Linehan isn't the best coach in the world, but maybe Stafford is just going to be a maddeningly inconsistent QB in the mold of Eli Manning and Joe Flacco for the rest of his career. Caldwell is no sure bet to turn him around.

In the end, neither the Vikings or Lions made a bad choice (though the Lions did seem to bungle the P.R. battle by looking like the loser in the Ken Whisenhunt sweepstakes) and only time will tell if either coach succeeds.

Lions hire Ravens OC Jim Caldwell as head coach

The Lions search for new coach to replace the disgraced Jim Schwartz ended yesterday, when it was reported by ESPN that Jim Caldwell, the current Offensive Coordinator of the Ravens, had been hired for the position. You may remember Caldwell as the man who coached the Colts from 2009-2011, leading them to the Super Bowl in '09. 

When he was in Indianapolis, Caldwell overall was a decent coach, but the only reason he actually had success was, let's face it, because he had Peyton Manning as his QB. So, this season, I won't expect him to win more than 8 games. The Lions already don't play well together, and now they got a new coach. It'll take them at least a season or two to get good again. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Free Agent LB Neal wants to stay with Packers

According to Bleacher Report, Packers OLB Mike Neal, who's currently a free agent, is interested in returning to the team next year if "they'll have him back." Neal, who has spent each of his first four NFL seasons with the Pack, had a nice 36 tackles (23 solo) in 2013. 

Now while I guess he's not the best player in the world, I wouldn't mind keeping #96 around. He's no Jared Allen, but he contributes to the team, doesn't he? And when you're on a defense like Green Bay's, you should know that any kinda help is more than welcome. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

MJS gives Packers 2013 season a "C+"

Yesterday, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, probably the best newspaper for Packers news, released their final grade for the Pack's 2013 season: a C+. Which, unfortunetally, seems right to me. I mean, just look at how bad they were when Rodgers was out. Besides the Atlanta and Dallas games, they were barely professional in those 8 weeks. 

In the end, the Pack did still win a division title, but let's admit, they didn't deserve it. The Lions had it in their back pocket before losing 6 of their last 7 games, while the Bears would've won it in the last game had they just covered their receivers on that fourth down play. So yea, my point's clear here: the Packers were bad this year. They made the playoffs due to luck, not strength. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Packers OLB coach Kevin Greene named Hall of Fame finalist for third straight season

Earlier this week, for the third straight season, Packers OLB coach Kevin Greene was named a Hall of Fame Finalist, reports. In his career, which contained 15 years with the Rams, Panthers, Steelers, and 49ers, Greene recorded 160 sacks, the third most in NFL history. Keep in mind, numbers 1, 2, and 4 (2 being former Packer Reggie White) on that list have all already been inducted, so if Greene isn't it'd definitely be embarrassing for the league. I mean, he obviously was pretty good when he played. Not to mention, he's been an alright linebackers coach, too. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Packers OT David Bakhtiari was medically ineligible when he played Sunday

In an interesting article recently published by, it was revealed by the NFL that Packers rookie OT David Bakhtiari was medically ineligible when he played in Sunday's playoff loss to the 49ers. Bakhtiari, who seemed to be hurt pretty much all season, played just one snap in the contest, a worthless extra point in which his being on the field didn't matter. 

The article stated that Bakhtiari had apparently suffered a concussion some time in the late regular season, which he never had medically checked out. Still, the league doesn't appear to care too much about this, as no penalty is expected to be handed out.  

Friday, January 10, 2014

McCarthy: I thought 2013 Packers "could have been my best team" after 5-2 start

I already pointed this out yesterday, and now it appears Mike McCarthy kinda agrees with me, as he recently said this after being asked by NBC Sports if he thought this year's Packers could've been the best he's ever coached after they got off to their 5-2 start.

“I think they could have been,” McCarthy said. “I hate doing this, especially because I call the plays. I felt that this was going to be the best offense that we’ve ever had here. I thought we were going to go past 2011. When we (came) out of the Minnesota game, I thought we really, really hit our stride because we had a couple bumps there. We got the no-huddle offense where it needed to be. We changed a lot of the mechanics from the past."

While I still consider this season a success, I have to say that I'm disappointed with the fact that it wasn't as successful as it could've been. I mean really, injuries completely screwed the Packers in 2013. I guarantee you, had they stayed healthy, they definitely would've gotten at least the NFC's 2 seed. 

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Reaction: Dom Capers will likely return next season

Yesterday, Brandon wrote about something that I consider to be huge news: that Mike McCarthy apparently thinks Packers DC Dom Capers is an "outstanding" coach, meaning that Capers will likely return next season. Now I gotta say, I would love having Capers back. Yea, the defense sucked this year, but it wasn't his fault. It was obviously because of two things: injuries and bad players. I mean, Thompson's gotta sign somebody this offseason. He can't keep rolling out these backup idiots. 

One other thing: it is my personal belief that, had Rodgers stayed healthy, the Pack would've gone 14-2 this season. Seriously, look at who they lost or tied to without #12: the Bears, Eagles, Giants, Vikings, Lions, and Steelers? Now they wouldn't have lost any of those contests had Aaron played, don't you think?

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

DC Dom Capers Will (Probably) Return Next Season

Based on the way the 2013 season unfolded, I wouldn't have been shocked if the Green Bay Packers had fired defensive coordinator Dom Capers. This isn't an unequivocal statement of his return, Mike McCarthy admitted he hasn't completed his end of season evaluations, but it's pretty close to one:
I didn't think McCarthy would fire him because of the respect (see above) that he has for Capers, but I thought it was certainly possible. On defense, it's more about the players than the coaches. Capers isn't the one who's getting blocked out of a play, missing a tackle, or blowing the coverage in the secondary. The failings on defense were more about the poor talent evaluation by the personnel department than about bad coaching. Based on his track record, it's very clear that Capers knows football.

I wouldn't have objected if McCarthy looked for a new DC this offseason, but I'm not going to complain about Capers either. The results on the field will improve if GM Ted Thompson gives Capers better players at safety and on the defensive line next season.

My final thoughts on the 2013 Packers season

Since I've done nothing but talk about Sunday's game lately, I think it's time I finally let the world know my final thoughts on the Packers 2013 season. So, well, I'll admit I liked it. Yea, it was stressful, frustrating, and hopeless at times, but, in the end, the Packers were able to finish the year with an above .500 record and a division title. And considering all their injuries, that's a huge accomplishment. So, despite the fact that, by recent standards, it wasn't that successful, I'll go ahead and say that it was my favorite one since Favre retired. And yea, that includes the Super Bowl year. 

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

James Jones: Looking Back and Looking Forward

I haven't decided about most of the Green Bay Packers's 2014 free agents, except they should pay whatever it takes to re-sign CB Sam Shields, but I was thinking about WR James Jones. In the game against the 49ers, he had two opportunities to make game changing plays and he didn't make either one. He did, however, have a legitimate excuse:
On their first drive of the 3rd quarter, 3rd and 8 from the Packers' 46 yard line, Rodgers threw a pass to the deep middle of the field that Jones was able to get his hands on but didn't catch. They punted on the next play. On the first play of the 4th quarter, Rodgers threw a deep pass along the right sidelines that Jones missed too. That one wasn't as important because on 4th down, Rodgers threw an amazing pass to WR Randall Cobb, which led to a touchdown. While both catches would have made the highlight reel had he caught them, the first one would have led to at least a field goal. A big play from him could have turned the game into a win.

While he was outstanding in both of their 2012 meetings against the 49ers, Jones went without a single target in their 2013 Week 1 game and only caught 2 of 5 passes attempts on Sunday for 20 yards. He doesn't single-handedly deserve the blame for the loss, but he wasn't part of the solution either.

As for next season, I'm expecting the Packers' will re-sign him because his price should be reasonable. When he last tested the free agent market in 2011, he appeared very marketable as he entered his late-20s and fresh off a Super Bowl win. Instead, he didn't draw much attention and returned to the Packers. While his 2012 career season was outstanding, the only stat that stood out were his touchdown receptions (14). Since 2009, he's been a very consistent (and healthy) player, so they do know what to expect from him.

I'm not expecting he'll receive much free agent interest this year either because he's now entering his early 30s and most of his value is related to the fact that he's catching passes from Aaron Rodgers. In 2013, both of his 100 yard receiving games and two of his three touchdown receptions happened when Rodgers was the QB. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it looks like he has more value to the Packers than to any other team. And the Greg Jennings situation is probably another reminder that teams shouldn't over-value Packer receivers.

If they do part ways next season, the Packers would have to look to the draft for a replacement. WR Jarrett Boykin had a better statistical season than Jones and would move into the No. 3 spot. Behind him is only WR Chris Harper, who's still looking for his first career NFL reception, and counting on him alone would be asking for trouble.

With so many holes on defense, and the fact that GM Ted Thompson should not be expected to fix the defense through the free agent market, it would be better to spend their money on an affordable veteran receiver (Jones) and using the draft pick they would have had to used on a receiver on another defensive player.

House almost blocked the Niners game-winning field goal

Packers CB Davon House was inches away from blocking the 49ers game-winning field goal in Sunday's game, FOX Sports pointed out. House, who was great on defense throughout the contest, was able to run right to Niners Kicker Phil Dawson on the play, before diving and, amazingly, having the ball go BETWEEN his arms. 

So yea, the Packers were that close to sending the game to overtime. So now I guess we all have one more thing to be depressed about for these next few months. I mean, imagine what could've been had House's hands just been a little closer together. 

Monday, January 06, 2014

For The Second Year In A Row, The Packers Are Eliminated By The 49ers

I wasn't very optimistic coming into this game. The 49ers had been playing much better over the past few weeks, and over the course of the entire season. But the return of QB Aaron Rodgers gave them a chance to win and they almost pulled off the upset.
I wrote last week that it was up to Rodgers to carry the team. While he had a pretty good game (ESPN QBR of 57.6, no turnovers, and that crazy pass to WR Randall Cobb on 4th down), as he said above, he didn't have his best game. It was statistically slightly below average for him. That's a tough burden for him, but the defense once again struggled to contain Kaepernick on the ground and if he had been more accurate on a brutally cold night, he could have done even better through the air on multiple busted coverages by the Packers. It's not a fair comparison, Rodgers isn't the one failing to contain Kaepernick in the pocket on the rush, but Kaepernick made more plays then Rodgers and it showed on the scoreboard.

I don't know if the blame should fall on Mike McCarthy's play calling or the offense (as a unit) but staying in the game (and the defense holding the 49ers to two field goals) when the offense produces literally zero in the first quarter was remarkable. It's too bad they couldn't have turned it all the way around.

Maybe it wouldn't have mattered and the 49ers could have scored a touchdown at the end, but it felt like a huge loss when the Packers settled for a field goal to tie the game at 20-20. CB Micah Hyde almost proved me wrong when he was came up just inches short on a late interception. The near missed INT/pass deflection by S Morgan Burnett on TE Vernon Davis's touchdown reception was almost another big play for the defense. Coming up short on three potential big plays in the 4th quarter made the difference.

Reaction: Packers season ends with last second loss to 49ers

Well, you know what happened. The Packers were down 13-10 at halftime, they took the lead early in the fourth quarter, and then they blew it. The 49ers kicked a 33 yard field goal as time expired, and just like that all the hype about this team ended. But hey, they played pretty well, didn't they? I mean, the first quarter really screwed them over, but after that they were pretty good. Rodgers had a few nice scrambles, Lacy converted a bunch of first downs, and the defense made a few stops. They lost, but they lost in an effort-filled way. So yea, I'm not mad that they came up short. Sometimes you just don't win. 

Sunday, January 05, 2014

ESPN: 49ers are 2-0 in Harbaugh era when temp is below 40 degrees

Recently, ESPN published a pretty interesting fact about the 49ers: that since Jim Harbaugh took over their head coaching position in 2011, they have played just two below-40 degree games, winning both of them. However, the colder of the two never went below 34 degrees, so it looks the weather will give the Packers a little bit of an advantage in today's game after all. 

Personally, I don't believe the Pack will lose this game, but that doesn't mean I don't think it'll be close. I think the 49ers will mess up a few times due to the low temp, but in the end, the Pack will win because they played better, not because they're more used to the cold. 

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Corporate Partners help Packers sell out playoff game

According to the Green Bay Packers Official Blog, corporate partners have purchased all the remaining tickets for this weekend's Wild Card game, helping the Packers avoid what would've been an embarrassing sellout. With this announcement, the Pack have now sold out an amazing, 320 consecutive home games. 

I guess this is pretty big news, but in the end, it doesn't effect me. I don't live in Wisconsin, so I was gonna get the game on TV either way. But still, it's definitely good to know that the people of the Badger State will not be getting screwed over after all. 

Friday, January 03, 2014

It's All Up To Aaron Rodgers To Beat The 49ers

Because of the extreme cold expected on Sunday, maybe minus 3 or minus 4 at mid-game, the Packers playoff game against the 49ers could be an odd one. Both quarterbacks are going to struggle with their accuracy, all the players will be moving a step slower, and holding onto the ball is going to be an issue. It's hard to predict a game like this one.

Leaving the weather out of it, the key to the game is going to be QB Aaron Rodgers. The defense has been a wreck all season and now LB Clay Matthews is out (again) with a re-broken thumb. QB Colin Kaepernick has torched them good in his last two games and the defense has gotten worse since their last meeting. Additionally, the 49ers prefer to run (417 pass attempts on the season vs. 505 rushing) and the Packers' run defense has been in shambles over the last half-season. The 49ers are going to move the ball.

Here's Rodgers's stats over his last three meetings against the 49ers, QBR from ESPN:
Game Date Comp/Att Yards TD INT QBR
09/09/12 30/44 303 2 1 54.0
01/12/13 26/39 257 2 1 68.3
09/08/13 21/37 333 3 1 70.0
He has gotten better against them in each of their last three meetings. That 2012 season opener in Lambeau was a really frustrating one, when he struggled to get the offense going for the first three quarters. This season's opener in San Francisco, when Kaepernick threw for over 400 yards and WR Anquan Boldin had his best game of the season (208 yards), the Packers took the lead with just over 8 minutes to play on an Eddie Lacy touchdown run. That was Rodgers's best game against the 49ers and they were in it until the 4th quarter.

Now he needs to do a little better. Avoid turnovers, put up a better game than last September, and the Packers can win.

Bears sign Cutler to 7-year extension

Well, the title says it. The Bears, despite just suffering another late-season collapse, have signed their inconsistent starting QB Jay Cutler to a 7-year extension that will keep him in Chicago through 2020. The Bears have made the playoffs just once since Cutler joined them in 2009. 

Now if I'm a Bears fan, I'm scratching my head at this. In recent years, Chicago has struggled mightily under Cutler, and even when they were good in 2010, they still weren't Super Bowl good. So I can't understand why they're keeping him. He may win a division, but he'll never win a title. 

Thursday, January 02, 2014

The Packers Are Struggling To Sell Out For The Playoffs?

Yes, they are.
This is due to a little bit of hubris on the part of the Packers. They figured that they'd sell out no matter what they did to the fans, and it's coming back to bite them. They changed their refund policy so the deposit wouldn't have been refunded to season ticket holders if the Packers didn't make the playoffs, and instead it would have been applied to next season. Also, it's going to be cold as hell in Green Bay on Sunday.

There's going to be some maneuvering by the Packers and the NFL, the PR conscious league certainly doesn't want arguably their marquee playoff game of the weekend ending up in a blackout, but hopefully it does lead to a little more consideration for the fans (the team's owners you know?) in the team's policies.

Packers listed as 3 point underdogs for this weekend's 49ers game

This isn't at all surprisingly, but yea, the Packers have been listed as early 3 point underdogs for this weekend's Wild Card game against the 12-4 49ers. The 49ers, who have a record good enough to be the NFC's 2 seed, have won six straight games, and went a stellar 6-2 on the road this season. 

While I by no means think this game will be an easy win for the Pack, I do believe that their chances of winning are much better than San Fran's. The way I see this one playing out: the Niners offense will walk all over the Pack all afternoon, but in the end, like with Sunday's Bears game, Green Bay's defense will get a late stop and ultimately win in the final seconds. Yea, it'll be stressful, but if it happens, I won't be complaining. 

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Rodgers: Sunday's Game was the third favorite of my career

In an article recently published by Sports Illustrated, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was asked where Sunday's 33-28 win over the Bears ranked on his personal all-time favorite games list, with him surprisingly picking it third behind his Super Bowl win and 2010's Divisional Round upset over the Falcons. Rodgers completed 25/39 passes for 318 yards in the victory. 

Now while the game was definitely exciting, I'm a little surprised Rodgers liked it so much. I mean, since his favorite two are both playoff games, him saying Sunday's game was third would mean it was his favorite regular season game ever. And he's thrown for 6 TDs before, hasn't he? So why is he instead choosing a contest in which he got picked off twice? It's just confusing to me.