Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rodgers, Packers Flattened by Fish

(Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

With most of Green Bay's big fish watching the game from the injury list, what is left of the team simply does not have enough left to keep them from playing like minnows.

Though recently concussed quarterback Aaron Rodgers was able to make some courageous key plays, he spent most of his day getting thrashed around by the Dolphins like a seal in the mouth of a great white, which killed most of the Packers drives and kept the ball in Miami's hands.

And, of course, Green Bay's defense, so vacant of starters that it literally is using offensive players, is not much more able to consistently stop an NFL offense than a beach can stop an psunami.

By then end of the game, linebacker AJ Hawk, who technically was not an original starter at the beginning of this year, was left playing along side only third or fourth string linebackers as he, Cullen Jenkins and Charles Woodson tried in vain to stop the hemorrhaging. And they almost pulled it off, taking a solid Dolphin team into overtime.

Although there are no excuses in the NFL, you just can't ignore that Green Bay is depleted to the point that they are no longer the lethal contender they might have been this year.

So there really is no point in trying to blame the 20-23 overtime loss on the coaches or the players; on the contrary, the veterans who remain on the field are playing with all their hearts and the new players are playing to the best of their abilities. Even the defensive penalties were not as damaging as they had been a week earlier in a similar overtime loss.

Should coach Mike McCarthy go back to the drawing board? Well, there probably is not enough chalk in the world to fix what is ailing his team this year; St. Vince Lombardi himself would likely not have been able to extricate the team from what the Grim Reaper of Injury has gleaned from the Packers this year.

From this point, though the Packers players will probably continue to give it their all, the expectations from the players who remain on the roster have to be different than the expectations one might have had for this team with a full roster.

And, yes, the Packers could win a lot of games this year, but that will only happen if some key players move back to the field, or there is dramatic improvement in the newbies, which is not the norm in the NFL.

Game ball: Grim Reaper of Injury

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Packers Dreams Trashed by Washington (Just Like the Rest of Ours)

Thud! Crosby's 'game-winning' kick hits goal post (Fox Sports)

It's hard to write about the Packers when one's finger nails are chewed down to the knuckle.

Just like its hard to win a game when most of your players are injured and the rest cannot catch a pass.

The only thing larger than the number of Packers who were lost to injury against the Washington Redskins was the number of passes Green Bay receivers dropped, and the number of branches Nancy Pelosi hit on her way down when she fell out of the Ugly Tree.

The Packers themselves seem to have taken a tumble out of that same Ugly Tree because even though they played pretty solid defense, their passing game dwindled to nothing and the defensive pass interference penalties climbed like unemployment statistics under Obama.

I mean, can Green Bay defenders NOT hit pass receivers early? They got away with fistfuls of no-calls until karma finally caught up with them in the fourth quarter and let Donovan McNabb's Redskins stay alive long enough to get an overtime field goal for a come-from-behind win.

But this game was not won on the cast-iron toughness of the veteran McNabb, whom one should never underestimate or discount; it was lost in the second quarter when guys like Donald Driver and other Green Bay receivers were dropping passes like Democrats are dropping lies in pre-election campaigns. And you cannot score points when you drop the balls which would have given you first downs deep into Redskin territory.

And what took Dom Capers so long to use the student-body rush on McNabb? He waited until overtime to rush everybody which was forcing McNabb to throw the ball before he wanted to.

Perhaps it was that he ran out of defensive players. I am quite sure that a few Cheeseheads in the crowd were signed, suited up and thrown in there to replace the Packers who were falling like Obama's popularity numbers. But sadly, the defensive pass interference calls nullified the strong pass pressure.

Granted, the Washington Redskins hit like trains. It taxes the memory to recall a game where there were as many punishing hits as Redskin defenders were putting on the guys with the yellow helmets. It was, if nothing else, a brutal game. They might not have a running game, but the Redskins are tough.

And though the Packers dodged a bullet mid way through the fourth quarter when a Washington field goal went wide right, much like will happen in the same town on election day, they failed to capitalize and the Redskins came back and kicked another which was good. But in a late attempt to counter, Packer kicker Mason Crosby bounced the game-winner off the left goal post which sent the game into overtime.

Though the Packers did not play well enough to win, neither did the Redskins. It was a defensive slug-fest the whole way, but it should not have been. The Packer running game was alive and well, despite many who think that running back Brandon Jackson is not a prime-time player; Jackson's outstanding play should silence his critics, though it probably won't. This author believes that Jackson is capable of being an NFL feature back and always has. Jackson proved worthy today and was one of the only continuously-bright spots on the offensive side of the ball.

He and special teams player/backup fullback Korey Hall played with reckless abandon today, making key plays without penalties or mistakes. And though the Packers defense also played strong, it was most certainly the early contact with Redskin receivers committed by nearly all of those covering passes which nullified a generally good defensive effort, considering the injuries the Packers are playing with.

Of course, none of this would have mattered if the Packers would have pulled away in the second quarter when they had the chance. The game should have been put away then because Green Bay was playing well enough to put several more touchdowns on the scoreboard. But they didn't because they let ball after ball drop to the turf.

Fortunately, the NFC North is such a competitive division this year that all of the other teams will both win and lose more games; so the Packers, now with two losses, are certainly not out of the playoff hunt yet. But neither are they the elite team that many were calling them early on in the season. They are not an elite team; they are a good team that has to find ways to win with many key play makers out with injuries.

Yes, the Packers can still beat any team in the NFL, but they can also lose to good contenders.

This game was one that Green Bay should have won. Hopefully, with the incredible potential offensive talent they have at their disposal, they will learn to put teams away early. But the players need to live up to that potential.

Then guys like me who write about the Packers won't have to type with bloody knuckles.

Game ball: Brandon Jackson and Korey Hall.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Oh, Crap! Moss Back With Vikings?!

Just when you thought it was safe to play the Minnesota Vikings again, they pull one out of their...hat, and re-sign Randy Moss!

Which, of course means that not only will he be playing against our Green Bay Packers again, but he won't have Daunte Culpepper throwing to him, he will have Brett Favre slinging the hash.

Crap! Crap! Crap!

This terrible combination is a very real threat to every team in the NFL because with Moss' abilities, the game was never over, there was always the real chance that his team could strike deep and fast. And with Favre's abilities, the game was never over because there was always the real chance that his team could strike deep and fast.

This is double de-ja-vu, of the night-marish variety. Favre AND Moss? Oh Crap!

And certainly the one quietly smiling the most in this disaster is none other than Brett Favre, who vocalized his strong desire for the Packers to trade for Moss back before Moss was traded to the Patriots. Of course his ideas were shot down my Ted What's-his-name.

But once again, Favre seems to have prevailed. He has got everything he wants. He wanted to play for the Vikings. He got it. He wanted to throw to Randy Moss. He got it. Let's hope that the Vikings perennial choke-factor keeps him from getting another Super Bowl.

So this ups the stakes in the increasingly-competitive NFC North division, which is appearing to be the strongest division in the NFC, though who might be the single strongest team remains a complete could be any of them!

And with Moss now on the Vikings roster again, the only sure thing is that the plot thickens.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Packers Side-Step Charging Lions

If your name was John Kuhn, and you were in uniform at Lambeau Field on Sunday, you were a very big man. For not only did John Kuhn carry most of the Detriot Lions defense on his back, as they tried to prevent him from getting big yards and first downs very late in the fourth quarter, but he also carried the Green Bay Packers on his shoulders into the W column.

Though the Packers handed off the Monkey, er, Gorilla of Penalties to the Lions, they still struggled in the second half against an unfamiliar animal; namely a ferocious, uncharacteristic Lions offense and defense, and were fortunate to sidestep a loss.

The Detroit Lions are no joke this year. The have played well all season and will win some football games this year. Surprisingly, they are talented enough to compete, and even defeat any of the strong NFC North teams and will surely get some kills on weaker non-conference teams.

Had not Aaron Rodgers engineered three incredible scoring strikes in the first half, this one might have gone to the visitors, who dominated the game in yardage and possession time. Green Bay barely had the ball in the second half and often did not do much with the opportunities with Rodgers throwing some rare picks. And though Brandon Jackson and the running game was not bad, it was not dominant until coach McCarthy put Kuhn in to carry the load on the Packers final drive, which ended up running out the clock to survive a 28-26 nail-biter.

Kuhn repeatedly pushed his way through the defensive line, picked up some linebackers on his back, and dragged a few safeties and defensive backs with his legs as he pounded out big gains in a crucial time in true power-football fashion.

His final, super-human contribution, saw him busting through Lion after Lion, getting near the critical first down marker and hurling himself over it for a fresh set of downs as the clock ticked below a minute left. (See photo above, by AP's Mike Roemer.)

Had he not got that first down, a battered Green Bay defense would have had to try to stop the charging Lions offense, which it was having trouble doing in the second half due to the Lions ingenious use of tight-end screens and running back screens which seemed to counter the relentless Packer linebacker-heavy pass rush. It seems like vaunted Packer defensive coordinator, Dom Capers met his match with the screens and wide-open running room for Detroit's quarterback who was the Lions leading rusher.

Give credit to the Lions game plan, and to a rebuilding effort that seems to be having some results. They are not to be taken lightly because they have a powerful defense and a very good offense.

And when Rodgers is not connecting with his receivers in Green Bay's deadly passing threat, but throwing interceptions, it keeps points off the scoreboard and puts all the pressure on the defense, which the Lions were easily countering.

Yes, this was the most competitive Packers-Lions game since Brett Favre was a new Packer, and Capers will have to craft a few more tricks and slide them up up his sleeve for the next meeting between the two teams.

And though guys like Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley and James Jones, and Donald Lee too, were all sure-handed, effective receivers who made critical plays on fantastic passes from Rodgers, mostly in the first half, Rodgers missed a few passes in the second half which fell into Detroit Lions arms instead of the intended receivers. Perhaps Rodgers was simply out of rhythm from spending so much time watching from the sidelines as the Lions put together 13 + play drives the entire second half.

Had not Kuhn carried the teams on his shoulders late in the fourth quarter to seal the game, there are few who would have placed a lot of money against the Lions being able to get down the field to kick a game-winning field goal, and the Packers would have suffered a crushing loss.

But instead, Kuhn solidified that Packer power football is here and is for real, adding an additional and critical dynamic to the Packers deadly offensive arsenal. Kudos to coach McCarthy for recognizing what tool needed to be wielded, and kudos to the offensive line which responded when the game was on the line and gave Kuhn some holes to run through.

And though we don't often dwell on Packer mistakes when the team wins, kick-returner Jordy Nelson, by all rights, should probably be forced to carry a football around with him 24/7 this week to cure him from his extremely devastating case of fumble-itis which alone nearly lost the game for us.

And the special teams in general is on life-support and continues to need immediate improvement for this good, but not great football team to expect to contend or even make the playoffs.

No question, we dodged a bullet. But we won.

Game ball: John Kuhn

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Packers Drop the Ball; Pummelled by Cyclone of Flags

The Green Bay Packers were no match for themselves Monday night at Soldier Field against the hated Chicago Bears. Neither were they prepared for the torrential downpour.

No, it wasn't typical crappy Chicago weather that was too much for the Packers, nor was it the Bears; it was the hailstorm of yellow penalty flags that paralyzed Green Bay, allowing the Bears to stick around and then eek out a win. There were more flags flying than pork-spending in Obama's 'Stimulus' bill. And, speaking of stimulus, flags were dropping faster than former Bears player and coach, Mike Ditka, could swallow Viagra tablets.

Rumor has it the penalty-blizzard was so bad that during the fourth quarter referees had to get replacement yellow flags because theirs were worn out from so much use. Other reports say that after the game, three or four members of the exhausted officiating team were seen with ice-bags strapped to their throwing shoulders, much like legendary heater-thrower Randy Johnson after nine innings.

And, in one case, as he was being loaded into an ambulance, one sedated referee said, on the condition of anonymity, "I am sure that I threw that flag at least three-hundred times tonight. I wore out my right arm and really hoped that the Packers would stop with their stupid mistakes; but they didn't. So I had to start throwing with my left arm and wore that one out as well. I will probably need surgery on both limbs and my season is likely over." That referee's wife and family were surrounding him, and though breaking out in tears, remained hopeful that things would turn out alright.

There were other very, very strange reports surrounding this contest. Early indications suggest that the grave site of legendary Green Bay coach Vince Lombardi experienced some highly unusual movement. Caretakers at the cemetery say they are quite certain that somehow, Lombardi's casket was doing somersaults underground and there was loud yelling coming from the area, the source of which has not been identified.

Meanwhile, and just as strangely, witnesses at the cemetery where Chicago Bears' notorious coach George Halas is interred swear that they saw a skeleton-ized fist push up through the ground somewhere around eleven o'clock p.m., which curiously is about the same time the Packers-Bears game ended. The fist, they say, pumped several times, and then signaled a five and a four before slipping back underground. (Of course number 54 for the Bears is Brian Urlacher, the formidable linebacker who stripped the ball from a Packer receiver late in the game setting up the Bears winning score.) The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS), also known as television's 'Ghost Hunters' have been called to investigate both abnormalities.

As for the Packers, it seemed that there was some kind of contest among the players themselves to see not only who could get the most penalties, but who could get the stupidest.

Woodson had good defensive holding penalty. Chad Clifton had a nice false start call. Mark Tauscher must have thought he was Elvis the way he kept rocking on his heels instead of staying in his three-point stance. (Sure Chicago Bear defensive end Julius Pepper can get inside a lineman's head if the lineman lets him, but getting into EVERY lineman's head is quite an accomplishment.)

The defensive backfield, apparently trying hard to out-do the offensive line late in the game, attempted to get a penalty-per play. They nearly succeeded; and gave Cutler and the Bears game-winning field position with their pass interference wizardry. Rookies defensive backs who don't even have names yet were able to contribute to the flag-fest.

But the best penalty of the night went to Frank Zumbo who gave the Bears cry-baby quarterback, Jay Cutler a shot to the head which nullified a key Green Bay interception and seemed to have changed the momentum of the game.

But rather than beat on Zumbo, who is a pretty good player, let's talk about Cutler. This clown is the biggest four-year old ever to play in the NFL. He whines, pouts and sulks the whole game.

Clay Matthews, instead of grabbing the boy's face mask and giving the Bears a first down, should have driven Cutler's helmet, Eagle-style, into the turf. Perhaps a concussion would wipe that gloomy, owly expression off of Cutler's face.

The only difference between Cutler and the Bears' former drunk quarterback, Kyle Orton, is that Orton's face looked that way because he was hung over on game day.

Oh, and Cutler doesn't puke on the field like Orton.

No, Cutler drools.

And the Chicago Bears SUCK!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Green Bay Buffaloes the Bills

The Green Bay Packers fell asleep in the second quarter of the game against the Bills on Sunday. Resting on a 13-0 lead, the Packers' napped while Buffalo pushed the football up the field in several impressive drives, closing the score to 13-7 and holding the Packers to zero first downs in that quarter.

But it was not the Packers who were dreaming; it was the Bills.

For in the second half, after perhaps a colorful 'No-Doh's!' speach by coach Mike McCarthy, the Packers showed up awake and turned their game from Lambeau Sleeps to Lambeau Leaps, scoring a bevy of touchdowns in dominant fashion. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers almost ran out of receivers to throw scoring passes to and even attempted a Lambeau Leap of his own (the results of that? Well, let's just say that Rodgers has a better arm than he has hops...)

But it was not only the offense that was buffaloing the Bills, the defense had also awakened. Led by the relentless, reckless and ravaging play of Green Bay's linebackers, the Bills offense didn't know which way was up. They also might have thought that Green Bay's Clay Matthews was a member of the Bills own backfield, because he was spending so much time there.

Matthews, the second year phenom off to a blazing start, was credited with three incredible quarterback sacks, which gives him a total of six, and we are only two games in to the season. But his fellow backers were also extremely effective, with AJ Hawk not only in the game, but also in on almost every tackle, Nick Barnett playing like he had the Bills playbook memorized, and even Brandon Chillar playing solid and coming up with a key interception, which shifted the momentum of the entire game.

And despite missing running back Ryan Grant, who is out for the year, McCarthy's superb use of running back Brandon Jackson and the Fullbacks (which has sort of a 60's - band ring to it, don't you think?) pounded out yards effectively. While not exactly making Packer fans say, 'Ryan Who?' it was nice to see that there is no need to panic with Grant out.

For Jackson is a totally capable high-level running back, able to handle all the duties of his position. And defenses had better start preparing for the Packers' power game, because the fullbacks do bring brute force up the middle back into the NFL, where it has been missing for quite some time. So the running game remains in good shape.

The receiving game also is in good shape; or would a better term be: the receiving corps is in better shape than a Hugh Hefner roommate?

For not only do Driver, Jennings and Jones make up one of the best receiving cadre in the NFL, nobody has even figured out what created species to put out there to guard the Packers tight end, Jermichael Finley, who himself may not even be human. So dominant is he, that rumors have it that Lee Majors, i.e. The Bionic Man, and Arnold Schwarz-the-Governator, i.e. The Terminator are suing Finley for violating their patents and using some of their cyborg body parts.

At 6'5" and 245 lbs., along with great hands and speed, Finley brings another dimension to the Packer's dynamic and deadly offense; and one which nobody seems to have an answer for.

So with three quarters of good football, good special teams and impressive play (minus that second quarter), the Packers played some nice football, and thoroughly buffaloed the Bills.

Game ball: Clay Barn-illar-hawk.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Packers Pluck Eagles; No Rust on Vick

One has to wonder what in the world Philadelphia Eagles' coach Andy Reid was thinking by starting someone who's name is Kevin Kolb at quarterback when a phenomenon named Michael Vick is standing on the sideline, holding a helmet.

During the first half, when Kolb was trying his luck at moving the Eagles into the teeth of the Green Bay defense, he demonstrated what a non-phenomenon he is. The only thing he did for the Eagles was to let the Packer's Clay Matthews catch him from behind so that Matthews could slam his face deep into the dirt beneath the grass for him, giving Kolb a game-ending concussion. That, of course, meant that Michael Vick would take the helm in the second half. More on that in a moment...

But still in the brutal first half, Kolb was not the only Eagle to bite the dust; the Eagles bodies were falling like Democratic Congressmen this coming November. A total of four Eagles left the game with injuries, as did Packers running back, Ryan Grant.

Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers were putting up more points than Larry King has wives; and, it turns out, they would need them all because Michael Vick was about to launch his second career.

Now I have never been a Michael Vick-hater. I think that he manned up and did his time for his crimes and deserves a second chance like we all do. What boggles my mind is why, even last year, Coach Reid played Donavon McRedskin ahead of Vick.

Because when Vick was finally given his redemptive opportunity today, he made it very apparent that any prison rust he might have been carrying around with him has all been chipped away. And though I believe that the Packers can hang with an Eagle team with Vick, he certainly did present some containment problems for the Packers defense because of his predictable unpredictability.

With legs, moves and speed reminiscent of Detroit's Barry Sanders, Vick led the Eagles from a deep deficit and made a game out of it. (Please note, that though Vick resembles aspects of Barry Sanders, it is Sanders alone who is the only NFL player who actually could be two places at one time - here and there, simultaneously.)

It took yet another tough and heroic play by the Packers Clay Matthews to put an end to the Eagles final charge when he stopped Vick short of a first down late in the fourth quarter.

For Matthews, he picked up right where he left off last year as did The Cat, Charles Woodson, who forced a fumble and played predatory defense, as he always does.

Also looking good for Green Bay was Jordy Nelson with his three long kickoff returns, either making Green Bay's weak pre-season special teams play look like a fluke, or solidifying a role for himself for the rest of the season.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers played pretty solid football after a slow start, but did throw two rare interceptions. Full back Kuhn brought the smash into Philadelphia's mouth with some impressive runs, and the rest of the offense did a pretty nice job.

So for the first outing of the season, Green Bay had more positives than negatives, played pretty good football, made some good big plays, and did not have to face Michael Vick for both halves.

It was a good win against an always-good Philadelphia Eagles team.

Game ball: Clay Matthews.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Results of Packers-Chiefs Game: The Bears Still Suck! and The Three Major Reasons Why

Photo by John Sleezer

Realistically, the Packers final preseason game against Kansas City was simply, "Let's see who isn't going to get injured," and "Let's see who is going to get cut."

So we had key starters not even playing, up-and-comers getting their chance, and those on the bubble trying to get one last chance to convince the coach to keep them on the roster. In kick-returner Cherry's case, I don't think the coaches were convinced. In running back Lumpkin's case, he might have done enough to save his skin, depending on how the Packers want their backfield aligned.

But all those decisions are the ones that coach McCarthy and all the other NFL coaches are making at this moment; though choices that can change lives and teams.

And besides these types of decisions, there were really few other revelations to arise out of the Packers-Chiefs game except this: The Bears Still Suck!

Yes, we know the Packers will be pretty good this year, or even very good; and there is the chance that they might be great. We don't really care about the Kansas City Chiefs, where they are at or how they actually thought they looked against the Packers. Cheeseheads don't care and say to the Chiefs, 'You had your chance in Super Bowl I and we cleaned up on you, so whatever.'

Which leaves the only telling result from this game, namely the extreme suckiness of the Chicago Bears.

For those who do not know, the Bears have sucked since they were mere Cub-glints in George Halas' eyes. In fact one of the three main contributing factors as to why the Bears do suck, the fact that George Halas himself sucked, is one reason why the Bears were doomed to suck forever from the very beginning. (May the reader please note, though there are three Major reasons why the Bears suck, there are thousands or even millions of less-than-major reasons which contribute to why the Bears suck. Such reasons cannot be called Minor, because nothing that makes you suck is minor, hence they are referred to as less-than-major.)

Yes George Halas sucked. Out of respect for his family we will concede that since his passing, he no longer sucks. But while he was here, the old goat sucked heavily.

He did underhanded and unethical things to the Packers, which then forced Cheeseheads to retaliate. One such story of Cheeseheads being forced to get even is when the Bears would come to town, a rag-tag team of Cheesehead 'musicians,' posing as a band, or perhaps even the actual City Band, would stand outside the motel where the Bears players (all of whom sucked) were staying and play all night long. (Rumors have it that alchohol was involved.)

Of course, very few Bears were able to get much sleep during those times, but since they sucked, it doesn't matter.

A second Major reason why the Bears suck is that they are from Chicago. As mentioned in an earlier article on this blog, it is common knowledge that everyone from Chicago sucks. Yes, everyone.

Bill Ayers sucks. Mayor(s) Daley all suck. All the Chicago old-time gangsters suck. The Chicago Cubs suck. Oprah sucks. Former Governor Blagovich sucks, but not nearly as much as Barack Obama, the sucking-est moron to ever come from Chicago. But all Chicago people suck. You know it as soon as you meet anyone from Chicago. They are loud. They are arrogant. They have the stupidest accent on the planet. They try to talk tough. They pretend like Chicago is the center of the universe (in which case they are correct if they are speaking of the Sucking quadrant of the universe.)

They talk down to you, as if there is some imaginary ladder in the world and they are several rungs higher up on it than you are. They think they are always right and that there can be no other opinion or reality than the fantasy that exists between their hairy brains.

They are always out to work you, to gain something, to use you for their benefit, to manipulate, to scheme, to con, to work the system or work under the system to gain any advantage.

In other words, Chicago people suck!

The third and final Major reason why the Bears suck is that there exists a Cosmic Vortex of Suck right there at Soldier Field in Chicago. Nobody knows when, why or how it got there, but all scientists know about its existence (except Al Gore's scientists, all of whom simply know how to finger-paint, eat animal crackers, and count to four.)

Where this Cosmic Vortex of Suck originates or leads to remains somewhat of a mystery, but there is some advanced speculation that it originates in Heaven's sewage plant and ends up in a Black Hole somewhere out there by Alpha Centauri. And, it is the fate of all Chicago Bears to end up there. Because of this fact, some scientists are considering renaming 'Black Holes' to 'Bear Holes,' but such efforts are in their early stages.

So with these three Major factors as evidence, every Cheesehead will be confident of one thing in the 2010-2011 NFL season, that the Chicago Bears Will Still Suck.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Solid Packers Send Colts Seeking Greener Pastures Elsewhere

AP Photo / Jeffrey Phelps

Peyton Manning had a lot of answers for the referees who were messing up his mojo on Friday, but he had no answers for the Green Bay Packers. Neither did the Indianapolis Colts' defense.

In most every aspect of the game at Green Bay, the dominant Packers made Lambeau Field a No-Grazing Zone for Manning's powerhouse Colts.

Though each team had early mistakes which gave up easy points, the Packer defense flexed for the first time this year, and in a solid performance, kicked the Colts right in the teeth. Perhaps Packer defensive coordinator Dom Capers decided it was time to reach into his bag of tricks, finally, because this defensive performance bore no resemblance to the previous two anemic Packer pre-season outings.

Not only did the Packers stop Manning, the Colts running game, and might have even stoled the Colts Gatorade, but they physically beat them up in the process.

So shaken was Manning that he even showed up in the third quarter when all the Packers starters were on the sidelines to try to get something right. But the officials awarded Manning with yet another illegal snap penalty and an aggressive second-string Packers' linebacker Zombo obliged Manning by forcing him to fumble, sending him out to pasture in disgrace. Big kudos to the Green Bay Packers defense, who made skeptics into believers on Friday.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, Air Rodgers and his Wonderboys got more air time than Obama excuse-makers, putting on a performance that has to be making defensive coaches around the league begin to lose sleep. Driver, Finley, Jones, and a whole host of no-name stud Packer receivers, too many to remember, were getting more passes than Pam Anderson on the beach.

Rodgers' precision passes, courage in the pocket and ability to make plays with his legs make it hard to not compare him to Steve Young and that entire situation from the 49ers a decade ago. He is looking like a great young quarterback and might have the best receiver corp in the NFL. At the very least, they represent a formidable and dangerous Air Attack.

But another extremely pleasing aspect of the 2010-2011 Packers is their use and depth of the fullback. With almost as many fullbacks on the roster as Communists in the White House, Coach McCarthy is bringing the old smash-mouth position back into vogue in beautiful fashion. AND he is doing the same thing with his cadre of tight ends. And the fullback-tight end configuration brings immeasurable power potential that adds a unique and additional weapon in the Packers toolbox. For what defense can stop a Smash-Mouth attack AND Rodgers Air Force? This author is beginning to believe.

And that was all just in the first half.

The second half watched all kinds of Packers, on offense, defense and special teams look like world-beaters, even though many of them will be roster casualties in a few short weeks.

Matt Flynn looked like a veteran quarterback. Even the Packers third string quarterback, who doesn't even have a name, looked like a seasoned pro.

And it goes on and on. Players with no names and perhaps no future with the Packers were flying all over the field making more plays than Woody Allen.

This was one exciting game for the Green Bay Packers. It was a break-out game in an important test against the storied Colts. And the Green Bay Packers finally demonstrated what some believed, but many were waiting to see: they are one heck of a team this year and will be a team to beat in the NFC.

As for the Colts, they were rode hard, put up wet and left cold and hungry, for they didn't get even a nibble of Lambeau's greenest grass, except for the myriad of face-plants compliments of a hard-hitting Green Bay defense.

Player of the game: Every Packer in Uniform. Special recognition to Donald Driver for that Million-Dollar Smile!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Green Bay D: If it Looks Like a Duck...

(AP Photo/John Froschauer)

If it looks like a duck, and, of course quacks like a duck, can you really believe that it's a defense?

Granted, many of the Green Bay Packers 'varsity' defensive players watched the game from the sidelines in the game against the Seattle Seahawks, but the players unlucky enough to be on the field to try to stop the Seahawk offense certainly demonstrated themselves to be birds of a different feather than the Packers' high-flying offense, whose 'varsity' squad was a powerful force on the field on Saturday night.

Now perhaps it was just Green Bay's defensive coordinator, Dom Capers, playing his cards close to his vest. Or maybe it was just a talent-pool test to see who's heads will soon be on the chopping block. But with a sorry performance in last week's outing against the Cleveland Browns, one would think that the Packers would show up in Seattle with something to prove defensively.

Instead, they just layed an egg and made Seahawk quarterback Matt Hasselbeck look like a Hall of Famer, which he isn't. Not only did the defense polish Hasselbeck's dome nice and shiny for him, they allowed Seahawk running backs to soar like eagles too.

But the sky didn't really start falling until Green Bay's special teams flocked on to the field. If the defense played like quacks, Packers special teams were outright honkers as they fouled up almost every opportunity of the evening, giving up monumental field position. Seahawk return men looked like they were working for Donald Trump, gobbling up huge chucks of real estate on almost every return. One half-expected there to be a twenty-story luxury multiplex planted on half of the field by the end of the game. Certainly the special teams mess needs to be addressed and the Packers need to find some real answers very soon, with Mason Crosby and the field goal unit being the exception; they play well and were just showing off on Saturday.

It was a good thing Coach McCarthy threw in running back Brandon Jackson toward the end of the game to pound out a touchdown and make a statement for the win, or the Packers would have surely pulled a defeat out of the jaws of victory.

Now, it was a bit shameless that the Seahawks kept their starters in the game for the whole first half, while Air Rodgers and the Packers starting offense only played a few downs. But that situation did give Green Bay's sophomore quarterback Matt Flynn a lot of very valuable playing time against a busy Seattle defense which put hard pressure on him. All in all, Flynn seemed to manage the field quite well and you could almost see him developing right before your eyes. And despite his two turnovers, he did move the Packers down the field and looks like he would be able to lead the team should Rodgers fall to injury.

Also nice to see were some of the unknown Packer receivers getting some solid reps in against Seattle's starting defense. They made some nice catches, missed a few, but showed effort and heart. And with the likes of Driver, Jennings and Jones on the roster, these second-tier receivers are not likely to see a whole lot of action in the future.

The Seattle Seahawks are not that good of a team and would have suffered greatly had the Packers potent offense not left the field so early. 27-24 is not a realistic score, therefore, for a regular-season matchup between these two teams. Had this game been played in October, the score would have been 48-30, at least, and the Seahawks would be the ones with egg on their faces.

Player of the game: Packers starting offense.

Friday, August 20, 2010

PackSmack is Back, But Are the Packers?

After quite a haitus from football, also known as off-season complete hibernation, PackSmack has popped his head out of the den to peer in to the current state of the Green Bay Packers and the NFL.

The first surprise I discovered was that former Denver coach Mike Shanahan is now the coach of the Washington Redskins! Then I learned that Terrell Owens is teamed up with Chad Whats-his-name with the Bengals! The third stunner was when I learned that the Philadelphia Eagles have dealt quarterback Donavon McNab to some other team, though it is not clear to me yet which team he plays for.

If it is not obvious yet, PackSmack does not pay much attention to sports until football season actually begins; and, of course, pre-season is football season.

So this brings us to this year's edition of our Green Bay Packers, who made their pre-season debut against the Cleveland Browns last weekend.

Now a lot of people say pre-season does not matter, but I believe that pre-season games are very telling.

And what we learned from the game against Cleveland is this: 1.) Our first team defense is weak, 2.) There is nothing special about our special teams, and 3.) Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Air Force will be nearly unstoppable.

With all our veteran receivers returning, and all looking at least as good as they were last year, the Packers will be racking up 35-45 points per game. But the question becomes, will that be enough points to win, when our special teams will be granting opposing teams generous field position, and our defense will not be able to stop the run?

We will be able to beat sub-par teams, but will split with fellow contending teams. A 10-6 record will be optimistic unless we learn how to stop the run and can fix the special team mess.

But regardless of whether this can happen or not, watching the Green Bay Packer offense this year will be one thrilling ride.

As a final note, PackSmack also just learned that Charles Woodson was named the NFL Defensive Player of the year last year, which indicates that someone must have been reading PackSmack, because we were saying he should be named that since early last season. Let's hope Charles Woodson brings as much excitement again this year as he did in his unforgettable performances last season.

Welcome back, Pack! We're behind you through thick and thin!