Category Archives: Game Talk

3

January

Packers Periscope: Wild Card vs. San Francisco 49ers

The Past: Do we really need to remind ourselves of the past?  Sometimes it seems like certainly match-ups become one sided rivalries; in the 1990′s the Packers seemed never able to beat the Dallas Cowboys and recently it’s seemed like the Packers have always gotten better of the Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears but the team that seems to give the Aaron Rodgers Packers the most problems is the Jim Harbaugh lead San Francisco 49ers.  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick stole the show in their last playoff meeting, setting a new record for yards on the ground for a quarterback and added 263 yards in the air and two touchdowns.  On the other side of the ball, Aaron Rodgers just couldn’t get anything going against the stout 49ers defense and was stymied into a 1 dimensional passing attack.

The Packers drew the unfortunate luck of having to see their rivals right out of the gate this season with similar results. Again Aaron Rodgers couldn’t get much going against the defense, the running game lead by two rookies just wasn’t ready and the defense fell apart, this time only through the passing game as Kaepernick threw for 412 yards and 3 touchdowns and made aging receiver Anquan Boldin look like the second coming of Jerry Rice.

Since then the Packers have mostly been licking their wounds quietly with bigger issues to fry such as replacing Rodgers for 8 games while his shoulder blade recovered, or having to find a new defensive line and linebacking core as players shuffled in due to injuries.  Getting to the playoffs was essentially a pipe dream until week 17 (the Packers at the lowest had a 6% shot at getting into the playoffs), when they secured their playoff berth with a miracle 4th down touchdown from Rodgers to Randall Cobb, who was also coming back from a horrific bone break of his own.  While neither the Packers nor the Bears were really expected to fare all that well in the playoffs, getting in is an accomplishment on its own, especially considering the wretched season they had to endure just to get to this point.

30

December

Yell it Loud Packers Fans: KUUUUUHHHHHHNNNNNNN!!!!!!!

Aaron Rodgers

Take that, Chicago Bears. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers celebrates after connecting with Randall Cobb for the winning touchdown.

Since Packers fans at Soldier Field were too nervous to do it during the game, let’s honor Packers fullback John Kuhn right now with the signature yell:

“KUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!”

Why are we staring at our computer screens and yelling KUUUUUUHHHHHNNNNNN!!!!? Because without John Kuhn, the Packers probably don’t beat the Bears and win the NFC North for the third season in a row.

Facing 4th and 8 with the season on the line, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hit Randall Cobb for a 48-yard touchdown with 38 seconds to play. Guard T.J. Lang described the pass protection on the play as a “clusterf***”, and he was right.

When rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari didn’t hear Kuhn’s protection adjustment, future Hall of Famer Julius Peppers came unblocked and had Rodgers locked into his sights. Green Bay’s season looked like it was about to end because they forgot to block one of the best pass rushers of the last 10 years.

Then Kuhn dashed over and cut Peppers down at the last minute, allowing Rodgers to roll left, connect with Cobb, and strike the greatest celebration pose of all time (see picture in upper right).

Maybe James Starks or Eddie Lacy is able to make that block, but I doubt it. We’ve seen Rodgers chew out Starks for missing blocking assignments several times and Lacy is still a rookie learning the ins and outs of pass protection.

Kuhn is on the team for his pass blocking and he showed why on that play. Not only did he recognize that Peppers was coming free, but he also made the block. And it was anything but an easy block.

Earlier in the drive, the Packers faced 4th and 1 from their own 22-yard line. Instead of punting, coach Mike McCarthy went for it and Kuhn crashed ahead on the fullback dive, picking up the first down with about 10 inches to spare.

The fullback dive to Kuhn is easily my least favorite play in the Packers playbook. Kuhn isn’t a good runner and when he gets it from the fullback position, he usually doesn’t have enough momentum to surge ahead and pick up the yards he needs. Well, it worked this time and Kuhn deserves a ton of the credit.

27

December

Packers Periscope: Week 17 at Chicago Bears

The Past: The last meeting in this storied rivalry did not go so well for the Packers; losing the game was actually the smaller matter as the Packers season essentially spiraled out of control with Aaron Rodgers breaking his collarbone, which would eventually take 7 weeks to heal.  The Packers did do a couple things well, notably Eddie Lacy rushing for 150 yards and James Starks chipping in for another 40 but without Jay Cutler being, well Jay Cutler, the Bears played an efficient and mistake free game with Josh McCown under center and ultimately won 27-20.

For the Packers, this started a team collapse, starting first with the uncertainty at quarterback; Seneca Wallace was injured and placed on IR the next week, Scott Tolzien played with glimpses of potential, but costly mistakes ultimately caused the Packers to call on their old friend Matt Flynn, who had been released by Seattle, Oakland and the Bills in this season alone.  While Flynn was completely overmatched against the Lions in the Thanksgiving game and has been a below average quarterback, he also has shown the moxie that got him drafted by the Packers in the first place, managing to win two comeback games by 1 point, something that many critics have argued Aaron Rodgers has failed to do.

Ironically, while the Packers have done about as well as can be expected without Rodgers, they shouldn’t even been in the playoff race right now as the rest of the NFC north has had an even more inexplicable collapse.  Naturally the Vikings and notably Adrian Peterson weren’t going to be able to repeat their magical season from last year one more time, and more importantly seem just as confused about their quarterbacks as they were last year.  The Bears have been an enigma this year as well; sometimes it looks like they are finally becoming a dominant offensive team, other times it looks like they really wish they had their stalwart defense, at times crushing the Dallas Cowboys 45-28 but then getting destroyed by the Philadelphia Eagles 11-54.  Most startling is the fall of the Detroit Lions, who should have clinched the NFC North months ago.  The Lions have clearly one of the most talented teams in the NFL and unlike the Bears, Packers and Vikings have had a stable quarterback position the entire season, which should have won them the division right there.  Add to that a ferocious defense, and a powerful passing game spearheaded by Calvin Johnson and the Lions should have been the cream of the black and blue.  However, in the last 6 games, the Lions have only beat the Packers and basically killed their playoff hopes by letting a kicker beat them and then sealed their fate with a loss against the Giants.

22

December

Packers vs. Steelers – Game Day First Impressions, Unfiltered: PIT 38 GB 31

Packers Matt Flynn vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Packers Matt Flynn vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Green Bay Packers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers:  2013 Game 15

Unfiltered game day blog post of comments, observations and first impressions.

GAME NOTES:

Aaron Rodgers sitting out again is of course the top story line. The Packers seem to go out of their way to prove that injury decisions are not influenced by winning or losing.

Does Matt Flynn have another week of magic left in that feeble arm?

The Steelers are playing much better of late and are a team that won’t be affected by playing in snow and/or cold weather.

Today’s game is the first time the teams have met since Super Bowl XLV.

 

Today’s captains for the Packers: - WR Jarrett Boykin (offense), CB Sam Shields (defense) and FB John Kuhn (special teams).

 

Inactives for today’s game:
Green Bay PackersGreen Bay Packers

12 QB Aaron Rodgers
51 LB Nate Palmer
65 G Lane Taylor
73 G/C JC Tretter
99 DE Jerel Worthy

The Packers placed TE Brandon Bostick and DE Johnny Jolly on injured reserve Saturday, reducing the roster to 51 players. Therefore, only five players are listed as inactive instead of the usual seven.

10 QB Matt Flynn starts for Rodgers, and 76 DT Mike Daniels starts for Jolly.

Pittsburgh Steelers
3 QB Landry Jones
14 WR Derek Moye
39 CB Isaiah Green
44 LB Jamaal Westerman
71 G/C David Snow
92 DT Hebron Fangupo
93 LB Jarvis Jones

54 LB Chris Carter starts for Jones and 28 CB Cortez Allen starts for 22 CB William Gay.

 

Mike McCarthy Pregame Show on 620 WTMJ:

The comeback:  A tremendous feeling, obviously. We have a highlight tape we watch every week and Wayne and Larry, you guys are all over it.

Atlanta halftime vs. Dallas: InAtlanta there was a lot more juice and activity in the locker room. Whereas in Dallas it was more of a focus thing. It was , “lets not go out and try to do to much, let’s take one drive at a time and crawl back into this game.” The approach and the way the players went about it was an experience I’ll be able to draw from.

Fear of a letdown: If you look at your week of preparation there are some strong indicators of how your team is going to play. Our team has been full of energy all week… I feel strongly our team  will come out strong today.

20

December

Packers Periscope: Week 16 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Past: I’ve mentioned notable games of the past in this series (the Ice Bowl, Aaron Rodgers dismantling of the Falcons in the 2010 divisional game), but perhaps the most important game in the last decade for the Packers was their win in Super Bowl XLV in 2010 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Not only did it cement quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ position as one of the NFL’s elite players but it also justified Ted Thompson’s 6 year “draft and develop” philosophy which brought the Packers back from a salary cap nightmare.  Fans will remember Clay Matthew’s “It is time” moment of stripping the ball away from Rashard Mendenhall which preserved a Packers 4 point lead in the 4th quarter, but perhaps the biggest defensive play came from defensive tackle Howard Green, who knocked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s pass into the arms of safety Nick Collins, who returned the ball for a touchdown and at least historically sealed away the fate of the Steelers right then (no team has gotten a interception returned for a touchdown and lost the Super Bowl).

Moving back further, the Steelers and Packers last regular season game occurred in 2009 which quickly became a shootout; Rodgers threw for an impressive 383 yards but Roethlisberger proved even more dangerous, finishing the game with an astonishing 503 yards.  It also marked the rise of Jermichael Finley, who moved from a up and coming player to a serious receiving threat, which would continue until his injury in 2010.

The Present: The Steelers have been effectively eliminated from the playoffs; the Cincinnati Bengals have run away with the AFC North and are almost definitely going to win the division this year.  Baltimore trails behind Cincinnati, but also has a shot at a wild card berth.  Pittsburgh unfortunately only is predicted to get in as a wildcard team .8% of the time according to Football Outsiders, effectively making this game more of a statement game more than anything else.  Furthermore, the Steelers have always been a very deliberate and conservative organization and the coaching staff has not been rumored to be on the hot seat, this game probably does not have much meaning to the Steelers, aside for maybe extracting some revenge against the Packers for their Super Bowl loss.

13

December

Packers Periscope: Week 15 at Dallas Cowboys

The Past: In reality, the Packers and Cowboys aren’t all that different; both are storied franchises whose heydays came after hiring relatively unknown New York Giants coordinators.  Both had a renaissance of sorts in the 80s and 90s; Jimmy Johnson, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin for the Cowboys and Mike Holmgren, Brett Favre, Reggie White and Desmond Howard for the Packers both lead their respective teams back into relevance.  Both have been successful franchises in the last couple years; obviously Green Bay boasts a Super Bowl over the last couple of years that the Cowboys have no answer for but to call the franchise “unsuccessful” would be glossing over a decent team who are still the highest grossing franchise in the league.

While the Packers and Cowboys have only played each other 24 times in NFL history; perhaps the most historic game of all time occurred in New Years eve, 1967 where the temperature dropped -15F and an unassuming quarterback from Alabama drafted in the 17th round quarterback sneaked his way into the hearts of Packers nation and became a legend.

The Cowboys would probably like to forget the last time they played the Packers, a 45-7 demolition at Lambeau Field that would ultimately lead to the firing of then head coach Wade Phillips, which was punctualized by several coaching mistakes which ultimately lead to a bad call on a fumble returned for a special teams touchdown being unchallenged because the Cowboys had already wasted all their timeouts.  After that, the entire team simply gave up and let the Packers had their way with the Cowboys; Clay Matthews recorded sack/interception returned for a touchdown while James Jones logged 123 yards and a touchdown on 8 receptions.

The Present: Both the Packers and Cowboys are at a crossroads of sorts for their playoff hopes.  Frankly neither should really be in the discussion; the Packers are a completely different team without starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Cowboys have been wildly inconsistent, almost beating the Peyton Manning lead Denver Broncos but getting blown out by the Bears last week with a backup quarterback that’s just been benched for Jay Cutler.  Still the Packers are 6-6-1 and have a shot to get into the playoffs (especially if the Lions continue to play poorly) while the Cowboys are 7-6 and again are one game out from 1st place in the NFC East.  However in a league of parity, both teams with essentially .500 records are still in the playoff hunts with a reasonable chance of actually getting in says platitudes about how a team’s fortunes can change in a matter of moments.

8

December

Packers vs. Falcons – Game Day First Impressions, Unfiltered: GB 22 ATL 21

Packers TJ Lang hustling his ass off. on interception return - Atlanta.

TJ Lang hustling his ass off.

Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons:  2013 Game 13

Unfiltered game day blog post of comments, observations and first impressions.

GAME NOTES:

Evan Dietrich Smith is playing, which means the Packers can prevent the OL shuffle, which has not worked out well at all. Even better, Marshall Newhouse reported with flu symptoms, so Derek Sherrod will be the first tackle off the bench, if needed.

Matt Flynn get the call again at QB, despite a dismal performance last week against the Lions.

Snowing in Green Bay – perfect football weather and a great welcome for the 3-9 Falcons.

 

Today’s captains for the Packers: - James Jones, Clay Matthews and Jarrett Bush

 

Inactives for today’s game:

 

Green Bay PackersGreen Bay Packers
12 QB Aaron Rodgers
13 WR Chris Harper
22 RB Kahlil Bell
51 LB Nate Palmer
74 T Marshall Newhouse
98 DE C.J. Wilson
99 DE Jerel Worthy

10 QB Matt Flynn will start for Rodgers.

Atlanta Falcons
30 RB Josh Vaughn
36 S Kemal Ishmael
53 LB Omar Gaither
69 G Harland Gunn
74 T Terren Jones
77 T Sean Locklear
92 DT Travian Robertson

Mike McCarthy Pregame Show on 620 WTMJ:

Weather: Smells like Green Bay Packer football. Importance of the game is evident to us all.

Game plan for weather: You have to look at the whole picture. You have to look at the field – it was beat up a little after the Vikings game. the wind will be a factor.

EDS: Evan responded very well to the rehab. Everyone felt really good about his workout yesterday. he says he feels great and he’s ready to go.

Time off: Definitely helped. Our energy level is as high as it had been in quite some time. There’s a different energy about ourselves this week and it has to show up today,.

Flynn:  A liittle up and down this week in practice but I thought Friday was the best day he’s had since he’s been here.

Decline of Defense: Energy and finish is what we focused on. Schematically we’re fine. Frankly, we need to get off the damn block and tackle the football.

Atlanta: Good football team going through a lot of challenges. They’re playing some young guys. Frankly, I’m going to focus on our own football team and what we’re going through.