Category Archives: 2012 Schedule

13

January

Green Bay Packers: The Loss to San Francisco and Now What?

Unfortunately the next time we see Rodgers, he will be in a red practice jersey. He has a few months to get fired up about another embarrassing playoff loss

Well, the Green Bay Packers 2012 season is in the books after the Divisional round playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.  It’s time for my thoughts on tonight’s game and ask the burning question:  Now what?

The Playoff Loss at San Francisco

The Packers knew what was coming at them in this Divisional playoff game.  They knew it and still let it beat them.  San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns, a new NFL playoff record.

Minus the early-game interception that was returned for a touchdown, Kaepernick was near flawless the rest of the way and absolutely torched the Packers defense.  There were concerns about the Packers ability to contain the mobile Kaepernick.  Others questioned whether Kapernick would be able to handle the pressure of a playoff game, his first.  He clearly was.

The signs were all there early on that this one wasn’t going to go the Green & Gold’s way.  Immediately after Sam Shields ran an errant Kaepernick pass in for a pick six, Kaepernick literally ran his team down the field and scored on a 20 yard run that was poorly defensed by the Packers.

It seemed like the key was going to be making Kaepernick beat the Packers by having to throw it.  He ended the game 17/31 for 256 yards and two touchdowns.  Not a bad day, but not great.  The problem was, he didn’t need to be great.  He just had to be efficient.  The 323 rushing yards the Green Bay defense gave up that kept them on the field made that possible.

It was this game that finally made me realize that the Packers just did not have the guys on the field that they needed to win this one.  They were hit hard by injuries this season and it caught up with them on Saturday night.  The loss of Desmond Bishop, Bryan Bulaga, Nick Perry and DJ Smith were apparent as the Packers had to turn to Brad Jones, Erik Walden for a full game (too many snaps) and Don Barclay to fill the gaps.

11

January

Packers Beer Mug Perspective: Seattle at home, or the Georgia Dome?

After the "Fail Mary" in September, the Packers could play the Seahawks again in the playoffs.

After the “Fail Mary” in September, the Packers could play the Seahawks again in the playoffs.

After defeating the Minnesota Vikings last week, the Green Bay Packers are two wins away from Super Bowl XLVII.

If the Packers defeat the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night, they’ll move on to the NFC Championship. Who and where they’d play would be determined Sunday afternoon when the Falcons and Seahawks square off in Atlanta.

If the No. 1 seed Atlanta Falcons win, they’ll host the NFC Championship at the Georgia Dome. But if the Seahawks win, then the winner of Saturday’s Packers-49ers game will host the NFC Championship.

(Now would be a good time to mention that I fully expect this Saturday’s game against the 49ers to be a hard-fought, down-to-the-wire matchup that could go either way. The purpose of this post is not to overlook a good 49ers team, but rather, to look at (what could be) the next game on the Packers’ schedule.)

A rematch with Seattle would surely result in an amped-up Lambeau Field crowd, hungry for revenge after what happened on Sept. 24. But a rematch with Atlanta would mean the Packers, a team built for a fast track, would be playing indoors with a chance to punch their ticket to the Super Bowl.

This begs the question…

Would you, as a fan, rather see the Packers host the Seahawks at Lambeau Field or have them play the Falcons in the Georgia Dome?

In the format of the Packers Beer Mug Perspective, let’s look at the issue from both angles, then determine whether our mug is really “half full” or “half empty.”

1) Seahawks at Packers. Lambeau Field.

Why it sounds good: It all comes full circle.

After the infamous “Fail Mary” play earlier this season, the Packers receive an opportunity for revenge against the Seattle Seahawks. It’s Pete Carroll, Golden Tate and Russell Wilson back on the other sideline, only this time, it’s in Green Bay with a trip to Super Bowl XLVII on the line.

The Seahawks are as hot as anyone in the league right now, but they’re still a team without much experience in the playoffs. Wilson has been sensational as a rookie, but the postseason can be a whole different animal for young quarterbacks. Then again, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has yet to win a playoff game, and he’s currently in his fifth NFL season.

7

January

Packers-49ers: Williams vs. Crabtree a matchup to watch

Packers CB Tramon Williams faces a tough task against 49ers WR Michael Crabtree

Packers CB Tramon Williams faces a tough task against 49ers WR Michael Crabtree

When the 49ers turned to Colin Kaepernick as their starting quarterback, they added yet another dimension to an already dangerous team.

Kaepernick made the first start of his NFL career Nov. 19 against the Chicago Bears. He started the final seven games of the season, throwing 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions. In four of his seven starts, Kaepernick posted a passer rating of over 100.

And the 49ers’ newfound success at quarterback has allowed wide receiver Michael Crabtree to emerge as a go-to receiver.

Over the past five weeks, Crabtree has been one of the hottest receivers in football. Since week 13, Crabtree is averaging seven catches and 107.6 yards per game. Tight end Vernon Davis, another dangerous weapon for Kaepernick, is averaging just 1.2 catches and 12.2 yards per game over that same five-game span.

The 49ers went 3-2 over the final five weeks of the regular season. Those numbers suggest that teams are focusing on taking Davis out of the game, which has allowed Crabtree to evolve into the true No. 1 receiver in San Francisco.

And on Saturday, Packers cornerback Tramon Williams will face is toughest opponent since Dec. 16 against Brandon Marshall. Williams has been up-and-down during the 2012-13 season. He turned in his worst performance of the season in week 17 at Minnesota, according to Pro Football Focus.

But his +3.6 PFF grade this week at Lambeau Field was his second-highest of the season. With the way Crabtree is playing for the 49ers, the Packers will need Williams to be at his best Saturday night.

ProFootballFocus.com rated Crabtree as the league’s seventh-best wide receiver in the regular season. Williams graded out as the 60th-best cornerback according to PFF.

Crabtree has caught at least seven passes in four of the 49ers’ last five games. Williams has allowed more than three receptions just once over the past five games. He allowed four receptions for 51 yards against Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions in week 14, according to PFF.

So something’s gotta give this weekend when the 49ers have the ball.

In the season opener at Lambeau Field, Crabtree caught seven of the eight passes thrown his way for 76 yards. PFF charged Williams with allowing four of those receptions for a total of 42 yards. But when the 49ers take the field on Jan. 12, their offense is very different than it was in week one.

24

December

Packers Santa Delivers a Chance for a Week Off

Packers Santa

Packers Santa

Good news, folks; it seems that Packers Santa has returned to Green Bay for the third straight year.

In 2010, Packers Santa and I took ride on his sleigh and delivered a bag of coal to Mike McCarthy. They had lost two games in a row and three out of their last four. The message came through loud and clear and the Packers went on a six game winning streak that ended with a Super Bowl win over the Steelers in Dallas. Thanks again Santa!

In 2011, the Packers had just had their 19-game winning streak ended by the Chiefs. Packers Santa presented the Packers with some blank paper, in hopes that starting with a clean sheet would propel the Packers on a new winning streak.  Once again, Packers Santa helped the Packers right the ship, as they went out and won their next two games. Unfortunately, the Packers then met their Waterloo against the Giants in the playoffs.

In 2012, Packers Santa didn’t feel the need to send any messages. Instead, he thought it would be better to just reward the Packers for all their hard fought wins with a week off to rest. The Packers have won four in a row and nine of their last ten.  So Packers Santa pulled a few strings and arranged for the Seahawks (how ironic) to beat the 49ers, vaulting the Packers into the position of second seed and a first round playoff bye.

Now, as Packers Santa so succinctly said to me in our Skype conversation, “I can’t do EVERYTHING for these guys.” So it will be up to the Packers to hold onto that position with a win against the Vikings in the final game of the regular season.

The Humpty Dome will be rocking, as the Vikings have a “win and your in” chance to make the playoffs. So we shall surely see just how much the Packers appreciated Santa’s gift. Hopefully, the Packers will close out 2012 on a positive note.

Speaking of closing out the year, I’d like to extend my extreme gratitude and appreciation to all of you who come here and make this site what it is.  Regardless if you’re a regular or just an occasional reader, thank you for being interested in what we have to say. Whether it’s here, or on Facebook or Twitter, you’re comments are so appreciated, (you have no idea how much).

21

December

Packers News: Dietrich-Smith to start over Saturday

Packers C Evan Dietrich-Smith

Packers C Evan Dietrich-Smith

Packers center Jeff Saturday has been benched in favor of Evan Dietrich-Smith.

“We’re at two totally different points in our career,” Saturday said. “His is on the up ramp, mine is on the way out.”

Saturday, 37, has not been playing up to his normal high level this season. Pro Football Focus ranks him 30th among 37 centers who have played at least 25 percent of their team’s offensive snaps.

Dietrich-Smith started four games this season after Bryan Bulaga went on the injured reserve with an injured hip. Left guard T.J. Lang bumped over to right tackle, while Dietrich-Smith filled in at left guard.

Saturday has started all 14 of the Packers’ games this season, but it appears the team is ready to go in another direction in the middle of the offensive line.

Saturday had been dealing with a neck/shoulder injury, and head coach Mike McCarthy says he’ll likely be available to play Sunday against the Titans. However, Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee says Saturday confirmed Friday that Dietrich-Smith will be the team’s new starting center.

Saturday has struggled particularly in the running game this season–ranking dead last in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. However, in the passing game, Saturday grades out as PFF’s third most-effective center.

Dietrich-Smith figures to be the team’s best option at center for the future. And Sunday against the Titans figures to be Dietrich-Smith’s audition for the starting job in 2013.

From left to right, the Packers’ offensive line will be Marshall Newhouse, T.J. Lang, Dietrich-Smith, Josh Sitton and Don Barclay.

With Alex Green questionable to play on Sunday, it will be interesting to see how the ground game fares against the Titans. This will be Green Bay’s first game with a new offensive line and perhaps either DuJuan Harris or Ryan Grant handling the majority of the team’s carries.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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20

December

Packers News: James Starks hopes to return for playoffs

Packers RB James Starks

Packers RB James Starks

When James Starks was hit in the knee by Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson late in the Packers’ Dec. 2 win at Lambeau Field, the thought was that his season would be over.

After all, the third-year running back has suffered multiple injuries dating back to his collegiate days at Buffalo. He exploded onto the scene late in the 2010 season and became the Packers’ lead back during their run to Super Bowl XLV.

His injury against the Vikings was thought to be a huge blow to a running game that had been struggling throughout the majority of the season.

But now, according to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, it appears the Packers are aiming to bring Starks back for the playoffs.

“It’s a lot better,” Starks said. “Just how I was bent, when you look at it, it looked a lot worse. So I just thank God for being able to possibly come back and do well. So no real, serious bad injuries.”

With Starks out of the lineup the past couple weeks, the Packers have employed a three-man rotation at running back with Alex Green, DuJuan Harris and Ryan Grant. In two games without Starks, Green has carried the ball a team-high 26 times, Harris 12 and Grant nine.

Starks had taken over as the team’s primary ball carrier Nov. 11 against the Arizona Cardinals.

The running game has been steadily improving over the course of the season. The return of Starks to the backfield rotation would figure to boost the offense even more. Head coach Mike McCarthy said there was always hope Starks would return.

“Starks’ situation is to hopefully get him back for the playoffs. That was a decision that was made a few weeks ago.”

By no means is it a guarantee that Starks will return for the postseason, but today’s news is certainly a good sign for the Packers.

The Packers could be short-handed in the backfield on Sunday, as Green may be forced to sit out after suffering a concussion against the Bears. If Green is out, the Packers will rely on Harris, Grant and fullback John Kuhn to shoulder the load in the ground game.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

19

December

Packers Film Study: B.J. Raji peaking late in the season

Packers DL B.J. Raji

Packers DL B.J. Raji

When looking at the box score of a given football game, it can be easy to overlook some of the unsung heroes.

Sometimes it’s the offensive line paving the way for a 100-yard rusher and going largely unnoticed. Other times it’s a cornerback shutting down an opposing receiver, only to be ignored because he never got his hands on the ball.

On Sunday, defensive tackle B.J. Raji may have been the best player on the field for the Packers.

From his pick-six that sent the Packers to Super Bowl XLV in 2010 to his dominant performance on Sunday, it sure seems like Raji enjoys playing in the Windy City. Raji played what was likely his best game of the season with the NFC North championship on the line.

Pro Football Focus credited Raji with a +4.4 grade against the Bears–his best PFF grade since the NFC Championship during the 2010 season.

The box score only gives Raji credit for one solo tackle. No sacks, no forced fumbles. Just one tackle.

But looking beyond the numbers and watching the tape, it’s impossible to ignore Raji’s impact on Sunday’s win over the Bears.

Let’s take a look at four plays this past Sunday in which Raji made his presence felt.

1) Situation: 2nd and 9, 5:09 remaining – Q1

Breakdown: Raji lines up at right defensive end alongside Clay Matthews. Left guard James Brown is supposed to chip on Raji and block inside linebacker Brad Jones, but Raji blows the play up before even got started. Left tackle J’Marcus Webb is a split-second late getting to Raji.

Raji’s penetration single-handedly made this play, although Clay Matthews and Morgan Burnett were credited for the tackle in the box score. This was a drive-killer for the Bears, as they were ultimately forced to punt.

2) Situation: 2nd and 10, 1:05 remaining – Q1

Breakdown: Raji is lined up across from Bears right guard Gabe Carimi. As soon as the ball is snapped, Raji is in the backfield and the play is doomed.

Carimi is forced to lunge at Raji and is called for a 10-yard holding penalty. This play set up a 2nd-and-long situation for the Bears, and they didn’t score on the drive. Again, this is another play that won’t show up on the stat sheet, but it will certainly catch the eye of the coaching staff.