4

November

Packers vs. Bears – Game Day First Impressions, Unfiltered: CHI 27 GB 20

Aaron Rodgers injured on this play

Aaron Rodgers injured on this play

Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears:  2013 Game 8

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

GAME NOTES:

Good news announced just before game time: James Jones is active and will play.

Packers staring outside linebackers tonight are Mike Neal and Andy Mulumba… dramatic pause…

The Packers have won six straight and eight of the last nine meetings against the Bears (including playoffs).

Packers CB Tramon Williams and Bears T Jordan Mills are cousins; both attended Louisiana Tech and Assumption High School in Napoleonville, La. …

 

Tonight’s captains for the Packers: - Jordy Nelson, Tramon Williams, Davon House 

 

Inactives for today:

 

Green Bay PackersGreen Bay Packers
10 WR Chris Harper
25 CB James Nixon
52 LB Clay Matthews
53 LB Nick Perry
88 TE Jermichael Finley
93 DE Josh Boyd
98 DE C.J. Wilson

96 Mike Neal will start at OLB in place of Perry; 55 Andy Mulumba will start at OLB in place of Matthews; 81 Andrew Quarless will start at TE in place of Finley.

 

Chicago Bears
6 QB Jay Cutler
19 WR Joe Anderson
55 LB Lance Briggs
78 T/G James Brown
79 T Jonathan Scott
94 DE Cornelius Washington
96 DT Zach Minter

59 Khaseem Greene will start at LB for Briggs; 12 Josh McCown will start at QB for Cutler.

Mike McCarthy Pregame Show on 620 WTMJ:

Mon nightexcitement:  It’s a great atmosphere – Lambeau  under the lights, especially a Monday night

Playing a night game: It’s a long day. got up early, had a team meeting. All our guys are here and ready to go.

Jones: James Jones will play – he wants to go and he;s ready – we’ll see how he feels.  Same for Brad Jones.

Jarett Boykin: He’s a hard worker – does everything right – tough kid making the most of his opportunity.

Good health of two lines: (knocks on wood).

Kick returns: Will start with Micah Hyde, would definitely like to get Johnathan Franklin another opportunity.

Different Bears: with Trestman: Definitely. They’re dynamic schematically on offense.

Josh McCown: He played really well last week. He’s had a long time to get ready for this game. He has experience. This is a very productive offense.

22

October

Packers vs. Bears will be a battle of the bruised and battered

Packers LB Clay Matthews will be one of many players in street clothes when the Packers play the Bears on Monday Night Football in a few weeks.

I know the Packers play the Vikings this week and we shouldn’t be looking ahead to the Nov. 4 Monday Night Football game against the Bears, but I can’t help myself. The number of talented players that might be watching that game from the sideline or on TV because of injuries is staggering.

Suddenly, the Black and Blue division has turned into the Broken Bones and Torn Ligaments division.

Likely/definitely out for the Packers (and their 2012 stats):

  • LB Clay Matthews (43 tackles, 13 sacks)
  • WR Randall Cobb (80 catches, 954 yards, 8 TDs)
  • TE Jermichael Finley (61 catches, 667 yards, 2 TDs)

Possibly out for the Packers:

  • LB Brad Jones (77 tackles, 2 sacks)
  • CB Casey Hayward (48 tackles, 6 interceptions)
  • WR James Jones (64 catches, 784 yards, 14 TDs)

Likely/definitely out for the Bears:

  • QB Jay Cutler (3,033 yards, 19 TDs)
  • LB Lance Briggs (102 tackles, 2 interceptions)
  • DT Henry Melton (43 tackles, 6 sacks)

Possibly out for the Bears:

  • CB Charles Tillman (85 tackles, 10 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions)

Let’s assume all of those players don’t play. Now let’s add up their 2012 numbers and combine them with each player’s 2013 statistics. This is what would be sitting on the sidelines during a marquee Monday Night divisional game.

  • 4,691 passing yards
  • 67 TDs (31 passing, 31 receiving, 5 defensive)
  • 279 catches for 3,432 yards (12.3 ypc)
  • 498 tackles
  • 28.5 sacks
  • 25 forced fumbles
  • 5 interceptions

And the NFL wants to add more regular season games, expand the playoffs, and possibly play a doubleheader on Thursday night.

Makes total sense to me.

——————

Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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2

May

Around the NFC North: 2013 NFL Draft Edition

Vikings first-round draft pick Shariff Floyd.

Vikings first-round draft pick Shariff Floyd.

The Packers used the 2013 NFL Draft to finally address the running back position and add a much-needed player on the defensive line. What were the Packers division opponents up to in the draft?

Well, two of them used fifth-round selections to take punters and another drafted an offensive lineman in the first round that most analysts pegged as a second or third rounder.

Those were a few of the moves that made people scratch their heads. But it wasn’t all bad in Vikings/Lions/Bears land. Let’s take a trip around the NFC North to see how the Packers’ rivals used the draft to (maybe) close the gap and challenge Green Bay for a division title in 2013.

Minnesota Vikings

The Picks:

1 — Sharrif Floyd, DT Florida
1 — Xaveir Rhodes, CB Florida State
1 — Cordarelle Patterson, WR Tennessee
4 — Gerald Hodges, LB Penn State
5 — Jeff Locke, P UCLA
6 — Jeff Baca, G UCLA
7 — Michael Mauti, LB Penn State
7 — Travis Bond, OG North Carolina
7 — Everett Dawkins, DT Floriday State

The Breakdown:

Just when it looked like the Vikings might be on the right track, they draft a punter in the fifth round. A punter! In the fifth round!

Ok, a fifth-round pick isn’t going to make or break a draft, but c’mon. A punter! In the fifth round!

Until that happened, the Vikings were doing some good things. At first glance, the trade to get a third first-round pick seemed like a horrible idea. Minnesota gave up a lot to move up and pick a receiver, a position you can usually fill later in the draft.

But the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. How often do you have a chance to pick three players in the first round? Rarely. General manager Rick Spielman had some extra picks to work with so he was able to make the deal. When the draft was over, the Vikings still ended up with nine players, even after the trade. That’s a fair balance of using several picks to build depth and making a move that is risky, but could pay off.

Despite making the playoffs last season, the Vikings still need to be thinking long-term. I don’t think the trade altered that long-term mindset at all.

24

March

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Forgive me, Packers fans, I’m about to stick up for the Chicago Bears.

(*The author pauses for a moment to put on his bullet-proof vest, change the locks on his home, and take a deep breath*)

I have no problem with the Bears one year, $2 million contract offer to Brian Urlacher. I’m actually insulted that Urlacher called the offer “insulting.”

Football is a business. Good teams make roster decisions not to reward once-great players or keep local heroes around to appease the fanbase. Football has been trying to teach us this lesson over and over again, but most people will never learn it, or simply refuse to even try to learn it.

Urlacher was a free agent for the first time in 13 seasons. He’ll be 35 years old in May and he missed the last month of the 2012 season with a hamstring injury.

In the 12 games that Urlacher did play, Pro Football Focus graded him out positively in only three of them. He finished with an overall season grade of -11.3. Pro Football Focus is not the be-all, end-all of player evaluation, but from what I saw of Urlacher in 2012, a -11.3 seemed generous. I thought he was slow and a shadow of his former self.

Does a $2 million contract offer for a once-great, but now aging player coming off an injury and likely on the downswing of his career really sound that insulting to you?

It doesn’t to me.

To be fair, there are two counter-arguments to this: 1) Urlacher’s leadership means a lot and is worth more than $2 million, and 2) the Bears have next to nothing at middle linebacker now that Urlacher is gone.

I don’t know how much “leadership” is worth, especially for a player who is declining on the field. To me, not very much, but I’m not in an NFL locker room, so who knows?

Yes, it’s true that the Bears now have next to nothing at middle linebacker, but that’s still not a good enough reason to overpay for an aging player. Draft a rookie to develop. Find a younger player who could do what Urlacher did for a fraction of the price. Sign Brad Jones.

15

March

Around the NFC North: Making Fun of the Bears, Lions and Vikings

NFC North DivisionIt’s free agency time in the NFL, also known as the the perfect opportunity for Packers fans to take a nap for two weeks.

Sure, it’s been mildly entertaining trying to figure out if the Packers did, or did not, sign Steven Jackson. And it’s been somewhat amusing following Greg Jennings and his mysterious tweets as he navigates the free agency waters, possibly back to the Packers.

But none of those things bring as much joy to my heart as mocking and ridiculing the Packers NFC North opponents for their offseason signings, roster cuts and trades.

Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings traded Percy Harvin to Seattle for a first round draft pick and a couple other draft picks. They also cut veteran defensive back Antoine Winfield and resigned right tackle Phil Loadholt.

Isn’t it cute how Vikings general manager Rick Spielman is trying to act like Ted Thompson? Suddenly the Vikings are all about the draft and getting younger.

Let’s see how long Spielman is able to stick with this philosophy. Remember that the Vikings quarterback is Christian Ponder and owner Zygi Wilf has a new stadium opening in a couple years that he’ll want filled to capacity with drooling rubes in helga horns and goldilocks braids.

What if Ponder continues to stink and the Vikings take a step backward? Is Wilf patient enough to give Spielman enough of a leash and allow this draft and develop philosphy to take shape?

I doubt it.

You know what’s going to be awesome? Watching the Vikings spend the first-rounder they got for Harvin on the next Troy Williamson.

UPDATE: The Vikings signed Matt Cassel after I wrote this, so you know what else is going to be awesome? Hearing those drooling rubes in helga horns and goldilocks braids chanting Cassel’s name after Ponder goes 7-for-16 for 49 yards with two interceptions in the first half of Minnesota’s season opener.

Chicago Bears
The Bears signed left tackle Jermon Bushrod and tight end Martellus Bennett. The futures of Brian Urlacher and Israel Idonje remain up in the air.

Pro Football Focus ranked Bushrod 24th among left tackles who started at least 10 games at the position in 2012. Bushrod got a pass blocking rating of     -3.5. For comparison, the Packers Marshall Newhouse got a 5.2.

21

December

Packers Drive Rewind: Defense Takes a Stand

Sam Shields

Last week’s Packers Drive Rewind highlighted how a seven-play drive that featured all running plays buried the Lions. Watching it made you want to pound your chest and yell. Loudly.

This week, we’re going to stay with the tough-guy theme and highlight how the Packers defense stood tall with a goal-line stand after Ryan Grant fumbled.

The Situation
Third quarter. Packers 21, Bears 7. Grant just fumbled away a chance to blow the game open. The Bears are on the Packers’ 5-yard line after a 53-yard pass interference penalty against Morgan Burnett.

The Result
Matt Forte can’t get in the end zone on three straight runs and a touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery on fourth down is nullified by offensive pass interference. The Bears settle for a field goal.

Play 1: Forte up the middle for 4 yards


Ryan Pickett gtets stood up by Chris Spencer, but doesn’t get erased from the play. Forte ends up basically running back toward Pickett and getting swallowed up by the big guy. Forte had James Brown pulling to the outside. Morgan Burnett and Sam Shields do a nice job of setting the edge. However, I wonder if Forte would have had better luck following Brown to the outside and taking on Shields near the goal line instead of running back into the teeth of the Packers’ defense?

Play 2: Forte up the middle for no gain

Great stick by Brad Jones. He flows to the other side of the line and meets Forte head on after Dezman Moses occupies two blockers. Pickett torpedoes his gap and B.J. Raji blows up Edwin Williams, taking away any hope for a cutback. Once again, it looked like Forte might have had better luck trying to keep going around the end and taking on Jarrett Bush instead of plowing into the pile.

Play 3: Forte up the middle for no gain

A.J. Hawk fills the gap and Jones comes free to stand up Forte before he can get into the end zone. Everybody up front for the Packers does a nice job of fighting their way to a stalemate, allowing Jones to come in untouched and prevent the touchdown. Another nice play from Jones here. Who knew he would look so smooth flowing to the ball inside?

Play 4: Alshon Jeffery catches a 1-yard touchdown, nullified by offensive pass interference

21

December

Packers Playbook (aka Hobbjective Analysis): Week 15 at Chicago Bears

So special teams is one of those things that no fan knows about but we all love to gripe about.  For instance, other than the kicker, punter, long snapper and gunner, do you know the name of any other position?  I sure don’t but I will yell at the screen when the guy misses a block.  This is essentially what happened during the “punt, pass and puke” play as quoted by Drew Olsen on Green and Gold Today.  We all know it was a terrible play, and head coach Mike McCarthy and special teams coach Shawn Slocum both got plenty of heat for the call.  But why call the play in the first place?

 

 

 

The Situation: The score is Green Bay 21, Chicago 10 with 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter.  The Packers are sitting pretty well at the moment, the Bears offense hasn’t been able to move the ball (i.e. failing to convert a single 3rd down) while the Packers have had success both on the ground as well as in the air and look to burn some time with a two score lead.

Snap: The Packers come out with two players matching each gunner.  This is typically done to give the punt returner some more space on the edges but they give up any real chance of blocking the punt as well as being overmatched in the middle

The Kick: This picture was taking immediately after the kick, as you can see the Packers didn’t get anywhere close to blocking P Adam Podlesh’s punt (the closest Packers is 5 yards away and has already turned for pursuit).  I’ve circled WR Jeremy Ross (10) so keep an eye out for him as the play progresses.

Fielding The Punt: You can now see PR Randall Cobb (18) relative to WR Ross, also notice at this point, Ross still appears to be blocking the gunner.

Beginning of Trick Play: At this point WR Ross begins to peel away from the action and get ready for the lateral.  Also notice at this point no Bear has noticed that WR Ross is doing something other than blocking the gunner

The Lateral: This is just before PR Cobb makes the lateral pass.  Notice the vast majority of Bears players are still heading towards PR Cobb.