19

December

The !$*?!#%! Kansas City Chiefs Ruined the Packers Opportunity for Perfection

Donald Driver, WR Green Bay Packers

Is this really happening?

The Packers lost to the Chiefs on Sunday in a complete trainwreck of a football game. Receivers dropped passes, the pass rush never entered Kyle Orton’s zip code and more Packers limped off the field with injuries.

It was a horrible way to end an amazing run. Just horrible.

There’s probably going to be some people that say it’s good for the Packers to lose a game. They’ll say that the ultimate goal is the Super Bowl and losing will build character and force the Packers to correct mistakes… or something like that.

Ignore those people. Tell them to go away.

Losing sucks. No team ever says, “Hey, lets lose this game today to build some character and increase our chances of going to the Super Bowl.” That’s not how it works.

If this Packers team goes 18-1 and repeats as Super Bowl champions, it’s going to be amazing. I’m going to be just as happy as I was for the other Super Bowl titles the Packers have won in my lifetime.

But there’s always going to be a small part of my green and gold brain that reminds me the Packers could have been 19-0 — undefeated — but they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs.

THE !$*?!#%! KANSAS CITY CHIEFS!!!!!!

We’re going to have plenty of time in the coming days to break down exactly what happened, to start sounding the alarm about the Packers’ injuries, protection issues and defensive lapses. Honestly, I’m not worried about all of that. Yeah, the Packers are banged up and looked lost on Sunday, but they’re still the best team in the NFL.

If they don’t win the Super Bowl, it’d be an upset.

Right now, I just want to vent about the fact that the Packers opportunity for perfection was ruined by THE !$*?!#%! KANSAS CITY CHIEFS!!!!!! Some day my son will ask me why the Packers did not go undefeated in 2011, and I will have to tell him that they lost to the Chiefs, a team that was 5-8 and just fired its head coach.

Now don’t get me wrong. When my son gives me a quizzical look and asks how something silly like losing to the Chiefs could ruin a perfect season, I’ll spend the next two hours telling him stories about the amazing run the Packers went on in 2010-11. I’ll tell him about not losing a game for 364 days, the amazing play of Aaron Rodgers and all of the other things this team accomplished.

19

December

Packers vs. Chiefs: 5 Observations from Green Bay’s 19-14 Loss to Kansas City

Photo: MCT

The Green Bay Packers (13-1) lost for the first time in 364 days—a stretch of 20 games—as the Kansas City Chiefs pulled off the upset of the season Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, 19-14.

Five observations from the Packers’ first taste of defeat since Week 15 of last season:

1. Playing perfect to end perfection

I said before the game that Kyle Orton would have to play a perfect game for the Chiefs to have a chance. He was about as close to perfect as you could ask for on Sunday, completing 23-of-31 passes for 299 yards. The key stat, however? Zero turnovers. Orton made all the easy throws and avoided that one game-changing giveaway.

The Chiefs offense did a fine job of hurting the Packers in the screen game early then picked apart the Packers’ zone after Dom Capers was forced to adjust. But even with the Chiefs’ offense rolling, there was anticipation for a turnover from the defense that could turn around the game. It never came. With the Packers offense struggling for the first time all season, not getting that one momentum-shifter was huge.

2. Dropping the rhythm

The issues on offense went deeper than just drops, but it was painfully obvious how those missed opportunities in the first half stymied the rhythm of the Packers’ offense. Jermichael Finley saw a couple of easy ones go right through the hands, but he also had a handful of opportunities to make game-changing catches, which admittedly were tough plays, and couldn’t convert. Aaron Rodgers called the drops a “physical mistake” after the game, but it’s mental for Finley. He’s clearly pressing, and dropping the first ball that came to him Sunday only snowballed the mistakes.

He wasn’t alone, as Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson also dropped balls which they normally catch. If those plays are made, the Packers likely score enough points to win. Greg Jennings wasn’t the one dropping those passes, either. His impact was felt in the offense, but not having him on the field had absolutely nothing with the inexcusable drops.

3. Man down

The Packers’ already aching offensive line saw both Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod suffer injuries. Bulaga left in the first half but seemed fine on the sidelines after returning from the locker room. McCarthy labeled his injury as a “knee sprain,” which again, can mean a number of things. Bulaga will have a MRI later today. Sherrod suffered a major injury, which McCarthy confirmed as a broken leg, and won’t be playing football anytime soon.

18

December

Packers vs. Chiefs Preview: 5 Things to Watch

The Green Bay Packers (13-0) and Kansas City Chiefs (5-8) face off in Week 15 of the NFL season Sunday.

The basics 

When: 12:00 CST, Sunday, December 18, 2011.

Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO.

TV: FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa

Radio: 620 AM WTMJ (Milwaukee); Packers Radio Network; NFL Sunday Drive.

Series: Chiefs lead, 3-6-1 (Packers won last regular season game, 33-22, in Nov. 4, 2007 at Arrowhead Stadium).

Five things to watch

1. Romeo’s turn

After a 5-8 start that included five losses of 25 or more points, the Chiefs fired head coach Todd Haley this week and replaced him with defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. Every so often, a change in the face of the man leading a locker room adds energy that would have otherwise been stagnant. Letting go of the fiery Haley and replacing him with a player’s coach in Crennel could have that effect. Keep an eye on the first 15 minutes to see if the coaching change had any early impact.

2. Repayment 

Last season, Greg Jennings embraced a larger role in the Packers offense after Jermichael Finley was lost for the season in Week 5. Now, with Jennings on the shelf for the remainder of the regular season, Finley gets his chance to do the same. The Packers will spread it around to help compensate for Jennings’ loss, but Finley figures to be the guy to take on some of the missing targets. Let’s see if Aaron Rodgers and the “Big Fella,” as he calls him, can get on a roll before the postseason.

3. You again?

One of the first things Crennel did as interim coach was to name Kyle Orton the Chiefs’ starting quarterback, dependent on his injured finger checking out. The finger is healthy enough and Orton will start on Sunday. The Packers are well-versed on playing Orton, a seven-year pro who has started five games against Green Bay as a member of the Chicago Bears and another this season with the Broncos. In that Week 4 game at Lambeau Field, Orton completed 22-of-32 passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns. But he also threw three interceptions, with one taken 30 yards for a touchdown by Charles Woodson in the first quarter. The Packers won that game 49-23. Orton will need to play a perfect game that includes no turnovers for the Chiefs to have a chance at pulling off the upset.

16

December

2011 NFL Season Week 15: Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs Preview: Arrowhead Massacre?

As I wrote on Twitter earlier this week, how do you preview a slaughter?

That’s the dilemma I faced when trying to preview this Sunday’s matchup between the 13-0 Green Bay Packers and the 5-8 Kansas City Chiefs.   The same Chiefs team who has scored 25 points combined in four games and the team who fired head coach Todd Haley this week, one year after winning the AFC West. His replacement for the remainder of 2011? Romeo Crennel, who was a dismal failure in his time as head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

In the other corner, you have the defending world champion Packers whose offense is a runaway freight train demolishing all teams on the road to another Super Bowl title.

Dysfunction vs. perfect harmony.  I think you know where this is going.

Key Chiefs Players

QB Kyle Orton The former Broncos quarterback gets his first start since signing with the Chiefs following his release from Denver in the wake of Tebowmania.  Orton did make a brief (one play) appearance for Kansas City earlier this season and promptly was sidelined until this week by a finger injury.

Orton has had very little time with this offense due to his injury.  He has not had the chance to develop chemistry with the Chiefs wide receivers and with a ball hawking Packers secondary coming to town, his learning curve just got that much steeper.

WR Dwayne Bowe Even though his TD total is way down from 2010 (15 vs. just four this season), Bowe is on pace for his second consecutive 1,000 yard season.  When Jamal Charles went down for the season early in the 2011 campaign, it was expected that Bowe and Steve Breaston both would have decent seasons.

Thanks to the loss of starting quarterback Matt Cassel for the season as well, Bowe’s big season hasn’t exactly panned out.  He has been productive between the two end zones, but not IN the end zones themselves.  It’s basically been a problem for the entire Chiefs offense to be fair.

With Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams coming to town, Bowe will have his hands full and if the Chiefs hope to have any chance of keeping pace with the Packers Bowe will have to find ways to get open.

2

October

Green Bay Packers vs Denver Broncos–First Impressions UNFILTERED! Packers 49, Broncos 23

Photo courtesy JSOnline.com

The Green Bay Packers (3-0) face off against the Denver Broncos at Lambeau Field.

The Packers will look for their 10th consecutive win including playoffs, but hope to pull away from their opponent instead of having the game in doubt going late into the fourth quarter.

The Broncos meanwhile are looking to bounce back from another close loss.  Tim Tebow will finally see some action under center today according to reports from the Broncos and are hoping their passing offense will finally come to life.

Pregame Thoughts

Champ Bailey is out for the Broncos.  He likely would have seen some time against Jermichael Finley so this could possibly mean another big game for the Packers tight end.

Word out of Denver that Tim Tebow could see some red zone action today.  I have watched Tebow for a long time and you can’t underestimate his abilities in the red zone.  The Packers have a tendency to struggle against athletic quarterbacks, so this added wrinkle will be interesting to watch.

Very sunny day today at Lambeau. Beautiful day for football.

How many Cheeseheads will have their eyes on their phones checking the Brewers score? I kid. Sort of.

Derrick Sherrod will be the backup to Chad Clifton.  The Packers first round draft pick makes his NFL regular season debut.

Broncos down two WRs with Eddie Royal and Demaryius Thomas inactive.

Packers inactives include RB Ryan Grant, S Nick Collins, LB Jamari Lattimore, LB Frank Zombo, LB Brad Jones, T Bryan Bulaga, DE Mike Neal.

First Half

Glad we got Nantz and Simms. Worried we would have Dierdorf and Gumbel on TV.

Broncos go three and out on first series.  Solid breakup by Tramon Williams on the pass to Decker.

Wow, one punt and a Packers special teams penalty against Alex Green. SHOCKING!

Elvis Dumervil making his presence known pressing Rodgers on that rollout.

BOOM. Rodgers to Jennings for 43 yards.  Can anyone stop the Super Bowl MVP?

Rodgers could have had Jennings for a TD.

Packers go for it on 4th down deep in Denver territory and a pitch to Starks results in a turnover on downs.  Not sure I like the play all there.

TIM TEBOW SIGHTING!  And he is STUFFED.

2

October

Packers vs. Broncos Preview: 5 Things to Watch

Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers (3-0) and Denver Broncos (1-2) face off in Week 4 of the NFL season Sunday.

The basics 

When: 3:15 CST, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI

TV: CBS, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms with the call

Radio: 620 AM WTMJ (Milwaukee); Packers Radio Network; Siruis Satellite Radio (Ch. 91)

Series: Packers lead, 6-5-1 (Packers won last regular season meeting, 19-13 (OT), on Oct. 29, 2007 at Denver.)

Five things to watch

A New House on the right side

With Bryan Bulaga on the sidelines this week recovering from an ankle and knee injury, second-year tackle Marshall Newhouse will make his first career NFL start. Remember, this is a guy who was inactive for every game he was healthy during his rookie year. But when Bulaga went down in Chicago, the Packers offense didn’t back off or change the gameplan. As we’ve seen so many times in the past two season, the beat simply went on for the Packers after an injury at an important position.

Still, you’d have to expect the Broncos to test Newhouse early and often, and they have the horses to do it. Aaron Rodgers compared Elvis Dumervil—who is still questionable for Sunday—to pass rushers like Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney, and if Newhouse isn’t faced with him, then he’ll likely get rookie Von Miller. The Broncos’ No. 2 overall pick in April has impressed with his first step and natural pass rushing skills. Newhouse passed his first test last Sunday, but he gets a whole new challenge against the Broncos.

Rodgers vs. the blitz

Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has blitzed as much as any defensive coordinator in football through three games. That’s not surprising considering he came to Denver after serving three years under Gregg Williams in New Orleans as the secondary coach, but it’ll be interesting to see how Allen attacks the Packers offense. Williams went after Aaron Rodgers early in Week 1, and the Packers quarterback responded with three first quarter touchdown passes and a 158.3 rating after 15 minutes of football.

That isn’t surprising either, as Rodgers has been the best passer in the NFL against the blitz since taking over in 2008. He can recognize blitz looks in his pre-snap reads and will hit the hot appropriate hot read before the blitz gets home. Will Allen trust the stat sheet and tone down his blitzes? Or will he stick to what he’s shown through three weeks?

30

September

2011 NFL Season Week 4: Green Bay Packers vs. Denver Broncos Preview: Not Quite Super Bowl XXXII Redux

It doesn’t have the luster of Super Bowl XXXII but the game this Sunday between the Green Bay Packers and the Denver Broncos does have some meaning for the defending world champions.

For example, the last time the Packers were the defending champs the Broncos were the ones who stripped them of their title.  While Kyle Orton is no John Elway, the Broncos are a significant underdog like they were in Super Bowl XXXII when they upset the Brett Favre-led Packers.

At the same time, the Packers need to win this game to keep pace with the Detroit Lions in the NFC North (you have no clue how strange it is to type that).  While some have gone so far as to say the Packers are in control of the division despite being tied with another team, the Packers know firsthand the Lions are not to be taken lightly.

Last week in review

The Packers beat their archrival Chicago Bears 27-17 at Soldier Field.  Jermichael Finley made his presence known by catching three touchdown passes and the defense, though sluggish at times, shut down the Bears offense and the Packers moved to 3-0.

The Broncos meanwhile lost a close game to the Tennessee Titans in Tennessee 17-14.  Orton struggled again throwing two interceptions and for only 173 yards to only increase the cry from Bronco fans for Orton to be benched and let second year quarterback Tim Tebow into the lineup.  The Broncos are 1-2 on the season, but have been competitive in both their losses.

Breaking down the Broncos

Despite this being his first season as coach, John Fox truly has built the Broncos the same way he built his teams in Carolina.

Fox expects a strong rushing attack from his offense.  While Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee are definitely not DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, there is enough potential there.  McGahee has clearly been the stronger back this season as Moreno can’t seem to stay healthy and is a question mark for the game vs the Packers.

Orton is no stranger to the Packers from his years in Chicago before being sent to Denver that brought the self-giving gift known as Jay Cutler to Chicago.  Orton won’t beat you deep nor will he beat you with his athleticism.  He truly is a game manager quarterback.  He doesn’t strike fear in the heart of a defense late in a game, and that’s why Broncos fans are screaming for Tebow.