9

November

Cory’s Corner: Goodell needs to make an example of Incognito

Miami Dolphins appeared in this PSA before games that ran on the scoreboard reminding fans to be civilized.

Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito appeared in this PSA that ran on the Sun Life Stadium scoreboard before games reminding fans to be civilized. He was also on the team’s leadership council.

First it was Michael Vick. Then along came Riley Cooper. Now we have Richie Incognito.

I know Roger Goodell has been labeled as a sheriff in the wild, wild west to some for his way of doling out punishments.

But apparently, he needs to go in a few notches on his law belt.

When the Michael Vick dog fighting case came about in 2007, it was arguably one of the most abhorrent things a player has ever done off the field. He served 21 months in jail for his role in a five-year dog fighting ring. Vick was able to get a starting job back but his public persona has been severly dented.

Then along came Riley Cooper. The loudmouth Eagles receiver who threw N-bombs at a Kenny Chesney concert was rightly vilified for putting the country back 50-60 years. Players  from around the league, which is predominantly African American, still haven’t been able to forgive a guy that spouted off and despite apologizing until he was blue in the face, Cooper could potentially still harbor those feelings deep inside.

And now we’ve got Incognito. Labeling him as a bully is a disservice to bullies. He is a calculated emotional killer that preys on the weak. Judging from the texts and voicemails where he called Jonathan Martin racial epithets and even mentioned that he would kill him, Incognito is worse than the first two guys. I mean, Incognito forced Martin to chip in $15,000 to finance a trip to Las Vegas – a trip that Martin wasn’t even attending. So, in addition to making your fellow offensive lineman’s life a living hell thanks to a verbal assault, you’ve entered into the world of extortion.

The problem is, since the NFL is a macho sport based upon brute strength, most people just shrug their shoulders when they see this type of thing. Many Dolphins players really didn’t notice anything because the meat and potatoes of what was going on they didn’t see or hear. Incognito called out Martin in the locker room but it wasn’t anything that people wouldn’t consider out of the norm for locker room chatter.

8

November

Packers Periscope: Week 10 vs. Philadelphia Eagles

The Past

Last time these two teams met was in the NFC wildcard game in 2010.  However, the Packers got to experience the beast that they themselves had created; during the season opener Clay Matthews III knocked out starting quarterback Kevin Kolb with a concussion, which paved the way for the resurgence of Michael Vick, who had been just released from jail after pleading guilty to operating a dog fighting ring.  With the more dynamic Vick leading the way with vertical receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles boasted one of the most dangerous offenses that head coach Andy Reid had ever fielded.

However, during the playoffs the Eagles failed to get much going on offense while the Packers watched as rookie James Starks, who had been hobbled by injuries all season, burst onto the scene with 123 yards rushing, a Packers record for a rookie running back in the playoffs and saw a little glimpse of what was to come in their stunning 2011 season when an unknown undrafted rookie blocking tight end named Tom Crabtree made his first touchdown reception by sneaking past a linebacker.

On special teams, the Packers didn’t make many mistakes, which couldn’t be said for the Eagles as kicker David Akers left 6 points off the board with two missed field goals.  The Packers also enjoyed several big plays on defense, notably Clay Matthews completely destroying tackle Winston Justice and a last minute end zone interception by Tramon Williams that pushed the Packers into the divisional round against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Present

A lot has changed for the Eagles since the 2010 playoff game.  13 year incumbent Andy Reid was replaced by college football phenomenon Chip Kelly, who had lead the Oregon Ducks to a 46-7 record with 4 bowl appearances with his fast-paced, spread offense.  While Kelly and his super speed offense sent shockwaves throughout the NFL after their opening game against the Redskins after calling 53 plays in the first half, the rest of the NFL adjusted and the Eagles have been the epitome of “up and down” with some thrilling victories and some crushing defeats which explains the 5-3 record.

While Michael Vick still holds the starting quarterback position in name, Nick Foles has made a case to remain under center after a record breaking 7 touchdown, 158.3 QB rating touchdown performance last week against the Oakland Raiders.  On the other side of the ball, the Eagles defense has been largely ineffective, sorting out much like the Green Bay Packers in terms of defensive efficiency.

1

August

Dirty Birds: How The Philadelphia Eagles Have Set The Stage For A Packers Encore

Will the Eagles' new "Dream team" allow the Packers to fly under the radar?

While the Packers have gone about their usual ways of signing undrafted rookies and their own free agents, the Philadelphia Eagles have taken a different approach. In the blur that has been the first week of free agency since the lockout ended, the Eagles swooped in (pun intended) and gathered up many of the big name free agents of the 2011 class.  Nnmadi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins (that stings a little), Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie, Vince Young and Jason Babin are all new members of the team. NFL.com this morning already declared this a “dream team.”

My question to Reid, the Eagles and the NFL media is this: Have you learned nothing from the Miami Heat?

Yes, the Heat made it to the NBA Finals but they lost in six games which really is all that matters.  The Heat, with their “big three” lost to a team that was truly a better team than they were.

Sure, the Eagles added a lot of superstars but are they truly the best team in the NFC? My answer is no.

In fact, the Eagles have set the stage for the true best team in the NFC to fly under the radar and make a run at Super Bowl XLVI.  It just so happens that this team is the defending world champions.

Thanks to the big splashes made by the Eagles in free agency, the Packers are now in an ideal situation with everyone fawning and drooling over what Andy Reid and company have accomplished in such a short period of time.  As crazy as it sounds, the Packers now have the element of surprise in their corner and they are (it bears repeating) THE DEFENDING WORLD CHAMPIONS.

It’s obvious Packers coach Mike McCarthy will use the Eagles’ spending spree to his team’s advantage.  His team is suddenly yesterday’s news despite winning the Lombardi Trophy six months ago.  It’s rare that a team defending its title goes from hunted to the hunter, but that’s what the Green Bay Packers have become.

Aaron Rodgers and company must be salivating.  A few short months after having everyone sing his praises, Rodgers suddenly finds himself on the back page.  One would think the rest of the NFL should have learned by now what happens when you scorn Aaron Charles Rodgers but apparently they haven’t.

4

June

The 10 Biggest Moments of the Packers’ 2010 Super Bowl Season

Nothing could ever tarnish the Green Bay Packers’ 2010 Super Bowl win, but does anyone else get the feeling that the NFL lockout has taken a little of the shine off?

In an offseason where most of the talk should be about the Packers chances of repeating as football champions, the news is littered with talk about a labor dispute that could take away Green Bay’s chance of even attempting it.

So, instead of looking forward in this post, we’re going to take a trip down memory lane to make sure none of the labor talk has hurt your memory of the special season Packers fans had a privilege to share. Here are the 10 biggest moments of 2010, with a few honorable mentions thrown in.

 

Honorable mentions

Rodgers to Jennings Part I: Their first touchdown connection in the Super Bowl was a thing of beauty and gave the Packers a commanding 21-3 lead.

B.J. Raji’s pick-six: His interception return for a touchdown was ultimately the game-winning points in the NFC Championship game.

Stopping a new Mike Vick: The Packers 2010 season got off to a dramatic start as the Packers defense stopped Vick on fourth down to preserve the win.

Rashard Mendenhall’s mistake: This play could almost make the top 10, but the Packers strip and recover of Mendenhall in the Super Bowl turned the tides.

Game-tying strike in Atlanta: Rodgers’ laser beam to Jordy Nelson tied the game at 17 with under two minutes to go.

Old man still has it: Donald Driver’s inspiring run-and-catch vs. the 49ers was one of the individual plays of the year for the Packers.

The 10 Biggest Moments

Collins’ seals the playoff berth

Nick Collins interception of Jay Cutler in Week 17 against the Bears ensured that the Packers would get their chance in the playoffs. Three weeks later, the Bears would regret not eliminating the Packers when they had their first opportunity to do so.

Desean Jackson’s return

Don’t forget—Jackson’s punt return for a touchdown that capped off the Eagles stunning come-from-behind win in New York allowed the Packers to get into the playoffs with two wins in the final two weeks. Without it, the Giants are playing in the postseason and not the Packers.

Sam Shields’ runs to Dallas

12

January

How Did We Get Here Revisited: 5 Plays Responsible for the Green Bay Packers’ Late-Season Surge

Tramon Williams locks up the top spot on the list with this game-clinching interception against the Eagles.

Back in December I wrote about the five plays that best highlighted why the Green Bay Packers were 8-6 and fighting for a playoff spot. Many of us thought the Packers should have been 10-4 and thinking about a first-round bye, but a few notable blunders and miscues left our favorite team on the brink of mediocrity.

Things have gotten better since I wrote that piece – a lot better. So I think it is only fair that we go back and highlight the five plays that have helped the Packers turn things around and get to where they are today.

1. Tramon Williams’ game-clinching interception vs. Philadelphia Eagles
This play has to be No. 1. It just has to. Everyone knew how explosive Michael Vick and the Eagles’ offense was. We knew no lead was safe and we had visions of another crushing loss in a close game as Vick was leading the Eagles down the field in the final minutes. Then Williams made a play on a slightly underthrown ball in the end zone intended for Riley Cooper, and the rest is history. It wasn’t a great throw by Vick, but how many times have we seen that type of play result in a pass interference, or the bigger receiver jumping over the smaller defensive back to make the catch anyway? Williams stepped up big time to make that play, and he deserves the top slot on this list (I’m sure he will put a copy of this list on his mantle, next to the game ball from Sunday).

2. John Kuhn’s 8-yard touchdown run vs. New York Giants
Um, what? A John Kuhn touchdown run is No. 2 on this list? It sure is. The Packers were driving to extend their lead to 21-7 in the second quarter when Jordy Nelson fumbled. One play later, Eli Manning hit Mario Manningham for an 85-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14. The Giants had all the momentum and fans at Lambeau Field were getting nervous. But instead of tightening up, the Packers went on a six-play scoring drive capped by Kuhn crashing into the end zone right after the two-minute warning. The run put all the momentum back in the Packers’ favor and they have been riding the wave ever since.

10

January

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Playoff Edition–Packers 21, Eagles 16

The Green Bay Packers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 21-16 in a nail-biting NFC Wild Card game Sunday afternoon. The Packers now move on to face the Atlanta Falcons Saturday night in the divisional round for the right to play in the NFC championship game.

After jumping out to a 14-0 lead, the Packers let the explosive Michael Vick and the Eagles offense back into the game, but the defense made enough plays at crucial moments to extend the Packers’ season another week.

There were plenty of highlights and even some lowlights to look at, so let’s jump right into Game Balls and Lame Calls: Playoff Edition.

Game Ball

QB Aaron Rodgers

While he didn’t eat up the Eagles defense for big chunks of yardage, Rodgers did throw three touchdown passes and had pinpoint accuracy throughout the game.

He spread the ball around to multiple receivers and served notice to the rest of the playoff field that the Packers have multiple weapons and you cannot shut them all down. Throw in Rodgers’ scrambling ability and you have an incredibly dangerous quarterback and offense.
More importantly and more significantly, he became the first Packers quarterback not named Brett Favre to win a playoff game since Lynn Dickey on January 8, 1983. That’s eight months almost to the day before I was born folks. That would be a long time.

Oh yeah, and he did something Favre couldn’t: he won a tight playoff game in Philadelphia.

Congrats to Rodgers on his first playoff win. Hopefully, it’s the first of certainly many more to come.

RB James Starks

The hype over this kid has gone to beyond a level of even a Tim Tebow amongst Packers fans, but in the biggest game of the year Starks came up. BIG.

Running for 123 yards (it was easy as 1-2-3!) behind an offensive line that was the Packers’ biggest Achilles heel a season ago, Starks showed how dangerous the Packers can be with a strong rushing attack. It’s been assumed that since Ryan Grant went down with a season-ending injury that Rodgers would have to carry the team on his arm and for 95% of the season he has.

Now, with the Packers’ rushing attack and in particular Starks’ emergence, the Packers have achieved a balance offense and it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.

8

January

NFL Wild Card Weekend: Packers-Eagles Preview: Deja Vu in Philly

The Green Bay Packers defeated the Chicago Bears 10-3 last Sunday at Lambeau Field to lock down a wild card berth for the second consecutive season.

The Packers enter the playoffs as the number six seed, but in a conference that features a 7-9 division champion, any team could come out of the NFC and head to Super Bowl XLV.

The first stop for the Packers on the road to Dallas is in Philadelphia for an encore match against the Eagles. In the first game of the regular season, the Packers beat the Eagles 27-20 after knocking then-starting quarterback for the Eagles Kevin Kolb out of the game and giving Michael Vick the opportunity to write one of the great comeback stories in NFL history.

Looking back at that game, the Packers had the Eagles well under control until Vick came into the game. He nearly led the Eagles back, but a couple well-timed sacks stopped the comeback just short and the Packers held on the victory.

With an entire week to game plan for Vick, will the Packers fare better against the elusive Eagles quarterback?

Breaking down the Eagles

Vick carried the Eagles this season. You can’t argue any other way.
In a season where coach Andy Reid was under the microscope after dealing Donovan McNabb away within the division, Vick played brilliantly and leads an incredibly explosive offense. With Vick’s dual running and passing threat, the Packers will have their hands full with No. 7.

Now, Vick is reported to be a little less than fully healthy for this game with him as of early this week saying he was only at 75% but will be ready to go Sunday.

Should the Packers be able to somehow contain Vick to the pocket, they will have to take in account speedy receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Vick also can use tight end Brent Celek as a medium distance threat. Running back LeSean McCoy also is very underrated and will provide another option for Vick in the screen game. Of course, this all depends on if the iffy Eagles offensive line can hold up.

Bottom line: Do not underestimate the Eagles offense. They are one of the few units in the NFL than can keep up on the scoreboard against the Packers’ offense.