4

August

It’s Time For The Packers To Part Ways With Mason Crosby

Mason Crosby may have just kicked himself out the door at 1265 Lombardi Avenue.

When the Green Bay Packers signed Giorgio Tavecchio to “compete” with Mason Crosby for the starting kicker job, Packers fans everywhere chuckled.

There was no way Tavecchio, an undrafted free agent in 2012 cut by the 49ers, would unseat Green Bay’s long-time incumbent kicker right? This was just a move by general manager Ted Thompson to appease those calling for Crosby’s head after a poor 2012. It had to be.

Well, that very well may have been Thompson’s mindset in March when Tavecchio was brought on board but it’s not anymore.  Thanks to a poor showing by Crosby in the team’s annual Family Night scrimmage (3-8 overall) and a solid night by Tavecchio (6-7 overall), the kicking competition is serious, and don’t call it Shirley.

Everyone hoped Crosby’s 2012 struggles were behind him and the early news from training camp looked promising.  Things went right back downhill during Family Night however and the frustrated look on Crosby’s face Saturday night didn’t exactly inspire confidence in the veteran.  It is clear Crosby’s confidence has been on thin ice since last season ended and it’s beginning to break before the first preseason game.

Further proof that the vultures may be circling over Crosby was the comment coach Mike McCarthy made about his kicker after the scrimmage. In short, he wasn’t pleased.  McCarthy said that Crosby “definitely didn’t take a step in the right direction” and that “he’s definitely got to do better than that because that’s not going to cut it.”

That’s quite the change from the defiant McCarthy who stood firmly behind his kicker last season despite some serious accuracy problems.

What did Crosby think of his performance? Well, he said he was “way past” his issues from last year and that he’s “just working on things.”  Not exactly a ringing self-endorsement. In Crosby’s defense, he did say he knows his performance in the scrimmage was “unacceptable and I have to do better.”

So where do (or should) the Packers go from here?

It’s time to cut the cord with Crosby.  With as much time between the end of last season and training camp, Crosby should have had enough time to exorcise the mental demons that were plaguing him in 2012 and come back strong in 2013.

22

June

Packers Tough Opponents More Worrisome than Quirky Early-Season Schedule

Packers Training Camp

There is not much structure in the Packers early-season schedule.

I’m one of those people that shows up early to work and tries to get as much done as possible before other people start filing into the office and my phone starts ringing.

Yeah, it’s no fun dragging myself out of bed at 5:15 a.m., but once I get to the office and get rolling, it’s nice to have a few hours of relative quiet time so I can get my busy work out of the way before tackling the tasks that require me to interact with other human beings.

With the Packers first four games starting at 3:15 p.m., 7:20 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m., rising early is not an option.

The training camp schedule also is a little different. After a week of practices starting at 8:15 a.m., the Packers will have seven consecutive practices at night, followed by a week of practices that start at 11 or 11:15 a.m.

McCarthy originally thought about eliminating night practices this season, but changed his mind once he saw the quirky start times for his team’s first four games. From PackerReport:

“The fact that we come out of the gate and play Sunday afternoon on national TV at home, then play Thursday night at home and then go away 11 days later on a Monday night, and then on a short week here at home, I wanted to make sure our players were challenged from the fact of the regularity is going to be a little up and down to start the season,” McCarthy said.

Many Packers fans might be asking why start times and dates of games are such a big deal. To us, it probably isn’t that big of a deal. And in all likelihood, it probably won’t be that big of a deal to the Packers, either.

But this is the kind of stuff that drives an NFL coach crazy. Coaches want their teams to get into a routine. Players like routine, too. Routine helps coaches control their players and it helps players develop positive work habits and structure.

If the Packers were an unproven team filled with players that had questionable levels of maturity, this lack of an early-season routine might be cause for concern. But they’re not. They’re a team with a lot of talent and very few players that won’t be able to handle a quirky schedule (as far as I know, anyway).

4

August

Overheard in the Packers Locker Room Before Their First Practice…

Last season AllGreenBayPackers.com received an exclusive peak inside the Packers locker room before they faced the Minnesota Vikings in the Metrodome. Through tireless reporting and source development, we were granted access to the locker room on the first day of training camp last weekend. Here’s what went down.

All the Packers coaches are gathered in the locker room. Mike McCarthy arrives

McCarthy: When are the players supposed to get here? I thought everyone was so excited to have football back. Why are they not in here already?

Winston Moss: They’re all in the Hall of Fame down the street, staring at our Super Bowl trophy. I sent Capers to go get them. The players are frightened by his hair, so they’ll probably come running back here once they see him coming.

The locker room door opens and players start coming in. Rodgers has a perfect tan, and is accompanied by two beautiful young women – one blonde, one brunette – both with tattoos on their lower backs. Tom Crabtree walks headfirst into the wall because he was Tweeting instead of paying attention to where he was going. Ryan Pickett and Howard Green start punching each other over who gets to go through the post-practice buffet line first.

McCarthy: Didn’t we hire an ex CIA agent to spy on these guys and keep them in line during the lockout?

Moss: We actually hired the entire CIA. But Obama got wind of it and ordered his agents to abort the mission. Obama’s a Bears fan, ya know.

Players continue arriving. Josh Sitton hits Sam Shields in the neck with a baseball bat.

Shields: What was that for?!

Sitton: There was a giant ugly thing on your neck! I think it’s alive!

Shields: That’s my new tattoo, you idiot! It’s a giant Super Bowl ring! It went viral on the Interwebs!

McCarthy: Alright! Listen up! I’ve had it! Sitton put the bat down. Rodgers tell your, ahem, friends to wait outside. Pickett and Green, nothing but salads for you two. Crabtree, stop Tweeting.

Crabtree: But I’m leading a live-Tweetup on U-Stream in my Google+ circle through the iPad Nick Collins gave Alex Tallitsch called Watch Tom Watch the Packers Show up at Training Camp. It’s live on Cheesehead TV and Cheesehead Radio.

McCarthy takes Crabtree’s iPad, stomps it into a million pieces, then lights the pieces on fire.

3

August

Packers 2011 Training Camp: New Faces and Some Old New Faces

For the 2011 Green Bay Packers, the term “new faces” means more than just rookies. It also means veterans coming off the injured list or career bench players hoping to secure a starting job.

Lets take a look at how some of these key new faces have fared after a couple days of training camp. Some of the players examined below are not new to the team, but feel new since they missed most of 2010 with an injury or were stuck on the bench.

Randall Cobb, WR
Fans attending Monday night’s first practice in pads took to Twitter to sing the praises of Cobb. The rookie made several acrobatic catches and appeared to have no problems picking up Mike McCarthy’s offense. I expected Cobb to contribute as a kick and punt returner, but if he also develops as  receiver, that would be a bonus. It’s way too early to make any judgements, but the early returns on Cobb look good.

D.J. Williams, TE
Jermichael Finley is easing his way back to football after his knee injury and Williams is taking full advantage. According to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press Gazette, no rookie is seeing more time with the startersbesides Derek Sherrod. I envisioned Williams as more of a FB when he was drafted, but with Kuhn resigned, it looks like Williams has a shot to be the pass-catching tight end behind Finley. This leaves Tom Crabtree as the blocking tight end and occasional FB with Kuhn. It’s way to early to say anything with certainty, but right now second-year TE Andrew Quarless is the odd-man out.

T.J. Lang, G
Rookie Derek Sherrod has been getting time with the first team at LG, but T.J. Lang has reportedly looked goodwhen given a chance. I like that the Packers are giving Sherrod a look at LG, but I still think Lang is the opening-day starter.

Derek Sherrod, G/T
Even if Sherrod starts on the bench, initially putting him on the field with the first team was a smart move by McCarthy. It’s a message to the rookie that he’s expected to contribute this season and he better hit the ground running. I also don’t mind trying him at LG. Call me old fashioned, but I still believe that playing the offensive line is more about beating up the guy you’re lined up against instead of worrying too much about schemes.

26

July

The NFL Lockout is Finally Over: What Roger Goodell was Really Thinking

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has to be feeling good about his sport as the NFL lockout ends.

Roger Goodell was asked today if there were any damages from the NFL lockout that need to be repaired. He said:

“Well, I would say from the Commissioner’s perspective, we know what we did to frustrate our fans over the last several months. They want football and our job is to give them football. We think that through a 10-year agreement here, we’ve secured the future of the game to ensure that pledge to bring great football to our fans. I think we have some work to do though to make sure they understand that we are sorry for the frustration we put them through over the last six months, but our commitment is to bring them better football going forward. I think we ought to make sure that we understand that our bond with our fans is probably the primary issue that all of us have to keep focused on, whether you’re a player, or you’re an owner or you’re the Commissioner.”

While Goodell was giving this beautifully crafted and politically correct answer, here’s what he was really thinking:

“Hell no there aren’t any damages! Are you freakin’ kidding me?! We’re the NFL, not the NBA, MLB or NHL. Twitter literally melted into a pile of social networking goo once the lockout ended? ESPN basically threw a party live on the air. The NFL Network is covering this news conference like someone just brokered a peace deal in the Middle East. Fans are more excited for the upcoming football season than for any other season in our league’s history.

And do you know why? Because this lockout forced everyone to skip the boring parts of the offseason. How great is it that we didn’t have to endure a summer of free-agent speculation or BS stories from minicamps about how this player or that player looks really good running around in shorts and a tank top? Wasn’t it nice not having to read about how Albert Haynesworth or some other criminal in shoulder pads appears “focused” this year and wants to “put the past behind him?” We even managed to keep Brett Favre quiet until I gave him the go-ahead to start his unretirement rumors on Saturday night.