9

January

Mining the Mind of McCarthy: His Evil Master Plan for the Eagles

Normally, when I put on my miner’s hat and go digging deep into the mind of Packers Coach Mike McCarthy, it’s after a game. I look back at certain situations in the game and try to figure out what in the world he was thinking at that moment. Usually, I’m searching for an answer to the question WHY did you do that, Mike?

Frankly, I just haven’t been that successful. Sometimes, I can come up with a rational approximation of his thought process, but most of the time, I remain flummoxed.

So I decided to try a different approach. This time I’m going to try to figure out what he’s thinking BEFORE the fact. We ll know McCarthy likes to do the unpredictable, like throw deep to the end zone with your weak-armed backup QB on fourth and one with a minute left in a game you’re losing by 4 pts. Can you say, “threw the game away?” But I digress.

I’m going to attempt to take his element of surprise (NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition) along with a little reverse psychology and tell you what McCarthy’s sometime unorthodox decisions have been leading up to.

Basically, my theory is that McCarthy has been setting everyone up. You, me, other teams, maybe even his own players. This game, he will unleash the lion and shock everyone. I’ve managed to dig deep into his brain, and here’s what he has planned:

The Fullback Dive on the Goal Line: Nothing exemplifies McCarthy’s seeming stubbornness more than this play. Or has he just been setting everyone up? If the Packers find themselves on the goal line in a big spot, expect Aaron Rodgers to put the ball out for John Kuhn, and then tuck it away and run a naked bootleg to the corner flag. It’s coming folks…

James Starks: (Neo, The One, The Franchise) McCarthy has handled this like a master of subterfuge. The Packers secret weapon has been hidden on the PUP, kept inactive for several weeks and seen limited playing time. McCarthy almost blew this by forgetting his plan and giving Starks too many carries in the 49ers game. Luckily he limited Starks in the Lions game and then kept him inactive for 2 more weeks before giving him a little warmup against the Bears. McCarthy’s evil plan was to limit the game film on Starks so their first playoff opponent will be completely unprepared when McCarthy lets Starks loose. The Eagles will have no idea what hit them.

8

January

Collected Insights from the Packers vs. Eagles Week One Film:

I know a lot has changed from Week 1 till now, but there’s still stuff to glean from watching the Packers vs. Eagles film from that time and seeing some of the general tendencies of the teams. Here’s what I saw.
I hope the people who study film at 1265 Lombardi Ave. are seeing some of these things (certainly they’re massively more qualified to say if they are ‘things’ or not) and acting on them.

-Clay Matthews was unstoppable, as we know, but matched up against Brent Celek he was pretty much transcendent. Whether the Eagles’ No. 1 tight end was chipping him or assigned to block Matthews one-on-one, he trashed him nearly every time, including on the game-ending sack of Vick on fourth and one. If Capers can get Matthews matched up on Celek, look for him to make plays.

-Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton were awful against Trent Cole and Juqua Parker. Both Parker and Brandon Graham (since placed on IR) were able to blow past Tauscher with speed, or bull-rush him with power, or chop his hands down at will. Bulaga will have to be much better then Tauscher was in pass protection.

As for Clifton, Cole did a good job of getting his hands inside of Clifton’s, and partially as a result, Cole was able to power him back to Rodgers multiple times (two sacks). The Packers also had awful production running the football on the offense’s left side; both Colledge and Clifton were repeatedly stacked up and either Grant or Jackson would get creamed. The few times Jackson made any hay off the left side, late in the fourth quarter, were by ploughing through would-be tacklers on his own. When the Packers run left, don’t expect much. A called rollout to the left was also blown up.

They were able to run decently behind Josh Sitton. The inside handoff to Kuhn worked as a surprise play twice, although after a season of running it, the Eagles will be prepared this time for it.

Rodgers’ two interceptions were more of bad decisions-forcing it into triple coverage for Finley, an inexplicable wild throw-then any particular ability of the Eagles’ secondary. Asante Samuel jumped a run-pass option slant to Donald Driver and should’ve picked that off as well, but most of the time, Rodgers did a fine job of making the Eagles’ secondary look bad. In particular, when Greg Jennings matched up against Ellis Hobbs (since placed on IR), Rodgers beat him all over the field. The Eagles still haven’t named a cornerback to start opposite Samuel, from what I can tell.

10

September

2010 Packers Week One Preview: Fireworks in Philly?

As they embark on a journey they hope will end with a victory in Dallas and hoisting the Lombardi trophy, the Green Bay Packers open the 2010 season on the road staring at what looks like a mirror image of themselves just two short seasons ago.

A franchise quarterback traded, despite deep divisions in the fan base. A new starting quarterback that remains largely untested. A core of young receivers that have shown great promise, yet they haven’t truly had that breakout season.

The 2010 Green Bay Packers no doubt look at the 2010 Philadelphia Eagles the same way the looked at themselves in 2008.

Playing the role of Brett Favre is Donovan McNabb, who was traded to the Redskins this past offseason. The part of Aaron Rodgers would be played by new starting quarterback Kevin Kolb, drafted in the second round in 2007 out of Houston.

Both teams enter their first game, as the other 30 teams in the NFL do, with Super Bowl aspirations. That said, the Packers are widely regarded as one of (if not THE) favorite to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLV while the Eagles are expected to finish second or third in an always difficult NFC East.

A loss by either team in this game is not the end of the world. For the Packers however, starting off another season slowly would severely jeopardize any hopes of getting home field advantage in the playoffs. Getting off to a fast start was a strong point of emphasis for Mike McCarthy this offseason. For the Eagles, they have rallied from holes in the standings before so a loss would not cripple their hopes either.

Breaking down the Eagles

Obviously, all eyes are on Kolb and how he performs. He has drawn many comparisons to Rodgers. He is entering his first season as “the guy” and will no doubt be learning as he goes along. Teams will be bringing the pressure early and often against Kolb and the Packers will be no different. Is Kolb a strength or a hindrance to this team? It’s too soon to tell. Check back in November.

The biggest strength of the Eagles is their receiving corps. Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson are one the best young receiving duos in the league. Both are incredibly agile and very fast with good hands and should pose a difficult challenge for the Packers’ aging secondary.