27

August

Packers Over/Under Scenarios: Touchdowns, Contracts and Kickers

Packers WR James Jones says you better take the over on his line of 11 TDs this season.

Forget the over/under odds that Vegas sets for NFL betting. I’m opening a sports book that only accepts bets involving the Green Bay Packers.

Maybe I’ll name my joint the Acme Swindling Company. Or Hand-Over-All-Your-Green-and-Gold-to Me Inc. Either way, we’re going to have a good time — win lose or draw.

Below are some over/under scenarios involving the 2013 Packers. Let me know which side you’d wager on in the comments section.

(If you want to actually wager on these odds, have your people contact my people. And you better pay up if you lose. I’m going to be a father soon and I don’t want to lose valuable time with my son because I’m busting kneecaps and trying to collect from you deadbeats.)

James Jones: 11 touchdowns
It’s always difficult to predict touchdowns from year to year. A lot of it depends on opportunity and a little bit of luck. Last season, Calvin Johnson had 2,000 receiving yards but – thanks in large part to getting tackled at the 1-yard line five times – only five touchdowns, . Injuries to Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson gave Jones an opportunity last season. He seized his larger role in the offense and broke out with 14 touchdowns. Jones’ size and strength make him a nice target in the red zone, so I’m going to say he exceeds 11 touchdowns. It’d be quite the feat to reach 14 TDs again, but you never know.

Aaron Rodgers: 4,500 yards
Rodgers needed only 15 games to exceed 4,600 passing yards in his 2011 MVP season. Last season he “dipped” to 4,300 yards in 16 games. The Packers wide receiving corp and offensive line is already banged up and the season hasn’t even started yet. There also might be a renewed emphasis on running the ball with Eddie Lacy, so I’m going to say Rodgers stays under 4,500 passing yards — but not by much.

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.

25

May

Interview With New Packers Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio

Packers Giorgio Tavecchio

Forza Tavecchio!

Here’s an interview with Packers kicker Giorgio Tavecchio I’m pretty sure you haven’t read – unless you’re a Packers fan in Italy.  Journalist  Giovanni Marino, a fan of American football from the Italian newspaper site La Repubblica, had a conversation with Giorgio recently, to talk about his early experiences as a Green Bay Packer.

As an added bonus, I’m going to translate it into English for you! Isn’t that nice?

You won’t have to go use Google translate, which composed a bunch of strange sounding English sentences when I gave it a try on the original article on LaRepublica.it. If you can read Italian, by all means, read it there.

Here goes:

The second part of Giorgio Tavecchio’s dream has just begun. “And I don’t want to wake up,” he jokes with his usual good humor and an admirable calmness. The young Italian is in Green Bay, and has just started a few days of  long preseason workouts, which will prove decisive for his future. He is looking to steal the spot of Mason Crosby, Packers kicker and owner of  a disappointing season last year. A chance at a spot in the NFL is so close, yet still so far away for the young hopeful from Milan. “My experience in San Francisco was important, I know what to do and I will. Then we will see what will happen,” he says with hope but with a great sense of realism. Here is the story of his early days with the most successful team in the United States.

Chatting with Aaron Rodgers, the tranquil champion who loves to kid around:

In Green Bay, Tavecchio has found a renowned college compatriot: Aaron Rodgers, just a few days after he became the new record holder of the largest contract in NFL history. Having both played at Cal, although in different years,  has  triggered an unlikely, but not negligible kinship (Aaron is one of the best quarterbacks ever and above all is the undisputed leader of GB). “Rodgers, in addition to being a champion, but this is known, is really a quiet person like maybe you never thought. Aaron is an absolute star, and yet his actions do not convey any of this. You can feel his leadership in the team, but at the same time, also feel that he exercises that leadership with a human and professional quality, never imposing himself  on anyone with arrogance,” says Giorgio. “I spoke with him and we speak often about Cal coach Tedford and we both greatly appreciate and cherish fondly the experiences of those college times. Aaron encourages me and this makes me proud.  He also loves to joke around, for example the other day he turned me around because I looked all uncoordinated during a  stretching exercise. ”

6

August

Packers Family Night Faux Pas: Messing with Mason Crosby

Packers Kicker Mason Crosby

Why?

Packers kicker Mason Crosby was having a near-perfect camp. Everything was going swimmingly. I haven’t had to write about him or even so much as mention his name the past week. (Which is the way I like it).

Then the Packers decided to mess with a good thing on Family Night.

Under the guise of “getting used to the new stadium” (with the new south end zone construction), the Packers took the risk of overworking Crosby and messing up his mechanics with way too many 60 yard field goal attempts (four in a row at the end).

Crosby attempted eight straight field goals at the end of practice. here’s how they went:

37yds.   miss

37yds.   miss

53yds.   miss

56yds.   make

60yds.   miss

60yds.   make

62yds.   miss

65yds.   miss

My first question is why? Everyone (coaches, players and fans alike) knows that Crosby has more than enough leg to make long field goals. That has never been brought into question, even by this former critic of Crosby. Accuracy is another matter, of course. Over the course of his career, Crosby has hit 50% of field goal attempts over 50 yards. That’s not awful, nor is it great, but I’m not here to talk about that.

My purpose here is to ask why would the Packers risk Crosby getting hurt or messing up his mechanics by “showing off” in front of the home crowd? Having Crosby expend the extra energy needed to take those long kicks at a meaningless scrimmage is just dumb.   Once he made that 60 yard kick, wouldn’t it have made sense to end his night right then and there? Not to mention allowing Crosby to finish the night on a positive note, a night when he missed way too many kicks after being Mr. Automatic in camp.

My last question is, who’s idea was this? Was this something McCarthy or Slocum had planned? Was it something Crosby did spontaneously and no one stepped up to stop him? Either way, I didn’t like it at all and I don’t think it was a smart thing to do. The Packers need to protect an important asset like <cough> Mason Crosby <cough>.

Anyone else feel the same way?

 

6

December

Mason Crosby to Jersey Al: In Your Face!

Mason Crosby Game Winning Field Goal Against the Giants

Mason Crosby kicked a walk-off field goal for the Packers on Sunday. It happened right in front of me, as the picture to the right (which I took) will attest.

Crosby jogged onto the field, glanced over at me in the second row, set himself, calmly hit the game-winning field goal and then turned to give me a raucous two handed middle-finger salute.

Of course, it didn’t really happen that way, but symbolically, it might as well have.

Anyone who reads this blog knows or has heard me on CheeseheadRadio should know that I haven’t been the biggest of Crosby fans. For the uninitiated, here’s a brief history of my writings on the subject of Crosby:

August 2, 2009: I call for some training camp competition for Crosby.

March 2010: I railed about Crosby doubling his salary by reaching what must have been some fluff incentives after a bad 2009 season.

March 17, 2011: I did give Crosby a B grade for the 2010 season, mainly on his performance over the Packers’ Super Bowl run.

August 4, 2011: Here I mocked Crosby a bit  for being allowed to retake a “game winning” kick in practice with no defense.

August 8, 2011: I still believe I did a very good job debunking some Crosby myths by presenting the facts as they were before this season.

I really have nothing against the guy, but his stats during the first 4 years of his career were no more than average to below-average, as compared to other NFL kickers (And don’t bother with the cold weather excuses – read the myths article).

I just have felt the need to point out  the reality of the situation when other fans would blindly state that Crosby was a very good kicker without having any facts to back it up.

But all along, I’ve never disliked the guy. In fact, I’ve heard he’s a really good guy from those who have met him. I just wanted his performance to match his compensation and his de-facto uncontested spot on the team. I’m a Packers fan. I want EVERY packers player to excel, realistic or not.

8

August

Debunking the Myths About Green Bay Packers Kicker Mason Crosby

Green Bay Packers Kicker Mason CrosbyMason Crosby is a below-average NFL kicker. If you disagree, please allow me to prove it to you.

I really didn’t want to write about Mason Crosby again. Most of you know how I feel and I’ve handled the topic before. I’ve railed on the Packers coddling of Crosby. I’ve presented some stats that questioned Crosby being rewarded with a 100% raise in 201o.

Yet, some of you still believe (or have convinced yourselves) that the Packers are lucky to have Crosby. You have a ready set of excuses.

  • He kicks in the cold weather.
  • He’s has to kick a lot of long field goals.
  • He went five for six during the Packers playoff run.
  • He does a great job with kickoffs.
  • He’s not great, but he’s an above-average NFL kicker.
  • There is nobody available that would be any better.

The first three of those statements are true but are not valid excuses, as I will show. The last three items are just outright untrue. If you believe them, you also believe in unicorns and pots of gold at the end of rainbows. I am going to dispel all of these myths with something that can not be disputed – cold hard facts.

I don’t dislike Mason Crosby – really, I don’t. I even gave him a “B” in our end-of-year player evaluations for 2010 (mostly because of his performance during the playoff run). But what I do dislike is the plethora of fans who pay no attention to the facts. They create their own reality and support their stance with throw-away one liners that have little substance.

So, consider this my “Mason Manifesto.” I am going to present to you the real facts and debunk each of those myths mentioned above.

First, some background facts:

Crosby’s overall field goal percentages from High School to the NFL:

HS Y4       63.6%
COL Y1    77.8%
COL Y2    82.6%
COL Y3    75.0%
COL Y4    67.9%
NFL Y1    79.5%
NFL Y2    79.4%
NFL Y3    75.0%
NFL Y4    78.6%

In the last four years, here’s how many NFL kickers (with 20 or more attempts) had a FG% of 80% or higher and where Crosby ranked overall.

17

March

Green Bay Packers 2010 Player Evaluations – Kickers – Mason Crosby

1) Introduction: The 2010 season would be Mason Crosby’s fourth as a Packer.  Coming off of a disappointing 2009, where Crosby regressed a bit rather than improved, he had some work to do to justify the incentive clause he earned, doubling his salary.

For anyone who doesn’t know, I haven’t been the biggest fan of Mason Crosby. If I’m an NFL coach, my placekicker needs to at least hit 80% of his attempts, which Crosby has never done. I’ve ranted about what I perceive as the unwarranted confidence the Packers show in Crosby ( Mason Crosby: Mediocrity Rewarded). I’ve lampooned Crosby (Mason Crosby Finds the Answer to His Problems).  But despite all of this, I promise to try to stay objective in this evaluation.

2) Profile

Mason Walker Crosby

Position: K
Height: 6-1    Weight: 212 lbs.

Born: September 3, 1984 in Lubbock, TX
College: Colorado (school history)    (Crosby college stats)
Drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 6th round (194th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft.

3) Expectations coming into the season for that player: Be a more consistent kicker. The Packers brought no other kickers into camp,  allowing Crosby to totally focus on correcting his right hashmark and confidence  issues from 2009.  Mike McCarthy expressed full confidence that Crosby would be “just fine” and expected as much.

4) Player’s highlights/lowlights: Crosby came out on fire in the Packers’ first game against the Eagles. He hit field goals of 49 and 56 yards, had 3 PATs and was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. His proudest moment was surely in the Super Bowl, hitting a 23-yard field goal with 2:07 remaining for the Packers’ final points.  His biggest disappointment was probably hitting the upright with seven seconds left and a chance to win the game versus the Redskins. It was a 53 yarder with plenty of distance, and his second miss on the day.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Average. Crosby did not have many game-winning opportunities in 2010. He was called upon to salvage three points when the Packers offense sputtered, and did so at 78.6% average, an improvement over 2009′s 75%, but still below the 80% magic number.