McCarthy: Quarless Out for Season, Optimistic on Woodson for Sunday

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy confirmed on Monday that tight end Andrew Quarless would be lost for the rest of the season due to a “significant” knee injury. Quarless was hurt on a kickoff in the second half on a horrific looking sequence that saw the second-year tight end’s knee buckle underneath him. He’ll have surgery in the upcoming weeks.

The injury is a tough break for Quarless, who was coming into his own as the Packers primary run blocking tight end this season. Quarless was also becoming a core cog in the Packers special teams coverage. To replace him, the Packers will likely lean more on Tom Crabtree in blocking sets and also rookies D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor.

There was a silver lining Monday, as McCarthy said that the medical staff felt good about Charles Woodson’s status for this week after suffering a concussion in the second half Sunday. Woodson banged helmets with Ahmad Bradshaw in the flats and didn’t return. An independent neurologist will still have to evaluate and clear Woodson for practice and game participation, but that’s an encouraging sign for the Packers’ upcoming game with the Oakland Raiders this Sunday.

James Starks was the last of the injury news, and McCarthy said that his ankle injury wasn’t serious or long-term. They need to get him healthy—Starks has come out in three straight games—but he could still play on Sunday. McCarthy said they’ll make a decision on Starks by Wednesday.

Other highlights from McCarthy’s press conference:

  • Announcement of winning the division title was made on the plane ride home. McCarthy said no body even blinked when the announcement was made. Winning the division was just a step towards a bigger goal.
  • Packers had two plays on defense where there were communication breakdowns.
  • Cobb was instructed to stay in the end zone on final kickoff because McCarthy wanted all 58 seconds and to start at least at the 20-yard-line on the final drive.
  • The final drive was as clean a 2-minute drive as he’s been a part of. Aaron did a great job on route adjustments on both of the first two completions. Last drive was managed well, McCarthy said.
  • McCarthy said he’s comfortable playing Jordy Nelson on offense and special teams.
  • Money quote of the presser: “We’re keeping our foot on the gas, playing to win games.”


Packers’ Undefeated Regular Season Coming into Focus

Before the Green Bay Packers 27-15 win over the Detroit Lions, dialogue surrounding a 16-0 regular season was nothing more than anticipative thinking. Odds say that Green Bay would slip up at some point, and a Thanksgiving game in Detroit represented the contest that most thought would be the one.

But after watching the Packers dismantle the up-and-coming Lions on national television, the possibility of this team getting through the regular season unscathed has become more than fantasy.

In fact, it might be a bigger shock now if the Packers don’t head into the playoffs with the NFL’s third perfect regular season in history.

Let’s take a look at the Packers final five games to see where a potential ‘L’ could come from.

Dec. 4, at New York Giants

Why the Giants could win: Like the Lions, New York theoretically has the defensive line to pressure Aaron Rodgers without bringing extra guys on the blitz. On offense, Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw (who should be back from injury) represent a tough running back tandem, and Green Bay has had trouble tackling bigger backs. Quarterback Eli Manning is having a career year statistically.

Why the Packers will win: You don’t have to go back far to find the Packers’ 45-17 drubbing of the Giants in 2010. In fact, that win kicked off the Packers current 16-game winning streak. Rodgers threw for over 400 yards in that contest and the Packers offensive line contained the Giants’ front four.

Manning was a turnover machine last season and can still be counted on to give it away, especially against a Packers defense that leads the NFL in interceptions. The schedule also shapes up nicely for the Packers. New York will be coming off a Monday night beat down in New Orleans and have an important trip to Dallas following the Packers visit. The Packers, on the other hand, have a mini-bye week (10 days) to get healthy and prepare to take on the Giants.

Dec. 11, Oakland Raiders

Why the Raiders could win: The addition of Carson Palmer has helped stabilize an offense that possesses some explosive weapons. There is plenty of speed on the edges with receivers Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford and Darius Heyward-Bey. In Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, the Raiders’ No. 3 ranked rushing offense features one of the top 1-2 punches in the NFL. Oakland is currently 4-1 on the road in 2011.



Playing Devil’s Advocate: Did the Packers sell Brett Favre for too little?

Ah the Raiders, no one can blame them for not being true to themselves; recently the Raiders just pulled off perhaps one of the most Raider-esqe moves of all time by giving up a 2012 1st round draft pick plus a conditional 2nd round pick in 2013 (which can become a 1st round pick should the Raiders win a playoff game this year) for disgruntled Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer.

Personally, I can’t imagine how this works out in the favor for the Raiders.  As a point of comparison the Denver Broncos received two first round picks from the Chicago Bears for quarterback Jay Cutler; the only difference was that Cutler was entering the prime of his career, didn’t have a significant injury history and was playing pretty effectively.

Anyways, apparently the going rate for a franchise quarterback is 2 first round draft picks and so that got me wondering, would it have been possible for the Packers to steal 2 1st rounder picks from some hapless team?

Just as a little recap, in the offseason of 2008, it became clear that Packers management was getting a little fed up with Favre’s constant retirement antics and constant criticism of management philosophy (understandably as Favre wanted the Packers to get him more weapons while he was still playing but the Packers were trying to get more weapons for the future).  In a bit of a power play, Favre retired and when it became obvious that the Packers were willing to move on to Aaron Rodgers, Favre un-retired and tried to force his way back into the lineup.  Favre and the Packers had a standoff and in the end, the Packers sided with Rodgers and Favre was traded to the Jets for what became a 3rd round draft pick.

Just to play devil’s advocate, if the Packers had held onto Favre’s contract there’s a good chance that they could have traded him for more during the season to some team like the Patriots.  The Patriots took a big hit during week 1 of the 2008 season when they lost all-pro quarterback Tom Brady for the year and had to rely on an unknown and unproven backup quarterback who had last started in high school.  Luckily for the Patriots, Matt Cassel managed to keep the team afloat that year but if he had tanked, the Patriots might have been forced to look for a trade and Favre would have probably been one of the best quarterbacks available at the time.  Add to that Favre’s infatuation with wide receiver Randy Moss, who just so happened to be playing for the Patriots at the time and you have to think that something could have happened.