13

January

McCarthy Shouldn’t Ignore Stats

Mike McCarthy

McCarthy says some head-scratching things at times, like last week when he said “stats are for losers”.

This past week, Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy gave his season-ending press conference.  I detailed some of his responses here.  One comment that he made still resonates with me.  When asked if he was going to look at the team’s injury situation and look into why so many Packers players were lost due to injury, part of McCarthy’s answer was that ”stats are for losers.”  Now, in fairness, that wasn’t the entire response.

McCarthy went on to add that when one looks too far into stats, it can build false confidences and negatives.  He said they need to look beyond just the numbers to really determine what is going on.

That’s great and all and I know he doesn’t particularly enjoy talking to the media and especially when answering questions about some of the negative things that are going on.  I get the whole “Pittsburgh macho” thing that he’s going for the “we have it under control and you don’t know what’s really going on here” mantra.  But perhaps McCarthy forgets that we all own televisions or are sitting in the stands?  The fact of the matter is that the numbers DO matter.

If you ask any good CEO to evaluate a company’s health and describe what is going on, they’ll likely use stats.  Numbers are important.  They don’t tell the entire story but they are one of the primary illustrators of what is happening.  Many times I’ll ask someone what happened in a game and they’ll say “the box score doesn’t tell the whole story”.  Sure, it doesn’t measure things like energy level, enthusiasm or my personal favorite: toughness.  But more often than not, something can be drawn from the numerical recap.

I’m talking about more than just the Packers injury situation, although that is certainly something that the Packers need to look into.  15 players ended up on season-ending injured reserve this season and they did use the IR-Designated for return option on receiver Randall Cobb.  I get that football is a physical sport and that not all injuries are preventable.  Still and far too often, the Packers are seeing their players drop in bunches.  Is it amplified by the lack of depth behind the key players getting hurt or are there simply too many of them?  As I have said before, I am not sure but if you ask any consultant for their opinion on the matter, the first thing they’re going to look is. . the stats.

29

November

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Lions 40, Packers 10

Morgan Burnett had a pretty sweet celebration. And the Packers put on a pretty ugly show.

Morgan Burnett had a pretty sweet celebration. And the Packers put on a pretty ugly show.

Aaron Rodgers may have a shot to play next week. And the fact that the Packers may have just played their last game without their quarterback may be the only positive takeaway from the team’s Thanksgiving debacle.

It’s hard to remember, but at one point this season, the Packers were 5-2 with what looked like a favorable upcoming schedule. One fractured collarbone later, and the Packers are 5-6-1 coming off what T.J.Lang called, “Probably the worst (expletive) offensive game in the history of the (expletive) Packers.”

With Aaron Rodgers, the Packers would have had more than seven first downs. They would have possessed the ball for more than 19 minutes. But I’m not sure if Rodgers would have helped tackle, confuse or even provide resistance to the Lions offense.

Still, if No. 12 is back and able to play Dec. 8 against the Atlanta Falcons, they have a chance. It’s hard to believe, but the Lions and Bears are both capable of losing two more games, and the Rodgers-led Packers could win their last four. If that’s the case, the Packers win the division.

After an atrocious showing like Thursday’s, it’s hard to find positives. Without question, the Packers’ postseason hopes are waning and there really weren’t any positives to take away from the Packers’ produce in Detroit.

But if there’ ever been a reason to be optimistic about an improved offense since Rodgers went down, it’s now. Simply because he might be back.

Thursday was ugly. So this is going to be brief.

Game Balls

Morgan Burnett

The Packers’ lone game ball goes to Morgan Burnett, solely because of his Funky Chicken celebration. Burnett didn’t play particularly well, but he had a pair of fumble recoveries and a sick touchdown dance. Way to go, Morgan. Nicely done.

Lame Calls

Offense

The Packers had 126 total yards and scored three points. The writing was on the wall when Matt Flynn looked past a wide open Andrew Quarless and tried to force the ball to Jordy Nelson–needless to say, the pass was incomplete. Detroit continually stacked the box to shut down Eddie Lacy–and they did, to the tune of 16 yards on 10 carries–and Flynn was simply unable to take advantage of it. It was the worst offensive showing I’ve seen in a NFL game a long, long time. But things weren’t all bad for the Packers offense. At least they had seven first downs.

27

October

Packers vs. Vikings: Keys To The Game

Christian Ponder

Ponder will step in for last week’s Vikings starting quarterback Josh Freeman. The Vikings have started three different quarterbacks so far this season.

The Green Bay Packers bring their three-game winning streak into Mall of America Field to face the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night football.  Maybe it’s just the old school in me that “Mall of America Field” doesn’t roll easily off the tongue.  It’s the Metrodome, the Humpty Dome, The Dome or in some instances, “Hell”, right?

Either way, this is the last time that the Packers will face the Vikings in that building.  The plan, after this season, is for Minnesota to play their home games at TCF Stadium for two years while their new stadium is expected to be built in the same spot that the Dome currently sits.

The Vikings have to be hoping that a change in venue might lead to some improvement in their play.  They currently sit at a disappointing 1-5 and just handed the previously-winless New York Giants their first win of the season this past Monday night.

While this has the makings of an easier game for the Packers, divisional matchups always carry an added element of competitiveness and especially on the road.  Let’s look at the keys for Green Bay to leave Minnesota with the win that many are expecting for them.

Fast Start, Dictate the Tempo

The Vikings have struggled in nearly every area so far this season.  They have trotted out three different starting quarterbacks and have not been able to establish any type of offensive rhythm at all.  Defensively, they have not been much better and they are now without safety Harrison Smith, who is dealing with a toe injury.  If there is one area of deficiency that can most disastrous against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, it’s the secondary.

While the Packers will continue to showcase their more physical side and establish the run, Rodgers should be looking for the deep ball early on.  Rodgers is one of the league leaders in completed passes over 25 yards from scrimmage.  While Green Bay isn’t likely to find their 2011 stroke, they have had more success in pushing the ball downfield over their past three games.  A quick, early strike and a quick score can set the tone and put the Vikings on their heels right away.

30

August

Packers News: Kickalicious works out for Green Bay

Havard Rugland was in Green Bay for a workout on Friday morning, according to his Twitter account.

Havard Rugland was in Green Bay for a workout on Friday morning, according to his Twitter account.

According to Havard Rugland’s official Twitter account, the Green Bay Packers worked out the YouTube sensation known as “Kickalicious” on Friday morning.

Rugland spent the summer as a member of the Detroit Lions, but he was cut after being beaten out by established veteran David Akers. Akers, 38, will fill in for 43-year-old Jason Hanson who recently retired after 21 seasons in the NFL.

The workout seems surprising, considering the team just restructured kicker Mason Crosby’s contract this week. After bringing in Giorgio Tavecchio and Zach Ramirez to challenge Crosby for the job, the Packers turned to financial motivation for their placekicker.

The team bringing Rugland in for a workout could mean trouble for Crosby, especially if the Packers ever have an opportunity to punt the ball through the uprights from 90 yards away. Or kick a ball to a dude standing in a boat on the Fox River.

In all likelihood, the Packers are likely seeing what else is on the free-agent market in case Crosby struggles to start the 2013 season. It’s highly unlikely that the team would replace Crosby after restructuring to an incentive-based deal Thursday.

Through four preseason games, Crosby was a perfect 6-for-6, including a long of 48 yards. After a thoroughly unimpressive Family Night scrimmage, Crosby separated himself from Tavecchio and Ramirez late in training camp.

For now, it would be a surprise if anyone not named Crosby was the kicker to start the season. But again, the Packers appear to be preparing themselves for a backup plan should Crosby falter early in the season.

In three preseason games with the Lions, Kickalicious was three-for-three on field goals with a long of 50 yards. He also converted both of his extra point attempts.

One additional interesting fact: Every NFL team is allowed to add one international player to their practice squad, as a ninth member. However, that international player can not be signed to an NFL contract with any team while on a practice squad. here are the full rules:

Section 1. Practice Squads:

  • (a) The League may elect in any League Year in accordance with this Article to establish Practice Squads not to exceed eight (8) players per Club. The League’s election in any one season shall not determine or affect its election in any subsequent season.
30

August

Packers News: Team to work out Joe McKnight

Joe McKnight will work out for the Packers on Saturday morning.

Joe McKnight will work out for the Packers on Saturday morning.

Running back Joe McKnight, formerly of the New York Jets, announced via Twitter that he is headed to Green Bay.

(UPDATE: According to ProFootballTalk, citing multiple sources, McKnight is only in Green Bay for a tryout.)

McKnight, 25, was cut during the 75-man reduction last week, which makes the timing of the signing a little odd.  McKnight has been the backup running back and primary kick returner for the Jets since 2010 after being drafted in the 4th round by New York.  Overall, he’s returned nine punts with a 9.9 yard average (long of 25 yards) and 76 kick off returns with a 29.0 yard average (long of 107 yards).

One possible explanation for the Jets decision to cut McKnight have been a lingering concussion injury that McKnight suffered this offseason and a bizarre off-the-field incident involving twitter and the media.

As no corresponding moves or cuts have been made by the Packers as they work to get to the 53 man roster limit, it will be surprising to see how the Packers work McKnight unto their roster.  Perhaps most in danger of losing their spots are back up running backs James Starks, Alex Green and kick returner/wide receiver Jeremy Ross.

Rookie running back Johnathan Franklin might also be in danger of being cut, but that’s less likely considering his 4th-round draft status during the last draft.  Either way it’s a telling piece of information; the Packers are likely not happy with either their running back and/or their returner situation and are looking at other options.

This might be Thompson is just keeping his emergency list up to date or might be an indication that he’s not all that happy at running back and/or returner.

——————

Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

——————

29

August

Talking to Tavecchio: Interview with Giorgio on Being Cut by the Packers

Giorgio Tavecchio talks about being cut by the Packers

Giorgio Tavecchio talks about being cut by the Packers

Giorgio Tavecchio speaks to Italian reporter Giovanni Marino, writer/blogger at Republicca.it about being cut by the Packers and what the future holds for him. Once again, only at ALLGBP.com, we translate this for you into English (free of charge, of course). You can find the original interview in Italian here.

The Interview:

NFL, Giorgio Tavecchio and hope for the Packers still burns.

It’s over. Indeed. Maybe. But not quite. You are cut, you’re out. But they may call you. AT any moment. Or never.

It would surely drive you mad, if you were directly involved in listening to the chaotic swirl of words and ability related to making an NFL roster. It touches all who engage in the quest to be part of the select group  of super athletes who will compete in the National football league.

And that is exactly what Giorgio Tavecchio, the man from Milan, is experiencing is experiencing after five months of genuine competition with the incumbent kicker kicker of the Green Bay Packers, Mason Crosby. The Italian American did pretty well by showing a better overall percentage over Crosby, but in the end, the coaching staff chose the veteran.

Technically, Giorgio, was cut. But never like this with so many perplexities. And not just from the Packer fans, which Tavecchio conquered with his dedication, his respect for others, his skills and his desire to always improve, but also of the coach, which, in essence hinted not to exclude the possibility of Tavecchio returning. It depends at this point, only on the performance of Crosby. If Crosby’s play does not instill confidence in the coaching staff, Tavecchio could return to the team.

These are complicated  days for Tavecchio, it would be for anyone who pursues a dream destination, and sees the finish line without being able to cut through it. Giorgio, however, once again, does not hide, and as he had previously promised (“I will always be ready to share with my Italian supporters every step of my experience in this world”) he speaks to  ”Playbook” with his usual clarity and authenticity.

Giovanni:  Georgio, compared to your experience with the San Francisco 49ers, you did much better. In kicking percentages, you actually beat Crosby. Still you didn’t get it done. Make a self-criticism: where do you think you went wrong?

26

August

Packers News: Tavecchio released, team down to two kickers

Ciao, Giorgio. The Packers have cut ties with Tavecchio.

Ciao, Giorgio. The Packers have cut ties with Tavecchio.

Just one day after signing street free agent Zach Ramirez, the Green Bay Packers have released kicker Giorgio Tavecchio.

Incumbent kicker Mason Crosby has, again, had an up-and-down, left-and-right summer, and it seems the Packers are determined to provide some competition for Crosby all the way up to the regular season. Still, despite his inconsistency, it looks like the job is Crosby’s to lose.

Crosby certainly had a rough season in 2012, missing 12 of 33 regular-season field goal attempts. But believe it or not, his challenger this summer, Tavecchio, has missed kicks in his life, as well. As a senior at California, Tavecchio failed to connect on six extra points.

Now, it’s down to Crosby and Ramirez–another Internet-sensation-turned-NFL-kicker-hopeful. The Detroit Lions signed Havard “Kickalicious” Rugland to compete with David Akers this summer, and the Packers turn to Ramirez–a young kicker with some pretty impressive YouTube highlights.

Obviously, kicking field goals with the wind at your back in an empty stadium in front of one person holding a camera is much different than kicking in front of 80,000 in a packed NFL stadium. But we’ll see how this kicking competition shakes itself out.

During the Family Night Scrimmage, Tavecchio got the better of Crosby, connecting on five of six field goal attempts. Crosby, on the other hand, had an awful night, missing four of six.

At that point, just a week into training camp, Twitter exploded with fans calling for Crosby’s release. However, due to the Tavecchio’s limitations in terms of leg strength, the concept of Crosby being cut in favor of Tavecchio seemed farfetched–at least to me.

I’m not saying Crosby is God’s gift to kicking field goals, but if he’s going to be beaten out for the job, it wasn’t going to be by Tavecchio. You can’t make fun of me for that prediction; however, feel free to point and laugh at my suggestion that Graham Harrell would be a “pleasant surprise” this summer.

In my opinion, Crosby will win the job. He’ll be the Week 1 kicker, although it wouldn’t at all be surprising if the Packers made a change in the regular season, should Crosby’s struggles continue.