25

March

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

The Packers signed free agent center Jeff Saturday this week to replace the departed Scott Wells. Yes, I said the Packers signed a free agent. A free agent that I actually heard of, nonetheless.

I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to react to this occasion.  It’s been a while since Ted Thompson blew the dust off the checkbook he uses to sign free agents from other teams and actually brought someone in. Fans from other teams often celebrate like they just won the Super Bowl after inking a free agent so….congrats fellow Packers fans?

Thompson obviously didn’t know how to react to the occasion, either. He was so confused and out of sorts about what he just did that he turned around and did it again, signing free agent defensive lineman Daniel Muir.

Now, Muir fits the mold of a Packers free-agent signing much more than Saturday. Muir is a journeyman that Thompson signed and released once before. He’ll have to fight hard just to make the team and anything he contributes during the season will be a bonus.

Saturday, on the other hand, will be expected to be what he’s been his whole career: A reliable pass-blocking center who quarterbacks the offensive line for one of the most explosive offenses in the league, often during no-huddle situations. I’m sure Saturday is up to the task, but he’s also going to be 37 years old when the season starts.

Yes, Saturday has started all 16 games in six of the past seven seasons, but the thing with 37-year-olds is that they’re, well…old. You never know when the body of a 37-year-old football player might say enough is enough, or their skill set diminishes almost overnight.

Saturday was a good signing. No arguments about that. But it’s still going to be business as usual for the Packers at the center position. Saturday will (hopefully) fill in nicely this season and possibly next, but the Packers will still likely draft a center in April, both to solidify the position long-term and provide insurance in case age gets the best of Saturday.

Tim Tebow, Pat Lee/Jarrett Bush, Anthony Hargrove

20

March

Tebowmania in Titletown? Just Say No!

Broncos QB Tim Tebow

Tebowmania in Wisconsin? Let's hope not.

If you are following me on Twitter, you know I’m a Tim Tebow guy.  I love the intangibles he brings to a team and the unique skill set he has.  Nothing makes me happier than someone going against the grain and succeed in doing so all while driving his detractors absolutely nuts.  He’s a great story, really.

That said, Tim Tebow has absolutely no business being on the Green Bay Packers roster.  Adam Schefter has tweeted a couple times about the Packers being a possible destination for Tebow now that the Denver Broncos have signed Peyton Manning.  I would implore GM Ted Thompson, however, to not even sniff around the former Gator star.

Why, you ask?

First off is the baggage that comes with Tebow.  Normally when someone talks about “baggage” in regards to a professional athlete, they’re talking about a checkered past or other skeletons in a guy’s closet.  This isn’t the case with Tebow.  Instead his “baggage” is an army of millions of blindly devoted Tebowmaniacs.

Who are these “Tebowmaniacs?” These are people ranging from fans to actual paid members of the mainstream sports media (I’m looking at you, Skip Bayless).  These people would descend upon Green Bay as well as Packer sites all over the internet.  The media coverage would be so intense it would border on making the Favre fiasco in 2008 look like a walk in the park.

There is no way Aaron Rodgers, the reigning league MVP, would be supplanted by Tebow but that doesn’t mean some of the Tebowmaniacs won’t start a push for it.  We’re talking about fans that have a level of passion for the guy like teen girls have for Justin Bieber.

Thompson hates media circuses and he has firsthand experience after the Summer of Favre.  The fact that Schefter mentioned the Packers shows that Thompson is perhaps slightly intrigued by adding Tebow to the roster as either the backup behind Rodgers or perhaps the third string behind Graham Harrell.

There’s also the small fact that Tebow is lousy as an NFL quarterback right now.  Yes, he’s shown flashes of brilliance but he is way too inconsistent and too poor of a pocket passer to be able to firmly grasp Mike McCarthy’s offense as a backup.  Matt Flynn at least had the fundamentals in line and McCarthy, Tom Clements and Joe Philbin were able to mold him into a decent quarterback.

20

March

Tebow Time Speculation Highlights Slow Offseason in Green Bay

Tim Tebow? That is what the offseason in Green Bay has come down to. Speculation that the Packers should give Tim Tebow a look either through trade or free agency if he is cut. Tebow would be brought in as a backup to Aaron Rodgers and compete with Graham Harrell for the second string spot.

Whether this move would be good, bad or whatever is not the point. The point is that Packers fans need to accept the quiet and eerie feeling that the team doesn’t even exist when free agency begins and huge contracts are being thrown around wildly (much like Tebow’s passes).

A visit by center Jeff Saturday, speculation of a move to get Tim Tebow and the latest, the re-signing of Jarrett Bush to a new, three-year contract.

The reaction of many fans is that Ted Thompson isn’t doing his job properly and that the Packers are letting their Super Bowl window run out. This team needs a better defense, that’s no secret. There needs to be an improved pass rush and new blood is certain to be brought in.

The Packers are a team that is set to compete once August comes around and quickly turns into September and the start of the 2012-2013 season. The core that remains is likely to not only compete next season, but for seasons ahead. Because of this, fans need to remember that it’s not exactly do-or-die for the Packers and there is no point in breaking the bank and going into cap-hell, just to get that much better this year.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Packers have been so quiet this off-season as it has been the M.O. since Ted Thompson took over. This is a team that has built through the draft and undrafted free agents. That’s not going to change.

That doesn’t mean Ted Thompson isn’t doing his job and completing shut down business in Green Bay. Besides attempting to re-sign Green Bay’s own, Thompson is surely doing his due diligence, calling free agents, but finding no value and that’s the key. For Thompson, building his team is all about finding value.

Thompson has found value in the contract of Jordy Nelson, many undrafted free agents like Tramon Williams and even Aaron Rodgers with the 24th pick in the 2005 draft.

4

January

NFL Playoff Preview. A Wild Weekend is in the Cards

New York Giant Victor Cruz

Victor Cruz will be a lot for the Atlanta Falcons to handle

The Packers will face the Giants, Falcons or Lions on Jan. 15 in a divisional round playoff game at Lambeau Field. All three teams gave the Packers everything they could handle in regular season games, and lost.

Looking ahead to the divisional round, I expect one of these three teams to again give the Packers a helluva game…and lose.

All three teams present unique challenges for the Packers, but none have enough talent in the secondary to keep the Packers out of the end zone often enough to win.

But before we can focus in on who the Packers will face next week, the wild card round needs to be played. Here is a closer look at those matchups:

Saturday, January 7

AFC: 3:30 PM

Cincinnati at Houston (NBC)

Breakdown: Those of you that are sickened by the lack of defense in modern football should watch this game. Bengals QB Andy Dalton struggled in the second half of the season while the Texans were forced to turn things over to third-string QB T.J. Yates. Yates got the best of Dalton in an earlier matchup, but I think Dalton gets revenge this time around. The Bengals will win and snap the NFL’s longest stretch without a playoff victory (1990, wild-card round).

NFC: 7 PM

Detroit at New Orleans (NBC)

Breakdown: If the Lions couldn’t beat the Packers reserves, how are they going to beat the Saints in a road playoff game? They probably won’t, but when you can score like the Lions can, you’re never out of it. Detroit fell behind 17-0 in the second quarter when these two teams met earlier. The Lions have a knack for winning after falling behind, but you can’t screw around against a team like the Saints. If the Lions don’t come out swinging right away, they’ll get knocked down for good. The Saints win this one.

Sunday, January 8

NFC: Noon

Atlanta at Giants (FOX)

Breakdown: Here’s how the Giants fared after the bye week: Miami (W), at New England (W), at San Francisco (L), Philadelphia (L), at New Orleans (L), Green Bay (L), at Dallas (W), Washington (W), Jets (W), Cowboys (W). That’s a brutal stretch and the Giants survived to make the playoffs. The Falcons have won six of their final nine games, but only one win came against a team with a winning record.

11

December

Packers vs. Raiders – Unfiltered Game Day Commentary and First Impressions: Green Bay 46, Oakland 16

Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Green Bay Packers vs. Oakland Raiders.

The Raiders are trying to stay in the playoff picture. The Packers are trying to clinch a first-round bye and home field advantage throughout the postseason.

Here we go.

Packers inactives: QB Graham Harrell, CB Davon House, RB James Starks, LB Desmond Bishop, G Josh Sitton, T Chad Clifton.

AJ Hawk is active, but not starting. No matter because D.J. Smith picks off Carson Palmer on the Raiders first possession. Smith was just kind of hanging out, enjoying the vibe at Lambeau Field, and Palmer threw it right to him.

Two plays later, Ryan Grant goes for a 47-yard TD. McCarthy needs to call more of those stretch types of runs for Grant. He’s still decent when he can pick his way through a defense, find a hole, and accelerate. He’s no longer effective just crashing into the line up the middle.

10 yards on a fullback end-around? C’mon defense.

A little more air on that bomb to Jennings and this game would be 14-0.

No matter, because Rodgers hits Ryan Taylor for a TD a few minutes later. Taylor needs to work a bit on his Lambeau Leap, however.

Eighteen different players have scored TDs this season.

Wow, if we were frustrated by the Packers drops last week, imagine how Raiders fans feel today.

Sherrod comes in at left tackle for a series and gets absolutely run over on a 3rd down pass. Mason Crosby FG makes it 17-0.

The Raiders put 12 defenders on the field but still can’t stop a Rodgers to Jordy Nelson touchdown. 24-0 good guys. Rodgers ties Brett Favre’s single-season record for TD passes at 39.

There’s really not much to say about this game. Domination from the Packers. The defense is tackling well and generating a bit of a pass rush. Lets see if the defense keeps it up.

I guess it’s hard for the defense not to look good when Palmer is throwing it right to your players. Woodson with the pick.

Oh man, Rodgers is sacked from behind by Aaron Curry and “fumbles.” Nasty looking hit there, Rodgers easily could’ve been hurt. The fumble call is overturned after a three hour replay review.

2

October

Green Bay Packers vs Denver Broncos–First Impressions UNFILTERED! Packers 49, Broncos 23

Photo courtesy JSOnline.com

The Green Bay Packers (3-0) face off against the Denver Broncos at Lambeau Field.

The Packers will look for their 10th consecutive win including playoffs, but hope to pull away from their opponent instead of having the game in doubt going late into the fourth quarter.

The Broncos meanwhile are looking to bounce back from another close loss.  Tim Tebow will finally see some action under center today according to reports from the Broncos and are hoping their passing offense will finally come to life.

Pregame Thoughts

Champ Bailey is out for the Broncos.  He likely would have seen some time against Jermichael Finley so this could possibly mean another big game for the Packers tight end.

Word out of Denver that Tim Tebow could see some red zone action today.  I have watched Tebow for a long time and you can’t underestimate his abilities in the red zone.  The Packers have a tendency to struggle against athletic quarterbacks, so this added wrinkle will be interesting to watch.

Very sunny day today at Lambeau. Beautiful day for football.

How many Cheeseheads will have their eyes on their phones checking the Brewers score? I kid. Sort of.

Derrick Sherrod will be the backup to Chad Clifton.  The Packers first round draft pick makes his NFL regular season debut.

Broncos down two WRs with Eddie Royal and Demaryius Thomas inactive.

Packers inactives include RB Ryan Grant, S Nick Collins, LB Jamari Lattimore, LB Frank Zombo, LB Brad Jones, T Bryan Bulaga, DE Mike Neal.

First Half

Glad we got Nantz and Simms. Worried we would have Dierdorf and Gumbel on TV.

Broncos go three and out on first series.  Solid breakup by Tramon Williams on the pass to Decker.

Wow, one punt and a Packers special teams penalty against Alex Green. SHOCKING!

Elvis Dumervil making his presence known pressing Rodgers on that rollout.

BOOM. Rodgers to Jennings for 43 yards.  Can anyone stop the Super Bowl MVP?

Rodgers could have had Jennings for a TD.

Packers go for it on 4th down deep in Denver territory and a pitch to Starks results in a turnover on downs.  Not sure I like the play all there.

TIM TEBOW SIGHTING!  And he is STUFFED.

2

October

Packers vs. Broncos Preview: 5 Things to Watch

Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers (3-0) and Denver Broncos (1-2) face off in Week 4 of the NFL season Sunday.

The basics 

When: 3:15 CST, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI

TV: CBS, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms with the call

Radio: 620 AM WTMJ (Milwaukee); Packers Radio Network; Siruis Satellite Radio (Ch. 91)

Series: Packers lead, 6-5-1 (Packers won last regular season meeting, 19-13 (OT), on Oct. 29, 2007 at Denver.)

Five things to watch

A New House on the right side

With Bryan Bulaga on the sidelines this week recovering from an ankle and knee injury, second-year tackle Marshall Newhouse will make his first career NFL start. Remember, this is a guy who was inactive for every game he was healthy during his rookie year. But when Bulaga went down in Chicago, the Packers offense didn’t back off or change the gameplan. As we’ve seen so many times in the past two season, the beat simply went on for the Packers after an injury at an important position.

Still, you’d have to expect the Broncos to test Newhouse early and often, and they have the horses to do it. Aaron Rodgers compared Elvis Dumervil—who is still questionable for Sunday—to pass rushers like Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney, and if Newhouse isn’t faced with him, then he’ll likely get rookie Von Miller. The Broncos’ No. 2 overall pick in April has impressed with his first step and natural pass rushing skills. Newhouse passed his first test last Sunday, but he gets a whole new challenge against the Broncos.

Rodgers vs. the blitz

Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has blitzed as much as any defensive coordinator in football through three games. That’s not surprising considering he came to Denver after serving three years under Gregg Williams in New Orleans as the secondary coach, but it’ll be interesting to see how Allen attacks the Packers offense. Williams went after Aaron Rodgers early in Week 1, and the Packers quarterback responded with three first quarter touchdown passes and a 158.3 rating after 15 minutes of football.

That isn’t surprising either, as Rodgers has been the best passer in the NFL against the blitz since taking over in 2008. He can recognize blitz looks in his pre-snap reads and will hit the hot appropriate hot read before the blitz gets home. Will Allen trust the stat sheet and tone down his blitzes? Or will he stick to what he’s shown through three weeks?