13

May

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

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Last week I used this space to discuss dead wrestlers, concussions and the suicide of Junior Seau. It was some heavy and serious stuff, so serious that I didn’t have the will to keep the post going and talk about Packers news.

To make up for it, this edition of Surviving Sunday will be nothing but Packers.

Enjoy.

Rookie Camp
All eight Packers draft picks signed contracts and are participating in this weekend’s rookie camp. From a fan’s perspective, rookie camps and mini camps are a nice reminder that football season is getting closer, but that’s about it. It’s impossible for us outsiders to glean too much from offseason camps. The quotes from coaches are the same every year. Everybody looks great. Everybody is in amazing shape. Everybody looks real focused. Everybody just wants to help the team win. Yawn……

Alex Green and Ryan Grant
Alex Green wants to return by training camp according to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. If he’s putting in the effort and work necessary to make it happen, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Green make it back for camp. It sounds like Adrian Peterson has a legit shot at playing in week one after ripping up his knee at the end of last season. Obviously, no two knee injuries are the same, but if Peterson can return that quickly, I like Green’s chances of being ready to go by August.

Meanwhile, Ryan Grant remains unsigned and at least two prominent Packers bloggers have a feeling he’ll be back with the Packers. I’m in wait and see mode with Grant. No bold predictions from me. Talent-wise, I think Ted Thompson is fine with Green, James Starks and Brandon Saine. But he’s probably uncertain if Green and Starks can play a full 16 games.

Vikings Get Stadium
 The Vikings are staying in Minnesota, which is good news for the Packers for multiple reasons. 1) Keeping the Vikings in the NFC North means a guaranteed 60 wins for the Packers over the next 30 years; 2) We can point and laugh at people like this for the next 30 years; and 3) the stadium deal gave us this amazing .gif.

Finishing Notes

22

April

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

 

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Surviving Sundays With no Packers Football

If you missed the three-hour ESPN special unveiling the NFL schedule, congratulations. I was open minded enough to give it a shot, but only managed to last about five minutes before trying to leap through my living-room window.

 

Three hours to unveil the NFL schedule?! I allow the NFL and the Green Bay Packers to monopolize my life from September through January. I can’t let them do the same in April.

 

Besides, why watch an ESPN anchor read off a cue card and a bumbling former player or two unveil the schedule in Bristol, CT, when you could just visit ALLGBP.com and find out all you need to know? Here’s a link to the NFL schedule, and below are some random thoughts on the portion of the schedule that involves the greatest franchise in the history of sports, the Packers.

 

  • I was hoping the Packers would play the Giants in the NFL’s Wednesday kickoff game. I didn’t care about exacting revenge for the playoff loss, but it would’ve been nice for the Packers to get 10 days off after the season opener. It turns out the Packers will get 10 days off early in the season, but it comes after playing the Bears on Thursday night in week two.
  • I’m mad that the Packers don’t have an early October home game. Those first three weeks in October are perfect for football at Lambeau.
  • The Packers should be shooting for 7-2 by the bye week. That’s assuming they’ll go 2-2 against San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans and Houston. I wouldn’t be surprised if they go into the bye 9-0 or 8-1 (I think San Francisco comes back down to earth a little), but 7-2 would be fine.
  • The Packers generally have at least one December clunker where they lose to a bad team. The Vikings might be the bad team that beats the Packers this season. Minnesota will have two chances, the first on Dec. 2 at Lambeau and in the finale on Dec. 30. Perhaps it’ll come on Dec. 30 when the Packers are resting starters (how’s that for confidence?).
  • Speaking of that Dec. 30 game, what if it’s the Vikings’ final game in Minnesota? Do Packers and Vikings fans hug after the game and wish each other well? Do Vikings fans become Packers fans? Do Packers fans allow Vikings fans to become Packers fans? Do Packers fans continue to hate the Vikings even if they’re in Los Angeles? So many questions…
15

April

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

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

I’m sitting in the press box at Target Field in Minneapolis right now, getting ready to cover the Rangers vs. Twins game and Yu Darvish’s second career start.

I guess now is as good a time as any to bring Packers fans up to speed on the stadium fight happening across the border in Minnesota.

Target Field is a beautiful stadium. It’s quaint, it’s comfortable, the sightlines are excellent and there are very few silly gimmicks. Like most stadiums, Target Field received a sizeable public subsidy in order to get built.

This made people angry. Why should the billionaire owner of a sports franchise get public money to build a stadium for his millionaire players?

Of course, once it was built, you didn’t hear much complaining. It’s tough to complain when you’re watching outdoor baseball in a beautiful stadium while sipping on a cold beverage. Or maybe everyone who was mad at first realized their anger didn’t stop the stadium from being built so they might as well try and enjoy it.

I don’t know where I stand on public funding for sports stadiums. Deep down, I know it’s wrong, and I should be outraged. But I never really am.

Maybe it’s because I love sports too much and I’m biased. Maybe it’s because I understand that we don’t live in a utopia, and sometimes the American process of making major projects a reality is ugly and unfair. Or maybe I truly am anti-sports stadium subsidies, but realize I’m powerless to do anything about it so I’ve become indifferent.

Either way, we’re in the middle of the another such debate here in Minnesota. It’s the Vikings turn for a new stadium, and owner Zygi Wilf wants the public to pick up the tab for a sizable portion of a new $975 million Vikings palace.

As a Packers fan, I’d rather stab myself in the groin with a fork than pay for a Vikings stadium. As a taxpayer, I become nauseous just thinking about giving Wilf, a billionaire, some of my hard-earned money. As a Minnesotan, I don’t like everyone’s attention focused on paying for a new Vikings stadium when this state has other issues to deal with.

But in the end, it comes down to this: As a Packers fan, taxpayer and Minnesotan, would I be fine with the Vikings moving to another state? Because that’s what will probably happen if a new stadium isn’t built.

29

March

Around the NFC North: Offseason Moves and Views on the Vikings, Bears and Lions

Vikings stadium

An artists's rendering of the proposed new Vikings stadium. Yes, it's another crappy dome.

What have the teams in the NFC North not named the Green Bay Packers been up to this offseason? Read on and find out.

Minnesota Vikings

Players Released: G Steve Hutchinson, G Anthony Herrera, CB Cedric Griffin, NT Remi Ayodele, TE Jim Kleinsasser (retired)

Free Agents Signed: TE John Carlson, FB Jerome Felton, RB Lex Hilliard, OL Geoff Schwartz, CB Zack Bowman

Re-Signings: DT Fred Evans, QB Sage Rosenfels, DL Letroy Guion, WR Devin Aromashodu

Holes on Roster: CB, S, LT, LG and WR

The Vikings ditched the Triangle of Authority and named Rick Spielman sole general manager not long after their 2011 season (mercifully) ended. Naturally, many Vikings fans expected Spielman to start signing free agents as soon as possible, anything to erase the memories of a 3-13 season that saw the Vikings take several steps backward while the Packers, Lions and Bears got better.

Those marquee free-agent signings never came. Instead, Spielman appears to be doing his best Ted Thompson impersonation by signing no-name free agents and talking about building through the draft. The one exception was signing TE John Carlson to a five-year, $25 million deal.

The Vikings are in a weird spot. They have a young QB that may or may not be a long-term solution. Their best offensive player tore his ACL at the end of last season. Their coach has no personality and is unproven. And their defense keeps getting older.

They’re not only rebuilding, they’re in the infant stages of rebuilding.

On top of all that, owner Zygi Wilf is in the fight of his life trying to get taxpayer funding to build a new stadium. I suppose there is a chance that 2012 may be the last season the Packers play the Vikings, the Minnesota Vikings, anyway. If had to take an educated guess, though, I’d say that Wilf eventually gets his stadium and the Vikings will blow their horns in Minnesota for many years to come.

But a new stadium might be the only good news for Vikings fans in the near future. This team is rebuilding, and it’s going to take a while before they contend in the NFC North again.

Chicago Bears

Players Released: DT Anthony Adams, OL Frank Omiyale, RB Marion Barber (retired)

Free Agents Signed: KR-PR Eric Weems, RB Michael Bush, OB Jason Campbell, LB Blake Costanzo, QB Josh McCown,

1

December

Around the NFC North: Bears Hanging in, Lions’ Attitude, Vikings Irrelevent

Caleb Hanie takes over for Jay Cutler in Chicago.

For a while, it looked like the NFC North might send the Packers, Bears and Lions to the playoffs. There’s a chance that still could happen, but it’s a longshot. With the Packers cruising, the Bears and Lions have some work to do if they want to grab a wild card slot.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings are holding down the bottom of the division while trying to get a new stadium.

It’s time for a trip around the NFC North.

Chicago Bears

Remaining schedule: Chiefs, at Broncos, Seahawks, at Packers, at Vikings.

Biggest issue: Making adjustments. Jay Cutler is out for at least the rest of the regular season, leaving Caleb Hanie to try and lead the Bears to the playoffs.

Analysis: The challenge the Bears face is actually twofold: Is Hanie capable of taking the Bears to the playoffs and is offensive coordinator Mike Martz capable of adjusting his gameplan to maximize Hanie’s strengths and mask his weaknesses?

Hanie was bad last Sunday against the Raiders, but Martz’s gameplan was worse. You know how Mike McCarthy refuses to adjust his gameplan when an offensive lineman goes down, even if the backup lineman is struggling? Martz is the same way, only he is refusing to adjust to a backup quarterback. There’s a big difference between a backup offensive lineman and a backup quarterback.

The Bears have Matt Forte, a great defense and dangerous special teams. They’re more than capable of making the playoffs if Martz does a better job adjusting his offense to the reality of having a backup quarterback instead of Cutler.

Prediction: 10-6. Even if Martz keeps his head buried in the sand, the soft schedule and the aforementioned defense, special teams and Forte result in another playoff berth for the Bears.

Detroit Lions

Remaining schedule: at Saints, Vikings, at Raiders, Chargers, at Packers.

Biggest issue: Attitude. It’s not often you want a football team to relax a little bit, but head coach Jim Schwartz and the Lions need to chill out.

Analysis: When the Lions were rolling early this season, their swagger and bravado appeared to represent a new era of toughness in Motown. No longer were the Lions the doormat of the NFL.

18

October

Week 7 Packers Stock Report: It’s Getting Tougher to Fill Out the Falling Category

The Packers beat the Rams 24-3 on Sunday despite taking a break for most of the second half. I could rant, rave and nitpick about all kinds of things that happened in that second half, but honestly, I think the Packers just got bored.

This team still needs to develop a killer instinct, but I don’t think the Packers necessarily took a step backward during that snoozer of a second half which featured a few fluky drops and vanilla playcalling. If this were a division rival the Packers were trying to bury, the second half would have been a different story and the final score even more lopsided.

Anyway, I’m usually a glass-half-empty Packers fan, but there’s not much to dislike about this team so far. Yes, the defense needs to plug a few leaks, but at 6-0 it’s getting difficult to find players for the falling category.

Morgan Burnett and his wrecking ball of a right hand make the rising category this week.

Rising

Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers rolled to his left and lofted a perfect touchdown pass through a swirling wind to James Jones in the second quarter Sunday. That throw was a thing of beauty. Even if Rodgers didn’t complete another pass all game, I still would’ve put him in the rising category for that pass alone.

Tramon Williams
Williams is providing tighter coverage and better support in the run game. In other words, he’s getting healthier, which automatically means his stock is rising.

Morgan Burnett
Burnett has had his share of gaffes this season, but he’s also made a lot of plays. He gets the final rising slot this week for his toughness. Check out the picture of Burnett’s clubbed hand. Can you imagine playing safety with that thing on your hand? Burnett still managed to get nine tackles and force a fumble. I’m not sure if he’ll be able to catch any interceptions, but I give Burnett credit for toughing it out.

Steady

Clay Matthews
You are probably asking yourself how I can include Matthews in a post about underachievers last week, then put him in the steady category this week. Truth is, Matthews has been steady most of the season. However, I think he has the talent to be like Rodgers and become a permanent fixture in the rising category. That’s why I suggested he might be underachieving. His play on Sunday took him one step closer to the rising category.

27

May

Nordic Burial? Why The Minnesota Vikings in L.A. Would Be Bad For The Green Bay Packers

In light of the non-occurrence of the apocalypse this past Saturday, what I am about to write and do may be a sign that the end is indeed near after all.

With the courtroom football dominating the headlines for the NFL for the past couple months, one story has flown under the radar.

This story has a direct impact on the Green Bay Packers as well as the rest of the NFC North—the Minnesota Vikings and the team’s battle to get a new stadium approved by the Minnesota legislature. In these tough times, getting a government to help fund such a deal is a very difficult prospect.

For those who don’t know the whole story, owner Zygi Wilf is desperately trying to get a new stadium built for the Vikings. While the push has been occurring for a few years now, it became all the more urgent with the collapse of the Metrodome’s roof last winter. It remains unclear if the stadium bill will be approved or not.

Should the Vikings not get the new stadium they want, there is growing concern the Wilf family could move the Vikings out of Minnesota to another city, most likely Los Angeles.

Until the team rented Brett Favre from the archives of the Packers, the team was struggling to sell out home games, though the emergence of Adrian Peterson helped fill some seats.

An average NFL fan would assume that seeing Minnesota losing the Vikings would be a cause for celebration and joy Packers fans. Perhaps a fairly large contingent of Cheeseheads would agree.

If that’s the case, then this Cheesehead is not among them.

BLASPHEMY! you say. Not quite. While I agree defending the Vikings is normally a violation of the Ten Commandments of Packer Fandom, this is not a normal situation. In fact, I’d argue that the Packers would actually be hurt by the Vikings leaving Minnesota.

How? Well, first is the long history and strong rivalry between the two franchises. Both teams have been battling for supremacy in the NFC Central and later the NFC North for the past two decades. Favre joining the Vikings in 2009 stoked further an already potent fire. Throw in the fact that both teams are in neighboring states and you have a classic rivalry.