Posted on: January 20, 2010 5:20 pm
 

Green Bay Packers 2009 Season Review: Weeks 1-4

Some may consider the 2009 Packers season a disappointment. They lost both matches against Brett Favre and the Vikings, they gave the Buccaneers their first win of the season, and had a disappointing exit from the playoffs.  However, I submit to you that this season was not a disappointment.  After falling to a 4-4 record after a surprising loss Tampa Bay, many gave up on the Pack, but they responded and went on a tear winning the next seven of eight games and finished 11-5; 6-2 at home. After week 9 many said the Pack would finish 6-10 just like the prior season, but they didn’t. This amazing run the Packers made to reach the playoffs is unfortunately somewhat forgotten by losing in the wild card round, but that is not a reason to consider the 2009 campaign a failure, instead let us consider it a great success.

 

Week 1: Packers vs. Bears; W 21-15; 1-0

The Packer offense struggled to get going most of the game due in part to poor offensive line play (which was a continuous theme all the way into the playoffs). The Pack only gained 76 yards on the ground led by Ryan Grant with 61 of those yards and a touchdown.  Aaron Rodgers finished 17 for 28 with only 184 yards and one touchdown which was the game winner with a little over a minute left. He was sacked four times. Greg Jennings led the team in receptions and yards with 6 for 106 and a touchdown.  The defense allowed a couple of big plays, but ultimately kept the Pack in the game picking off Jay Cutler four times and had two sacks. Brandon Chillar led in tackles with seven. An exciting win for the Pack, but it showed signs of a long season ahead.

Week 2: Packers vs. Bengals; L 24-31; 1-1

A pumped up and confident Packer team welcomed the Bengals who seemed to be down and out after losing on a miracle play against the Broncos the week before. However, this was a back-and-forth contest that found the Pack on the losing end as they ran out of time in the red zone. The offensive line played even worse than they did the first week allowing 6 sacks. Grant ran for only 46 yards and Rodgers added 43 of his own, but only because he was running for his life. He also went 21 for 39 in the air for 261 yards and one touchdown. Donald Driver led the team in receptions and yards with 6 for 99 and a touchdown.  The defense played decent forcing Carson Palmer to throw 2 picks and sacked him twice, but allowed Cedric Benson to run all over them for 141 yards. Charles Woodson led the team with 9 tackles and two picks returning one for a touchdown.  A tough loss for the Pack considering they were in range to score, but simply ran out of time.

Week 3: Packers at Rams; W 36-17; 2-1

Against the Rams here in week 3 the Pack were looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss to the Bengals and build momentum and confidence for the big matchup coming in week 4 against the Vikes. Fortunately the Pack focused in on the Rams and took care of business. The offensive line looked a lot better allowing only two sacks, but then again the Rams didn’t pose much of threat. Grant ran for 99 yards and the Pack overall ran the ball for 152 yards. Rodgers went 13 for 23 for 269 yards and two touchdowns. Driver led the team with 4 receptions and Jennings in yards with 103. The defense played well forcing 3 turnovers, but only sacked the quarterback one time. A.J. Hawk led in tackles with eight. Perhaps the Pack allowed more points than they should have, but overall a dominating win which was just what was expected.

Week 4: Packers at Vikings; L 23-30; 2-2

The much anticipated matchup against Brett Favre and the Vikings didn’t turn out at all like Packer fans hoped. Instead all critics broke loose with negative statements as Brett carved up the Packer secondary, the defense failed to put pressure on the aging quarterback, and the offensive line once again played disgustingly horrible allowing an astounding 8 sacks. Grant actually seemed to run the ball his best so far going for 51 yards with a 4.6 yard average, but the Pack were simply playing catch-up all game. Rodgers went 26 for 37 for 384 yards, two touchdowns and one pick. In short, Rodgers played well for the most part, but could take the blame for the pick and a sack or two. Jermichael Finley led the team in receptions and yards with 6 for 128 yards and a touchdown.  Rookie Clay Matthews personally kept the Pack in the game when in the second quarter he stripped the ball right out of Adrian Peterson’s hands and took 42 yards for a touchdown tying the game at 14. Nick Barnett led the team with 7 tackles. This loss gave way to all Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson haters and already some fans were giving up on the Pack. Now the Packers had three weeks to get their act together for the rematch at Lambeau Field.

 

Getting Back to The Basics  "Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." ―Vince Lombardi

 

Posted on: August 26, 2009 2:30 pm
 

Best Wide Reciever Corp in NFL?

I have been watching a lot of film from the 2007 and 2008 seasons of the Green Bay Packers. As a Packer fan I knew we had a good group of receivers, but when I really started analyzing them I realized that we have the best top to bottom receiving corp in all football.  The names include Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, Ruvell Martin, Jordy Nelson as the top five.  Let's look at a few reasons why most would not think that this is the best receiving corp.

First of all, you may be thinking if you're not a Packer fan that you have never even heard of the last three or at least one or two of the last three. Well, just because you have never heard of them or they are not big names arcross the NFL doesn't mean they aren't good.

Secondly, not a single one of these guys finished in the top five of any of the major receiving categories last year. Only Greg Jennings finished in the top ten in a few of them.  He finished 6th in receiving yards, 9th in average yards a catch, 8th in touchdowns, and 8th in yards per game. Once again in 2007 Jennings was the only to finish in the top ten in any category. He finished 4th in average yards a catch and 4th in touchdowns.

So now you are wondering then why I think this group of receivers is the best in the league. Well, the reason none of these guys have finished in the top ten in any category the last two years except Jennings is this: because they are each so good at what they do Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers have found it easy to spread the ball around to all five receivers as well as to tight ends Donald Lee and Bubba Franks.  Because the Packers use the five receiver set so often the opportunities for one guy to compile league leading stats greatly diminishes.

Let us also just consider the two starters Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. Both of these guys finished with over 1,000 receiving yards in 2008. Therefore the two of them alone accounting for over half of Aarond Rodgers' passing yards. Driver finished with 74 receptions and Jennings with 80 receptions which means that nearly half the competions Rodgers threw were to these two men.

Now let us also consider that they have vastly improved in the turnover category. In 2007 they lost six fumbles, but in 2008 Jennings was the only one to lose a fumble and he did only once.

However, I could keep giving you stat after stat, but to truly see why these five guys are the best group in the business you'll have to go back and watch their performances the last two years. The yards after the catch and the fact that they are very difficult to bring down. These guys are tough in fact you rarely see Driver fall backwards when being tackled. He is always pushing and falling forward for that extra yard or two. Coach McCarthy even said that all five can line up in any spot on the line and play it well. Each one of them can play the slot and the wide out which makes the possiblities for the coaching staff endless.

No these guys aren't singularly the top elite receivers with Larry Fitzgerald or Randy Moss (although Jennings is close), but as a group they are undoubtedly in my (call it bias if you want) mind the best wide receiver corp in the National Football League.
Posted on: August 10, 2009 4:29 pm
Edited on: August 13, 2009 8:41 pm
 

College Football vs. Other Sports

After taking a look at the new 2009 USA Today College Football Pre-season Rankings and seeing that my Michigan State Spartans were not in the top 25 but came in second in the "Other receiving votes" category I started thinking about the difference of football and basketball in the college ranks.  You see I love football. Football is my first love when it comes to sports. However, I am beginning to find it easier and more enjoyable to cheer on MSU basketball rather than MSU football. That also got me wondering as to why that is. Then it hit me. There will always be more hope in a championship coming through the basketball team than through the football team.

When it comes to college football the chances of winning the big game or even getting to the big game are very slim.  They are even slimmer if a team is not in the top 25 at the start of the season.  It gets slimmer yet because a team can go undefeated and may never even reach BCS Bowl.  Oh yeah, your team loses one game? You can pretty much toss away any chance of a championship. Lose two games and the chance is now at zero and you'll be lucky to reach a BCS game. So if you take a team even with great stature like a Southern Cal and they lose a game or two early on maybe because they are a young team that year, but then they grow and torch every other team, but if two great teams like LSU and Texas finish with a perfect record then USC has no chance at a title. Yet USC may be a better team than both of them it doesn't matter because they lost early on.

Now take the same scenario over to basketball. You could be a George Mason that started the season nowhere near the top 50 in the nation and finish the season with a mediocre record and enter the tournament as a very low seed and if you are that good you can go all the way to the final four or championship. Why? Because a tournament truly sets apart which teams are the best. Only by a tournament can you determine the best teams to play for the championship.

My point? As Michigan State enters this football season just outside the top 25 it will be very likely that somewhere along the way they will lose a game. Now I don't expect them to win a championship this year and I still enjoy the rest of the season and cheer just as hard as the next guy when they play their bowl game. However, it is not a sweet as the opportunity to play in the championship. As soon as they lose that one game teams like Michigan State with great up-side have no chance at a championship even though they may have improved to the point of being the best team in the nation.  You don't think something like that can happen? Look at every other sport at any level and the facts say that it does. Almost every year a team in at least one sport rises from the outside of championship talk and wins it all or gets close like last year's Arizona Cardinals in the NFL or Michigan State in basketball.

Those kind of stories are what keep people interested all season long. College football doesn't have that because most fans, once they have watched their team play in their respective bowl game, don't care what happens in the other bowl games, and some even don't care to watch the championship. Why bother when you can check the score the next day or watch the highlights later.  Why do so many people watch the Super Bowl even thought their team is not playing in it? Besides the fact that it is great football, almost every year one of the teams playing were not expected to be there and the other was and everyone wants to see how the underdog will fare against the heavy weight.

So what is my point to this whole post? College football needs some sort of playoffs. I know this is an old controversy and discussion. It doesn't have to be as big as college basketball's. I think a 16 team tournament is sufficient. It will only take four games to finish it off. If every team is playing 12 games in the regular season and then you add four more games at the most that is only a total of 16 games; which is the total number of an NFL regular season not including the possibility of 3 or 4 more games in the post-season. It will give these college kids more experience and help them with endurance a lot more when they enter a much lengthier schedule in the NFL.

I hope someday the NCAA will see that the need for a playoff in college football is greatly needed. It will bring college football to a greater level and could raise the championship game to the level of the Super Bowl. You say, "No way." We'll never know unless a playoffs is instituted now will we?



Something I just thought of that I am adding now is this. As we know, the Big Ten has a longer break between the end of the regular season and the Bowl season than other conferences. Because of this it is used as an excuse as to why Big Ten teams have not faired well in bowl games in recent years. Especially in the big games like Ohio State's two attempts in the championship game and Michigan's numerous failures in the Rose Bowl and so on and so forth. (By the way I'm not picking on them. Admittedly, MSU just hasn't had the opportunity to lose)  Anyway, I tend to agree that the long break is at least a small part of the Big Ten's shortcomings during the bowl season. Therefore, a playoff would also help in this area.



Posted on: July 21, 2009 10:37 pm
 

Let's Talk Rodgers

I posted this on the Green Bay Packers Fanatics fan page, but thought for my first blog that I would post it here too. Feel free to comment.

As a die-hard Green Bay Packer fan, I love Brett Favre and what he did while he was our quarterback, but he is gone. I wish him the best whether he becomes a Viking or stays retired. Although, if he becomes a Viking it will leave a "bad taste" in the mouth as some of you have put it, he will always be a hero to true Packer fans everywhere. He took this team from nowhere to the favorite up and coming team in the '90s. Even during the years when the Pack finished below .500 they were always feared by opponents and never considered a weak opponent because of Brett Favre.

With that said I'd like to move on from Brett Favre talk (by the way EJ great article) and talk about our current starting quarterback Bret...I mean Aaron Rodgers (still getting use to that after 16 years) Although A-Rood had a great year statistically the team performed at a sub-par level last year. Although the Pack didn't make any major roster changes last year we forget about the major injuries they suffered throughout the year. That is what I consider to be the reason for the let down.

James Jones was bothered by a knee injury all year, Atari Bigby was limited to seven games with ankle and hamstring injuries, Nick Barnett was done for the season after nine games with a torn ACL, Cullen Jenkins was gone after playing in only the first four games, our center Scott Wells was troubled most of the season with a few different injuries, and, although it didn't cause him to miss any games, Ryan Grant was bothered by a hamstring injury most of the season.

With that said I don't believe it is a debate of whether Brett or Aaron would have been better for the team last year. Perhaps Brett would have made them better but ultimately I think they would have still come up short with those injuries plaguing them.

This year looks to be a promising year, though. All of those guys mentioned earlier are now healthy and ready to improve. Now Aaron Rodgers is being discussed as one of the top five QB's in the NFL and rightfully so I believe. With a stellar statistical year last year considering it was the first time he was a starter, he will definitely improve this year. He is our guy and I like him. He doesn't have the fun personality that Brett played with, but he does have the competiveness.

I was browsing around the internet trying to find someone else who was talking about Aaron Rodgers instead of Brett Favre and found this great article on yahoo sports.

"Most would consider there to be a big three with the quarterback position this year – Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. While I won’t argue that, I would contend Aaron Rodgers makes it a big four. Because of his weapons on offense and ability to run the ball (207 rushing yards with four scores last season), I actually think he has more upside than Manning, but because Rodgers is a much bigger health risk, he remains outside the big three for now. Still, this is a QB who got 7.5 YPA with a 63.6 completion percentage and 32 touchdowns in a season he entered having never started a game in the league. Over his final four games, Rodgers got a staggering 8.6 YPA while tossing eight touchdowns. Donald Driver may be aging, but Greg Jennings has established himself as a star, Jordy Nelson impressed as a rookie, and James Jones is an overlooked talent who will finally be healthy after a knee injury limited him throughout 2008, so the Packers are loaded at wide receiver. Rodgers could blow up."  (by Dalton Del Don)

I'm not entirely conviced that Donald Driver is slowing down or that Aaron Rodgers is a "much bigger health risk," but I really agree with the comments. Aaron Rodgers is one big season away from being an elite quarterback. I hope that big season is this year.

GO PACK!
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com