Monday, October 31, 2011

The Flavor of the Month…

Back when such a thing as ice cream parlors existed (and you didn’t need to spend $29 for a guy to mix your flavor on a stone slab) they used to have the “Flavor of the Day” or sometimes it was every week or every month. Regardless, it was a constantly changing treat, usually something you wouldn’t normally try, an attempt to get folks to expand outside vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. And so it has been with quarterbacks in the first two months of the NFL season! The 24/7/365 nature of sports news needs a new story approximately every four days and anointing quarterbacks as “THE ONE” has become something of a national pastime.

Attend me: After the lock-out ended, the Eagles went on spending spree, snapping up high-priced free agents, creating a “dream team” centered around Mike Vick, who, despite evidence to the contrary, was going to lead Philly to a dominating season. The result: a very poor start, led by Vick’s inconsistency. They played a great game against the Cowboys on Sunday but are mired in a 3-4 record, dead last in the NFC East. That dreamy flavor soured pretty quickly.

After only one game, the flavor changed: Now we have Cam Newton, a phenomenally talented rookie QB under center for the Panthers. Despite a losing effort in week one, he smashed all sorts of rookie passing records, prompting comparisons with everyone from Dan Marino to Tom Brady. After week two (in which the Panthers lost to Green Bay, despite more aerial heroics by Newton), the media was ready to anoint him as the second coming of Dan Fouts. But here we after eight weeks of play and Newton has all kinds of gaudy stats except for the one that really counts: wins. The Panthers sit at 2-6 and Newton, while certainly a forced to be reckoned with in the future, is suddenly not that appealing! Or at least not appealing enough.

To a much smaller extent, Christian Ponder got his moment in the sun in his first start, but could not parley two scoring drives to open the week seven tilt against the Packers into a win or even into a good day statistically. The media was ready to jump all over that bandwagon, given the slightest sign of life. Unhappily for Ponder and his fans, he plays for the Minnesota Vikings, the poster children for dysfunctional NFL franchises.

But the best hype of all was reserved for Tim Tebow. The Broncos, facing a losing season and huge amounts of pressure from fans and media alike to start the rookie human hype machine, threw Tebow into the game a week ago and he came up with a stunning come-from-behind victory. Good for him! He didn’t look particularly good in the win, but he offered a spark that his team responded to. So, as you would expect with a new, ripple-twist-choco-raspberry delight to behold, the NFL media went ga-ga over him, proclaiming him to be a player who “just wins”, despite having only one NFL start and win. Well, as you would expect, the flavor suddenly tasted like sawdust and the “Tebowing” craze (consisting of kneeling down, as if in prayer) devolved into a “face palm” craze (consisting of slapping your own face whenever Tebow played like a first-year rookie) in the Lions demolition of the Broncos on Sunday.

I’m not saying these players won’t have stellar seasons and huge impacts in the NFL. My point is that in the desperate search for “news” FOX, SI, CBS, NBC, ESPN and NFLN have spent thousands of words and hundreds of TV hours, telling us how great these players are, despite lack of any real evidence to back up those claims. So it’s all well and good to try that new flavor but you really need to realize that sometimes the hype of the flavor-of-the-month does not live up to reality.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hate Wendesday: The St. Louis Rams

We all LOVE the Packers: “Hate Wednesday” is a continuing series wherein I expound upon my deep-seated hatred of other NFL football teams. I’m a Packer fan and Packer fans have long memories. Sometime it’s very simple and sometimes it’s complex. You may have other reasons to hate these teams. These are mine…

The Rams are one of the oldest franchises in the NFL. Be they residing in Cleveland, L.A. or St. Louis, the Rams and Packers have played each other 90 times, the first being in 1937. Indeed, from ’37 until 1971 the two teams squared off yearly with the exception of 1943. So that is an awful lot of water under the bridge and many, many opportunities for the two teams to develop a mutual loathing. Mine comes in a more recent contest: In 2001, the Packers and Rams would meet in the post-season for only the second time in their storied history. The 1967 contest would result in a Packer victory and propel them to that fateful championship game against the Cowboys: the famous “Ice Bowl.” But the 2001 contest would not end so gloriously. The Packers, powered by the passing of Brett Favre, had posted one of their best seasons ever but had ended up a Wild Card team behind the 13-3 Bears. Facing the so-called “Greatest Show on Turf” the Packers knew they would have to match the Kurt Warner-led Rams score-for-score and play flawless football. But the performance would not exactly be called “flawless”. The Packers committed eight turnovers and Favre would match a post-season record by throwing six interceptions, three of which would be returned for touchdowns. One bright spot for the Packers, a 95-yard kick return for a touchdown, would be nullified by a penalty. Despite these gifts, the Packers would actually play decent defense, holding the Rams to their fewest first down total in three years. But this self-inflicted beat down, the worst packer post-season loss ever, is more than enough for me to HATE the Rams!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


On Sunday the Green Bay Packers handed the ball to James Starks on five consecutive plays, gaining 55 yards. Why is that so extraordinary? Well, first off, the pass-centric Packer offense never runs the ball that many plays in a row. But more importantly, those five plays occurred on the final Packer possession of the day, meaning they were actually able to run the ball, control the clock, force an opponent to burn all their time outs and ensure the win. There was no three-and-out, no last-gasp interception, no high drama. Mike McCarthy knew he wanted to grind out some first downs and keep the Viking offense sitting on the bench. And with a lead, he almost always tries to run the ball, but opponents stack eight or nine men in the box, stop the run, force the third-down throw and make a tackle, forcing a Packer punt. It’s a familiar storyline. But this week, Starks was the happy beneficiary of some exemplary blocking and took advantage.

We all know the Packers are not a running team: they are built to feast upon opposing defenses through the merciless attacks of Aaron Rodgers and his merry band of pass-catching assassins. But McCarthy has an overriding philosophy of making teams honor the rushing game. He doesn’t care how many yards he gets, he just wants to make sure opposing defenses can’t tee-off on Rodgers down after down. And it works, too. Play-action is a staple in this offense and the sight of Rodgers making the fake and rolling out should make any defensive back’s blood run cold.

But that series on Sunday was an eye-opener: The Vikings knew the run was coming, had the right personnel in place and were highly motivated to make the stop, get the ball back and try to win the game, trailing only by six points. But the combination of multiple TE sets, Kuhn leading the way and Starks running was simply too much for the Vikings to overcome.

I would be as happy as anybody to see the Packer running game start making some impact. The passing game would need to start scoring TD’s from the locker room to get any better. The special teams have been solid and in some areas (like Mason Crosby on field goals) has been spectacular. The defense is still struggling to get off the field on  third downs and needs to regain some of their 2010 pass-rushing mojo. But if anything could help ensure Packer dominance in 2011, it would be some explosive runs and some ground dominance. Take some pressure off of Rodgers and the defense, shorten up some games and finish off lesser opponents. I’m not saying we will ever win a game based solely on our running attack but all you fans out there dreaming of a perfect season should be pulling for Starks and Grant to kick it into high gear in the second half of the year.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

MMQB: Vikings find a quarterback while the Packers find another NFL-leading victory.

The Green Bay Packers got a taste of what the rest of the 2011 season will be like: 9 more teams, throwing everything and anything at them, trying to break the mystique of the Super Bowl Champion, trying to be the team that breaks up the winning streak and the perfect season.
But the Minnesota Vikings may have had the best opportunity of anybody: a new, unknown QB, throwing caution to the wind, plus what may be the best running back in the NFL in Adrian Peterson. They threw their best shot and came up short and I’m not going to rag on them: They found their QB of the future this afternoon and Christian Ponder will be a force to be reckoned with before the 2011 season is all over.
Win or lose, I’ve got some thoughts on this game and you, my friend, are going to have to sit hear and read them:

Lose: The Green Bay Packers have a real problem in the defensive secondary -- they give up too many easy third down conversions and too many yards after the catch. Call it “missing Collins” or call it “our best safety is using a club instead of a hand” but it’s real. Someday, somewhere, some quarterback is going to be able to make them pay for that (Ponder almost did) and then we are all going to wring our hands and ask ourselves what is wrong with our defense.
Win: Aaron Rodgers appears to be the poster child for unflappable quarterbacks in the NFL. Knock him down and he comes right back. Blitz him and he makes you pay. Get up by multiple scores and it’s only an opportunity to pad his stats. In a critical North game, he goes 24-for-30, 331 yards and 3 TD’s and the best statistical start for a QB in NFL history. When he dropped to the Packers in the first round of the 2008 draft, the best move Ted Thompson ever made (or may ever make) was to jump all over that and pick A-Rodg. Yes, Brett Favre was still the starter but TT had his eye on the future and can any of us really fault him right now? If you can, you’re really not paying attention.
Lose: As I’m typing this I’m watching the NBC SNF game and I just have to mention the vast superiority of the Faith Hill intro versus the Monday Night Football Hank Williams intro. What? Hank got dumped due to his Neanderthal-like political comments? Oh, well: I liked Faith better anyway.
Win: The Packers gave up over 200 yards rushing but only 219 through the air. This is a major victory: You Know Peterson is going to get his yards! He is just that good. But you have to keep him from winning the game and the Packers did that. Credit the defensive front (and Ryan Pickett who could have very well been held out due to a concussion) and the linebackers for making that happen.
Lose: I have no clue why Dom Capers didn’t do the “Unleash Hell” speech from Gladiator on Ponder. Rookie QB, first NFL start versus the SB Champs...and we spend the first half very, very soft on D. 
Win: Despite that vanilla start, Clay Matthews played like a man on fire. He was in on tackles, he was in on pass defense and he was instrumental on run defense. For a guy who earns his money on the pass rush, he was doing an awfully good impression of a man on fire.
Lose: There is no lose in this segment. Or at least there wouldn’t have been had Randall Cobb done his job. He fumbled a punt that led to a ViQueen’s TD and he dropped a sure first down pass that probably would have led to a Packer TD or at least a FG. That’s a 10 to 14 point swing in a Division game. If you want to be the heir-apparent to Donald Driver, Randall, you have to make those plays.
Win: Lang tweeted that his junk is in stable condition and expected to recover fully. Good news. But let’s think about that: a player throws a punch and gets ejected but if he attempts to de-nut an opponent on a meaningless snap, he only incurs a 15-yard penalty on the ensuing kick. Time for the NFL to enforce something a little more nasty on that kind of personal foul. If Hawk gets $10K fine for flipping off his own sideline, what is that kind of play worth?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hate Wednesday: The Arizona Cardinals

We all LOVE the Packers: “Hate Wednesday” is a continuing series wherein I expound upon my deep-seated hatred of other NFL football teams. I’m a Packer fan and Packer fans have long memories. Sometime it’s very simple and sometimes it’s complex. You may have other reasons to hate these teams. These are mine…

My reason to hate the Cards is a very simple one: Wild Card game, January 10th 2010. The Packers had just finished beating Arizona the week before to get into that game. Yes, the Cardinals were playing very vanilla as they had already secured their own playoff spot but many in Packerland felt the emergence of a dominating Green Bay defense would more than contain anything Kurt Warner could throw at them. Boy, were we all wrong! Two turnovers on the first three Packer plays of the day were quickly translated into 14 Arizona points and the race was on! Warner completed what seemed like thousands of passes to anybody in a Cardinal jersey, building up a 31-10 lead. But this game was also the national coming-out party for one Mr. Aaron Rodgers who responded to all the Arizona offensive fireworks with some explosions of his own, scoring TD’s on five straight possessions in the second half to tie the game. But in overtime, things would go wrong quickly. On the first Packer play, Rodgers would overthrow a wide open Greg Jennings who had a step on the defense, a play that would have ended the game. Two plays later, facing a third-and-6 situation, Rodgers was sacked, fumbled the ball into the arms of Karlos Dansby, who raced it in for the winning score. What made this sudden, crushing defeat even more unbearable was that replays showed that Rodgers had been the victim of a facemask just prior to the sack. The NFL would later state that the contact was “incidental” and “had no effect on the outcome of the play”. This was a complete joke since all the replays showed Rodgers’ helmet pulled down over his eyes due to the infraction. Since even a fingernail laid anywhere near a QB’s head tends to draw a flag, this lame denial is the equivalent of the NFL admitting they goofed. The penalty would have given the Packers a first down, instead of a long plane ride home. We’ll never know what might have happened had the play been called correctly, but its reason enough to HATE the Cardinals!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


How many times during the season last year did the Packers achieve that greatest of defensive plays, the game-clinching interception? It seems like every week at the end of the season and in the playoffs. Of those great plays, how many times did the defensive back attempt to return the ball for six? The answer is almost all of them. With a game in hand, the opposition stymied and the fans going nuts, all the heroic defensive back had to do was kneel down and hand the ball over to Aaron Rodgers (or even better, Matt Flynn) and convene the victory formation. But no, these guys want MORE! It doesn’t matter if there are 11 men waiting to pounce on you, they still try for the BIG PLAY. I’ve even seen replays of the sideline reactions and it’s always the same: Every coach and player gives one second to celebration and then to a man is yelling “GET DOWN!!” They even flap their arms in the universal gesture that means “FALL DOWN YOU IDIOT, WE’VE GOT THE GAME WON!” But it takes a while for that to sink in, I guess, and every one of those guys wants to get on SportsCenter. And the absolute worst of it happens when the pick occurs in the end zone. Kneel down, give your team the ball at the 20 and be a hero!

Look: There are a lot of outcomes, many of them bad. You can get tackled at the 1” line. You can fumble it back to the other team. You can get injured. If the game is on the line and you still need to score points, by all means, get out there and make a play! But you have to understand the game situation and giving up your shot at further personal glory for sealing a team victory is nothing but a win-win scenario.

I mention this because Sam Shields tried to run back an interception from deep in his own end zone on Sunday. Not happy with sealing a 24-3 victory and not happy with the number of Rams in his way, he decided to run the ball all the way over to the other side (still in his own end zone, mind you) and see if the way wasn’t clear for a 106-yard return. Unfortunately, a pissed-off Ram wide out was waiting there to clean his clock. The result could have been much worse: the ball could have come loose and been recovered by the Rams, giving them points and momentum. It’s bad enough, though! Shields suffered a concussion on the play and is even now being evaluated. So his quest for personal glory could end up costing his team in the long run. So THINK when you make that game-sealing pick and GET DOWN!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

MMQB: Packers coast after putting up 24 to beat the Rams and claim only unblemished record in the NFL.

Random mental meanderings after watching the Packers soundly beat the Rams...
  • Can anybody do a play-acton roll-out like Aaron Rodgers? His pass to James Jones for six was better than anything Brett Favre or Bart Starr ever put up. 35 yards out, he makes the masterful play fake, and rolls to his left, buying TONS of time, finding James Jones strolling through the end zone for six. Almost looked effortless, didn’t it?
  • Again, the Packer defense starts off very vanilla, very soft. And again, they step up and snuff out an opponent. I seriously think Dom Capers has no interest whatsoever in stopping an opponent’s first few possessions. He just wants to see what their game plan is. He knows that the offense can put up points and his defense can shut folks down and pull off turnovers. 
  • Al Harris came back to Lambeau for the first time and was spotlighted by FOX. Too bad on the very next play he bit on a play-fake and was burned by Rodgers on a toss to Jordy Nelson. To compound his failure, he was taken out by his own teammate, allowing Nelson to race 93 yards for the TD. I wish no ill-will to Harris (he was a star for Green Bay and left on good terms) but I can’t help but think the game has passed him by after watching that play. Happy it resulted in a Packer score but not happy for Harris’ plummet from one of the NFL’s premier cover corners to a last-gasp DB for the inept Rams.
  • Clay Matthews records only his second sack of the year but his impact in pressures, hurries and QB hits is tops in the NFL. He also had two pass tips at the line. Can a guy have more impact without the big (sacks) stat that everybody looks at?
  • When Aaron Rodgers went left on first and goal from the seven yard line in the second quarter, he had the full attention of the Rams secondary. As soon as he made a move towards the line of scrimmage as his receivers were blanketed, the St. Louis DB’s rightly reacted. Unfortunately, both of the guys who had coverage on the great Donald Driver left him all alone. All A-Rodg had to do was wait a beat and flip it to Double-D for the score. That is the benefit of being feared in the run and pass in the NFL. 
  • Can anybody tell me why the Packers (yes, a pass-first team) could not make hay on the NFL-worst Rams on the ground? They ran for just under 100 yards, the best defensive performance of the year for the Rams. In two key short-yardage situations, the Packers could not gain the yards on hand-offs to Kuhn. But later, they eschewed the run in favor of the pass on short-yardage situations. I’m not whining about play-calling here, I’m whining about execution on running plays. If the Packers have half a clue on the ground, they chew up clock in the third and fourth quarter and this game is poke-me-with-a-fork-I’m-done by 2:30 in the afternoon.
  • I’m not concerned with the lack of scoring in the second half. I’m sure the pundits, bloggers and talking heads will be all over that, ready to find a reason why the Vikings should win next week. I’m not buying that, though. While the Packers should have put up at least 50 over this team, the defense was one play away from pitching a shutout. If you can believe it, the Packer defense has actually been the weakness on this team. If a 21-point win is seen as a failure to some, I scoff. Yes, your MMQB, he who only wants perfection from his team, is defending a scoreless second half as a total victory.
  • Next week we play the Vikings up in Minneapolis and you never know hat is going to happen in the Hump Dome. The Queens, in my estimation, are a better team than their record would suggest. But I think the Green Bay Packers are a better team than their record would indicate as well. What? The Packers are 6-0? I stand by my assessment: the Pack has yet to play up to their full potential. I think (if they can contain Jared Allen and Adrian Peterson) the Packers will prove their worthiness next week.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ray Dominguez T/G

Meet Ray Dominguez T/G. Brought up from the Packers Practice Squad to the active 53. Why I’m introducing him?… because he looks the same right-side up as upside down. Just imagine what he could do switching from Left to Right Tackle?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


You ever wonder why the Packers seem to come out a bit flat to start football games this year? Why they sometimes seem to look clueless on defense and tentative on offense? Me to. And, of course, I have a theory: Dom Capers and Mike McCarthy both know their team and know the matchups they will face. Capers has always been a superb tactician and McCarthy seems to have developed that trait in the last 20 games or so. I don’t think it is outside the realm of possibilities that our coaching staff, knowing that the offense can turn on the jets and put up points on just about any team in the NFL, just wants to sit back for a few series and see what the opposition will throw at them. They are willing, it seems, to spot their opponent a few scores, just to get a good look inside the game plan. You see all the looks, on both sides of the ball, and make your adjustments. Then unleash hell. It’s not a coincidence that the Packers are leading the NFL in scoring in the third period. Last year, it was the second quarter and the Packers struggled in the third after getting a lead.

Hate Wednesday: The San Francisco Forty-Niners

We all LOVE the Packers: “Hate Wednesday” is a continuing series wherein I expound upon my deep-seated hatred of other NFL football teams. I’m a Packer fan and Packer fans have long memories. Sometime it’s very simple and sometimes it’s complex. You may have other reasons to hate these teams. These are mine…

For the entire tenure of Joe Montana and much that of his successor Steve Young, the Niners were the team to beat, not only in the NFC but in the NFL as a whole. As the Packers were struggling to keep from falling into complete irrelevance in the 80’s, San Francisco seemed to be in a football class unto themselves. Guided by the late, great Bill Walsh (NFL pappy and grand-pappy to so many coaches you’d have a hard time listing them but this Wikipedia graphic does it justice:, SF was the birthplace of his experiment called the West Coast Offense that continues to dominate the NFL like his teams did thirty years ago. When the Packers played the Niners, there was no real question of how that game would end, just how bad the beating would be. Walsh’s legacy even allowed his team to continue their dominating ways into the 90’s, long after his retirement following the 1988 season. Except for one memorable game in 1989, the Packers would always struggle against San Francisco in the 80’s and early 90’s until they would run the table over them in the playoffs from 1995-1997. The humiliation of a loss in 1998 on Mike Holmgren’s last game as a Packer coach (in a game that almost single-handedly created the push for the booth review system we now have, thanks to a Jerry Rice fumble on the winning drive that was botched by the refs) was another painful blow but the memory of almost fifteen years of futility is reason enough to HATE the Forty-Niners.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Frustrations with the zebras

I have been accused, as recently as ten minutes ago, of being the kind of fan that just can’t be pleased. The Packers could win a game by 10,000 points, complete an undefeated season, win back-to-back-to-back-to-back Super Bowls and I’d still have something to bitch about. My pal Mike calls it “getting all Ditka over it”. And there is certainly a lot of truth to that: I not only want my team to win, I want them to win pretty. Nobody is playing better than Aaron Rodgers right now, but I have plenty to whine about regarding the Packer defense. They have yet to put four quarters together in any game this year.

But a lot of my frustrations come from things that could be and should be done better. Take the officiating in the Falcons game on Sunday. Here we have a crew of experienced, highly trained officials and they do stupid things like flag AJ Hawk for 15 yards for retaliating after getting popped in the back after the whistle. Yes, I know, the second guy always gets the foul but if you can see the second guy, you should be able to see the first guy, right? How about the “too many men in the huddle” flag? Tom Crabtree trots off the field and the yellow hankie comes out. Note to refs: It’s not a huddle until Rodgers steps in and he was five yards away at the time the flag was thrown. Or how about the debacle on the punt to Cobb: The guy calls fair catch (late, admittedly, but he still called it) and gets hit. Flags go flying and Packer fans are looking forward to some yardage getting tacked on. No, sorry, we’re going to call you evil Packer players for having too many men on the field…while the punt team goes off and the offense comes on…like they have to. And you can see it was quite the infraction when NBC actually played the exchange in slow motion, showing 11 guys leaving the field and 11 guys coming on. OH, THE HUMANITY!!!

So, yes, I admit it: I’m a hard-to-please fan (what? 5-0? IS THAT ALL???) but when I see crap like that piss-poor performance by an NFL refereeing crew, it rises my frustration level by a factor of ten.

Monday, October 10, 2011

What is the deal with the Packer pass defense?

Last year, the Green Bay Packers never trailed by more than three points the entire season. Even early on, when they seemed to struggle to find a rhythm, they still kept it together long enough to keep games close. The six 2010 Packer losses, all told, were by a combined total of 20 points. This year, while still winning the football games, the Packer defense is getting lit up like a Christmas tree every weekend. You can look at stats for the first four games, trace your finger over to the receiving numbers for the other team and feel your blood pressure start to creep up. Despite an early spurt, the Packers did a good job defending Matt Ryan (or was it Ryan who did it to himself?), holding Mr. Ice to only 167 yards. But watch those first two Falcon drives and you have to ask yourself: What is going on here?

I haven’t heard anyone propose a satisfactory explanation to that question, so I’m going to give you mine: It all traces back to Cullen Jenkins. The departed free agent was very good at getting push up the middle. I’m not knocking Wynn, Raji and Pickett: They tie up the line of scrimmage like nobody’s business. But for collapsing a pocket, you just couldn’t beat Jenkins. That vital push up the middle normally would be driving the quarterbacks into the waiting arms of Clay Matthews, so the sacks aren’t happening. If the quarterback can hang in the pocket, he can wait for the patterns to develop and his receivers to come open, creating more opportunities. With Nick Collins gone and Tramon Williams dinged up, Charles Woodson has to play a more traditional corner role, which means less disruption for opposing teams, leading to more completions and more yards.

Until the Packers can find a way to bring the pressure from their defensive line, big yards will be put up by opposing QB’s. Lucky for us, that defense still has big playmakers and they are still great at snuffing out scoring opportunities. Will we care, in February, that the Packers D gave up more yards than any team in the history of the NFL if our season ends with another trophy? We will not. But it is still going to smart a bit while it’s happening.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

THE MMQB: Green Bay gets behind early but then rallies for 25 unanswered points and the win

So me and Mrs. MMQB were sitting watching the Packer game on Sunday night, both of us a little subdued. Me because I put 40 miles on the bike in the morning and her because she’s working hard to put the gardens to bed while the weather is nice. Oddly enough, we had no guests over to watch with us, so that contributed to the quiet evening as well. Our torpor seemed to be matched by the team we were watching: Our Packer defense might as well have stayed on the sidelines for all the good they were doing trying to slow down Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Likewise, the Packer offense sputtered and stalled. Before I could say, “I need another beer,” the score was 14-0 in favor of Atlanta and it looked like the beginnings of a rout.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the first Packer loss of the year: The Falcons lost some of their drive and some of their execution and they let the Packers right back in. Notice I intentionally did not credit the Packer D because early on, the only thing stopping the Falcons were the Falcons. The Packer offense looked only a little better but couldn’t close the deal, despite Rodgers getting on track, and had to settle for three field goals. I’m not knocking the points, but on all three of those drives, there were opportunities to make plays and those plays didn’t get made.
Once the Packers offense started to get warmed up, the defense began to rise to the occasion. There was consistent pressure and hits put on Ryan, (he was only sacked once, though, and that was late in the game), and that messed up his timing with his receivers. That pressure directly caused the two interceptions the Packers came away with.
So we went from a 14-0 spanking, to a 14-9 contest and then Aaron Rodgers woke up and turned on the jets. He ended the day going 26 for 39, 396 yards and two TD’s but it was his overall mastery of the game that won it for Green Bay. He hit twelve different receivers, most notably James Jones for 140 yards, including a 70-yard TD. Most NFL teams don’t have 12 guys catch a ball in an entire season! The two scoring throws both came in the second half and pushed the Packers out in front to stay. Mason Crosby tacked on his fourth FG of the night for insurance and it was official: Down by 14, the Packers scored 25 unanswered points to come away with a HUGE win!
Chris Collinsworth said something in the fourth quarter that resonated with me and I will paraphrase him here: Champions find ways to win. A lesser team would have folded up their tents started thinking about the flight home after appearing so inept and getting down by two TD’s. Not the Packers. They kept pecking away and pecking away until they got it close and then EXPLODED to win going away. When you have a team like the Falcons and they are clicking, it’s hard to do anything to slow them down. Everything they did on offense on those first two drives worked almost to perfection. The run wasn’t happening but why do you need to run the ball when everything you throw up is being caught, due in no small part to the fact that the Packer defenders were not covering ANYBODY? But somehow, this team found the will to hang in the game, trusting that Aaron Rodgers and the offense would find ways to put up points and the defense would find ways to disrupt the Falcons.
When Chad Clifton went down, I had a sinking feeling and that feeling was nurtured when a newly-aggressive Falcon defense began treating Rodgers like a chew toy. And it was the interior linemen who were messing up the worst! I shuddered as Sherrod came in and Newhouse shifted over but I must say as the game wore on, the acquitted themselves well. It will be interesting to see if they both end up playing the majority of the snaps in coming weeks and how they develop. And I hope that is “interesting” in a good way. 
By the time Rodgers gathered his team in victory formation and knelt down, Mrs. MMQB had long before gone to bed but my team’s performance had opened my eyes and made me sit up, wide awake. Nothing like a come-from-behind win to get the blood flowing!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hate Wednesday: The Seattle Seahawks

We all LOVE the Packers: “Hate Wednesday” is a continuing series wherein I expound upon my deep-seated hatred of other NFL football teams. I’m a Packer fan and Packer fans have long memories. Sometime it’s very simple and sometimes it’s complex. You may have other reasons to hate these teams. These are mine…

Seattle Seahawks: Any Packer fan with a lick of history will know that the Golden Age – Act II began when Ron Wolf reached out and plucked Mike Holmgren out of the Forty-Niner staff and made him head coach of the Green Bay Packers. Then came Favre and Reggie and the rest is history. Coach Holmgren had a system and he had great players and he melded them into an NFL powerhouse, much like Vince Lombardi had done three decades earlier. And the results – a dominating team that appeared in two Super Bowls and won one – were undeniable. But that wasn’t enough for Mike Holmgren! He not only wanted to be the coach of the #1 team in the NFL, he wanted to be the general manager as well. Since the Packers already had a stellar GM in Ron Wolf, Green Bay suddenly became a dead-end job. Along came the Seattle Seahawks and made Holmgren the offer he couldn’t refuse: Head coach, general manager, in charge of the whole shootin’ match. Some say that in the final Packer game of his tenure, a playoff loss to San Francisco, Holmgren was merely going through the motions, knowing that the Seattle job was his for the taking. Who knows where the Packers might have gone if Holmgren had been content and Seattle had not been so enticing? We were subsequently saddled with the inept Ray Rhodes and then Mike Sherman who, ironically, would become Packer coach/GM and we all know how that ended. It wasn’t all Seattle’s fault (I put a lot of the blame right on Holmgren) but it’s reason enough to HATE the Seahawks.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

That noise you don't hear? That's the Packers sneaking up on you.

When you come off a Super Bowl-winning season, you have a great big bulls-eye on your back: every team in the NFL is out to prove themselves, like the new gunslinger coming to town, looking to prove he’s faster than the old gun. Everybody circles your name on the schedule when it comes out and everybody makes that little extra effort, knowing that knocking off last year’s best team will go a long way to cementing their own reputation.

But this is a funny, funny season in the National Football League. There is a lot of chatter and background noise…
  • The lock-out wiped out all but the last few weeks of preparation for this season.
  • The free agent frenzy was compressed to only a few days.
  • A few perennial doormats (Detroit and Buffalo) have had a great deal of early success, gobbling up all the attention.
  • The so-called “dream team” formed in Philly captured the imaginations of so many “experts” they became the team to beat.
  • ESPN, ABC, SI, FOX Sports and everybody else is providing “CAM NEWTON, ALL THE TIME!” coverage.
  • Daily updates on the status of Mike Vick’s various ailments, complaints and injuries.

So here we are, after the first quarter of the season and the best team in football is actually flying under the radar! You know I’m talking about the Green Bay Packers and I hate to use that tired cliché but it’s totally true. Yes, you get the obligatory spot on SportsCenter where they show the highlights and mention how great Aaron Rodgers is playing. You get the Packers sitting atop everybody’s “power rankings” or whatever they call it. You get Peter King to give you 35 words on just how dominant this offense is, given all the weapons they can field. But the rest of the time the 24/7 sports news circus is more focused on Tom Brady’s haircut.

But it’s not sexy to gush over a team that took on all comers to end their championship season last year and are looking even better this year. It’s not news worthy to point out the fact that the Packers are 4-0 and could easily be 7-0 by the time the bye comes along. It doesn’t sell Toyotas and Miller Lite to showcase a champion acting like a champion again.

Does it sound like I’m complaining? Well, I guess I am, a little. I’m a Packer fan. My team is perfect so far. I WANT the attention, the accolades and the glory heaped upon them! But I am also aware of the fact the big old bulls-eye painted on my teams back has largely been obscured by the insensate ramblings of the media over great (but not successful) rookie QB’s in Carolina, purchased superstars in Philly (who don’t look so super so far) and the unlikely rise of the Detroit Lions. That last is certainly a worthy story but all that smoke being blown around is obscuring and hiding the fact that the Packers are playing lights-out football and any time the SB Champ can actually sneak up on some teams, it’s got to play to their advantage!

So keep up the good work, national media! We’ll take all the accolades in February!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Best Logo EVER!

If you love you some Wisconsin sports teams, you had a really good weekend. If someone doesn't have t-shirts with this logo for sale by Friday, the American Capitalist system is DEAD!
I don't know who made it, I REALLY want to give credit where credit is due. Whomever you are, anonymous logo-designer, I salute you!

ARE you tired of some football... about Cam, Vic and Brady

I’ve got your medicine to help you get over the Cam, Brady and Vic cover stories that you are forced to watch every Sunday Morning – stop watching ALL Pregame shows and reading Peter King’s crap during the week. They need-to-feed the Joe public’s national attention feed-bucket and it’s hungry for new, flashy super stars and stories every week. I stopped listening to KFAN up here in Minnesota and I sleep better, my wife is happier and my skin looks great. I couldn’t tell what’s going on with the Queens BUT who the hell cares.

Former Packer Johnny Jolly Arrested...Again


HOUSTON — Disgraced former Green Bay Packers defensive end Johnny Jolly is set to appear in a Houston court Monday on a new drug charge.Houston police arrested Jolly, 28, about 11:30 p.m. Saturday on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance and tampering with evidence, both felonies, said deputy Toby Devine of the Harris County Sheriff’s Department in Texas.

In 2010, the NFL suspended Jolly without pay for violating the league's substance abuse policy from a 2008 drug arrest. In March, Jolly was arrested and charged again after a traffic stop. Police said they found a bottle containing 600 grams of codeine under a passenger seat and another bottle containing an unidentified substance.

Jolly attended high school in Houston and played for Texas A&M. He was selected by the Packers in the sixth round of the 2006 draft. The 6-foot-3, 325-pound Jolly, who lives in a Houston suburb, started all 16 games for Green Bay in 2008 and 2009.

Comments from The Lot:
Some people are just stupid and should be locked up to keep themselves from harming others. Could have worn green and gold, been a highly paid star, playing for a world champion team in a state that loves its sports stars unreservedly. Instead he wanted to be a punk drug dealer and wear an orange jumpsuit and live in a concrete cell. He got his wish! Have a nice life.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


The Green Bay Packers were able to complete the Wisconsin sports-fan tri-fecta: The Brewers won their first game in the NLDS by handling the Diamondbacks, the Badger football team handled the Big Ten debut of the Nebraska Cornhuskers in dominating fashion and the Packers took care of the Denver Broncos 49-23. (as an extra-added bonus, the Brew Crew have beaten the ‘Backs to take a 2-0 lead in the NLDS. What is better than a tri-fecta? Quad-fecta? Help me out here, horse racing fans)
So when your team hangs almost 50 points on a team they should handle easily, a fan like me should be all happy, and excited, right? Well, I am happy (a big victory against a lesser opponent is a good thing) and I am excited (Packers 4-0 and that’s a good as they can be) but I’m more than a little concerned about our defense. To wit:
  • For some of the first quarter an all of the second, the Packer defensive secondary was entirely lost: they couldn’t cover at all. Bronco receivers were wide, wide open and we made an ordinary QB like Kyle Orton look like Tom Brady. A few weeks ago, the excuse was the lack of Tramon Williams. This week, I’m sure it will be the absence of Nick Collins. My take: We have stars on defense but the rest of the team has long streaks of being merely ordinary.
  • Have you seen such pathetic tackling? How many times have did you count three, four, five missed tackles on the same play? This was not your typical Packer performance in the tackling arena. Bad basics, bad mechanics, bad positioning.
  • Lack of a pass rush and general pressure on the quarterback was very, very troubling. If they are taking Matthews away, there are six other guys on that defensive front that should be taking advantage. But where were they? The Packers managed only one sack and only a couple pressures and Orton was able to sit back in the pocket, order a pizza delivered and then pick out whatever receiver he felt like hitting.
Here is my thing: While the Packer offense is hitting on all eight cylinders (most points scored in the first four games of the season in franchise history) these defensive lapses and lacks are really not all that important. They are rendered moot because Aaron Rodgers and his posse are busy ripping off yards, TD’s and wins. But we are going to come to a game, in the very near future, when some defense will figure out a way to shut down that offense. They will take away Finley or they will force Rodgers into making multiple mistakes or maybe our man A-Rodg will simply have an off day. On THAT day, our Packer defense, so mighty and strong last year, will be forced to make that win happen and, from all I’ve seen over 4 games, I do not believe they are up to it. Don’t get me wrong: I’m loving the big plays, the picks, the ability to stiffen and deny the opponent in the red zone. But the fundamentals of tackling, covering and pressuring in the quarterback, so important to the Super Bowl season last year, are nowhere to be seen and it is worrisome to me.
“Enough with the negativity, MMQB”, I can hear the Faithful shouting. And they are right. As much as those concerns bring a sense of foreboding, the great plays the Packers are making fill me with a sense of destiny: 
  • Aaron Rodger went 29-38 for 408 yards and four (4) TD’s. Plus he ran two scores in himself. That is the first time the long, storied history of the NFL that any QB has accomplished that much yardage, that many scoring throws and two rushing TD’s. I am sick and tired about hearing how GREAT Tom Brady is. I’m getting a bit nauseous whenever I hear about Matthew Stafford and I am developing a severe allergy to the name Cam Newton. There is no QB in the NFL who has played better than Aaron Rodgers. Period. He is the best there is and proves it every Sunday. 
  • We had right (8) Packers with catches today. For most teams, that would be some kind of record. For the Packers, that’s just another Sunday. The Broncos seemed to be paying special attention to Jermicheal Finley and held him to only had three catches for 28 yards. But all that means is Jennings (7 catches for 103 and 1 TD), Nelson (5 for 91 and a score), Cobb (2 for 75 ), Jones (3 for 48 and one TD), and Driver (3 for 20 and one TD) all step up and blow the opponents away.
  • Special mention of Donald Driver: The Man Double-D went out with what to me looked like a career-ending injury when Aaron Rodgers ran in for his first of two TD’s on the ground. Not only did Driver return, but he caught a bullet from Rodgers in the front of the end zone for the final Packer score. Not only is DD good, he’s really, really tough. 
  • The Packer defense, despite all the faults I listed earlier, were able to come up with three picks and a forced fumble, one of those turnovers a pick-six by Charles “Future Hall-of-Famer” Woodson. This is the way that the Packer defense is overcoming their shortcomings: they are coming up with big, big plays and they are doing it when it’s most impactful.
There will be a big game next week, featuring the Packers at the Falcons. Atlanta has not been the team they were expected to be but they are still a very dangerous opponent, especially at home. Green Bay went in there last year in the playoffs and had MONSTER win. If our defense can come up with a way to perform fundamentally, the Packer offense is more than a match for the Falcons. If not, this might be the toughest test of the young season.