Packers surge ahead despite odds

Posted on 10 November 2010 by WarriorAdmin

Coming into the season, even with star cornerback Al Harris and sparkplug strong safety Atari Bigby unavailable for the first six weeks of the season, the Green Bay Packers were picked by many to cruise through the NFC and win the Super Bowl. Those memories seem so distant, don’t they? Injuries have hit hard and often this year for the green and gold, leaving many fans dazed and confused. First, underappreciated running back Ryan Grant went down with a season ending ankle injury, a blow exacerbated by the lack of a viable backup. The Packers started off strong though, and were 2-1 heading into a matchup with the perennial punching-bag Detroit Lions. Though the Packers went home with a victory, all-pro linebacker Nick Barnett and starting strong safety Morgan Burnett were lost for the season with wrist and knee injuries. Any hopes that the season could be salvaged were destroyed when star tight end Jermichael Finley was lost for the season with a severe knee injury. The finishing blow seemingly came after back to back overtime losses in weeks five and six, leaving the Packers at 3-3, second in the division, and missing several key cogs of the team. The season felt like it had slipped away, so many hopes and dreams dashed in a matter of weeks.Without Grant and Finley, our high-powered offense suddenly became weak and predictable. Without Barnett and Burnett, our stout defense was looking more and more like swiss cheese. The toughest part of our schedule was still ahead: Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings were coming to Lambeau; and the New York Jets – widely considered the number one team in football – were hosting Green Bay the week after. Fans became increasingly frustrated when general manager Ted Thompson wouldnt pull the trigger and trade for mercurial running back Marshawn Lynch, when all he needed to give up was a fourth round draft pick. It seemed as if even the Packers brass had given up on the season and were waiting for the 2011 season to come. I began to feel like I should do the same.

Our Packers have now beaten the hated Vikings, the Jets, and Dallas. They are 6-3, and number one in our division, and the defense is looking better than it did last year.  Our offense is still working out its kinks, but because they are lead by the gutsy Aaron Rodgers, they will always have the chance of lighting the other team up on any given Sunday. Starting to feel good, right?  It gets better. The Packers have weathered the stormy first half of the season and are now looking at a second half that should have calmer seas.  For the Packers to win the division, they would realistically have to win at least ten games, which is what they are on pace for at the moment. Their remaining games are (records in parenthesis): Dallas (1-7), at Minnesota (3-5), at Atlanta (6-2), San Francisco (2-6), at Detroit (2-6), at New England (6-2), New York Giants (6-2), Chicago (5-3).  If we want to get to ten wins, we have to beat five of these teams. We should beat Dallas, Minnesota, San Francisco, Detroit, and Chicago. That right there would give us ten, but we know that things dont always go our way, and one of those teams could easily upset us (I am looking at Minnesota).  So if we take care of four of those five teams, that leaves us at nine wins, with three more games that should be close. If the Packers want to be considered among the NFL elite, we have to win at LEAST one of those games, hopefully two.

The Packers’ main competition will be Chicago, since they are only one game behind us in the standings. If you take a closer look, however, you will notice that Chicago’s upcoming schedule is daunting. Though their remaining teams have a lower winning percentage than the Packers do (.446 to .539) they have four remaining division games, two of them with Minnesota who they struggle to beat (2-4 over the past 3 seasons). The bigger problem with Chicago is that they don’t have the offense to hang with the better teams in the league. Their rushing attack is 27th in the league, while their passing isn’t good enough to make up for it at 21st. They have played well so far, but an 8-8 season will have to be considered a success for the team formerly known as “The Monsters of the Midway”.

The other team that worries many Packer fans is the Vikings. The Vikings have the NFL’s best rusher in Adrian Peterson, a rugged defense, and they are led by the savvy veteran Brett Favre. Injuries and a lack of cohesiveness have made the Vikings a far cry from the Super Bowl contender they were supposed to be. As stated before, ten games should win this division, but the Vikings are far from that right now with their 3-5 record and their only wins coming against Dallas and Detroit. They would need to win every game but one for the rest of the season, and their schedule is not doing them any favors (.569 winning percentage if you take out 0-8 Buffalo, .507 if you don’t).

It is safe to assume that the Vikings are out of the playoff race, and the Bears have a much harder road than we do. Packer fans everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief, that trying stretch of overtime losses and sudden injuries is in the rearview mirror, get those champagne bottles ready!

by Roberto Ruiz
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How do you like us now? What to think of the Packers and Vikings after Sunday Night

Posted on 02 November 2010 by WarriorAdmin

While many Packers fans would love to think that Sunday was the be all end all of the football universe, it was merely a game between two NFC north rivals that have underperformed.

The entire NFC North as a group has amassed just one win (against ten losses) to teams that currently have a winning record.

Regardless, 16 percent of the country watched the game, making it the third most watched game in the history of Sunday Night Football, and it gave a clear leg up to the winner in the NFC playoff hunt.

Mike McCarthy coached the Packers to victory Sunday. He didn’t show any of his trademark flaws which usually include poor clock management, unfortunate challenges, a team riddled with penalties and predictable play calling.

This is a team that had a franchise record of 18 penalties for 152 yards against the Chicago Bears in week three and have completely turned it around by only having two penalties for 20 yards. This is especially notable when one considers that the Packers offensive line kept Aaron Rodgers upright by not letting up any sacks. Chad Clifton and Brian Bulaga were able to hold a good defensive line to no sacks. McCarthy’s play calling was great.

The Packers’ commitment to running is too often similar to a procrastinator’s commitment to homework. Each will attempt to start the task at hand and then immediately find something more interesting to do and forget about their original task entirely.

However, on Sunday they had a good amount of runs in the second half and utilized the true West Coast Offense by substituting slants (a seemingly forgotten staple of this offense), screens and short passes in order to keep the defense closer to the line of scrimmage. That’s essentially what the run is trying to accomplish, and Mike McCarthy found creative ways to accomplish that much like he did last year.

The fake field goal was an excellent call. The Packers were towards the back end of Crosby’s range and with much of the media proclaiming Matt Flynn as the best backup in the league, it was a good call. The play was designed well, but the only problems were Jason Spitz and Andrew Quarless. Jason Spitz let Jared Allen simply blow by him, showing why he is incapable of starting right now, and Andrew Quarless got overly excited and tripped, allowing the ball to drop a few yards in front of him.

Combine these strategic moves with the two challenges won and Mike McCarthy had his best coaching performance of the season while outcoaching Brad Childress.

On the other hand, Aaron Rodgers has not proven enough this season to gain the praise he is blindly given. After throwing only seven interceptions all of last year, he has already eclipsed this mark in seven games.

Ever since the Packers’ offense lost Jermichael Finley to injury against the Redskins back in week five, the passing game hasn’t lived up to the hype that it had coming into the season. Rodgers is still finding one receiver a game to rely on, but he’s not using all the weapons that he has available to him.

Going into Sunday’s game it was clear that the game plan was to go after Chris Cook and nothing else. While Cook was on the field, the Packers completely tore apart that side of the field and exploited him with both passing plays and runs in his direction where Greg Jennings could simply push him aside. He was directly responsible for two touchdowns. However, after he was benched after the Packers’ third offensive possession, the Packers looked just average.

There were times when Aaron Rodgers looked like he had never played with any of the receivers on the field. Balls were thrown to spots where a receiver should have been several seconds later. Perhaps the most disappointing part of Rodgers’ game is that he let Donald Driver’s 133 consecutive games with a catch end by only throwing the ball once in his direction

Finally, and I know this is blasphemous, but Brett Favre is some sort of football God. Sure, I know that he threw three interceptions, is in the middle of a scandal and is a Minnesota Viking. But wow; he is incredibly committed to the game of football. Anyone who plays with multiple fractures in their foot and then uses that foot to walk away from trainers trying to give you medical attention deserves instant respect.

For those of you saying “Oh come on, he’s traitorous scum!” Okay, sure, maybe, but he’s a committed traitorous scum. Every once in awhile it’s okay to admire a guy who plays for the other side. An example would be Attila. Attila the Hun invaded the Balkans, twice! At some point the people living there the second time around were saying something along the lines of “Wow, that’s commitment” or “You know what? That’s some mighty fine pillaging.” This is on the same level. To watch someone with that level of dedication is pretty incredible.

by Sundeep Khahra
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Favre vs. Rodgers revisited

Posted on 09 December 2009 by Bradley Wilson

A couple issues ago there was an article that compared the physical youth of Aaron Rodgers against the seasoned veteran of Brett Favre. Well after twelve games for both quarterbacks, it is time to revisit the debate and see which one is winning out.

Green Bay Packer’s Head Coach Mike McCarthy has been under intense scrutiny this whole season. He has been mocked by NFL fans at sports bars and ESPN Pundits alike. No, it is not because of a losing record or awful play calling. In fact many people forget that the Packers were 7-4 going into Monday night’s game against the Ravens and in the thick of the wildcard race. No, Mike McCarthy has been blasted this season because of Brett Favre’s performance with the Vikings. Football fans across the country this season have wondered how the Packers let this quarterback get away from them after being deemed as “too old to play”.
Well in reality, Coach McCarthy never said that about Brett Favre and really never made the decision to not have Favre on his team. Brett made that decision when he retired…the first time. With Brett Favre’s performance in Minnesota, NFL fans have almost forgotten that Green Bay already has a younger Pro Bowl bound quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. McCarthy may not have expected Brett Favre to have an incredible and drama-filled career after his departure from Green Bay, but its time people get off of his case because he made the right decision.

Okay. Right now everyone has to be wondering how I can say the Packers would not be playing better without Brett Favre on their team. In all honesty, if you look at the stats, it might look like the old gunslinger might have thrived in Mike McCarthy’s offense. Through week 13, he has thrown for 3149 yards with 26 touchdowns, only five interceptions and a passer rating of 108.5.

One stat that people forget to look at though is the number of times he has been taken to the ground by opposing defenders. Over the past 13 weeks, Favre has only been hit 57 times, while Aaron Rodgers has been hit 72 times through 11 games. Even though Rodgers has played behind a far inferior offensive line in comparison to Minnesota’s line lead by All Pro Steve Hutchinson, he still is on pace to out pass Favre’s 2007 stats. That is the same year they went to the NFC Championship Game.

More importantly, you cannot believe that a 40 year old man coming off of arthroscopic surgery to complete a tear in his throwing arm would survive an entire season with the Packer’s line. Favre would reinjure himself one way and the Packers would be in the same situation they are in today except Aaron Rodgers would have a lot less experience and confidence.

Speaking of injuries, it was exactly two years ago this week that Brett Favre hobbled off of the field in Dallas after two first half interceptions with shoulder and elbow injuries. Aaron Rodgers stepped in and threw for over 200 yards and a touchdown with 69% completion rate. It’s easy to see McCarthy’s logic when Brett Favre unretired himself. One choice is the legendary quarterback who has played well, but is very injury prone and has a tendency to throw interceptions in critical games and the other is a first-round draft choice with only upsides who has had his team build around him for two years now. McCarthy chose Rodgers and as they say, the rest is history.

So here we are today. Both quarterbacks are playing well, but if you watched this past Sunday night game, you may have noticed a change in Favre. In the Vikings loss to Arizonia, Favre threw two picks even though he had only thrown three in all of his previous games. Both interceptions were not overthrown passes or ones caused by a deflection from a defensive player. Both were thrown while Favre was under pressure and he forced a pass to one receiver who was well covered by multiple defenders. Classic Brett Favre picks. No doubt the ones Packers fans would see plenty of if Favre was under the pressure Rodgers has been under this season, and who has only thrown five interceptions himself.

You can pass it off as just an off game for an otherwise great player. Even Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have bad days, but then you remember this time last year. The Jets looked like great super bowl contenders with an 8-3 record going into a final five game stretch. In those final five games, Brett Favre blew the team’s playoff hopes with an abominable 1-4 record, throwing for only two touchdowns versus nine interceptions with a dismal passer rating of 55.4.

Could this be history repeating itself for Brett Favre? Only time will tell, but if you were a playoff contending team fighting for a wildcard spot like the Packers, would you really want this 40 year old gunslinger leading your team? Fortunately for Mike McCarthy, that is one decision he will not have to make.

by Bradley Wilson
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Tebow advertisement is worth it

Posted on 24 February 2009 by Joanna Parkes

If you left a pile of homework to watch the Superbowl, then you most likely saw the Tim Tebow commercial
that everyone has been talking about. Seemingly a media focus more before the Superbowl than after.
Now, after the fact, one might wonder if the ad made enough impact and fulfilled its original goal.

In fact, the original goal of Focus on the Family was to deliver a pro-life and pro-family message to the 90 million people gathered in their respective homes to watch the game, many of them families. Directly
from their website, Focus on the Family pinpointed their goal in the following statement: “We aren’t trying to sell the American people a new phone, a new soft drink or a new car. We want to offer them renewed hope, so that they can thrive in their marriage and parenting relationships.” So did the commercial really do all of that?

A great many people were expecting a far more controversial airing from the producer. The commercial itself, which can be seen on Focus on the Family’s website, YouTube and many other sites, came across as a very sweet and simple conversation between Tim and his mother, Pam, aided by a little narration. The intended
message was one of pro-life and pro-family values. That being said, unless one knew the story of Tim Tebow, the subtle message would be just that- subtle.

The real essence of the matter was how Pam Tebow continued through her pregnancy with Tim, although
advised by doctors to have an abortion for sake of her own health. She then raised him and he went on to be a sophomore Heisman Trophy winner and college football star. What other future ‘greats’ like him are at risk then, for being aborted before ever having a chance at life? But this is the Superbowl; how dare we mention the ‘A’ word during such an event.

So after all the activity and chatter over the commercial, it seemingly did not fulfill its goal. Yet, as Jamelle Hill, an analyst for ESPN stated, “I don’t care if you’re pro-choice or pro-life, conservative or liberal, God-fearing or atheist, you’ve got to admire Tebow for standing with conviction, even as he’s opening himself and his family up to criticism.” At the very least, give Tebow credit for standing up for something, as subtle as it might be.

by Joanna Parkes
[email protected]

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Super Bowl XLIII: What are the Cardinals doing here?

Posted on 29 January 2009 by Paul Nadolski

This year’s Super Bowl is quite a matchup. I will admit, if anybody had told me that the Arizona Cardinals would be playing in this game at the beginning of this season, I would have laughed at them. Make the playoffs, sure; I’ve seen them do it before and they have a stellar offense, but no way the Super Bowl. They haven’t won a playoff game since 1998 before beating the Atlanta Falcons in the first round. They have never played in a Super Bowl, and haven’t won a championship since the Truman administration in 1947, when the team was still in Chicago (the Cardinals left in 1959).

Needless to say when compared to a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have played in six Super Bowls before this one (winning five), the Cardinals have a history of being a punching bag for most NFL teams. This season does prove that any team can reach the Super Bowl any year.

There is a way that these two teams are related however, and it makes sense that the Cardinals can make it to the Super Bowl. The Cardinals’ head coach, Ken Whisenhunt, was the offensive coordinator for the Steelers before he became the Cardinals’ coach. He won a Super Bowl with Pittsburgh in 2005. So I guess it does make some sense that the Cardinals are in this game.

This will be the first Super Bowl of the 21st Century to feature two quarterbacks who have already won a Super Bowl; Ben Roethlisberger and Kurt Warner. While Warner has put up more impressive numbers then Big Ben, Roethlisberger is a proven winner. Even so, the Steelers bread and butter is still their defense, which is just as good as their Steel Curtain days in the 70s.

The Steelers defense finished the season ranked at the top, and that stout defense has help lead the team to another Super Bowl bid. While the offense has been productive, it has not been overwhelming in their victories. Troy Polamatu, the Steelers star safety and leader, should be all around the field come game time and like in the AFC Championship game against Baltimore could cause some key turnovers.

The Cardinals have one of the top ranked offenses in the NFL. Lead by Kurt Warner at QB and Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin at wide receiver, the Cardinals offense has been impressive and one that is eerily familiar to Warner’s old team, the ’99 Rams (aka the greatest show on turf). Coincidently, the Rams were also the punching bag of the NFL before Warner’s arrival. While defense usually wins Super Bowls, Warner’s Rams won it, and the Cardinals have been playing pretty good defense lately.
Even so, the odds makers still have Pittsburgh as a 6.5 point favorite. Throughout the entire season, Pittsburgh has had one of the better, if not the best, defenses, and played consistently throughout the entire season. That cannot be said of the Cardinals.

With Kurt Warner being upset that the MVP award went to the Colt’s QB Peyton Manning instead of him and Larry Fitzgerald being a freak of nature, I’m going to pick the Cardinals to not only cover the spread, but win the game, and continue the NFL’s ideology of league parody.

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Packers vs. Bears post-game analysis

Posted on 21 November 2008 by Alex Hansen

In all of sports, there may be no rivalry that is bigger than the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. It is the type of game that means just as much as the entire season. As a Packers fan, I would only be able to stomach a losing season as long as my team won both games against the Bears.

Heading into Sunday, this was a season-defining game for the Packers. The convincing 37-3 win propelled them to 5-5 and put them even with the Bears. A loss at this crucial point in the year would have dropped them to 4-6 and place insurmountable pressure on the Packers’ first year starter, Aaron Rodgers.

No doubt, the vicious Packers’ secondary was drooling at the chance to face the battered Bears passing game led by Quarterback Kyle Orton. Orton was coming off an ankle injury, causing him to miss last week’s game. Clearly, Orton, a Purdue alum, was bothered by his ankle as he was rather ineffective throwing for just 138 yards on 13 of 26 passing, with no touchdowns. Rex Grossman relieved Orton late in the fourth quarter.

Leading the offensive surge for Green Bay was the running back tandem of Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson. Grant accumulated 145 yards on the ground on 25 carries, while finding the end zone once. Brandon Jackson, the second year back out of Nebraska, finally proved he belongs, as he had 50 yards on 10 carries and contributed well in the receiving game as a weapon for Rodgers out of the backfield.

In the passing game, Rodgers was 23 of 30 for 227 yards and two touchdowns. His only blemish came on a poor throw intended for Donald Driver that was picked off by Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Greg Jennings and Donald Lee caught the touchdowns for Green Bay. Driver added 60 yards on four receptions.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Pack’s defensive unit played a stellar game despite the absence of middle line backer Nick Barnett. Bears’ rookie running back Matt Forte was held to a modest 64 yards on 16 carries. Packers’ linebackers AJ Hawk and Brandon Chillar led the team with seven tackles apiece, while Charles Woodson had the lone sack, his second of the season.

Adding to the well-rounded performance was the Packer’s special teams unit as kicker Mason Crosby put last week’s crucial miss behind him as he was a perfect 3 for 3.
The victory puts Green Bay in a tie for first place with the Bears and the Vikings, who lost to the Buccaneers on Sunday. With the New Orleans Saints due up next for the Packers, they have to be riding high following a 37 point performance against the Bears.

Sunday’s win for the Packers improves their record to 80-90-6 all time in this rivalry, which has been taking place since 1921.

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How do they really compare? Season evaluation: Packers vs. Jets

Posted on 23 October 2008 by Alex Hansen

As I was walking into Lambeau Field last Sunday afternoon, eager to see the Packers and Colts matchup, I couldn’t ignore how many Number 4 jerseys I saw. Clearly, the hysteria from the Brett Favre saga has not left Packer fans. Heck, CBS even went so far as to bring New York Jets games to the homes of Wisconsin residents every Sunday this fall, effectively ending any chance for closure. While this is inevitable, however, like most Green Bay Packer fans, I am still warming up to the idea of seeing a guy from California wearing number 12 under center.

This Californian that I am referring to is of course Aaron Rodgers. In his first year on the job, Rodgers has managed to keep the Packers in the playoff hunt, something Favre did almost every single season. While Aaron Rodgers is no Brett Favre, he is playing very efficiently as seen in his QB rating of 98.8, tied for fourth best in the league (all statistics courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau). Also, Rodgers has thrown 12 touchdowns.

Aside from the statistics, Rodgers has won over the support of his Packers’ teammates with his toughness. In his first three years as a backup, Number 12 was often injured, including a season-ending injury in his sophomore campaign. This season seems to be a new story for Rodgers, who has led the Packers to a 4-3 record. He has shed his California pretty boy image by playing the last three games with an injured shoulder.

Surely, this has won him a few points with the veterans in the locker room, but he has a long way to go before even drawing comparisons to Favre.
Brett Favre, on the other hand, is putting up very solid numbers this year. He still takes his share of chances throwing the ball. Despite a devastating overtime loss to Oakland, Favre is showing that he can still compete. He has thrown 13 touchdowns in six games, but he has been intercepted eight times already.

The starting quarterbacks of the Jets and Packers do garner their share of the attention, but other skill players on the offensive side of the ball have been effective for both teams.

For the Pack, the receivers have been making most of the offensive plays this season. Greg Jennings is performing great as a deep threat, and has led the Packers in receiving yardage every single game in 2008. Jennings is currently first in the NFL in receiving yards with 685 yards.

Donald Driver, Donald Lee and rookie wideout Jordy Nelson have performed well as possession receivers. The ground game has been slower than expected this year for the Packers. Fresh off of a breakout year, Ryan Grant has yet to prove that he is worth his new six year contract.

For the New York Jets, Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles have given the team a potent one-two punch in the wideout positions (stats).
Out of the backfield for the Jets is Thomas Jones, the former Chicago Bear, who is on pace for a 1,000 yard campaign. Running back Leon Washington has also been effective catching the ball out of the backfield with 16 catches in six games, while giving starter Thomas Jones valuable relief in the rushing department. Washington is also one of the most dynamic punt returners in the game, averaging 10.7 yards per return.

The defensive side of the ball for the Packers has been a tale of two seasons. When it is healthy this can be one of the most effective units in the league, as seen this past Sunday holding the Colts to 14 points. But with injuries to Atari Bigby, Al Harris and Cullen Jenkins to name a few, the defense is struggling to keep opponents at bay. The good news is that the Packers expect most of the injured players to return this season.

The standout performers for the Packers defense this year have been in the secondary. Cornerback Charles Woodson and safety Nick Collins are tied for the league lead in interceptions with four apiece.

The defense has taken pressure off of Rodgers by providing some offense of their own. Woodson has two defensive touchdowns this year while backup safety Aaron Rouse had his first career touchdown when he picked off a Peyton Manning pass and took it 99 yards for the score. Safety Nick Collins also added a defensive touchdown in the matchup.

The New York Jets defense has remained relatively healthy this year. Defensive end Shaun Ellis is tops on the team in sacks with five, while linebacker Bryan Thomas has 4.5 to his own credit. Second year cornerback Darrelle Revis has been the leader of a much improved secondary. Revis has three picks this year, along with one touchdown.

Too often, fans get caught up in the players and their stats when the real driving force behind a team’s success is their Head Coach. The Packers coach Mike McCarthy is enjoying success in his third season as a head coach. McCarthy has ties to the Packers all the way back to 1999 when he was the team’s Quarterback Coach. McCarthy is looking to capitalize on last year’s playoff experience to build momentum for a young team.

For the Jets and their coach Eric Mangini, it has been less than glamorous in two plus seasons. When originally hired, “Mangenius” (as he is known around the NFL) was heralded because he coached under the Patriots with the future Hall of Famer Bill Belichick for six seasons. Since taking over Mangini is 17-21 with a playoff appearance. Success this year for Mangini is critical to his job security. A funny fact about Mangini is that he is actually 15 months younger than his quarterback, Brett Favre.

With seven weeks down and ten to go, the Packers at 4-3 and the Jets at 3-3 are both in good position to snag a playoff spot. Given the talent for both teams, a playoff appearance would provide good momentum to facilitate more successful seasons in the future.

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Packers seeing stars: Cowboys bully the Packers in Romo’s homecoming game

Posted on 24 September 2008 by Tim Bucher

After convincing victories over two division rivals, the Green Bay Packers had reason to be flying high. But on Sunday night, the Dallas Cowboys pulled the Packers back to reality, putting together a bruising ground game and upending Green Bay 27-16.

Dallas running back, Marion “the Barbarian” Barber overpowered the Packers, using brute force to run for 142 yards and a touchdown, carrying the Cowboys to victory in front of a national audience.

Barber’s career performance overshadowed the homecoming of teammate Tony Romo, who was making his first start at Lambeau Field. Romo was raised in Burlington, WI and gradated from Burlington High School in 1998.

Romo and the Cowboys’ passing game was almost non-existent in the first half, but the Packers’ lack of offense, big plays and run defense throughout the game proved to be more costly in the end.

The Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, who had played almost flawlessly in the first two games of the season, had a mistake-filled evening in front of a record crowd at Lambeau Field.
Despite his 290 yards passing, Rodgers overthrew receivers, was sacked five times, and failed to put together any consistent drives. While he had a couple of noteworthy plays, including a 50 yard bomb to Donald Driver, Rodgers spent most of the evening trying to elude pressure. He was consistently forced out of the pocket and threw prematurely on many occasions.
The Packers set the tone for the evening early in the first-quarter when running back Ryan Grant fumbled the ball deep in Packers’ territory on the second play from scrimmage. The Cowboys recovered and were held to only a field goal, but errant and lackluster plays were to characterize the Packers offense throughout the game.

Dallas rookie running back Felix Jones gave the Cowboys their first touchdown in the second-quarter when he took a handoff up the left side of the field, dodging a Charles Woodson tackle, to go 60 yards for pay dirt.

Barber then gave the Cowboys their second touchdown of the night and a 20-9 lead in the third quarter, plowing over a weary Packer defensive line for a 2 yard score.
Tony Romo blew open the game in the fourth quarter when, on third and 20, he tossed a 52 yard touchdown pass to receiver Miles Austin to put the Cowboys up 27-9.
Rodgers eventually put together a touchdown drive when he dove 2 yards over the goal line in the fourth to bring the Packers within 11, but by then it was too little too late.
The Packers defense was able to shut down all-pro receiver Terrell Owens, who was limited to only two catches for 17 yards. But big plays from other Cowboys plagued the Packers. Especially plays from Cowboy running backs and backup receivers.

When all was said and done, the Cowboys had rushed for 217 yards and an overbearing 453 total yards.

It was the Dallas Cowboys’ (3-0) first win at Lambeau Field in franchise history, previously going 0-5. With their victory over the Pack (2-1) on Sunday, the Cowboys joined the New York Giants as the only two undefeated teams in the NFC.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy gauged the importance of the game and gave credence to an impressive Dallas team.
“It was a big game, it was a great measuring stick for our football team,” McCarthy said. “And I’ll tell you exactly what I told them, the Dallas Cowboys are farther ahead than we are right now, and that’s the facts, and it’s Week 3. How much farther ahead, we’ll answer that question. We have worked to do.”

If the Packers can correct mistakes and shore up holes in their defense, they could very well be facing the Cowboys again come January.

What’s Next…?

Next week the Packers travel to Tampa Bay to take on a pass-oriented Buccaneers team. Tampa Bay came away victorious Sunday in Chicago, defeating the Bears 27-24 in overtime.
In that game, Bucs’ quarterback Brian Griese threw 67 pass attempts, the fifth most in NFL history. Griese was able to throw for over 400 yards, but also threw 3 costly interceptions.
Tampa Bay, coached by the ever-frightening Jon Gruden, has had a peculiar quarterback controversy brewing the past several weeks.

Going into the season, quarterback Jeff Garcia, the clear-cut starter, was benched after the season opener. As of Sunday, Garcia had been dropped to third-string on the depth-chart and Griese became the de facto starter.

Regardless of the quarterback situation, Tampa Bay has decided to be a pass-heavy team. Running back Warrick Dunn was limited to just 31 rushing yards Sunday and is beginning to show signs of aging, so the Bucs’ (2-1) are looking to the air to produce some offense.

On Sunday, the Packers had both starting safety Nick Collins and starting cornerback Al Harris leave the game due to injury. Monday afternoon, Harris’ agent reported that the cornerback might have suffered a ruptured spleen, which would sideline him for the remainder of the season. Harris is seeking a second opinion, but it is likely that he is lost for the year, a devastating blow to the Packer’s defense.

The Packers other starting safety, Atari Bigby, was injured in Week 2 and did not even suit up against the Cowboys. If the Packers cannot get any players back, they will be scrambling to fill the void left by their defensive backs.

With Harris out, inexperienced back-up Tramon Williams will be the likely candidate to replace him. As for the starting safety positions, Aaron Rouse and Charlie Peprah would be summoned to step in and start if the injuries are of a high level of severity.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Packers should be able to bounce back from their poor performance against Dallas. Tampa Bay surrendered over 400 total yards to a Bears team many would not call “offensively gifted.”

If it turns into any sort of offensive shoot-out, look for Aaron Rodgers to show much more poise than last week and for the Packers talented receivers to step up. But the recent diagnosis of the Packers’ Pro-Bowl cornerback (Harris) may make the game closer than it should be.

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Getting the monkey off his back: Rodgers leads team to victory in Packers’ debut

Posted on 10 September 2008 by Tim Bucher

What was supposed to be a nostalgic night spent reminiscing about the past and paying deference to one of the best NFL quarterbacks of all time, instead became a night spent looking towards the future and more importantly, the present. The Green Bay Packers kicked off its 90th season in franchise history (its 88th in the NFL) by defeating the Minnesota Vikings, 24-19.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had an impressive showing in his first NFL start. Rodgers went 18 for 22, throwing for 178 yards with one passing touchdown to go along with his first NFL rushing touchdown.

Originally, the Monday Night Football opener was slated to be a night in which former Packer quarterback Brett Favre was to be honored and have his jersey and number retired. But a tumultuous summer ensued, one in which Favre came out of retirement after feeling the “itch” to play and the next thing Packer fans knew, Favre had been traded to the New York Jets for a conditional draft pick.

So when Aaron Rodgers took the opening snap Monday night, it marked the first time since Sept. 20, 1992 that a Green Bay quarterback not named Brett Favre started a game.
Quick Favre Update (As if we haven’t heard enough): Sunday in Miami, the exiled Brett Favre extended his win total to 161 games by leading the New York Jets (1-0) over the Miami Dolphins (0-1), 20-14. Favre went 15-for-22 and threw for 194 yards.

In his highly anticipated first drive, Rodgers and the Packers came out a little stagnant. A 3-yard dump off to tight end Donald Lee and an illegal formation penalty, which forced the Packers to punt, were the highlights of the season’s opening drive.

But in the second quarter Rodgers came alive launching a 56-yard bomb down the middle of the field to wide receiver Greg Jennings, who wrestled the ball away from a Vikings defender.
Several plays and penalties later, Rodgers threw for his first passing touchdown of the year. In similar fashion to that of his predecessor, Rodgers rolled left and threw a laser into the hands of blanketed Korey Hall who held on for the score.

The 24-year old Rodgers would have added a 68-yard touchdown to his stat line but it was stand-in guard Tony Moll whose illegal man downfield penalty nullified a laudable throw to receiver Donald Driver.

The Packers did eventually catch a break from the Packers special teams late in the third quarter when cornerback Will Blackmon returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown. Blackman tiptoed up the sidelines then abruptly cut back across the field and into the end zone to bring the score to 17-6 in favor of the Packers.
The Vikings would answer with a 23-yard touchdown pass to bring the score to 17-12 midway through the fourth quarter. Quarterback Tavaris Jackson was able to find a wide-open Sidney Rice on 4th and 1.

With eight minutes remaining and the Packers in need of a sustainable drive, running back Ryan Grant took some pressure off Rodgers by taking the ball 57 yards to the Vikings 3-yard line. That set up an Aaron Rodgers quarterback sneak as he plunged over the goal line to put the Packers up 24-12. A beaming Rodgers spiked the ball with vigor and ran to take his first career Lambeau leap.

An Adrian Peterson run brought the Vikings within five points, who were able to take advantage of a Packer penalty and get the ball back with 1:51 remaining.
The Packers were able to seal the game when safety Atari Bigby intercepted the ball near midfield with about a minute left and the Vikings threatening.
All in all it was a very impressive showing for Aaron Rodgers, a former first round pick. It was his first regular season action since he replaced Brett Favre midway through the team’s game against the Dallas Cowboys last season.

It was that game in which Rogers showed much poise and convinced Packers General Manager Ted Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy that he was ready to step out of Brett Favre’s shadow and into a starting role.

Rodgers also found his way into the NFL record books on Monday night by completing 81.3 percent of his passes, the second highest in NFL history for a quarterback making his first start.

On his very first Lambeau leap, Rodgers called it something he has been “dreaming about for four years.” With performances like the one he put forth on Monday night, he won’t have to wait four years for another opportunity.

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Making the best of NFL Draft picks

Posted on 16 April 2008 by Paul Nadolski

April 26 is an important day for football fans: the NFL draft. What does this mean for the two most important teams in the NFL, the Bears and the Packers?

Both teams have needs and have waited until the draft to fill most of them. Let’s first look at the needs of the Packers.

The Packers have eight picks in this year’s draft, with six of them in the first four rounds. They have the 30th, 56th, 60th, 91st, 128th, 135th, 162nd and the 237th picks.

The team needs a cornerback, an offensive tackle, a tight end and now they need a back up quarterback. This draft is loaded with tackles, but is a bit thin in cornerbacks.

With that in mind, the Packers should look into getting one of the better cornerbacks in the draft. Since they have a lower pick in the first round, Leodis McKelvin from Troy and Mike Jenkins from South Florida might already be taken, but if they are available the Packers should take them. Cornerbacks that should be available include Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from Tennessee State and Antoine Cason from Arizona.

Rodgers-Cromartie is the tallest of the cornerbacks at 6 feet 2 inches and he had the fastest 40-yard dash time at 4.29 seconds. His downside is that he did not play in a major conference, so there are questions if he can succeed at the next level. I would think that he would be a good fit for the Packers in the first round.

In the second round the Pack should look into an offensive tackle. Gosder Cherilus, a tackle from Boston College, should still be available at the 56th pick. He would be a good shot of youth into an aging offensive line. At 6 feet 7 inches and 317 pounds, he has the right size, but some question his instincts. He should be a great pick for Green Bay here.

For the rest of the draft, the Packers should look into another cornerback and tackle, and fill the needs of a backup quarterback and a tight end, but if they get Cromartie and Cherilus with their first two picks, they should be looking good.

The Bears have eleven picks in the upcoming draft, with five of them in the first four rounds. They have the 14th, 44th, 70th, 90th, 110th, 142nd, 175th, 222nd, 243rd, 247th and 248th picks.

The Bears also need an offensive tackle, running back, wide receiver and a quarterback (like always). As said before, this draft has plenty of tackles, and with a higher first round choice, the best pick for the Bears is a tackle.

In a move a bit different here for the Bears, they should take Rashard Mendenhall, running back out of Illinois. He has speed and strength, something you would want a first rounder to have.

Mendenhall also has far less mental aspects to worry about than the last Bears first round running back. He would be a great fit in Ron Turner’s offense, especially since Turner recruited him back when he coached the Illini.

The Bears could address their need at tackle in the second round. Sam Baker out of the University of Southern California should still be available in the second round. He has the size that scouts look for, but he lacks some of the footwork. He would still help a really aging Bears line.

The Bears should look for another offensive lineman or quarterback or a wide receiver with their two third picks and their fourth rounder.

The Packers were one win away from the Super Bowl last year and the Bears were there the year before. If their drafts turn out to be good ones, they both could see each other for a third time next season.

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