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October 25, 2012

Finley on Rodgers: “He’s Playing Like He’s on X-Box Right Now.”

NFL reporter Tyler Dunne, who recently moved from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel to the USA Today, relayed a couple interesting tidbits about Jermichael Finley on Twitter yesterday:



Continue reading Finley on Rodgers: “He’s Playing Like…

October 23, 2012

Cal Professor Added to Chip on Aaron Rodgers’ Shoulder

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a column asking what was wrong with the Packers. The team was 2-3 and had all sorts of issues. Aaron Rodgers wasn’t himself. I proposed a solution:

The BEST thing that could happen for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers? Heaps of “AARON RODGERS IS OVERRATED” and “WAS THE PACKERS 2010 SUPER BOWL RUN A FLUKE?” columns. ARodg is at his best when he’s proving the haters wrong. He’s great at responding to adversity.

It happened all over the place. (Shannon Sharpe’s hate was the most egregious.) Rodgers obviously responded quite well. During the last two weeks, he’s thrown for nine touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and approximately 5,000 yards.

A message for those haters? Shhhhhhhh.

Continue reading Cal Professor Added to Chip on…

October 10, 2012

How Jerry Kramer Described Alex Karras in Instant Replay

About a year ago, I reviewed Instant Replay, the incredible book by Jerry Kramer and Dick Schaap. The book was a daily diary of Kramer’s 1967 season in which the Packers won Super Bowl II. If you are a football fan, it is an incredible glimpse into the life of a player and the book holds up incredibly well to this day. You won’t regret spending $10 on Amazon.

Jerry Kramer lines up against Alex Karras

Kramer’s biggest foil in the book was legendary Lions tackle Alex Karras, who passed away this morning. When Green Bay played Detroit, Karras would occupy Kramer’s entire consciousness. Here are the passages:

Before a Week 1 match-up:

As far as I’m concerned, the two toughest tackles in the league are Alex Karras and Merlin Olsen of the Rams, and I never, never say that either one is better than the other, because I don’t want to get either of them angry. Playing against Karras is like playing a chess game. If you try to pop him, he’ll beat you like a stepchild. You’ve got to be thinking all the time. You’ve got to be thinking about the move he beat you with two years ago. You’ve got to remember that everything with him is a countermove. I thought about him for 100 miles [on tonight's drive].

Obviously, I spend a lot of time thinking about defensive tackles. Football is a team game, but especially for the linemen and the receivers, there’s a dramatic, and important, individual game within the game. To help your team succeed as a team, you have to succeed as an individual; you have to win your own match-ups. In my position, sooner or later I’ve got to block almost every man on the opposing team–every lineman and every back. But seventy-five percent of the time I’ve got to block the defensive left tackle. Naturally, he dominates my thoughts and consumes most of my energy.

Alex Karras is spending a lot of time with me this week. He eats breakfast with me, goes to the john with me, brushes my teeth with me. I’m thinking about him every minute, how difficult he is to cut off on the inside, how he likes the outside on a pass rush, how he just loves to hit the quarterback.

Alex has half a dozen different, effective moves–it took him three or four years as a pro to develop them–and he uses all of them. One of his moves is a little hop and a skip to the outside.. He actually hops, and it looks funny, but it works. He charges to the outside maybe 90 percent of the time, but you can’t overadjust because he likes to change up and come to the inside with a real strong move, doubly hard to stop because you don’t expect it.

Continue reading How Jerry Kramer Described Alex Karras…

October 8, 2012

So, uh, What’s Wrong With the Packers?

Yesterday was just a devastating football day for me, you guys.

The Packers blew an 18-point halftime lead to drop to 2-3. The Bears and Vikings both won CONVINCINGLY (against crap teams, but still…) to rise to 4-1. I went 0-3 on my wagers and am scared to even count up how I did on my overall picks. My fantasy scored the 2nd-highest in a 10-team league but will still most likely lose to that of a Bears fan. There have been worse Packers losses, but I’m struggling to think of worse total days.

Here’s how I coped:

I spent last night TERRIFIED that Jay Glazer was going to tweet, “Sources in the Packers organization fear severe high ankle sprain for BJ Raji, pending further tests. Could miss significant time.”

Thankfully, news on Raji didn’t trickle out until this morning, and it doesn’t appear to be catastrophic.


TJ Lang’s tweet says it all:

Not to give the defense a complete pass – it was they who gave up 27 points in the second half to a rookie quarterback and perpetually uncovered Reggie Wayne yesterday – but I feel that in totality, they’ve played well enough each week for the Packers to win. (It’s also really hard to quantify when they were essentially forbidden from legally covering receivers and rushing the passer against Seattle and Indianapolis.)

Continue reading So, uh, What’s Wrong With the…

September 25, 2012

Reaction to the Packers-Seahawks Replacement Ref Traveshamockery

I give way too much of my time, money, and energy to the NFL to be treated like this.

I tried to write this column in the immediate aftermath, and just couldn’t bring myself too. I was too angry. I’ve definitely been sadder after Packers losses – this Week 3 heartbreaker probably doesn’t even crack the top-10 – but I’ve never been more mad. The results of last night’s game are completely illegitimate. (I won’t even bother to describe the play in question because you’ve no doubt already seen it.)

I’m still just as pissed as I was last night.

Continue reading Reaction to the Packers-Seahawks Replacement Ref…

September 17, 2012

Football and Me Part II

For my thoughts on Bears-Packers from Thursday night, please see my Week 2 Picks intro.

I watched Utah State-Wisconsin at home. Between traveling to games and going to sports bars, I don’t get to watch too many Packers or Badgers games on my couch. It might happen 2-4 times a year, total, but there’s definitely something to be said for getting a premium six-pack, popping in an oven pizza, and watching a game in your pajamas.

Wisconsin was flat out awful, especially on offense.

In the first half, Montee Ball got stuffed on four 3rd-and-1′s — including one on the goal line — and a 2nd-and-1. Shocking how firing the offensive line coach two weeks into the season didn’t prove to be some kind of magic panacea. My eyes tell me James White and Melvin Gordon are better runners than Ball right now–has anybody else noticed this?

The offense wasn’t moving the ball but little of that was Danny O’Brien’s fault–his receivers were rarely open open and were dropping passes while the offensive line was a sieve. Putting in freshman Joel Stave was a complete panic move.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it. I don’t know if I’ve ever rooted for a team that played worse and still won. The Badgers needed a punt return TD and Utah State to miss a 37-yard field goal as time expired to escape with a win. At Camp Randall. Against Utah State. This is deeply concerning.

I would have liked to see an angrier Bret Bielema in the postgame. He should have been irate, demanding a better performance from his team. It wasn’t even that he was relieved, he was happy. He needs higher expectations; it’s gotten to the point where we should not be complacent just to appear in the Rose Bowl. I almost want Tennessee or Auburn to overpay him.

The last three weeks do not bode well for Wisconsin’s season. We may still make the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis but the path to getting there is not going to be fun. This is just not a good football team.


September 13, 2012

Quick Pick: Bears @ Packers

Chicago @ Green Bay (-6)

Ryan: Upon first glance, this seems like a must-win game for the Packers. Dating back to last year’s Playoffs, Green Bay comes into this contest having been physically outplayed on both sides of the ball in two straight games. The Bears surged to a convincing defeat last week; Jerry Angelo gets canned and all of a sudden Chicago has two 6’3, 220 lb receivers. But Super Bowls aren’t won in September and the Packers have a really easy schedule for the following seven weeks: at Seahawks, Saints, at Colts, at Texans, at Rams, Jaguars, Cardinals. Even if the Packers lose tonight, they should go into their bye no worse than 5-4. So, while a loss would certainly be disheartening, it wouldn’t even be close to season-ending.

It was nice to see the Packers offense come alive in the second half this past Sunday. I really liked utilizing Randall Cobb out of the backfield and wouldn’t complain if they run the ball less than five times tonight. Greg Jennings is a big loss but it comes at a wide receiver position where the Packers are really deep. Green Bay should be fine on offense.

The biggest issue for the Packers will be how the defense plays. The Bears will score their points but Green Bay’s defense must capitalize on turnover opportunities when Jay Cutler throws balls up for grabs. I think this game will swing on whether or not the Packers secondary intercepts these errant passes. I’m also hoping to see a steady dose of this man in the Bears backfield:

I’ve got good vibes this week but it seems like Packers-Bears always comes down to the last five minutes. I see a scenario where the Packers are up 4 and Jay Cutler takes the ball on his own 20 with just under two minutes to play and two timeouts. Packers D comes up big and gets the stop. Packers win but Bears cover.

Asif: Color me unconvinced about the Bears. When you’re relying on a trio that’s as injury prone and erratic as Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, and Brandon Marshall to carry your offense it just doesn’t instill a ton of confidence in me.

As for the Packers, it is a little bit disconcerting that during their strong showing last season they didn’t face any real top-flight defenses (the best they faced was the Broncos) and when they finally had a game against one this year, the 49ers handled them pretty easily. That said, the Bears defense is much weaker than San Francisco’s so I don’t see Green Bay having much of a problem here. Packers cover.

September 10, 2012

Football and Me Part I


What a tough weekend for the Badgers and Packers. When games like these happen, I always wonder why this is what I do for fun.

On a qualitative level, it’s completely irrational. I get myself psyched up for months, wanting a football weekend as badly as I want anything, envisioning glorious victories and copious food consumption. And then it’s finally here but instead of bearing gifts, I feel like a ton of bricks was dropped on my head.

Considering that there’s 30 teams and only one of them can win the Super Bowl, there are overwhelming odds that this is how I’ll feel for days, weeks, and months following the end of the season. Losses bring more acute pain than than the worst hangovers.

Again: why is this what I do for fun?

For it to make any sense, the process must be more important than the outcome.

Continue reading Football and Me Part I

August 17, 2012

Avoiding Overreacting to the Uninspiring Packers Preseason

After winning Super Bowl XLV and going 15-1 in the regular season, the Packers were cresting. Was this what it felt like to be a fan during the Lombardi years?

Not so fast. After the first-round bye, the Packers played their worst game in over a year, losing a stomach-punching game to the New York Giants.

The sting of that loss has endured longer and more intensely than I thought it would at the time. Hakeem Nicks’ hail mary touchdown reception at the end of the first half. Osi Umenyiora stripping Aaron Rodgers as Greg Jennings was streaking uncovered down the sideline for what would have been a touchdown that brought the game within a field goal. The drops.

“How could we be getting so outplayed?” we wondered as the season came crumbling down.

A sea of Giants blue occupied the Lambeau bleachers between the end zones, covering virtually an entire side of the stadium’s lower bowl as almost 20,000 visiting fans reveled in a road-game Playoff beatdown.

Seven months later, I’m still having nightmares and day terrors about that game. My anticipation for “next year” has been all-consuming. Next year is now. Kind of.

Continue reading Avoiding Overreacting to the Uninspiring Packers…

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