Archive for August 2009
So ex-Packers legend Brett Favre signed with the Minnesota Vikings Tuesday ending his “retirement” to join the Packers most hated rivals (sorry Bears fans). This is the worst nightmare for any and all Packers fans right? Wrong, and i’m going to explain why it could be a positive thing for the Packers.
Brett Favre has every right to come out of “retirement” if he wants to. No other type of employment, except for sports, decides when you have to retire. He will be 40 this year and played at a high level until hurting his arm late last season. The Jets were 8-3 and had the look of a team that could make a run deep into the playoffs.
The Packers made a tough BUSINESS decision when it came to trading Favre to clear the way for Aaron Rodgers last off season, but it was the right one. Favre took it personal. He took it as a slap on the face from Ted Thompson, the Packers G.M./VP of Player Personnel. Favre has long had a rift with Thompson and after Thompson traded him to the Jets instead of Minnesota or Tampa Bay, it only made matters worse.
Rodgers on the other hand proved that he was more then capable of becoming a very good NFL signal caller. He had a better statistical year then Favre and has since became of the NFL’s brightest young quarterbacks and the unquestioned leader of the Packers.
On name value alone the Vikings seem to be the NFC North’s front runners but the Bears and especially the Packers will have a lot to say about that.
The Vikings will now have to deal with the media pressure that comes along with Favre. Will he retire after one year? By coming late is he able to not divide a locker room? Will the Vikings players welcome in with open arms? Can he save Brad Childress’s job? Is his unretirement only for revenge against Thompson and the Packers?
While the Packers don’t have to worry about it any longer. They will how ever be asked their thoughts on Favre coming back to Lambeau the week leading up to the Monday Night Football game the two teams play (on October 5th). They can expect to be bombarded with questions about Favre and the way he left the Packers and how it effected the team and it’ s players last season. The media will look for a reaction or a quote especially from Rodgers, Donald Driver and Mike McCarthy. But the Packers no longer have the distraction called Brett Favre.
The Packers offense under Rodgers will be no different then in the past under Favre, other then less interceptions, throwing into double coverage or locking into one receiver and forcing the ball into him only to throw a pic. Rodgers takes what he is given and will use the “check down”. The Packers believe the running game will be better as well because the Packers think they have a much better offensive line then in past years.
It will be interesting to see the Vikings offense under the direction of Favre. Will he change running plays at the line to take a chance to go deep? How will he use rookie Percy Harvin? Will Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor, one of the best combo’s in the NFL have as many carries? Can Favre play the whole year? He said he didn’t think so, but then again Favre said it so take it for what it’s worth.
The Packers new defense will be much improved and Favre has had trouble with blitzing defenses and the 3-4 in the past. Dom Capers will mix up the coverage’s and the blitz packages and force Favre to make mistakes or take chances, something that will play into the Packers ball hawking secondary hands.
The Vikings have a great defensive line, as long as the Williams’ boys are not suspended for the 4 games for using an illegal substance, which I think they will. The secondary is not that good and has a lot of question marks, other then Antwan Winfield. The linebackers have question marks as well. The Packers have seen their defensive scheme for the past four years, while the Vikings have yet to see the Packers play in the 3-4.
Many people think Favre is coming back to “stick it” to Ted Thompson and if that is the case then the Vikings are in trouble. The locker room will be fractured with him coming in. Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels have to be upset. They have spent all off season being told that they would be competing for the starting job and now they realize they have been lied to by Brad Childress. Rosenfels, who was traded for and told he could compete for that starting spot, didn’t look bad in the pre season opener and has to be upset. “For me, personally, this wasn’t what I was hoping for.” Rosenfels said today when asked his thoughts on Favre coming to the Vikings.
The Packers don’t have that problem in their locker room. They all know Rodgers is the starter and support him 120%. They trust the coaches and the staff. The same can not be said in Minnesota. If Childress and his staff lied to his quarterbacks, and team for that matter, about closing the door on Favre why would they be honest with any of the other players?
Jackson will be traded or released from what I was told from a player on the Vikings that I know through a mutual friend. He (Jackson) is not at all happy with what went on and, if he didn’t already, will ask for his way out of Minnesota. This is speculation on my part, but Ted Thompson liked him coming out of the draft and with the Packers back-up quarterback situation not exactly the best in the NFL, may have interest in him.
Also keep this in mind, Favre has a partially torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder according to Ed Werder of ESPN. That may play a roll down the road for Favre and the Vikings if he starts to have his late season struggles as he has had the past few years. Rodgers doesn’t have those issues, infact he is injury free and got stronger this off season.
The NFC North is the “hot” quarterback division now with Rodgers, Favre, the Bears Jay Cutler and the Lions Matt Stafford. Did you know that Rodgers is now the longest tenured starting quarterback in the division with all 16 starts under his belt? It’s true.
My personal feeling is Favre has let down nearly every Packers fan including me. He could do no wrong in Packers fans eyes, but now he has committed the ultimate betrayal. While I understand his wanting to play, I can’t understand the way he has handled himself the past three or four off seasons when it comes to his retirement.
I was a Packers fan before Favre and continued to be after him. My loyalty is to the “G” on the side of the helmet, not the name on the back of the jersey. Always has been, always will be. I don’t wish Favre harm but like Nick Barnett said today when told Favre will be a Viking “Would I like to hit him? Hell yeah, I’d like to hit him.” Barnett said, turning to the camera. “I want to get a nice little shot on you, Brett. I said it. Put it on the bulletin board.”
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This past weekend in sports there was the good (the NFL was back, FINALLY), the bad (Tiger Wood’s loss on Sunday) and the ugly (all the baseball players getting hit in the head). I will touch on those sports stories and many more from this past weekend (August 14th thru August 16th 2009).
Baseball’s dog days of summer are coming to an end, but the excitement of the pennant races are heating up with the Rangers, Red Sox and Rays all looking for the AL wild card berth. The Rangers took the lead in the wild card race by beating the Red Sox 2 out of 3 in Texas. The Rangers were my “surprise team to make the playoffs” this season. All they have done is stay in contention in the AL West and the wild card race without Josh Hamilton hitting the way many expect and with outstanding pitching. Who would have thought the Rangers would win with PITCHING?!!
Hamilton is heating up and starting to look like the player who drove in 137 runs last year. Elvis Andrus showed what he is capable of this weekend by playing outstanding defense (which he has done all year) and with his stick. Julio Borbón, who was called up when Nelson Cruz went on the DL, was also big time this past weekend. His speed will be another weapon for the Rangers already explosive offense.
But the weekend series will be remembered for one pitch. Rangers second basemen Ian Kinsler was drilled in the head by Red Sox relief pitcher Fernando Cabrera. It was his first action since July 28 due to a strained left hamstring for Kinsler, so he was obviously upset. After getting plunked, he bounced up off the ground quickly and exchanged words with Red Sox catcher and captain JasonVaritek on his way to first base.
Kinsler let his bat do the drilling the rest of the series going 4 for 6 with 2 home runs, 3 rbi’s, 3 runs and a steal. Kinsler was moved to the 6 spot in the order to allow Borbón to lead off. I don’t see the Red Sox making the playoffs this year.
The Yankees are the best team in the AL East, maybe in all of baseball and the Rangers and Rays seem to be hitting their stride now. I also think the Red Sox got old and need to get rid of some of the aging stars. They remind me of the Yankees two or three years ago, a bunch of old corner infielder types that have been critical members of the title teams who’s age has caught up with them. I also think the club distractions (David Ortiz positive steroid test, Daisuke Matsuzaka’s comments about the throwing program) and issue at short stop are not helping matters out.
There were also other baseball players getting hit in the head, the Mets David Wright and Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.
The Giants Matt Cain came up and in, which is how you pitch to Wright according to the scouting report, and planted a 91 mph fastball in Wright’s dome. Wright went on the DL Sunday and Mets manager Jerry Manuel said he may miss the rest of the season with post concussion symptom, the same type symptoms that had the Blue Jays Aaron Hill out for almost all of the 2008 season.
Wright was released from the hospital Sunday.
Kuroda’s injury was one of the worst I have seen in a long time. He was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Arizona’s Rusty Ryal. The ball actually deflected into the seats behind third base. He was on the ground clutching his head before being taken off the field on a cart.
Kuroda was also released from the hospital on Sunday.
Kuroda’s injury was different the Wright and Kinsler’s injury because it was off the bat not being thrown at. I am a big proponent at “protecting your teammate’s” if they get thrown at, but I would NEVER condone throwing at a persons head. This has been a growing problem in the MLB because the younger players don’t know “how to play the game the right way”. Until these younger players learn how to play the game “the right way”, I would look for more head shots by opposing pitchers.
Tiger Woods is the best golfer on the planet right now, maybe ever. No player has had the same type of impact he has had on the sport and he will go down as the greatest ever to walk a fairway. But what happened to him on Sunday at the 91st PGA Championship was a shock to all that watched.
Woods had been leading the whole way and when he teed up Sunday morning, many thought it was gonna be 18 holes of Tiger romping through the jungle.
But as the day went on Y.E. Yang stood toe to toe with Woods and hit big shot after big shot with none bigger then his second shot on 18 when he got with in a few feet of the pin. The ball was on the left fairway and behind a tree when Yang decided to go right at the pin (and Tiger for that matter) to try a secure the title.
Tiger had a great tee shot which had the ball resting perfectly on the right fairway. Woods over shot the whole and was forced to hit his third shot from the ruff. Woods chances of winning the 91st PGA Championship were dashed a hole earlier when he had to pitch out of the ruff which had high, thick grass. It was a difficult shot because of the thickness of the grass and how it would catch his club. Woods ended up well short of where he wanted to be and ended up boogieing the hole leaving him 2 shots back. (He ended up 1 shot back because Yang also boggied the hole.)
Yang deserves all the credit though. He played Tiger with no fear and didn’t feel the pressure most golfers feel when being paired with Woods. I ask this to all who read this..do you consider this a “choke job” by Tiger? If it was any other golfer NOT named Woods it would be, but because it is Tiger do you consider it “choking”.
Finally the NFL is back! Well sort of. The NFL’s pre season kicked off and gave it’s teams fans the fix we all needed for the past seven months. I must admit I am not a huge fan of the pre season, but I watched at least 6 games over the weekend and am watching the Giants/Panthers game as I write this.
Here are some things I noticed over the course of the 1st NFL pre season weekend…
Aaron Rodgers is gonna be a super star. This kid has been a true pro’s pro ever since draft day in 2005 when he fell to the Packers after four long, painful to watch hours in the “green room”. He handled the Brett Favre saga with class and grace and put up very good numbers in his first season starting in the NFL.
This off season he worked out with Tom Brady (of the Patriots) and the two speak on a weekly basis. Look for Rodgers to have big year with the Packers explosive offensive weapons Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Ryan Grant and company.
Jay Cutler looked bad. He tried to force to many balls and not use his “check downs”, which is something Denver coaches wanted him to try and NOT do. If the Bears want to be a better offense they need to invest in some wide receivers. Cutler will not be the same type of quarterback he was in Denver without a wide out that can’t run any other route other then a “go” route.
Michael Vick deserves a second chance in the NFL. What he did to those dogs was horrid, barbaric and just plain sick, but he paid his debt to society by serving 18 months in Leavenworth (which is far from a “Club Fed”), lost over $50 million dollars and was out of the NFL for two years. He has vowed to work with the Humane Society and be a solution to the dog fighting problem.
Vick’s detractors will say he doesn’t deserve to play again and are protesting the Eagles signing of him, well GET OVER IT! If you want to have a person help solve the dog fighting problem why ostracize him? What do you want from the man? Why take away his right to work in the career that he has been in since he was 20 years old? Why not try to help the man fight for your cause?
Vick’s crime was demented, make no mistake about it, but there have been NFL players currently in the NFL that have killed people and got less time and a far less penalty (by the NFL) then Vick. The Rams Leonard Little killed a woman drunk driving and a few years later got popped again for a DUI. Where are the protesters for that? Donte Stallworth killed a man while driving drunk and he got 30 days in jail and served only 24 of those days. Will there be as big as uproar over his return (after his year suspension is up)?
The Eagles are one of the best teams for Vick to go to because of the strong fan support, strong ownership and a head coach that has a firm grasp on every aspect of the organization. Good like Mr. Vick, not just in your football career but also your new career as an animal rights advocate.
I don’t think Percy Harvin is gonna have the type of impact people think. Not only does his attitude stink, but the guy couldn’t stay healthy in college, what makes people think he will be able to withstand the NFL’s pounding? He is listed as a wide out, but he was more of a running back if anything. Time will tell.
Mark Sanchez will be the Jets starter opening day and be a very good pro player. Great move by the Jets to get him.
Michael Crabtree needs to listen to his agent, Eugene Parker, not a cousin who is an “advisor”. Parker is one of the best in the business and he knows what he is doing, trust him, that’s why you hired him. You’ll get your money Michael, but try earning it first!!
Remember, what happens in the lockerroom stays in the lockerroom!
E-mail Joe @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Impressive. That is the first word that comes to mind after the Packers first pre season game. The Green Bay Packers defense looked like night and day compared to the 2008 version. The first team offense was clicking on all cylinders and the Packers faithful, the G-Force, has to be excited about the start of the 2009 season.
Aaron Rodgers has the look of a player who is about to enter super-star status. Rodgers is the unquestioned “leader of the Pack”. He doesn’t have the distraction named Brett Favre lurking over his head this year and seems to have an excellent grasp of Mike McCarthy’s offense. Rodgers can make all the throws with high accuracy and excellent touch. He worked this off season with 3 time Super Bowl winning, former MVP and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and if Rodgers looks as good as he did against the Browns look out NFL.
Rodgers backup’s are Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn. Flynn will be the second string as long as Brohm’s struggles continue. Their isn’t a lot of depth here, that was part of the reason the Packers had interest in Michael Vick. McCarthy seems to think they are fine here.
QB Grade: A- (Brohm’s poor play took a half point off this group.)
Ryan Grant’s 1,200 yard season was a disappointment to everyone, including Grant. He didn’t seem as explosive as he did in 2007 and after his contract holdout last season which led to a bad hamstring, he looks like the running back that solidified the Packers running game in their 13-3 season. He has that burst back and seems to run “down hill” which he didn’t do a season ago. Brandon Jackson also looked good and will be a nice compliment to Grant, if he is the back up.
I say if because DeShawn Wynn has really looked impressive this camp. Wynn has always had the tools but his attitude and work ethic left a lot to be desired. That seemed to have changed this year and if what the coaches are saying is true, the Packers could be four deep at halfback. Kregg Lumpkin, last years rookie free agent surprise and Tyrell Sutton, the rookie free agent out of Northwestern are both making noise this year and will battle it out for the forth string running back spot.
RB Grade: A
At wide reciever the Packers are loaded and may have the deepest group in the NFL. That group is led by Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, both of whom caught for over 1,000 yards last season. Jennings is Rodgers favorite target and one of the best recievers in the NFL in only his forth season. His 80 balls, for over 1,200 yards were career highs and he looks to build on his 9 touchdowns receptions. Driver has been “old reliable” and is entering his 11th season. He has been a leader on and off the field but his play and production have not fallen off a bit. The Packers do however think that James Jones is almost ready to challenge Driver for the #2 wide reciever role. Jordy Nelson and Ruvell Martin round out this talented group.
The Packers most interesting position may be the tight ends. Donald Lee is steady and balanced while 2nd year player Jermichael Finley has all the tools to be an All Pro. Finley has been the talk of camp, both for his play and his mouth, but this kid is impressive and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start in the very near future, maybe week 1.
WR/TE Grade: A
The Packers offensive line will be tested and under the most pressure in 2009. GM/V.P. of Player Personel Ted Thompson has invested heavily in this group via the draft and is looking for some returns. Darryn Colledge was the Packers most steady lineman last year at left guard and enters a contract year. Chad Clifton enters his most critical year. His play was inconsistent to say the least and age and injury are creeping up on him. The packers also are going with a new center in Jason Spitz taking over for Scott Wells.
On the right side of the line the Packers have a second year player they really like in Josh Sitton at right guard. He has that “nasty” they are looking for and can over power opposing defenders. Allen Barbe seems to have a tight grip on the right tackle spot. Barbe is a lot like Sitton and is highly athletic. The Packers drafted T.J. Lang and Jamon Meredith with the hope one or both players could develop into a potential starter in a year or two.
OL Grade: B
Overall Offensive Grade: A-
Out with bland Bob Sanders defense and enter the 23 year NFL coaching vet and master of the blitzing 3-4 defense Dom Capers. What a difference a year makes. As many Packers fans saw against the Browns last night the Packers will put pressure on opposing teams offenses and force them to make mistakes.
The Packers defensive line will be much improved in Capers’ defense. The Packers defensive line was hit hard by injury last year, so the Packers decided that B.J. Raji would be the perfect fit to anchor the defensive line for years to come and made him their first round pick in the draft. Raji will play both nose tackle and defensive end. Ryan Pickett will play nose tackle with Cullen Jenkins lined up next to him at the other end position. Jonny Jolly, Jarius Wynn, Mike Montgomery and former 1st round pick Justin Harrell will be the primary backups.
DL Grade: B+
The Packers linebackers are a group that has to be better then what they were last year. Nick Barnett and AJ Hawk both need to have big years. Barnett is coming off a knee injury and has yet to be cleared to practice. By all acounts he is in great shape, but the Packers doctors feel he needs more time to let his knee heal. Hawk on the other hand has to be the player the Packers thought he would be when they took him fifth overall in 2005. I think the move to an inside backer in Capers’ 3-4 will help him. The player to keep an eye on is Desmond Bishop. He is a perfect fit for the 3-4 and has been a star at training camp thus far.
On the outside much has been made of the transition to left outside rush backer for Aaron Kampman. From all accounts he has been better then advertised and the move will only make him a more dangerous player. On the right side rookie Clay Mattews and second year player Jeremy Thompson are battling it out. I think Mattews will beat out Thompson and because of that will give the Packers great depth with Brady Poppinga and another camp stud, Brandon Chillar.
LB Grade: B
The Green Bay corner’s are in for one heck of a year if all goes well. Charles Woodson is a perfect fit for the attacking defense Capers’ runs. Woodson and Al Harris’ aggressive style of play will give opposing quarterbacks fits with pressure barring down on them. The question is will Harris be able to adapt to the defense. Capers’ likes to run a lot of zone, while Harris prefers man coverage. Harris is a hard worker and a pro so I don’t see him having to much trouble. Tramon Williams and Will Blackmon both have a bright future a head of them, especially Williams who many feel will be a future starter.
Pat Lee, Jarrett Bush and rookie Brandon Underwood will battle for the fifth and sixth cornerback spots. Lee has been dinged up with a bad back, but many feel he could also be starter.
At safety the Packers have a playmaker in Nick Collins, who wants a new contract. Collins is considered one of the “new breed” of safeties in the NFL. The other safety spot is not as settled. Atari Bigy brings a physical style of play, but has limited coverage skills, while Anthony Smith is a player with 3-4 expierence has solid cover skills but makes mistakes when defending the run. Aaron Rouse is a big dude who love to hit with decent speed and has made a few plays in the past.
Seconday Grade: B-
Overall Defensive Grade: A-
The special teams need to be that, special. Blackmon is an electricfying returner at times, but also has moments when he tries to do to much. Mason Crosby didn’t have a great sophomore season but he has the look of being one of the best young kickers in the NFL. The punting situation is not as settled as the return or kicking positions. Durrant Brooks and Jeremy Kapinos are the two players in camp now, but that doesn’t mean either of them will be the guy when the season ends.
Special Teams Grade: C+ (Crosby’s 2 misses bring the grade down.)
Overall Team Performence Grade: A
How could it be anything less. Yes it is the first pre season game but to hold the Browns to under 150 yards and cause four turnovers can’t be overlooked. The first team offense was clicking on all cylinders and remember the Packers used one third of their defensive plays and still looked great. If injuries don’t creep in it will be a fun year for Packers fans.
Sorry for the time between blogs. My arm is still healing and I just got my computer back up. Look for daily blogs here on joeslockerroom.
I also have purchased a website, joeslockerroom.com. I would like to turn it into a site that will also feature a daily sports pod cast, forums, interviews with athletes and of course a links to not just here but other outstanding websites. If you have expierence with building websites, have idea’s or suggestions, please feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. God Bless,
Hello all. Well the surgery went great! My arm hasn’t felt this good since I broke it back in September though I still have a lot of pain because the bone is trying to heal.
I feel bad that I haven’t blogged in a while, so I will have a new blog up soon.
Thanks for all the nice comments and well wishes!