2013 November : Packers Insider

Packers 2-minute drill

November 29, 2013 by  
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By Jason Wilde ESPN Wisconsin

~DETROIT– Taking a closer look at the Green Bay Packers’ 40-10 loss to the Detroit at Ford Field, snapping the Lions’ nine-game Thanksgiving losing streak, dating back to a 2003 victory over the Green Bay Packers.

Thumbs up:
It didn’t take long for things to go awry. Yes, the Packers actually held a 10-3 lead after Morgan Burnett’s returned the Matthew Stafford fumble forced by Nick Perry early in the second quarter. But then the Lions scored 37 unanswered points, the defense gave up a mind-boggling 563 yards and the offense accomplished absolutely nothing.

Thumbs down:
Where do you start? With quarterback Matt Flynn’s performance (10 for 20, 139 yards, no touchdowns, one interception (51.9 rating)? The offensive line, which not only allowed seven sacks, but saw running back Eddie Lacy rush 10 times for 16 yards? Coach Mike McCarthy’s play-calling? Or what about the defense, which suddenly cannot stop the run (241 yards allowed) or the pass (Matthew Stafford completed 22 of 35 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions)?

It’s a tough choice, but the Packers’ failing run defense, which surrendered 474 yards in the first six games and has now ceded 473 yards in the past two weeks.

“We can talk about scheme, (but) I’ll go back to our conversations with our football team,” McCarthy said. “You try to learn from your experiences in the past. Scheme is not a crutch, when you’re in run defense, you play with leverage, you’ve got to get off the damn block and tackle the ball carrier. So you can cut it any way you want – and we’re not doing that right now. We haven’t done that in a month.”

Player of the game:
It’s hard to give it to a Packers player after a loss like that, so how about an ex-Packers player? Wide receiver/kick returner Jeremy Ross was released on Sept. 25, one day after a costly fumble that resulted in a touchdown at Cincinnati. Since Ross’ departure, the kickoff return game hasn’t improved at all – the Packers remain dead last in the league – but Ross certainly had a day to remember against this former team. He not only caught a 5-yard touchdown pass (his first career touchdown catch), return three kickoffs for 70 yards (including a 30-yard return) and four punts for 46 yards (most of it on a 35-yard return), but he also had a 60-yard fourth-quarter punt return wiped out by what certainly appeared to be a phantom holding call.

Asked if he played with more purpose against his former team, Ross replied, “Not really, man. I was just trying to go out there and play. It was good to be out there and play against my [former] team.”

Ross, who muffed a critical punt in the Packers’ playoff loss to San Francisco last January, got the nod when regular returner Micheal Spurlock was inactive.

Play of the day:
In a game devoid of highlights, Perry’s sack/fumble was a rare positive moment. The Packers, who came in having forced only 10 turnovers this season, came up with four on Thursday – A Reggie Bush fumble forced by Clay Matthews and recovered by Burnett; Stafford’s interceptions to Tramon Williams and Sam Shields; and Perry’s strip of Stafford after beating left tackle Riley Reiff on the edge. Burnett snagged the bouncing ball at the 1-yard line and carried it across the goal line for the score.

And yet, despite four takeaways, it was undeniably a poor performance overall.

“I’ve been through a lot of games statistically where it didn’t make sense what happened throughout the game,” Williams said of the oddity. “Those things tend to happen. You’ve just got to find a way to win, and we didn’t do that.”

Added Matthews: “I know statistics show that if you get three-plus turnovers you’re more than likely to win the game. But that also goes with giving up however many rushing yards and passing yards and so on (against an) offense having some struggles. It could have been worse without those turnovers.”

Inside the game:
McCarthy made it clear that he never considered benching Flynn in favor of Scott Tolzien, who was benched last week in favor of Flynn in the Packers’ 26-26 tie with Minnesota.

“I didn’t really feel Matt had a lot of great opportunities frankly,” McCarthy said, referring to the constant pressure Flynn faced. “Hey, he didn’t play clean either. (But) it wasn’t just one person’s problem today. Like I said, they dared us to throw the football at ‘em and we tried and they won.”

Indeed, the Lions stacked the box on Lacy and the approach worked. McCarthy got so worked up after Flynn’s fumble in the third quarter that McCarthy tossed his play-call sheet in frustration.

“When you have personnel matchups, you try to tilt it one way or the other. They felt they had a matchup up front and they tilted it, and they put it on their guys up front and they were very successful in a big way,” McCarthy said. “We felt that we would potentially have a favorable matchup on the perimeter, but we never got to it. So they tilted the game their way.”

Quote, unquote:
“It’s one loss. We don’t feel very good about ourselves right this minute, I think that’s to be expected. Everyone understands what the expectations are every time you take the field, that’s to win football games. We’re a wounded team that got drilled today by a good football team. That’s’ the facts of the matter. We have a long weekend. Hopefully we’ll get some more people back. But frankly, you got to run the football, you got to pass protect, you have to get off blocks, you have to tackle better. We’ve had two months of that here in the last three or four weeks. Our team is a little different right now. That’s obvious to everybody but it’s no excuse, I’m not particularly happy, and it starts obviously with my performance. That’s not the type of football we ever want to go out and play. We got drilled today.” –Packers coach Mike McCarthy, on the loss.

Injury report:
The lone injury was a big one: Center Evan Dietrich-Smith left the game with a knee injury just before halftime. That meant moving right guard T.J. Lang to center, just as the Packers had against Philadelphia on Nov. 10 when Dietrich-Smith suffered a knee injury in that game. Only this time, instead of moving right tackle Don Barclay – making his first start in three weeks after injuring his knee against the Eagles, too – to right guard and bringing Marshall Newhouse off the bench to play right tackle, McCarthy simply inserted Newhouse at right guard, even though Barclay said Newhouse hadn’t taken a single guard snap in practice during the week.

“He’s coming into an unexpected role,” Barclay said of Newhouse. “Not getting any reps at guard, but it’s what the team (felt) was best. They put him in. He’s the most experienced. He was willing to fulfill that. It’s tough going against a great player like Suh and not getting any reps.”

Eventually, the Packers benched Newhouse in favor of rookie Lane Taylor. Barclay later was taken out so Derek Sherrod could see action.

“You have to bring a guard in that’s a guard and have him play center. You bring in the six man into the line of scrimmage, that’s two different guys switching positions. It’s tough,” said rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari, who had a rough afternoon, too. “You talk about the best offensive lines are the most cohesive offensive lines, so you want those five to go through everything, through thick and thin, good and bad, and it’s hard when one of them goes down. T.J. has been working guard all week. Evan was working center. Obviously again with his mannerisms, too, and his cadence, especially on the road that’s tough.”

Meanwhile, running back Johnathan Franklin, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Saturday, said he had only suffered a concussion in Sunday’s game against Minnesota. Franklin was listed on the injury report as having had both a concussion and a neck injury, but Franklin said his neck was not an issue.

The only other injury Thursday was to Ryan Taylor, who took a blow to the head. He was tested for a concussion and cleared to return.

Extra points:
Williams was flagged 15 yards for making contact with back judge Dino Paganelli after Joique Bell’s touchdown run to make it 33-10. Williams slapped Paganelli’s hand away from him as he was coming off the field and said afterward that he didn’t realize it was an official.

“I wasn’t really paying attention. I just saw a guy walk in front of me and kind of brush up on me, I just kind of knocked his arm off. That’s about it,” Williams said. “It was just emotions running. It wasn’t much. There wasn’t anything behind it.”

Williams called the penalty “a total misunderstanding.”

Sherrod, the team’s 2011 first-round pick who hadn’t played in a game since breaking his leg and requiring emergency surgery in Kansas City on Dec. 18, 2011, came in right tackle late in the game in pace of Barclay. Barclay wasn’t aware if he was benched or the coaches simply wanted to give Sherrod some snaps on offense.

“You’ll have to talk to my coach or something,” Barclay said. “I think it was just giving him a chance, I guess.”

Sherrod, meanwhile, had seen action on the blocking unit for field goals and extra points but had not played on offense until Thursday.

The only positive thing to take away from the Detroit Demolition was Derek Sherrod getting in at OT, and making it through healthy. It had been two years since he had last played OT, when Marshall Newhouse kept letting Chiefs Tamba Hali go right around him, ultimately flying into and breaking Derek's leg.

The only positive thing to take away from the Detroit Demolition was Derek Sherrod getting in at OT, and making it through healthy. It had been two years since he had last played OT, when Marshall Newhouse kept letting Chiefs Tamba Hali go right around him, ultimately flying into and breaking Derek’s leg.

“I felt good just to get out there. Obviously, not the situation that I thought of but just having the plays out there, it felt good,” Sherrod said. “It has been a while since I’ve gotten actual a rep with the offense. It was definitely a milestone.


Full story here

Mike Vandermause column: Motown beatdown caps miserable month

November 29, 2013 by  
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By Mike Vandermause, Green Bay Press-Gazette

~DETROIT — This will go down as the worst Green Bay Packers performance in coach Mike McCarthy’s eight-year head coaching tenure.

There is no way to put a positive spin on the Packers’ 40-10 abomination against the Detroit Lions on Thursday at Ford Field.

It’s one thing to lose, it’s another to not come close to being competitive.

The Packers’ pathetic attempt to play the game of football was embarrassing, and no one in the gloomy locker room afterward was about to argue.

“Everything right there, national TV, Thanksgiving Day, an opportunity to get back into first place in the division, and we came out and did that,” said receiver Jordy Nelson. “It’s embarrassing.”

What the Packers did was lay a giant egg for the entire football world to see. Their offense struggled to pick up first downs, let alone score points, and their defense offered little resistance to a Lions attack that rolled up 30 first downs and 561 yards.

“It’s embarrassing,” said Packers guard Josh Sitton. “We got our (expletive) beat. Plain and simple. They smacked us today. There’s no doubt about it. I’ve been playing this game a long time. This is one of the worst beats I’ve ever been a part of.”

The Packers finished the miserable month of November with an 0-4-1 record since Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone.

The season went from flying high and optimistic, to dead in the water the moment Shea McClellin slipped passed RT Don Barkley and crushed Rodgers down cracking his collarbone.

The season went from flying high and optimistic, to dead in the water the moment Shea McClellin slipped passed RT Don Barkley and crushed Rodgers down cracking his collarbone.

When the month started, the Packers were battling for the best record in the NFC.

Now they look like one of the worst teams in the league and are on the brink of playoff elimination.

Sure, Rodgers could return next week and provide a much-needed spark. But it might be too little, too late for a team that has gone in the tank since its star player went down.

The next-man-up theory clearly doesn’t work when it comes to the quarterback position, as Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn have proven.

Flynn had that deer-in-the-headlights look against the Lions. When he wasn’t taking a safety, fumbling or throwing an interception, he was running for his life and getting crushed by the Lions’ fierce pass rush in what became the Packers’ most inept offensive display under McCarthy.

“I’m not particularly happy, and it starts obviously with my performance,” McCarthy said. “That’s not the type of football we ever want to go out and play. We got drilled today.”

McCarthy seems powerless to stop the month-long slide that began with Rodgers’ injury, and no player has stepped up to fill the void.

A bad loss like this could shake the Packers’ confidence beyond repair, although players seemed convinced that wouldn’t happen.

“I don’t know, I’m not shaken,” said cornerback Tramon Williams. “I don’t think the guys in this locker room are shaken, either. We have a good group of guys.”

Perhaps the only thing the Packers have salvaged over the past month is team unity. It’s a group that doesn’t point fingers or cause dissension even in the midst of adversity.

“It really, really hurts,” said safety Morgan Burnett of the lopsided loss. “It sucks. … Everybody feels the same way. You don’t like to lose. Everyone has a competitive spirit, but I know for sure guys are not going to give up. Guys are going to keep fighting.”

But at some point those good intentions must translate into winning performances on the field, and that isn’t happening.

It’s as if the Packers have been treading water until Rodgers returns. But in their loss to the Lions, they look like they’re sinking.

“You can’t rely on one man to carry your team,” Burnett said. “It takes a team to work together and get the job done, and that’s what we have to do.”

The Packers have been preaching that message for the past five games, but instead of getting better, things are getting worse.

Following their Thanksgiving debacle, the Packers are in such a mess that maybe not even Rodgers can save their season.

Original story here

Lions embarrass Packers, 40-10, on Thanksgiving Day

November 28, 2013 by  
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By Tyler Dunne, Journal-Sentinel

~Detroit — So life without Aaron Rodgers didn’t do so well for the Green Bay Packers.

Maybe the offense does get the quarterback back next week. But maybe it’s too late.

Thursday’s 40-10 loss to the Detroit Lions is easily one of the worst defeats in the team’s recent history. The Packers were embarrassed in every aspect of the game, all game, and looked nothing like a team pushing for the playoffs.

The team’s fourth starting quarterback this season, Matt Flynn, was overwhelmed. The defense’s midseason meltdown hit a new low against Detroit’s array of weapons. And now the Lions, not the Packers, took control of the NFC North.

Rodgers is closer to returning from his broken collarbone. But going 0-4-1 in his absence, the Packers are on the outside looking in.

Flynn finished 10 of 20 for 139 yards. The Packers’ longest run went for four yards. Overall, the Lions out-gained Green Bay, 561-126.

Thus, the 40-10 final score was actually kind. This one could’ve gotten uglier if not for a trio of early turnovers.

And by the game’s end, Detroit was playing its back-up quarterback. To take a knee.

Player of the Game: Pick your player on Detroit’s offense. Matthew Stafford. Reggie Bush. Calvin Johnson. And many, many others all embarrassed the Packers today. We’ll go with the player at the controls here. Matthew Stafford’s turnovers may ultimately spell Detroit’s demise in the playoffs. But he shook off early mistakes Thursday — and scattered boo’s at Ford Field — to pass for 330 yards and three touchdowns. The Lions have a quarterback capable of taking them the distance…if he takes care of the ball. At his best, Stafford is tough to beat.

Turning point: This one got away from Green Bay in a hurry, but Ndamukong Suh’s safety in the third quarter all but sealed the deal. Suh blew past Marshall Newhouse to take down Flynn and give the Lions a 26-10 lead. The Lions were able to get the ball back, score again, and run away with the win.

Matt Flynn is mauled for a safety by Suh, who blew right through Newhouse and Lang. Flynn deserves a Warrior Award for simply surviving the game behind that offensive, and I do mean "offensive" line. They were atrocious in pass protection as well as run-blocking. The biggest hole they gave Eddie Lacy was a 4-yard run where he got 3 of the 4 yards after contact. The OL did do well on the opening play, a lovely screen pass to Lacy that went for 20 yards.

Matt Flynn is mauled for a safety by Suh, who blew right through Newhouse and Lang.
Flynn deserves a Warrior Award for simply surviving the game behind that offensive, and I do mean “offensive” line. They were atrocious in pass protection as well as run-blocking. The biggest hole they gave Eddie Lacy was a 4-yard run where he got 3 of the 4 yards after contact.
The OL did do well on the opening play, a lovely screen pass to Lacy that went for 20 yards.  –Photo Mark Hoffman JSOnline

Big Number: 7 — Sacks for the Lions defense. The front four dominated. Josh Sitton didn’t get the last word in Detroit.

What went right: Not much. Green Bay’s defense did force turnovers, and those have been hard to come by this season. Even as it was steamrolled up and down the field, the Packers used forced fumbles by Clay Matthews and Nick Perry to keep it close. Perry’s sack/strip of Stafford led to a Morgan Burnett 1-yard fumble recovery for a score. Sam Shields also came down with a jump-ball interception in the end zone while covering Calvin Johnson.

On offense, this was Green Bay’s worst performance in, likely, years.

What went wrong: Where do you start? The defense was gashed by air, by ground all Thanksgiving Day long. Calvin Johnson was only one problem for the Packers. This Lions offense is deep, with weapons from Johnson on down to ex-Packer Jeremy Ross. Reggie Bush and Joique Bell picked up where Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart left off a week ago, ripping off 211 yards on 39 attempts. Bush’s speed and Bell’s power complemented each other perfectly and had Green Bay’s grasping for air.

When Matthew Stafford wasn’t turning the ball over, he was picking apart the defense.

Stafford found Ross for a touchdown early over the middle and then connected with Johnson for a 20-yard score that gave the Lions a 24-10 edge. On the second score, the Packers blitzed and it appeared M.D. Jennings slipped on Johnson over the middle.

As coaches warned, they couldn’t spend all of their attention on Johnson because of Bush. He’s a rare weapon that Green Bay couldn’t control. On one third and 4, Detroit flexed Bush wide right and drew A.J. Hawk in 1-on-1 coverage. Bush beat the linebacker deep for 32 yards.

Offensively, the Packers’ offensive line caved. And bad turned to worse when Evan Dietrich-Smith left the game with a knee injury. On the ground, Eddie Lacy mustered just 16 yards on 10 carries.

Original story here

Records could fall in Detroit today as Capers’ unit gets gobbled up for the whole world to see

November 28, 2013 by  
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By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider senior editor

~Calvin Johnson enters the Thanksgiving Day game versus the Packers as the NFL receiving leader. Matthew Stafford is third in the NFL in passing, trailing just the two MVP leaders Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.

calvin johnson

Earlier this season, Johnson had over 300 yards in one game, which was the second highest total in the history of the league.

Today, against a Packers defense that managed to make both Christian Ponder and backup running back Toby Gerhart look like legitimate Pro Bowl candidates last week in the tie game versus the Minnesota Vikings on the slow frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. calvin packers 3

Today, that same awful defense is on the fast track in Detroit, facing some serious firepower in Megatron and Reggie Bush.

The Packers got their Christmas present in week five this year against the Lions when Johnson was a surprising scratch from the game due to a knee issue. Facing the Lions without Calvin allowed the defense to key more closely on Bush, and they did a great job shutting him down with many eyes on him.

Today, that won’t be the case. calvin packers 1

Look for the Lions to expose the Packers linebackers in coverage and utilize Bush out of the backfield for some big gains.

Megatron is a whole other can of worms. Even with good coverage, he can simply go above the defensive backs.

calvin packers burnettSafety help is essential, but we’ve all gotten used to the Packers safeties, Morgan Burnett and MD Jennings, offering little positive help.

Often, if in position, they just knock the ball away from each other and into the arms of the wide receiver. DeSean Jackson was gifted the Eagles first touchdown like this three games ago, propelling the Eagles to that win.  calvin packers bush

I believe the Packers offense will have some success behind Matt Flynn.

But the Lions have a formidable front on defense and they do a good job against the run. Eddie Lacy won’t be very effective, and then the Lions will tee off on Flynn, exposing Marshall Newhouse time and time again on the right edge. That will cause more help to come towards Newhouse, which will allow some leaks up the middle, just like last week when the Vikings inside linebacker was able to come right through the middle and just plaster Flynn smack in the face as he was getting ready to pass.

Don’t forget about the Packers super soft coverage units on special teams. Reggie Bush, Major Wright

It would be poetic justice for former Packer WR and KR Jeremy Ross to take one to the house today.
I was one of the few who thought releasing him earlier this year was a mistake, and they made him the scapegoat for the terrible blocking on returns. When I say blocking, I mean no blocking.

Lions 47
Packers 27

Double Coverage: Packers at Lions

November 28, 2013 by  
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By Michael Rothstein and Rob Demovsky | ESPN.com

~Things seemed focused completely on football this week — at least for a day.

Then Packers offensive lineman Josh Sitton changed all of that Tuesday evening when he went on WSSP Radio in Milwaukee and gave his opinion of the Detroit defense, particularly the defensive line.

It wasn’t a pretty assessment.

“They go after quarterbacks. Their entire defense takes cheap shots all the time. That’s what they do. That’s who they are,” Sitton said. “They’re a bunch of a dirtbags or scumbags. That’s how they play, and that’s how they’re coached. It starts with their frickin’ coach. It starts with the head coach, [Jim] Schwartz. He’s a d—, too. I wouldn’t want to play for him. It starts with him, and their D-coordinator and their D-line coach. They’re all just scumbags and so are the D-line.”

Well then.

In a game with the feel of an elimination contest, Sitton added another layer of fun and intrigue — at least in the pregame. ESPN.com Lions reporter Michael Rothstein and Packers reporter Rob Demovsky break down the Thanksgiving Day matchup.

Rothstein: There is a long history with these two teams — even on Thanksgiving going back to the Ndamukong Suh stomp of Evan Dietrich-Smith — so were you surprised at all that Sitton decided to rip into the Detroit defense and Lions coach Jim Schwartz?

Demovsky: If anyone on the Packers was going to pop off, Sitton would be the first guess followed by his offensive linemate T.J. Lang. They’re the two most outspoken guys on the team. Let’s face it: Sitton probably said what a lot of people around the league have been thinking about the Lions. That said, it probably wasn’t the smartest move to make before a game that you’re going into with your backup quarterback. It was already going to be an uphill battle. As entertaining and refreshing as it was, I don’t see how this helped the Packers’ cause.

Which team will win this matchup?
Rothstein: I see your point there, but I also wonder how much it really matters. I’ve never been a believer that this type of talk — especially on the professional level — really matters a whole bunch in an actual game. It’s fun for fans and gives us something to chat about, for sure, but when you’re dealing with grown men, I just don’t know how much it really changes a game.

Moving on, Rob, what happens at the quarterback position this week with Green Bay? Does Matt Flynn’s history with Detroit play a role here?

Demovsky: When Mike McCarthy said Aaron Rodgers’ chances of playing on Thursday were “slim to none,” it seemed obvious that Flynn would be the starter even though McCarthy wouldn’t commit to anything. He was much more effective than Scott Tolzien because he can do more in the offense. He’s much better versed in running the Packers’ version of the no-huddle, which has become a staple of their offense in recent years. Flynn actually has played two games against Detroit. Everyone remembers that 2011 game — the one that made him about $15 million with his 480-yard, six-touchdown performance — but don’t forget he also struggled in relief of Rodgers in the 2010 game at Ford Field after Rodgers left with a concussion.

How are the Lions approaching the Packers’ quarterback situation?

Rothstein: Seemingly by preparing as if Rodgers was going to play. Detroit doesn’t see much of a change in the offense from Rodgers to Flynn, so they are going to prepare for the same offense the Packers usually run. Of course, the Lions could be in better shape if Green Bay chooses to run the ball more since the Lions haven’t given up a rushing touchdown since Week 4. So if the Packers roll with a heavy dose of Eddie Lacy, that could be a benefit for the Lions.

This obviously leads into the next question: How does Green Bay’s offense change with Flynn in the lineup, or is Detroit accurate in how it says it is going to prepare? And how much different is this offense from what the Lions saw in October?

Demovsky: Of all the backup quarterbacks the Packers have played this season, Flynn is probably most like Rodgers, although none has the arm strength Rodgers possesses. But in terms of knowing the system, being able to read defenses and having the freedom to make checks at the line of scrimmage, Flynn is probably the next best option. Still, without Rodgers, there are major differences. Flynn doesn’t throw the deep ball as well, and he doesn’t have the touch. That was evident on the third-and-goal play in overtime when Flynn badly overthrew Jordy Nelson on a fade.

Speaking of different offenses, the Packers got a break by not having to face Calvin Johnson in the first meeting. Now, the Lions not only have Johnson but also have Nate Burleson back. What’s the dynamic with those two?

Straight losses for the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving, a game the team plays every season.
Rothstein: The dynamic is pretty good and should give the Lions another playmaker the rest of the season. The biggest issue for Detroit’s offense Sunday was Matthew Stafford’s inaccuracy, but when he was on, the offense was able to move well with Burleson, Johnson and Reggie Bush out there. If teams focus on those three guys, Brandon Pettigrew and Kris Durham have shown, in spurts, to be effective. That’s the entire plan with this offense.

Of course, it still only resulted in 21 points last Sunday, but that is at least Detroit’s plan.

Both of these teams remain in the playoff picture despite fairly average seasons thus far. What do you think this says about the Packers — and the NFC North?

Demovsky: It’s amazing that the Packers haven’t won since Rodgers got hurt yet they’re only a half-game out of first place. Certainly, Rodgers gave them a nice cushion with a 5-2 record, but the Lions and Bears certainly missed opportunities to bury Green Bay over the last month. There’s probably only two or three elite teams in the NFC, and none of them resides in the North. Can you see any of these teams going on the road in the playoffs and beating a team like the Saints or Seahawks? I can’t.

The Packers might not admit it, but I think this is an elimination game for them. Do you think it would have the same consequences for the Lions if they lose?

Rothstein: Tough to say for the Lions, but it would certainly put them in a bad position having lost three straight games. I think it all depends on what Chicago does. If the Bears were to lose, then it’s still a race. Otherwise, the Lions would be chasing two teams and that won’t bode well for a team that hasn’t won a division title this century. If Detroit loses, it becomes a very difficult path to the playoffs. It would still be possible, but there would certainly be a lot of doubt for a franchise that just doesn’t make the playoffs all too often.

Original story here


The final word on Thursday’s matchup at Ford Field:

Rob Demovsky: The Packers couldn’t beat the 2-8 Vikings at Lambeau Field on Sunday. How in the world can you expect them to beat the 6-5 Lions in Detroit? They could be all but eliminated from playoff consideration unless Aaron Rodgers somehow makes a miraculous Thanksgiving Day return.
Lions 27, Packers 17
Michael Rothstein: After two straight fourth-quarter defeats have left this season suddenly teetering, Detroit needs a victory in this game to keep things going in a positive direction. Expect Matthew Stafford to atone for his mistakes last game.
Lions 31, Packers 23

Packers confirm Matt Flynn the starting QB for Thanksgiving game vs. Lions

November 27, 2013 by  
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By Marc Weinreich, CNNSI.com

~The Packers have confirmed on Twitter that Matt Flynn will be the team’s starting quarterback when the Detroit Lions host Green Bay on Thanksgiving.

Flynn, a former backup in Green Bay, re-signed with the team on Nov. 12 to help fill the void left by Aaron Rodgers, who returned to practice this week but is still questionable for a return this season after suffering a fractured left clavicle during a Week 9 victory at home against the Chicago Bears.

Matt Flynn will make the start tomorrow in Detroit. Packer fans hope he finishes the game as well, and gets the team their 1st win since before the injury to Rodgers.

Matt Flynn will make the start tomorrow in Detroit. Packer fans hope he finishes the game as well, and gets the team their 1st win since before the injury to Rodgers.

Thursday’s start for Flynn will mark the Packers’ 4th different quarterback this month; Green Bay had started just 3 different quarterbacks from September 1992 to October 2013.

Flynn will be backed up by Scott Tolzien, who played last Sunday in a 26-26 tie with the Minnesota Vikings. Seneca Wallace had started for a 27-13 loss against the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this month but was injured early in the 1st quarter. The last time Flynn played against the Lions in 2011, he went off for 480 yards and 6 touchdowns in a 45-41 win for Green Bay.

The Packers are currently 5-5-1 and 3rd in the NFC North.

Full story here

Thompson and McCarthy’s backup-QB experiment has failed

November 20, 2013 by  
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By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider.com senior editor

GREEN BAY~It’s time to admit the obvious. The Packers backup-quarterback experiment has failed, and it’s probably going to cost the Packers a playoff appearance.

Flying high at 5-2 and expecting to beat the Bears and move to 6-2, Ted Thompson’s worst nightmare became reality.

Now, just 13 days and three losses later, Thompson’s Packers have free-fallen to 5-5 and only ahead of one team in the NFC North, the 2-8 Minnesota Vikings.

How did it all happen?
Rodgers. Collar bone.

And Graham Harrell.
B.J. Coleman.
Vince Young.
Seneca Wallace.
Scott Tolzien.

Vince Young looked horrible in Kansas City in the final preseason game, and was shockingly released. I believe that was a mistake. I believe this team would have won at least one of the past three games if Young was not cut and replaced with the weak-armed, and old-body of Seneca Wallace.

Vince Young looked horrible in Kansas City in the final preseason game, and was shockingly released. I believe that was a mistake. I believe this team would have won at least one of the past three games if Young was not cut and replaced with the weak-armed, and old-body of Seneca Wallace.

Thompson, and quarterback-guru Mike McCarthy, have tried to mold all of the above guys into NFL quarterbacks capable of winning. They spent years on Harrell, and for all the weeks of lip-service where they kept telling us that they” love the progress Harrell has made”, and that they “have confidence in him”, when push came to shove, they gave up on him.

Then they also gave up on Coleman, after more than a full year working with him, trying to turn him into something.

They finally went against Thompson’s grain and gave a shot to a player who had actually played for another NFL team, which Thompson intentionally tries to avoid, as the trend speaks for itself. Vince Young looked decent in the pre-season, until that final pre-season game at Kansas City, and he was shockingly released.

Interesting to note now that those same Kansas City Chiefs were the longest undefeated team of this season, and their defense has been record-setting. They didn’t allow more than 17 points in any game until this week against the record-setting Peyton Manning-led Broncos. They still held Denver to it’s season-low in offensive points, and held Manning to one touchdown pass, in a year he had thrown more than any QB thru 9 games had ever thrown.

But we’re often told to never question anything that Thompson and McCarthy do, because they always know best.  Especially about quarterbacks. And you are just a fan and couldn’t possibly have an opinion different from them that would be right.

Well what’s happened when that was finally put to a test, and Rodgers finally went down?

That answer is obvious to everyone now. This team has lost three games since Rodgers broke his collar bone, and two of them were at home against teams the Packers were/would have been a 10+point favorite against with Rodgers. Barring rare upsets, those would have been wins.

Most likely, so would the game at the Giants have been. That would have put the Packers at 8-2, or 7-3 had they dropped one of those three games as a favorite.

How did we get there?

Jason Campbell was the next pick after Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 draft. How ironic would it have been had he taken over from Rodgers in the Bears game? Not sure how ironic, but I suspect he would have gotten more wins than Wallace and Tolzien have gotten.

Jason Campbell was the next pick after Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 draft. How ironic would it have been had he taken over from Rodgers in the Bears game? Not sure how ironic, but I suspect he would have gotten more wins than Wallace and Tolzien have gotten.

The quarterback-experiment failed, plain and simple.

Sure, the Packers are missing two extremely important targets in Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley. No other NFL team is missing a more important pair of targets than those two are.

But in Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Jarrett Boykin, the Packers still have a trio of receivers better than most. And Eddie Lacy had been running better than any NFL back over the past 4-5 games. Any back, Peterson, Gore, Forte, and McCoy included.

Matt Hasselbeck is old, but he's still good enough to have engineered a win or two for this Packers team over the past three weeks.

Matt Hasselbeck is old, but he’s still good enough to have engineered a win or two for this Packers team over the past three weeks.

The defense has been terrible though, although some say this is partly due to the loss of Rodgers.

It’s true that the offense and their time of possession, turnovers, has a direct effect on the defense. But the defense has been atrocious, especially the back end which still misses Nick Collins and Charles Woodson. Again, Thompson and McCarthy went young & faith on Burnett, Jennings, and McMillian, instead of veterans like Woodson, or a Laron Landry type.

What should Thompson and McCarthy have done with the quarterback situation?
Well that depends.

At first, their goal always has seemed like trying to turn a rock into a diamond. They wanted to take a failure in Harrell, and “mold” him into a competent NFL quarterback. Maybe to show how great they are at turning a dud into a stud, finding a diamond in the rough.

I’ve still never been convinced why, with a young starter in Rodgers, you would want to do this. They don’t need to groom his replacement yet.

They should have been focusing on having a backup who is A) competent, B) smart, C) ready now.

That would mean a veteran who has shown that he can come in and keep the offense moving, not make young mistakes that cost ball games. Every single game in the NFL is huge as far as the W’s and L’s go.

Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien were not ready. Wallace had been out of football for a long time. And there were reasons for that. He never had a strong arm to begin with. Tolzien has a good arm, and has some potential perhaps, but he’s not ready. He still makes those learning mistakes, which cost ball games. This team, at 5-2 and built to go deep in the playoffs, should have not been relying on a QB who needs time to learn.

There were plenty of other options out there after last season, who with an off-season, could have learned this offense and been ready by that second drive versus Chicago.

Matt Moore, here talking with former Packers OC Joe Philbin, has never gotten a full fair shot, but over the past two seasons, he has racked up 17 TD's to 9 Int's. A ratio like that over the past three weeks would most likely have the Packers at least 6-4 or 7-3 instead of the current 5-5.

Matt Moore, here talking with former Packers OC Joe Philbin, has never gotten a full fair shot, but over the past two seasons, he has racked up 17 TD’s to 9 Int’s. A ratio like that over the past three weeks would most likely have the Packers at least 6-4 or 7-3 instead of the current 5-5.

Jason Campbell was the pick immediately after Aaron Rodgers in that 2005 NFL Draft. His career has not gone as planned, and he’s bounced around teams from Washington to Oakland and Chicago last year. This off-season, the Browns took him in. He’s been pressed into action with the Browns because of injuries and poor play, to Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer.

His first two starts, against those same tough Kansas City Chiefs, and the Baltimore Ravens, he threw for five touchdowns and zero interceptions.

That’s with the Browns cast of receivers and running backs. Numbers like that in his first two games for the Packers would have put this Packers team at seven wins at least, and in first place instead of second from last.

Matt Cassell, Matt Hasselbeck, and Matt Moore also would have been much more effective backups.
They’ve done it before, which is a factor that has been overlooked when relying on Harrell, Coleman, and Tolzien.

Potential means nothing now if they aren’t ready yet.

The three Matt’s have done it.
Cassell is 31, Moore is 29, while Hasselbeck is the old guy at 38. Of course, Hasselbeck was originally a Packer and would have loved to come back here to backup Rodgers instead of gone to Nashville.

As recently as the 2011 season (remember the season the Packers started 13-0, before getting beaten up at Kansas City), Hasselbeck provided some relief for the Titans, against the Baltimore Ravens. Remember, that was an offense without weapons like Nelson and Jones.

In the past two seasons with the Dolphins, Matt Moore has thrown 17 TD’s to 9 Int’s. Those aren’t Rodgers numbers, but they’re better than some good quarterbacks like Eli and Big Ben, and far better than Tolzien. I’ve always liked Moore, and he has a strong arm.

Cassel has had some serious struggles the past few seasons on a terrible Chiefs offense. But as recently as the Packer Super Bowl season of 2010, Cassel put up 27 TD’s to only 7 Int’s. That’s extremely efficient, and done so on a team without a system like the Packers have. This year, he landed in the cess-pool of Minnesota, where they don’t have a clue what they are doing with quarterbacks. You like that Greg Jennings?

Cassel was forced to start a game versus Pittsburgh, in London, and he responded with a win in which he had a passer rating of 123.4 with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Again, it was just one game, but just one game like that would have the Packers at six wins minimum, as opposed to 5-5 current.

Lastly, the Packers could have been the team that gambled on Tim Tebow.
He’s not for everybody, and because A) he’s such a great, strong, religious person, B) he’s an awful thrower of the person and C) the media covers, rips him like no single person since Elvis probably, he’s a lightning-rod and a dangerous player to add to a team.

Tim Tebow won a lot of ugly games with a Denver team like the Packers just lost three of.

Tim Tebow won a lot of ugly games with a Denver team like the Packers just lost three of.

Belichick tried it this off-season in New England, but he didn’t make their final roster. They, however, have a backup quarterback in Ryan Mallett whom they really like, and who was considered a first-round talent when in college at Arkansas.

Tebow is a terrible passer of the football. But with talent around him, and a strong running game, he can and has still done this:
Tim Tebow’s arm beats defending champion Steelers in overtime

Look, his throwing motion is ugly and his arm strength is average at best. But he’s won games with clutch throws and runs, in college and in Denver. Unlike some like Young, he’s smart and studies the playbook hard. We don’t know what would have happened versus Chicago or Philly or the Giants, but I would bet money that had Tebow had the full off-season to work with McCarthy and this offense, that the team would have gotten at least one, maybe two, even all three wins.

This from WalterFootball about Tebow.

Dumb, homoclitic ESPN groupthink believes that Tim Tebow should either move to the tight end position or be relegated to the CFL. In reality, Tebow is a solid starting quarterback. He makes things happen on the football field (but not in practice, duh, Jets), inspires teammates and just wins football games. After all, leading a mediocre Denver team to the playoffs (after Kyle Orton’s horrific start with the same squad) and compiling 400 yards of offense against Dick LeBeau’s defense in a postseason victory is no fluke. Tebow still has room for growth. A coach with a great imagination could run a highly successful offense with the former Gator. The problem with Tebow has very little to do with what he does on the field. The media creates such a distraction with him that it can hurt the team. Tebow needs to go to a small-market organization to avoid that. The Jaguars make all the sense in the world, as Tebow would be a colossal upgrade over either Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne.


Packers lifeless again in the Meadowlands, lose, fall to third place in NFC North

November 17, 2013 by  
Filed under News

By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider senior editor

~Starting their third different quarterback in 13 days, the Packers offense was predictable and lifeless, and the defense once again made Eli Manning look like the Super Bowl MVP he used to be. The Packers lost to the Giants 27-13.

11 rodgers

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers throws a pass as his team warms up before an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

It wasn’t for a lack of effort from practice-squad quarterback Scott Tolzein.

But with leaks on the offensive line, especially around Marshall Newhouse with Jason Pierre-Paul, it made things miserable for the whole offense.

Coach McCarthy threw away the whole first quarter with the safe, predictable run-run-pass-punt sequence, allowing the Giants to get out to a 10-0 lead early in the 2nd quarter before the Packers had even gotten a single first down.

Mason Crosby was the Packers player of the game as he made a 57-yard field goal as the first half expired, with plenty of room to spare, to cut the score to 10-6 entering the second half, with the Packers having the ball to start the half.

Mason Crosby was the Packers best player on Sunday.

Mason Crosby was the Packers best player on Sunday.

The Packers failed to show up in the third quarter as they were outscored 10-0, with a Tolzein interception, as the Giants raced to a two touchdown lead.

Eddie Lacy capped a nice drive with a touchdown with under 13 minutes to go, to cut the lead to 20-13.

But after the defense did a great job getting the ball back for the offense to tie it up at 20, Tolzien found Giants DE Pierre-Paul for a 24-yard pick-six interception. Instead of a drive to tie it at 20, it was suddenly a 27-13 score and game over essentially.

Tolzein ended the game with an atrocious three interceptions. The good news for the Packers is that their defense finally came up with an interception as Tramon Williams picked off Eli Manning. The turnover lead to a Packers punt though.

The loss, the Packers third straight straight, sends the Packers to 5-5 and in freefall mode.

It’s just another game that showed why many personnel evaluators around the league said that if not for Aaron Rodgers, Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy would be flipping burgers or bagging groceries somewhere.

Green Bay Packers DE Mike Daniels provides an inside rush

November 17, 2013 by  
Filed under News

By Bob McGinn, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

~GREEN BAY, Wis. — Rapidly improving Mike Daniels has been rushing the passer at an almost identical rate as Cullen Jenkins did in his finest full seasons for the Green Bay Packers.

It has taken 2-1/2 years, but the Packers finally appear to have replaced Jenkins with an interior rusher of comparable skill and production.

“I’ll tell you what: Daniels is having a heck of a year,” an executive in personnel for an NFC team said at midweek. “If I’m talking to our offensive guards and tackles … he jumps all over the place … I’d say, ‘Hey, this is a guy you’ve got to be ready for.’

“He is a premier player.” daniels 7

The effervescent Daniels was taken aback by the praise.

“That’s awesome,” he said Friday. “I will continue to do what I’m doing or maybe take it up a notch.”

Until six weeks ago, Daniels was backing up Mike Neal and Datone Jones as a nickel rusher and coming off the bench as the fourth or fifth defensive lineman in base.

When injuries forced the move of Neal to linebacker, Daniels got a shot inside and, in the last four games, has 3-1/2 sacks.

He might be performing as well as any player on defense.

“If he keeps this up he’s a guy that can be one of the top guys rushing inside,” said guard T.J. Lang. “He’s got leverage and he’s a strong (expletive), and he’s quick, too. He’s tough to block.

“He’s coming 100 miles an hour every single play. He’s been doing a hell of a job for us.”

Interior rushers that can beat a one-on-one block or cave in the pocket against double-teams are worth their weight in gold. After letting Jenkins walk as an unrestricted free agent in 2011, the Packers didn’t find anyone as good for two seasons. daniels 2

But now here comes Daniels, a fourth-round draft choice from Iowa in 2012 who has made a robust surge in his second season.

Since 1991, the Journal Sentinel has been charting knockdowns and hurries by pass rushers. Together with sacks, the three-category statistic is referred to as pressures.

This year, Daniels has 17-1/2 pressures in 272 snaps, or one every 15.5 snaps. Pressure rates for other defensive linemen are Jones (one every 29), Johnny Jolly (one every 64.9) and B.J. Raji (one every 72.7).

When the Packers won the Super Bowl in Jenkins’ final game, he ended his seventh season with a pressure rate of one every 16.1 snaps.

Jenkins’ best mark in a full season also was one every 15.5 in 2006. He was off to a blistering start in 2008 (one every 11.6) before suffering a season-ending pectoral injury in Game 4. In Jenkins’ second season, his rate was just one every 43.3.

For Daniels, who has studied tape of Jenkins endlessly, it was music to his ears to learn his nine-game numbers were on a par with Jenkins’ top year.

“Thanks for bringing up that stat,” said Daniels. “I’ve impressed myself a little bit with that one and to be able to have caused almost as much havoc as he has. Now it will give me more incentive to put that extra work in.

“We’ll never be able to fill the Cullen Jenkins void unless they bring Cullen Jenkins back. Everybody’s a different player, everybody’s their own person. I bring what Mike Daniels can bring to the table.”

Position coach Mike Trgovac, who coached Jenkins and Daniels for two years apiece, calls them “two completely different pass rushers.”

The 32-year-old Jenkins, who will start Sunday for the New York Giants against the Packers, had better quick twitch and change of direction than Daniels, according to Trgovac.

Daniels pressured Eagles' QB Nick Foles to throw one early last week, often resulting in an interception. But this year receivers are usually open, and when balls are up for grabs like this, Packer DB's can't catch.

Daniels pressured Eagles’ QB Nick Foles to throw one early last week, often resulting in an interception. But this year receivers are usually open, and when balls are up for grabs like this, Packer DB’s can’t catch.

“Mike is more of a power rusher inside,” Trgovac said. “Cullen played a little bit more than Mike’s playing. Cullen can play the run, but Mike’s probably more consistent in that regard.”

Lang has swapped trade secrets with Daniels, who can’t seem to get enough of watching the great inside pass rushers.

Perhaps the defensive tackle whom he has scrutinized the most is Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins, who had 30 sacks in his first 59 games before blowing out his knee Oct. 31.

Daniels was all over the fact that Atkins also was a fourth-round selection (he was the 120th pick in 2010, Daniels was the 132nd in ’12). He certainly can see that squatty Atkins, at 6 feet 1-1/2 inches, is just an inch taller than him.

“I’ve done my research on Geno,” Daniels said. “Of course, he’s a bit sawed-off like I am.”

Atkins and Daniels both weigh in the 300 to 305-pound range. At the combine, Atkins ran a faster 40-yard dash (4.80 to 4.86 seconds) but Daniels had a better vertical jump and broad jump.

Their arm length and hand size were almost the same.

“If I’m blessed to get a name as big as his, that would be just icing on the cake,” said Daniels. “I need to stay the course and maintain my poise and focus.”

Big Mike celebrates a play against the Vikings.

Big Mike celebrates a play against the Vikings.

Daniels learned his lesson a year ago when he tried to imitate some of Jenkins’ moves and it didn’t work. Now he watches Atkins, a player of more comparable stature, and strives to incorporate his strengths into his game.

“The fact that no matter what, there can be one, two, three offensive linemen on (Atkins), he can be on his knees, he continues to push the pocket,” said Daniels. “That is very important to have that kind of power and strength, and just toughness.

“I’d love to have the kind of recognition he has. Because let’s be honest. If you watch him as an offensive-line coach, I’m sure they don’t just let him get many one-on-one’s because he’s so explosive and powerful.”

Already the double-teams are coming Daniels’ away. That’s benefited Jones but has hardly deterred Daniels, whose hard, fast sacks have been clocked in 3.5, 3.9, 3.6, 3.1 and 2.5 seconds.

Early in the week, an AFC personnel man admitted he hadn’t had time to watch Green Bay much and was unaware of Daniels’ ascension. Recognition also came slowly for Jenkins and Atkins, who had 3-1/2 sacks as a rookie part-time starter before breaking loose with 21 sacks in 2011-’12.

Daniels didn’t tie for the highest Wonderlic intelligence test score (28) among defensive tackles in his draft class by being unaware of the five-year extension signed by Atkins in September that included $15 million guaranteed.

Twenty-five games and 6-1/2 sacks into a career, Daniels tempers dreams with reality.

“I just have to take it play by play,” he said. “I’ll see what’s going on with the contract when I’m done playing and I’m looking back at my 401k.”

Full story here

QB Matt Flynn disputes ‘9-to-5er’ label

November 14, 2013 by  
Filed under News

By Jason Wilde, ESPN Wisconsin

~GREEN BAY – Matt Flynn isn’t sure who would have said it, but the Green Bay Packers new/old backup quarterback took exception to the claim that he didn’t work hard after signing a free-agent contract with the Seattle Seahawks in March 2012.

Flynn, who left Green Bay for a three-year, $26 million deal ($10 million guaranteed), was beaten out by then-rookie Russell Wilson last year in training camp. flynn seattle 6 This spring, Seahawks general manager John Schneider, a former Packers director of football operations, traded him to Oakland, where another ex-Packers director of football operations, Reggie McKenzie, is the general manager. Oakland cut Flynn Oct. 7, and Flynn signed with the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 14. The Bills released him on Nov. 4.

The Packers signed Flynn to a one-year, minimum-salary deal on Tuesday to back up Scott Tolzien, who’ll start in place of an injured Aaron Rodgers on Sunday against the New York Giants.

In a Nov. 9 story by veteran NFL writer Bob McGinn in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Flynn’s work habits were called into question by sources.

“Sources said the major reason Seattle gave the job to Russell Wilson in 2012 and then traded Flynn to Oakland was commitment,” McGinn wrote. “Flynn, according to sources, became a 9-to-5er and, not only was he outperformed, he also was outworked. One Seahawks teammate did say Flynn was a master on the ping-pong table. In Oakland, the combination of Flynn’s mediocre work habits and an awful showing Sept. 29 in a start against Washington led GM Reggie McKenzie to cut him.”

When those anonymous quotes were brought up to Flynn after much of the large crowd around him at his locker had dispersed Wednesday, he vehemently denied that he didn’t work hard in Seattle.

“Anybody who says I’m a 9-to-5er is ignorant, just straight forward. I work as hard as anybody does,” Flynn said. “I don’t try to rub it anybody’s faces or do it in front of coaches to make a point that I study. I do my job. I go about my business as a professional.

Matt Flynn didn't get much of a chance in Oakland when called upon. Here he's sacked by the Redskins.

Matt Flynn didn’t get much of a chance in Oakland when called upon. Here he’s sacked by the Redskins.

“I’m never going to have a moment where I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. It kind of gets to me a little bit that anybody would say that because that’s just an ignorant comment.”

Asked if he regretted anything he did in Seattle or Oakland, the 28-year-old Flynn said no.

“I have no regrets about the things I did preparation-wise, knowing what to do,” said Flynn, who threw just nine regular-season passes in Seattle and 34 in Oakland, where he started only one game. “Obviously, looking back at games, you wish you had made a throw here or there, but I don’t have any regrets about the decisions I made to go places or how I prepare. That’s just straight forward. I prepare my tail off and the things that I knew, that I needed to do … For whatever reason, it didn’t work out. There are a lot of factors that go into that. Just didn’t work out.”

Original story here

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