Monday, December 15, 2008

On Injuries And Getting The Breaks.

I don't want to start a protracted land war over this, but let me expand upon the points I made in my comment on $'s post on the demise of the '08 Packers:

I think the injury issue is greatly significant for a team like Green Bay. Fact is, to make a run like we made last year, we need our guys healthy. We don't have the system -- or, to call a spade a spade, we don't have the coaching -- to be able to make up for injuries to the likes of Barnett and Cullen Jenkins and Bigby and Grant and Tauscher and Wells. To win 11-13 games, we need our best people on the field, and we need them playing well. We can't plug-n-play like the Patriots can; we're not a machine that can run on spare parts.

Now, when I say that injuries are a major factor in this debacle, I don't mean that this fact exonerates McCarthy and Thompson in any way, shape, or form. We need to have a system, top to bottom, where the loss of a guy or two doesn't condemn the season to failure. But, fact is, we don't have that kind of system. With this GM and this coaching staff, we have to cross our fingers that guys don't get hurt, and two or three of them have career years, or our ceiling is 7-9.

As for my second point -- catching every break last year -- let's review the season game by game:
  • vs. Eagles: Pack wins on a last-second field goal following this sequence of events: Favre fumbles at midfield with four minutes left, but Eagles can't move the ball, and punt. Packers offense goes nowhere again, and GB punts -- but Eagles return man muffs it (that's what she said), and Pack gets the ball at the Eagles 30 with less than a minute left. Two runs, field goal, ball game.
  • @ Giants: The week after giving up 45 points to Dallas, the Giants defense -- the one that will later dominate the Patriots in the Super Bowl -- cedes another 35 to the Pack. Elisha Manning plays despite a separated shoulder. Also, DeShawn Fucking Wynn (!) runs for two touchdowns.
  • vs. Chargers: Trailing by four in the fourth quarter, the Packers are stopped on fourth-and-one at the San Diego one. The defense eventually forces a punt, and, on the very next play, the Chargers blow a coverage and Jennings turns a simple slant route into a 57-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Barnett picks off Phil Rivers on the next series to seal the deal.
  • @ Minnesota: Thank God for Brad Childress. The only man on the field who could stop Adrian Peterson was the Chiller, and he did just that, giving Peterson a mere twelve carries (and even then, Peterson manages to rush for 112 yards, not to mention that he averaged 32 yards per kickoff return).
  • vs. Bears: Loss.
  • vs. Redskins: On a day where the offense could do nothing, the Packers get a 57-yard fumble return from Charles Woodson for the game-winning score.
  • @ Broncos: After playing brilliantly for most of the game, the defense allows Denver to drive inside the Green Bay 10 with less than 30 seconds left. The Broncos call for a quick out to Brandon Marshall, but Jay Cutler fires a worm burner and one-hops his wide receiver, who had beaten Al Harris like a rented mule on the play. Overtime. Eighty-yard, game-winning touchdown to Jennings on one of the best balls Brett Favre has thrown in his life.
  • @ Chiefs: After the Chiefs take a 22-16 lead with 5 minutes to go, Favre finds Jennings on -- what else? -- a busted coverage, as Donnie Edwards fails to get deep enough to prevent a throw down the seam. Woodson returns a pick for a garbage-time TD in the final minute of the game.
  • vs. Vikings: A dominating 34-0 thrashing of the Mudducks. Not much else to say about this one.
  • vs. Carolina: The Panthers, having lost Jake Delhomme for the season, are forced to summon Vinnie Testaverde out of his AARP meeting. And then Steve Smith doesn't play either -- not that it would matter with a geriatric throwing you the ball.
  • @ Lions: Favre plays out of his mind, completing 20 passes in a row. The Lions continue to fall apart, dropping to 6-5 after starting the year 6-2.
  • @ Cowboys: Loss.
  • vs. Raiders: Bye week.
  • @ Rams: The Rams, by this point, had packed up the family truckster and were on the road to Wally World. Reports indicate that there may have been 500 people inside the Edward Jones Dome. (Is it still called the Edward Jones Dome?) Anyway, the Rams continue to mail it in, and the Packers win by 19.
  • @ Bears: Loss.
  • vs. Lions: The Lions complete their collapse, and the Packers enjoy Bye Week #2.
If you're scoring at home, that's a gift-wrapped victory in Week One, a somewhat fluky win in Week Three (stopped on the enemy one late in the game, winning score on a busted coverage) and another against the 'Skins, big breaks in the wins over Denver and KC, and wins over emaciated opponents in the Panthers, Rams, and Week 17 Lions.

So, no, I don't think I'm going out on much of a limb when I say that we got every bounce last year. A lot of things went right, a lot of Packers -- not just Favre -- made huge plays at critical moments, and a lot of players on the other teams had colossal brain farts at the worst possible moments.

This year, it's a different story. Again, I'm not saying this to exonerate McCarthy or Thompson. All I'm saying is that to go 13-3 in THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE with a team that isn't extraordinarily well coached and isn't loaded with talent, you need guys to stay healthy, and you need the ball to bounce your way. If you don't get those things, you worry about losing to an 0-15 team in Week 17.


Zone Defense is for Pussies said...

I agree 100% with Rubie. Everything (well almost everything...nice fucking throw on the INT Brett) went the Packers way until the Giants game where we failed to capitalize on a few missed field goals, a botched punt that we somehow didn't see, and the ball in OT at home. Looks like the football gods have payback on their minds this year either to even out the breaks from last year or make us pay for how we treated Lord Favre

Rubie Q said...

Sorry? You agree with me?

You bump yourself on the head this weekend? That's not the way things work around here.

Reid You Animal! said...

Beat me to the punch here. Nobody wants to remember that we pulled all those rabbits out of hats on several occasions last year.

If you ask me things are going to be fine. This year was kind of a write off year in my book to begin with. But if you look at it, we have a first year QB that is top 10in the NFL in Passer rating, TDs, and completion percentage (and he's 11th in yardage), we have a receiving corps that is among the youngest and most talented in the league, a running back that is pretty decent (though overpaid)and a back-up to him that I have always felt can be a successful in the league, especially in our system. And we have pieces in place on defense that make it not too far away from being serviceable. A few additions this offseason through the draft or free agency, combined with a 4th place schedule and a first round bye might not be such a far fetched notion next year.

Look at the turnaround of teams like Miami (1-15 to 9-5), The Jets (4-12 to 9-5), Baltimore (5-11 to 9-5), they've all gone from doormats to contenders and they're all in the AFC, which is universally agreed to be the tougher conference.

EMoney said...

Cartman - I agree with your assessment on the offensive side of the ball......almost. Rodgers, good; Receivers, good; Running backs, ok. However you are forgetting one very important piece that many people overlook as well. The OFFENSIVE LINE. I give you 2 examples of offensives with a lot of talent, but are horrible because of a horrible offensive line.....Cincinnati Bengals and St. Louis Rams. As the offensive line goes, the offense goes. Our line is average right now and 2 of our best and key lineman...Tauscher and Clifton....will likely not be here in the near future. Tauscher is a free agent at the end of the year, and there was little chance that we were going to pay him before the injury. After the injury....No chance. I'm unsure how much longer Clifton's deal is, but of the 2 he is cheaper but again I don't see Thompson paying him big left tackle money. He may prove me wrong though. So when your 2 best players on the line are tackles, and you lose at least 1 (maybe 2), your blocking is going to take a huge hit. This isn't good when we just invested 5 years in an unproven QB.

In terms of defense.....we are a long ways a way. We are averaging 28 pts per game offensively (top 10 in the league), are plus 7 in TO's for the year, and we have 5 wins. That's almost unfathomable. Our D is at or near the cellar in just about every defensive category (except return TD's), so I think we're farther away than people think. Aside from Kampman and maybe Pickett, our D-line is atrocious. Even when we send xtra LB's or CB's we don't amass a consistent pass rush. This is issue #1 in my book and HAS to be addressed this offseason. I like Barnett, but Hawk has been avg (a bit of a disappointment for #6 pick), and Poppinga/Chillar/whomever else....need I say more. Our CB's are overrated in my opinion, but still very good. If we had a sufficient Dline, they would perform even better. Unfortunately, they're about 1 year from collecting social security so we don't have time to rebuild. Safeties - avg. Collins was a reach and he's pretty much performed like one. Athletic but not quite smart enough to put it all together.

I don't see how next year will be that much better than this year. I'll wait to see what Teddy decides to NOT do in the offseason before I make my preseason predictions, but I'm not holding my breath. A few breaks this year and we win 8 or 9 games.....might make the playoffs, but that's about it. Ted needs to get aggressive in the draft and free agency in order for us to make that leap from mediocrity.

Now don't get mad at my "negativity" here. I'm not being negative, just realistic. Let me put on my helmet before the daggers start launching.

Zone Defense is for Pussies said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rubie Q said...

... And combine that with punching it in from the one against Carolina, and then not giving up a huge kick return and a fluke catch on a jump ball by a 5'6" guy in double coverage ...

... And combine THAT with the bogus holding call in the Houston game which took us out of field goal range ...

I mean, with a couple breaks, we could be 9-5 or 8-6. That's just the way it goes.

Also, ZDifP: use a real name one more time, and you're banned. Think I'm joking? Try me.

EMoney said...

We are horrible! The sky is falling! Rebuilding time! Fire the city of Green Bay! Holy sh*t.....where's the tylenol?

Zone Defense is for Pussies said...

I'd like the same restrictions put on $$. He's violated several times as well.

EMoney said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rubie Q said...

You're dead to me.