Saturday, September 29, 2012

Week 3: New Orleans at Green Bay

[Just one last thing about last week's game: the most damning exhibit against the replacement refs is that one if them - Lance "We Did a Damn Good Job" Easley - called the most controversial calls that cost the Packers the game (Sam Shields PI and the “touchdown”) and no one is even suggesting a conspiracy theory. No one is suggesting the game was fixed because EVERYONE knows it was just sheer incompetence.]
I actually have many, many more things to say about the Inaccurate Reception, but I'm working on letting things go.
Besides, there's nothing to do about it now and the Packers have to move on. 

  • When the league made the schedule, I doubt anyone thought this week’s Green Bay-New Orleans match-up would feature a 1-2 team against a 0-3 team.

  • After three weeks, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, and Peyton Manning are a combined 4-11.
Huh. Can't say I saw that coming.

  • Now, I’m really scared of the Saints. They’re 0-3 and -- well, they’re 0-3! They must be embarrassed, furious, and wanting to prove themselves to everyone. I don’t care what their record is. I don’t care how lost and disjointed they’ve looked. I don't care that Drew Brees has always been a bit overrated. He's still one of the best in the league, and he's still working with guys like Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles, Marques Colston, and Pierre Thomas.
"How dare you question my deified status? Kneel before me like the media does!"

  • Here’s the good news, though: the Packers are playing at home, they’re also furious, and their defense has looked very strong in the first three games.
I was able to wait a whole 3 weeks before using the Charles-bowing picture.

  • Here’s the even better news: New Orleans’ defense is woefully bad. Just terrible. They’ve given up 1,432 yards in the first three games. And now they’re dealing with some injuries, too. This is the perfect opportunity for Green Bay to get the offense going. I think once the Packers get into an offensive rhythm, things will shape up, and this game is the perfect springboard to finding that offensive rhythm. It’s no secret that Green Bay has been puzzlingly stagnant on offense, but they have played three very good defenses in San Francisco, Chicago, and Seattle.  

  • The Packers have to move on from Monday and bring the pain on Sunday. The Packers can totally dominate this game, if they:
    • maintain their first-ranked pass defense,
    • play decent run defense (it doesn’t have to be spectacular),
    • be patient enough to give Cedric Benson some carries to allow the passing game to open up,
    • and, when it does, exploit the Saints’ secondary like a reality TV mom exploits her child.

  • I think the Packers can do all of the above! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What. Just. Happened.

Is there really anything left to say about this game? The funny thing is that the horrific, game-stealing final call overshadows one of the worst reffed games I’ve ever seen. There was a ticky-ticky-tack pass interference call on Seattle’s Kam Chancellor. Then, the ref gave Aaron Rodgers a kicking ball on the 2-point conversion that the Packers missed. Brandon Browner took a dangerous cheap shot to Greg Jennings’ head which led to useless offsetting personal foul penalties.

But that was all before the final Seahawks drive. An interception of Russell Wilson that would have essentially sealed a Packers’ win was nullified by a phantom roughing the passer call on Erik Walden. Then, there was the supposed pass interference call on Sam Shields. When asked about it, the Seattle receiver Sidney Rice actually laughed about the call. I will even give you Golden Tate's blatant, two-handed shove in the back of Sam Shields on the final play that prevented Shields - who had inside position on Tate - from contesting the catch and allowed Tate a play on the ball. But the final call??????? That is four horrific, unconscionable, have-to-be-blind, game-costing penalties, all against the Packers, all on the final drive. What is left to say?

This video shows the plays in question:

The two refs standing in the endzone embarrassingly called opposite rulings, so I have no idea how it ended up being ruled a touchdown.
"Which one of us is right? ... Eeney, meeny, miny, moe..."

The most shocking thing of this all is that the final play was reviewed. And upheld. I think everyone who saw that saw that it was pretty impossible for Golden Tate to have simultaneous possession. As has been discussed on every tv channel, radio show, and internet site, simultaneous possession does not extend to players wrestling the ball away after an opponent has established possession. This is not what happened, as Tate was unable to wrestle the ball from M.D. Jennings, but I bring it up because that’s the only possible excuse that could be used, since Jennings clearly has both hands on the ball and the ball pinned to his chest before he comes down. You can see that Tate has his left hand going for the ball, but his right arm is free, away from the ball. So don’t tell me that a guy with one hand grappling for the ball has equal possession as the guy who has two hands around the ball and the ball against his body.

As for after: 
Do not tell me this is simultaneous possession.

At least the rest of the country’s outraged along with me. Jon Gruden looked like he wanted to throw up. I thought Trent Dilfer and/or Steve Young was going to burst into tears talking about the integrity of the game. Justin Tuck says it's like playing craps. Aaron was less kind. Greg Jennings wanted Golden Tate to take a lie-detector test. 

How interesting is it that this happened to the only fan-owned team? Imagine if this had happened to Dallas, for instance. It would have put Jerry Jones in a very, very difficult spot. If he saw his team get screwed out of a W, wouldn't he have to break solidarity with the owners and say the replacement refs have to go? I think the league kind of got lucky that the Packers - and not any one of the other 31 teams - were on the raw end of this deal.

  • Sigh. Let’s talk about the rest of the game - which is completely moot. The first half was possibly the worst half of a professional offense I’ve ever seen. 8 bleeping sacks?? What on earth is wrong with the offensive line? Aaron Rodgers is going to be in a wheelchair before the end of the season if this keeps up. It seemed very fortunate that the Packers were only down 7 at the half.
  • The second half, on the other hand, was great. Mike McCarthy should have adjusted way, way earlier - the Packers only ran four run plays in the entire first half. When they committed to the run, they absolutely dominated time of possession, number of plays, and yards, and took control of the game.
  • The Seahawks really killed themselves -- oops! I mean would have killed themselves, had they lost -- with stupid, pre-snap penalties. It really kept Green Bay in the game in the first half, although they had their fair share of penalties -- oops! I mean, they had their share of penalties.

  • How amazing were the punters? It’s a sign of how bad the offenses were that the punters stood out as the best players, but they were both great. Jon Ryan was just destroying the ball - he had a 73 yard punt!!

  • The defense was also excellent on both sides. Seattle has a fierce secondary, and, apparently, a very strong line, as well. The Packers defense played great, too. Though they only recorded one sack, they kept Wilson from finding any rhythm or comfort zone. They contained Marshawn Lynch admirably. They also had two interceptions -- oh, wait. Never mind ...

  • I love how’s tagline for fantasy football is “Go Legit.”  Don’t try to talk to me about legitimacy after this weekend, National Football League.

  • Now this is what I was going to write about the referees before Monday’s game:

  • That was on Sunday. Before I was mad.
“It's that aspect of replacement referee performance that's really come to surprise me over the first three weeks of the season. To be honest, it's not exactly unexpected that the officials would screw up on judgment calls like pass interference or, say, simultaneous possession on a catch. They've been worse there than I expected, but that was always going to be the aspect of their performance where their lack of experience would stand out.

"Instead, the officials have shown an incredible propensity for getting simple facts wrong. They mis-spot balls on the wrong side of the field. They forget to keep accurate track of how many timeouts each team has. They call for fumbles on plays in which a guy's entire body was down on the ground and then whistle plays dead on clean strips. They incorrectly award touchdowns and interpret pylon rules on plays that are directly in front of them. It's a miracle that we don't see more accidental '12 men on the field penalties,' because it seems generous to assume they can count all the way up to 12.“

Well, sigh, grumble, grumble, on to the rest of the league.

  • Minnesota didn’t look like a disaster! They looked … kind of like San Francisco. How on earth did they dominate the 49ers that way?! Christian Ponder had some nice throws during that game and Notre Dame alums Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson had good games, too. (There are 5 Notre Dame players on the Vikings. How weird is that??)

  • Matt Schaub got absolutely destroyed on a helmet-to-helmet hit (that should have gotten Broncos linebacker Joe Mays ejected). He was hit so hard that his helmet came flying off … and he lost a chunk of his ear. It’s good to see that Mays was suspended a game for this.  

  • How embarrassing is New Orleans’ 0-3 record? They were up 24-6 in the third quarter and lost 27-24!! They gave up 510 yards! This makes me nervous for next Sunday. I hate having to play teams with something to prove.

  • Miami might have had the toughest loss. [*I OBVIOUSLY wrote this before Monday*] In overtime, the Jets lined up for a game-winning field goal. But then Miami blocked it! Yay! Way to go, special teams! Oh, wait -- Miami called a timeout to ice the New York kicker just before the block. He made the second try easily.
  • The Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals have the ugliest uniform combination imaginable. Whenever those two teams play each other, they should each be required to wear neutral, monochromatic uniforms to spare the eyes of the viewers.
I used to pick certain Crayolas out of the box and throw them out. This was what the reject pile looked like: orange, black, yellow, and cranberry.

  • Jacksonville won a game! Some guy named Cecil Shorts caught a long touchdown for the win. Is there a less NFL-sounding name than Cecil Shorts? He sounds like a bumbling comedic character in a 19th-century play.
"What a coincidence! My name is Cecil, too!"

  • The Tennessee-Detroit game was the craziest thing I have ever seen! [*] This was a game that featured 85 points, a kickoff returned for a touchdown and a punt return that had a lateral pass that was run in for a touchdown; then, a back-up quarterback who led his team down the field for a touchdown, a recovered onside kick, and a successful Hail Mary touchdown to force overtime - all in the last 18 seconds of regulation; then there was a bizarre 4th-and-1 attempt instead of going for the easy field goal. And, finally, one of the most incredible catches ever by Tennessee’s Nate Washington. You can watch this over and over and over and still have no idea how he catches this ball.

"If only Kevin had your precision, grace, and talent."

  • Cue circus music:

  • This year, the NFl has allowed players to include suffixes on their jerseys, so a player like RG3 can have “Griffin III” on his back. I love Detroit’s Titus Young - who had a son last month - making his name “Young Sr.”
Just in case he's still playing in 22 years and his son enters the NFL

  • Have you ever wondered what punters, kickers, and long snappers do all week? How many times can you practice the same thing? I wonder if teams make them double up on jobs since they must have so much free time on their hands - like working in the cafeteria, or doing laundry for the team.

  • The Jets’ vaunted defense just took a huge hit, losing Darrelle Revis for the year with an ACL tear. I like Revis, but I feel no sympathy for any New York team.
  • Did you know that, through the first three weeks, the Titans’ QB Jake Locker had more rushing yards than Chris Johnson? If you’re wondering why, Johnson has the answer: it’s his teammates’ fault. Never mind the fact that this offensive line just helped Locker to a 378 yards, no sack, no interception game.
"You can't be saying it's my fault I only have 63 yards this season?!"

  • Ryan Grant found a home! He’s reportedly signed with the Washington Redskins. Yay for Grant! Hope he does well.

  • It’s hard to even really care about the NFL right now, but I suppose the Packers better start looking forward to playing the Saints/officials next Sunday.

"These are what you're supposed to be using!"

I've totally gotten over it.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Week 3: Green Bay at Seattle


  • Seattle is no longer the “automatic win” they used to be for opponents. Though perhaps not overloaded with talent, they have a lot going for them.
  • Seattle has a great, rowdy crowd that can make things difficult for opposing offenses. CenturyLink Field can get loud. This is the crowd that technically caused an earthquake when Marshawn Lynch upset the Saints in last year’s playoffs. Also the West-Coast-plus-having-10-days-off thing can be challenging for a road team.
Lynch is the guy with the cool Skittles shoes.

  • Seattle doesn’t have a real premiere name on defense, but they do have a young and athletic defense that can make things happen if it gets going. Also, the Green Bay offensive line has been terrible the first two games.

  • Marshawn Lynch (who is a bit overrated in my humble opinion) can absolutely go into Beast Mode. Considering how weak the Packers’ run defense can be (*cough* A.J. Hawk), this is the most worrying aspect of the game. Last week’s beatdown of the Bears didn’t have a lot of running by Chicago after Matt Forte went down, so it’s hard to gauge exactly where the Packers' run defense is. 

  • No matter how many times I watch this clip, my jaw still drops:

  • Somebody in Washington featured the Beast Mode in a corn maze, which might be more impressive than the actual TD run.
I'll bet these guys can mow those fancy diagonal lines in their lawns, too.

  • Russell Wilson looks pretty talented. I’m still really sad for Matt Flynn and want to give him a hug, but Wilson is an exciting player. Now, being athletically talented is not the same as being a talented quarterback. I think the hype around Wilson will die down a bit as he struggles more into the season, but he has shown that he has the ability. Wilson struggled against the blitz in Week 1 against Arizona’s defense, and Green Bay certainly has the ability to bring that type of pressure. If the Packers can keep Wilson in the pocket for the majority of the game, they should be able to cut down his opportunities for big plays. The Packers’ defense is not an easy one to read, especially for a rookie.

  • Seattle’s left tackle, Russell Okung, missed last week’s game with a knee injury and his backup, Frank Omiyale, replaced him competently. Still, it’s hard not to salivate at the prospect of a weakened offensive line after the Packers recorded 7 sacks and 2,428 quarterback hits last week. Seattle will kind of be forced to throw everything at Clay Matthews to keep him off his 48-sack-season pace, opening the door for the rest of the Pack’s line to grab some stats.

  • Poor Greg Jennings reaggravated the groin injury that kept him out of last week’s game! Stop getting hurt, Greg! Jennings admits he’s not 100%, but he did practice a bit and plans on playing.
You're so tough. And adorable. Really, a perfect match for Cathy.

  • So, while Seattle has good things going for them, so does Green Bay. They are: Charles Woodson, Jordy Nelson, Tramon Williams, Clay Matthews, Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Bush not playing, Donald Driver, Tim Masthay (yeah, that’s right, I named the punter!), and B.J. Raji, among others. 

  • And Aaron Charles Rodgers.
How did I not know his middle name was Charles? I'm so disappointed in myself.