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Mike McCarthy Doesn’t Trust Packers Defense


Mike McCarthy made it very clear last night that he had no faith in his defense being able to contain the prolific New Orleans Saints offense.

His decisions to try an onside kick in the first quarter and to go for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 40-yard line down 23-16 in the third quarter were made because he did not think his defense could get stops. McCarthy was right and both of those decisions were the correct calls to make even though they did not work out in his favor.

Micah Hyde very nearly recovered that onside kick and it could have given the Packers a chance at a 17-7 lead, plus the opportunity to quiet the crowd. What’s the difference in giving the Saints field position if you do not think you can stop them anyways? That decision did not hurt the Packers badly, as they managed to hold New Orleans to a field goal to tie the game at 10-10.

With Aaron Rodgers hurting his hamstring and the Packers being down by seven you could just feel the game starting to slip away at that point. You just knew if the Packers punted New Orleans was driving for another touchdown. Eddie Lacy was running well and McCarthy was right to have confidence in him picking up the first down. Of course running behind Lane Taylor was not the smart way to go about it.


Early Bird Breakdown Week 8: Green Bay Packers @ New Orleans Saints

Early Bird Breakdown Week 8: Green Bay Packers @ New Orleans Saints

Early Bird Breakdown Week 8: Green Bay Packers @ New Orleans Saints
Hello all! Welcome to another Early Bird Breakdown! Let’s begin with the breakdown:

The Recap:

The Green Bay Packers put together their most complete team victory against the Carolina Panthers last week. The defense looked more crisp than any previous game this season,  giving up their fewest yards on the ground (108) while holding Carolina to only 223 yards passing. Aaron Rodgers was near perfect, completing 19 of 22 passes for three touchdowns and 225 yards. Rodgers spread the ball to nine different receivers, similar to how in 2011 when he spread the ball all over the field on the way to his MVP award. While Carolina does not boast an impressive offensive line by any means, but the way the defense harassed Cam Newton and played overall was a great sign. If they can continue to improve at the pace they have the last few weeks, the team will be as good as any other in the league.

As for the New Orleans Saints, they traveled into Detroit to play the Lions. The Saints had control of the game until Drew Brees threw an interception that led to the Detroit go-ahead score with 1:48 left in the game. Detroit was able to move the ball very efficiently through the air despite not having Calvin Johnson for the game, and the Saints fell to 2-4 overall, all four losses coming on the road.


Game Predictions: Packers at Saints

packers saints

C.D. Angeli (@TundraVision): The prevailing wisdom seems to predicts some sort of wild and wolly shootout in the Superdome. Many are predicting a big Packer offensive score to outmatch Drew Brees and Co. While I predict a Packer victory, I have a hard time believing that the Packers can put together two massive offensive outputs two weeks in a row. Laws of averages, if nothing else. Look for a well-fought game against a dome team at home that just won’t have enough in the tank to beat Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson.

Packers 24 Saints 17

Jacob Westendorf (@JacobWestendorf):

There’s a lot of talk about how the Packers should be worried going into the Superdome. While I do buy somewhat into an atmosphere helping out a team, that doesn’t matter as much if the team is not good. The Saints have won both games at home this season, but easily could have lost both. This will be a big test for a Packers defense that somehow has become underrated despite being ranked 6th in the league in pass yards per game. Drew Brees is always a tough customer, but the Saints defense is bad and will have many holes for Aaron Rodgers and his receivers to exploit. The Packers have been red hot since Rodgers told the fans to relax, and I expect the offense to continue to roll, and the defense to make enough plays to win the Sunday night showdown between two of the game’s premier quarterbacks.




I cannot remember the last time I was this conflicted about predicting the result of a football game.  Spoiler alert, I’m going to pick the Saints to win on Sunday.  I can’t really tell you why I’m going to do this but I promise you, I am going to do this.  Aaron Rodgers is now clearly better than Drew Brees.  I’m not sure if it’s because Brees is at least a little washed up or if it’s just because Rodgers is so good but the difference is clear.  Offensively the Packers are better.  Defensively the Packers are clearly better.  The New Orleans Saints rank 32nd in Defensive DVOA (FootballOutsiders).  There isn’t a 33rd team in the National Football League.

So why? Why am I picking against the Packers, quite possibly the NFC’s hottest team? A building.  I’m picking against the Packers because of the Superdome.  This is a scary game.  If the Packers go into New Orleans and win on Sunday night I have to believe in this team 100%.  YOU have to believe in this team 100%.  I know that sounds nuts because of the Saints’ record but it’s true.

Barring injuries that occur in the Saints game, the Packers should come back from the bye week completely healthy.  All of their currently injured players, PLUS JC Tretter all appear healthy enough to possibly play against New Orleans.  I can’t honestly imagine that any of them would be sidelined after a bye week.  All hands on deck is not something that the Packers have been able to say in week 10 in a very long time.


It’s time to trust the Packers’ defense


I trust Dom Capers.

There, I said it out loud. No take-backs and all that, right? Sure it was a little shaky there in the first few weeks, and I was nodding along with demands for a regime change. What can I say? I’m fickle and impatient.

But wasn’t Cam Newton on his way to being crowned one of the next big things? A mobile QB that was a dangerous threat outside the pocket?

Well he looked more like Christian Ponder than his contemporaries Kaepernick and Wilson. The Packers did a great job shutting down a mobile quarterback and finally decoded the read option that had been their Kryptonite for so long. Sure the Panthers are a shadow of the team they were a year ago, but it’s the same QB that would gash teams on the ground.

And Cam ran for diddly. What yards he got were gained scrambling for his life.

That type of resounding victory is exactly the confidence booster this team needed. They aren’t just good shutting down a pocket passer like they consistently are in the NFC North. They turned the page and were effective in neutralizing the new generation of dual threat quarterbacks.

While people were calling for Capers’ head (yes, I was one of them. I kind of apologized above, remember?) there were others pointing out it wasn’t a scheme issue, but rather a personnel issue.  This is definitely not the unstoppable defense that the Packers fronted in 2010, but it appears to be the best one since.


Packers’ 2014 Draft Class Paying Early Dividends


As I sat in the Lambeau Field bleachers and watched the Panthers game, I couldn’t help but to think of how well the 2014 draft class is panning out.  Now there are certainly disappointments.  It’s possible (maybe even likely) that Khyri Thornton Carl Bradford and Demetri Goodson can’t play.  Jared Abbrederis was lost for the season with an ACL injury.  Other than that though, things look great.

I know that kind of sounds like “other than that, Mrs. Lincoln how was the play?” but it isn’t.  It’s possible that one of those 3 defenders will turn into a decent rotational piece.  Josh Boyd looked just as lost as Thornton early on in his career and he’s a perfectly capable fill-in on the defensive line.  Obviously if you take a defensive linemen in the top 100 you’d prefer he not be a fill-in but it happens.  Goodson was always going to be a project and Bradford is going through a position change a la Jamari Lattimore.

This much I do know.  The Packers have found 3 rock solid starters, possibly a 4th starter and another player that will contribute in a positive way.  I don’t care how many draft picks you have, if you come away with a haul like that it was a success.  The fact that Green Bay didn’t have drafts with that success rate in 2011 and 2012 largely attributes to the lack of playoff success after the 15-1 season.


Randall Cobb Setting Himself Up For Big Money

cobb stiff arm

It’s no coincidence that the Green Bay Packers’ offense has jump started with the return of the electric and explosive Randall Cobb.

Green Bay’s offense struggled during their 1-2 start in large part because Cobb was showing rust from his broken leg last season and Aaron Rodgers was locking in on Jordy Nelson too much because he had nobody else he trusted. Now, with Cobb returning to form and the emergence of rookie wide receiver Davante Adams, the Packers almost have a complete set of weapons for Rodgers with the only thing missing being a tight end.

Cobb is in line to receive a new big contract next season if he continues to put up these numbers. He caught six passes for 121 yards and a touchdown yesterday against Carolina. That touchdown brought his season total to eight, which leads the NFL.

You do not think of Cobb as a prototypical red zone threat at 5-feet, 10-inches tall. You tend to think of big players like Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant who you can throw fade passes to, although those can be low percentage red zone plays at times. Also, touchdowns can be random and luck driven. For example, Johnson had only five touchdowns in 2009 and 2012, but at least 12 in every other year other than his rookie season. He did not perform any worse in those two years than the others; he just got unlucky with many receptions falling just short of the end zone.