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Moneyball and the 2015 Green Bay Packers


As he packed up his locker for the season, a dejected Packers guard Josh Sitton pointed out the obvious that rings true at the end of each season. Each team is different than the one that came before it. As he said in his end of season comments, “It sucks walking in and seeing everybody packing up their (stuff). We’ve been hanging out with each other for a while. There’s going to be a lot of people who aren’t going to be on the team – a lot of people we can’t pay.”

He’s true to a certain extent. The 2015 Green Bay Packers will have familiar faces, but will not be a carbon copy of the 2014 model that was five minutes from coasting to the Super Bowl in Arizona. Yes, it will come down to money.

But a closer look at the numbers show prove that the Packers will have enough money to pay their top talent. And he’s right, some will not be back.

That said, it won’t strictly be about money. Monetary worth will  be tempered with future impact. And it will be that intangible formula that will determine who stays and who goes.

The Packers were under the cap this year which was $133 Million dollars. That cap is predicted to balloon somewhere in the $141 Million to $144 Million range in the upcoming season. More money to go with the higher salaries that top players command.


Rodgers’ injury may mean changes to the offense

rodgers to cobb

Aaron Rodgers’ return to the game this past Sunday helped give the Green Bay Packers earn the respite of a bye week he desperately needed to help heal his injured calf as much as any injured muscle can heal in two weeks.

It was the stuff legends were are made of. The moment Rodgers went down after his touchdown pass to Randall Cobb, the entire stadium knew it was bad. It felt like November 4, 2013 all over again. Rodgers was down and the future looked grim. We’d been down that path before, and a team without Aaron Rodgers looks nothing like the one with him behind center. Another calf injury, broken bone, torn Achilles or blown knee. The only thing worse than knowing he was injured was not knowing the extent.

What happened next has been described several times over and in much better fashion than I can ever recall. Just like he did when he broke his clavicle, Rodgers returned to the field. Only this time he still had his pads and cleats on. As soon as he reached the sidelines, he started warming up. The cheers for MVP were deafening.

While he played with the same determination that the Packers Nation has become accustomed to, it was obvious Rodgers was not the same. The offense had to adapt. In a way, the Packers were running an Offense Lite that helped protect his injured leg but still managed to propel the team to victory.


Green Bay Packers Defense Pulling Its Weight

Brady sacked

Aaron Rodgers outplayed Tom Brady and made himself the front runner for the NFL MVP award, but it was the Green Bay Packers defense that made the biggest stand yesterday evening at Lambeau Field.

The narrative before the Eagles victory was that the Packers could not defeat an elite team. After they did that it was that they could not beat an elite quarterback. Nobody can say any of that anymore.

The Packers defense stopped a quarterback who has the most game winning drives in NFL history in his attempt to deliver would would have been a soul crushing defeat. It was the same drive the Packers could not stop in the playoffs against Colin Kaepernick at Lambeau last January.

Mike Neal has been one of the more criticized players on the Packers over the years, but he made the play of his career on a third-and-9 sack of Brady that won the game for the Green Bay. They had gotten some good pressure on Brady throughout the game, but just could not get for a sack. Neal made the play that the Packers’ defense of the last three seasons never would have made.

It’s pretty clear why the Packers’ defense has been so much improved this year. One has been the addition of Julius Peppers. Peppers didn’t make a ton of big plays this game other than two pass knockdowns, but obviously he has made a ton of them this year leading the team with six sacks and two defensive touchdowns. His presence helps guys like Neal get the one-on-one opportunity he got to make that sack.


That time I was sexually harassed at a Packers game

packers fans

I was going to write about the Packers steamrolling the Bears this past weekend, but what else is there to say? Garbage time officially started at the beginning of the second half, and it would have been a mercy move had the players given kids from De Pere, Bayport and Ashwaubenon a turn at taking on the Bears at that point.

Instead, I’m going to use this forum to share a personal experience from that night and point out that it is the first time that I did not feel at ease at Lambeau Field. At halftime, while the Packers were likely laughing it up in the locker room, I was sexually harassed by a fellow Packers fan I had never met.

This topic has been in the media quite a lot lately. Most people are familiar with the woman who videoed herself walking around New York while receiving 108 lewd catcalls while, well, just walking around New York. And my own local paper just ran Los Angeles Times’ Meghan Daum’s outstanding editorial just this past weekend about how we as a society have become so desensitized to such behavior that we just silently accept it, often blaming the woman for “asking for it.”

But let me get one thing straight–I wasn’t asking for it, and no one could conceivably blame the way I was dressed. Winter coat with an extra layers underneath and a pair of jeans, I wasn’t exactly dressed in a come hither manner.


Packers Midseason Random Thoughts & Musings


The Green Bay Packers sit at 5-3 at the halfway point of their season, which is a very reasonable record with the kind of schedule they faced. This included trips to the two hardest places to win in the NFL.

The second half of the season is a much easier schedule with five of their eight games at Lambeau Field. Everything the Packers want is still right there in front of them. Here are some thoughts heading into the second half of the season:

– Lots of players will have their futures in Green Bay impacted by their play over these final eight games. Randall Cobb has already proved he is a must to re-sign. Davon House did not step up when given the chance starting against a top offense. He likely cost himself money, even though Tramon Williams did not play well either. Bryan Bulaga has a lot to prove when facing top speed rushers as well. The problem with not bringing Bulaga back is they have nobody on the roster to replace him on the roster. Also, David Bakhtiari’s continued poor performance run blocking may cause him not to be the left tackle of the future.


Some Positive Packers Defensive Numbers


The talk surrounding the Green Bay Packers’ defense is usually negative and with good reason over the last few years. It has mostly remained that way this season, especially with everybody looking at NFL’s worst ranked run defense (163 yards per game). However, there are many positive stats being overlooked with Green Bay’s defense so far.

The Packers are only ranked 22nd in the NFL in total defense (371.8 yards per game), but you have to look much deeper into that number. A huge part of the high yardage number for Green Bay is that they’re always on the field. The offense only averages controlling the ball for 25:54 this season, which is second to last in the NFL. The Packers are 10th in yards per play allowed on defense. That is a much more revealing number than the total yardage.

Green Bay ranks second in the NFL in opponent passer rating at 70.1. Three of their five opposing quarterbacks have been Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler. It’s certainly an accomplishment to have the second best opponent passer rating in the league when those quarterbacks have comprised of 60 percent of your schedule. Even though the defense did not have a good day against Seattle it was Marshawn Lynch who really hurt them and not Wilson.

This falls in line with the Packers having the fifth best passing defense in the NFL in yards per game (209). Opposing passers are only completing 59 percent of their passes against Green Bay for 6.4 yards per attempt. That is good for seventh and fifth in the NFL respectively.


Packers Aftermath: Packers 42, Vikings 10

Peppers lambeau leap

The Green Bay Packers did just what you expected them to a team on their third quarterback and second running back on a short week at home. They obliterated them. The Packers dominated from start to finish in a 42-10 shellacking of the Minnesota Vikings.

Green Bay’s defense and running game were the stories in this one.  The defense was flying all over the field and played the fastest it has looked in awhile.

The run defense was much improved and the pass rush was magnificent. Dom Capers played more looks to stop the run and to make Christian Ponder beat him. Ponder obliged and was  absolutely egregious. However, if the Packers got that kind of pass rush on any quarterback they would have had problems.

The Packers had six sacks and 16 quarterback hits on Ponder. Clay Matthews did not have a sack, but he was very active rushing the passer and looked healthy. Nick Perry led the way with two sacks and he continues to make plays when he is on the field. Even Letroy Guion looked great against his former team with 1.5 sacks. Recently promoted Luther Robinson also got in on the act with a few pressures in place of the injured Datone Jones.

Three turnovers from Green Bay’s defense put the game away in the first half. Julius Peppers picked off a Ponder pass and returned it 49 yards to the end zone for the touchdown and his first Lambeau Leap. The return was amazing for a 33-year old ex-defensive end, as he out ran Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon.