In just a few days,the Green Bay Packers will open training camp and we’ll all be sitting at work,constantly refreshing Twitter to see which players are standing out,which players are struggling,and which players are injured.
Live-tweets from NFL training camps might be one of the most pointless exercises in the entire universe,but I can’t help myself. As soon as my timeline starts lighting up about a Packers undrafted free agent who is shining or a veteran who may have lost a step,I get sucked in and start following along.
When this inevitably happens a few days from now,here are three Packers players I’ll be paying particular attention to:
LB Clay Matthews
Is he lining up inside? Outside? What’s the ratio? Does he look healthy? How’s he holding up in pass coverage drills? Is he spending more time on pass rush moves or adding volume to his hair?
RB John Crockett
Will he live up to the fair amount of offseason hype he received? Is he getting enough carries behind Eddie Lacy and James Starks to really show what he can do? Could he contribute on special teams? Since he went to North Dakota State,does he talk like the people in the move “Fargo?”
Does he look as good in camp as he did in last year’s camp before the injury? How is playing strictly at nose tackle helping him? How is it helping the defense overall? How is Raji complementing Letroy Guion? Might we see Raji line up as a fullback in certain goal-line situations?
Bonus person to watch:
HC MIke McCarthy
Is he serious about giving up playcalling? What’s he doing differently at practice now that he’s not calling plays? What is he doing to shore up the special teams? WIll he keep the beard or shave it before the season starts?
What if the Green Bay Packers are beating the Chicago Bears 42-0 late in the second quarter of the 2015 season opener and President Obama finally decides that he’s had enough?
At halftime,the president/Bears fan announces a new program called the “De-Favreification of America.” To enact a little bit of revenge against Packers fans,Obama orders all video footage of Brett Favre destroyed. No more watching Favre torch the Bears for five touchdowns on a bum ankle. No more re-living the moment when Favre broke Dan Marino’s touchdown recrod. No more jumping for joy as Favre takes his helmet off and runs around the field after throwing a touchdown pass in Super Bowl XXXI.
No video highlights during the Favre ceremony when the Packers play the Bears on Thanksgiving. They’ll all be destroyed. Thanks Obama…
Obama orders the De-Favreification program to be implemented immediately,but after some intense lobbying and threats from Wisconsin cheese makers to discontinue nationwide cheddar production,Obama relents and says that Americans may vote for one Favre highlight to preserve. The rest must be destroyed.
Which highlight do you choose?
Favre-to-Sharpe in the 1993-94 playoffs will always be my favorite because it happened while I was hanging out with my grandmother when I was 12 years old. My grandmother’s Alzheimer’s had set in at that point in her life and my uncle was doing his best to take care of her.
I’d occasionally “babysit” my grandmother at her old farmhouse when my uncle had things to do. By “babysit,” I mean hanging out to keep my grandmother company and make sure she didn’t put herself in any danger. To a lot of 12 year olds,this might not sound like much fun,but I loved it. I didn’t mind answering the same questions over and over again from my grandmother,or having conversations that made no sense whatsoever. My grandmother didn’t recognize me and probably had no recollection of anything we talked about,but I knew she was better off by having me there to talk with. Even though I was a young,smart-ass 12-year-old,I also knew I needed to cherish all the time I could get with my grandmother. I wouldn’t trade the time I spent with her during her battle with Alzheimer’s for anything.
Anyway,the television in her old farmhouse had rabbit ears and poor reception. It picked up one channel,two on a good day. Thankfully,the Packers vs. Lions playoff game on CBS was the channel it picked up that day. It came in just good enough for me to follow what was going on.
I spent most of the game telling my grandmother about football. She would ask me for the 114th time if I needed something to eat,I would tell her about Reggie White. She’d ask where her husband was (who had been dead for several years),I’d tell her about Mike Holmgren’s West Coast offense. She’d get sad or upset about something. I’d try and get her to chant “Go Pack Go.”
That might sound silly,but any conversation with my grandmother was a good one at that point in her life. Anything to keep her engaged and talking. On that day it was the Packers. Other days it was hunting,farming or some family history or gossip.
Late in the game,Favre connected with Sharpe for the winning touchdown. I remember my exact feeling when Favre made that throw. “Why is he trying to throw the ball straight through the roof?”
On the old farmhouse television with its snowy screen,mismatched colors and general shakiness — it looked like all Favre was doing was launching the ball straight up in the air. Then the ball actually came down,landed in Sharpe’s hands,and I went crazy. I must have did 10 laps around the living room where my grandmother and I were sitting. I couldn’t stop pumping my fists and hollering.
I finally sat back down next to my grandmother. She asked: “Are you watching ball?”
“Ball” to my grandmother typically meant “baseball,” but I’ve convinced myself that in this particular instance,she meant football.
I told her yes,I was watching “ball,” then went on to explain how this guy named Favre just got the Green Bay Packers their first playoff win in a very,very long time.
She didn’t understand the significance of the moment. But neither did I. Little did I know that that pass would be the first of many distinct Brett Favre moments in my lifetime.
I’m glad I got to witness the first one with my grandmother.
There has been enough internet ink spilled about Green Bay Packers players hiding behind plants or getting suspended for enjoying something that’s a little more potent than Wisconsin cheddar or Leinenkugel Summer Shandy.
Instead of speculating why the Packers have suddenly come down with a case of our-players-keep-getting-arrested-itis,I’ll take the advice of one of our fearless leaders here at CheeseheadTV and develop a tiered list of NFL quarterbacks.
Aaron Nagler posted his list on Twitter yesterday and later encouraged all football fans to come up with their own.
Sounds like a lot more fun than debating the pros and cons of whether you should hide behind a plant or roll it up and smoke it.
If Aaron’s encouragement wasn’t enough motivation for a post like this,Sports Illustrated ranked all 32 NFL QBs and slotted Aaron Rodgers second behind Tom Brady. These offseason “rankings” or “list” posts are supposed to generate moronic comments debate and silly internet fighting discussion among fans to kill time before training camp opens.
In the case of the Sports Illustrated list,the strategy worked on me.
Peyton Manning,Drew Brees,Philip Rivers,Matt Ryan
Russell Wilson,Tony Romo,Cam Newton,Joe Flacco
Ryan Tannehill,Matthew Stafford,Eli Manning,Teddy Bridgewater
Colin Kaepernick,Carson Palmer,Andy Dalton,Jay Cutler
Nick Foles,Sam Bradford,Alex Smith,Derek Carr
Brian Hoyer,Blake Bortels,RGIII,Geno Smith
Josh McCown,Zach Mettenberger
10 observations about my own list
Aaron Rodgers is my No. 1. If he can snap himself out of his recent playoff funk,it will no longer even be debatable that he’s the best in the NFL.
Yes,I put Luck in the top tier over guys like Peyton Manning and Brees. Perhaps I’m giving too much credit for potential future performance,but I’d take Luck for both the short- and long-term over P. Manning and Brees.
I have eight tiers instead of Nagler’s six. I think it provides a little more separation,especially at the top where you have to make some tough calls.
Ryan over Wilson? Yes. Ryan averages over 4,000 yards and 26 touchdowns per season. It’s not his fault his defense hasn’t been able to stop anyone for two seasons.
Newton over Flacco? Flacco is a perfectly fine quarterback. So is Newton,but he’s got the ability to be much more than perfectly fine.
Isn’t Kaepernick a little high? Maybe. But I think if he’s allowed to use his legs like he did earlier in his career,he’ll have a bounce-back season. He also plays the Packers in 2015,so that should help pad his stats.
Where are the rookies? Past performance was part of my criteria,so I didn’t include rookies. If I did,I probably would have put Marcus Marriotta ahead of Jameis Winston.
If I had to predict which quarterback from the bottom tiers will move up after the 2015 season,I’d pick Bradford.
I’m crossing my fingers that I’ve ranked Bridgewater too high.
If I had to predict a quarterback from the top tiers to drop down after the 2015 season,I’d pick Romo (back injuries scare me).
Bonus observation: If Brett Favre announced that he’s un-retiring again,I’d probably put him in tier 5 and drop Cutler down a tier.
Disclaimer: There’s a good chance I forgot someone. If I did,don’t skewer me too bad in the comment section.