Finding the Good

Adam & Julianna at Lambeau

Adam & I take in a sunny day at Lambeau Field

The Packers’ season and their fall in the NFC championship game is symbolic of our last year. The season started out hopeful, then took a bad turn about six weeks in at a game we were in attendance for. The team was left with slim odds to make the playoffs by the end of November. The Pack got a butt whooping two nights after Adam died. The Packers went on to “run the table” and got in to the postseason.

Extraordinary determination and play from the entire team. They rallied hard for two playoff games nobody expected them to win. Then came the NFC Title game and they collapsed. Hard.

Adam’s fight against cancer felt like this football season. We were hopeful in the beginning for surgery, then had a gash in our hope when surgery was aborted five weeks in to his diagnosis. Adam mentally felt like a dead man walking with a toddler and pregnant wife by his side. With help from Adam’s Pack, we kept his fighting spirit alive. I didn’t give up HOPE for Adam and our little family. He rallied and put together a winning streak during his 11 rounds of chemo, pushing the cancer back. We made it to his “play-offs” and he had surgery  in New York. The hopeful surgery to buy us more earthly time.

But it was like Adam made it to the big game and his body couldn’t drive it in to the end zone. His mind was tough and the fight was there but his body had too many “players” on injured reserve. He had been through so much physically that he needed a break, a break he simply wasn’t awarded. Only God has the answer why.

Too many setbacks from the beginning of the title game. The Falcons were too much for the Packers this postseason. Likewise, too many setbacks for Adam after his surgery. His body never allowed him to get back on chemo, back to his game plan to drive the cancer out of his body.  The cancer was too aggressive for Adam’s body after the massive surgery.

Football offers a great distraction in life. Adam and I lived and breathed football. We enjoyed how it let us escape reality every Sunday and be part of something bigger that was out of our control. In the last season, football offered us something to look forward to on Sundays just like every other season.

It will always be a huge part of our household, an important part of our lives. Growing up in central Wisconsin, it is in my blood and I hope it’s in our sons’ blood too. Nobody could ever replace the football bond we had. I hope our boys will share this football bond with me that I shared with their dad.

My point is this. Enjoy life. Even the parts of life that are brutal, try to find a way to enjoy it. A year later and I am first beginning to reflect and process what has happened in my life since December 1, 2015.  One thing this year taught me is to find the good in every single day. Sometimes we have to dig deep to find the good, to find a smile or laugh, but it is so important each and every one of us look for the good in life.

Our boys, my boys, will always be the good in my day. Adam’s best gifts ever given to me. He always liked to give me a challenge and Adam didn’t miss a beat with these two little men. My mini-Adam’s through and through and for that, I am beyond blessed to see him everyday in our sons’ brown eyes.

Until next time, be kind to one another. And thanks for the good run Packers. Go Pack Go!

5 reasons the Packers will beat the Cowboys (and 1 reason why they might not)

It wasn’t a catch,Dez.

Now that that’s out of the way,let’s examine five reasons why the Packers will once again beat the Cowboys this afternoon.

Plenty of time
The Cowboys can’t rush the passer. The Packers have done a great job protecting Aaron Rodgers in recent weeks. Green Bay’s offense may not be what it once was,but if you keep Rodgers upright most of the game,he’ll score points.

Goliath vs. Goliath
Will the Cowboys top-ranked rushing offense overcome the Packers top-ranked rushing defense? I think it’ll be a draw,but here’s the thing: Without a huge game on the ground,I don’t think the Cowboys are good enough to win. A draw won’t be good enough.

Third downs
Cowboys rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott might be an elite runner,but his pass-blocking skills need some work. If Elliott is back there on third-down passing situations against this Packers pass rush,Dak Prescott could get walloped.

Dak’s luck runs out
Prescott,a rookie,has yet to throw an interception. It’s about time the rabbit’s foot is removed from Prescott’s you-know-where. Sure,the Packers may be without their top two cornerbacks,but Prescott is long overdue to throw his first NFL pick.

Fan in the stands
I’ll be in the stands at Lambeau this afternoon. That means the Packers can’t lose,right?

Somehow,some way,the Cowboys have beaten the Packers in the past. If they are to do it again today,this is how it might happen:

Slopping it up
The Packers offense hasn’t put together a full game in a calendar year. If they bumble their way through this one – dropping passes,wasting timeouts,ignoring open receivers – things could get ugly.



5 reasons the Packers will beat the Bears (and 1 reason why they might not)

Today,Brett Favre joins Tony Canadeo,Don Hutson,Bart Starr,Ray Nitschke and Reggie White as the only Green Bay Packers to have their jersey numbers displayed on the Lambeau Field facade.

I’ll be in the stadium to celebrate the occasion,perched way up in the new south end zone seats with my wife. Some people might snicker at my seats and wonder if I’ll be able to even see Favre (and,of course,Bart Starr) from so far away. To those people,I say,”Welcome to my world.” I followed Favre and the Packers from a distance for most of No. 4’s career.

Watching the Favre ceremony from the nosebleeds is completely appropriate for my situation. Heck,I’d call it a luxury.

Growing up in small-town Minnesota,I didn’t have cable TV until my junior year of high school around 1998. The only time I could watch the Packers before that was if they were on the local network TV affiliate. That happened twice per year when the Packers played the Vikings,and a couple other times per year for national games of the week (more often once Favre became a star). 

Even when I got cable,it only meant a couple of extra Packers game per season since we didn’t have whatever was the equivalent of the Sunday Ticket package back then.

In fact,I can remember becoming a Packers fan when Don Majkowski was still the quarterback,then wondering what the heck happened to the Majik Man when one day the Packers showed up on my screen and some guy named Favre was throwing passes.

Every now and then if the Packers were on Fox and the weather was decent,I could pick up a snowy feed using a gigantic metal arrow that sat atop our old-school TV antenna that rose way above the roof our our house. Otherwise,I was SOL.

I followed Favre and the Packers not by watching every play of every game on my giant 60-inch TV using the NFL Sunday Ticket package like I do today,but by anxiously awaiting the Green Bay score to scroll across the bottom of the screen while the rest of my family watched the Vikings. Of course,there were no smart phones or social media feeds back then,so I bought the newspaper every Monday to get more context about whatever happened during Sunday’s Packers game that I was shut out from seeing.

Imagine that,reading a newspaper to find out what happened in a football game!

For important games that aired on Fox,I’d go hang out with my grandmother in the nursing home. She had a tiny television — maybe 17 inches — that got Fox in crystal clear and allowed me to watch the game without having to squint through a snowy screen like at home. Thank you,grandma (and the nursing home staff who put up with the weird kid hanging around watching the Packers).

College was the same story. We didn’t have satellite in our apartment and I couldn’t have afforded Sunday Ticket if we did. At least the Internet came along by then so I could feed a little bit more of my Packers’ fix.

So yeah,sitting up high for tonight’s ceremony is not a big deal. Distance didn’t stop me from becoming a Packers fan and it isn’t going to stop me from honoring Favre — the man who provided me with so many great childhood memories,even if they came via snowy television screen or newspaper print.

Oh yeah,the Packers are also playing a football game tonight. Here are five reasons why they’ll win.

Sure,Jay Cutler is playing better lately,but he’ll have at least one game-altering screw up against the Packers like he always does. Mark it down.

The Packers fill up an injury report like few teams in the NFL can,but the Bears have some key players banged up as well. Matt Forte,Alshon Jeffry and Maretllus Bennett are all questionable as I write this. If Bennett is out,that’s huge since the Packers have no clue how to cover a tight end,let along a tight end as talented and imposing as Bennett.

Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!
The Bears allow almost 124 yards per game reusing,bad enough for 25th in the NFL. Shhhh……you hear that? That’s the Eddie Lacy train picking up a head of steam and heading right toward the middle of the defense. Look out! On another note,if J.C. Tretter plays center tonight,check out his girth compared to Lacy’s. Lacy appears to outweigh his own center by a good 15 pounds.

Short week
Things were far from perfect in Minnesota — especially in the passing game — but the Packers appear to be getting back on the right track. The short week will impact both teams,but the Bears are on the road on the night when Green Bay is retiring Brett Favre’s No. 4. Chicago’s injuries,struggles on run defense and overall vibe from the Favre buzz will make a short week feel even shorter for the Bears.  

The Packers have never lost with me inside Lambeau Field. I don’t expect my good fortune to end tonight. 

Return of the skill players
If Jeffry and Forte return and Bennett is healthy enough to play,the Packers better be careful. Those three players are no joke. Combine them with Good Jay Cutler,and who knows what could happen.

5 reasons why the Packers will beat the Vikings (and 1 reason why they might not)

If Adrian Peterson runs for 150+ yards today and I have to listen to Buck and Aikman talk about how well he’s playing despite “everything he’s been through,” I’m done watching football. 

Last week after the Packers lost to the Lions,I sat in shock on my couch and flipped on the Vikings game. The only Minnesota game I had seen previously this season was the opener against the 49ers,so I figured why not check out the enemy one week before the Packers have to play them.

How Peterson was treated by the broadcast team was more shocking than any Packers loss,even at home to the Lions.

At one point in the broadcast,the announcers (I can’t recall their names,I was too upset to care) talked about how great of a season Peterson is having despite “everything he’s been through.” Yes,the announcers kinda sorta implied that Peterson was somehow the victim in what went down before last season.

In case you forgot,Peterson stripped his four-year-old son naked and beat him with a tree branch,leaving visible wounds all over his body,including his genitals. Peterson’s “punishment” was to spend a year on the commissioner’s exempt list (with pay) and a new contract with the Vikings upon his return that guaranteed him $20 million.

Peterson is too disgusting of a human being to continue writing about,so I’m going to stop. The franchise that employs him and the fans that root for him (and continue to dress their toddlers and children in No. 28 jerseys) aren’t much better. Football is supposed to be enjoyable. Peterson,the Vikings organization and many Vikings fans make it anything but.

I’ll end with this:

Writing for Bleacher Report on Friday,Mike Freeman summed up my own thoughts on Peterson much better than I could. Read Mike’s entire piece here. I thought this was the best section of the piece:

…it would be nice to see a little more introspection from the sport and the fans that follow it,as well as the media that covers it. What Peterson did was child abuse,and here we are,just a short time later,in some ways acting like what he did never happened.

Anyway,here are five reason the Packers will win today:

It’s Aaron Rodgers…right?
Yeah,Rodgers might have a bum shoulder,a struggling offensive line,and receivers who appear stuck to their defender. But it’s still Aaron Rodgers. There’s no way he’s going to struggle again and let the Packers lose four games in a row. Right? RIGHT?!?!?! (Please,someone tell me I’m right.)

Make the routine plays
Against the Lions,I counted six dropped passes (nine if you’re a hard grader) and five “bad” throws from Rodgers (seven if you’re grading more strictly than I did). If the Packers just quit dropping the ball and Rodgers cuts down the misses on routine throws,this team should be fine. I know,”If,if if…” Lots of teams can point to many “ifs” this time of year,but the Packers are too talented to keep screwing up this badly. I think…

Will Peterson matter?
In 15 games against the Packers,Adrian Peterson averages over 116 yards and more than 5.3 yards per rush. And the Vikings have still only managed to win four of those 15 games. Peterson might be the best running back in the league. Hell,he might be the greatest running back of all time. But he’s exhibit A that an elite running back is more of a luxury than a necessity. Even if Peterson goes off like he usually does,the Packers can overcome it.

Law of averages
The Lions were bound to beat the Packers at Lambeau eventually. The law of averages says they’d win one here pretty soon. That same law of averages has to apply to the Packers pass rush. It’s been three games now with a Packers sack. The law of averages says the Packers will get to the quarterback sometime soon,even if it’s by accident. Getting the Vikings in long down and distance situations will be a key to winning this game.

Ascending young players
The Packers have a handful of young players that have shown a thing or two in recent weeks. Damarious Randall,Justin Perillo and even Jake Ryan appear capable of helping the Packers turn things around. That’s the good news. The bad news is their veteran counterparts need to return to form. Eddie Lacy,the entire offensive line,Julius Peppers and others have fallen off the map. If they can return and join forces with their younger counterparts,look out.

Unfortunately,as the Vikings are wandering lost through the wilderness,they occasionally stumble upon a path that leads them to a victory over the far superior Green Bay Packers. If that happens today,this might be why:

They’re just better
Go back and re-read my five reasons for the Packers winning. You’ll notice a lot of “ifs” in there. With the Vikings this season,there haven’t been many “ifs.” The players who were expected to perform well (Peterson,Harrison Smith,Linval Joseph) have lived up to expectations while many others (Stefon Diggs,Matt Kalil and Terence Newman) have went above and beyond their projected ceilings. All of that has been book ended by mistake-free play from young Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings are a good team. Plain and simple. They very well might just be better than the Packers. For this week at least,we’re about to find out.

5 reasons why the Packers will beat the Seahawks (and 1 reason why they might not)

If not for the New England Patriots,the Seattle Seahawks would be the scummiest team in all of football. Whenever I see a Seahawks game,highlight or player interview on my TV screen,I feel like I immediately have to take a shower.

If there was such a thing as a scummy team checklist,the Seahawks would be able to mark off just about every box.

  • Cheating. Look no further than the Fail Mary game.
  • PEDs. The Seahawks lead the league in suspensions for performance enhancing substances.
  • Scandal. Coach Pete Caroll got out of USC just before the program was rocked by sanctions.
  • Phony. QB Russell Wilson is pre-programed by high-level marketing executives to give insincere answers to every question he’s asked in order to maintain his “brand.”
  • Delusion. Wilson also thinks a bottle of water produced by a company he endorses helped prevent him from sustaining a concusion in the NFC title game.
  • Smug. RB Marshawn Lynch thinks he’s too cool to speak with the media
  • Stupid. With the ball on the 1-yard line and a chance to win the Super Bowl in the closing seconds,the Seahawks throw a pass that got picked off instead of simply handing the ball to their smug star running back.

Football is less enjoyable because of the Seattle Seahawks. @#$% them.

Here are five reasons why the Packers will beat Seattle later tonight:

Because they eventually have to
Seriously,the Packers can’t keep getting beat around by these guys. Over the last couple of seasons,the Seahawks have cheated to beat the Packers,legitimately kicked the Packers’ ass and took advantage of the Packers having one of the worst meltdowns in the history of football. There are literally no more ways the Packers can lose to the Seahawks,so the Packers have to win one tonight.

No Bulaga,no problem
Hear me out on this one. Bryan Bulaga is a much better player than Don Barclay. The Packers would be in better shape if Bulaga played tonight instead of Barclay. However,Barclay has had a few days to practice with the first-team offensive line and Mike McCarthy and the coaching staff have had a couple days to adjust and prepare. Normally when the Packers offensive line breaks down,it’s because an injury occurs during a game. The backup comes in,looks lost,McCarthy doesn’t do anything to help the overmatched reserve and all hell breaks loose. Having advanced warning and some time to prepare for the tall task in front of him should help Barclay hold his own.

Lambeau Field
The Packers haven’t lost a home game with a healthy Aaron Rodgers since dropping the season-opener to San Francisco in 2012. Rodgers hasn’t thrown a pick in his last 418 pass attempts at Lambeau Field. 

Seattle’s secondary struggles
The once-feared Seahawks secondary was picked apart by the Rams (the Rams!) last week. If the Rams (the Rams!) can rack up big plays throgh the air against Seattle,imagine what Rodgers can do.

Kam Chancellor
One of the best defensive players in football is sitting at home on his recliner in the midst of a holdout instead of blowing up Packers running plays and protecting the deep middle of the field.

As we’ve seen far too often in this horror show that isPackers-Seahawks rivalry,the bad guy is more than capable of winning. Here’s how the villanous team with a weird chicken-like sea creature on its helmets could once again knock off the Packers:

The Packers have to prove that they’re tough enough to beat the Seahawks. Seattle has had no problem pushing around the Packers,whether it’s Marshawn Lynch running over hapless tacklers,the presence of Richard Sherman causing the Packers to panic and ignore an entire side of the field,or Seattle vastly outperforming the Packers in clutch moments of the game.

If you want to finally defeat the bad guy,you have to be tough enough to do it. We’ll see if the Packers finally are tonight.

5 reasons why the Packers will beat the Bears (and 1 reason why they might not)

I’ve got an out-of-the-box idea that could immediately re-kindle the once storied Green Bay Packers-Chicago Bears rivalry. Why is it important that the Packers-Bears rivalry is re-kindled? Because beating Chicago is a lot more fun when the Bears resemble an actual football team instead of whatever it is that they are now.

The Packers will beat the Bears today the same way they’ve beat the Bears over and over again in recent years. Jay Cutler will make no fewer than a dozen horrible decisions,including throwing between 2-4 of the worst interceptions you’ve ever seen and 6-9 passes that should be picked off but aren’t because the defender is absolutely shocked that the opposing QB threw it right to him. The rest of the Bears team,which is bad to begin with,will be unable to make up for Cutler’s incompetence and the Packers will pound another nail into the coffin of this dying rivalry.

Watching Cutler throw back-breaking interceptions straight into the hands of Packers’ defenders is like listening to “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift. It’s fun,but after you’ve heard the song for the 500th time,you’re ready for something else. You need something a little more challenging and intellectually stimulating.

I don’t want the Bears to get good enough to regain the upper hand in this rivalry,but I would like to see them put up an actual fight. Here’s where my grand idea comes in.

**Drum roll**

The Packers should give the Bears Brett Hundley. Yes,just outright gift Hundley to Chicago,like it’s Christmas in September.

We all saw what Hundley did this exhibition season. He’s already light years ahead of Cutler. Replacing Cutler with Hundley would automatically help the Bears win at least three more games this season and lose to the Packers by two touchdowns instead of four (or more).

Bears fans would have a reason to at least get out of bed on Sundays for the first time in a long time. Maybe they’ll start trash-talking Packers fans again and what was once the greatest rivalry in sports will get its spark back.

Were any of you on Twitter when the 2015 NFL schedule was announced? Bears fans were rejoicing that the season-opener was against Green Bay so they could get that loss out of the way immediately. It was sad and pathetic. At least Vikings fans still have enough pride (or is it delusion?) to make feeble attempts at trash talk and insults.

The NFL is a better place when Packers fans and Bears fans hate each other. In order to hate an entire group of people you’ve never met over a silly sporting event,at least one of the teams in said sporting event need to have a legitimate chance to beat the other team.

Right now,the Bears have no chance to beat the Packers. Cue up Taylor and “Shake it Off.” I’ll bob my head and enjoy this song again,but I know there’s better music out there.

The time has come for the Packers to give the Bears a chance. Send Hundley to Halas Hall and let’s see if he can make the Bears relevant again.

With that out of the way,let’s look at five reasons why the Packers will beat the Bears again on Sunday. Just for fun,we’ll also try and come up with a reason why the Packers might not come out on top.

Aaron Rodgers part 1
I stole this from the Twitter feed of our friend Zach Kruse: Aaron Rodgers was 40-for-55 for 617 yards,10 touchdowns,zero interceptions and a QB rating of 149.0 against the Bears last season. Read that stat line again. My goodness.

Aaron Rodgers part 2
This doesn’t have anything to do with the game today,but I can’t help it. Remember this throw Rodgers made against the Bears last season? It was wiped out by a penalty,but that’s still one of the best throws I’ve every seen. Rodgers owes the Bears another pass like that one,this time without the penalty.

Take a look at the Bears roster.  Now take a look at the Packers roster. The talent difference is in favor of the Packers by an astronomical margin. The only area where the Bears are clearly superior is tight end.

Interior offensive line vs. Eddie Goldman
The Packers return Josh Sitton,Corey Linsley and T.J. Lang on the interior of their offensive line. Sitton and Lang are pro-bowl talents. Linsley had an outstanding rookie season. The Bears are switching to a 3-4 defense under new coordinator Vic Fangio,a scheme that requires strong and consistent play from the nose tackle. The Bears’ nose tackle on Sunday will be rookie second-round draft pick Eddie Goldman. I have not doubt Goldman will be a solid player down the line,but can we really expect him to hold up against the triple threat of Sitton/Linsley/Lang in his first NFL game? I have my doubts.

Because the Bears still suck
All together now! 


In a NFL picks pool I’m in,there was a guy who accidentally picked the Bears this week. He immediately e-mailed the commissioner of the pool and said it was a computer error and begged for a re-do. The commissioner shared his email with the rest of the league and we all laughed in his face.

But what if this guy ends up being accidentally right? What if the Bears accidentally beat the Packers? Here’s how it might happen:

Perhaps the loss of Jordy Nelson,Randall Cobb being less than 100 percent,Morgan Burnett and Sam Barrington possibly missing the game with injuries,a gimpy David Bakhtiari,and Letroy Guion and Datone Jones out with suspensions will be too much for the Packers to handle and it leads to an upset defeat. I doubt it,but ya never know…

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

I’ve read a lot of about Aaron Rodgers and “trust” during the last few weeks of this painfully long and more-boring-than-usual Green Bay Packers offseason. Here’s a story about Rodgers trusting Davante Adams more. Here’s a story about what Jeff Janis has to do to gain Rodgers’ trust. Here’s one on what Janis has to do during practice to win the QB’s trust.

I’m not disagreeing with any of these stories and the value of trust between a quarterback and his receivers, but step back for a moment. How fortunate are the Packers that they have such a plethora of talent that they can place such an emphasis on trust? The answer is extremely fortunate.

Most teams don’t have the luxury of not playing guys who struggle or take longer than normal to grasp the playbook or offensive signals. The Packers are so deep at the pass-catching positions that they can hold players like Janis back or give Adams a reduced role as they learn and grow. It’s also a nice test to see if the up-and-coming players truly put in the time to earn the quarterback’s trust and grasp the offense instead of relying solely on their raw ability.

A lot of other teams probably find themselves playing receivers who aren’t quite ready mentally, but they have no choice because they don’t have a roster filled with the likes of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

On the other hand, I’m not so sure Rodgers should be using the trust talking point too often this offseason. The back-shoulder timing route — the one where Rodgers throws to the sideline, the receiver stops, turns toward the sideline and makes a contested catch — rarely worked in 2014. The receiver often kept running downfield and Rodgers ended up throwing to a large empty space out of bounds.

Rodgers obviously trusted his receivers to make those throws, but something was lost in the line of communication along the way.

In addition to continuing to build trust with his young receivers like Janis and Adams, Rodgers should also spend some time fine-tuning communications with his veteran weapons. The back-shoulder throw has always been a great weapon and I’d like to see Rodgers and company return it to glory in 2015.

Packers News, Notes and Links

  • Aaron Rodgers did a lot of media work this week. My favorite was probably this Pete Dougherty Q & A in the Green Bay Press Gazette.
  • As long as he stays healthy, I see no reason why Eddie Lacy won’t top the 1,100-yard mark again like he has his first two seasons.
  • There are 44 Packers set to appear in Jordy Nelson’s charity softball game. If I were a big-time professional athlete, I’d host a professional wrestling event instead of a softball game for my charity event.
  • Sam Shields says the Packers cornerbacks will be better than last season. Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt says not so fast. My take: The potential is there to be better than last year, but potential and actual ability are two different worlds. We’ll see how the corners stack up after a couple of rough games, injuries and the ups and downs of an entire season.
  • Letroy Guion needs to put down the bong if he wants to stay in the league.

Non Packers links and other Nonsense

  • The wrestling world lost one of the greatest of all time on Thursday when “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes died at the age of 69. Rhodes was one of the greatest promos (interviews) of all time. His “hard times” promo remains an all-time classic. Here’s a 4-hour podcast that covers the entire wrestling career of Rhodes.
  • I’m always a sucker for biographies on American presidents. I just finished “American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House,” and I’d rank it right up there with anything Robert Caro has done on Lyndon Johnson.
  • Ghost is one of my favorite newish bands and they’ve got a new record coming out Aug. 23. Here’s the creepy (and awesome) video for the record’s first single.

There’s more to Green Bay Packers’ early-season struggles than playing tough teams

In my Surviving Sunday column this week, I opined that one of the reasons the Green Bay Packers have started slow the last three seasons is a bland and vanilla early-season scheme on offense.

In the comments section, marpag disagreed. marpag said the Packers have started slow because they’ve played really good teams right out of the gate. “…if you ask me, blaming the loses on GB’s supposed ‘vanilla-ness’ is kind of overlooking the obvious,” marpag wrote.

The “obvious,” according to marpag, being that even good teams like the Packers will lose to other good teams. Don’t pin the Packers’ early struggles on scheme, blame the quality of opponents.

I see marpag’s point, but I think you have to look a little bit deeper at the “quality opponents” reason for the Packers starting slow. First, let’s look at the teams that have defeated the Packers in the season’s first three games since 2012:




According to marpag, these teams combined to go 68-27-1 (I didn’t bother double-checking marpag’s math because I hate math so we’ll just take marpag’s word on this one). When you look at it from a macro perspective, marpag is right. The Packers lost to some damn good teams early. No shame in that. No need to read too much into it, right?

But if you examine the losses at a more micro level, the tough opponents reasoning doesn’t hold up, in my opinion. NFL seasons are full of ups and downs, even for the good teams. How a team plays in September is often very different from how it’s playing in December.

When reflecting on a season, you have to look at how a team was playing during a specific window to get a better gauge on exactly how “tough” they were. Did they go on a dominant run after beating the Packers? What’d they do the week after beating Green Bay?

In 2012, the 49ers waxed the Packers in week 1, beat the Lions in week 2 and lost to the Vikings in week 3. The Seachickens cheated to beat the Packers in week 3, then lost to the mediocre at best Rams.

In 2013, the 49ers once again stomped the Packers in the opener, then lost to the Seachickens and Colts by a combined 46 points. The Bengals beat the Packers in week 3, then didn’t even score a touchdown in losing to the Browns the next week (the Browns finished 4-12).

In 2014, the Seachickens had no problem beating the Packers in the Thursday Night opener. They rested for 10 days, then lost to the Chargers by nine points. The Lions managed to squeak out a win over the Jets after beating the Packers, but lost to the Bills the following week.

As you can see, the teams that have beaten the Packers to start recent seasons weren’t exactly unstoppable early-season juggernauts that couldn’t be defeated. Four of the six teams that beat the Packers in the first three weeks of the last three seasons went on to lose their next game.

Sure, these teams ended up being playoff-caliber teams, but they were beatable when the Packers played them early and the Packers couldn’t get it done.

I’m not trying to pick on marpag. His point was one I hadn’t thought of and it forced me to dig deeper into the issue and turn it into a post (any post ideas are welcome during the dog days of the offseason).  And like I said earlier, I don’t think marpag is wrong in blaming the Packers early-season struggles on playing tough opponents.

I just think there’s more to the issue than simply chalking it up to the Packers playing good teams.

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

It was 26 years ago on Friday that Bob Harlan was elected as president of the Green Bay Packers.

Under Harlan, the Packers went from a laughingstock to one of the most successful franchises in all of sports. Thanks to people like Mike Holmgren, Reggie White and Brett Favre, the Packers became “cool” again. Harlan has even played a role in building today’s team. Before retiring in 2008, Harlan hired Ted Thompson, a general manger who has brought in players like Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and Jordy Nelson to keep the team “cool.”

Rob Demovsky at ESPN chronicles Harlan’s impact in this piece at Demovsky notes Harlan’s biggest move probably had nothing to do with personnel and everything to do with how the Packers were run. At Harlan’s urging, the Packers’ seven-member executive committee backed off from middling in football decisions.

Harlan brought in great football minds like Wolf and Thompson, and those minds were allowed to do their thing without a committee of businessmen looming over their shoulders.

Where would the Packers be today if a committee still played an active role in football decisions? Where would they be if Harlan instead used his election as some sort of power grab and ran the Packers like a Jerry Jones or Al Davis, stifling Wolf and the others in favor of his own personal glory? Would the committee have signed off on trading a first-round draft choice for an unknown and unpredictable young quarterback named Brett Favre who was toiling away on Atlanta’s bench?

Today, an entire generation thinks of the Packers only as “cool.” Wolf, Holmgren, Favre, White, Thompson, Rodgers and others deserves a ton of credit for that. But it’s Harlan who probably deserves the most praise.

Packers News, Notes and Links

  • Aaron Nagler at Cheesehead TV wonders if Aaron Rodgers playing more during the exhibition season would help the Packers start faster (they’ve began three straight seasons 1-2). To me, the issue with the Packers slow starts isn’t Rodgers, it’s a bland and vanilla scheme on offense. It seems to take Mike McCarthy a month or so to really start mixing things up and trying different things on offense. Would that change if Rodgers played more? Maybe. Even if it does, I’d still be skeptical about playing my MVP quarterback who has had significant injuries in consecutive seasons and has already endured multiple concussions too much in games that don’t matter.
  • You probably already knew this, but Tex at Acme Packing Co. goes into detail why the Packers are among the best at drafting offensive players.
  • Not to toot our own horn here at, but……toot, toot. There’s been some great content on the site this week. If you missed it, check out Jay’s X’s and O’s piece on nose tackles and Thomas’s viewpoint on the nose tackle position. If you’re thirst for defensive line talk still hasn’t been quenched, check out Jeff on the Packers d-line overall.
  • Lost amidst the season-ending collapse in 2014 was the fact that punter Tim Masthay wasn’t very good. The Packers brought in Cody Mandell to compete with Masthay in training camp. Hey, a little competition seemed to work for Mason Crosby. We’ll see if it also works for the other guy on the team who makes his living with his leg.
  • Big Phat Eddie Lacy isn’t worried about being too fat. Lacy can enjoy all the crab legs and crawfish he wants as long as he keeps trucking defenders.
  • The Sporting News picked the Packers to win the Super Bowl. In other news, I had no idea The Sporting News was still around.

Non Packers links and other Nonsense

  • This guy was held captive by Somali pirates for 977 days and he’s got an amazing story to tell.
  • Man, check out all the eating former Chargers center Nick Hardwick had to do in order to maintain his size. I never really think about how much an offensive linemen or defensive linemen eats. I always assumed they’re just big dudes, but obviously, that’s not always the case.
  • Yesterday was the 10th International Day of Slayer. How did you celebrate?

5 Takeaways from Packers OTAs so far

The Green Bay Packers have completed three days of OTAs so far. Based on what we’ve learned during these three days, we can make the following conclusions about the 2015 version of the Packers:

Absolutely nothing.

That’s right, nothing. Zip. Zero. Nadda. Anyone who tries to make grand claims after OTAs is just desperate for attention.

But we can still learn a thing or two during OTAs. I like using OTAs to gauge how close players who suffered serious injuries the previous season are to returning. I also like reading between the lines about players who had offseason surgery or are nursing new injuries.

Keeping in mind the fact that we can’t draw any definite conclusions from OTAs, here are five takeaways so far:

Clay Matthews at inside linebacker wasn’t a one-year band-aid
Turns out moving Matthews inside wasn’t just a desperate half-season fix for the run defense. Look for Matthews to continue playing both inside and outside. It also sounds like Matthews has come around to doing more than just lining up outside. I used this description in my Surviving Sunday column, but I’ll use it again here: To me, Matthews is a bigger, whiter, longer-haired Charles Woodson type of player along the front seven. He talented and versatile to roam around and make plays from anywhere.

Casey Hayward doesn’t have the No. 2 cornerback spot locked up
Hawyard still might be the frontrunner on paper. Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt also seemed to have Hayward as the frontrunner. But Hayward is injured again and sat out OTAs with a foot issue. He “hopes” to be ready by training camp. Coming from a guy who has already missed most of one season with an injury, hoping to be back by training camp doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

I really, reeeeeeeeeally, REEEEEEEEALLY am excited about the Packers returners
When was the last time the Packers had a true weapon as a kick and punt returner? Randall Cobb has had his moments, but he never caused the other team to poop its pants whenever he trotted downfield to return a kick. Micah Hyde’s been solid, but I don’t think other teams have to change their gameplan to stop him. We don’t know if Ty Montgomery or Damarious Randall will cause other players to soil themselves, either. But at least we have something to be excited about in the return game. No more putting a leftover defensive back, running back or wide receiver back there.

Mike McCarthy still has his beard.
And it’s awesome.

B.J. Raji is back.
The Packers didn’t sign a big nose tackle in free agency or draft one. They did get Raji back from injury. Now it’s time to find out if we’ll be getting the Raji or was an impact player during his second and third season, or a doormat like he was in his fourth year. Having Letroy Guion on board to form a rotation should help.