A GB Packer 2008 review (a record many expected, but for a different reason) and 2009 preview (more Favre!)

09/10/2009
2008

The first season of the PFE (post Favre era) was somewhat disappointing, as I think many people had predicted. The Packers 6-10 record left them 3rd in the division and thinking about what might have been. But for the most part, it had little to do with the passing (pun very much intended) of the torch from Favre to Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers didn't seem to have the 4th quarter magic that gets attributed to Favre (somewhat incorrectly since the last time he was that clutch was in the 90s), but he lead the offense to many a second half lead only to see the defense lose the lead. The team blew a whopping 6 4th quarter leads. I vaguely remember that one of these Rodgers did quite poorly. Against Tampa Bay he put up a 55.9, his worst rating including a 4th quarter INT that killed the Packers chances of a comeback. The rest of the those losses probably rest more with the defense and possibly a weak running game that was incapable of running out the game. Based on this graph they had roughly a 68% (TB), 86% (MIN), 85% (CAR), 79% (HOU), 78% (JAX), and 93% (CHI) win probability in games that they lost after taking the lead in the 4th quarter. So if those 93, 86, 85, and 79% games would've gone the more likely direction they could've pulled of 10-6. I blame Jarret Bush and his 1 pass deflection on the year.

Offense
Rodgers put up a respectable 93.8 rating in his first season as a starter. His numbers were actually pretty close to 2007 Favre (95.7), with a 2.9% drop in completion percent the biggest difference. Rodgers was 6th overall in rating, still 10th in PCT, 4th in YDs, 4th in TDs, while only throwing 13 picks. He also contributed 207 YDs on the ground along with 4 TDs and a reasonable 4 FUMs. All in all, a pretty good season for a first year starter.

The TE position gave the same middling production that it has for a few years in a row now. Donald Lee led with 39 RECs, 303 YDs, and 5 TDs.

A second torch passing of sorts took place in 2008 without nearly as much fanfare. Jennings overtook Driver as the leading receiver, at least in terms of numbers produced. His TD production actually dropped a bit to 9, but he had a career best 80 RECs and 1292 YDs. He also managed to play all 16 games after having some durability issues the year before. Driver had his fewest reception total since 2003, but found the end zone a couple more times than in 2007 and had a solid year. James Jones had a sophomore slump though, halving his 2007 totals and only playing 10 games. But newcomer Jordy Nelson picked up the slack and gave a nice rookie effort, roughly 5th best among rookie WRs.

The RB receiving game was down from the previous year from 95 RECs to 55 RECs, but they managed to go from 0 TDs to 4 despite the quantity drop. Not sure I ever noticed before, but Ryan Grant isn't much of a catcher of the ball. Besides that they didn't really have a 3rd down type back that would get a lot of receptions out of the backfield (and to jump ahead, still don't). Team rushing was up from the year before, despite a slightly disappointing 1203 YDs, 4 TDs, and 3.9 AVG from Ryan Grant. He got off to a slow start after contract and health issues in the off-season and didn't notch a 100 YD game or touchdown until week 7 against and Indy defense that stank against the run. Brandon Jackson had 45 attempts for 248 YDs, then there was Rodgers contributions and that was about it.

The offensive line was not great. The team per carry average stayed the same and the sacks just about doubled. Also they never dominated in the 4th quarter enough to allow the team to run out the clock. That's really all I remember.

Defense
Overall, not so great. Couldn't hold a lead and get stops to finish off games. Went from 11th to 20th in YDs allowed, all on rushing. Which suggests that the secondary was ok but the front seven were a bit weak. YDs per attempt went from 3.9 to 4.6, ugh! Points per game also jumped from 18.2 to 23.8. The 3rd down conversions allowed went from 33.0% to 38.1% and they got their arses handed to them on 4th down as teams converted an almost unfathomable 73.9% (I say almost because somehow Arizona and Houston managed to do worse). Sacks were down, as Kampman was pretty much the only threat there. C-Wood was actually tied for 2nd in sacks. Takeaways stayed the same, lead by 7 INTs by Woodson and Nick Collins. A.J. Hawk was the other with 3 sacks, and led the team with 86 tackles.

Special teams
Crosby kicked well again but the punting, was despicable. 27th in net punt average, despite changing punters in mid season. Actually, Kapinos did worse, and is the guy that's still on the roster right now...anyway the return game was about the same as the year before. Punt return good, kick return bad.

Summary
A hellacious off-season was followed up by the defense and running game disappointing while Rodgers did a fine job in stepping in for a legend, without showing the legendary 4th quarter prowess of a certain alleged close game winner. 6 blown 4th quarter leads and 2 overtime losses left the team and fans unsatisfied, but hopeful for 2009.

2009

This off-season Favre mania found itself a new home across the state border. Which gave Packer fans something to chew on, but didn't seem to affect the team much. Not entirely sure about the offensive line, but the starting 11 on offense looks pretty much the same as last year and the depth chart overall hasn't changed much (mostly the backup o-line). That fact plus the Packers success in the preseason on offense suggests that they can repeat their performance on that side of the ball (8th in YDs, 5th in scoring). The secondary is largely intact, despite the fact that the Titans signed the worst player, Jarrett Bush, to an offer sheet in March. But the front seven is now a 3-4 instead of a 4-3 and also includes some new faces like B.J. Raji, Jarius Wynn, and Clay Matthews. Also Nick Barnett is returning from a major knee injury and arguably the most productive defensive end from the last 3 years is know officially a linebacker. So there's the biggest question mark on the team, how will the defense do, specifically up front? I'm expecting an improved pass rush in particular, and hopefully the run defense also is better with those linebackers flying around and filling the gaps. So once again I predict

The Green Bay Packers will win the NFC North at 11-5

The one other note offensively is that TE Jermichael Finley is supposedly poised for a breakout season. Look for some more 2 TE sets (I don't think they used it much last season, more 3 wide) which could help the running game.

Defensively, I worried about the aging CBs in this section last year. Then Al Harris went and missed 4 games and the secondary held up. Biggest worry this year is in general the switch to the 3-4 (which is also something like the 6th new defensive scheme in the last 7 years) and probably the depth on the line.

On special teams, hopefully the punting is better and they can find a way to get some kickoff return magic going. Those 2 things add up to a lot of field position over the season.

Division predictions:

Chicago 7-9
The have (Enrique) Juaquin Iglesias and Johnny Knox(ville) on their depth chart at WR. Seriously though, their offense doesn't scare me and the defense is old and injury prone.

Detroit 3-13
Going game-by-game I'm not sure which 3 games I'd say they'll win, but they can't be 0 for again, right?

Minnesota 8-8
Repeat from last year, “Pass defense and pass offense have to be concerns until proven otherwise.” Also, there's still a potential for the Williams boys to be suspended I think. I see a 4-1 start, followed by things not going so well, particularly in the last 3 road games and week 17 game against a Giants team that may need a win for a playoff push.
thumbnailCAW1I0O3.gifMatt - Ombudsman
09/10/2009 @ 12:31:47 AM
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I don't think it's fair to count the bye week as a win for the Packers.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8972 Posts
09/10/2009 @ 12:37:25 AM
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Anon. Nut Can Fan Wrote - 12/31/1969 @ 06:00:00 PM
The Green Bay Packers will win the NFC North at 11-6


I think maybe he's factoring in the one-and-done playoffs.
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Jeremy messed with this 3 times, last at 09/10/2009 12:37:54 am
jeremy.jpgJeremy - Robots don't say 'ye'
09/10/2009 @ 12:41:10 AM
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I suspect the powers that be are waiting to suspend the Williams' once they're actually needed, or, most likely, so they miss both Packer games.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - 8972 Posts
09/10/2009 @ 12:45:45 AM
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And, just for a comment 3 pack: I think the Packers might be in for a surprise regarding their 3-4 switch. Teams generally run pretty vanilla plays in the preseason. The Packers on the other hand had to run a bit more of their defense because they had to practice and get it installed. When one team is pulling their punches and the other isn't, you can't really be sure what you just saw.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - I hate our freedoms
09/10/2009 @ 12:51:56 AM
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That graph is weird. (And mis-linked, FYI) For one, shouldn't it more approach, and be at 100 or 0 at :00? (Or are we to assume the graph ends at :01 and forgoes the implied "duh" points?)
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Jeremy screwed with this 2 times, last at 09/10/2009 12:52:29 am
2887.gifAlex - 3618 Posts
09/10/2009 @ 12:59:52 AM
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Record and link fixed. There's not really a probability at :00, you've either won or lost. Or tied, but I'm guessing this doesn't really deal with overtime.
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2887.gifAlex - 3618 Posts
09/10/2009 @ 01:09:11 AM
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And I just realized you could get a play-by-play breakdown of each game, so probabilities have been updated. I just eyeballed the graph before and was looking at drive charts on ESPN.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8972 Posts
09/10/2009 @ 10:25:11 AM
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I like this graph, good times.
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newalex.jpgAlex - 3618 Posts
09/10/2009 @ 01:51:14 PM
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Simmons must have used my article to write his

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/090910
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face.bmpCarlos44ec - 2078 Posts
09/10/2009 @ 02:09:17 PM
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http://wp.advancednflstats.com/nflarchive.php?year=2008&team=GB&gameid=29676
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newalex.jpgAlex - I was too weak to give in Too strong to lose
09/10/2009 @ 04:36:01 PM
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This how you graph letting them off the hook

http://wp.advancednflstats.com/nflarchive.php?year=2006&team=ARZ&gameid=28947
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
09/10/2009 @ 09:36:15 PM
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I always wondered how you would represent how someone is who you thought they were in chart form.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
09/10/2009 @ 09:38:57 PM
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I'm a glutton for punishment.

but I suppose this helps soften it up a bit.
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Scott perfected this at 09/10/2009 9:41:26 pm
scott.jpgScott - You're going to have to call your hardware guy. It's not a software issue.
09/10/2009 @ 10:12:37 PM
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I feel it's worth pointing out that in the Tampa Bay game when Rodgers posted his worst passer rating, he played most of that game with a separated throwing shoulder.

From what I've read this year, the Packers offensive line seems to be improved greatly from last year. It's still a relatively young O-line, but not too young to be inexperienced. In the preseason (I know, the preseason is about as meaningful as an apology from a politician), their run blocking consistently beat the opposing defense off the line; when the running back "disappeared into the pile", it turned out to be a 4 or 5 yard gain. That's at least something to take note of.
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Scott messed with this 3 times, last at 09/10/2009 10:50:29 pm
scott.jpgScott - Resident Tech Support
09/10/2009 @ 10:49:52 PM
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I think the NBC football TV crew is the best in the business. I did very much enjoy John Madden, but Chris Collinsworth is a very good analyst. In my opinion.
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newalex.jpgAlex - You've got to trust your instinct, and let go of regret
09/14/2009 @ 12:55:40 PM
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Bears defense cannot stay healthy, Urlacher out for the year

http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/nfl/news/story?id=4472175
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2887.gifAlex - I don't need to get steady I know just how I feel
11/10/2009 @ 09:56:20 PM
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"I'm expecting an improved pass rush in particular"
"On special teams, hopefully the punting is better and they can find a way to get some kickoff return magic going. Those 2 things add up to a lot of field position over the season."
"Not entirely sure about the offensive line"

Fail. Big Fail. And Uber Fail.

3 strikes and my prediction is out for the 4-4 Packers. There's not a whole lot more to be said, a 4-4 second half is my guess.

4-4 Chicago. How funny is it that I took a jab at Knox and he's started 6 weeks on my pitiful FF team? And that the Bears made a horrible move with the Cutler trade? I'll stick with a 3-5 second half to hit my original 7-9 prediction.

1-7 Detroit. If they really wanted to get to 3 they probably should have beaten the Rams. I think I can only give them Cleveland at this point for a matching 1-7.

7-1 Minnesota. I underestimated them and still predicted they would have good start, so I guess their record isn't that surprising. Those last 5 games will still be challenging, there's a chance Favre could fade in the 2nd half, and unless they keep pace with the Saints they might be playing for much in week 17 and maybe 16. And historically the Vikings aren't exactly a team known for taking a mid season lead and finishing strong. Let's say 5-3.
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newalex.jpgAlex - I was too weak to give in Too strong to lose
11/10/2009 @ 10:02:57 PM
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And as far as the wild card race goes, I don't have the slightest clue. Matt Ryan is riding pine on my FF team lately and Atlanta is 1-3 on the road, Philly lost to Oakland, the Giants have lost 4 in a row, see above for Green Bay and Chicago comments, and then there is 3-5 San Fran, Carolina, and Seattle.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - 8972 Posts
11/11/2009 @ 09:38:46 AM
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Scott Wrote - 09/10/2009 @ 10:12:37 PM
From what I've read this year, the Packers offensive line seems to be improved greatly from last year. It's still a relatively young O-line, but not too young to be inexperienced. In the preseason (I know, the preseason is about as meaningful as an apology from a politician), their run blocking consistently beat the opposing defense off the line; when the running back "disappeared into the pile", it turned out to be a 4 or 5 yard gain. That's at least something to take note of.


Might want to finds some new sources. thepackerscandonowrong.com might be biased.
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scott.jpgScott - If you aren't enough without it, you'll never be enough with it.
11/12/2009 @ 07:17:41 AM
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Jeremy Wrote - Yesterday @ 10:38:46 AM
Scott Wrote - 09/10/2009 @ 11:12:37 PM
From what I've read this year, the Packers offensive line seems to be improved greatly from last year. It's still a relatively young O-line, but not too young to be inexperienced. In the preseason (I know, the preseason is about as meaningful as an apology from a politician), their run blocking consistently beat the opposing defense off the line; when the running back "disappeared into the pile", it turned out to be a 4 or 5 yard gain. That's at least something to take note of.
Might want to finds some new sources. thepackerscandonowrong.com might be biased.


Well, all signs pointed to an improved offensive line. I don't think anyone predicted the Titans to be at the bottom of the food chain this year either, but they are.
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2887.gifAlex - Refactor Mercilessly
12/12/2009 @ 11:50:52 AM
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Quarter #3 went very well for Green Bay. After losing to TB I assumed Dallas would be a loss and was 50/50 on Baltimore. But sacks are down and Woodson for MVP is up and the Packers have won 4 in a row. They have 3 road games remaining, but Chicago has won 2 of their last 8 (Cle & Stl), Pittsburgh must have confused the self-destruct button with the easy button during their bye week, and it remains to be seen if Arizona will have anything to play for in week 17. If they don't, I doubt Warner will see much action in that game. The problem is that the Vikings hold the tie breaker so even if the Packers go 4-0, the Vikings would have to lose 3 games. They definitely have a tougher schedule as I noted before the season began, but I don't think it's that tough. But at this point I will be very disappointed if the Packers don't get a wild card spot.

5-7 Chicago - Not much to say here. They might be lucky to reach 7-9 now.

2-10 Detroit - Their best bet for win #3 is probably against Chicago.

10-2 Minnesota - Division is wrapped up, but it will be interesting to see how they respond to the Arizona loss.
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