It's Packer week. Packer week means an Orwellian type Hate Week for me---speeches discussing the obvious communistic traits of Mike McCarthy, the terrorist sympathies that Ted Thompson overtly displays in his drafting, and unadulterated screaming at a big picture of Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy. Why? IT'S THE PACKERS. We HATE the Packers. Why? Because they're PACKERS!! THE CIRCULAR LOGIC IS FLAWLESS AND MUST NOT BE QUESTIONED! We hate the Packers and have always been at war with the Packers.
Hence, the red alert siren.
DEFCON-1!! Dive, Dive, dive, BAAAAAAOOOOOOGA!!!! (that's a dive alarm from a submarine, if you didn't get that)
So with that backdrop, I'd like to welcome
Emmanuel Goldstein of the Brotherhood the fine blogger Texwestern of Acme Packing Company, as we look ahead to the Sunday Night Tilt at The Most Hallowed Ground In Football Randy Moss' Personal Playground, where we hope to see a full moon or two.
Thanks to Tex and the good people of APC for taking time out to discuss the upcoming game with their most bitter rival. I have submitted answers to their questions, and they will be posted over at APC for your perusal.
Q and A with Texwestern, after the jump
1) If there seems to be an overriding theme to the 2010 Green Bay Season so far, it would be injuries. Ryan Grant, Nick Barnett, and Jermichael Finley are all essentially done for the year, and the list of walking wounded resembles a Civil War casualty list as opposed to a modern day NFL roster. What's the latest on the more significant guys for your team--who's playing and who isn't, and how effective do you think LB Clay Matthews will be with his hamstring?
At this rate, I’ll be suiting up in Green and Gold by week 11. Clay Matthews practiced this week, but he wasn’t full speed. However, if there’s any way he can play, he will, because as much as Charles Woodson meant to our defense last year, Matthews might mean more now. I would still prefer a less-than-100% Matthews over just about anyone else. In the secondary, Al Harris and Atari Bigby are off the PUP list, and both practiced this week. Harris looks more likely to play on Sunday, and would give the packers another savvy veteran to help cover Moss and Harvin. Both offensive tackles were limited this week, as were starters A.J. Hawk and Ryan Pickett. We’ll need all of them to play this week, and it’s not yet clear who’s ready to go.
2) Speaking of Ryan Grant, when he went down the running game disappeared. Brandon Jackson doesn't seem to be the answer. Why didn't Green Bay make a play for Marshawn Lynch, and what do you expect from the running game for the rest of the season?
First of all, Brandon Jackson isn’t cut out to be an every-down back. That has been evident to Packers fans since he was drafted. I still think he can be effective on draws and swing passes, but the coaching staff doesn’t seem to be using his skill set the way I’d like. As for Marshawn Lynch, many people over at APC were upset by Ted Thompson’s unwillingness to make a deal. Others didn’t think Lynch was an upgrade over what we have. Other people think that Ted is putting his faith in 6th rounder James Starks, who is hoping to be activated off the PUP list in the near future. I must admit, I was hopeful when the Marion Barber rumors were swirling earlier this week, but it appears we’re stuck with Jackson and Kuhn. Frankly, the best I’m hoping for the rest of the year is that Jackson breaks a few big gains like his 71-yard run against Washington, and that the passing game gets us to the goal line so Kuhn can ram it in.
3) The offense had a great year last season, but Aaron Rodgers doesn't seem to be putting up the numbers like he was last year. Is that because of an ineffective running game, or are there other reasons?
There’s no question that the lack of a running game has been a factor. Teams aren’t respecting it this year, which means they’re dropping more men into coverage. Greg Jennings and Donald Driver just haven’t been able to find as much space in the secondary and defenses don’t need to worry about the play-action pass, a staple of the Packers’ offense. Add in the recent injury to Finley and you have a number of reasons why the passing game isn’t where it needs to be.
4) Give me a player on offense and defense most Viking fans haven't heard of, and why we need to be worried about them.
On offense, watch for TE Andrew Quarless. He’s a 5th-round pick out of Penn State, and has shown flashes of great talent. He’ll be asked to play a major role with Jermichael Finley injured. In fact, he’s sort of a poor man’s Finley: athletic but very raw. Keep an eye on OLB Frank Zombo as well. Not only does he have the best name on the team, but he’s got a nonstop motor, the kind that comes from being an undrafted free-agent. Like Quarless, he needs to learn the game a little better, but he’s made the transition from college end to pro linebacker pretty well, and he’s fun to watch.
5) Is the offensive line better than it was last season when our two teams met, or will Jared Allen and the Williams Wall have a repeat performance from 2009?
Like last year, both games are in the middle of the season. Unlike last year, when Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher were inactive for both games with injuries, they should both play. That alone should help the line…somewhat. As much as I like Clifton, I’m concerned that his knees are finally shot, and Tauscher is aging as well. The rookie Bulaga has both impressed and disappointed so far at different times. I’ll say overall, the line is marginally better, but mainly because T.J. Lang and Allen Barbre aren’t starting.
As for a prediction…I’m going to have to be a homer and be optimistic. I choose to assume that Matthews will play and wreak havoc, that Favre will turn the ball over, and that the offense does just enough to squeak out a tight 26-24 victory for the Pack. Can’t say I feel very confident about anything in this game though, and if you’re in a pick’em pool, I would put the minimum points on this game, regardless of who I’d end up picking. I guess I just don’t see either team sweeping two games this year, and I give the Pack the slight advantage at home.
Good luck this weekend, and hopefully we’ll see a clean game with no major injuries on either side. Lord knows we can’t afford any more.