Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Few Generic Notes...

Greetings, G-Force.

As a football fan, this is the most frustrating time of the year for analyzing the roster. It's easy to rest with the analysis of the roster in June & July when the team is preparing for training camp. But, right now, the team is gathered for the OTA's and the fans are provided with limited information & knowledge from the media. Essentially, we are left to make judgments through a small sample of pictures that can be seen on the web.

As was expected, Aaron Rodgers is the man of the moment in Green Bay. He's slowly growing on me. First, I hear that Rodgers has repeatedly been seen in the local taverns with Tauscher. Then, I hear he's hosting catered food & video game parties at his house. It should be noted that Brohm and Flynn have been invited to these gatherings. Rodgers has carried himself tremendously throughout his tenure as the back-up QB and he's handling his role as the heir apparent to Favre. ESPN reports that his hometown of Chico, CA is stoked for his opportunity to lead the Pack. Previously, Chico, CA was best known for brewing the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Hopefully, soon, Chico, CA will be best known for brewing the starting QB for the 2008 NFC North Champions.

As I drank my "Mother's Neighborhood Bistro" gourmet coffee, which is grown in Buena Vista, CO, this morning, I turned my attention to the Packers OTA's. I looked at all pictures that I could find on the 'net that dealt with this year's OTA's. In each picture, I was impressed with Rodgers. He looks to be focused. He looks to be uniting the team. He looks to be enjoying himself and the opportunity that is in front of him.

Other things that caught my attention:

Jordy Nelson dwarfed Donald Driver.

Ryan Grant was active & in attendance. Sign him.

Troy Humphrey was running.

Brandon Jackson seems to be holding the football a lot.

Justin Harrell has to get off of the bike and onto the field.

It's great to see Chuckie Woodson participating and carrying a smile.

Brian Brohm looks focused & intense.

Allen Barbre looks punishing.

I hope your Summer is Sunny. I'll be dodging for Tropical Storms for the next four months.

A Football Yawn,

Talkin' S-Mac.

10 comments:

porterbela said...

They are just pictures Scottie. Benson looks focused and determined in still shots.

Talkin' S-Mac said...

Grammy,

Your take is what it is...and it's to no surprise that it'd be derogatory to something I've stated about the Packers...but when I've seen pictures of Cedric Benson this off-season, I see a guy that has his chin, eyes and head pointed to the ground...not necessarily words that I'd use to describe "focused and determined."

As for additional pictures from Packers practice, I continue to see an Aaron Rodgers that appears to be having fun...I see a Charles Woodson that is happy to be a camp...an Al Harris that is enjoying his time...and these things excite me...

porterbela said...

You must not have seen the picture of Ced on his boat with his mom and a bunch of honeys. I was just messin around. I wasn't trying to be serious about that Benson take.

Stack said...

Well, now that Ced Benson's tenure in Chicago is officially over, we can look back on his body of work and see if he has earned a place in the pantheon of Chicago's great running backs.

Curtis Enis, Rashan Salaam, and now Ced.

porterbela said...

Ced was quite a bust. Ask the people in Nebraska if they remember Lawrence Phillips.

And I know the Bears haven't had a running back as great as Ryan Grant since Walter Payton played but let's not start throwing the names of terrible running backs out there. This could turn into a long comment board.

Stack said...

Well, now that OTAs have concluded, what can we say...

Good to see the veterans there, specifically Al and Charles, two players who historically have not shown up for this portion of the football offseason. I think this can only be a good thing. I think it shows a couple of things.

First of all, from what I understand, Sherman was lax with these sorts of offseason things. Now, the team has a different complexion now due to many different players, however, I think it shows that players are buying into MM to an increasing degree. This is a sign that the culture is changing, and changing back toward the right direction.

My second point is a little more speculative.
S-mac and I have lamented the fact that neither of us have the ability to be in Green Bay to try and drink straight from the stream. Instead, we are forced to forge our opinions based on our understanding of the organization, our understanding of the players, what they're saying, and couple that with the reporting of the people who are on the scene.

Certainly there are stories that aren't being told. We're left to wonder about Marcus Riley. We're left to wonder about Rod Harper. Danny Lasanah reported stole the pro day at UConn when everyone was there to see their CB. How does he look? I realize these are OTAs, not training camp, but still, I think there is information of value that is not even being commented on. Of course, you could be glib about it and say that most of these guys aren't going to make the team, and the ones that do will only show up on special teams. That might be true, but we've got an undrafted free agent starter in Cullen Jenkins. We've got an undrafted free agent about to take over our nickel CB spot in T-Mon. Another undrafted free agent missed one of the biggest plays of the season when Ruvell Martin let the ball sail through his hands against the Giants. He makes that catch, we have the ball around the 20, and we probably win that game. So I would say that yeah, it does matter what these guys are doing, how these guys look.

If there aren't observations made about these guys now, we're missing out on an opportunity to measure their growth, however small it might be, between now and training camp. Some guys have their lights on, if you will. You look at these guys and say man, this guy can do it. He might be a year away from contributing, he might be two years away from competing for a job, whatever the case may be, you'd like to hear about it before their head is popping up somewhere down the line and you have no idea who they are...

After that convoluted disclaimer, I have yet to articulate my second point. I was listening to Charles Woodson talk the other day. When he was asked if his return to OTAs was some sort of sign that he is taking over more leadership with this team in the wake of Favre's retirement, he answered no. I was puzzled by that. Here he is 30 years old, Heisman winner, succesful NFL player, made plays in Conference Championships, on the youngest team in the league, in a secondary filled with unproven guys, and he's saying no?

I thought about his words for a while and I came to as good a conclusion as I could from my residence, which is not between Wood's ears, not at 1265, and not even in Green Bay. Wood never struck me as a guy who is going to shirk responsibility. I've never seen him do that. So what is he doing? I believe that he is delegating responsibility in a way and leading by example. By showing up to camp, he's stepping his game up in terms of work and committment. And for him to say that he is no more of a leader this year than last suggests that, in the void left by Favre, many people need to take a small step forward to close that gap. Wood's presence at camp is his first small step up for this new season, leading by example once again.

porterbela said...

Chern, nice take on what you wrote. It's always fun to watch how the undrafted players are doing.

I have to say this in regards to your Woodson comment. Maybe he said 'no' because he actually meant, 'no'. Sometimes, probably most of the time, I think we all read too much into what some of these players say. I honestly believe that the majority of the players in the NFL don't have enough smarts to answer that question by the reporter with a simple "no" and have it mean that much. Woodson isn't that deep. Heisman winner, yes. Valedictorian, no.

http://monkey3media.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/thinker.jpg

Stack said...

Grammy,

I agree. And I'm just posing a viewpoint for discussion. For sure, there aren't a lot of Nobel laurates in the NFL. I look at it from a communicative standpoint and wonder how effectively these guys are able to say what they are trying to express. So while some guys might be able to be communicate in layers, I wonder if the guys who can't just don't know how or aren't able to articulate with the same clarity. And then we end up hearing something is said and receiving it with a different meaning than with which it was said. Wood may have meant no, or he may have meant yes, but couldn't find a way to say both things at the same time.

I don't know, and I'm not trying to put words in anyone's mouth, not attach value to someone else's comments, I'm just speculating on a possibility.

Porter said...

Regardless of all of this Woodson talk, it brings up an interesting point about being the team leader. Of course you would like to say that the Coach is always your team leader, and to a certain extent that is correct...but we all know that there needs to be a leader on the field.

The first question needs to be, What is a leader. After a quick search on websters dictionary two definitions stick out
a person who has commanding authority or influence
and
"a first or principal performer of a group"
I think a true leader in any sport is a combination of these two.
Everyone knows it was Brett Favre. The question now becomes who will it be now that he's gone?

On defense, it is questionable who that person will be. But if anyone should step up and be a leader now, it is time for AJ Hawk. He plays arguably the most important position on the field. Having Woodson as a leader of this defense would be nice but it ultimately has to become Hawk's defense.

On offense, the Packers obviously want it to be Aaron Rodgers. The question in my mind becomes this. What happens if he falters in his first game as a Packer? There is a very good chance that this might happen since it is his first game as a Packer, it's at home (added pressure), he's following in Favre's footsteps, teams will actually be game planning against him (unlike the Cowboys game), and most importantly he is playing against a Vikings defense that could be one of the best in the NFL. The Packers then have to go play the Lions in Detroit and then have the Cowboys. If he falters in these games who will step up to be the team leader?

The Bears haven't had a leader on Offense since who knows when and we all know how good they are at scoring points.

Obviously, having a leader on your team doesn't equate to winning games, but it is important to have these guys when things aren't going well.

It will be an interesting year to be a Packer fan.

Talkin' S-Mac said...

Grammy, why can't all of your posts have that tone? Great thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

Stack, thanks for initiating this topic. I enjoy your mind. And I could not agree with you more in regards to your take on sports journalism during this portion of the offseason.

Clearly, Aaron Rodgers is facing a difficult task. He's replacing a legend and he's surrounded with the youngest team in the league. Unquestionably, every team needs a leader...both on defense and on offense...also in the locker room. Every team needs a captain.

I believe that the onus does not necessarily fall on Aaron Rodgers. Not this year anyways. While it would ideally be Rodgers, I could see Driver stepping up and keeping the offense both united and positive. On the outside, Driver seems like a natural for this role. Driver's smile, personality, and desire to play football are all traits that display "commanding authority or influence."

Rodgers will bring a more laid-back, care free leadership approach. Often times, last year, we heard Favre talk about how he feared the team was too loose during the week and that they would not be prepared for game day. And each week, he almost seemed surprised by the way the team responded and was able to turn the light switch from playful to serious.

Rodgers might not succeed this year. And I don't believe that it would be fair to hold it against him if he did not. After all, how many QB's do perform like stars in their first season under the helm. From Rodgers, I want to see week over week progress and growth from a developmental standpoint. If this happens, wins will come.

Rodgers has done nothing but impress me thus far. He's matured me. Recent photos show that he's got his hair cut and seems to be taking a relationship oriented professional approach. I applaud Rodgers for the way he has conducted himself.

Weekly, Rodgers is getting the team together and emphasizing the importance of playing as a team. And maybe, just maybe, that will be the leadership approach on offense. Everyone does their part. No "I" in team, but there is an "M" and an "E" and that means that all must do their part. Maybe this mindset will propel greatness in the locker room and on the field. We have the weapons...now they must gel together.

Each unit seems to have a leader. The offensive line has Tauscher & Clifton as the grizzly veterans. Driver holds the primary leadership role at WR with Jennings willingly accepting a secondary approach. Jennings may elevate his status this year as well. Ryan Grant earned respect last year and is a good role model for the likes of B-Jack and Lumpkin.

Defensively, we have leadership at each position. Now, it would be a good time for someone to become the go-to guy...the face of the defense...and to consistently make the big play at crucial times...

Or...

Will we be the same way we were on defense last year? Each week it was someone new. It was Hawk breaking LJ's ankle and then Chuckie picking off the pass against KC. It was Bigby picking off the pass against Minnesota. It was Jolly knocking down McNabb's pass. It was Barnett picking off Philip Rivers. It was Willie B. recovering fumbles for TD's. T-Mon shutting down Calvin Johnson. You get the point...

Yes, it would be great for ONE guy to be the leader...and you need a captain...but sometimes it's best to have a number of self starters rather than a leader and a bunch of followers.