Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sack-beating or Fingernail-pulling?

I was sitting at work the other day, shuffling through a pile of ravaged books that needed extensive work, when Lance, one of the library's army of custodial technicians stopped by my work-station. I was watching a tape of this year's Colts victory to see what different in that game than in the 10 losses. Now Lance is a nice enough guy, but he is a typical Vikings' fan, on board when they win, and a screaming child when they lose. But, he likes to watch old Packer/Vikings game tapes with me when we're both too hungover to work, so we get along. Today Lance asked me, "Who do you want in the playoffs, my Vikes or da Bears?" I glanced up at him, and just smiled and shook my head. "You don't get it do you?" I asked. "Get what?" "As of Sunday, at about 3:30, the 2008 NFL season is over, and I start thinking about 2009." "Come on, man, it's the playoffs, who do you want to see from the North?" "Neither, if somehow they both could not make it, then I would be happy, since that's not the case, I tune out." " No way, you gotta choose the Bears, right? You hate the Vikings, man," he says. "Lance, asking me to choose a team from the NFC North other than the Packers to be in playoffs, is similar to asking me whether I want a sack-beating or my fingernails pulled out. I would rather not have either, and avoid both at all costs." Lance looks at me shakes his head and mutters, "Sore loser." I chuckle and turn back to the game.
Abbreviated Views from the Hillside:
  • Who's the big winner today? Miami Dolphins. Looks more and more likely, that the Favre will trade will only get the Packers a third round pick, when the cast-off Chad Pennington rides his magical Dolphin into Miami today. It's a shame because Thompson has hit second-round gold with his picks, we could have used another.
  • Pretty safe guarantee, Travis.
  • Jarret Bush-league. I don't have have to say much about your performance on Monday night, you let your play speak for itself.
  • Enjoy a victory for the last game. It's been awhile.
  • Get ready for an off-season of Ranting! Fear it!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Bruce Ineffectual

In 1976, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks joined the NFL as expansion teams in the AFC West. The Seahawks managed 2 wins that season. The Bucs, led by Steve Spurrier at QB, went without a single win and finished 0-14. To date, they are the NFL team to experience a winless season.

That meant that “Bruce Bucco,” the name given to original Buccaneers logo shown to the left, never really had a chance. If the Bucs had gone 14-0, ol' Bruce would look a lot different. More like a Pirate superhero instead of an extra from the musical “Yaaar! The Pirates Who Prance A Lot.” No, with his Errol Flynn sass and Pixie Stick orange, Bruce has always reeked of futility and shame. If you look long enough, you can almost hear him say, “They made me wear this earring and bite this letter opener, but the wink – that was my idea.”

But unlike the expansion Bucs of 1976, the Detroit Lions have been around since 1930. You’d think that an organization with 78 years of experience would be operating like a badass Ford F-150, not a Ford POS. At 15 losses, the Lions have already surpassed the Bucs and on Sunday at Lambeau, they have a chance to make history by losing their 16th. If that happens, they will earn the title of “The Suckiest Bunch of Sucks That Ever Sucked.”

With my season Packer predictions at 5-10 (shocking), I won’t go so far as to say the Packers will win this one. I’ll only go so far as to say we’ll put up 23 points. If the Lions can top that, it could prove a capstone to the 2008 season of tough losses for the Packers as well.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Larry McCarren's Pinky

Tom Cruises’ crooked nose. Harrison Ford’s heavy breathing. The Dark Knight’s insanely deep voice. There are some characteristics that can make certain people almost impossible to watch.

Like the other night I was watching a Harry Ford classic, Air Force One. In this sweet action thriller, Gary “Not Yet An” Oldman, hijacks the president’s plane in hopes of getting money for his sex change operation or something. I don’t remember because the only thing I could hear were the two arctic wind tunnels known as Harrison Ford’s nostrils. Seriously, the dude breathes so loud even when he’s not the focus of the scene, his nozzer tries to play best supporting actor. It’s like trying to decipher the lyrics from “Blinded By the Light” over and louder again and not making any ground (Seriously, what are they saying?) It’s just plain annoying.

Larry McCarren, former Packer and Green Bay television sports anchor, is the same way for a lot of people. If you've ever watched "The Mike McCarthy Show" or "Larry McCarren's Locker Room" or sportscasts on WFRV-TV 5, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Somewhere during the Rock’s 162 straight games under center with the Packers, his left pinky bent about 90 degrees the wrong way. It now dangles outward like a broken twig that refuses to fall off the tree.

The first time I noticed it I jumped up out of my seat and yelled, “Whoa! Lookit McCarren’s finger! Holy Crap!” That feeling of awe and disgust has never gone away. And once you’ve seen it, you can’t look away. It’s like being mesmerized by a snake charmer; you just follow the finger wherever it goes – your eyes fascinated and powerless to look away.

I’m not saying that Larry should get it reset or fixed. It’s an ultimate tough-guy-man-symbol that he definitely earned and has the right to show off. Heck, it might even be cool to put some phat ice on it to make it stand out more. One day, however, that pinky will undoubtedly fall off. It has to. Perhaps that day Larry will be cooking his famous chili for some friends and he’ll say, “Hey friends, do you smell what the Rock is cooking?” and they notice his missing digit and will reply, “Your pinky?”

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bear in Mind

According to the greatest, most accurate source on the interweb (Wikipedia), tonight’s game between the Packers and Bears will be the 178th time the two historic teams have met. The number 178 also has significant meaning to math nerds across the universe because it is considered “semiprime,” or the products of two primes (2 and 89). Pretty cool, right?

But if you take apart the number, you have 1, 7 and 8. And even most non-mathletes know when added together, those numbers equal 16. Do you see the connection? No, do you see it? 16, Ranter readers, is not only the number of games in a regular season or the age Kyle Orton hit puberty, it is also the date (November 16) of the last matchup and Bears beatdown. In that game, the Packers dominated 37-3. That’s a victory of 34 points, and was a game in which #34 himself, Walter Payton, likely wept from his football throne high above that day.

But the most important number of the game has to be 25. That is the number of our 226 lb., 26-year old running back, Ryan Grant. In that 34-point Bear victory, RG (nice initials – please tell me you get that at least) had 25 carries for 145 yards. It was the coming out party for the Packers running game and the key to that division rivalry win. With a cold, windy game (possibly up to a -25 wind chill) expected, it’s going to be up to the running game in this one.

Wait. The Ranter intern, Peter, just informed me it’s the 177th meeting, not 178th. That throws off everything. Nevermind.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Wish List

  • The Packers shelve Justin Harrell for the season now. It is apparent he is not healthy, and by not addressing his injury now for the long-term, the Packers risk having him miss off-season work which has happened each of his first two years. At this point, Harrell needs to be given one more chance where he is allowed to go through full off-season workouts and team activities healthy to prove what kind of player he is, bust or first round defensive tackle. Ending his season now, will allow him to be ready for the first mini-camp....we hope.
  • Packer fans recognize and think about the things to come following James Jones game against the Jaguars. Jones had four catches for 132 yards last Sunday, a career day for the 2nd year receiver who has had a disappointing second season due to injuries. This Jennings-like performance bodes well for the league's most talented, young receiving core.
  • My uncle's brandy slushes don't run out before my Grandma wants everyone to sing carols. If they do, everyone is forced to sing sober, which never ends well. Great Aunt Gertrude is the only one who gets a reprieve, as she can't hear anyway.
  • A sweep of the Chicago Bears for 2008. After the recent Bears' dominance over the Packers it would be a nice Christmas present to shut them down Monday night at Soldier Field. This would be especially sweet considering Lovie Smith's recent comments, that are not-so indirect potshots at the Packers.
  • Anything from this site!
  • An Albert Haynesworth pairing with either Jason Taylor, or preferably, Julius Peppers. Since Ted Thompson is so pleased with his recent draft class (and presumably all others), it is time to bolster this extremely young team, with an impact free-agent signing...or two. If he really is a disciple of Ron "The Brain" Wolf, he can prove it by adding to his team through free agency. Since the problems for the Packers this year started...and while I would like to say ended, I obviously can't....with the defensive line, adding the best D tackle in the game would be a good start to addressing Thompson's recent shortcomings. While being a hulking beast of a run-stuffer, Haynesworth has added 8.5 sacks, meaning he can get pressure on the QB from the interior...and meaning he only has one less sack than Aaron Kampman, the only Packer who gets pressure on the QB. While Aaron Taylor is at the tail-end of his career, he would be a guiding force for the young defense and would be hungry to eliminate last year's injury plagued season from recent memory. A one-year deal would be perfect for Taylor and the Packers, as it would give Taylor one last chance before he goes Fred Astaire full-time, and allow Mike Montgomery and Jeremy Thompson a year to learn under one of the best defensive ends of all time. Ideally, Thompson would pull the trigger on Julius "Habanero" Peppers to give Aaron Kampman a guy to meet up and have a beer with at the Busted QB Tavern. Happy hour from 12-3:30 every Sunday. Stat prediction for Kampman and Peppers if Thompson gets a deal done: 12 total sacks each, but attained by 24 half-sacks as each play they drill the QB at the same time.
  • Aaron Rodgers gets the late game monkey off his back. To be fair, Rodgers has given the Packers the lead late in the fourth quarter, only to watch the defense already head to locker room and let the other team walk down the field to score. But to eliminate the stigma associated with losing 20 games by a total of 2 points, #12 needs to take the offense on a drive late in the game for the win. Not only to give him some street cred, but because it's more fun to watch the Bears lose in the waning seconds. Let's be honest, we'll be beating the Lions by 35...well, hopefully. It's no guarantee the way we've been playing and been coached.
  • One last thing. But only if Alyssa Milano comes with it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Packer Pro Bowl Predictions (PPPP)

With maybe just a few scraps of pride left in the once-overflowing vat of talent and confidence, there’s not much positive to talk about. Despite the floundering season, there’s still a few deserved Packers that should make the Pro Bowl this year. Winners will be announced today. Here are my predictions.

1) AJ Hawk. The thing about Hawk is that, yeah, just kidding.
2) Nick Collins. Tied for 2nd in the league with 5 picks and leading with 3 TDs. Nice work for the 3rd-year player who’s really come into his own. Also second to Hawk on team tackles. These stats may help overshadow some inconsistent play.
3) Charles Woodson. The first of the two great moves made under the Ted Thompson regime (Jennings = #2), Chuck Wood has been an absolute force this year. He helped shut down some of the league’s best WRs in Steve Smith, Reggie Wayne and TO. At 32, he’s still very much in his prime and an asset to the Packers. Also has 5 picks, 2 for TDs.

On the Bubble
1) Greg Jennings. Let’s be honest, even if he does not make it, Greg Jennings is a Pro Bowl receiver. It just sucks that the majority of the best WRs this year are in the NFC. He could still get in based on his complete awesomeness.
2) Aaron Rodgers. Again, with Brees and Warner locks, it’s going to be difficult for Rodgers to squeeze in to that NFC lineup. But when you factor in the pressure of following #4, he makes it in this Ranter’s opinion, and is my vote for team MVP.
3) Aaron Kampman. Not quite the year as ’07, but #74 always brings it. Plus, making it last year definitely helps for visibility in the voting.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bob Villa Will Fix It.

The Ranter has been silent long enough. Coma-inducing, memory-wiping drinking sessions have succeeded in keeping Franklin Hillside silent long enough into the week where I have been able to build up false-hope for the weekend’s impending Packer game, which invariably turns into a loss and another coma-inducing, memory-wiping drinking session. You see the pattern here? Well, not this time! I’ve stayed sober enough to collect my thoughts and direct them into a venomous Rant directed at Mike McCarthy.

Coach McCarthy, I know how when plays fail, you are very fond of saying, “Well, it just wasn’t executed on the field.” Quick to toss your players under the bus, aren’t you? It never would be the fact that the play called was suspect or not called at the right time, would it? You also like to say, “Well, {insert player’s name here} looked good in practice.” Or “That play is something we work on in practice all the time.” Which is a backhanded way of saying the players can’t perform in a game situation. However, you never criticize your play calling, or admit you have been wrong in certain instances. I’m not even asking for a lot, maybe just once or twice…a season.

Coach, I haven’t heard your press conference yet, but I’m guessing you didn’t admit that sending in Shippensberg’s finest son, John Kuhn, to get a crucial yard on fourth down in the fourth quarter was a mistake. Nevermind the fact that he has 10 yards rushing on the season with a 1.3 yards per carry average. He does it in practice right? Come on, you say, “He has 27 Shippensburg school records, not to mention 4 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Records.” In NFL terms, that’s like saying you’re the world’s tallest little person. “The guy’s a football player, the kind of guy we want on our team.” I won’t argue that, but he’s the guy you want on special teams, or smashing through the hole and leveling a linebacker for Ryan Grant or Brandon Jackson, he’s not the guy to pick up a crucial 1st down. He’s just not.

It’s like sending Maxwell Smart instead of James Bond to kill Scaramanga.

It’s like sending Firehouse to rock out instead of AC/DC because you like monster ballads.

It’s like sending Ty Pennington to remodel your house instead of Bob Villa. Do you trust flannel or goofball?

It’s like sending Jason Seaver to put a “Foot in your ass” instead of Red Foreman.

It’s like sending George W. Bush to diffuse an international incident instead of any other statesmen in history.

It’s like sending E. Honda instead of Ryu to fight M Bison.

In other words, you give it to someone else.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Views from the Hillside.

Due to my recent absence drowning my sorrows in Central America with cheap beer after the New Orleans and Carolina debacles, this will be an extended Views from the Hillside.
Hold on to your Butts.” – Sam Jackson, Jurassic Park
  • Newsflash: The Packers are not good.
  • 549 yards. 549. That’s how many yards the Packers gave up on defense yesterday. At home. In the cold. Against a Division I college team…which makes the Packers a D-IAA team, or maybe a good D-II school. I’m unsure at this point.
  • Going into the season, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would say that there was any other aspect of the Packers that would set up a potential giant face-plant for Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy other than the Rodgers-Favre situation. Thompson and McCarthy should be commended for their evaluation and faith in Rodgers’ ability. Rodgers has played well despite inconsistency on the O-line and in the running game. It turns out the face-plant came on the other side of the ball. “We’re going to be defined by our defense…” –Mike McCarthy said early in training camp. The complete failure by the defense this season was a colossal misevaluation of talent and coaching ability and has lead to MM and TT’s faces being slammed into the ground repeatedly, much like Roberts’ five-iron during a drunken round of golf.
  • Who knew Robert Greenfield was a golfer? RG is a golfer much like Carl Spakler is a golfer.
  • I don’t like to make excuses for losses, but I will. Peter Morrelli and his crew were seen running to their chartered plane after the game whose flight plan had just been changed to New Jersey. It seems that all refs involved in this game had owed serious money to some rather unsavory characters who may or may not have been linked to organized crime. It’s obvious who they had money on. The Packers got hosed on so many calls yesterday, they were given complimentary NFL logo bath towels and robes after the game. #1 was the phantom holding call on Tony Moll in the 4th quarter, the fact is, he barely touched the guy, let alone held him. This negated the 8 yard Grant run that would have been a first down at the 14. #2 was the no call on the holding of Aaron Kampman in the endzone with a minute and half to go. The game should have been over with a safety for holding in the end zone. Aaron Kampman had to get a spine readjustment after his neck was throw out whack on the play. #3 was the phantom holding call on Jason Hunter on the Tramon Williams second half kickoff TD. #4 was the offensive pass interference call on Donald Driver in the first half. Oh, and how could I forget the blown call on the Kevin Walter fumble in the 3rd quarter? It became a non-issue when Johnny Jolly recovered a fumble on the next play, but it could have been a game-changing missed call. COME ON STRIPES! We’re not good enough to beat 11 players let alone the officiating crew too.
  • As The Ranter's good friend, John Johnson, said "A shout out to Mark Tauscher. Stand up guy, hard worker and turned himself into a good professional. I think his career with the Packers is over. Well done."
  • Jared Allen going after someone for a “cheap hit” is laughable. This is the guy who was fined for two hits on Matt Schaub, one of which forced Schaub out for a month with a knee injury, and then flagged and fined again the following week for a helmet-to-helmet shot on Aaron Rodgers. If you’re going to play that way, Meathead, you should expect others to play you the same way. Allen stated that the rivalry between the Vikings and Lions will have a lot more meaning to him in the future. Read that again and try not to laugh.
  • R.I.P. John Lennon, you have been missed. John Mayer, American Idol, and EMO do nothing for rock and roll.
  • Week 13 BASTOW: I’ve never heard a stadium or a bar cheer as loud for a punter as I did on Sunday. After a shaky start, ..ummm…whatshisname….hold on….yeah, there is it, Jeremy Kapinos punted like, well, an NFL punter. Kapinos’ first ever BASTOW in just his second game is to be shared with Joey Havner who downed Kapinos’ punt on the three with a minute and half to go in the game…unfortunately, the defense had to come back on the field and we all know what that means when there is more than 5 seconds left…victory for the opponent.
  • Finally some emotion from Mike McCarthy.
  • Gus Johnson should call every game of every sport. Steve Tasker should stand in awe and shut his mouth. The call on the Jennings reception, you know the one, was a thing of beauty (so was the throw).
  • Albert Haynesworth. Albert Haynesworth. Albert Haynesworth.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Packers Bitten. Frost Booted.

For months, the Ranter and Packer fans everywhere have been clammering to cut punter Derrick Frost like the extra, useless appendage he is. With a pathetic net average and minimal kicks inside the 20, it’s as though he was the reincarnation of the Ahmad Carroll as punter. Well the Packers have finally listened. On Monday, McCarthy announced that Derrick Frost would be released this week, saying “cleary it’s a performance issue.” You think?

Back in September when Jon “Big Red” Ryan was cut, fans were a little surprised. Yes, Ryan fumbled twice last year but overall he was a solid as a frozen cheese wheel and rarely botched a kick (Ryan’s 2007 net average was actually the best the Packers had in 38 years – no kidding). Surprise quickly turned into head-scratching when his replacement, Derrick Frost, was picked up after being released from the Redskins. But with lower stats in just about every punting category, Frost was looking like a serious downgrade.

Thompson calmed people down with some glowing reviews of Frost with regards to his consistency and amazing practices (yes, practices), so most Packer fans were willing to give TT the benefit of the doubt. He must know something we don’t. After all, he is a “genius” GM, right?

Hmmm, we might need to rethink that label (again).

Frost’s net average of 36.1 yards with the Packers was good for 26th in the NFL, and he was further at the bottom of the punter barrell for kicks inside the 20. (These numbers, by the way, mirror what he was doing with the Redskins before being cut in August.) Throughout the season, Franklin and I constantly asked, “We dropped Big Red for this guy?” It’s not our fault, Franklin.

And what about our castoff, Jon Ryan? How’s he doing this year with the Seahawks? Turns out Big Red is having a career year – a 46.4 average with 14 kicks inside the 20 and a league-leading 11 touchbacks. Sigh…

It’s normally hard to get worked up over a punter, but when you release a quality one for a lesser one for no apparent advantageous reason and it shows ... man, that's just embarrassing. I mean, how hard is it to pick up a decent punter? I’m not even talking about a Pro Bowler either, just give me middle-of-the-road, get ‘er done guy. But as long as we’re on the subject, let’s talk about Pro Bowl punters.

For the last two years, Bills punter Brian Moorman has been the starter for the Pro Bowl. With a good average and 30+ kicks inside the 20 each year, Moorman seems to do exactly what NFL punters should do. But he must make a lot of money, right? Wrong. In light of his Pro Bowl efforts, Moorman recently signed a deal worth 6 million over 7 years – that’s an average of $857,000 per year. Derrick Frost, scrub, made $605,000 this year and $850,000 last year. I will repeat: The best punter in the NFL (Moorman) made $857,000 last year and the worst punter in the NFL (Frost) made $850,000 last year. Yes, that’s right Ranter readers. There’s only a difference of 7 thousand dollars between the best and worst punters in the NFL! WTF!? Is this position really that hard to figure out, Thompson? Pay for the Pro Bowler (or at least a top 5 guy). It’s the cheapest starting salary on the team. It’s peace of mind. It’s common sense!

Say it with me: WE WANT MOORMAN! WE WANT MOORMAN! WE WANT MOORMAN!

This has got to be a priority in the offseason. Not top, but you know, definitely on the list and everything. The way things have gone, I wouldn't be shocked if they picked up BJ Sander.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Season Slipping Away?

Seriously. What’s going on here?

A week after leaving New Orleans still smoldering from being torched by Drew Brees so many times, the Packers defense took a gut check and determined that no, their embarrassment still had not peaked.

“We felt the Saints game just left us with our tails between our legs. But what we really wanted to do was wet the bed,” a member of the secondary told the Ranter.

Consider it soaked.

With just under two minutes left in the game and a three point lead, Crosby kicked off. Mark Jones, who had over 200 yards returning on the day, gave Carolina exactly what they needed for a potential game-tying FG. But when you’re on the road and playing at Lambeau, I guess you go for it. Delhomme went deep and somehow the 5’9 Steve Smith came down with the ball at the 1 yard line. Williams then scored standing up - his 4th TD of the day.

Drenched. Sopping.

At 5-7, the Wild Card is about as realistic as making out with that chick from Transformers. It’s the division or nothing. We’re at Chicago and have Detroit at home the last game of the season. Very achievable wins, but with this team right now, who knows...
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