Friday, August 12, 2005

PACKERS SHOW PROMISE

The Packers first pre-season game last night showed lots of promise. The final score was in Packers over the Chargers 10-7. This is the first pre-season game I have watched in a long time that just filled me with excitement! I will try to break it down for you into the good points, bad points, and the drama.

Let's start with the man himself, Brett Favre. Brett is a beloved quarterback to all for many reasons. One of the biggest is that he is never satisfied with himself. He always feels there is more he could have done. After last year's disappointing season, he decided he really needed to get in better shape.

Shortly after the season ended for the Packers, he went out and hired himself a personal trainer. He went through a lot of core exercises, strength and conditioning, and has now come to the Packers training camp in his best form ever. According to the announcers, when he started with the Packers approximately 15 years ago, he came in weighing (albeit well) a hefty 252 pounds. He has trimmed down to a lean, mean 212 pounds, his lightest ever for football. He definitely looked faster on his feet and better able to scramble. He played almost the entire first half, finally happy to leave after he completed a 23 yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver. He then jumped into the waiting arms of his sorely missed last year center, Mike Flanagan.

He then called it a night. Favre completed 9/10 passes for a total of 91 yards. Not a bad start to the year at all!

Aaron Rodgers is going to have to work hard to impress me. He is the 'golden child' quarterback the Packers picked in this year's draft. I didn't see anything to exciting in his passing game. He went 2/6 with a total of 7 yards. However, he was able to scramble out there pretty well. He had more yards rushing (10) than he did passing! The announcers related that in training camp, Rodgers teased Favre by calling him "Grandpa". Favre followed this up by winging one of his supersonic bullets out to a receiver, turned to the 'new kid', and told him, "I'll Grandpa you that." I get the idea that Favre is not too excited by the "golden child" either. In a taped interview he stated that he it was not in his contract to coach Rodgers. This just doesn't sound like Favre to me.

Personally, I'm still a fan of Craig Noll and would really like see him given a chance.

The Packers defense under new coach, Jim Bates, I think is going to surprise a lot of people this year. On the third defensive play, we created a fumble, recovered the ball, and ran it in for a touchdown. It was ruled an incomplete pass, but I could see the Charger had control of the ball and made a move before the fumble. Either way, this is just something the Packers did not do last year. I saw defensive men jumping to tip the ball. I saw one Packer grappling with a receiver, trying to rip the ball out of his arms. And the hits! My God, you could HEAR how LOUDLY the Packers were punishing those Charger receivers. I really think the defense is going to come together this year under the new tutelage. Only two negative factors were we still had a tough time stopping the run, and Al Harris, who is supposed to be our best and most seasoned DE, got badly beat a few times.

A promising newby is Mike Montgomery. He is a defensive tackle and plays special teams. He had a brilliant evening. He led 5 tackles and had 1 sack. Look for his star to rise in the upcoming season.

Speaking of special teams, we managed to down a punt at the 3 yard line! Hopefully, we will see an improvement in this area, too.

The drama of the evening came in the last quarter. Nate Kaeding is the kicker for the Chargers. You may remember his "infamous" name. He could have won a play-off game during regulation time for the Chargers VS. the Jets, but blew the kick. In overtime the Jets defeated the Chargers to take them out of the play-offs last year.

So poor Nate's last play in his head from last year is a missed field goal. So, last night, in the pouring rain, on a windy night, he got to try and redeem himself. However, for some, redemption is lost.

First field goal attempt a 45 yarder. No good. That's okay, Packers turn the ball over and Kaeding gets a second chance - 44 yards. Oops! Wide to the other side. That kid just can't get a break. Packers turn ball over again, this time on downs. Chargers go back down the field. Okay, one more chance....48 yards...sorry, Charlie, George, Nate...whatever your name is...I think its "Mud" now, maybe you better go back to Arena League.

AND, to add just a little more salt into the wound... Finally, the Packers got the ball back and did something with it. The score was 7-7, 4th down, and we are 53 years out from a field goal. Longwell, the Packers kicker, looks at the pouring rain, windy conditions, and (according to the announcers) tells Coach, 'I can do this' and trots onto the field. He lines up, gets ready to kick the ball; Chargers call a time-out.

They're going to 'ice the kicker'. Yeah, great move. With the extra time, the equipment guy has time to run onto the field and clean off Longwell's kicking shoe from the mud and grass that has accumulated. THANKS Chargers! Longwell lines up again and kicks the ball just far enough to get it through the goal posts. Packers take the lead, and eventual win, 10-7.

All 'muddy' boy can do is watch and hang his head in shame.

So for the Packers, I would say it was night with a promising future; however, for Mr. Kaeding, he may find himself looking for a job in a very bleak and uncertain future.

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