Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pack vs Bucs preview

September in Tampa. Supposed to feel like about 99 degrees there today. Packers players have been hydrating all week in preparation. Combine the humid conditions with Packer injuries and this game could be one of those -- particularly after the loss to Dallas -- that the Packers lose in ho-hum fashion.

But don't bet on it. Even if the Buccaneers are favored by 1-1/2 points and are also 2-1 coming into this game.

Yes, Al Harris will be out today and for some time to come. Tramon Williams will have to avoid getting burned the way he did against the Cowboys after coming in to relieve Harris. While Bucs QB Brian Griese is smart, he doesn't have Tony Romo's arm. The likelihood of going deep often is just not that great, unless Packers D-backs totally blow coverages. Griese may be able to throw it around a lot -- as he did (67 times!) in last week's comeback against Da Bearz -- but hopefully the Packers pass rush will keep him under enough pressure so he will make the mistakes that he is also prone to do. The Bucs have enough offensive weapons to make things interesting if the Packers defense doesn't step up. Warrick Dunn and Michael Bennett pose real running threats. So far this season, the Packers ability to stop the run has been questionable. While this pair of backs isn't the equal of Marion Barber and Felix Jones, run defense has to tighten up or it could be a long day. Bucs WR Joey Galloway is out. But Michael Clayton, starting in his place, is starting to show signs of regaining his outstanding rookie form of 2004.

The Packers need to get their own running game in gear. Ryan Grant needs to be turned loose, along with Brandon Jackson. The Pack had early success running outside on the Cowboys and some analysts -- John Madden among them during the course of the game -- speculated that the play calling went away from the run way too soon in that game. Stick with the run, open up the passing game, and Aaron Rodgers could have another big day.

We're taking the Packers 24-17. Go Packers Go!!!

Da Bearz play at home tonight vs. Philly. The Eagles are favored by 3. Go Birds. The ViQueens play at Tennessee. The Titans are favored by 3. Go Titans. The Matt Millen-less Lions will not lose this week. They have a bye, which has come to be known as a win in Detroit.

Bottom line: the Packers will stay atop the NFC North at 3-1.

Draft decisions
If you are either a subscriber to the Packers Insider at or are very quick on your browser load/stop buttons, you can read a very interesting commentary by sports columnist Bob McGinn. He talks about Packers GM Ted Thompson and his draft decision which, on the whole, McGinn and most would agree have been good in terms of building a young and talented team. But McGinn also takes Thompson to task for perhaps being too conservative in his approach and as a result not improving the team as much as might be possible. Risk taking on questionable players -- ala Justin Harrell -- is not the kind of approach McGinn is talking about. In fact, it's the exact opposite.

McGinn cites the Harrell pick, as a matter of fact, as an example of missed opportunities on a couple fronts. Without going into all the details here, McGinn lays out a very realistic scenario in which -- if the Packers had traded their 16th pick last year, ultimately used for the injury-prone Harrell, to Cleveland which had made an offer to the Packers for their first round pick this year -- the Packers not only would still have Corey Williams shoring up a so-so defensive line at present, but might very well have also been able to have RB Felix Jones in a Packers uniform. Imagine that!

So, if you're ready to have your head explode with what might have been, check out McGinn's article here. Remember, though, you'll either need to subscribe to the Insider or be very quick on your load buttons to see the entire article. Barring that, see if you can get your hands on a print copy of today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel where the article is also printed in its entirety.