Sunday, November 9, 2008

How The Packers Lost Before The Kickoff

I watched the game with no sound in a bar, which made it confusing when Nick Barnett got hurt and Brandon Chillar failed to make an appearance. As it turns our, Chillar was inactive.

What. The. Fuck.

Chillar is our best cover linebacker. He excels at taking away tight ends and running backs. Not having Chillar active against a team that throws like 90% of its passes to tight ends and running backs is just managerial malpractice. A.J. Hawk is also a natural middle linebacker, so when Barnett went down a Poppinga-Hawk-Chillar line would have worked fine. Instead some guy I've never heard of and can't be bothered to look up was out there getting smoked by Chester Taylor.

If Chillar plays the Packers probably win.

They also lost even earlier when they cut Jon Ryan.


eric said...



Chris said...

The Packers lost when they traded away Brett Favre. Right Eric

eric said...

Arguably yes.

What's the difference between last year's offense and this year's offense? Quarterback.

Aaron Rodgers is a very good quarterback. He also has less experience than Favre. If Favre had remained retired i would have been thrilled with Rodgers as QB.

As it stands Favre has gone to a team with worse talent and achieved a better record. Although the full set of data isn't in we can say at this point in time the Packers appear to have a made a mistake. We'll see if that holds true at the end of the season.

E.S.K. said...

since you're going to throw out record (really? team record as a comparison of individual players?) I'll throw out QB rating.

Rodgers: 93.3, 5th in the league
Favre: 89.8, 12th in the league

So the Packers have the better QB right now, and have a pretty good shot at getting a 2nd round pick out of upgrading the position.

I wish Thompson would make a few more mistakes like that.

Eric said...

how does leadership factor into a quarterback rating? okay its not measurable and thus not fair. Still you can tell the offense is collecting a paycheck vice team pride.

How do safetys figure into quarterback rating? that's measurable. how about first downs? How about three and out drives.

Is there a way to measure Packer talent vs Jets talent?

Subjectively it seems plain the Packers have much better talent than the Jets. The Packers only change on offense from last year was Aaron Rodgers. Why are the Packers so bad? Rodgers talent, see QB rating, seems fine. So what other explanation is possible?

Motivation? Leadership? A coach asserting himself over a first year starter instead of bending over for a prima donna has been?

Chris said...

So how did the Mighty Favre and the Mighty Jets lose to Oakland?

PaulNoonan said...

The Jets have the 4th best run defense in the league, and it is the primary reason that they win on a week to week basis.

E.S.K. said...

The problem with Eric's method of measurement is that it makes Kerry Collins the best QB playing in the NFL right now.

Also, when did the Packers become "so bad?" They are 2 games back in the division, big deal?

eric said...

Being below .500 is, by definiton, below average. I define below average as "Bad". YMMV

Kerry Collins may indeed be the best quarterback right now. I readily admit i don't have a decent unit of measure. All i can do is look at the Packers overall talent and compare it to the Jets. The Packers have better talent. So why are they worse than the Jets?

@ chris. Hey man i'm still trying to figure out how the '98 Packers lost to the lowly '98 Colts.

eric said...

I hate to nit but i missed an ESK comment that needs addressing.

Thompson's "mistake" could cost the Packers a playoff appearance. A GMs performance ought not be measured by the value of draft picks achieved through trade.

I'm really kind of surprised you'd equate that.

PaulNoonan said...

I don't know how anyone can argue that Favre has been better than Aaron Rodgers. I don't even think it's particularly close. Most of Favre's counting stats are the product of a game in which his defense allowed him to start in Cardinal territory on every possession. Favre has been fine. Rodgers has been better.

Thompson mistakes may cost the Packers, that much is true, but quarterback was not a mistake, it was and remains the right call. Offensive line, RB (that Grant contract is terrible, and against his own philosophy), fat guys on the d-line, and punter. That's where you can blame Thompson.

I would blame injuries as much, however. Harris's spleen, Jenkins' pec, now Barnett's knee. That Pack has been healthy for a couple of years, and were due for injuries. Injuries are no one's fault.

E.S.K. said...

It boggles my mind that someone can place an entire teams win-loos record, and the reasons for it, at the feet of a single person who isn't even on the field for half a game generally. It's nuts.

"Kerry Collins may indeed be the best quarterback right now."

It's like arguing a rainbow with a colorblind man.

As far as Thompson goes, he may have made mistakes and I am sure he has, I just wish they would have all resulted in improving the position and netting early round draft picks. Those are nice mistakes.

By the way, the best QB in football has 5 td to 3 int's...but his team is 9-0 so he gets all the credit.

E.S.K. said...

And Eric, your definitions are lacking. Below .500 is, by definition, fewer wins than losses. However, below average is fewer wins than the league mean.

Average wins in the NFL right now is 4.5. So yeah, the Packers are a bit below average. A win this week is huge, a loss makes them a bad team, as they would be hard pressed to make the playoffs.

tracker said...

"Subjectively it seems plain the Packers have much better talent than the Jets."

Actually, it seems pretty plain that the Jets are more talented, especially at O-line, D-line, running back and linebacker.

E.S.K. said...

tracker, only 1 position has the ability to affect wins and losses, and actual performance doesn't even factor in that much.

Winning and losing is completely contingent on how gritty and leader-y your QB is.

Gunslingerness adds 1.7 wins.

tracker said...

Then tell me why the fuck Craig Counsell isn't our quarterback.

E.S.K. said...

It's obvious Tracker, because Ted Thompson is an idiot.

Horace said...

The whole question of weather the Packers are better off having gone with Rogers over Favre this year fascinates me. Being half way through the season I figure we might be able to start drawing some conclusions about it.

If you compare the Packers with Rogers through the 1st 9 games this year, with the 1st 9 games the Packers played last year with Favre, with virtually the same offensive personnel otherwise, I think the evidence is clear the offense is considerably less efficient this year. Consider the following:

Yards Per Game:
2007 - 376.2 2008 - 319.6

Points Per Game (Defensive and Special Teams Points removed)
2007 - 221 2008 - 188

First Downs:
2007 - 174 2008 - 154

3rd Down Conversions:
2007 - 44.3% 2008 - 41.0%
(A significantly higher percentage of their 1st downs come on 3rd down this season too, meaning, I think, they are far less efficient getting first downs on 1st or 2nd down).

Time of Possession:
2007 - 31:23 2007 - 30:32

They've also made fewer trips to the red zone. 29 by this point last year … just 24 this year.

How much of this can be pinned on Rogers? Well, Rogers has been sacked 8 more times through 9 games than Favre was, despite Favre having attempted 66 more passes. Rogers is getting sacked roughly once every 9.5 times he drops back to pass. Through the first 9 games last year Favre was getting sacked roughly once every 19.3 attempts. Rogers is getting sacked twice as often as Favre was through the first 9 games last year. This appears to me to be the most visible difference between the two QB's in a year to year comparison.

Yards per attempt, yards per completion, interceptions per attempt, and touchdowns per attempt, completion percentage and red zone efficiency are all relatively close by comparison.

So the question to me becomes, how much does Rogers performance contribute to the offense becoming less efficient than last year through the same number of games? My sense before looking at any of these numbers is, a little, but not much. After looking at them, I think that is probably right. He takes a lot of sacks, and I think the amount of time he takes to progress through his reads is a contributing factor. They have attempted to throw the ball roughly 48 fewer times than at the same point last year. This is partly a product of less time of possession leading to less plays run. However, they have run the ball 28 more times. Despite the increased rushing attempts, they have seen only a small improvement in rushing yards per game (16 yards per game). Roughly 10 of those yards per game can be attributed to Rogers scrambling. So the question is, why take the ball out of Rogers’s hands, and put it into the running game, when the running game isn’t contributing to more first downs, more yards per play, or more trips to the red zone? My sense is, McCarthy’s fear of losing large chunks of yardage in sacks and a higher rate of turnovers in the passing game stemming from fumbles (Rogers already has 3) and interceptions. Many will argue that the sacks are a product of poor offensive line play, and certainly that is true. Clifton has been horrendous for most of this season, and the rest of the group inconsistent at best. I do believe Favre avoided a lot of sacks that most QB’s would have taken because of his quick reads, quick release, and instincts in the pocket. Rogers will certainly improve in this area with experience. In the final analysis, Rogers performance this year is a marginal downgrade from the performance they got from Favre a year ago through the first 9 games. I believe that an increased emphasis on a pedestrian running game, combined with the deteriorating play of a banged up offensive line with aging tackles has had more to do with the Packers offensive problems this year than Rogers play. They all have played a roll though.

Now I ask myself, Can you assume that the Packers would have gotten a similar level of Performance from Favre through the first 9 games this year as they got last year? And if you did, would that equate to a better record than they have today?

I think its virtually impossible to answer the first question with any degree of certainty. Watching Favre play for the Jets he looks more or less like the same guy I saw last year in terms of his physical attributes. He doesn’t look slower, his arm looks as strong, etc. He does seem to be taking longer to make his reads, and his decisions are more often wrong than they were in Green Bay. But I don’t have any idea how much of that to attribute to the fact that he is playing in a brand new system, with brand new coaches, and brand new team mates. Everyone I know who has ever taken a new job, even when its in the same field as they have been working in for years, goes through a learning curve, and I’m sure Favre is no exception. The Jets also use him differently than the Packers did … they don’t ask him to take on as much of the offensive load, they don’t ask him to throw as much, etc. His interceptions per attempt are up, his sacks are up, his yards per attempt and yards per completion are down. If he’s playing in Green Bay, with players and a system he knows inside and out, my best guess those numbers wouldn’t be the same. I think the Packers would be throwing more, he’d be getting sacked less than Rogers, and he’d be posting similar numbers to last year. That’s simply a guess … and I don’t think there is anyone out there that can present any empirical evidence proving me wrong … or right for that matter.

That leaves the question of the record then. If you work from the assumption that the play of Brett Favre in this offense through the first 9 games of this season would have been similar, would it have equated to a better record than they have today. In looking over the schedule I see two games that stick out to me as games that may have turned out differently had Favre been the Quarterback rather than Rogers. The first is the Tennessee game, and the second is last weekend’s game against the Vikings. Perhaps the Packers win in Minnesota with the veteran Favre leading the offense in the dome, rather than Rogers making his first start there. With even 250 yards of Offense the Packers probably win on Sunday … take away half the sacks and one of the safeties in that game and they surely do. My best guess is that the Packers would be 5-4 rather than 4-5 at this point. The biggest problem with this team is not the quarterback, it’s the defense. Having said that, 5-4 puts them in first place in the division … with a chance to control their own destiny. Second place in the North will not get you into the post season.

My conclusion is that at this point, because of the horrendous play of the defense, it has rendered most of the argument of Rogers vs. Favre moot. Based on how the Packers have played to date , its reasonable to conclude they would be scrapping for a play-off birth either way, and most likely would be a candidate for an early play-off exit regardless of who the QB is. Knowing Favre is nearing the end, and that the team seems to have digressed everywhere except perhaps the secondary its my opinion that the experience that Rogers is getting, combined with the draft picks and cap relief that comes with Favre’s trade, it probably will on paper, be a net gain for the Packers. How come knowing that doesn’t make me feel any better about it?

eric said...


have any other blogs you post at Horace?

Prior to the vikings game Bob McGinn indicated that Rodgers had been sacked 17 times. Of those sacks McGinn said five of them were on Rodgers. Of those five sacks three resulted in turnovers via fumble.

Given Favre's experience i don't think those five sacks would have occurred. Naturally those three turnovers also would not have occurred.

I'm not saying Rodgers is the Dave Kreig of football. But my sense is that Favre would indeed have improved the Packers this year. Alas i also believe it would not have mattered.

Scott H said...

Why are so many Packer posts hijacked into Favre v. Rodgers posts? Yeah, we get it. Some people are still pissed about Favre. Heck, I think GB does better this year so far with Favre. Still, I don't want to hear the same damn arguments with one more week of stats thrown on top of it 5000 times this season!

Anyway, Chillar had a shoulder injury that flared up in practice on Friday so he couldn't play. Apparently he isn't Jared Allen. Also, the guy getting toasted was a young LB drafted in the 5th round a couple years ago. Desmond Bishop. He's shown promise, but he's far from Barnett's caliber.

Horace said...


I used to post at the Wisconsin Sports bar as 'TD'.

Scott - I admit I haven't been reading sports blogs much the last couple months, so I guess I missed the abundance of Favre v. Rogers posts that have worn you down on the subject. This was the first time I had taken a stab at addressing it. Having said that, I don't think it should come as a shock that this would be a frequent topic of discussion as the season unfolds.

Chris said...

Always said TD/Horace would have made a good posting addition to a sports blog but he will not take the plunge lol

Come on Horace its great you get to be called an asshole and an idiot by people you thought were your friends on a daily if not hourly basis

Anonymous said...

"Come on Horace its great you get to be called an asshole and an idiot by people you thought were your friends on a daily if not hourly basis"

Only if he's an asshole or an idiot. I'm guessing no on that.

DannyNoonan said...

I don't think the two offenses were the same except for QB for the first 9 games of last season.

Ryan Grant is different. Well, having a running back at all is different. Last year, we didn't have Grant until the 7th game of the season. If I recall, we didn't have much of anything at running back. For the first 6 games of that season, McCarthy basically dedicated everything to passing. Short, "dink and dunk" passing. It was awesome. That offense is what was more effective than what Rodgers is running now. That's not his fault.

Chris said...

Hey Anon how come you are still hiding behind the mask? You are most likely a former WSB person, maybe even a former WSB poster. So why don't you just fess up if you are going to insult me, be man enough to not hide like a little bitch.

What do you have to hide? What would it hurt to man up and put your name to your comments? Or are you just a Coward?

Hey putting your name to your insult will make you an instant hero here. Hell ESK will become your best friend Hell Danny might let you post lol.

I have an idea who you are, but I will not accuse anyone without solid proof.

Not that it really matters in the greater scheme of things.

I just like to know the people who have axes to grind with me.

So take off the mask and the bra and panties and let us know who you are?

tracker said...

Until the Vikings game, Rodgers had looked particularly adept, comparatively effortless, in avoiding the pass rush. You say five sacks that were on Rodgers wouldn't have occurred with Favre. I say six more would've happened with Favre because Rodgers is more mobile.

Horace said...

"Always said TD/Horace would have made a good posting addition to a sports blog but he will not take the plunge lol"

Thanks Chris, I think. I've toyed with starting my own, but would never be able to keep up with it. My impression of blogging is that you have to be diligent in getting new material up on a regular basis. I just don't have time for that. If invited to be an occasional poster, I would probably do it (not that I am fishing for an invite ... honest).

Horace said...

'That offense is what was more effective than what Rodgers is running now. That's not his fault.

I agree with that! I think I addressed that in my post. They are passing less, running more. The question that begs though, is why? The easy theory to grab onto is that they don't think Rogers can run that offense as effectively as Favre. Given that he is prone to taking sacks, and so far anyway, fumbling, that might be well founded. But I think it goes well beyond that. I think they expected more from the running game than they have gotten. By the end of last season, they were a very good running team. Clearly that hasn't carried over into this year. There are lots of reasons for that which probably deserves its own discussion.

Horace said...

"You say five sacks that were on Rodgers wouldn't have occurred with Favre. I say six more would've happened with Favre because Rodgers is more mobile."

That statement presumes most sacks are avoided by running. While that is certainly true of some sacks, I think a lot more are avoided by quick reads followed by quick releases. I didn't read the McGinn article referenced, so I don't know if his thinking is the same as mine on this point, but I think the biggest hole in Rogers game is that he holds the ball too long, and is slow(er) in his read progressions. The good news, I think, is that these are things that should improve significantly with experience.

tracker said...

My statement mostly presumes that saying the team would have five fewer sacks with Favre because five were determined to be on Rodgers is stupid.

E.S.K. said...

Chris, you need to move on brother.

Horace, you have my vote, but only if you go by Horace.

Horace said...

E ... its a deal.

Chris said...

hold a grudge till death it is my way

You, Danny and at the end Eric made me hate something I really loved doing just to prove you could be more of an asshole then the other two.

I will never forget that trust me I wish nothing but bad times in the future to the three of you Bro.

E.S.K. said...

you'll be happy to hear that my house plans are finalized and the foundation is starting tomorrow my man.

Your thin skin did you in, not the folks around you.

E.S.K. said... win! The foundation has been pushed to Monday due to weather, please lift your curse!

Eric said...

Tracker do you call everything you don't understand stupid?

Worse, you automatically presumed that Favre would have more sacks because he is less mobile than Rodgers. Now you're just jumping to conclusions like ESK.

Now it's possible i may have insufficiently explained my premise. In that case a few probing questions might prove efficacious, rather than a demonstration of a hot and ill considered head.

Horace might be onto something with his quick reads and quick releases. I hadn't considered it that far. I just think Favre is experienced enough to throw the ball away more often.

E.S.K. said...

I think you are the first person in history to give Favre the benefit of the doubt when it comes to throwing the ball away.

Eric said...

Even more damning... Favre's initial 2nd half performance against the Patriots.

I retract my argument