Sunday, November 28, 2010

Memo to McCarthy: Apologize for this Loss

In many ways, the Packers' loss this afternoon to the Atlanta Falcons had the makings of a moral victory. The Packers were on the road against an excellent team, gave up 100 yards rushing, failed to force a turnover, failed on a fourth down conversion, fumbled the ball at the goalline, got nothing from their star defensive players, and reverted to their penalty-prone ways, but still had a chance to win the game. This demonstrates that they can, indeed, compete with anyone in the league on any given day. What held them back today? Coaching, specifically McCarthy's boneheaded clock management decisions.

At the end of the first half, Atlanta had a first and goal with roughly 80 seconds left on the clock. The Packers had two timeouts remaining. But as the last minute of the half ticked away, McCarthy chose to use neither of his timeouts, and the Falcons went on to score a touchdown with 8 only seconds left. Why, in God's name, would McCarthy not call timeout in that situation? The Packers had moved the ball in the first half. You know Atlanta is either going to kick a field goal, turn the ball over, or score a touchdown. If you use your timeouts, you give Rodgers and company a minute on the clock and see if they can get somewhere close to field goal range. And Atlanta had all three timeouts left. You know they're not going to run out of clock, even if you stop them on third down. So there was ABSOLUTELY no reason not to use your timeouts. Terrible, terrible mismanagement of the clock. And three points (what Crosby could have gotten at the end of the first half) turned out to be the margin of victory.

Then, at the end of the game. Unless Rodgers is constantly audibling into passes, the Packers' failure to call at least one run play during the goal-to-goal series was inexcusable. Have confidence that you're going to score. Think ahead, milk the clock, and make sure that Atlanta does NOT have enough time to march down and kick a field goal. By not running at least once on those four downs, McCarthy essentially lost the game. He gave Atlanta, with a great quarterback, and an excellent offense, playing at home, in a dome, more than a minute to march down and at least attempt a makeable field goal. Of course, Wilhem (who should be booted off the team for his double-penalty performance today) and the special teams made it easier. But the Packers have done this before in recent years--- they don't pay attention to the clock and end up shooting themselves in the foot, undermining what are often heroic offensive performances.

The NFL is a highly competitive league. Any offense in it has the ability to move the ball forty yards in a minute and kick a field goal. Every week games are decided by who has the ball last with some time to move down the field. And so, so often, McCarthy has ignored this fact. He's been a head coach for over five years now. He needs to learn. If he doesn't, the Packers' terrible record in close games (in his tenure) will only continue.

McCarthy should man up, learn from his mistakes, and apologize to the team for this loss. It's on him.

Monday, November 01, 2010

What makes a good College Head Coach?

The last time the Badgers beat a #1 team, the U-65 crew came home and engraved our boathouse with the date and score. The boat is gone, but the message remains. Badger Football can elate.

That was a long time ago, but it is dear to my heart. Sometimes in life you hear stories so often, or are reminded of an event so often, that it becomes a memory for you even if you were too young to have lucent recollections of the event. I told the old man before the OSU game that I was looking forward to a new engraving to match the old one. (and since the DNR disallows new boathouses, I doubt any future owners of my homestead will be tearing it down any time in the next century, so let the sun shine upon it)

Thanks to the 2010 Badgers, I won't have to recall the 80s to cherish a great Badger victory over #1.

After the greatest televised Badger week ever (ESPNU weeklong special, GameDay, The Van Pelt Declaration), the Badgers then went to Kinnick stadium and gutted out a victory against an able Hawkeye team which fights with long nails and almost never loses at home. Greatest back-to-back victories in quite some time.

So how did we get here? Only weeks ago, I had to hear from alumni complaining about Bret Bielema. Now, I hear Rose Bowl chants. So why the variation? People don't like hearing opposing opinions, so they didn't want to hear about what a coach does. But let's review.

A successful coach at Wisconsin must:

1) Impress boosters (the life blood of major college athletics)
2) Get along with the AD
3) Appease the chancellor (grades, behavior)
4) Manage a staff
5) Manage the media
6) Lead young men
7) Excite recruits
8) 93 other things
101) Always make the right play call

When I hear people wanting to oust Bielema for a bad play call, I consider them to be children. How little they understand of the enterprise of running a college football program.

(This is much different than the NFL where the Head Coach is mostly responsible for play-calling and game management, with all other duties delegated. So feel free to continue to hate McCarthy for being a moron.)

Since the day that I met Beets, I have been impressed. Boosters like being around him. He's engaging. When he speaks at a podium, you want the speech to run long. He listens to Barry. He's excitable. He gets it. When you chat him up about football, you feel as though he is recruiting you, and you want to sign. He addresses weaknesses. He sees the big picture.

Granted, I may be the biggest Wisconsin football homer on the planet, but I am not playing around when I talk about our coaching and our administration. Our HC is getting the right kids. We are recruiting the hell out of south Florida. We have kept a fence around Wisconsin and have annexed Minnesota. Watch how our players respond to him on the field.

The back-to-back nationally televised big wins are great for Wisconsin, great for fans, and great for recruiting. However, they are not a surprise in Section U. We have a solid foundation, and we will continue to build.

On Wisconsin!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Packers will never win the Super Bowl under McCarthy because he is too STUPID

Why in god's name did the Packers not let the Bears score a touchdown with 1:40 left? What are the better odds-- that you can match the Bears with a touchdown in a minute and a half or that Robbie Gould misses what is essentially an extra point? What a fucking joke. McCarthy is a coward and a loser.

The penalties need no commentary. Atrocious. Tauscher in particular is washed up. TJ Lang and Bulaga at tackle, and keep looking for a Colledge replacement. And Al and Atari can't get healthy soon enough.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

Yeah, that was terrifying

So I'm in midst of a year of semi-Southern exile/sabbatical, and thus missed out on witnessing actual, video evidence of the vast majority of Wisconsin's rubbing-one's-rabbit's-foot victory over Wofford in the first round of the NCAAs today. But I saw the last three minutes. And I've looked over the box score. And thus I can provide some analysis:

(1) Wisconsin continued (continuing from the Illinois Big Ten tourney debacle) to shoot poorly. This was in all phases of shooting-- from the floor, from the line, from the three-point line especially, where they were 1 of 8.

(2) Wisconsin did not do their usual yeoman's work on the offensive glass. Wofford is an average offensive rebounding team. UW is a superlative defensive rebounding team. Given these facts, UW let Wofford grab way too many offensive boards. I'm guessing these led to several easy put-backs for the Terriers.

(3) Thank goodness for Wofford's late carelessness with the ball and its lousy 2nd half free throw shooting. Otherwise, UW is going home early.

(4) Also, thank goodness for UW's carefulness with the ball. The Badgers coughed the ball up only 4 times. A few more traveling calls, or loose passes, and the season would have been over.

Looking forward, Cornell is a far superior offensive team to Wofford. And goodness knows, after dismantling Temple and enjoying a well-earned and gleeful shower and fresh change of clothes, the Big Red (but with a bear as a mascot-- like the Alabama Crimson Tide with an elephant mascot) were sitting in the stands watching this game snorting at the general ineptitude of the two teams. But Cornell is also, at least statistically, a worse defensive team than Wofford. (Although they certainly didn't look like a mediocre defensive squad today. They flustered Temple all game long. ) Needless to say, UW will have to keep on doing the good things it did today (taking care of the ball) and cease and desist doing the bad (missing shots, giving up too many offensive boards) in order to get past the hot-shooting denizens of Ithaca. But the Badgers live to fight another day. Phew.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tim Jarmusz so far this season

GP 21

MIN. 24.1

PTS/G 2.8

REB/G 3.5

AST/G 0.8

FG % 30.6

as happy as ive been with the team and the coaching staff this year, this is undeniable. what the hell is going on with this guy? hes not a stopper. our 2nd leading scorer is out. he starts. what gives? there are 4 better options sitting on the bench.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ask, and ye shall receive

Observations from a thoroughly entertaining NFC Championship Game:
  • I had found my animosity towards Brent fading over the course of the season, but that pre-game interview with Pam Oliver put me back over the edge. If you missed it I will summarize: This is my best season ever, this is the best team I have ever been a part of, all I care about is winning, I don't try to force things anymore, this is the most fun I have ever had. Translation: "My one year with MN is better and more fun than 16 years with the Packers. Eat it Green Bay." What an ass.
  • I said out loud that I hoped they broke his leg, when I thought it happened for real I realized I didn't mean it. I enjoyed every single time the hit him though.
  • When my wife told me it was my fault that he got hurt, because I wished it upon him, I didn't feel guilty. Not even a little.
  • When he was able to hobble off the field, I knew he would be back for the next series. He may be an arrogant narcissist, but he's the biggest bad-ass in football.
  • I was prepared to be devastated when the Saints punted with 2:30 left in the game, prepared for the old Brett to be gone for real. And then the true Brett magically reappeared.
  • It was a perfect ending. Sporting justice at it's best. Vikings fans wanted Brett so bad, they loved him this year like we used to, but they got all of the good Brett and none of the bad. It was too good to be true. If you want Brett you deserve all of him, heartbreaking playoff picks and all.

If Brett comes back next year, it will be curious to see if he still gets the same love from Minnie. It won't be the same as this year. He will be trying to prove something again, forcing throws, ignoring his coach. Minnie fans are much more fickle (almost had a blacked out play-off game last year). Maybe he will stall long enough to let the Vikings think he will come back, and then actually retire and they are stuck with Tavaris Jackson again. That would be perfect.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Oh boy. Just when you thought, with the Packers' loss, you could sit back and enjoy Badger basketball season. This happens. Leuer is out indefinitely. Probably for the remainder of the regular season (my prediction). Balls.


It's been a while, and that's because life's been moving pretty fast over here, to reference Ferris Bueller. Life was moving pretty fast last night though, no? What a crazy flippin' game.

We're all going to remember the sudden, anti-climactic last play for a long, long time. (More on that play in a moment.) But it's worth noting the heroic effort of the offense, and the huge doses of good luck, that got the Packers back into the game in the first place. That ridiculous bomb to Finley where he just jumped over an interfering defensive back that had him smothered. The perfectly executed and recovered onsides kick (Underwood jumping on the ball just two yards past the forty). Warner inexplicably throwing to a well-covered Fitzgerald on one of the Cardinal few third downs, leading to the lone punt of the game. And, of course, the utterly makeable, but missed field goal by the Cards in the closing seconds of the game.

The Packers' offense, after the first five minutes, generally played magnificently in facing a very aggressive, experienced, and talented (Rogers-Cromartie, Wilson (who looks and plays like a modern-day gladiator), Dockett, Berry, two two ex-Michigan DTs) Cardinals defense. But boy, in contrast, didn't it seem like Rodgers and the Packers had to work a lot harder for their points than the Kurt Warner and the Cardinals? How many wide open receivers did Warner hit? Heck, how many tough throws did the Packers force? (Three maybe?) How many times were they really in his face? How many times did he have to wait more than four seconds to throw the ball because people were covered? As my official little brother put it, it seems like the Packers--with the safety shuffle with Anthony Smith (cut), then Derrick Martin (generally ineffective in the defensive backfield), and injured for this game), then cutting Aaron Rouse, and Bigby getting injured yesterday and playing poorly before that, and with the mounting injuries at corner with Lee being presumptively placed on IR, and Blackmon, and then Al--- had a "war of attrition" in the secondary. And the Pittsburgh game and this then game demonstrated that they had lost that war. Especially with the pass rush, outside of Clay Matthews the XLVII (my wife likes to call him "Barbie"), generally being iffy. (Maybe a healthy Kampman coming off the other side on passing downs would have helped?)

But who could have predicted a defensive outing this abysmal. Think of it. One forced turnover on Woodson's karate chop. One forced punt when Warner chose to risk a deep throw to a covered receiver on third down. That was it. Every other Cardinal drive ended in points (except for the missed short field goal, of course). I think it's safe to say, this was the worst defensive performance in the playoffs in the team's history. Warner had more touchdowns than incompletions, folks. This against a team that, while explosive and excellently quarterbacked, was starting a journeyman at left tackle and was missing its third-best offensive player (Boldin). I can't explain what happened. Certainly, whatever blitzes that were brought were ineffective. (I remember many inside linebacker blitzes being picked up well by the Cards.) But the culprit seemed to be the secondary, and our players' inability to cover every man coming out of a bunch formation. It would be fascinating to hear or read a long interview with Capers about his tactics and decision-making during the game, and why he chose to do what he did. (That's never going to happen, of course. At least you could see that he was mad, on one of the camera cuts to Capers in the booth.) Part of it, no doubt, was lack of depth. But part of it must have been schematic or lack of preparation. That stings, and hopefully will drive the defensive coaching staff to improve and reevaluate during the offseason.

And, of course, here's hoping that Woodson remains an excellent player next season, that Lee and Blackmon recover and become solid contributors, that Underwood turns into a decent nickle back, and that we draft a capable safety to work into the mix. And, of course, that we draft someone to put some pressure opposite Barbie. My personal candidate would be Wisconsin's O'Brien Schofield, who looks tailor-made to be a 3-4 outside linebacker-- 6'2", 250, explosive, instinctive, great at shedding blocks, a leader, a fine tackler, never gives up on a play. Here's hoping he's available in the second round.

Back to the last possession of the game. First off, that missed deep throw. Wow. How different things could have been had Rodgers read where Jennings was going just a little bit better. Then, who else thought we were sunk when Colledge (who I unfanned on Facebook in October) got called for holding on that nice pass to Grant? Especially when the replay showed that Rodgers got nailed with a helmet-to-helmet on the same play, and that there should have been offsetting penalties? Plus, although that was a hold, it wasn't the most blatant you've ever seen. Worse stuff goes uncalled pretty often. Maybe it was Colledge's god-awful arm tatoos. In any event, good pass play to Jones to make it a reasonable third down, and then the final play.

It was an empty backfield, and Mike Adams, the whipping boy for the Packers all day (he had what, four penalties called on him?) and the previous week, comes off on a corner blitz from the right side. First off, this was a great call by the Cardinals. As Football Outsiders has demonstrated, when an offense empties the backfield teams should blitz, and blitz heavily. Statistics show that empty backfields fair poorly against the blitz. Blitzes against empty backfields force quick throws by the quarterback, and if the rest of the defense plays press man, the throw is often rushed and the pass is contested. Usually, unless you have a great receiver who can easily beat press coverage, any completed pass results in an immediate tackle. So on third and decent distances, blizting an empty backfield is a smart strategy.

For an offense to even get close to winning the down, the quarterback needs to recognize and respond to the blitz. Rodgers, sadly, appeared to fail on this initial step. Maybe Adams was too small for him to notice (he's only 5'8"), maybe Tauscher blotted him out, but Rodgers never looks in his direction. Rodgers needs to see Adams coming, go to his hot read, get the ball out, and hope his receiver can make a play for the first down. In this situation, with an unblocked man coming at you, your hand is forced. But none of these things happen. Rodgers fails to see him, though he's not coming from his blind side. Aaron does some sort of a pump fake, or a double-clutch. Adams jars the ball loose, and Karlos Dansby, who had been behind every other one of the Cardinals turnover plays, is in the right spot once again. Game over, season over. Even the post-fumble facemask that Adams pulls on Rodgers (had it been called) wouldn't have made a difference. What a game.