Usually, I fill this space on Sunday mornings with the meandering wanderings of my unfocused mind.  I’ll be out of town most of this weekend (last excursion up nort’ plus Brewer game on Sunday) so this week’s version will be truncated.  Quite frankly, there wasn’t a whole lot that peaked my interest this week.

The National Football League season began in earnest this past Thursday night with a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints at the SuperDome.  And by the look of things both teams have a ways to go to recapture their playoff form of a year ago.

Quarterback Drew Brees of the Saints appeared to be a little off while not getting much help from his receivers who dropped a number of passes.  But the New Orleans defense still hits hard.

For their part, the Vikings often had Saints’ receivers running loose in their injury depleted secondary, especially in the first half.  On offense, tailback Adrian Peterson ran effectively when they used him but, for some unfathomable reason , the passing game seemed out of sync with quarterback and savior Brett Favre by his own admission missing on throws he should have made.  

Maybe I’m reading too much into this but ’4′s body language and demeanor present the appearance of a man who’s heart isn’t fully invested in what he’s chosen to do.  Between his arthritic ankle, his advanced age and his attitude, I find it hard to believe he’ll make it through the entire season without missing some games along the way.  Despite what he may say, he already looks like he regrets his decision to return (other than the money, of course).

At any rate, after seeing them play Thursday, I’m looking forward to the games the Green Bay Packers will play against Minnesota this year.  The Saints did a good job neutralizing the pass rush of  end Jared Allen leaving the Vikes’ defensive backfield vulnerable.  Unlike last season when his offensive line was in a state of flux, Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers doesn’t figure to be running for his life this time.  If he has any kind of time at all in the pocket, he’ll pick the Vikings apart.  It’s just too bad the Packers can’t face them sooner before the Vikings can get their bearings.

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Since the end of last season, my major concern for the Packers has been the state of their defense.  The way the offensive unit is setting up, that should be the primary thing holding them back.

But maybe I’ve been looking at this the wrong way.  At this point, the Packers couldn’t be any worse than they were against the Arizona Cardinals in last season’s playoffs and they have the potential at least to be much better.  Their depth will be challenged with veteran DBs Al Harris and Atari Bigby on the PUP list for the first 6 weeks.  However, they still have two Pro Bowl caliber players in the backfield with Charles Woodson and Nick Collins.  And rookies Morgan Burnett and nickel back Sam Shields are more athletically talented than holdovers Bigby and Jarrett Bush.  Cornerback Tramon Williams should also be improved with another year of experience under his belt. 

The key as always will be for D coordinator Dom Capers to come up with schemes to generate a pass rush to compensate for the lack of physical ability at his disposal.  Either way, we should find out early on where the team is at on defense.  Unlike how last year turned out, though, there’s reason to believe they’ll be better at the end of the year than they are at the beginning. 

One thing the Packers do have going for them is the current environment in the NFL.  As you look around the league, there don’t appear more than a couple of teams that are built primarily on defense.

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Third baseman Casey McGehee seems to be the Milwaukee Brewers answer to Packers’ running back Ryan Grant.  Both players seem to be chastised by many fans for what they aren’t rather than appreciated for what they contribute to their respective teams.

I’ve always held that Grant is a suitable back for a Packers team that is primarily a passing offense.  He doesn’t make many mistakes and usually gains positive yardage.

For his part, McGehee has been a solid run producer for the Brewers but many criticize him for his defense.  Certainly, he’s not a Gold Glover by any stretch of the imagination but neither is he the butcher at 3rd that Ryan Braun was before him.  People need to realize that in most cases there is a tradeoff to be made for offensive production.  There are very few players in the major leagues that excel both in hitting and in the field.

I just find it curious that many of the same people who hold McGehee accountable for his defense are willing to overlook shortstop Alcides Escobar’s many gaffes in that area when Escobar doesn’t contribute nearly as much at the plate.

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RANDOM SAMPLINGS:  The Milwaukee Bucks and their fans should be encouraged that franchise center Andrew Bogut is already scrimmaging in his return from a gruesome elbow injury suffered toward the end of last season.  He must be well ahead of schedule in his rehab………..University of Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan has hired Akron assistant Lamont Paris to replace former aide Howard Moore, who left to coach at UIC.  It will be interesting to see if their recruiting focus switches some from the Chicago area (which was Moore’s domain) over to the Ohio Valley………..The Badger football team has a zero sum situation this week as Ashwaubenon’s Mike Taylor returns to the defense at linebacker while fellow sophomore Chris Borland sits out today’s game against San Jose St………..Fans of the Michigan Wolverines will probably have an extra interest in today’s game at South Bend.  Michigan, which has yet to gain much traction in its 3rd year under coach Rich Rodriguez, will get an up close look at what new coach Brian Kelly has been able to establish in his second game at Notre Dame………..Former UW-Milwaukee basketball coach Bruce Pearl has had his salary reduced by 300k/yr. for misleading the NCAA during an investigation of recruiting violations at the University of Tennessee.  I’m just shocked! (Can you sense the sarcasm?)  Pearl is also being prohibited from off-campus recruiting for a year………..I’m glad the Packers were able to sign QB Graham Harrell to their practice squad, but why OT Breno Giacomini?  Haven’t they wasted enough time on that guy already?……….Fans who found it interesting that the Packers chose to keep 4 tight ends and 3 fullbacks on their final roster should take note that the Cleveland Browns elected to keep 12 linebackers on theirs………..I’m glad the New York Jets have come to a contract agreement with “All-World” cornerback Darelle Revis.  I don’t want them and head coach Rex Ryan to have any excuses when they crash and burn………..Finally, props to Milwaukee closer Trevor Hoffman on his milestone 600th save.  It’s been a bumpy ride for the future Hall of Famer this year but I’m glad he was able to accomplish the feat in a Brewers uniform.

Hmmm, turns out I had more to cover than I anticipated.  Go figure.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the first Sunday of the NFL regular season.  GO PACK!!!!!!!!

 

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  • http://www.Twitter.com/RichWardJr Rich Ward

    Spot on assessment of Brett Favre…Body language, demeanor, etc. For the first time I can remember, he just doesn’t look ‘all in.’ He actually appeared to be the 40 year old man that he is rather than an immortal youth with that child-like excitement. But it’s 1 game. The Vikings are too all around solid to not still contend for the NFC North.

    The Packers offense should be incredible, but the fact that UFA Sam Shields is actually their nickel back. It’s scary! Are we really to expect Morgan Burnett, a 3rd round draft pick, will be a strong spot in the defensive backfield. They will probably have to win a lot of games by simply out scoring the other team…Which in snow and wind could be an issue. I still think they will get the best of the Eagles today though. At least, I’m telling myself that.

    Have fun at the Brewer game man!