Thursday Q & A: Monty from TotalPackers.com
We’re back after a one week scheduling hiatus and joining us upon our return is Monty McMahon from TotalPackers.com. We’ll get Monty’s story on Total Packers as well as open up some old wounds on what happened on Monday night against the Bears.
Give us the history lesson on Total Packers and how you got started with a Packers blog.
We got started a little over two years ago. I live in LA and know quite a few people from Wisconsin out here. Of course, there are a lot of Packers fans among them. We always used to send a string of emails around whenever something happened with the Packers, when we wanted to discuss games, bitch about how terrible our coaches are, how our general manager never does anything or whatever. Eventually, my friend Steffen and I started to discuss the idea of a blog and Total Packers was born. It wasn’t pretty at first and we weren’t able to post very often, but over time it got better and grew. The idea has always been that we wanted it to be a place for the passionate fan, so we don’t pull any punches with our commentary and analysis. And also, the Vikings suck.
Total Packers is pretty busy in terms of content and frequent daily postings, how do you keep up with it all?
We kind of just cram it in when we can. I spend a lot of my day writing and working on other web projects, so when I need a break from those things, I usually turn to something Packers-related. Thankfully, I have a good system for finding interesting content about the Packers and a group of people who will send me things, so I’m not scouring the Web constantly.
Seeing as you’re getting this the day after the Packers MNF loss to the Bears, may as well as touch on that game. What was worse, the penalties or the special teams play?
Ugh. Can I say the coaching? I’ve never been a fan of Mike McCarthy. Too often his teams play uninspired, undisciplined football. Both of these failures from Monday night’s game, to me, are a reflection of McCarthy. The Packers have been at or near the top of the league in penalties since McCarthy has been coach. The team has had one of the worst special teams units in the NFL the past two years. I was hopeful those areas were finally fixed after the first two games of the season, but obviously, this is a Mike McCarthy-coached team, so they may never be fixed. If I had to choose one from above, I’d say the penalties. The Packers could have won the game even if they let Hester score on that punt return. Eighteen penalties were far too costly. Penalties negated two interceptions and essentially kept the Bears offense on the field when they had no business being there.
Speaking of Special Teams play, any shot the Packers can get this aspect of the game shored up or is what we’re seeing what we’re stuck with?
The Packers were experimenting with their coverage units last week and I had to ask myself why. Obviously, because the coaches are a bunch of morons. They took a unit that was playing well and moved some guys in and out. Basically, they employed the “if it ain’t broke… ah, we’re gonna fix it anyway” mentality. One of the guys they were trying to get on the field was rookie tight end Andrew Quarless. I’m not sure if he ended up playing on special teams, but the Packers did have all four tight ends active on Monday night. Why? You’ll have to ask the geniuses in Green Bay. But to get back to the question, yes, I think special teams can be fixed, but the coaches need to put their best players out there and not worry about getting some rookie on the field.
Beyond a couple of gutsy runs by John Kuhn, the Packers run game was non-existent during the Bears game. Does Ted Thompson need to get a new running back in here post haste?
There really are a lot of ways to look at this. First, the offensive line isn’t blocking well for the run — Chad Clifton, Mark Tauscher, and to a lesser extent, Daryn Colledge, I’m looking at you. The Packers best run blocker may be sitting on the bench in the form of Bryan Bulaga. It’s frustrating he didn’t play on Monday, particularly after watching Clifton get destroyed repeatedly. The second thing I look at is the short passing game. The short passing game is Green Bay’s running game right now. Can they win with it? Yes. Can they win the Super Bowl with it? I don’t think so. So, yes, I’d like to see the Packers go get someone, but I don’t see Ted Thompson making that move unless the deal is a favorable one. Despite the rhetoric you’re going to hear coming out of Green Bay, Brandon Jackson isn’t the answer and I think everyone knows that now. I look for Kuhn to get more carries and the Packers to rely on slants, wide receiver screens and such in place of a running game. If there’s anything reassuring I can say, it’s that the Colts had a terrible running game last season and they still made it to the Super Bowl.
Are the Packers still the team to beat in the NFC North or have the Bears supplanted them?
The best team in any division doesn’t commit 18 penalties in a game. The Packers are the most talented team in the division and they’ll still win the North crown, but at this very moment, you can’t say they’re the best team.
OK, enough about the Bears loss. I know we’re only three games in, but what are some surprises of the young season, good or bad.
I’d like to say how bad Chad Clifton is, but I can’t. The guy really hasn’t played well in two years. I am, however, a little surprised at how bad Tauscher is playing. It’s not just that he’s getting beat, but he’s getting beat badly. I’ve seen him get tossed like a rag doll on more than one occasion. Opposing defensive ends must love lining up against our tackles. Jordy Nelson has been a pleasant surprise on kickoff returns — I just wish he could break one. Sam Shields has been a very pleasant surprise as well. Other teams haven’t been able to target him effectively, save a play here and there. The guy has the potential to be really good when he learns the position. Clay Matthews early dominance has also come as a bit of a surprise. I knew he was good, but his play is elevating the defense the way Charles Woodson’s did last season.
Do you think our aging tackles, Chad Clifton & Mark Tauscher, will be able to make it through the season and provide what is needed or is it time to look at Bulaga & Lang to begin getting starting reps?
Bulaga should have started the Bears game. I don’t know what’s going on with Lang. He would seem to be a top backup, but he was inactive for one of the first two games, which is a bad sign. He also played poorly at times during the preseason. It’s possible he’s regressed. That being said, throwing him into the fire and letting him develop on the field isn’t the worst idea considering how often Tauscher is getting run over.
Call your shot, how far will the Packers go this year?
I would have said Super Bowl before seeing this debacle on Monday night. Now, I think the Packers lack of balance on offense might take them out of that equation. Obviously, the penalties and special teams play need to be cleaned up in order for them to become an elite team. Right now, I will say they’ll still win the NFC North. Fortunately, the NFC doesn’t seem to be stacked this year. At 2-1, I feel New Orleans is still the best team. Dallas, which should be in the conversation, has problems just like Green Bay and no one from the NFC West scares me at all.
Class is open, what advice would you give to sports bloggers (or bloggers in general) as it relates to starting or maintaining their blogs?
Honestly, the best thing we ever did was to establish a unique voice. Not everyone likes it and some people are downright offended by what we say, but that’s a result of our passion for the subject matter. It was also a conscientious decision to not be like other blogs or news organizations. If people want to read straight-forward news, they’re most likely going to a newspaper or TV website so they can get their stuffy, old school journalism. If they want to read something edgy and non-PC, well, that’s where we fit in. I’m not suggesting everyone should try to be edgy, but I think the best blogs have writers who are passionate about the subject matter and who maintain their own voice and style.
…and now for the lighting round.
Your all-time favorite Packers player is:
James Lofton. When I was young, the Packers were terrible, but Lofton was the man. Max McGee takes a close second. I’m too young to have seen him play, but anyone who can play the game hungover gets much respect from me.
Your favorite Packers blog to read that is not named Total Packers is:
It’s not just Packers, but I think Pro Football Weekly does some of the best analysis. Pro Football Talk gets the best scoops. As far as the Packers, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the guys at the Journal Sentinel and the Press Gazette. Actually, I take that back… we would if Jeff Blumb and Packers PR department would give us a damn press pass already.
If there were no Packers, you would have a blog about:
I don’t want to imagine a world with no Packers, but if I had to choose something, I would say sex. As Maude Lebowski said, it’s a zesty enterprise.
If you were a pro football player, your position would be:
Quarterback. Tom Brady landed Gisele Bundchen — need I say more?
Should I ever run into you at a bar, I should buy you a _____________ for taking the time to answer these questions.
Whiskey. It’s what any self-respecting Irishman drinks.
As always, a big round of thanks to our guest and especially this time around as Monty was able to come on board on rather short notice. Head on over to TotalPackers.com for Packers insight, news and more from Monty and the rest of the rest of his crew.
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