The University of Wisconsin football team took care of business with a 41-23 win Saturday over the University of Minnesota at Madison’s Camp Randall stadium.  Actually there was a point in the second quarter yesterday, when the Golden Gophers controlled the time of possession and closed it to a 5 point game, that I thought I’d be leading this morning with week old Packer news.  Fortunately for Wisconsin, rarely has a team done so little with so much.

I know it’s ironic to be so reticent after such a decisive victory but perceptions are usually measured against expections and the expectation for many was that this team would compete for a Big(11)Ten title.  I still didn’t see that team yesterday.  This game was as much a reflection of how far Minnesota has to go to catch up with UW (and the rest of the conference, for that matter) as it was a sign of any real progress on the Badgers part.

The offense did its part with tailbacks John Clay and James White combining for over 200 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns.  But, as my PD colleague Jon pointed out yesterday, quarterback Scott Tolzien has yet to play as well as he did last year.  It’s seemingly uncommon for Tolzien to find Lance Kendricks in a spot where he doesn’t immediately fall down, either because he’s throwing into traffic or behind him.  Tolzien’s apparent lack of timing with his star tight end negates Kendricks play making ability.  And, despite the incessant references to the average size of the Badgers offensive line by game broadcast crews, to this point that squad appears to be as overrated as the rest of the team.

The defense was another matter, particularly the secondary.  The Badgers gave up 6 passes of 20 yards or more.  As my brother Gary pointed out while we were watching the game, the Badgers defensive backs don’t play the ball very well even when they are in position.  They also let Gopher QB Adam Weber loose for a couple of first downs running; something that may foreshadow trouble with Terrelle Pryor coming to town.  At least the linebackers showed up yesterday, unlike last week.

In the end, this game may be most notable for head coach Bret Bielema’s decision to go for a two point conversion after the Badgers scored with just over 6 minutes left in the game.  After the game, Bielema weakly explained that he was merely following his ‘conversion chart’ which must read “embarrass and piss off the opposition” under the 25 point lead heading.  The real reason, of course, is because he could.  That the Badgers failed on the attempt will have to serve as poetic justice for Minnesota coach Tim Brewster, who expressed his displeasure with Bielema in no uncertain terms. 

Something tells me that Brewster will be keeping an eye on the Badgers’ score next week.  With soon to be #1 ranked Ohio State visiting Madison, karma could very well exact its revenge on the Bielema and the Badgers.

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Green Bay Packers General Manager Ted Thompson has left himself open to a lot of second guessing this season.  Fortunately for him, he is extraordinarily well insulated from the rest of the NFL and, maybe even more significantly, his own team’s fan base.  Events of this past week have served to highlight the disparity in the way Thompson operates in relation to other teams in the league.

The NFC North division rival Minnesota Vikings moved to reacquire wide receiver Randy Moss in an effort to restore some credibility to its receiving corps while the Seattle Seahawks jumped ahead of the Packers to trade for Buffalo running back Marshawn Lynch, who was reportedly also targeted by Green Bay.  The moves hightened concern among Packer fans and left them questioning Thompson’s judgment even more than normal.

Right or wrong, Thompson has his plan (such as it is) and he’s sticking to it.  But the mounting injuries on his team, particularly on defense, are certainly going to test the Packers’ depth and will ultimately decide how successful the Packers will be this year.

They’ve also put Thompson in an another no win position.  As usual, it looks like he’s going to try to ride out the season with what he’s got.  Barring any more key injuries, the Packers probably have enough left to make a playoff push in a weak conference.  That won’t be enough to satisfy many fans who consider this a ‘Super Bowl or bust’ season.  They would have Thompson move to plug the “holes” on the Packers roster right now to take advantage of their window of opportunity.

In my estimation, such an approach would be a mistake.   The Packers are unlikely to be substantially better with the castoffs that other teams would be willing to part with at this point in the season.  (The Moss trade was an anomaly; the Vikings had a need that corresponded with a burden the Patriots wanted to unload.)  Lynch would have helped the depth chart but it’s open to debate how much he would have improved the running game.  And if it didn’t work, the resulting loss of draft picks would have jeopardized future years as well as this one.  In any given year, a lot of things have to go right for a team to make the Super Bowl.  Sadly, that doesn’t appear to be in the cards for Green Bay this season.  This season is looking too much like 2002, when the Packers overcame a number of injuries to finish 12-4, yet had nothing left for the playoffs. 

If you look at the season as an all or nothing proposition you are bound to be disappointed.  There is usually a progression that teams advance through to get to a championship level and to expect the Packers to make that leap in one year is unrealistic.  The Packers are still 3-1 with a puncher’s chance heading into today’s game at Washington.  Considering everything that’s gone wrong so far, that’s not a bad place to be.

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When I was just a LittleSnakeBoy, one of my favorite TV shows was “Hawaii 5-0″.  I liked it from the opening scene in the pilot episode when Steve McGarrett “booked” a CIA agent that had been ‘tailing’ him.  So, it was with a mixture of trepidation and curiosity that I viewed the prospect that CBS was doing a new version of the show.

Figuring that I shouldn’t criticize the show without first seeing it, I sat down to watch a couple of episodes online this week.  I have to admit I’m surprised that it doesn’t completely suck.  In fact, the biggest mistake CBS made was calling it “Hawaii 5-0″.  The idea of trying to lure in the original audience to the new show is counterproductive in light of the fact that the only resemblance it bears to the original is the locale and character names.

Still, I wanted to be fair.  Maybe the memories of my youth were playing tricks on me.  Thoughtfully, CBS’ website provided some episodes of the first incarnation to refresh my memory.  Probably another mistake on their part as I once again saw the show I remembered.

Unlike the “updated” version, Jack Lord’s ‘McGarrett’ didn’t need a semi-automatic weapon; he was more than effective with his .38, which he didn’t use unless he absolutely needed to.  He always wore a suit & tie on duty unless he was undercover.  And he looked tough and intimidating even in sans-a-belt slacks.  You had do be when dealing with the likes of Chinese agent Wo Fat.

Hawaii 5-0″ was also the predecessor to the current CSI generation of shows.  It may have been the first police drama to regularly portray the use of forensic evidence in the solving of crimes.  As such, it was clearly ahead of its time.

I understand if disagree with the motivation to update the “classics”.  If nothing else was on, I might even watch the ”new Hawaii 5-0″ from time to time.  But, since it’s on opposite Monday Night Football, I doubt I’ll be seeing much of it.

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RANDOM SAMPLINGS:  It was reported this week that Brewers’ 3rd baseman Casey McGehee had surgery to remove a couple of “loose bodies” from his knee.  I wonder if one of them was Jimmy Hoffa………..It’s put up or shut up time for Packers’ linebacker Desmond Bishop, filling in today for the injured Nick Barnett.  He’s been in the league and the system long enough that he doesn’t have any excuses if he doesn’t perform………..Fans wondering what’s happened to backup offensive lineman T.J. Lang might be enlightened by this quote from position coach James Campen:  ”It was not like he was out of shape. He was out of football movement shape.”  Or not………..Another Brewer who had surgery this week was pitcher Doug Davis, who won’t be back with the team.  But don’t be surprised to see him have a comeback season like R.A. Dickey had with the Mets………..Living in Green Bay and attending Packer games, I’m always amazed at the number of A.J. Hawk jerseys that are still worn by fans; seems out of proportion to his contributions to the team………..Deposed Brewers’ manager Ken Macha had his exit interview with the team this week.  Macha admitted that he never established a rapport with team stars Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.  Fielder is as good as gone, but my sense is that the Brewers won’t win as long as Braun is a fixture on the team………..With the completion of the Randy Moss trade, the New England Patriots now have 2 picks in each of the first 4 rounds of next year’s NFL draft.  It’s interesting that coach Bill Belicheck seems to be taking the same approach that GM Ted Thompson is often lambasted for in Green Bay…………Quote of the week from Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings:  “Third quarter I wanted to pick it up a little bit and play.  Unfortunately I thought I was going to play a little bit more since I had a rhythm going but it didn’t happen.”  Gotta like a young player that wants to stay in an exhibition game.

Thanks for reading.  Enjoy the rest of a gorgeous fall weekend.  GO PACK!!!

 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Packers-Therapy/113896815298853?ref=sgm Chris

    I see your muse and raise you these muses:

    *I don’t believe UW will be ranked in the Top 20 by season’s end.

    *The connection of this year’s Packers and the 2002 team is spot on. It’s a shame so many fans can’t appreciate how difficult it is to navigate an NFL season and reach the Super Bowl, adopting an “all or nothing” approach to assessing a team. People need to temper their expectations and enjoy the games week to week.

    *Props for checking out the new “5-0.” I have wondered about it, but have heard nothing that makes me want to make an effort to DVR it. The old show was great; these days I am sated with Rubicon, Man Men, Dexter, Weeds, Boardwalk Empire, Entourage, The Closer, Criminal Minds, In Treatment, The Big C, Curb Your Enthusiasm…and if that’s not enough, there is always the new Law & Order or Criminal Intent or even MI5 on public TV.

    *Nice Jimmy Hoffa reset.

    *Good call on Bishop–put up or shut up time for 55.

    *Interesting take on Doug Davis. I could see it happening.

    *I fear you are right about Ryan Braun. Something about him and his approach doesn’t sit well…

    *I’m only passively interested in the Bucks, but the more I hear about Jennings the more intrigued I become.

  • Jon

    Some concern over Terrelle Pryor against the Wisconsin pass defense? An understatement of great proportions. I’m hoping for some rough weather moving in.