Thursday Q & A: Holly from CHTV, Cheesehead Radio & BrentFavre.com
Joining us this week from CheeseheadTV.com, Cheesehead Radio, The Other 31 & BrentFavre.com is Holly Phelps. Holly is an ex-pat Wisconsinite whose steadfast devotion to the Packers is only rivaled by her ability to scout and breakdown opposing teams in her weekly in-season Opposition Talking Points, must reads. Holly shares with us how she got started in blogging with the sites she contributes to, her opinions on this past weekend’s game in Philadelphia and looking forward to this weekend in Atlanta.
Enlighten our readers on your Packers blogging history, how you got started writing and where your love of all things Green & Gold came from.
Loving the Packers is part of the deal when you’re born in Wisconsin, and I’m no exception. But, as fondly as I remember dancing around the living room with my dad when the Packers won Super Bowl XXXI, I confess I wasn’t always the most ardent Packers fan – athletics frequently prevented me from watching games, and not even the family fantasy football league kept me up to date on the Pack. Once I made the solo move to DC, I wanted to reconnect with something familiar.
I stumbled upon CheeseheadTV in 2007, and loved Corey and Aaron’s easy banter and smart analysis. It was great fun to dive back into the details of the game, and I took it as a challenge to become well-versed enough to participate in the Packer nation conversation. The first time I called in to their podcast – no joke – I was so nervous, I read from a script that took an hour to write. It had to be fun to listen to – I’m not sure I remembered to breathe. For reasons known only to him, Corey decided to call me out on air last September to start writing for the site, and I jumped at the opportunity. I knew I could never cover the Packers the way Aaron and Corey do, but I saw a place for me to write about other teams from a Packers-centric perspective. I’ve been writing on CheeseheadTV’s NFL page (“The Other 31”) for two seasons now, and also contribute to BrentFavre.com.
I’m so glad I got back into football. Last spring, CHTV’s Brian Carriveau gave me the chance to write about the Packers 2010 opponents for the Maple Street Press Packers Annual. I’ve had a great time talking to other fans about their teams’ expectations, and the broad exposure to multiple teams means there’s always something new to learn and see.
Beyond blogging, you also are a member of the Cheesehead Radio team. What’s it like working with that group?
I was pretty skeptical at first. I hadn’t done any voice work, and – let’s be honest – I got nervous just leaving a voicemail for two yahoos in NYC. CD was very patient, bless his heart. Al and CD gave great constructive criticism after each of the first few shows, and we’ve improved as the season has progressed. The whole gang is a riot. We have a pre-show conference call each week, and while it initially included a lot of, “I’m going to say this, and then you can say that,” it’s become much less formal. Everyone brings something different to the table, and we have as much fun as the listeners (maybe more).
I miss having Alex around every now and again – there’s no replacing his snark, though John’s deadpan is classic. CD’s pretty much the grown up – he ropes us back in when we stray too far off-topic. I love having Jayme there to balance the boys. Frankly, it’s become what I think CD hoped it would be – a conversation with friends (and a guest) about the team we love.
I had the pleasure of meeting you this past Fall when you attended the first Packers home game of the season. If memory serves, that was also your first trip to Lambeau ever. Did the experience live up to everything you hoped it would be? Seeing a game at Lambeau I mean, not necessarily meeting me although I’m sure that was wonderful too.
Meeting you and BigSnakeMan was a highlight, it’s true. Really, the whole weekend was incredible. It flew by so fast (I was home within 48 hrs of leaving), but I was on such a high. Seeing the stadium, the field, the players, yelling Go Pack Go… and being able to share it with my dad (who’d never been) and grandpa was very special. I wrote about it back in September for CHTV, and reading it again makes it all the more important that I get back ASAP. There are still so many things I haven’t seen.
One of your recurring pieces throughout the season is your Opposition Talking Points posts. How do you go about putting these together each week?
The main Opposition Research posts on The Other 31 are usually a multi-day effort. I take information from newspapers, official team sources, blogs, radio, you name it – I’m going for a broader view. I read, get a sense of where the opposing team is coming into the game, and then try to come up with a story to tell. I haven’t been as good this year at telling wacky stories (last year, I reported that the Steelers were going through Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief ), but I still try for an overall theme. At the end of the day, I’m looking for something that’s as fun to read as it was to write.
I put the Talking Points together on Thursday. After the big post is done, I like to let everything percolate in my brain for a while, until it boils down into good sized soundbites. Then, usually right before the radio show, I get to writing. The CheeseheadRadio crew is used to me coming on the pre-show call, saying “I only have 90 words, give me 15 minutes.” I don’t like to be too rehearsed.
Let’s talk about this past weekends’ game against the Eagles. The big surprise for most was the emergence of James Starks & a running game in general. Do you think the success on the ground was due to Starks’ ability or the defense the Eagles were playing?
I think the success of the ground game was as much a surprise to the Eagles as it was to fans. The Eagles run defense hasn’t been stellar – they gave up 118 yards to Adrian Peterson and 112 to Matt Forte – but they were obviously expecting Rodgers to throw all over the yard. I give a ton of credit to Starks, for seizing his opportunity, and to McCarthy, for letting the kid make plays.
Based on the research you did on the Eagles, what’s the one thing Philadelphia didn’t do that you thought you would see more of?
Run the ball. McCoy had only 12 carries. For a guy who averaged 5.2 ypc during the season (and 6.6 in last three starts) to not be a bigger part of their gameplan, especially against a middling run defense, was a surprise to me. I know Andy Reid loves to pass, but CM3 was abusing RT Winston Justice mightily. Why not use runs to slow the rush?
What are the chances that the running game which was established in Philly will continue to be used in Atlanta this coming weekend & if so, can we expect similar results/success with it?
Depends. Can Starks block in pass protection? The Packers used the no-huddle against Atlanta in W12 to great effect, mostly because they abandoned the run. If they can run or pass out of formations with Starks on the field, and if the offensive line plays like it did on Sunday, that opens up so many things. Big ifs, though.
When the Packers played the Falcons earlier this year, the defense had issues stopping Michael Turner. What will the Packers need to do to avoid a repeat performance by Turner?
Beyond Turner, what is the one thing that most concerns you going into the game against Atlanta on Saturday?
Health. Atlanta’s had a week off to rest and recover. The Packers are coming off a short week. All other things being equal, I think the teams are evenly matched. But, with Atlanta running a hurry-up offense on fresh legs, I worry that fatigue may take its toll. Adrenaline only gets you so far.
Call your shot, who comes out on top Saturday, the Packer or the Falcons?
24-21 Packers. I think Jordy has another big day.
…and now for the lighting round.
Your all-time favorite Packers player is:
Your favorite Packers blog to read that you don’t contribute to is:
If there were no Packers, you would have a blog about:
Places I’ve been. Whenever I travel for work, I send a ‘travelogue’ to friends and family with hundreds of pictures. Next up, Thailand!
If you were a pro football player, your position would be:
Backup QB, running the scout team.
Should I ever run into you at a bar, I should buy you a _____________ for taking the time to answer these questions.
Magic Hat #9
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