Ask An Angel: The Packers Defense, The Badgers Big 10 Title Game Chances & Chad Clifton’s Health
The Pocket Doppler Angels group is made up of the women that contribute to PocketDoppler.com, the moniker in homage to Charlie’s Angels. Individually and combined this group is as knowledgeable about the Packers, football & sports as anyone out there. Every other week they’ll answer your submitted questions on the Packers, football or other topics submitted. Feel free to submit non-Packers/football questions as well. Colleen would love to talk NASCAR with you, Kelly & Anita are ready to discuss the Badgers and college football, Amanda or Paige can regale you with their MLB & baseball knowledge or Jayme will explain to you why soccer is not just a European sport. To submit your question today, click here or on Twitter, @PDAngels.
Scott asks: Do you think the Packers defense will be able to crank it up the 2nd half of the season?
Colleen Answers: That depends on what you mean by “crank it up.” The defense obviously has issues and is not playing at anywhere near the level they did last season. Thankfully, the offense has risen to the occasion, so we’re still seeing the checkmark in the “win” column at the end of the game.
There doesn’t seem to be a push on Ted’s part to pick up new players on the defense; it seems he’s for the most part happy with the personnel in place (and is no doubt, like all of us, praying that Mike Neal gets back on the field and quits doing his best Justin Harrell imitation). That worries me a little. In my opinion, this defense is missing Cullen Jenkins and of course Nick Collins right now. Walden doesn’t seem to be playing at the same level as last year and Zombo apparently is about as consistently healthy as Mike Neal.
However, despite the king sized dose of criticism leveled at the defense after the San Diego game, I felt better about the defense after this game. Hawk continued to be fired up, the pick sixes were great, Tramon seemed more back to himself and Charles Woodson was appropriately outspoken about the D’s play and the need for improvement after the game (as was Mike McCarthy in his presser). We also can’t discount the fact that Dom Capers is a very, very good defensive coordinator who may have been keeping some things close to his vest that will be unveiled in the critical games to come (Thanksgiving coming to mind).
The defense may never get to last year’s level of play, but I do think we will see some crucial improvements in the weeks to come.
Steve asks: The Badgers got back on track this past weekend against Purdue. Do you think they still have a chance at playing in the first Big Ten Championship game yet?
Paige Answers: Who knew this question would have so many layers a week ago? Penn State is the only unbeaten team in conference play and lead the Badgers by two games in the Leaders division. Penn State plays Nebraska this Saturday at the Nittany Lions Seniors Day, but the major storyline revolves around Jerry Sandusky and the administration’s alleged cover-up. It could be Joe Paterno’s last game as head coach too. It’s hard to imagine how twenty-something year old student-athletes could cope with this scandal, its fallout and focus on playing well.
With that said, I think those distractions will lead to a Penn State loss on Saturday. I also believe the Nittany Lions will lose at Ohio State and at Wisconsin. That means they’d finish 5-3. I think the Badgers will finish 6-2 and will have a chance to avenge that Hail Mary loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game. I still believe the Badgers are the best team in the conference.
Jill Asks: Now that we’ve gotten to the official halfway point, what are the chances the Packers can now run the table all the way to Indy?
Jayme Answers: If you’re asking my heart I’d say 100%, but if you’re asking my brain, I’d say it’s more like 80%. Taking the rest of the schedule, I think there are some definite tests for the Packers. A lot of people have circled the Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit as the Packers biggest test. I kind of look at that game like the regular season game in Atlanta last year. While the Packers lost that one, I think they went in with the right attitude. They were going into a loud, hostile environment facing a team that was eager to prove itself. I think the Packers will beat the Lions on Thanksgiving, I think they will relish the opportunity to prove their superiority in the division and the NFC. However, I feel like a lot of people are overlooking the rest of the schedule and view the Thanksgiving game as the Packers biggest and only challenge.
Following the Lions game, the Packers will travel to New York to face the Giants and then two weeks later go to Kansas City to face the Chiefs. The Packers are better than both of those teams. But both the Giants and the Chiefs have been inconsistent this year. Sometimes they come out stumbling and sometimes they come out with the hammer. When the Chiefs and Giants show up, they are tough teams. Both teams will have the home field advantage and both will probably be desperate for a win, more desperate than the Packers, who if they enter those games undefeated will have won 12 and 14 games respectively.
It has never seemed to me that McCarthy is a man who hangs his hat on things like going undefeated. He has his goal, the championship. As much as I would love to see the Packers go undefeated, I have a feeling that, especially towards the end of the year, a hungry and desperate team might be enough to beat out the Packers.
I do however see the Packers in the playoffs, with home field advantage and I am saving up for a trip to Indy. Little doubt in my mind that the Packers will be in the Super Bowl, little bit of a larger doubt that the Packers will enter Lucas Oil undefeated.
Thad asks: Assume Clifton is healthy for the Lions game. Assume the Packers are still undefeated. Does he start?
Kelly Answers: Lot of IF’s there, Thad. If both are true, then I would say, yes, start Clifton. But those are a lot of unknown variables that we are playing with.
Hamstring injuries–the type that put you out of action for several weeks–are a more significant tear (yes, hamstring injuries are tears) to some very large muscle groups. The hamstrings on the back of the thigh are responsible for both speed and power. If injured, these qualities are greatly decreased. The more significant the tear, the longer the recovery becomes. That’s why these type of injuries can take an athlete out of action for weeks to months. And with hamstring tears there is always the increased risk of reinjury and longterm diminished muscle strength if they are not allowed to properly heal and rehab. Come back early and you run the risk of resetting the the clock and starting the rehabilitation process back at square one.
So getting back to Chad Clifton, I’m going to be pessimistic about his ability to return by Thanksgiving. Quite frankly, I don’t want him to return prematurely because putting a potential impaired Tackle on the line to face someone like Ndamukong Suh would be even more disastrous than the Packers taking their chances with the less experienced Newhouse lining up beside Lang.The last thing the Packers need would be for Suh to rush from the blindside, Clifton to pull up with a reinjury–essentially taking him immediately of the field of play–and allowing an straight shot to Rodgers. That’s the quickest recipe for disaster. With that there’s a good chance the Packers would lose Clifton for a longer period of time that what is already anticipated.
I think the Packers should opt on the side of caution with Clifton. Where they are going to need him most would be in January. The defenses the Packers would potentially face at that time are going to theoretically be the best of the best. I don’t want to chance Clifton as a weapon in the postseason because he came back too early for the sole reason that they wanted to keep the undefeated streak alive.Wrong priority. Just ask the 2007 New England Patriots.
The Packers have made it this far with him rehabbing quietly in the background. I say keep Newhouse in and, if need be, shore up that blindside with a heaping dose of Tom Crabtree as a blocking back. I know it’s cliche to say he’s one of the great unsung blocking Tight Ends, but, well, he is. He has the physicality to add an extra bit of beef to hold back charging and blitzing defenses.
Mark asks: Looking past this season, what do you think our the Packers draft needs next year?
Lauren Answers: Such a loaded question! But, a solid one, and one that I think even TT is thinking about right now. Evil genius and all that, that Teddy Boy. I’m hearing lots of chatter on the offensive line, but I think we have more pressing matters. I’d blame 3 of the 4 sacks in the Chargers game on Rodgers alone.
Our defense? Oh, brother. One has to start questioning what Capers’ is doing when the league leader in interceptions throws three picks, has two returned for TDs, and the Chargers still only lost by seven points. Also? 83 cumulative points were scored in the game. Players were in the wrong spot and we were weak up front. I’ll say it time and time again – we are blitzing way more, but it’s not effective. Capers had the defense blitzing 27 percent of the time in 2009, 33 percent in 2010 and he’s up to 40 percent now. If it was working? Fine. It’s not. They missed 8 tackles in Sunday’s game, including 3 by Wood.
Vikes game this week? I expect to see a lot of base 3-4 or their 2-4-5 nickel defense – similar to Week 7. Fingers crossed that blitzing isn’t high on the agenda.
Dependent on how Collins’ recovery goes, we need a safety. They keep trying to shift Wood to cover both safety and CB because of Tramon’s up and down play, but it’s actually hindering the type of defensive play we are seeing. Matthews isn’t free to roam/get to the quarterback, so I’d like to see someone solid that can sit opposite of him.However, I’m not in the camp that Matthews needs to be more of a pass rush type player. Since he’s been on the left side, our run defense has been tremendous. Thing is, you can’t focus on one player. If Matthews is shifted, is it better overall? Yes. We need to fill the Neal-sized hole in the pass rush, but I’m optimistic we will see Neal in future games.
Blitzing does not cover holes. Needs: Safety, OLB.
On offense, I’m concerned with our offensive tackles. Clifton is out, and although Bulaga is phenomenal on the right side, we are struggling on the left. I think Newhouse has potential, but it will take a while to mold that. Newhouse needs to get better at containing players such as Jared Allen before I say he’s solid.
Annie from Bemidji: How can I get a hold of Vic Ketchman? I have a question for him.
Amanda Answers: Ah yes where to find Vic Ketchman. Many have sought to find Vic in major sports cities, Titletown, sports bars or even in sports newsrooms. Alas, he cannot be found there. No. But I will tell you how I figured out where Mr. Ketchman can be found.
1. He can’t be in Wisconsin because everyone in Wisconsin is well aware of the PocketDoppler Angels and their never ending knowledge of sports/football/Green and Gold. And don’t we just say the darnedest things? It must really stump him when we are right on.
2. He cannot be found in any sports bar or newsrooms. Watching just five minutes of ESPN, sports news, an athletic event of some sort will allow you to come up with an actual answer to a fan’s question.
3. Does he actually know what football is? Can’t be in Titletown.
There for I conclude that he has lost himself in Mexico drowning himself in a bottle of tequila. I mean if you were owned by intelligent, gorgeous sports loving women, wouldn’t you need a shot of tequila while you attempt to “grow a pair”?
So how do you contact Vic? Don’t both and just ask us, we know more.
That will do it for this week’s edition of Ask An Angel. If you’d like to be part of the excitement next time, go here and submit your question or ask on Twitter, @PDAngels & give the Angels a follow .