Friday, November 27, 2009

What are you thankful for, Packer fans?

It’s Thanksgiving night, and I’ve now been wrestling with a 13-lb turkey for over 24 hours.  It started last night with brining the beast in a cooler, and ended tonight with resignation about what to do with the remains.  Finishing off a turkey is like disposing of a corpse.  I gave all our guests about two pounds of turkey each, and I’m still staring at a carcass that could feed a family of four for a month.

I was tearing at the thing for about an hour tonight in a tryptophan haze.  Of course, as a San Francisco foodie, I can’t just throw away the bones.  I need to pretend I’m going to make something out of it, keep it in my fridge for a week and then throw it away.  There’s no way to delicately cut up a turkey.  The appropriate term is "dismemberment."  You need to attack it with a kind of primal enthusiasm, and a variety of sharp tools wielded assertively.  You need to torque spinal columns with your bare hands.  You need to splatter bone fragments on your shirt.  In short, you need to get medieval on it.  I contemplated burying the remains in the yard for a while, but finally got it into a stock pot and intend to get the upper hand on it tomorrow.

Between my trussing I got to enjoy a pretty good game.  (By the way, someone's got to tell Troy Aikman how to properly pronounce our city -- it's Green Bay, not Green Bay.)  Anyway, apart from the fumble on the opening kick-off and some red zone inefficiency, it was a pretty solid performance by the Packers.  Penalties continue to be a thorn – 7 of them today for 57 yards, which will allow us to continue to hold on to our #1 position in the NFL for most penalties.  Sweet.  Special teams managed to have two penalties out 9 plays – both blocks in the back.  Aren’t you taught not to do that in Pop Warner?

But rather than being a whiner, on Thanksgiving day it feels more appropriate to say what I’m thankful for as a Packers fan.  So here goes:

1) Aaron Rodgers – the guy just continues to be nails.  He went 26 of 39 for 348 yards and 3 TDs with no interceptions.  He’s just so mentally sharp, and rarely ever makes mistakes.  His passer rating on the season is 104.9 – trailing only Favre (112.1) and Brees (105.8).  He’s thrown 22 touchdown passes – tied for first in the NFL with Brees.  And his 3,136 passing yards is second only to Peyton Manning.  He has the arm (the completion he had to Driver was over 65 yards in the air), the athleticism, and the intelligence of the best QBs in the game.  And he’s developing that intangible will to win with every game.

Favre, it must be acknowledged, is having an incredible year as well.  Maybe if he’d performed like that his last few seasons in Green Bay, we should have let him come back.  But Rodgers is executing consistently at a Pro Bowl level in only his 27th start.  And, oh – by the way, he is 15 years younger than Favre.  If he stays healthy, he will be our franchise QB, and we should be thankful for him wearing a Packer uniform for many years to come.

2) Our defense – Dom has been in the house the last few weeks.  Five turnovers, two sacks, and a pick six today.  Woodson is at another level entirely.  He’s got to be making a case for defensive MVP.  It was also huge for Tramon Williams to get an interception today – should give him a little more confidence for the big shoes he needs to fill.

The defense is fast, hits hard, and is stingy.  Denying a Lions score from first and goal from the 6-yard line in the 4th quarter today was a great example.  Overall, the Packers defense has only allowed 281.5 yards/game, second best in the NFL.  They are also opportunistic and ball-hawking.  Green Bay has 18 interceptions on the season, second only to the Saints.  We're +17 on net turn-overs.  Best in the league.

And the young players are really coming on.  I’ve talked about Clay Matthews several times.  He didn’t have a great game today, but he brings incredible energy and speed to the defense.  B.J. Raji is becoming a presence as well – stuffing the run as he did in that hit on Kevin Smith for a 4-yard loss.  Again, if these guys can continue to develop and our secondary stays healthy, we should be in good shape for many Thanksgivings to come.

3) Shoring up our O-line – I can’t really say I’m thankful for our offensive line.  It’s more that I’m thankful they haven’t been a complete liability the last few weeks.  No holding penalties today, one penalty overall (false start on Colledge), and only one sack allowed.  The sack that was allowed was embarrassing.  Continue to feel like Clifton’s head just isn’t in the game at times – he seemed to be looking at the play clock while Julian Peterson blew by him.  But, overall, they seem to have gotten their shit together – against some solid defensive fronts in Dallas and San Francisco particularly.  Tauscher is making a big difference, and Wells and Sitton are quietly playing consistently.  There were several plays (particularly that bomb to Driver, who I'm also thankful for, by the way) where Rodgers had all day to pass the ball.  If they can keep up that level of protection, what seemed like a season-killing Achilles heel three weeks ago could be good enough to get us to the post-season.

So that’s what I’m thankful for.  I’m going to try to do some breakdowns of the playoff situation this weekend.  With our improved play and the Giants loss tonight, I’m getting more confident about our wild card chances.  Now, back to my bone saw.


  1. Aside from the everyday thankfulness of God, Country and Family. This Thanksgiving I am thankful first for Bombay Bistro. We were having a small thanksgiving and decided to go out this year. We found an Indian restaurant doing Tandori Turkey with all the "trimmings" --- unbelievable. It was a nice change to the traditional version of the meal and like pilgrims of 1621 sharing a table with Wampanoag tribe of Indians; my family was sharing with a restaurant full of continental Indians. No dishes, no turkey corpse to try and make stock with and I didn't have to run that gauntlet of under done turkey or dry as cardboard turkey. We will call it a win, win for us.

    As far as Mr. Aikman's southernisms you will just have to excuse him. Although he was born in California and lived there until he was 12, he then went moved to a ranch in Oklahoma, attended OU for two years before heading to UCLA and then on to the cowboys. I am still proud of my northern roots dating back to my great-great-great-great-great grandfather’s march with Sherman to the sea in the Civil War, but having lived in the south for a good portion of my adult life you pick up some interesting language accents. Like July is JUly big emphasis on first syllable, y'all of course and I guess Troy likes to emphasize the Green in Green Bay. By the way another southern gift to the culinary world like fried twinkies, barbecue, grits and breakfast tacos is the deep fried turkey. If you haven't done it, you haven't eaten good turkey. In my four years of marriage I have been banned from the technique do the fire hazard, but my wife just hasn't learned how comfortable I am at controlling fire yet. You can really change up the flavor and it is impossible for it not too be juicier than anything that sits in the oven for hours. If you invest in the tools to pull this off and you end up not liking it -- you will still have a great set up for a shrimp boil (that is shrimp boll down here) so get your fried turkey on Trigger.

    Oh yeah the football game -- thankful for Rogers and his arm, thankful for Donald Drivers big smile -- his story is one of the best in the NFL, thankful for 7-4 and most of all thankful for #21. The guy is a stud. Forget defensive MVP -- if they make a run deep in to the playoffs the guy should be league MVP. He is everywhere, every play.

    Here is your political Thanksgiving twist on thankfulness: what I am not thankful for is that your dinner costs yesterday were 41% taxes (according to the American Farm Bureau).

    What I am thankful for is that we were a country founded on limited government and taxes. I am very thankful that the enormous spending being done today by our government has awakened those of us who wish to return to our founding principles.

    Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!

  2. OK just in case you weren't thankful enough for Charles Woodson, he did this yesterday:

    NFL: Woodson donates $2 million to hospital

    Associated Press

    Charles Woodson wants to be known as more than a football player.

    Donating $2 million to the new University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital and Women's Hospital gives him a chance to do that.