Saturday, July 30, 2011

Eagles Hunting for Bear... or Packers

I normally don't comment much about other teams in this blog, unless it's to taunt the Vikings on firing of their coach, or their stadium implosion, or their general status as a society...  Let me re-phrase that, with the exception of the Vikings... or Bears, I don't normal comment much about other teams on this blog.  But what the Philadelphia Eagles have engineered in free agency the last 48 hours is nothing short of impressive.

Sometimes you are just ready for championship... or a piss.
Let's break this down for a second: Eagles lose home divisional playoff game to the Packers, decide they need to get active in the free agency market to get over the proverbial hump -- a hump, incidentally, the Eagles have been stuck on for the better part of 50 years.  Apart from losing appearances in Super Bowls XV and XXXIX, the Eagles haven't tasted a championship since 1960.  That's quite a dry spell.  If the Packers had gone 51 years without a championship (not to mention 0-for-2 in the Super Bowl era), we would all be getting a little antsy -- almost as antsy as this die-hard Eagles fan was to find a porta-potty without a line.

After their humbling loss to end the 2010 campaign, the Eagles wasted no time, after a short 5-month lock-out, in stacking up their defense.  And their moves have been almost as impressive as the squatting pose struck by this fan.  First was the deal everyone was anticipating, shipping Kevin Kolb to Arizona in exchange for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.  Great move -- particularly once they signed Vince Young to a one-year deal to back up Vick.  Kolb's style was very different than Vick's.  And if/when Vick gets hurt, which I suspect he will, Vince is a much better back up that doesn't force them to change the way they call the offense.  Shrewd.  If this were the only move the Eagles made, it would have been a big upgrade.  But they weren't done.

Yesterday came the news that the Eagles had landed the top free agent prize of the year: Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.  Asomugha had gone somewhat forgotten in Oakland, but his skills are un-questioned.  Dallas, NY Jets and Houston were rumored to be the most likely destinations, but the Eagles swooped in and stole perhaps the top corner in the league.  Him, coupled with Cromartie and, presumably, a re-signed Asante Samuels will instantly give the Eagles one of the most high-octane defensive secondaries in all of football.  But they still weren't done.

This is when it really touches Packer nation -- today the Eagles announced the signing of our very own Cullen Jenkins.  Jenkins fits very well with their defense and should have plenty of time to get to the quarterback with their newly-signed shut-down corners.  I'm not sure I would have given a 5-year, $25 million contract to a 30-year-old defensive end, but it was one of the last missing pieces for the Eagles defense.

Eagles fan sending a message: "Get the beer guy!"
Clearly the Eagles are sending a message: we're not going to be runners up again.  We're blowing our wad this year to make a run at this thing.  Anything less than a Super Bowl championship will be a disappointment. And Eagles fans are sending a message too -- you can practically hear them shouting, "Get me anutha' cheesesteak!" and "Whadda you lookin' at!" and "The line fo' da pissa is way too freakin' long!"

Whether this will be enough to finally get the Eagles past the Packers and on to Super Bowl glory, time will tell.  But if there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that this classy fan base finally deserves a Lombardi trophy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Shaky and Peanut Sign with Packers

Packers fans can rest assured that we won’t be resting on our laurels through the frenzy of free agent signing this week.  The Green Bay front office announced that the highly coveted Shaky Smithson, WR from Utah, and Peanut Joseph, NT from Temple – both undrafted free agents – have landed with the Packers.

Is this the future for Shaky and Peanut???
Although “Shaky” may not be the most re-assuring name for a wide receiver, at least he’s not a brain surgeon.  Or a calligrapher.  And while one might hope for more of a "Brazil nut" or "Macademia" for a nose tackle, “Peanut”, a name presumably appropriate for its irony, could add some depth behind B.J.  Most likely scenario is none of these guys make the team, but Sam Shields was plucked from last year’s undrafted free agent class, and now he has a Super Bowl Ring… as a neck tattoo.

So who am I to judge?

Other than Shaky and Peanut, the Packers dive into the free agency mosh pit hasn’t had many surprises.  In case you’re out of date, here are the highlights:

  • Nick Barnett was cut.  No real surprise – saved the Packers $5 million in salary for a guy who is probably past his prime, is injury prone, and, in all likelihood, would be a back-up to Hawk and Bishop.  
  • Daryn Colledge, as expected, is almost certainly leaving via free agency .  It would be great to re-sign him, but the salary could be a hard nut to swallow and it sounds like he’s already out the door.  I’m a little concerned about the O-line.  Not quite sure what their plan is for back-filling him.
  • Mason Crosby was re-signed to five-year deal worth $14.75 million, including $3 million guaranteed – making him one of the most highly paid kickers in the NFL.  I like Crosby.  Not sure I like him that much, but I’m not GM.
The two biggest question marks remain Cullen Jenkins, who we all assume is gone (Redskins being the leading candidate), and James Jones.  Rodgers put in a strong case to bring Jones back today stating, "James is extremely talented and he's a guy that I think we need to bring back without a doubt. He should be priority No. 1 and I mean that with all my heart. He really should be priority No. 1. We don't win the Super Bowl without him and we need him."

My gut is Jones doesn’t come back, but you never know – there are several big-name WRs in the free agent pool this year, so Jones may discover he can’t get what he thinks he can get, and return to an heir-apparent #2 in Green Bay after Double-D retires.  I’d like to see him stay.  Maybe they can give him some of the money that Barnett and Colledge won’t be getting.

Stay tuned to TriggPack or risk missing more breaking news, like the Shaky and Peanut story.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Brown County officials welcome the end of the NFL lock-out.
It's finally over.  Months of bickering, animosity and greed finally culminated in what most observers figured would ultimately prevail: common sense.  There was simply too much money at stake for the two sides not to agree.  The league generates $9 billion per year today, but, barring an unexpected groundswell in Australian Rules Football that steals away TV audiences, the NFL will generate well over $100 billion over the 10-year life of this deal.  That's a lot of cheddar.  They had to get a deal done.

As a quick side rant, our friends in Washington D.C. would be well-served to follow the NFL's lead.  It's a sad statement that the NFL owners and players association look reasonable and mature compared to our federal elected officials.  One of many differences between a business and the federal government is that a business can see and measure when it is destroying its own equity through its own obstinance and idiocy.  The government can't -- at least not until our bonds get downgraded to junk status.  Regardless of your political leanings, there's really only one word that can be applied to Washington D.C.: dysfunctional.  Maybe we just need Jeff Saturday to get in there and give John Boehner a big 'ol hug.

Can't the politicians just hug it out like the NFL?
Back to football... tomorrow and the ensuing week or so is going to be unprecedented in terms of player movement.  And, unfortunately for the Packers, many of those players may be moving out the door.  The only Packer free agent who seems like a lock to re-sign is Mason Crosby.  Two of the most painful, and most likely, departures will be Cullen Jenkins and Daryn Colledge.  Given the up-and-coming young players the Packers have at both these positions, I'm not sure I'd pony up what either guy will command in the open market.  But both could leave big holes if the younger guys fail to step up.

The next crop of losses that will hurt but are more survivable are James Jones, Brandon Jackson, and either Korey Hall or John Kuhn.  Jones gets a bad rap among Packers fans for his untimely drops this season, but he will be hard to replace.  Randall Kobb could be good, but he's unproven and has a very different body type -- not really a replacement.  Jackson feels more expendable, assuming Grant returns to health and Starks keeps rolling.  Suspect Kuhn and/or Hall will be re-signed since there isn't a frothy market for FBs, but both are unrestricted free agents and could get scooped away.

Finally, there are several back-up defensive players who could exit in seek of starting roles elsewhere, including Nick Barnett, Atari Bigby, Matt Wilhelm, Brady Poppinga, and Brandon Underwood.  None of these guys would be big losses, and several could easily be re-signed if they don't find a new home in this compressed free agent period.  But more players out means a loss of depth and continuity that was key to the Packers weathering the perfect storm of injuries last year, which happens many years.

Unfortunately, I don't hear the Packers coming up in the discussion for many top free agent prospects.  This comes as no surprise, given Ted's inclination to build via the draft rather than free agency.  There are no glaring holes that they need to fill, although there may be some backfilling to do.  But it would be fun to see the Packers make some moves in next few days/weeks.  As reigning Super Bowl champions, they have a persuasive selling point to lure players they want.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It Is Time.

There were many spectacular moments in the Packers' Super Bowl victory, but one of my favorites wasn't discovered until I watched the replay of the game, complete with sideline cameras and microphones, on NFL Network.  It was linebacker coach Kevin Greene telling Clay Matthews, "It is time... It is time!"  On the next series, Matthews applied the hit that forced the fumble that probably won the game.  Spectacular.

NFL owners and players would be well advised to heed these words: IT IS TIME!  The ridiculousness of this lock-out has lasted long enough.  We are at the deadline.  If the two sides don't ratify this new agreement this week, missing games is a near certainty.  There's no more time for negotiation.  There's no more time for posturing in the media.  It is time to finally do what they should have done months ago -- get a new collective bargaining agreement and get on with football.  Damn it.