Monday, September 28, 2009

Green Pay Packers vs. St. Louis Rams: Blind Impressions Of a Carbound Packer Fan

This weekend I traded in my Green and Gold for the Blue and White of Penn State. Once a year, we will go to a Penn State "White Out" game and put together a real "Jersey" Tailgate with about 40 friends and family.

From Friday night to Sunday morning there is no Packers talk, no TV or radio reports, no internet news or blogs. Just tailgating, Penn State football, and then a great Sunday Brunch at the famous Nittany Lion Inn.

As we hit the road for home on Sunday, usually around 12:30, my thoughts start to wander back to the Green Bay Packers. I know I won't be watching this game on TV, but in my glove compartment is my temporary savior—my Sirius Radio. God bless the NFL Network on Sirius.

Thanks to Sirius, while trapped in my car for the four hour car ride home, I can utterly annoy and then bore the three women in the car with me. Yes, to these ladies, a Packers game on radio is the perfect cure for insomnia. They are all asleep 10 minutes into the game.

For me, the dulcit voices of Wayne Larrivee and Larry McCarren are the perfect antidote to falling asleep at the wheel. Larrivee with his picture-painting play-by-play and McCarren with his commentary and analysis, keep me wide awake and hands firmly gripping the wheel.

I've always had a love affair with radio, from a very early age. I remember listening to NY Knicks and NY Rangers games on my little transistor radio hidden underneath my pillow when I was supposed to be asleep. In my mind's ear I can still hear a very young Marv Albert calling those games. Frazier to Monroe, he spins, he shoots, Yessssss!

But getting back to the Packers, I listened to the entire Packers-Rams game while making that rainy ride home on Sunday afternoon. It was up to Larrivee and McCarren to be my eyes and tell me what I was "seeing."

After enjoying the win, I decided to try a little experiment: I would keep my impressions pure and not look for any more information on the game. I didn't watch Sportscenter, didn't look for Packers highlights on the internet, didn't hit for game stats and interviews, didn't read any Packers blogs. My impressions would not be influenced by anything other than the radio call of the game.

I do plan on getting a copy of the game and doing some "film study" (time permitting), but for now I'm going to give you my thoughts on the game, thanks to the Packers' Radio announcers:

  • Stephen Jackson is a horse and we did very well containing him as much as we did. After Jackson had carried a few times, McCarren lamented (I am paraphrasing), "While unfortunate he's on the other team, it's nice to be able to watch a really good runner once in a while." Ouch. Sorry Ryan...
  • Whatever happened to JerMichael Finley owning the end zone? Every time the Packers were in the red zone, I kept waiting to hear Finley's name called there. For that matter, I'm waiting to hear Finley's name called anywhere. Did he have any catches in this game? Was he ever thrown to? My "radio" impression is no.
  • It wouldn't be a Packers game without a Jarret Bush penalty. Yet the Packers decide to cut Aaron Rouse when they have injuries at safety. There was an article in the local Jersey paper here quoting Tom Coughlin saying how fortunate the Giants were to find a safety of Rouse's quality on the waiver wire. Ouch...
  • The Packers actually ran a quarterback draw AND a reverse in the same game?! Are you kidding me? PLEASE let this be a pattern. I am a HUGE proponent of running a few trick plays EVERY game. Let's give the other teams as much as possible to think about and prepare for. Just like Capers' approach to defense.
  • So DeShawn Wynn is now officially nothing more than a blocker. With Jackson out, Sutton gone, and Lumpkin rotting on the practice squad, we have a one trick pony at running back. Easy for other teams to plan for? I would say so.
  • There were lots of Packers fans at the game. Listening on the radio, it was hard to tell from the crowd noise if something good had just happened for the Rams or for the Packers. Only until the announcers' call caught up, did I really know.
  • We still can't run a decent screen.
  • All of that "Chillar at safety" talk wasn't so crazy. I'm curious if on the two Rams TDs he was playing at LB or in the quasi-safety position?
  • I understand they are still going slow with Nick Barnett, but couldn't Bishop have gotten some more reps spelling Hawk for a series or two as well? Would there really be a drop-off?
  • The Packers finally committed to the run. Of course, they decide to be as predictable as possible and continually run on first down. Again, I haven't seen the game stats, but it felt like 70-80 percent of first down plays were running plays.
  • I am not, however, criticizing the commitment to the run. Committing to the run like this will certainly make your play-action passing game more successful. I am guessing that most of the successful long completions were off play-action. Of course, Packer fans have seen sudden commitments to the run before, and it's easy to keep running when you are winning fairly comfortably. Will Mike McCarthy have the fortitude to keep running if down by two TDs in the third quarter against Minnesota?

So those are my impressions of the game after emerging from the video-proof booth otherwise known as my Jeep Grand Cherokee. I hope to be able to get a copy of the game, find the time to break it down and see how I did with my "blind impressions." Of course, if I'm totally off-base, I'll just blame Larrivee and McCarren.


You can find more of Jersey Al Bracco’s articles on several sports websites: Jersey Al’s Blog, Packer Chatters , Packers Lounge, NFL Touchdown and Bleacher Report.

You can also follow Jersey Al on twitter.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Green Bay Packers - Bengals Aftermath: Is Mike McCarthy in Charge Here?

To quote Vince Lombardi; "What the hell is going on out there?"

Carefully read between the lines of this quote by Aaron Rodgers after the Cincinnati game: "We need to have a good week of practice. Offensively, our two weeks of practice have been average. We haven't practiced the way we're capable of practicing. Young guys and old guys alike need to focus in a little more in practice and practice like a professional. I'm including myself in that sentence, but we're two weeks into the season now and it's time to grow up and be a pro and practice and play like it. Charles Woodson played his butt off today and kept us in the game, but we need to have eleven guys on defense and eleven guys on offense playing and wanting it as badly as Charles does. We have to follow his example."

Maybe Aaron Rodgers should be coaching this team. Or maybe Charles Woodson. Because Mike McCarthy is not getting it done. That's really what Rodgers is saying. Sure, he's putting it on the players shoulders, but who is responsible for the team being focused in practice?

Mike McCarthy is a lousy motivator and does not hold his players accountable. He makes excuses, laments the things that were done wrong and promises to fix it in practice, but it doesn't happen. We just see more of the same.

This isn't a new complaint from me. I'm not jumping down his throat after one bad loss. I've been saying this since his first season as Packers coach.

Play a horrible game, and you'll "work on it" in practice and be right back in there the next game - no worries about your job. Get called for 4 penalties and go to sleep that night knowing you'll just be asked to "clean things up."

I'm done with the penalties. I hold you, Mike McCarthy, solely responsible for that mess. The Packers are going to have a third straight penalty-ful (like plentiful) season? It's your fault, Mike. And just accepting blame in your press conferences isn't enough. Where is the discipline on this team?

And now we find out that the Packers head coach can't even get the players to focus in practice? Players are not acting like professionals in practice? Where is the accountability? What kind of leadership abilities is McCarthy displaying for the players to not take practice seriously?

In fairness, let's give Coach McCarthy a chance to explain. Here is what he had to say about the practices after the Bengals debacle. "But you go through it every year at the beginning of the year. I don't know of how many teams that I've been a part of that just jumped right out of training camp and were having great weeks of practice. I thought we practiced better this week than we did last week. I thought the defense has put together two good weeks of practice, solid weeks of practice. The offense has got some work to do and I think it's carrying over to our performance. So, you have new faces, you have different things, guys doing different things during the work week. It's a normal progression and we will clean up the problems that we had today, we will clean them up tomorrow and I can promise you we will have a hell of a practice Wednesday."

So Coach McCarthy is saying that all his teams have had lousy practices early in the season and that's normal. Blame it on "different things, guys doing different things during the work week. It's a "normal progression." Really Coach McCarthy? It's normal for your QB to have to call out his teammates after game two for poor focus in practice? Normal?! Normal?! (Say that to the tune of "playoffs?!")

For a guy that was supposed to be a tough, hard-nosed Pittsburgh guy, when do you see him get in someone's face? The once a year he supposedly gets really angry is not enough for me. Sorry, but I like my coaches "old-school." When is Coach McCarthy going to do something more demonstrative than stand up at press conferences and promise to "get things cleaned up".

If you need a current frame of reference, check out the job Rex Ryan is doing with the NY Jets. He has completely changed the mindset of that team and those players. He is truly the Anti-Mangini (and Anti-McCarthy).

In a recent interview with Mike Vandermuse of the Green Bay Press Gazette, when asked about last season, McCarthy said, “Professionally it was the most frustrated I’ve ever been. Clearly the hardest year I’ve ever been through.”

Well Coach McCarthy, if you don't get this cleaned up fast, last year will start to look like a cakewalk.


You can find more of Jersey Al Bracco’s articles on several sports websites: Jersey Al’s Blog, Packer Chatters , Packers Lounge, NFL Touchdown and Bleacher Report.

You can also follow Jersey Al on twitter.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jersey Al "Looks at the Film"- Packers vs Bears, Game 1, 2009

Now that the euphoria over the Packer's exciting win over the Bears has worn off, it's time to take a closer look at this game. Watching the game live is a great experience, but impressions we develop can be affected by many things. Your own emotions, announcer's comments, too much beer - all of these can taint what you think you're seeing.

As Mike McCarthy will tell you, he doesn't know what the real story is until he "looks at the film." So down to my mancave I went. I fired up the DVR and the HDTV and spent some quality hours pressing the play, rewind and slow-motion buttons on the remote. After re-emerging, I have a question for you all and some observations:

QUESTION: There was one huge play in this game that will be completely overlooked. Yet without this play, the Bears finish the game with 22 points. Can you think of what play I'm referring to? The answer is at the end of this article.

The offensive line seemed a bit disjointed, a bit slow and often indecisive.. While all of the attention was rightly on Alan Barbre, the rest of the offensive line had a disappointing night. Josh Sitton was probably the best of the bunch, but I spotted him making some bad choices on who to block. That's what happened on the play where Sitton was penalized for holding. He couldn't decide which of two players to block and by the time he did, the defender was rushing past him. So Sitton did the only thing he could do in order to protect Rodgers, he held. The Bears defense easily won the line of scrimmage battle, consistently getting a strong push and moving the Packers OL back.

Of course, this resulted in few clear-cut holes for Ryan Grant to run through. Grant had to make a lot of yards on his own, running through people, as he did on his touchdown run. On that play, there was nowhere to go, as Urlacher stuffed his inside running lane, so Grant bounced it out around Chad Clifton and inside Donald Lee. Two Bears defenders met him head on in the hole, but he refused to get pushed back and was able to fight through them for the TD. Do not make the mistake of looking at Grant's 68 yards rushing and saying he didn't do well. . Ryan Grant earned every yard he gained in that game.

I also don't want to hear anyone say that Rodgers was "off his game." Anytime a pass he threw was off the mark, it was due to heavy pressure. The long passes that came up short were due to Ogunleye being in his face and Rodgers not being able to step into the ball. So please, no Rodgers criticisms this week.On the safety, watching the game live I thought that he could have gotten rid of the ball and I was critical of Rodgers. Playing it back multiple times and in slow motion, I can say I was clearly wrong. Rodgers doesn't even see the blitzer until he's a few short steps away. He best option but to try to get away. As he was doing that, the receivers were just starting to break off their routes and look back at Rodgers. There was a split second where Rodgers might have been able to throw the ball safely in front of Jermichael Finley, but Daniel Manning hooked Rodgers' right arm. Rodgers actually did a very smart thing, transferring the ball to his left hand to avoid Manning stripping the ball from him in the end zone.

As well as the Packers' defense played, continuing their preseason turnover spree and playing with aggression, they did relinquish 352 yards of offense. The problem of course, was the big play. The Packers gave up six plays of 20 yards or more, all in the air. On the plus side, the run defense was outstanding, holding the Bears to a 2.8 yard per carry average. Equally good was the third down defense, stopping the Bears on 11 of 15 third down attempts. These were both big problems last year, so the marked improvement is more than welcome. But there's still plenty to work on with the secondary and the big plays.

Defensive Line: Exactly when did Johnny Jolly become a defensive back? They dropped him in coverage a few times and then he sniffs out the screen and makes a diving one-handed interception (Tramon, were you paying attention?). This is a different Johnny Jolly than the one we have known in the past. He was in for over 50 plays, along with Cullen Jenkins and still going strong at the end of the game. The Packers played most of the first half in the nickel, with Jenkins and Jolly as the only two defensive linemen. The second half saw much more 3-man front, with Pickett at nose tackle.

Linebackers: Brandon Chillar was outstanding. I've watched his sack now at least 20 times and I'm still amazed by the hurdle and then how quickly after that he closed in on Cutler. As for all you Hawk haters and Kampman disbelievers, you'll have to find yourselves some new whipping boys (I believe Poppinga is available). Hawk finally played like a #5 draft pick. It seemed like he was involved in every play in some manner. Whether it was standing up blockers, crashing through the line, pressuring Cutler on blitzes, covering tight ends or running down Devon Hester on the sideline to stop a possible TD. He was everywhere, he played with aggression, smarts and ability we haven't seen before. Mr. Invisible left a huge impression on this game. His best game as a Pro that I've seen.

Aaron Kampman, was quite simply, Aaron Kampman. His coverage responsibilities were limited, and anytime he was asked to cover, the Packers were blitzing other players, making it difficult for Cutler to take advantage of the supposed mismatch of Kampman in coverage. A perfect example would be Chillar's sack. Kampman was back in coverage on that play. He looked fine as a linebacker against the run, especially when the ball was run wide to his side, standing up blockers and slowing down Forte until more help arrived. He was used extensively in the pass rush and was in the Bears backfield all night. He mostly played like Aaron Kampman, just not from a three point stance.

I would complain about the penalties, but three of them (against Clifton, Matthews and Harris) were just horrendous calls. The phantom illegal contact on Al Harris might be one of the worst I've seen in 40 years of watching football. Having said that, it does still seem like the Packers draw penalties at the worst times: when the defense gets a big stop or the offense runs off a big play.

Perhaps the second most amazing play of the night was Bret Swain's tackle on the fake punt. Swain is the outside end on the right side, down in a three point stance. He takes one step in like he's rushing the passer, then stands up. He immediately see's the fake, hustles down the line of scrimmage behind the scrum and makes a textbook, wrap-your-arms, linebacker-like tackle just as the ball carrier was breaking through the hole. If you look back at that play, you will see that there isn't another Packer in sight. If Swain doesn't make that tackle, we looking at a 30-yard gain and a back-breaking first down for the Bears. As much as everyone loved Ruvell Martin, Swain has already paid dividends.

Best TV announcer moment of the night: After the fake punt:
Al Michaels: "Lovie's thrown the challenge flag"
Collinsworth: "Maybe on his own call."

Aaron Rodgers is much more Bart Starr than Bret Favre. And as much as I enjoyed watching Bret Favre, I think that's a really good thing.

DeShawn Wynn couldn't run the ball, couldn't block anyone and couldn't catch a pass. Did I misss anything?

ANSWER: Charles Woodson on the Johnny Knox 68 yard pass. What? Have I lost my mind? No, not at all. If you have the ability to watch it again, you'll see an amazing thing. You'll see Charles Woodson, beaten badly by one of the fastest players in the NFL, refuse to give up. He could easily have eased up and relinquished the touchdown. But he didn't. By sheer will, he somehow caught up to Knox, dove, and got enough of Knox's left leg to make him take a step out of bounds. A sure touchdown and seven points were put on hold. A few plays later, Johnny Jolly intercepts a pass and the Bears get 0 points when they should have had 7. When you win the game by six points, I'd say this was a key moment. So blame Woodson all you want for getting beat, but also laud him for the amazing play he made to prevent the touchdown.


You can find more of Jersey Al Bracco’s articles on several sports websites: Jersey Al’s Blog, Packer Chatters , Packers Lounge, NFL Touchdown and Bleacher Report.

You can also follow Jersey Al on twitter.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Green Bay Packers 2009 Cuts: Ted Thompson Rocks The Roster

In the never-ending irony that is the NFL to the real world, Labor Day weekend has brought unemployment to a host of football players throughout the country. On this weekend that we celebrate the American worker, the Green Bay Packers sent 22 players to the unemployment line. Some may resurface on other teams or on the practice squad, but others will be looking for a new line of work.

First lets look at the Packers' moves:

Released Saturday:

Quarterback Brian Brohm - This really is a different Ted Thompson we are seeing, isn't it? Starting with his trading up in the draft to take Clay Matthews to more quickly acknowledging mistakes, he seems to have a greater sense of urgency this year (if that phrase even makes sense in the context of describing Ted Thompson).

I had gotten really sick of hearing people say how it was too soon to give up on Brohm and defending his arm over Matt Flynn's. Brohm can not complete a pass over 10 yards. Brohm is just a bad quarterback. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck...

Having said all this, if Brohm clears waivers, I do think he will be brought back to the practice squad, mostly because he knows the offense.

Safety Anthony Smith - For most people, this was the shocker. Capers just last week indicated he was competing for the starting job with Bigby and now he's gone. There had to be more to this than just on-the-field performance. Rumors are swirling of attitude issues and not wanting to play special teams. The new acquisition of Derrick Martin from the Ravens sealed his fate.

Wide receiver Ruvell Martin - Certainly a surprise, but his main strength has always been blocking downfield. Despite having good size, the Packers didn't often utilize Martin in the Red Zone, and now with Jermichael Finley laying claim to that piece of real estate, keeping the more versatile Swain makes sense.

Running back Kregg Lumpkin - Alas, my favorite Packer running back is gone. When the Packers decided to keep 3 fullbacks, his fate was certainly sealed. He has a good chance to get picked up by another team.

Running back Tyrell Sutton
- Another real surprise, but again, keeping three fullbacks for their special teams play and Sutton's own lack of special teams prowess got him sacked. Now, I do think the Packers hope to bring him back to the practice squad. I also think that by releasing Lumpkin at the same time, they hope that Lumpkin draws the attention of other teams and they leave Sutton alone.

Wide receiver Jake Allen - never had a chance.

Wide receiver Kole Heckendorf - A Wisconsin native, he was the surprise WR in camp. I thought it would be Jaron Harris, but Heckendorf outlasted him. Definite practice squad possibility.

Guard/tackle Andrew Hartline - I predicted that an undrafted free agent offensive lineman would make the team, I just picked the wrong one. I thought Hartline would be the guy, but the choice was Evan Dietrich-Smith. Dietrich-Smith's experience in having played every OL position in college surely was a big factor, but Hartline just never seemed to distinguish himself in camp. He held his own, but didn't impress and the Packers have too many guards already.

Tackle Jamon Meredith - Drafted as the possible LT of the future, I think the Packers discovered Meredith to be a far bigger project than expected. They are probably hoping other teams see that as well and let the Packers slip him onto the practice squad.

Linebacker Cyril Obiozor - This was a tough one. He is nowhere near being ready, but he has the perfect size and demeanor to be a good OLB in the NFL. Much patience will be required and with the Packers depth at LB, there was just no room. Word is that other teams are interested, so he may done with the Packers.

Tackle Dane Randolph - Randolph is a really good guy, hard worker, just too green and too inconsistent.

Nose tackle Dean Muhtadi
- He was 4th on the nose tackle depth chart and the first one let go. No surprise.

Defensive end Ronald Talley - A project, but the Packers coaches like Talley and will certainly look to add him to the practice squad.

Nose tackle Anthony Toribio - He is the potential nose tackle insurance if something happens to Pickett or Raji. Practice squad for sure.

Defensive end Alfred Malone - Never had much of a chance. Not skilled enough, just a big body.

Linebacker Danny Lansanah - Good guy, good player, just not good enough.

Cornerback Joe Porter - Fastest player on the team, good run defender but not so good in coverage. Underwood has more upside, so he sticks.

Cornerback Trevor Ford - Was just a camp body. Would have been cut sooner if not for the injuries in the secondary and the resting of Woodson and Harris.


Packers trade OL Tony Moll to the Baltimore Ravens for Safety / cornerback Derrick Martin

A real WIN for Ted Thompson. Getting a usable player back for a guy that was going to get cut anyway is always a good thing. Martin has been a cornerback and just this preseason made the switch to safety. The Ravens were stacked in the secondary and it became a numbers game for him. Just recently, Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh had this to say about Martin:

"The thing about Derrick Martin that’s interesting is, he’s always the same," Harbaugh said. "Derrick Martin comes out and plays well in every single practice. Then, he lines up in a game and plays well in every single game.

"He plays extremely fast. He’s made the transition from corner to safety. So, he can play both. Derrick Martin is a valuable piece to that secondary. He’s a guy that’s in the mix to make our roster, and he’s earned that. It’s going to be interesting to see how it shakes out, but I think Derrick Martin has played his way, pretty potentially, onto this football team.”

In the end it didn't work out for Martin in Baltimore, but his acquisition meant the Packers could cut Anthony Smith. Reportedly the Packers have been eyeing Martin for a while and like him better than Smith. Martin is a special teams gunner and can play cornerback or safety. Overall, he seems to offer more value than Smith.

Placed on Injured Reserve:

Defensive end Justin Harrell
Cornerback Pat Lee
Tight end Evan Moore
Safety Charlie Peprah

No surprises here. Harrell and Lee are annual members of the IR club. Peprah will probably get an injury settlement and be let go.

Green Bay Packers 2009 roster as of Sunday Sep 9th (pending more moves)

Quarterbacks (2): Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn.
Halfbacks (3): Ryan Grant, Brandon Jackson, DeShawn Wynn.
Fullbacks (3): Korey Hall, John Kuhn, Quinn Johnson.
Receivers (5): Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Brett Swain.
Tight ends (3): Donald Lee, Jermichael Finley, Spencer Havner.
Offensive linemen (9): Chad Clifton, Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz, Josh Sitton, Allen Barbre, Scott Wells, T.J. Lang, Breno Giacomini, Evan Dietrich-Smith.
Defensive linemen (6): Johnny Jolly, Ryan Pickett, Cullen Jenkins, B.J. Raji, Jarius Wynn, Michael Montgomery.
Linebackers (9): A.J. Hawk, Brady Poppinga, Nick Barnett, Aaron Kampman, Clay Matthews, Brandon Chillar, Desmond Bishop, Brad Jones, Jeremy Thompson.
Defensive backs (10): Atari Bigby, Charles Woodson, Al Harris, Nick Collins, Jarrett Bush, Will Blackmon, Brandon Underwood, Aaron Rouse, Tramon Williams, Derrick Martin.
Specialists (3): Mason Crosby, Jeremy Kapinos, Brett Goode.

Some quick comments:

The Packers will look to carry a QB on the practice squad. Brohm will be taken back if he's not claimed. Could this be the opportunity for a veteran signing (like Jeff Garcia)?

3 Fullbacks: It was essentially an impossible decision to pick one to let go, so the Packers decided to keep them all and only carry 2 QBs and 3 RBs. Considering Kuhn and Hall's special teams contributions and Johnson's potential bright future, I'm fine with keeping all three.

Offensive Line: Giacomini probably doesn't deserve to be there, but with the trade of Tony Moll, the Packers are thin in the tackle department. It has been sugggested by several Packers writers and bloggers that the Packers may look to bring back Mark Tauscher (if healthy) after all.

Defensive Line: I wish the Packers had a better option for that last backup spot than Michael Montgomery, but alas they don't. Vonnie Holliday was just signed by Denver, so that possibilty is over. This could be a position where the Packers may look to claim a late camp cut from another team. Someone who is a more prototypical 3-4 DE than Montgomery.

I'm sure there is still some tweaking to be done, as Ted Thompson is certainly scouring the waiver wire right now looking for ways to improve the roster. The next few days will likely bring a few more changes. What do you think they could be?


You can find more of Jersey Al Bracco’s articles on several sports websites: Jersey Al’s Blog, Packer Chatters , Packers Lounge, NFL Touchdown and Bleacher Report.

You can also follow Jersey Al on twitter.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Packers Turk Says: Whack Wynn, Leave Lumpkin

This is my final plea.

I am writing this on the eve of the final NFL roster cuts. By 4PM ET on Saturday, 22 Packers will be off the team. Some will return via the practice squad. Some will be picked up by other teams. Maybe some will be traded and some will take that long drive home to Realityville.

But there's one guy that shouldn't be doing any of those things. One guy that I think would be the perfect #2 running back on the Packers. Kregg Lumpkin. OK, you can stop rolling your eyes. Sure you've heard this from me before. But hey, I really believe it.

And yet, it seems that everyone is in love with DeShawn Wynn and has Lumpkin gone. Why? What do you all see that I don't?

Both Lumpkin and Wynn have had their injury problems, so lets throw that out. Is he a better receiver that Lumpkin? NO. Is he a better blocker than Lumpkin? YES. Is he a better runner than Lumpkin? NO.

Oh, you don't believe that last one? We'll to me, a good running back is one that gains yards when he has the ball. Lets look at some facts:

In the 2008 preseason, Lumpkin was the Packers leading rusher (38 carries, 153 yards, 4.0-yard average, one touchdown) and also added seven receptions for 59 yards and another TD. DeShawn Wynn was CUT by the Packers in favor of: Kregg Lumpkin.

In this preseason, lets look at these numbers:

Wynn, 17 carries, 49 yards, 2.8 YPC
Lumpkin, 27 carries, 95 yards, 3.8 YPC
Sutton, 40 carries, 191 yards, 4.8 YPC

Obviously, Sutton deserves to make the team. But getting down to that last RB spot (and like Brian Carriveau at Railbird Central, I think the Packers may keep four), Lumpkin offers much more. Lumpkin has moves, picks a hole quickly and is able to bounce outside if needed. Wynn just plods forward.

Watching tape of the Tennessee game, I often spotted Wynn not following his lead blocker, and instead, "running to darkness". Yes, he had six carries for 11 yards in that game. Watching that same tape, you'll see Kregg Lumpkin with some great moves and "running to daylight". He had 9 carries for 34 yards and a touchdown.

All I've heard this preseason is how Lumpkin hasn't show anything. Well what has Wynn shown? Somebody PLEASE tell me.

One of the few allies I have in this area is fellow Packers blogger D. D. Driver, who is on record as saying "BTW, I am a Wynn hater. I don’t know what it is about the guy. I think it is the cult that has somehow grown up around him that see him as some sort of superstar in the making that just drives be batty."

Now, I don't know how he feels about Lumpkin, but it's obvious he doesn't get the Wynn hype, as I don't. More surprising to me is a late change of heart shown by Greg Bedard, a Packers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Greg has had little good to say about Lumpkin, yet in his last projected 53-man roster, he has Wynn gone and Lumpkin in. Bedard also points out Wynn's "plodding" style and Lumpkin's ability to always gain positive yardage.

Now if the Packers only keep three running backs and both Wynn and Lumpkin are out, so be it. But if it comes down to a choice for a roster spot between Lumpkin and Wynn, you know where I stand.


You can find more of Jersey Al Bracco’s articles on several sports websites: Jersey Al’s Blog, Packer Chatters , Packers Lounge, NFL Touchdown and Bleacher Report.

You can also follow Jersey Al on twitter.