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Packers. No grade this week, they had a bye. But I heard they have been doing a good job of healing up. Safety Atari Bigby might be ready to return to action Sunday, DT Jason Harrell is looking like he is ready to start trying to earn some playing time, and anytime AR is not throwing is good rest time for his seperated shoulder. With the bye week there hasn't been a whole of news coming out of Lambeau. Aaron Rouse was the NFC Defensive Player of the Week last week for his performance against the Colts (that's another questionable TT draft pick that looks like it is finally paying off). Nick Collins was also up for the honor so that's a good indication that maybe fans can start thinking of the Pack's secondary as a strength again, instead of nervously crossing fingers whenever a team with a big receiver has a 3rd and long.
Being that this is the bye week it's also about the time we start to see the inevitable midseason grades being thrown out. Here are some midseason rankings for those who obsess over them, and Acme Packing Co. rates GM Ted Thompson's job performance so far. Not surprising to note that the Pack is dead last in penalties, but 6th in 3rd down conversions and 1st in turnover margins. Big reasons why the Pack has never really been blown out yet in any game they played (yes except Atlanta).
Looking ahead to the next opponent Tennessee, linebackers and defensive linemen will have their hands full trying to contain their power running game. Hopefully Hawk will be closer to 100% and the real Nick Barnett comes back from whatever planet he has been on this season. If we can just get some pressure on Collins and force him to speed up his progression I think we can turn the ball over in the secondary and that is what will probably be key in handing this team it's first loss. But the Titans have a pretty good secondary of their own so we also need for AR to play his patented no mistakes/good decisions game. And I don't think the Titans are keying on our running game, so any success we can have with that increases our chances of winning. Right now Tennessee is definitely one of the best teams in the leauge so it's a good barometer game, even more so than against Indy.
The NFL scheduling committee must love to see the NFC North beat up on each other every year. Or is it just a coincidence that the whole division had a bye this week with only a game seperating the leaders . . . except for Detroit . . . so yeah every team took last week off.
If the recent Favre rumors are still leaving a bad taste in your mouth check out former Packer executive Andrew Brandt's take on the whole thing. This guy was/is a master of diplomacy, no wonder he kept the salary cap in such good shape.
Bucks, D. Right now the Bucks' play is not generating the kind of optimism felt over the summer with the hire of Hammond and Skiles. The coach and players are still "feeling each other out", waiting for some sort of regular lineup to emerge while the team "meshes" or "gels". They only won 1 preseason game (and that was in China) and in the season opener against Skiles' former team they picked up right were they left off in March, losing. Redd got his 30pts of course (on 10-19 shooting) but as it was discussed at length over the summer on blogs like Bucks Diary, that doesn't really do much for the Bucks overall goal of winning. Put simply the Bucks do better when Redd scores less, like tonight against the Oklahoma City Garth Brookses (and the Thunder rolled!). Redd got 20, RJ got 20, Charlie V got 20, everybody was happy and the Bucks win. So the style of play in those two games could be indicators on game outcomes this season. If you turn on the tube and see Redd pulling up on fast breaks with no one under the basket and Bogut high-fiving himself on the charity stripe, that game is probably going in the L column. But if you see guys hustling, smiling, and Redd playing within the flow of the game but looking kind of pouty chalk up the win.
Sifting through all the preseason predictions, I saw an interesting philosophy or rather theorem regarding the outlook for this season over at Bucks Diary. The Gradual Rise Theory basically states that the Bucks will start off playing inconsistently but as the season goes on their quality of play will improve. A fitting way for any Bucks fan to frame their expectations for the season as Skiles implements his five-point plan.
I was a little disappointed at some of the Bucks roster moves right before the season opener. For one Damon Jones is still on the roster and I was hoping he might have been shipped out in some sweet trade by now (has any team ever just obviously carried a player for trade bait like this?). And we waived Adrian Griffin to pick up Austin Croshere. Couldn't we just have kept Matt Freije (who is basically a younger version of Croshere) and traded Griffin and Jones? Seems common sense to me, but then again there is a reason why I'm just an Armchair GM. Besides Croshere probably better fits Skiles coaching profile (he's a veteran, knows how to play decent D, etc.).
The Bucks have always had a solid fan base in southeastern Wisconsin but they know things have been a little lean this decade on the success side. And they know with the economy being how it is things are kind of on the lean side with fans too. So Bucks owner (and U.S. Senator) Herb Kohl wants to assist you in supporting your Milwaukee Bucks by pricing all 8,000 upper level seats in the Bradley Center at $10 a pop for the first 2 months of the season. It's nice to here about an NBA team lowering prices for a change instead of hearing about $93 dollar 'cheap seats' and $5.00 hot dogs so I have to give props to the senator for that. Finally we're getting our money's worth when we attend a Bucks game.
Brewers. All the talk lately is about who the Brewers will pick for the manager spot (most bloggers are saying it will be Ken Macha) and if they can really afford to give CC Sabaithia the new deal he deserves.
The popular thinking is that Macha gets the nod because he has ties with Melvin and has experience being successful with a small market team. I vaugely remember Macha's managerial style from his days in Oakland (they used to have a young roster packed with talent too) and judging from that I think he would be alright here (though I still think Melvin should have just stuck with Svuem). I do feel for Willie Randolph though (but I don't think he would be right in Milwaukee) cause it just always seems like he got a raw deal with the Mets after quietly paying his dues for years on the coaching circuit. Hopefully he can get another managerial post somewhere. Oh and whoever the new manager is Al has some questions for him.
The Crew will also be replacing their scouting director after Jack Z. skipped off to Seattle to be their new GM. Most fans are probably familiar with Zduriencik's role in the Brewers recent resurgance but for those who are very casual fans like me he is the guy who was responsible for drafting Prince Fielder, Manny Gallardo, Ryan Braun, and JJ Hardy among others. Obviously he will be missed but word is that his replacement will be coming from inside the organization so hopefully the dropoff will not be too great.
So lots of folks have been analyzing this CC thing, breaking down the numbers to properly evaluate whether the Brewers, as a small market team, can afford to keep a player with the kind of salary that Sabaithia will demand and just what kind of deal we can offer. At the same time the rumors have been swirling again that the Yankees and their deep pockets are after Mike Cameron who also contributed greatly to the success of this season. As I understand it if we resign both they will account for a significant percentage of the total payroll, and that means some of the other players who made big contributions this season won't be around next year. Guys like a Gabe Kapler or a Craig Counsell. And then the Brewers would be at a crossroads of sorts. Will the future makeup of the team generally be a collection of good solid players, guys who know their roles, with a few young stars like Braun and Fielder? Or will it become a team of mostly mediocre journeymen type guys with a few really good players (one of whom is sliding down the hill to 40). Maybe that's another reason why I have never become a hardcore baseball fan. It's easy to root for a team that is always generally successful because they can acquire all the players they need, and can afford to keep them together for an extended period of time. Alas in a small market baseball city it just can't go down like that. So we develop the players, witness their ascension to The Show, watch while they give us a few great years, and then watch when they inevitably leave for that big payday. I think we should try to resign CC for a fiscally responsible amount and let Cameron go if he wants. I'll go to war with guys like Prince, Braun, and Hardy as the stars. In my opinion we should try as much as we can to be the MLB version of the NFL Patriots. If your organization is tight it doesn't matter who you plug in. Again it may not be the best baseball strategy but I'm speaking more from the heart of a fan right now.
Rickie Weeks was often a target for fan and blogger ridicule this season, but according to this sites numbers he was the 14th best 2nd baseman in baseball this year.
In the Right Field Bleachers it's never too early to try to predict next season.
Brewers have put the word out that Fielder is available.
Update: Macha is the man.
Badgers, B+. Badgers continue their dismal season this Saturday in East Lansing against a ranked Michigan State team. Needless to say they are not in the running for anything much more than a whiff of a bowl game (although I'm sure if they can eke out 2 more wins to be bowl eligible some bowl will invite us because our fan base travels so well). UW stands at 9th in the Big10 with a 1-4 conference record. That one win came against an inconsistent Illinois team last week in Madison where the Badgers suddenly turned out the performance expected of them earlier in the season. It helped that Juice Williams did not have his best game and that the Illini coaching staff seemed to have a curious game plan (A. Benn only had 2 catches) but the defense finally showed that big play capability that we've been told they have. New starting QB Dustin Sherer will not draw any comparisons to Joe Montana, but he made enough plays to ensure the win (I really hope Curt Phillips is ready next year). Can we play spoiler at MSU? It will take another consistent offensive outing (consistently making plays) and another max performance for the defense against future NFL'er Javon Ringer (who ran all over us last year).
TE Travis Beckum is out for the rest of the year with a broken fibula. Tough way to end not only a season but a college career for one of the most heralded recruits in the state of recent note. Beckum was heavily recruited out of Oak Creek by the Michigans and Ohio States before he decided to stay at home and help out the state school. He played linbacker and defensive end in high school but never could break through on defense at the college level until the coaches brilliantly recreated him as a tight end where he's been an All-American and probably would have been a top draft pick if he had come out last year. He's had a disappointing injury plagued senoir season but I think his name will still be called in June (or whenever the draft is). Thanks Travis for being loyal and contributing to the success of the Badgers these past 4 years. Good luck on Sundays.
Ok enough with the depressing UW football season, it's almost time for UW hoops! The early preseason rankings put the Badgers at 29th so no one is really checking for the defending conference champs. But by now you know how Bo does it; just win baby and eventually the media will have to start respecting us again. I know, I know you hate our style of play and we're so boring to watch in the tournament but get used to it because Bo Ryan and his highest winning percentage in the Big Ten since 2001 are not going anywhere.
Let's end the post on one of those sappy-feel-good-story points. With all we hear about T.O. and Pacman and NBA "thugs" it is nice to see a story in the media about a responsible athlete. Marcus Landry is one of such. I have two toddlers to account for most days too; but I'm not sure I could have done it going to school full time, playing basketball, with all the other responsibilities. Regardless of the direction UW basketball takes this season, this brother has his head on straight.