Merry Christmas to all of you out there in Packer Nation. As you all know it’s the largest holiday here in the United States , and if you are a practicing Christian like myself then it’s the second holiest feast day of the year. As such we are going to skip some of the formalities and normal breakdowns of the previous week’s win. Besides, do we need to look at how well the Packers did on offense and defense this week? It was a domination in all three phases of the game….how much more is there to say about it?
In place of these normal articles we here at APC have a treat for you. It turns out one of the editors here knows a guy who knows a guy and was able to "acquire" part of Santa’s naughty and nice list. Unfortunately what we have is limited to the Packers, but since Santa is a big Packers fan it is still a good size….and filled with some good analysis of the Packers and their situation right now.
Here are some excerpts for you on Christmas day….
QB Aaron Rodgers – I’m not sure how Rodgers is having an under the radar season this year, but he is with all the hype going to other teams. He does show his humility by not raising a stink about that fact or seeking the limelight. He’s also not complained once about being the most sacked QB in the league right now, nor has he blamed the offensive line for this dubious stat.
Present for being such a good boy: A settled offensive line. Lots of people are making fun of the Packers offensive line right now, but the current line has some real promise and if they can gel this week then they should be able to make a pretty good run in the playoffs.
LB Clay Matthews – He’s not as humble as Aaron, but he’s still a good boy at heart. More importantly he single handedly changes the Packers’ front seven from being God awful to being respectable. He has been unstoppable since coming back from injury and is a force in the running game and passing game alike. It’s great to see him back in action.
Present for being such a good boy: A running buddy in pass rushing situations. It’s a Christmas miracle that Mike Neal is coming along at the right time of the year. He is playing with power and hustle, but most important though is the fact that he is taking advantage of the extra attention Matthews gets and wins his battles to still put pressure on the QB. Note to self….be sure to put extra nice present in Neal’s stocking too as he changes from naughty to nice status.
CB Casey Hayward – He’s smart as a whip and has ball skills that just can’t be taught. Hayward got to show what a good boy he was while the Packers were struggling with injuries all over the defense. He was a playmaker when they needed it most. Being counted on that much as a rookie is special, doing that as a rookie corner is amazing.
Present for being such a good boy: Defensive Rookie of the Year. If someone else gets this then lots of sport writers are ending up on the naughty list next year.
WR James Jones – After some much maligned seasons where drops and a lack of focus followed him around, Jones had finally broken out and showed what he can do in this offense. He is finding his niche in the gameplan and leading the league in touchdown passes. Most importantly he is still running good routes, getting tough yards after the catch, and not dropping the ball.
Present for being such a good boy: A new contract….soon. Jones did not get his payday the last time he was a free agent, but the next go around he should. He’s got one year left on his contract after this year so that payday should be coming soon.
HC Mike McCarthy – Lots of people get down on McCarthy for stupid reasons – what they think is bad play calling most notably – but what everyone takes for granted is that McCarthy is still one of the best motivators and talent developers in the league right now. It has been amazing to watch McCarthy and his staff make adjustments in the face of mounting injuries and disappointing play. Even more important though was keeping the team focused and playing hard after the Seattle Screwjob….a point where lesser coaches and teams would have quit despite it being early in the year.
Present for being such a good boy: Respect. He probably won’t get serious consideration for coach of the year, but another deep playoff run or Super Bowl win and he should start to be in the conversation of top two or three coaches in the league….even by Packer fans.
LB Erik Walden – There is nothing worse than giving false hope, and Walden has done that this year. He did it early in the year when playing his heart out and splitting reps with rookie Nick Perry. When he was all but handed the job after Perry went down, Walden went back to being subpar. It got even worse when Matthews was out with a hamstring injury and Walden really started working without a net.
LB A.J. Hawk – Like Walden, Hawk is guilty of giving false hope. Early in the year he was playing his best football ever as a Packer. He was playing strong and fast. He gave us hope that he finally would be the terror in the middle all Packer fans hoped for…..then he disappeared. Worst of all, he shows Packer fans games like he did against the Titians. A shame he can’t have games like that every week.
K Mason Crosby – Even when he’s on target he’s hitting the goal posts. It is not tough to say that Crosby is the most inaccurate kicker in football right now, and if he were on any other team in the league he would probably already be unemployed. But for some reason the Packers stick by him.
TE Jermichael Finley – What do we do with you J-Mike? Packer fans expect the best out of you coming into the season and you play like hot garbage. You vow to get better and then you disappear. Reports come out that the Packers are just going to cut you and then you flourish. Being that temperamental and unpredictable earns you coal this year.
C Jeff Saturday – You were the big name free agent everyone hoped for, and then you did a little better than nothing. You weren't a liability out there but you really weren't that great either. Then Evan Dietrich-Smith takes your place and does as good a job as you. Worst of all your name recognition got you some serious consideration for the Pro Bowl despite a terrible year.
LG T.J. Lang – The Packers rewarded you with a nice contract and you have repaid them with disappointment at LG and failure during your time at RT. Your play has been better as of late, but right now you are still on the naughty list.
CB Jarrett Bush – You were supposed to be better at CB this year. You looked better at CB in the preseason. You awful in your one game at starting CB. How could you even make people think that you were worthy of that position given how Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, and Davon House have turned out? You are even starting to regress as a gunner taking on penalties again. Ugh…..coal for you.
After this the naughty list breaks down into a litany against fans of the Vikings and the Bears. I would share it with you but the profanity alone would probably get me in serious trouble…and if I cleaned it up then most of the excerpts wouldn’t even be sentences anymore.
Once again have a safe and happy Christmas. I hope you enjoy the day with friends and/or family. Kevin, Evan, and I will be back tomorrow prepping for the last game against the Vikings. A game that has much more meaning than I thought it would at the beginning of the year.