Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Perfect No More

Sunday, the 20 game win streak of the Green Bay Packers was snapped by the Kansas City Chiefs. Although it was painful to watch, I think it was something that needed to happen. It was a great opportunity for us to get the much needed wake up call. Now, we can focus on the real task at hand now that the '72 Dolphins record will stay active for one more season. The goal get to the Super Bowl and win back to back World Championships. On Sunday night, I joined Farzin Vousoughian on his Chiefs podcast "The Chiefs Zone" hosted by TheSportsStuff.com. On his show, we discussed 3 things that this game brought to the attention to the Packers.

Link to The Chief Zone episode: http://thesportsstuff.com/?p=3725

The first point that was brought up was the injuries to our offensive line and the protection of Aaron Rodgers. Brian Bulaga left the game Sunday with a sprained knee cap and on Monday Mike McCarthy said Bulaga will struggle with this injury and may not play against the Chicago Bears on Christmas. Later in the game, we lost Derek Sherrod for the year to a broken leg. The Packers had to then move TJ Lang to right tackle, which proved to not be effective, as Rodgers was sacked multiple time. There have been rumors swirling that the Packers might call Mark Tauscher, but I honestly don't see that happening. Thus, the Pack will have to look to the practice squad (Chris Cambel), which is risky at this point of the season where you need your players to play at a playoff level.

The second point was how out of sync Rodgers was with his receivers. Truth be told, this was Aaron Rodgers worst game in over a year. However, he did not throw an interception. There were a lot of mental mistakes that were costly, including Jordy Nelson's 2 offensive pass interference penalties and Jermichael Finley's 4-5 dropped passes. Randall Cobb and Donald Driver seemed to be the only ones that were on the same page as Rodgers. Ryan Grant was very effective for the second straight week, but was not used for the second half. This game showed that Rodgers' success is based off of how great the players are around him, and the absence Greg Jennings was blatantly obvious. The Packers offense is like a puzzle, and if one piece is missing, its not complete.

Third, and its something we've seen all season long. Our defense playing at a lackluster level. We give up to many yards from scrimmage by run and pass, which leads us to give up way too many points. Now, don't get me wrong. The Packers are still effective on defense. We lead the league with interceptions and also have 27 sacks. Still, I think me need more of a pass rush and we cannot allow guys to be wide open down field for big gains. That kind of play will not work in the playoffs.

In conclusion, if the Packers can figure out their injury issues and secure homefield advantage on Sunday, I still think they have a great chance to make it to the Super Bowl. Any team that has to come to Green Bay in January will struggle. As for the Super Bowl, if we get the Patriots we will run them off the field. If its the Steelers, it would be an outstanding rematch but the outcome would be another victory for Green Bay. The only team that worries we in the Baltimore Ravens, a team based off of a great defense that could potentially control Aaron Rodgers gameplan. All remains to be seen.

Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.

-Andrew Vrchota (@WSB_Andrew)

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Grading the Brewers during Winter Meetings

The Winter Meetings for the 2011-2012 offseason have come to a close, and for the Brewers it ended up being a successful one. Despite losing a lot of key players we would have loved to have on our team still, the Brewers will recover from there losses. The fans biggest frustration from the Meetings were Melvins inability to negotiate enough with a player enough to sign them to a deal. It seemed we would sign no one. In Melvins defense, as many know, waiting for K Rod to accept arbitration, which he later did, is what hog tied Doug. Here is a quick recap of every loss, acquisition, and trade so far this offseason for Milwaukee:

(Courtesy of CBS Sports)

ARRIVALS: 3B Aramis Ramirez (free agent from Cubs), 1B Travis Ishikawa (minor league free agent from Giants), RHP Jose Veras (trade with Pirates), SS Alex Gonzalez (free agent from Braves).

DEPARTURES: RHP Takeshi Saito (free agent, signed with Diamondbacks), 3B Casey McGehee (traded to Pirates), RHP LaTroy Hawkins (free agent, signed with Angels), INF Jerry Hairston Jr. (free agent, signed with Dodgers), 1B/OF Mark Kotsay (free agent, signed with Padres).

FREE AGENTS: SS Yuniesky Betancourt, 1B Prince Fielder, INF Craig Counsell

With the arrivals, Milwaukee did a great job at filling the gaps and holes of our infield and bullpen. However, what Milwaukee needs still is a utility infielder and possibly one more bullpen pitcher, preferably a lefty (no one knows at this point the status of Many Parra or Zack Braddock for next season) At the beginning of the offseason Melvin decided not to resign free agent Craig Counsell but considered him for coaching. However, at this point I think Melvin needs to reopen the chapter with Counsell to add some depth to our infield incase we need it. If not Craig, Ryan Theriot and Jeff Keppinger are both free agent utility infielders available that Doug Melvin should consider. Theriot played for the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals last season while Keppinger played for the Astros and Giants in 2011. Both would come at a decent price to help the team's depth chart.

So, if I had to slap a grade on to how the Brewers did during the Winter Meetings, I would have give them a B-. I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt because of them awaiting the decisions KRod and free agent 1B Prince Fielder. They didn't want to make a big move early, then find out later that could have done better by keeping Prince in Milwaukee, or a scenario similar.

Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.

-Andrew Vrchota (@WSB_Andrew)

Follow us on Twitter for up to date news on Brewers, Packers, Badgers, and more. Live in game commentary, breaking news, previews, and post game discussion. @WISportsBlog @WSB_Andrew @WSB_Nick @WSB_Brandon @WSB_Mike

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ryan Braun: Guilty or Innocent?

December 10th , 2011 could be a day that makes or breaks the up coming Brewers season. No, it was not a big name acquisition via free agency, nor a trade with another team. The news that all star left fielder Ryan Braun tested positive spread like wild fire. Facing a possible 50 game suspension, Braun would be one of the biggest names in the sport today to be found to test positive for a Performance Enhancing Drug. Let me clear that up. Braun was tested and found to have a high level of testosterone, which is a chemical the body produces naturally, NOT A STEROID. The testosterone was found to be synthetic which puts it on the list of banned substances. There are many items that could have made him test positive for raised levels of such, including male enhancement treatments such as those given to men who suffer from Low-T, a condition on which the body produces low amounts of testosterone and causes the patient to experience lack of willingness to do many things. When Braun received word that the first test came back positive he immediately demanded another test which then came back negative. He is hoping to use these results to help him clear his name and his reputation. The few things that may hurt him while trying to do so could be the length of time between the two tests.

The thing that has many people puzzled is why would such a prominent young athlete like Braun would resort to PED'S. By far one of the best outfielders in the game today, why would you decide to tarnish your name and reputation as a star athlete by starting to use performance enhancers. It's quite possible that Ryan Braun could be exonerated and go back to living an everyday life. Then all of the fuss over this would just be a large distraction for Ryan, his family and fans. But if he does test positive, with the so called steroid era supposedly being over, the breaking of this news has some people wondering, if everything that is being done to try and stop the use of PED's is really enough, or have PED's truly become part of the game.

Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.

-Brandon Krueger (@WSB_Brandon)

Follow us on Twitter for up to date news on Brewers, Packers, Badgers,    and more. Live in game commentary, breaking news, previews, and post game discussion. @WISportsBlog @WSB_Andrew @WSB_Nick @WSB_Brandon @WSB_Mike