Monday, August 12, 2013

Breaking Packers

In honor of Breaking Bad’s return this week(great show – check it out) and to help alleviate the doldrums of training camp, and just maybe to help forget the middling preseason performance against the Cardinals, it’s time to breakdown the Packers offseason and training camp thus far using some memorable quotes from Breaking Bad’s first five seasons. It should go without saying but consider this the spoiler alert disclaimer.

“You are a wealthy man now. One must learn to be rich. To be poor, anyone can manage” – Gus Fring

Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews both signed enormous contract extensions during the offseason. For Rodgers it was his second big contract, while for Matthews this was his first big deal after his expiring rookie contract. Rodgers deal made him the highest paid player in NFL history yet remains cap friendly for the Packers. Considering the importance of quarterback and how amazing Rodgers has been through 5 seasons, it’s possible Rodgers is still underpaid (as much as $54 million can be considered underpaid). Matthews on the other hand became the highest paid linebacker in the league and has been one of the more feared pass rushers in the game. However the deal for Matthews becomes tricky considering his injury history. Matthews has battled hamstring problems since his rookie year and while he has only missed 5 games over four seasons, a player that relies on so much explosive power needs to be healthy to be effective. At $13.5 million a year, Matthews must remain an All Pro caliber player or the Packers will quickly find themselves unable to justify that much money for a non-impact player.

“Yeah b**ch!” – Jesse Pinkman

Jesse Pinkman’s explicit catch phrase goes to Tramon Williams. Young defensive backs Davon House and Micah Hyde have been playing well in training camp. They have started to push for playing time while Williams recovered from injury. Williams has yet to return to form of the 2010 season and watched as Thompson drafted four defensive backs in the past three drafts. But House and Hyde both struggled against the Cardinals in preseason action, getting beat on deep balls and not inspiring much confidence either are ready for every down responsibilities. Williams has to feel more at ease that he can jump right back into the #1 corner spot once his knee is full go.

“Some straight like you…he’s just gonna break bad?” - Jesse Pinkman

During his time in Green Bay, Greg Jennings seemed like a standup guy. He embraced the community and never said anything remotely inflammatory. Cut to this past offseason when at seemingly every opportunity Jennings took jabs at the Packers organization and former players. Jennings is cut from the same interview cloth as Brett Favre. He always gives answers without any consideration to political correctness or how his comments may be construed. Even still, his laments about his ex-team are bizarre and confusing. I’m not sure at what point he will heed the advice of Vikings coach Leslie Frazier who advised “That’s not how we do things” but it seems at least for now, discretion is not the better part of valor for Greg Jennings.

“I am not in danger. I am the danger” – Walter White

After disappointing back to back playoff exists, as well as the infatuation with read option offenses, the Packers have seem to fallen out of favor as a Super Bowl contender by most ‘experts’. In preseason power polls by various outlets the Packers rank anywhere from 5th – 8th and are a consensus fourth in the NFC behind the 49ers, Seahawks and Falcons. Perhaps subdued expectations are just want the doctored ordered for this team with questions on the offensive line and everywhere on defensive. But make no mistake, the Packers are one of half a dozen serious Super Bowl contending teams and to overlook them would be dangerous.
Photo: Deadspin - Braun with bodybuilding bros

“Yeah Mr. White! Yeah science!” - Jesse Pinkman

This one is for Wisconsin sports fans. A summer filled with a disastrous Brewer season and PED scandal of franchise player Ryan Braun does not make for fond memories. Much like Jesse is happy to be saved by Walter’s chemistry, Wisconsin sports fans are saved by football and the Green Bay Packers. Everything takes a back seat during football season in Wisconsin. People are decked out in green and gold, radio stations are blasting Packer centric cover songs and the mood is decidedly more cheerful. This one is quite simple…yeah football!

“You asked if I was in the meth business or the money business? Neither. I’m in the empire business”  - Walter White

One of the show’s defining moments demonstrating Walter’s mentality when it comes to his illegal activities goes to Ted Thompson. Almost from the onset of taking over as GM, Thompson has made several crucial choices, most notably opting for unproven Aaron Rodgers over icon Brett Favre. While not all of his decisions have worked out, Thompson has positioned the Packers to be a completive force in the NFL and perennial playoff fixture.  Remember for every not resigning Cullen Jenkins or not trading for Marshawn Lynch, Thompson does not mortgage the future to realize immediate success. So rest easy Packer fans, you are witnessing a football empire.

Until next time, Beer, Brats, and Championships.

- Neal Olson (@olewr7)

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