Monthly Archives: September 2012

What Happened to the Big Ten?

This was supposed to be the Big Ten’s year. Or the B1G as some are now referring to it. The conference was supposed to have a number of teams fighting not only for the conference crown, but also a birth in the BCS title game. Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan and Nebraska were all supposed to be viable contenders for the national championship. Ohio State was also thought to be very good, but ineligible for the conference championship and national title due to penalties stemming from Tattoo-gate.

Fast forward to today…

Wisconsin: 3-1
The Badgers suffered a loss to at-the-time unranked Oregon State in the season opener. Of course, after Oregon State also beat ranked UCLA, the Beavers might be better than we all expected, but I suspect we won’t see them ranked at the end of the year. What may be worse than the Oregon State loss are the three close wins over the likes of Northern Iowa, Utah State and UTEP.

Michigan State: 3-1
Sparty lost to Notre Dame. No shame in that since the Golden Domers look pretty good this year. The boys from East Lansing also struggled against Eastern Michigan though, winning a closer than it appears 23-7 contest.

Michigan: 2-2
The Wolverines got their ass handed to them in the season opener against Alabama, a game many were expecting to be a marquee match-up. Three weeks later, Michigan lost to Notre Dame and QB Denard Robinson, a Heisman candidate in week one, now looks like he doesn’t belong on a FBS field. In between the two losses were a close win over Air Force and a blowout of UMass. Are the Minutemen even a FBS program? Seriously, I think they’re FCS…

Nebraska: 3-1
The ‘Huskers lost to at-the-time #22 UCLA in week two. They also blew out Southern Miss, Arkansas State and Idaho State. Apparently Nebraska AD Tom Osborne decided this would be the year to really test his football team by building a killer out-of-conference schedule consisting of a middle of the pack Pac 12 team, teams from such powerful conferences as Conference USA and the Sun Belt, and a FCS team.

Let’s also not forget that Iowa lost to Central Michigan and struggled to beat Northern Illinois and Northern Iowa, while Ohio State struggled with winless UAB this past weekend and Cal the weekend prior.

Over the last few years many have viewed the Big Ten as one of the best conferences. The SEC trumped all, of course, followed by the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac 12, in some order. They were definitely viewed more positively than the ACC, Big East and yes, MAC. This year, however, I would put all of those conferences (minus the Big East….they’re still a complete mess) above the Big Ten. Ok, not the MAC either, but they’ve made that call somewhat difficult to make.

Looking back, I’d put the Big Ten as one of the two strongest over the past 15 years or so. Want proof? Since 1999, when the BCS format was rolled out, only twice has the Big Ten not had two teams playing in BCS bowls (2002 and 2005). That’s 12 of 14 years, including the last seven straight. Pretty impressive. No other conference has that kind of track record.

Looking at the other major conferences (minus the Big East), I don’t see that streak continuing this year. I see at least two teams from each of the other power conferences that seem better than all the Big Ten teams. The SEC has Bama, LSU, Georgia and South Carolina. The ACC has Florida State and Clemson. The Big 12 has Kansas State, West Virginia and Texas (and maybe Oklahoma). The Pac 12 has Oregon, Stanford and USC. You also have to factor in Notre Dame, who looks like it could be on its way to a BCS bowl birth.

So what’s different with the Big Ten this year?

Initially I thought lack of speed was finally catching up with the Big Ten. People have talked about this issue quite a bit the past few years – really since 2002 when the Big Ten last won a national title. Big Ten players just haven’t had the speed of SEC or Pac 12 teams. People have speculated that Big Ten programs don’t know how to recruit speed. I tend to agree. They’re still looking in the midwest for speed, where, for the most part, it doesn’t exist. Certainly not to the degree it does in the south or west where high school kids can play football year round. Teams in the SEC, Pac 12, even Big 12 and ACC, have total team speed. They know how and where to find it. It’s not just receivers, it’s all over the field.

As I thought about it more though, I realized it’s not total team speed that’s giving the Big Ten problems this year. MAC teams, who they’ve struggled with, are recruiting in the same areas where Big Ten teams are, and they’re taking players that generally are leftovers the Big Ten didn’t want. But here’s how some of those MAC teams can compete. A team wouldn’t necessarily need to have total team speed to give a Big Ten team problems. They’d just need it at certain positions. For example, while the Big Ten turns out a number of top tier NFL-ready offensive line talents year after year (look at the past few years: Joe Thomas, Jake Long, Bryan Bulaga, Nick Mangold, etc.), teams also utilize a number of plodders along the O-line that struggle with speed. Many midwestern high schools still utilize a run heavy offense, meaning a lot of the guys being recruited by the Big Ten schools to play O-line are only used to run blocking. They aren’t used to facing a quick upfield rush. Quick defense ends and outside linebackers could especially give many of these plodding lineman problems. On the other side of the ball, quick receivers and tight ends could do the same because Big Ten defenses typically haven’t been built to stop that kind of offensive attack – quick, short passes OR strong downfield passing. They’re more of a stout front seven type that can withstand a power running game.

Slowly, but surely, the Big Ten has become vulnerable to speed. We’ve seen it when they play the SEC and now I think we’re starting to see it when they play others. Sure, other factors are contributing to the conference’s struggles this season, but I think speed is common across the board.

So how does the Big Ten overcome this speed problem?

They need to evolve. Adjust to the times. It’s not 1965 anymore. It’s time to update your offenses AND defenses. Some have tried to implement new offensive schemes. Most recently, Michigan went to a spread offense with a running QB. I don’t think they’ve had the other personnel to match that though. Penn State used a modified version when they had Michael Robinson and Daryll Clark at QB. They too, didn’t really have the other personnel needed. Quickness is needed all over the offense, perhaps most importantly, on the offensive line.

Odd as it may sound, the team best positioned for the future may be Penn State (yes, I am a Penn State fan, trying to stay unbiased here). While they’re going to be slammed with depth issues, they’re now running the New England Patriots offense. The offensive shift was clearly visible in the first game of the season. It’s the exact offense new head coach Bill O’Brien was running in New England as offensive coordinator. They’re actually throwing the ball…downfield. They’re using their tight ends…as receivers. They’re creating match-up advantages. They’re running a balanced offense. These things sound crazy to Big Ten teams. Big Ten teams rarely are balanced on offense. They’re heavy run or heavy pass (Purdue under Joe Tiller), not a combination. O’Brien is actually utilizing the strengths of the team he walked into. Sure, he brought his own ideas of what the offense would be, but he’s utilizing people where they’ll make the most impact – not forcing people into positions. That means he’s changing the positions some people play. The offense is one that could be difficult for Big Ten teams to prepare for. Actually, it could be difficult for many teams to prepare for. How many teams that the SEC plays have an offense that includes a decent running game, quick short passes and the potential for a downfield home run? Not too many.

Innovation is needed – and not ‘innovating’ by following what others are doing with a spread or a triple option or lining up some RB at QB, but real innovation. Do something other teams aren’t really doing. That’s where you get your advantages.

Here’s hoping more Big Ten coaches look at what O’Brien’s doing and learn from it.

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york

NFL Week 4: The Couchletes Pick ‘Em

Today is a great day! Not only is it another football day (yes, ladies, football in on TV Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and sometimes Thursdays), it’s the first day back for the real referees. A glorious day to be sure and one we know our very own Kevin York will be celebrating by continuing to watch NFL games. Kev – We all knew that quitting the NFL was just an empty threat anyway.

That said, I think we all will join Kevin in soundly and wholly, with authority and anger, rejecting the commissioner’s apology for the referee lockout. Suck it, Roger. You’re no one’s homeboy now.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, without further ado, I present Week 4 of The Couchletes’ NFL picks.

We have some great split decisions from our experts this week. The games with the most differing opinions to keep an eye on are: Detroit vs. Minnesota, San Diego vs. Kansas City, Seattle vs. St. Louis, and Dallas vs. Chicago.

Match-up Kevin Ryan Rahul Hoa Mark

Kevin is the leader after Week 3 with nine correct picks. He’s somehow under the impression he wins something for that, and I think we’re all content to continue letting him believe that. There’s only one champion, Kevin.

By Ryan Lack
Follow Ryan on Twitter at @ryanlack

Dear Roger Goodell

Dear Roger,

I’m a huge fan of NFL football. I have been my entire life. I’m a Packer fan, but I’ll watch any NFL game. I’ve just always enjoyed the final product that much. My dad’s a Bears fan, but I can remember as a kid watching lots of different games with him Sunday afternoons and Sunday nights – Broncos, Steelers, 49ers. As a family, we always had the Lions and Cowboys games on TV during Thanksgiving gatherings. Me (a Packers fan), my dad and brother (Bears fans) and my uncle (a Colts fan) would watch the games together, regardless of who was playing. You see, it didn’t matter who was playing. We just loved football.

When you became NFL commissioner, I thought you were a great choice. I may have been slightly biased. I’m a PR guy. You started as a PR guy. It gave all of us PR guys the thought, the hope, that we could actually have a sports management job at some point in our career. Of course we were dreaming, but you gave guys like me hope. Your first few years as commissioner, you showed that my initial instinct about you was right. I thought you did a great job.

Through three games of this season, you now have me questioning you as a good commissioner. Actually it’s not a question. You’re blowing it. You’ll now be remembered for this more than any of the good you’ve done for the league. This situation with the lockout of the NFL refs has shown a different side of you. It’s not an issue of bettering the game. It’s an ego situation for you (and your owners).

Last night was the most embarrassing situation I’ve seen from the NFL, ever. Worse than bountygate, even worse than when you locked out the players last summer. Last night directly affected the outcome of a game. It affected records. It affected standings. It could affect the playoff picture. And you caused all of this by allowing it to get to this point. Sure, you answer to owners, but you’re also supposed to be a negotiator, someone who looks out for the best interests of the league when owners get focused only on themselves and their team.

Roger, I’m not just talking about that final play, when I say it was an embarrassing situation. You remember, it though, right? The final play? Green Bay safety MD Jennings intercepted Russell Wilson’s hail mary, but your officiating crew gave the touchdown to Golden Tate, a receiver who shoved Packer cornerback Sam Shields to the ground (I believe that’s offensive pass interference, but what do I know?), then got one hand on the ball that Jennings held in both hands and cradled against his chest (that’s possession based on my understanding of football…). No, I’m going further back – the roughing the passer call against Green Bay linebacker Erik Walden (he hit Russell Wilson as the ball was leaving Wilson’s hands – clean hit) and the pass interference call against Shields when he was defending Sidney Rice against a pass down the sideline (Rice actually interfered with the pass on that one, grabbing Shields’ collar and pushing off his head). Those were both blown calls that extended and influenced (via field position…) Seattle’s penultimate and final drives of the game. And it’s not just me saying those were the wrong calls. Jon Gruden, Mike Tirico, Steve Young and Trent Dilfer agreed with both. The whole game was poorly officiated, but those really stuck out as having great influence over the outcome.

It was a slow buildup to this point over the course of the season. The first two weeks showed mistakes, some being fairly large; however, this third week of the season was by far the worst. The replacement refs have affected game momentum (and by extension, games, to a degree) and last night they finally affected the outcome of a game. You affected the outcome of a game.

What you’ve done, what you’ve allowed, and your owners have allowed, is an erosion of the integrity of the game. This isn’t the game we all came to love. Sure, last night’s game directly affected me as a Packer fan, but it goes beyond the Green Bay fan base. The NFC West will be very competitive this year, so so an extra win for Seattle has implications for San Francisco and Arizona. And who knows which team will be affected by poor officiating next week? They had a noticeable affect on the Baltimore-New England game Sunday night too.

You’ve also insulted our intelligence as fans. Don’t tell us there’s no noticeable difference between the real refs and the replacements. We’re smart enough to see it. That’s a slap in the face.

But what can we do as fans? You have all the power. You and your owners. We can’t stand up to that. Or can we?

We actually can, to a degree. As long as you see no change from the fans, you won’t feel any need to change – “they keep watching, why change? Why cave in to the refs?” Well, guess what? I’m not watching anymore. Not until you bring back the real refs that we, as fans, deserve. I’ll read about games online or in the newspaper. I’ll get my information from sources where you don’t get a cut of the advertising money. Christmas is approaching. I have a lot of fans I typically buy NFL merchandise for as gifts – brother, dad, fiancee, future father in law, future nephews, friends, friend’s kids. They won’t be receiving anything having to do with the NFL from me. They’ll get other gifts this year. Maybe I’ll put my money toward the NBA or Major League Baseball. You won’t be receiving any of my money until this ends.

Sure, I’m only one guy, and even with encouraging my friends to follow my lead and take a stand, it won’t be noticeable to you. It’s a small group, not even a blip on your radar. But that doesn’t matter to me. The integrity of the game matters to me. The professionalism. The accuracy. The accountability. I won’t be a part of this mockery. Call me when you bring the real refs back.

Kevin York

NFL Week 3: The Couchletes Pick ‘Em

In this my first full day in this high-paying role, I’ve been tasked with collecting the team’s weekly NFL game picks. With that I was also asked to whip up a nifty little table to provide some organization to what would otherwise be chaos on the page had I not. Done and done.

So here you have it. A bunch of picks from a bunch of dudes that clearly each think they know more than the other. We’ll be keeping score throughout the season, too, so there’s more at stake than making arbitrary decisions about whether a team will win or lose. These gentlemen will be judged, and harshly, on their ability, or lack thereof, to pick winners correctly.

Match-up Kevin Ryan Rahul Hoa Mark

You may be asking yourself: “But it’s Week 3 and you’re just starting this now?” Yes, yes we are. What of it? We are the definition of men – we’re lazy, focused on things that don’t matter, and generally drink too much and eat poorly. All of those things combined means we were way too busy to worry about Weeks 1 and 2 and, besides, the first two weeks are more like an extension of the preseason anyway.

We’re still deciding on what the season’s winner gets, but so far I’m leaning toward clippings from Kevin’s beard and a fist pound.

By Ryan Lack
Follow Ryan on Twitter at @ryanlack

New Roster Acquisitions

Writing a blog is harder than you’d think. Not so much having ideas or opinions for posts, but actually typing out your ideas. It’s hard to fit the time in to write among everything else going in every day life – full time jobs, family activities, social activities and other commitments. Rahul and I have come to realize this first hand.

All that said, we’re in this. It’s something we want to be doing. We love sports and we love talking about sports. We enjoy the banter we have on our Facebook page with our followers and among our followers.

If we’re going to do this, we want to do the best job we can with this blog. Good writing, good perspective and consistency. The consistency is the hard part.

So how do we make sure we continue to make this a better blog? How do we make sure we meet that consistency of posting that can get difficult? We add more Couchletes. Today we’re announcing that we’re adding three more writers to the team.

Hoa Nguyen – Hoa lives in San Francisco. He’ll willingly admit that he’s no sports expert, pointing to his first round selection of Peyton Manning in his fantasy draft this year as proof, but don’t let his humbleness fool you. He knows sports much better than he admits. Hoa will be adding a comedic element to The Couchletes that we don’t really have right now. While Rahul and I may think we’re funny, our wit doesn’t come close to matching Hoa’s. He has some pretty cool stuff planned that we’re really looking forward to.

Mark Gaspar – Mark lives in Chicago, but was born and raised in Minnesota. Yes, he’s a fan of all the Minnesota teams – the Vikings, Twins, Timberwolves, Wild and even the Minnesota Golden Gophers – so sports have been a bit difficult for him lately. Actually, for quite a while. But he’s optimistic. If this isn’t his team’s year, maybe 2018 will be? Mark will be able to provide perspective as that fan whose team is not even close to being in contention. Now that I’ve ripped on his teams enough, in all seriousness, Mark loves the NBA and the NFL and will bring some good opinions.

Ryan Lack – Ryan lives in Livermore, California. The far east bay of the San Francisco Bay area. He grew up a fan of the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland A’s and Golden State Warriors. Ryan spent some of his college years at Texas Tech watching his school get beat up by the powerhouse Big 12 teams. He’s still loyal to his Red Raiders though and is quick to inform you that Wes Welker was also a Red Raider. Ryan follows all sports pretty closely and I’m sure will have some interesting things to talk about.

We’re excited to welcome these three new Couchletes. You’ll be hearing more from them in the very near future and their bios will soon appear on the About our Team page so you can learn more about them.

Welcome to the team, guys!

Come on Board, the Weather’s Great!

Bandwagon fans. Fair weather fans. Dedicated sports fans hate both of them. Is one worse than the other? I’m not sure, I think they fall into the same category where they’re just disliked by other more committed sports fans. In fact, as I was thinking about this post, I realized there’s a blurry line separating these two kinds of fans.

A fair weather fan is a fan who only shows support for a team when that team is performing well.

A bandwagon fan is someone that suddenly starts liking a sports team that those around him/her likes. Typically this is done when a team starts playing well.

So you see, there’s that gray area. People don’t usually bandwagon a bad or mediocre team. It’s always a team that’s winning, thus – fair weather?…  So I’ll ask again, are these two type of fans different? Is one worse than the other?

I think many people have started merging the definitions of fair weather fan and band wagon fan. Separating the two has become difficult because people will often say a fair weather fan ‘jumped on the bandwagon.’ It’s more like they woke up rather than jumped on though. To answer how they’re different and which is worse, I think you have to look at the two as mutually exclusive, like this:

If someone is a fair weather fan, they have a team, they just aren’t always following them closely. If someone is a bandwagon fan, they’re likely to change the team they’re rooting for. For instance, let’s say someone is a Seattle Seahawks fair weather fan. They’re not going to suddenly start liking the Dallas Cowboys if the Seahawks aren’t winning. Seattle is still their team, they just aren’t following them as closely because they’re losing. They’re not going to switch teams. Now let’s say that someone else started liking the Seahawks one year because they were winning, finished 11-5, went to the playoffs and lost the NFC championship game. The next year the Seahawks face a lot of injuries, have a tougher schedule and finish 6-10. That bandwagonner stopped ‘liking’ Seattle in that down year. But not only did he stop following them, he started ‘liking’ the St. Louis Rams because they had a good year.

There are a number of ways the two types of fans are similar though. One of the most obvious is their team gear. Do all the shirts, caps and jackets they own with the team logo on them look new? Then they’re either a fair weather fan or bandwaggoner. In 2010 in San Francisco there was a huge influx of San Francisco Giants fair weather fans. Many knew next to nothing about ‘their team,’ but since the Giants were pulling off a surprising run in the playoffs, ‘fans’ were coming out of the woodwork. And new Giants gear was appearing on these ‘fans’ all over town.

This fair weather fan experience was something new to me and it was what really gave me the idea for this post. I hadn’t seen anything like it. I’m from the midwest. People either like sports or they don’t. Yes, there are fair weather fans (they exist everywhere, every team has some), but not to the degree I was witnessing in San Francisco.

I have a good story about fair weather experiences in 2011, the year following the Giants World Series win.

–The next day I went to another Giants-Indians game (told you I don’t get to see them much…and yes, they lost…again). Justin Masterson was pitching for the Indians. In the first inning I hear the guy behind me say, “Oh, look at their pitcher’s batting average! .000, must be his first game. Welcome to the big leagues, bud!” Now, right next to Masterson’s batting average on the scoreboard was his record. 5-5. Five wins, five losses. He’s obviously pitched in at least ten games this season. It’s called interleague, bro. Our pitchers don’t bat in the American League, bro. Learn the game.

I like telling that story. And to all my Giants fan friends. I’m sorry. You’re not all fairweatherers. Many of you really do know baseball. You just have quite a few fairweatherers out there, more than I’m used to from the midwest. I guess there’s more to do around the Bay area, so people don’t dedicate as much time to sports. And a lot of people moved to this area from other parts of the country or even from outside the country. I have no problem with the fairweatherers, I just wish they didn’t try to act like they’re some kind of sports expert.

Back to my original question of which is worse – fairweatherer or bandwaggoners, I think I’ve answered that now, at least for myself. It’s the fair weather fan.

A Good Move: Notre Dame to the ACC

I grew up in Elkhart, Indiana, which is about 15 minutes from the campus of Notre Dame. While I’m not a Notre Dame fan (the homer media in the area and their overly optimistic pandering to the university turned me off as did the “real” view you get of Notre Dame and its athletics program from living that close to campus), I do hold a special place in my heart for the school having been so inundated with it throughout my childhood and early adult years.

When I heard that Notre Dame will be moving all non-football sports, and what amounts to nearly half of its football program, to the ACC, I actually liked the move. And this is coming from someone that’s been critical of that football program for year. Yet, for all my criticism of Notre Dame (which I won’t get into here), I do have to say, I respect the way they schedule. Year in and year out they have a tough schedule and aren’t putting cupcakes on it like many other D1 schools (looking at you, SEC and Big 12, as your schools complement conference schedules with the School of the Blind, the School of the Death and Community College of Northwest Ohio at Lima). This move is consistent with their tough scheduling.

Notre Dame appreciates the history of their football program. For years they’ve played the likes of Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue, Stanford, USC, Army, Navy and Air Force pretty consistently. People are worried that by joining the ACC they’ll lose these yearly matchups. They won’t. They still have 7 games per year to play against those schools. Now they also have 5 games against ACC schools – schools like Florida State, Miami, Boston College as well as Syracuse and Pitt when those schools join the conference in the next couple years. Historically speaking, I recall Notre Dame playing some good games against those teams when I was younger. Now also add potential games against Virginia Tech, Clemson and North Carolina State? I like it as a fan of college football. I’ll watch those games.

I think the move is good for Notre Dame, the ACC and college football.

RE: Dear Kevin

Dear Rahul,

Thanks for your little “letter” to me. I have quite a bit to say in response, so thought it would be best to reply in a blog post rather than a lengthy comment.

Yes, the 49ers won the game. Yes, they looked good, better than the Packers. And yes, I did say the Packers would win.

To say San Francisco “ran all over” the Packers defense isn’t saying much though. You do realize that Green Bay had the worst defense in the league last year, right? Although there was a lot of pre-season hype about this year’s version of that defense being much improved, there wasn’t much evidence of that on Sunday. In fact, the defense actually looked worse. After a lot of thought put into it Sunday night, I came to the conclusion that the Green Bay defensive personnel may not actually fit the 3-4 scheme its playing. The defensive line isn’t taking up the space they’re supposed to and is making the two middle linebackers defend much more rushing territory than they should be.

Additionally, the outside linebackers, while solid pass rushers, simply can’t cover the flats. This is why Alex Smith looked like a Pro Bowler on Sunday. He was throwing a lot of slants and outs. Clay Matthews and Nick Perry simply aren’t quick enough laterally to adequately defend the flats. The runs and dinks and dumps by San Francisco dominated the clock.

Onto your comparison of the San Francisco running game against the Green Bay running game. Uh, there’s no real comparison there. The Packers really attempted nine runs in that game. The box score shows more attempts, but those additional ones were scrambles and broken plays, not real attempts. Comparing the two teams’ running games is like comparing my hair to yours. One is abundant and flowing. The other, well, is an attempt to be there, but…

Rodgers did throw for a ton of yards, but didn’t really look like himself until the final 8 minutes of the game. In fact, the entire Green Bay offense didn’t look like itself until the very end. Was this due to good defense? Somewhat, but not entirely…more on that later.

What I’m really saying with my responses to you is that you shouldn’t get too cocky. We discovered that the Packers were overrated going into the game. Very overrated. So enjoy it for now, but keep some perspective. Over the past few years, the teams that have been hot at the beginning of the year, were not so hot come playoff time – including my Packers last year.

Since you decided to get arrogant about one win, one win….in the first week of the season…, I’ll bring a few things up that might want to make you think twice about how loud you brag about one win. Most of these are deeper issues that may not be obvious to a lot of people. They stuck out to me. I see things that you may not (During the Washington-New Orleans game I commented to my fiancee that the Redskins seemed to be running a modified version of RGIII’s college offense, helping him feel comfortable and leading to his great showing. On Monday, Trent Dilfer made the same comment, almost verbatim on ESPN).

-The referees. That officiating crew was without a doubt the worst one I’ve ever seen. There were so many missed calls, a number of which I’ll touch on lower down this list. Yes, they made bad calls both ways (indeed, they gave the Packers a free touchdown on that Randall Cobb punt return), but for the first 50 minutes of the game, they made (or didn’t make…) bad calls that greatly benefited the 49ers.

-Joe Staley and the referees part II. How many times was that guy allowed to false start? I counted four times on just one drive. A real officiating crew would’ve called those and put some kinks in those long Niner drives. But think beyond game one because, yes, it’s over and it doesn’t matter now. The strength of your offensive line might have some problems when he visits loud stadiums. Lambeau isn’t that loud compared with some other places. Good luck when you visit CenturyLink Field, the Edward Jones Dome and the Superdome. Those places are LOUD.

-Carlos Rogers and the referees part III. Rogers underperformed for his first six season in the league then suddenly had a pro bowl season in his seventh season. After watching his performance against Green Bay I have to ask, was last year a fluke? Did the rest of the defense make Rogers look much better than what he actually is? I ask because the 31 year old looked like he’s lost a step (or two). The wannabe referees missed countless pass interference calls against San Francisco. I felt like every couple minutes when Green Bay was on offense there was a missed call against San Francisco’s secondary. And if you really watched closely, you would’ve seen that a majority of those calls would’ve gone against Rogers – of course, if the referee crew had been a real one, these would’ve been called. If I were an opposing offensive coordinator, I would target Rogers.

-Alex Smith. You said you’re no Alex Smith fan. You probably don’t want to jump on that bandwagon just yet. As I mentioned earlier, Green Bay’s weak defense opened up the flats and also the middle of the field (one of Green Bay’s starting middle linebackers, Desmond Bishop, is hurt and missed the game) to be vulnerable to short slants and outs. That was where Smith did most of his damage – not on deep routes (still his weak spot). Most 3-4 defenses in the NFL are actually built to defend well against that type of passing attack.

-Injuries. San Francisco had remarkable luck in not facing any major injury issues last year. Their depth was never really tested. That type of luck rarely is seen two years in a row. As we get deeper into the season, let’s see how good the Niner reserves are.

I’m not trying to burst your bubble. Ok, yes I am. Coming from a formerly cocky fan, you may want to be careful how arrogant you get over one win in the first week of the season.

Your angry, bitter neighborhood Packers fan

Dear Kevin

Dear Kevin,

It was great to watch the second half of the Packers and 49ers game with you. My Sunday afternoon was awesome. Not only did the 49ers win their season opener against the top seed Green Bay Packers, I won the season opener in our fantasy league. What do Rahul and the 49ers have in common? They’re 1-0. I know you and I didn’t play each other in fantasy this week, but it was symbolic. I beat last year’s number one seed in our league just like my 49ers did. Not to mention, you love the Packers and told me there was no way the Packers would lose at home against the 49ers.

I really enjoyed watching the 49ers run all over the Packers D. If I’m not mistaken, even Kaepernick ran for 17 yards. That’s a little over a third of what the Packers rushed for as a whole. Benson ran for 18 yards. Oh, before I forget, I would like to thank the Packer that pushed Gore into the end zone. I don’t know who it was, but I want them to know that I appreciate it.

As expected Rodgers threw for a ton of yards. Weird though, Rodgers threw for 90 more yards but he ended the game with 1 turnover and a rating of 93. I’m no Alex Smith fan but, even you have to agree that something isn’t right when Alex Smith has zero turnovers against the Packers with a rating of 125. Right?

I have Greg Jennings on my fantasy team too. Unfortunately, he had a quiet game and suffered a groin injury. However, the true beauty of this game was that I could actually cheer for the Packers and Jennings without worrying about the 49ers losing the game. I think the 49ers lead by 2 scores for 75% of the game. Again, I had a great Sunday and Week 1.

Hopefully we can do this again soon. Good luck on Thursday.

You’re friendly neighborhood 49er fan.