Sunday, October 05, 2008

Thoughts on a Wisconsin Sports Weekend

The one silver lining to this sports weekend was Saturday's Brewer victory, their first playoff win since 1982. Other than that, it was a big, steaming pile. Some thoughts:


This is turning into an ugly season, and it has nothing to do with Brett Favre not being in town anymore. A big part of the Packers' success last season was the defense. The play of the corners and Cullen Jenkins in the interior made the entire defense a better unit. We saw glimpses of how big a part of this team Jenkins in particular was. When he went down last season, the entire defense began a slide. The injuries on the defensive side of the ball this year have deteriorated the quality of that unit. They aren't terrible, but they aren't good enough.

As for the offense, we are seeing an undisciplined offensive line. They are not executing well, and they are committing a lot of foolish penalties. Their performance is a big part of the reason this running game is not getting on track, and that's holding back the entire offense. As for the receivers, they are still a formidable group that fights for the catch better than any group in the league. Their dropped passes is a concern, but not a major concern. It all comes back to the line play.


It was a hell of a year with a lot of ups and a lot of downs. Their flaws were exposed in September and October, though. This is a team with poor plate discipline. And it isn't just about being more picky at the plate. If you watched enough games, you could see what the book was on some of these hitters. With Prince Fielder, the book was to get him to chase up and out of the strike zone. With Corey Hart, it was to get him to flail at low, outside breaking stuff. The point is, the Brewer hitters were well scouted and they did not make adjustments to what pitchers were doing. They just kept flailing. They gave defenses a lot of free outs over the last month.

Dale Sveum did a good job of managing the bullpen, but it is really impossible to say whether that would carry forward into next year. He had the luxury of a bullpen enlarged with September call ups and a post season pen augmented by starters. Still, the pen that Yost had for most of the year just wasn't good enough. This will never be a team that can afford to stack the pen with talent, but Melvin is going to have to find a way to reconstitute it for next year. The team is facing other holes, but that's another post for another day.


What's there to say? This team just isn't as talented as we thought. Clay stands to be a star in the future, and that future may get kick started yet this season.

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