Judgements about the Green Bay Packers are a dime a dozen this time of year with everybody who has a microphone or a pencil pretending to be an expert.
But here’s the news about Milwaukee and Wisconsin: All those people don’t know much more than your average guy in the street.
I listen to this junk over the airwaves, and I marvel at how certain these people are that they, and only they, have the answers. In fact, many of them also think they are the only ones who have the questions, too.
I don’t quite fall into that category, but I am smart enough to know what I don’t know – even though I covered the Packers and the NFL for half a dozen years.
If you want to get the straight skinny on the Packers, there are only two places to do so.
First of all are the people who work in the NFL: coaches and scouts and general managers. But not every one of us has the chance to talk to Mike McCarthy, and what he tells the press is usually pretty sanitized.
The second place, where you can get the unvarnished expert truth about the Packers, is from two reporters who are as good as they come.
Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee stand head and shoulders above anybody I’ve ever known who covers the NFL. They are, by far, better than anyone who has ever covered this team.
McGinn is the best sports reporter I’ve ever known. He knows everyone in the NFL. They respect him. He’s not a homer, but he’s also not out to cut any throats. He’s honest and knows what’s important what isn’t.
Wilde is a young McGinn. He started out as a print reporter but moved to radio a couple of years ago and is the kind of specialist who is like a lonesome dove flying amid the bird crap that is most sports talk radio.
The reason I bring these two guys up is that I think I know how I feel about the Packers performance against the Philadelphia Eagles. But I think what these two guys had to say is a lot more accurate and carries a lot more weight.
McGinn didn’t beat around the bush, getting to the heart of the matter in the very first paragraph of his Packers-Eagles recap:
"Chip Kelly doesn't care about NFL orthodoxy, reputations, traditions. Nothing.
"Show up soft, slow, disorganized, unemotional and unprepared against Kelly's Philadelphia Eagles, as coach Mike McCarthy’s Green Bay Packers did Saturday night at Lambeau Field, and you'll get taken to the proverbial woodshed."
"Slow, disorganized, unemotional and unprepared." That leaves little room for doubt about just how bad the Packers were. McGinn backed up his claims with a barrage of statistics that made you wonder what happened to this team, one favored to win the Super Bowl.
McGinn is so smart about football that at times he seems to be talking to the coaches instead of us unwashed and unabashed fans.
"He lacks quick twitch in coverage ... " he wrote when talking about defensive back Sean Richardson. Who among us has an idea what "quick twitch" is?
Wilde wasn’t quite as blunt about the Philadelphia game, but his assessment was no less damning:
"The reality for the Packers (1-2), though, was that injuries weren’t their only problem on this night against the Eagles (3-0) and coach Chip Kelly’s lightning fast offense. With their No. 1 defense playing together for the first time this summer – hybrid linebacker Clay Matthews (knee, elbow) and defensive end Mike Daniels (ankle) made their exhibition debuts – the results on that side of the ball were, in a word, troubling.
Before the first quarter was over, the Eagles had built a 25-0 lead, and starting quarterback Sam Bradford missed a perfect 158.3 passer rating by just 1.6 points. Bradford completed all 10 of the passes he threw, for 121 yards and three touchdowns (156.7 rating). Backup Mark Sanchez was just as sharp, going 13 for 19 for 150 yards with two more TDs (127.1 rating)."
Wilde was just as concerned about this team, and their concern fuels my own. I know the talk radio nuts will go nuts, and the television anchors will focus on the "positives."
I want to know what’s right and what’s wrong with the Packers. I want to find out why I should be concerned about a mere preseason game. I want to be able to have an intelligent conversation about the Packers all week long.
And the only way that can really happen is if I pay attention to McGinn and Wilde, and no attention to the rabble that crowds around the local microphones.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.