2008 Season Review Dope Sheet

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*Two years after he co-founded the Packers with Curly Lambeau, George Calhoun began writing a piece called The Dope Sheet, which served as the official press release and game program from 1921-24.

Honoring Calhoun, the first publicity director, the Packers are running this weekly feature as their release, which is being made available to fans exclusively on Packers.com.

A complete edition of the Dope Sheet is available each week during the season in PDF format, located in the Packers.com Game Centers.

Here are some highlights from the Packers Season Review Dope Sheet:*

YEAR IN REVIEW

  • The Packers finished the 2008 campaign a disappointing 6-10, just the second losing season in Green Bay since 1991.
  • "Well, 6-10, (and) my name is on the front door," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said in his season-ending press conference. "It's not what we were looking for. It's not what we prepared for. I'm not satisfied, and I'll start from the top down. It's evaluation time right now. We'll look at every aspect of our program."
  • In eight of the 10 losses, the Packers either led or were behind by no more than one score in the fourth quarter. In those same eight contests, the outcome was decided in the final two minutes.
  • Much like 2005, when the team was 4-12, Green Bay was unable to overcome injuries to key starters. In '05, starters missed 48 games due to injury. This year, injuries forced starters to miss 44 games.
  • Green Bay had a 4-2 record within the NFC North, including two season-opening wins against division opponents. It was the third-straight winning division record for the Packers.
  • However, the team finished 2-8 outside the division, preventing it from repeating as NFC North champions.
  • In the final NFL rankings, the Packers finished eighth on offense behind first-year starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The defense, which set a new franchise record with seven touchdowns, finished No. 20.
  • The turnover ratio is usually a telling statistic, but the 6-10 record does not indicate Green Bay's performance in the category. The Packers finished with a plus-seven margin, No. 6 among all NFL teams and its best finish since 2002 (+17).
  • Green Bay took care of the football too, finishing with only 21 giveaways. That ties the 1995 club for the second-fewest giveaways in franchise history. The 1972 Packers still hold the team record with 19 turnovers.

A GAME OF INCHES

  • NFL games often come down to one or two plays, and the 2008 season will be remembered most likely as one in which the Packers did not come up with the critical play in crunch time.
  • The Packers finished 0-7 in games decided by four points or less, including four in a row (Weeks 13-16) a frustrating stretch that knocked the team from playoff contention.
  • The seven losses by four points or less ties for the second highest total in NFL history. Cleveland set the record in 1984 with eight losses by four points or less. The 2008 Packers tied three other clubs at seven: Carolina (2001), Houston (1994) and New England (1993).
  • The first four close losses all came to 2008 playoff teams, including an overtime loss at Tennessee, the AFC's No. 1 seed, and at home to Carolina, the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
  • Though it's hard to take moral victories from a 6-10 season, those games proved the Packers can compete amongst the NFL's elite. Focusing on execution, particuarly in critical stretches, will be an area of emphasis this offseason with the team.
  • "I think statistics, a lot of them are barometers," Head Coack Mike McCarthy said. "That's definitely one you have to look at. If you have a situation that you are 0-7 in, my goodness, you had better take a close look at it and I can promise you that we'll continue to do so."

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2009

  • The Packers will look to carry the momentum of a season-ending victory into the offseason program, which begins in mid-March.
  • Like they have been doing all summer and fall, General Manager Ted Thompson and his personnel staff will continue to evaluate and finish reports on all eligible free agents. NFL free agency opens on Feb. 27.
  • Just like their meetings on potential free agents, Thompson and the scouting staff will soon get together to evaluate all draft-eligible players for the 2009 NFL Draft, held April 25-26 in New York City.
  • The Packers currently hold nine selections, including the No. 9 overall selection in Round 1. In each subsequent round, Green Bay will hold the ninth pick.
  • The team also holds a conditional draft selection from the New York Jets in the Brett Favre trade, as well as a sixth-round choice from the New Orleans Saints in a 2008 Draft day trade.
  • While the 2009 schedule won't be released until sometime in April, Green Bay already knows which teams it will play next season. Home contests include Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, San Francisco and Seattle. The Packers will travel to Arizona, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Tampa Bay.
  • Preseason opponents are often announced in early April, a week or two before the regular-season schedule is published.

WHERE THE '08 OFFENSE RANKS

  • For the third consecutive year under Head Coach Mike McCarthy, the offensive play-caller, the Green Bay offense ranked in the NFL's top 10. Philadelphia and New Orleans are the only other NFL teams to finish in the top 10 in offense each of the last three seasons.
  • The Packers finished No. 8 with an average of 351.1 yards per contest. The unit ranked No. 2 in 2007 (370.7 yards per game) and No. 9 in 2006 (341.1) under McCarthy.
  • Green Bay's 419 points scored was fifth most in the NFL.
  • For the first time in team history, it had a 4,000-yard passer, 1,200-yard rusher and two 1,000-yard receivers.
  • The Green Bay passing offense (238.3 yards per game) ranked No. 8 in the league, while its rushing offense (112.8) ranked No. 17.

WHERE THE '08 DEFENSE RANKS

  • Green Bay's defense slipped to No. 20, its lowest finish under defensive coordinator Bob Sanders. The Packers finished just outside of the top 10 (No. 12 in 2006, No. 11 in 2007) each of the last two seasons.
  • The Packers finished 22nd in points allowed with 380.
  • The run defense (131.6) ranked No. 26, while the pass defense (202.8) ranked No. 12.
  • The Packers did set a franchise record with seven defensive scores, six which came on interception returns and one via fumble return. The seven defensive scores also marked the highest total in the NFL.
  • Green Bay also established the club record for interception return yardage with 685, tops in the NFL and an average of 31.1 yards per interception. It was a franchise record that had stood for 65 years, dating back to 1943 when the Packers returned 42 interceptions for 616 yards.

AND ON SPECIAL TEAMS

  • The Packers excelled on the punt units, ranking No. 6 on punt return and No. 10 in punt coverage.
  • However, the team struggled on kickoffs, ranking No. 32 in kickoff return and No. 20 in kickoff coverage.
  • Third-year pro Will Blackmon served as the team's primary return man and finished with a punt return average of 11.1 yards, the highest average by a Packers player since 1996 (Desmond Howard, 15.6).

THE INJURY BUG

  • Head Coach Mike McCarthy has steadfastly refused to use injuries as an excuse in his tenure in Green Bay, but it's evident that the team saw its starters miss more than four times as many games as last season.
  • The team's 22 primary starters missed a combined 44 games in 2008.
  • Using the same qualifications, which doesn't account for starts missed due to formation changes or other non-injury issues, the Packers missed 10 games from primary starters in 2007 due to injuries.
  • Most importantly, the Packers were hit by injuries to key players, specifically on defense. Defensive end Cullen Jenkins was lost for the season in the fourth game at Tampa Bay, and Green Bay's pass rush could not overcome his absence.
  • Through their first four games, the Packers registered nine sacks, but had only 18 in their final 12 games since Jenkins was sidelined.
  • The defense was without middle linebacker Nick Barnett for the last seven games, while safety Atari Bigby was hurt most of the year and missed nine games.
  • Barnett, the defense's play-caller in the huddle, was leading the team in tackles before his knee injury and led the team in tackles a season ago. Bigby hurt his hamstring in Week 2 and struggled through a number of nagging injuries thereafter, including ankle and shoulder problems that ended his season. He led the team in interceptions and finished third on the club in tackles in 2007, his first season as a starter.

FIRST YEAR UNDER CENTER

  • Quarterback Aaron Rodgers isn't one to talk about stats or milestones, but the fourth-year pro exceeded nearly all expectations in his first season under center.
  • He finished the season with 4,038 passing yards, becoming only the second quarterback in NFL history to surpass 4,000 yards in the same season in which he made his first career start. Kurt Warner (4,353) was the first to accomplish the feat in 1999.
  • Rodgers is the fourth player in club history to surpass the 4,000-yard mark, joining Lynn Dickey (1), Brett Favre (5) and Don Majkowski (1).
  • Four times Rodgers went over 300 yards passing. He also tossed three touchdown passes in four games.
  • Rodgers' 28 touchdown passes were tops among first-year starters and marked the first time since Daunte Culpepper (33) in 2000 that a first-year starter threw for 25-plus touchdowns.
  • The California product took care of the ball as well, throwing 13 interceptions in 536 attempts, 2.42% of his throws. It was the lowest percentage by a Packers quarterback in over a decade (Favre, 1996, 2.39%).
  • And perhaps most importantly in Green Bay, Rodgers started all 16 games in 2008, fighting through a serious shoulder injury suffered in Week 4 at Tampa that kept him out of practice for one month.
  • Proving he is among the NFL's top quarterbacks will take years of consistent play, but there is no doubt the 25-year-old Rodgers is off to a great start. A look at where his 2008 totals ranked in the NFL:

Statistic: 2008 total (NFL Rank)

Passing Yards: 4,038 (4)

Completions: 341 (7)

Completion %: 65.6 (10)

Touchdowns: 28 (4)

QB Rating: 93.8 (6)

20-plus yd. completions:48 (5T)

40-plus yd. completions:16 (1T)

Third-down QB rating:105.8 (3)

First downs passing:182 (9T)

2008 STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE – 2009 OPPONENTS

  • Green Bay faced six playoff teams this season, the same number it faced a season ago.
  • The Packers were 2-4 in those contests. Four came at Lambeau Field (vs. Minn., Atl., Ind., Car.) and two (at Ten., Minn.) were on the road.
  • Green Bay tied with Minnesota for the 13th toughest schedule in the NFL this season. The 2008 opponents were a combined 129-127-0 (.504), slightly better than the combined '07 opponents (126-130-0, .492).
  • Being the only 6-10 team in the NFL, Green Bay's strength of schedule will not factor into a tiebreaker scenario for the 2009 NFL Draft. The Packers will have the No. 9 pick in each round.
  • Strength of schedule is a subjective statistic because as coaches often say, it's not who you play, but when you play them.
  • An early look at the 2009 opponents shows five games (at Arizona, vs. Baltimore, at Minnesota, vs. Minnesota, at Pittsburgh) against 2008 playoff teams.
  • A lot can change between now and September, including free agency, the NFL Draft and injuries, but Green Bay's 2009 slate does not appear as tough as the previous two seasons based on strength of schedule. The 2009 opponents were a combined 109-146-1 (.427) in 2008.

277 AND COUNTING

  • Lambeau Field saw eight regular-season sellouts in '08, bringing the consecutive sellouts streak to 277 games (261 regular season, 16 playoffs).
  • Lambeau Field, the league's longest-tenured stadium, hosted its 52nd season of football this year.
  • A total of 565,460 fans came through the turnstiles in the eight home contests, an average of 70,683.
  • Lambeau Field also saw the four largest regular-season crowds in stadium history this year (vs. Minnesota, vs. Dallas, vs. Indianapolis, vs. Chicago). The Week 3 contest vs. Dallas (71,113) set a new regular-season attendance record.

RUNNING AT HOME VS. ON THE ROAD

  • For whatever reason, the Packers failed to run consistently on the road this season. At times a deficit forced the club to abandon the run game, but that doesn't tell the whole story. The numbers show just how big of a gap there was between home and road games in the running game.
  • What the numbers also point out is just how instrumental the run game's performance was to the team's overall success in 2008.
  • Five times a Green Bay running back surpassed 100 yards in a game this season (four by Ryan Grant, one by DeShawn Wynn). All five 100-yard efforts came at Lambeau Field. The Packers were 3-1 in games in which a running back recorded 100 yards or more.
  • As a team, the Packers failed to total 100-plus rushing yards in five games. One of those came at Lambeau Field (vs. Dallas), while the rest came on the road (at Tampa, at Minnesota, at Jacksonville, at Chicago). The team lost all five contests.
  • Green Bay's four biggest single-game rushing totals (vs. Det., vs. Chi., vs. Car., vs. Min.) all came at home. The team was 3-1 in those games.
  • The team had nearly an equal amount of carries at home as it did on the road, but the production on the road was more than 400 yards less than at Lambeau Field. Perhaps most glaring is that the team nearly averaged two more yards per carry at home than on the road.

Statistic: (Home), (Away)

Attempts:(220), (217)

Attempts/Game:(27.50), (27.13)

Rushing Yards:(1,107), (698)

Yards/Game: (138.38), (87.25)

Yards/Attempt: (5.03), (3.22)

DRIVER PUTS HIS NAME ALL OVER FRANCHISE RECORD BOOK

  • Donald Driver continues to be the model of consistency for the Green Bay Packers offense, and the byproduct of that consistent play was seen this season as Driver began to place his name atop many of the franchise's all-time lists.
  • Driver became the first player in franchise history to record 1,000 receiving yards in a sixth overall season. James Lofton and Sterling Sharpe each had five 1,000-yard campaigns.
  • He extended his own franchise record with his fifth consecutive season (2004-08) with 1,000 receiving yards. He finished '08 with 1,012. Driver and Indianapolis' Reggie Wayne are the only NFL players with five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons over that span.
  • Driver moved into second place with 577 career catches. He needs 19 receptions to surpass Sharpe (595) on the team's all-time list.
  • As long as Driver is playing, he's a safe bet to catch a pass. He has now caught a pass in 111 consecutive games, besting Sharpe's franchise record of 103 (1988-94).
  • With 7,989 career receiving yards, Driver needs only 3 receiving yards to surpass No. 3 Don Hutson (7,991) and 146 to surpass No. 2 Sharpe on the franchise all-time receiving yards list. Lofton (9,656) ranks No. 1.
  • No one has caught more passes (273) or totaled more receiving yards (3,823) at Lambeau Field than Driver. He stands tied with No. 3 Robert Brooks with 17 TD catches at the stadium. Antonio Freeman (36) ranks first in stadium history, while Sharpe (20) is No. 2.
  • By surpassing 40 career touchdowns, Driver joined the elite group of Hutson (99), Sharpe (65), Freeman (57), Max McGee (50), Lofton (49), Billy Howton (43) and Boyd Dowler (40) as the only Packers with 40 career TD catches. Driver enters 2009 with 43.
  • By recording at least 50 catches in an eighth overall season, Driver established a new franchise record. Lofton and Sharpe each had seven seasons with at least 50 catches.

ANOTHER TEAM RECORD - RETURN YARDAGE

  • The Packers finished the year with an astounding 685 return yards on their 22 interceptions, tops in the NFL. That was over 200 yards better than the next closest team, Baltimore, which finished the year with 477 return yards on 26 interceptions.
  • McCarthy said his team's ability to make a play after an interception is something the team has repped after every turnover in practice since he arrived in 2006.
  • The 685 return yards is a new franchise record.
  • That beat the previous franchise record established in 1943, when the team had 616 yards on 42 interceptions. In the modern era, the two previous highs were 561 return yards on 27 interceptions in 1965, and the following season when Green Bay had 547 return yards on 28 interceptions. The Packers won the NFL Championship both seasons.

SOME GOOD COMPANY

  • Through his first three career starts, Aaron Rodgers totaled 796 passing yards and no interceptions.
  • Rodgers became the third NFL quarterback since 1970 with 500-or-more passing yards and no interceptions over his first three career starts.
  • The others were Warren Moon with Houston in 1984 (778 passing yards) and Tom Brady with New England in 2001 (618 passing yards).
  • Moon, an NFL rookie in 1984, led the Oilers to a 3-13 mark in his first season as a starter. The nine-time Pro Bowler was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
  • Brady's first start came in Week 3 of the 2001 season. That season, he led the Patriots to an 11-5 regular-season mark and victory in Super Bowl XXXVI. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, he is a three-time Super Bowl champion.
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