The Kaboom Factor

Who the hell is Erik Walden? By Sunday night I knew nothing more about his back-ground, or how he came to the practice squad, just that he got an opportunity and made the most of it in one of the biggest games of the Mike McCarthy era.

Erik Walden now possesses the elusive Kaboom Factor. What else do you really need to know, folks?

Let's explore this concept a bit more: The Kaboom Factor is some-thing few players in the NFL ever achieve, and even then it's most likely fleeting. In many ways it seems a state of mind, more than physical in nature. It's like the planets aligning, imparting strange properties on gravity. The Packers are already blessed with two defenders - Chuck Woodsen and CM3 - who routinely display Kaboomery, but even they - great players as they are - are not immune from losing the Kaboom. For the last two years the defense has been looking for some-one to bring the Kaboom to the enemy QB opposite Clay, and on Sunday they had that complimentary line-backing weapon. And they had Woodsen bringing the Kaboom from the slot. And they had BJ Raji mixing in some occasional Kaboom from the interior. The result: Three points allowed and dominance overwhelming.

Walden's un-expected ascension to The Kaboom Factor will only help the rest of the defense while he remains on this strange and powerful plateau. As evidence, I offer AJ Hawk's play on Sunday. He managed to play well and even tackle opposing players by him-self without being dragged five yards first! Walden's fury caused - or rather, brought out - another gear in Hawk's game. The Kaboom Factor is definitely contagious, often infecting a defense like a seasonal flu. Often at the same times when flues are most likely to strike, too.

The last time we saw a lesser-known player suddenly achieve The Kaboom Factor, in my humble opinion, was when Atari Bigby 'arrived' in the latter stages of the 2007 season. Watching Walden be every-where on the field, Sunday, I was reminded of how Bigby achieved the Kaboom-state in 2007, and how his insane hits from the secondary helped propel the Packers to over-time in the NFC championship, before falling to a team that was also Kabooming quite nicely at the time. If you go back through time there are many examples of players achieving Kaboomery, but the patterns and circumstances that lead to such performances remain a mystery. Best, I think, to just acknowledge and appreciate the phenomenon.

How long can Walden keep it up? We'll have to wait and see, but usually a player in possession of The Kaboom Factor will remain infected with the fury so long as the season persists. Great players - and I'm not nearly ready to put Walden in that category - are the ones who can re-harness the Kaboom with regular consistency, season after season. While Walden may end up losing the Kaboom like Bigby before him, unable to revisit that apogee, we at least know he is able to reach that level when healthy and hungry, and I look forward to watching him work through the upcoming post-season.


One item I inexplicable left off yesterday's Freewheelin' Notes: Charles Woodsen, on his flying sack of Jay Cutler yesterday, showed the form and technique of a dimented flying squirrel, and I loved it.

As it is play-off season I hope you readers won't mind if I strike the keys more regularly than normal. Expect more blog posts as the week progresses, on things like Kaboom theory and other fun items from the Union mind. Until next time, then,