Monday, September 1, 2014

2014 Green Bay Packers: A Complete Season Preview

Football season is finally here! It seems like it took forever, but training camp is over, the final preseason game has been played, and the NFL season starts in only a few days. The final roster cuts are in as well, and it will be important to look at each of the players remaining on the team. But before the season actually begins, let's look at the games on the schedule and a prediction by yours truly here.
Thursday, September 4th, 2014, 7:30 PM CDT--Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks

Since the NFL schedule was released a few months ago, every Packer fan has had this game circled on their calendar. Not only are they frustrated by the outcome of the previous game in Seattle, the game known as the "Fail Mary" with the replacement refs soon to be ousted, but it should be another really close game. The Seahawks sacked Aaron Rodgers 8 times in the first half last time, but their offensive line is better now, and Eddie Lacy is also present. After dropping their last few season openers, the Packers should be able to take this game by a final score of 27-24.

Sunday, September 14th, 2014, 3:25 PM CDT--New York Jets at Green Bay Packers

The home opener for the Packers is always going to be a thrilling game. The Packers have a relatively easy looking opener, with the Jets having a lot of roster turnover, and it looks like their secondary is hurt going into the season. The battle between the defensive line of the Jets and the offensive line of the Packers will be fantastic to watch. Lower scoring than many people would probably think. The Packers will win to go 2-0 by a final of 24-10.

Sunday, September 21st, 2014, 12:00 PM CDT--Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions

Curiously, the Lions again did very little to fix their primary weakness from last year, which is their secondary. Instead of taking a strong cornerback or safety in the first round, they drafted tight end Eric Ebron. Their primary new player from free agency is wide receiver Golden Tate. Granted, their defensive line is very strong, which helps mask their primary weakness, but there will be a lot of shoot outs for the Lions this season. The Packers will get this win but it will look difficult throughout. Final score is going to be Packers 45-Lions 38.

Sunday, September 28th, 2014, 12:00 PM CDT--Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

This age old rivalry is always a great game to watch. The two teams in the NFC North with the most tradition, and they split their two games last year. Again it will be a battle of two good offenses, but this is a game where the Packers could easily stumble. Jay Cutler has very good receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey. Matt Forte is a physical running back who can catch out of the backfield. The Bears will take this one at home, Packers lose 28-34.

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014, 7:25 PM CDT--Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers

A short week between two teams that know each other very well. The Packers will have their first game here against new Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. He was the defensive coordinator for the Bengals last year. The defensive talent just isn't there though, and Zimmer will struggle to contain the Packers offense. The Green Bay Packers take a second divisional win with a final score of 41-17.

Sunday,  October 12th, 2014, 12:00 PM CDT--Green Bay Packers at Miami Dolphins

This will be the first time the Packers and Dolphins face each other since Joe Philbin left the Packers offensive coordinator position to become their Head Coach. It's always nice to go down to Miami for a game, and the Packers just simply have more talent on their roster right now than the Dolphins have. Plus, the Packers have more rest for this game coming off of their long break from their second Thursday night game of the season. Packers win the game 31-21.

Sunday, October 19th, 2014, 12:00 PM CDT--Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers

Cam Newton and the Panthers have not been on the schedule since the week 2 game from a few years ago where Nick Collins was seriously hurt and has been out of football ever since. The Panthers defense has vastly improved since then, but their offense has lost a lot of talent since then, especially with Steve Smith leaving the team to go to the Baltimore Ravens this past off-season. The Packers lean on Lacy and Rodgers throws a lot of short passes to get the team to record another victory, Packers win 27-20.

Sunday, October 26th, 2014, 7:30 PM CDT--Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints

Rodgers vs Brees. This game is always an exciting one. The Packers hold a 16-7 all time record against the Saints, and they also have won the last two. The 2011 kickoff game between these teams was when Randall Cobb burst onto the scene as a rookie, going 108 yards for a kick return touchdown. They played in 2012 as well at Lambeau Field, when the Packers won 28-27. With the venue being changed to the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, and the Superdome, where the Saints play out of their minds, it is going to be difficult for the road team. The Packers are going to lose this game most likely, with the Saints winning 41-31.

Sunday, November 9th, 2014, 7:30 PM CST--Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers

The Packers come into this game directly after their bye week. They will want to avenge their prior loss to the Bears, and the last time they played at Lambeau Field was the game where Aaron Rodgers was hurt by Bears defensive lineman Shea McClellan. The Packers are hoping to do many things in this game and their defense should be much better than they had been in prior years. Anyway, it is difficult to win two games against the same opponent in the same season. So, the Packers should avenge that loss with a final score of 38-27.

Sunday, November 16th, 2014, 12:00 PM CST--Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers

The Eagles came to Green Bay last year during Rodgers' injury and were able to beat the Packers during the Scott Tolzien games. Riley Cooper was able to get open against the smaller Packer cornerbacks. Foles loves Cooper and hit him on several big plays. McCoy is also very difficult to keep contained. The Packers would love to avenge the loss from last year, but it would seem likely for the Eagles to get a win at this point, beating the Packers 38-35.

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014, 12:00 PM CST--Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings will likely be having a rough season at this point, it is tough to imagine what position they will be in. Will Teddy Bridgewater be in at quarterback to get some experience? How good is the Vikings defensive line? Are they able to provide a solid situation under new head coach Mike Zimmer? Despite the interesting story lines, the Packers should be able to win this game in Minnesota pretty easily, because Adrian Peterson is the best player on the team, and they had lost their defensive leader in Jared Allen. Packers win 35-24.

Sunday, November 30th, 2014, 3:25 PM CST--New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers

Assuming that Rob Gronkowski is healthy, he will be facing the Packers biggest weaknesses in the middle of the defense. Tom Brady is hoping to do better this season with the young receivers having even more talent after last year. The Patriots defense though has some of the best talent it has had in recent years, and the Packers will have to face both Darelle Revis and Brandon Browner. New England will hand the Packers their fourth loss of the season, defeating the Green Bay Packers 31-21.

Monday, December 8th, 2014, 7:30 PM CST--Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers

The Falcons are a dome team. They have talented receivers in Julio Jones and Roddy White. The offensive line is great at pass blocking but not fantastic at run blocking. The Packers should win this presumably cold game behind the strength of their running game and their defense, which is much stronger than the Falcons running game and defense. The Packers win a cold one, with a final score of 27-10.

Sunday, December 14th, 2014, 12:00 PM CST--Green Bay Packers at Buffalo Bills

Sadly for the Buffalo Bills, they are probably the easiest game for the Packers this season. EJ Manuel and Sammy Watkins are both young, the defense has some talent but hasn't put it all together last year. They lost their defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who became the Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns. The Packers will go on the road and beat the Bills, with a final score of 34-13.

Sunday, December 21st, 2014, 12:00 PM CST--Green Bay Packers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Hello again Lovie Smith. Seems like he is trying to capture the offense that the Bears took right after he left only down in the Tampa Bay area with the backup quarterback and now starter in Tampa, Josh McCown. The Packers usually did perform quite well against the Smith led Bears teams. They should be able to take a victory from him again since the Packers are just more talented across the board. The Packers will win in Florida again with a final score of 34-24.

Sunday, December 28th, 2014, 12:00 PM CST--Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers

The Detroit Lions haven't won in the state of Wisconsin in a significantly long time. The Lions last won in Wisconsin at Lambeau Field on December, 15, 1991. Mike Tomczak was the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. Erik Kramer was the quarterback for the Detroit Lions, and their leading receiver in the game is Mike Farr. The Packers are going to be playing most likely to ensure that they could have a bye into the playoffs. They will cruise to victory against the Lions with a final of 44-27.

Now let's look at the players that made the 53 man roster by position.

Quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, and Scott Tolzien.

The Packers usually only keep two quarterbacks on the team. Rodgers was a shoo-in to make the roster as a former NFL MVP and winning a Super Bowl, but it had been a previous thought that Flynn and Tolzien were fighting for one spot. The Packers saw that both of them could bring value to the roster because otherwise only one would have been kept. If Rodgers was to get injured again, Mike McCarthy has announced that Flynn would be the next man up.

Running Backs: Eddie Lacy, James Starks, DeJuan Harris, and John Kuhn.

Reigning rookie of the year Eddie Lacy is going to be featured in the offense this season. Even though other running backs are listed on the roster they will probably not see a lot of playing time. Starks would be the full time back up if Lacy was to get injured. Harris is more of a change of pace running back. Kuhn is the fullback and might get more of a third down role depending on how much of a workload Lacy is getting.

Wide Receivers: Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin, Davante Adams, and Jeff Janis.

The Packers were considered likely to be keeping more receivers than they did. Two rookies getting a lot of experience in Adams and Janis. Janis will be used a lot on special teams most likely after his big kickoff return against the Chiefs in the final preseason game. Boykin beat out Adams so far for the third receiver spot. The rookies will just practice but they both showed far to much talent to get cut because they would have been claimed elsewhere.

Tight Ends: Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick, Richard Rodgers, and Ryan Taylor.

The presumed starter of the group at this point is Richard Rodgers after he started the second and third preseason games. The third round draft pick was really disrespected when the Packers took him with their compensatory pick. Many fans who follow the draft were unfamiliar with what exactly he could do. But Aaron Rodgers from the Cal Golden Bears throwing to Richard Rodgers from the Cal Golden Bears provides a lovely Rodgers to Rodgers pairing. Bostick is athletic as well and will be used a lot for that. Taylor is around for special teams primarily because he is a good blocker.

Offensive Linemen: David Bahktiari, Bryan Bulaga, Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang, Corey Linsley, J.C. Tretter, Derek Sherrod, and Lane Taylor.

Bahktiari and Bulaga are the starting tackles. Sitton and Lang are the starting guards. Because of the preseason injury to J.C. Tretter, Corey Linsley from Ohio State will be a starting rookie Center against the Seahawks. After a few weeks though, Tretter could get the starting job back depending on just how well Linsley performs. Sherrod is the swing tackle, and every Packers fan will probably be a fair amount of nervous if Sherrod has to have some expanded playing time due to an injury to either Bahktiari or Bulaga. Don Barclay was likely going to be the swing tackle, but an early training camp injury placed him on injured reserve. Lane Taylor is a backup guard and he will fill in if there is an injury to Sitton or Lang. The Packers kept Taylor around last year as well, so he's probably a little bit more trusted than Sherrod.

Defensive Linemen: Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, Letroy Guion, Josh Boyd, and Mike Pennel.

Obviously only seeing 5 people for the 3 man defensive line looks like very little amount of depth. The main thing to realize is that Julius Peppers and Mike Neal, both linebackers, have both played defensive end in the past and are very likely to end up in that rotation in the event of injuries. Daniels and Jones will be the outside ends in the 3-4 base defense. Guion is the man filling in at Nose Tackle because of the bicep tear to B.J. Raji. Josh Boyd will back up Guion at nose tackle and has good enough size to do so, while Mike Pennel will be a backup defensive end for both Jones and Daniels. Don't be surprised if Boyd and Pennel get rotated in a lot because these big guys need to be kept fresh. Khyri Thornton, the Packers third round pick, was placed on injured reserve with an injury in the final preseason game.

Linebackers: Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Nick Perry, Mike Neal, Jamari Lattimore, Sam Barrington, Andy Mulumba, Jayrone Elliott, and Carl Bradford.

If there was one spot that it was evident that the Packers were completely loaded at during the preseason, it was at linebacker. Matthews and Peppers will be the primary men at outside backer. Both are excellent at rushing the passer and it has been rumored for a while that Peppers could do something a little bit different in playing the elephant position on the defense. Elephant appears to mean he could go inside and rush or stay on the outside and rush from either a standing or hand in the ground position. Hawk and Jones will start at inside linebacker. Hawk has been with the Packers his whole career, ever since the Packers took him at fifth overall in the NFL draft. Jones originally was an outside linebacker when the Packers first transitioned to a 3-4, but has since been converted into the inside. Perry is a backup pass rusher on the outside, but he is also a former first round draft selection. He has a lot of talent for a backup. Neal is the other backup, and both Perry and Neal would alternate on the opposite side of Clay Matthews last season. Lattimore and Barrington will backup Hawk and Jones on the inside. They were both on the team last year and stepped up when Jones had an injury. Andy Mulumba played some at inside linebacker last year as well, because the position was just ravaged with injuries. Hopefully the Packers do not have that issue this year. Elliott looked great in the preseason, consistently beating the man on the other side of the ball, showing some great pass rushing techniques in the process. He had several sacks and is looking to bring that to the NFL, despite going undrafted. Bradford was the Packers fourth round selection, but was rather unremarkable in the preseason, and was probably one of the final selections for the final 53 man roster.

Cornerbacks: Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Davon House, Jarrett Bush, and Demetri Goodson.

Williams and Shields are the two starting cornerbacks that are getting the big money contracts. Hayward and House are both excellent and could probably start on some other teams but will provide support on both the nickel and dime situations. Bush has been a gunner his whole career, and will stay primarily focused on special teams, but he has gotten a few interceptions on defense in his career too. Goodson was the Packers sixth round pick. He had played basketball at Gonzaga before transferring over to Baylor. He didn't play all that much because of injuries and is a very raw talent that should not be seeing the field very often, because he will be targeted by opposing quarterbacks simply because he is the weak link of the defense.

Safeties: Morgan Burnett, Micah Hyde, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and Sean Richardson.

This position has been a glaring weakness since the Nick Collins injury from a few years ago. Clinton-Dix is the Packers first round draft selection, Micah Hyde converted from cornerback to safety. Burnett has the most experience and Richardson played the position some last year in the rotation of safeties. The projected starters are probably Burnett and Hyde, but Clinton-Dix will have a good opportunity to fill in one of those spots if there is an injury to either of them. The Packers will trust any combination of these two compared to what they had in the defense last year.

Specialists: Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, and Brett Goode.

Mason Crosby has been the starting kicker ever since the Packers took him in the sixth round several years ago. He struggled with his kicking in 2012, but has looked sharp since then and should be no issue for the Packers this year. Tim Masthay is the Packers starting punter. Hopefully for Packers fans he doesn't get any snaps this year. Brett Goode is the long snapper and he has been there for a long time as well.

Practice Squad: S Chris Banjo, WR Kevin Dorsey, C Garth Gerhart, WR Alex Gillett, RB Michael Hill, LB Adrian Hubbard, TE Justin Perillo, DE Luther Robinson, T Jeremy Vujnovich and WR Myles White.

So from the cut to 75 the Packers placed four on injured reserved, cut 18, and then signed those 10 to the practice squad. The players who didn't make the practice squad in Green Bay but from the last 75 are LB Jake Doughty, T John Fullington, DT Carlos Gray, G Jordan McCray, S Tanner Miller, RB LaDarius Perkins, CB Jumal Rolle, and CB Ryan White. John Fullington signed with the San Francisco 49ers. The other players are all free agents at this point.

Final Prediction

The Green Bay Packers roster is loaded with talent, and according to the games predicted above by this humble columnist, they will go 12-4. That should be enough to give them a first round bye and they can beat a wild card team to advance to the NFC Championship game. The team is deep enough to make a Super Bowl run, but because of some of the recent struggles when they have made the playoffs, they aren't mentioned in the same breath as the Seahawks and 49ers. Right now they have made some advancements in the roster, but it's uncertain if it is enough. They will probably lose to the eventual Super Bowl Champion, just because the NFC is so much stronger than the AFC. Whatever happens, they will be thrilling to watch as they win some big games. Just keep Aaron Rodgers healthy for the whole season. Go Pack Go!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Green Bay Packers Win Final Preseason Game

The fourth and final preseason game is usually a very lackluster affair for the fans. It's bottom of the roster guys trying to make the push from 75 players to the final 53. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 34-14 on the night though, which is always a good sight to see.  Let's start by looking at some of the critical position battles the team is facing.

Another quality game for Scott Tolzien. During Aaron Rodgers' injury last year, Tolzien was the starter until they resigned Flynn and Flynn took the quarterback duties away. Tolzien is definitely the better arm, while Flynn knows the Mike McCarthy system much better. Many people think the Packers could easily keep 3 quarterbacks on their roster, and it's easy to see why with their performance this evening.

The touchdowns scored by those receivers though is quite interesting. Many of the players that could be cut this weekend might have just scored. Myles White had the most receiving yards with 36, and caught 4 of the 5 targets headed his way. He will probably have to contribute on special teams but easily could be a player to make the team. But he did lose the only fumble of the game too, so it's tough to really know. Both healthy wide receivers drafted by the Packers scored touchdowns, Davante Adams is looking like the fourth man onto the field, while Jeff Janis is considerably more raw but definitely a beast athletically. The Packers will probably keep 6 receivers in Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin, Davante Adams, Jeff Janis, and Myles White. The other receiving touchdown was to running back Ladarius Perkins.

The defensive side of the ball showed some things as well. Everyone was keeping a close eye on Green Bay Packers rookies, Carl Bradford from Arizona State and Khyri Thornton from Southern Miss. Bradford did a much better job in the game, recording the most tackles with 7, and actually making some plays on the field. Thornton though could easily be a third round bust, possibly not even making the team. The undrafted free agents showed their skills as well. Jayrone Elliott and Adrian Hubbard both recorded sacks on the evening. Elliott has put a lot of pressure on Mike McCarthy to keep him on the team. While the Packers have gone 3-1 in the preseason, Elliott has recorded sacks in each of the last three games. Also, don't forget, Jarrett Bush had an interception in this game off of Tyler Bray.

These upcoming cuts will be incredibly difficult for the Packers, and no one should be surprised to see some of these current Packers end up on the 53 man roster of any other teams. Some of them might be able to go through to the practice squad, and that's just a risk trying to put some of them directly onto it. Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy do have a pretty good history doing this though, but it is difficult to remember the last time our defense had this much depth. Just another thing to be thankful for before the season opener next week in Seattle, which every Packer fan has been waiting almost two years for revenge. Hopefully the Packers will start this season off right with a win on the road. It definitely will not come easily and the Packers will need everyone ready to contribute.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

68md Yearly Prediction Post

Yet another training camp is coming to a close and 3 preseason games are over. As has been tradition I will do my best to figure out this years Green Bay Packers.

First let's look back and see what TT brought in to help the team as far as personal. The big gun is Julius Peppers who hasn't lost a step and will be a needed threat opposite Clay Matthews.

The drafting of Ha Ha Clinton Dix along with Micah Hyde should improve the safety group from last year. Still the depth  isn't all the way there yet.

My big concern as has been the case 3 years running is the DL and OL depth, this team tends to try and run on UDFA or low draft picks for key back ups. Sometimes it works and sometimes your franchise QB gets knocked out for weeks ?

I spent the better part of 2 days watching NFC north games from the pre season as well as key opponents. On film we will struggle against teams with strong running games and GOOD cut back backs.

Our Offense will be among the leagues best if #12 and Mr. Lacy stay healthy. So let's not beat around the bush any longer.

Though many folks will scream I again have this team 10-6 and winning the North. Two things can change that. Any Injury to Rodgers and the defense playing way way over their heads.

If the first all bets are off. If the latter then we could make a very deep run this year.

So go to your closet and dig out that jersey, call grandma for her chili recipe and settle in for another year of Packer football !


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Green Bay Packers Defeat St. Louis Rams In The Dome

Jeff Janis celebrates after scoring a third quarter touchdown (Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)
A quick recap of Green Bay's 21-7 victory over the Saint Louis Rams

The offense of the Green Bay Packers was absolutely outstanding against a strong defense in the Saint Louis Rams during Saturday's action. The Packers started off the game by getting the ball when DeJuan Harris ran the ball out of the end zone when he was 8 yards deep. Harris should've taken the knee and let the Packers start at the 20 yard line, but the Packers would take over from there. They took the ball 86 yards over 12 plays. Rodgers completed passes to Lacy, Boykin, and Cobb during the drive, with Cobb getting opening score and Crosby would kick the extra long preseason extra point to get the game going.

The Rams came back on the next drive and made it into Green Bay territory, even converting a fourth down when Jared Cook caught a short crossing route from Sam Bradford. The Rams would follow that up though from with back to back penalties to result in a 1st and 25 that the Rams could not convert from that far back, despite Bradford actually attempting a deep ball to down the right side to Kenny Britt.

The Packers came right back down the field and appeared to score on a third and goal from the 5 yard line on a completion to Jordy Nelson. This was waived off though because of a penalty on Green Bay left tackle David Bakhtiari for illegal use of hands. They ended up settling for a field goal that Mason Crosby easily nailed from 31 yards away.

The Rams made sure to follow this up by driving down the field and getting a touchdown on a pass play from Sam Bradford to Lance Kendricks. Micah Hyde did an excellent job in coverage, but there was simply no way for him to defend the ball where Bradford located it. Greg Zuerlein nailed the extra point to put the Rams within three points. This is the closest the Rams would get for the rest of the game.

Scott Tolzien took the reigns instead of Matt Flynn with the second team offense, and Tolzien looked pretty awful. He completed 10 of his 15 pass attempts for 107 yards. He mostly played in the second quarter but went into the third as well before Flynn came in. The battle of the backup quarterbacks is far from over. It might be settled in the next few weeks. Scott Tolzien also had a touchdown pass taken off of the board in the third quarter to Myles White. Rookie center Corey Linsley had a penalty for illegal use of hands on the third and four. Then after a Davante Adams catch on third and 19 for fourteen yards. He tried to get the ball to Andrew Quarless on fourth and goal from the five, but Quarless did not catch the ball and was called for offensive pass interference.

On the next drive, Matt Flynn only took three plays to drive the Packers down the field, mainly because rookie wide receiver Jeff Janis caught the ball on a short crossing route and outran everyone to the end zone. Because Flynn had hardly thrown the ball, they went for the two point conversion. Flynn tossed it to Adams and they were able to get the two points to give themselves a 18-7 lead.

The next Packers possession, Flynn drove them down to the red zone and took a bad sack on third and nineteen to Michael Sam. Mason Crosby nailed a 49 yard field goal to complete the scoring.
The Packer player who stood out that nobody was expecting was Jayrone Elliott. Elliott was facing one of the Rams third or fourth string defensive lineman. Elliott dominated him though, getting three sacks in the game when nobody was expecting him to perform much of anything. The Packers had four other players record one sack each, HaHa Clinton-Dix, Sam Barrington, Adrian Hubbard, and Mike Pennel. One play that was taken off the board by a penalty defensively was a great interception catch by Chris Banjo. Banjo had an amazing catch and since the Green Bay safeties had no interceptions last year, it was important to ensure that the Packers improved at that position, and Banjo had a remarkable impact.

The Green Bay Packers are looking for a successful season, and most importantly in the game, the Green Bay Packers stayed healthy. The main question mark would be Brandon Bostick who left with a lower leg injury and did not return. But the Packers will continue on and play the Oakland Raiders on Friday, August 22nd at Lambeau Field.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

HaHa Clinton-Dix Has Some Work To Do

As the rain came down and flooded LP Field in Tennessee last Saturday, rookie safety HaHa Clinton-Dix was getting his first start as a Green Bay Packer. There were some signs of great athleticism and awareness, but also some problem areas for Clinton-Dix.

The best play from him was a 2nd and 2 play right before halftime. Clinton-Dix bit on a play-fake at the beginning of the play but recovered perfectly. Titans QB Charlie Whitehurst lofted a ball to an open tight end, but Clinton-Dix showed great recovery. He scaled back and broke up the pass. That's something the Packers haven't had since Nick Collins departure from the team. In recent years, once a Packers safety made a mistake, there was no successful recovery.

 That type of athleticism is the reason why Ted Thompson brought Clinton-Dix aboard. Clinton-Dix also did a great job closing in after a catch was made to make a tackle. He broke through the Titans offensive line to make a brilliant tackle for a loss. But there were also a few negative plays in the game that stuck out as well.

It's understandable that Clinton-Dix would and will have some things he's going to have to work on, especially after his first real NFL action.

His run defense is one thing he's going to have to get better with. It seemed on a few run plays when the running-back would get to the second level, Clinton-Dix would wait for the RB to come to him. He's going to have to be more aggressive in a division with tough runners like Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte. That is what made Nick Collins so complete. He had the ability to defend the pass and was tough against the run. I believe all of that will come with time for Clinton-Dix though.

Another play that made me cringe a little bit when watching was Clinton-Dix getting trucked over. It wasn't the fact that he got trucked, it was who did it. He allowed 5'9" 170 LB speedster Dexter McCluster bull him over. That just simply can't happen. Peterson will have a field day with him if that strength isn't there. It could have been that Clinton-Dix was caught off guard by McCluster. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now on that one. I look forward to seeing what he can do against the St. Louis Rams this Saturday in his second game as a Packer.

It'll be interesting to see how much playing time McCarthy gives Clinton-Dix with safety Morgan Burnett returning earlier this week from injury. Will Micah Hyde get the snaps beside Burnett or will Clinton-Dix get a good portion of time with starters? McCarthy would be smart to give Clinton-Dix more reps than Hyde. In the end Clinton-Dix was brought in to improve a weakness at safety, so he should get all the time he needs before week 1.

On Saturday, look for Clinton-Dix to try and make some plays to show the coaches he deserves to be the starter. The preseason will be his short term time to correct flaws in his game. If Clinton-Dix can tighten up in those few areas then the Packers will have a solid secondary for years to come.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Let it Rain: Green Bay Packers lose to Tennessee Titans in rainstorm

James Starks taking one into the end zone in the first quarter (Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America)

It was most certainly a soggy night in Nashville, and the Packers may have made some of the best decisions about tonight's game before it even started. They placed a healthy scratch on key starters, Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, and Jordy Nelson. After seeing Don Barclay and Jared Abbrederis go down for the season with ACL injuries, the Packers knew this game was about finding players in the lower portions of their 90 man roster. With those three men, they know exactly what to expect and their performance did not need to be evaluated in the swamp like conditions in Tennessee this evening.
But the Packers did start off with the ball, and their offensive line and the backup running back James Starks looked dominant from the very beginning. On the opening drive, Starks recorded 49 of the 64 offensive yards to score the game's opening touchdown. The other plays on the opening drive were a 5 yard scramble by Flynn, and a 10 yard completion to rookie tight end Richard Rodgers. The other thing to pick up here is that Rodgers got the start at tight end over returning tight ends Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick. This is big news since most people still had Rodgers behind both players.

Then the starting defense came in and forced a three and out with an incompletetion from Jake Locker to Justin Hunter, a player that is definitely getting good buzz early in training camp for the Titans.

One Packer that certainly is hoping for a better second game is rookie wide receiver Davante Adams. He was being used as the primary punt returner and muffed the first two punts in his direction. He will probably be taken off of special teams very quickly, which means the Packers may need to use another roster spot for someone more developmental instead of using Adams for punt returner and wide receiver. Micah Hyde, who returned some punts last year, had one fair catch but muffed another punt himself later in the game too. On Adams second muffed punt of the game he was unable to recover it this time and it went to the Titans, where Shonn Greene took it in for a 13 yard touchdown run on the next play, but the Titans would miss the extra point, making it a 7-6 lead for the Packers. Adams might have outperformed Jarrett Boykin as a receiver still though, getting 2 catches for 22 yards while Boykin got called for offensive pass interference in the second quarter.

One player that certainly looked uncomfortable in the game was Matt Flynn, who is battling Scott Tolzien for Rodger's backup spot. Flynn fumbled the ball at one point, and finished 5/10 passing for only 49 yards. Flynn is going to need to perform better in later preseason games, because this performance was pretty abysmal for a quarterback that helped save the Packers season last year. That's also because Tolzien played a better game as well, throwing 8/12 for 128 yards. Flynn doesn't have the arm strength that Tolzien has, but he has more experience, but Tolzien could definitely take advantage in further preseason games and definitely had the upper hand in this game against the Titans.

Undrafted rookie running Rajion Neal looked pretty good in his action as well tonight. He had 5 rushes for 39 yards and one touchdown as well. He did not play a lot, but when he was in, he looked like he could be the replacement the Packers desperately need due to the absence of Jonathan Franklin with his unexpected retirement from football this Summer. Neal looked much better than the other undrafted rookie, LaDarius Perkins. Perkins had 10 carries and managed only 18 yards.

The Packers were able to force two turnovers in this game off of rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger. First, they had Jumal Rolle get a strip sack of the quarterback, which was recovered by rookie linebacker Jake Doughty from Utah State. Then the second one came when Jackie Battle couldn't grab the pass from Mettenberger. The ball shot up in the air and linebacker Korey Jones grabbed the ball and returned it for a few yards. Jackie Battle would have the last laugh though as he would score the game winning touchdown the next time the Titans had the ball.

The Packers obviously didn't play their best game, but they didn't even play most of their best players. But it's great to see that they stayed healthy and continued to improve, and maybe one of these young diamonds in the rough will shine brightly for the Packers in the future.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Observations of a Railbird, August 6, 2014

By Coach Ted Verges

 It was with a specific purpose that I attended Packer practice today.  With Barclay hurt and out for the season, I wanted to check on the possible replacements for him.  Specifically, I wanted to watch Derek Sherrod and Lane Taylor.

               Until today, Sherrod had been getting most of his work at left tackle. Today he worked at both the left and right tackle positions.  He did so in the drills and the scrimmage work.   Even though I was impressed with Sherrod’s work earlier in the OTA’s and padded practice, he looked even better today.  He has very good technique. For a big man he does bend his knees and, dare I say it, plays with good pad level.  I also like his aggressiveness. There was a fight in the half line drill and Sherrod was one of the first ones there to join in. He had three reps in the one-on-one pass rush/pass blocking drill.  If he didn’t win all three, the worst score would be two wins and a tie.  He had reps on both the left and right sides.  He stoned his man on the right side and rode him wide on the left side showing good foot quickness in the process.  I watched him closely in the half line run blocking session.  He’s good off the ball, keeps a wide base, and sustains his block.  He just sort of engulfs his man.  Based on what I saw today, we’re more than adequate at reserve offensive tackle.

               In previous practices, I have not paid much attention to Lane Taylor, a reserve guard. He is a big man being 15 to 20 pounds heavier than the other linemen.  He is very stocky and carries a lot of weight around his middle. He worked at both left and right guard.  His form is very good and he is a tough, physical man. He will not be bull rushed. I am concerned, however, about his lack of foot quickness.  He tends to lift his feet too high on run blocking plays and, consequently, occasionally loses his balance.  Somebody should have had him jumping rope in the off-season.  Right now, I just do not want to see him replace either Sitton or Lang in a regular season game. I think he will get lots of action Saturday night and he bears watching.

               There were a couple of very interesting drills close by where I was sitting. One was the half line drill that is mostly running plays.  It is full go blocking with “thump” tackling where they do not take the ball carrier to the ground. It is the offensive line and backs against the defensive line and linebackers. This year, this drill almost always results in a fight and it was so again today.  Datone Jones was part of it, but I’m not sure who the other guy was. I did see Adrian Hubbard running over to be a part of it.  Throughout the dill there was much noise from both groups. Both DuJuan Harris and James Stark scored a couple of touchdowns.  Harris made a couple of quick moves to set up blocks.

               Following the half line drill, they went to the one-on-one pass blocking/pass rush drill. This is full go.  Sherrod looked as good as anybody, but the starters got few, if any, opportunities.  Tretter was much improved over what I saw a week ago.  He handled Daniels on one repetition.  Bulaga got only one snap and was beaten badly because he was too aggressive and got his weight too far forward.  Once again, Garth Gerhart was very good. He plays low and wide and reminds me somewhat of Mark Tauscher’s technique.  The best pass rusher in this drill today was Adrian Hubbard, an outside linebacker from Alabama.  He twice scored wins with a head and shoulder fake pass rush.  He’s a big, tall guy who looks like he can play.  But, we have lots of outside linebackers, so I’m thinking he might be taxi squad material.

               Scott Tolzien had a good practice. He was effective in the “move the ball” drill where they go down the field with various different down and distance situations.  He has strong arms and seems to be playing with more confidence and command.  He did hit Myles White for a touchdown on a nice post-corner route against Sam Shields.  It will be interesting to see how he performs Saturday night.  Jeff Janis, in his first practice since his illness, made a great one-handed catch for a touchdown.

               Ron Wolf was at practice today. He chatted with both Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy at various times.  Even though he is about to have season ending surgery, Jared Abbredaris was also at practice.   Finally, Aaron Rodgers, and most of the other starters, didn’t see much action. It was obvious that the upcoming game is for the reserves.  I’m looking forward to it to see if some of the guys make a strong effort to make the team.  Keep your eye on #65, Lane Taylor, and #78, Derek Sherrod.