Sunday, July 29, 2012

Stop the pass!

Our secondary is something that was abused last year.  Everyone knows that our defense finished last in the NFL allowing 411.6 yards per game.  Just under 300 yards per game were through the air, giving up a total of 29 touchdowns.  The bright side is that we had 31 INT on defense last year, and that we returned 4 of them for touchdowns.  Now it is difficult because of course people needed to pass on us last year, we went 15-1 and were ahead for almost all of the time in every game.  Let's go through the pieces of our CB's and see what we have to look forward to this season.

Jarrett Bush-#24 7 years in the NFL-Utah State
(6'0" 200 lbs)

I have a difficult time with Jarrett Bush for several reasons, he has been our main gunner for special teams for quite some time, which I really appreciate when our special teams unit has been horrible for so many recent years.  Bush had 2 picks last year, one each against the Falcons and Lions.  There is nothing wrong with getting INT's for our defense, but Bush just isn't good at covering anything.  Sometimes I wonder if he could cover a turtle.  I don't know if everyone remembers this, but I have a certain image burned on my memory.  Jarrett Bush was manned up on Hakeem Nicks on the infamous Hail Mary that made sure the momentum of the game changed back into the Giants favor at halftime.  Now of course, that isn't the only reason that we lost the game, but it certainly was frustrating that he just let him get behind him.  You don't let a receiver ever get behind you, especially on the last play of the half.  He just cannot be trusted.  Grade: C-

Casey Hayward-#29 Rookie-Vanderbilt
(5'11" 192 lbs)

You've probably been hearing a lot about this guy.  He seems like he has a great chance to be playing on the field regularly this year.  I know that he has a lot of improving to do, but he does seem like a good talent and was playing in the defensively strong SEC.  I recently watched this video of him to see what he did on the field against an elite college team last year, and I wasn't terribly impressed.  I like his size and he should have good speed.  He is a good tackler and I enjoy the fact that he was a college All-American so he used his skills well there.  Grade: B+

Davon House-#31 2nd year in the NFL-New Mexico State
(6'0" 195 lbs) @devo_31 on twitter

In the NFL combine last year, Davon House put up a 4.50 40 yard dash and he was in the top 5 for the 60 yard shuttle for all of the CB's that were there.  Last year for the Packers he put up 1 tackle, and he only appeared in two games.  His tackle was week 17 against Detroit.  We did spend a 4th round pick on him, so I would expect him to make the team with so many teams needing extra corners.  I just know that House has good size and everyone thinks he is very physical.  Grade: C

Otis Merrill-#47 Rookie-Illinois State
(5'11" 188 lbs)

The main thing that I was able to find out about Otis Merrill is that he ran a 4.42 40 yard dash at his pro day.  He went to Illinois State and it seems like he is probably a longshot to make the roster.  He definitely should take every opportunity to try to make the team, because of the people on this list, he seems like one of the most likely ones to get cut.  I am hoping that he does well, I do like cheering for the underdog.  Grade: D-

Brandian Ross-#39 1st year in the NFL-Youngstown State
(6'0" 191 lbs) @BrandianRoss on twitter

Ross was cut last year and spent most of the year on the practice squad, like most of the people on the team at this position, he is a young player, and that the Packers like young raw talent from Division II schools like Merrill, Ross, and Turner, which we will get to in a few moments.  Ross has a chance to be great and he picked off Rodgers during the 1st play of the Family night game last year and took it back for a touchdown.  I really hope that he has a chance to be great and that the Packers can coach him up.  Grade: D

Sam Shields-#37 3rd year in the NFL-Miami (FL)
(5'11" 184 lbs)

Shields started 7 games last year for the Packers at defensive back, had 4 INT's and 45 tackles.  I think that there is a good chance for Shields to be a starter this year, depending on what we do with where we want Woodson due to cutting Peprah and not having Nick Collins, who I desperately miss, at safety.  I think that Shields has a lot of room to grow still and I think that he can develop and needs to grow quickly with all of the youth that we have on the team.  Grade: B

Dion Turner-#41 Rookie-Southern Utah
(5'11" 194 lbs)

There isn't much about Turner on the internet, but he impressed the Packers well enough to be picked up after the draft.  I was able to to find this interview with him before the draft, and I thought it was interesting he said he would miss the small town environment of Southern Utah.  Southern Utah University is in Cedar City, Utah, and it is a town with a population less than 30,000 between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas on Interstate-15.  Little did he know he would end up with the NFL's smallest town in the Green Bay Packers, but we are excited to have him.  Grade: D-

Tramon Williams-#38 6 years in the NFL-Louisiana Tech
(5'11" 191 lbs) @HighRizer38 on twitter

Tramon Williams is the 2nd best cornerback that we have on our team, and might become the best depending on how the aging process treats Charles Woodson.  The best thing about Tramon is that this year he will be lining up on Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall, and I can't wait to see him dominate those studs at wideout.  Tramon has started 51 games for the Packers in the regular season.  Are there better #1 cornerbacks in the NFL, but there isn't anything to complain about with Tramon, he does quality work.  Grade: A-

Charles Woodson-#21 15 years in the NFL-Michigan
(6'1" 202 lbs)

Charles Woodson might be one of the best cornerbacks of all time.  He had this catch during college- WOW! He won a Heisman in college.   Which is very impressive considering that the last defensive player to win the Heisman was Ernie Davis in 1961, who also played running back, and Charles is the only one since.  In his NFL career, he has had 883 tackles, 15 sacks, 54 INT's and 11 touchdowns.  So not only does he have a Heisman, but he has a NFL Defensive player of the year (2009), NCAA Championship, Super Bowl title, and is a wine connoisseur.  Some of my favorite moments are when Charles would get an INT and then do a shimmy shake.  I LOVE Charles Woodson and am not ashamed to admit it, I guess it even could be called a man-crush.  Charles may not be the best cornerback anymore, and he may even get moved to safety because of need, but I still think that he is a stud, and will continue to be so, until I see his game start to take a step down.  Grade: A+++

Overall, I think that this group is decent, but gave up lots of yards last year, and could continue to have other problems, but with our pass rush coming back, I believe that the pressure is going to improve our defense by leaps and bounds.  Overall group grade: B-

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Secondary Changes on Day 1 of Camp

The Green Bay Packers' secondary looked a little bit different on day 1 of training camp than it did much of last season. After the release of Charlie Peprah, who started most of the year at safety last season, M.D. Jennings worked with the first string defense in the nickel, while Charles Woodson was at safety in the base defense. Also, Jarrett Bush started at corner opposite of Tramon Williams with the fist team in place of Sam Shields.

Bush also started in place of Shields on early downs in the Divisional playoff loss to the Giants. Bush was in on run downs, while Shields went in on obvious 3rd down passing situations. Shields will have to win his job back in camp for sure after his bad sophomore season. Casey Hayward and Davon House are more likely to be the dime back so that leaves Shields and Bush to battle it out to start opposite Williams. The coaches are sending that message to Shields because Bush is a willing tackler and Shields displayed a brutal effort in tackling last season. However, starting Bush opposite Williams is still not an ideal thing at all. While Bush has greatly improved his coverage skills from the beginning of his career he is still somebody you would rather have as a backup. Bush's biggest issue is playing the ball in the air. Often times in the past Bush has been in the right position to make a play but has continually failed to do so. Shields has amazing speed, but his lack of aggression in tackling clearly will not be put up with for another season.

Peprah may have been cut because of the injury to his knee, but it should have a positive effect on the other safeties. Peprah simply did not get the job done last season. He was either out out of position due to a mental error, trailing a receiver in coverage, or not having enough speed to run across the field and make a play on the ball. Peprah does not have the athleticism to be a starting safety and now M.D. Jennings and Jerron MicMillian will have a chance to take the job. Now with Peprah out of the picture they will have all the reps they need to prepare. Jennings has an an year of experience in the defense over McMillian. However, at 6 ft tall and 187 lbs Jennings is very small for the position. Either way one of them will be hard pressed to be a lot worse than Peprah was lat season.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

McCarthy Expresses "Complacency" Concerns


McCarthy press conferences are rarely occasions for extreme excitement.  Apart from some important injury updates, this first press conference of the season was little different...until McCarthy delivered a statement that seemed addressed to the rookies in camp this year.  Compiled from multiple sources:

My concern frankly is this rookie class came in here and … when we hit the field, (they felt) ‘This ain’t so hard. Pro ball isn’t maybe what I thought it was going to be.  That’s something that will not be the case when we hit the field tomorrow. Complacency, relaxing, any type of comfort … we’ll make sure that doesn’t exist.

This was certainly an interesting departure from press conference norms for McCarthy, not only saying that he would not accept complacency, but also implying that it already exists in this rookie class.  Among the many experts and writers responding to his words, Kevin Seifert of ESPN hit the nail on the head in my opinion:

I have no doubt that some of the Packers' rookies had moments of nonchalance this spring. It happens every year for every team, at one point or another. But I took McCarthy's words as a broader attempt to raise the temperature for a team that is ripe for complacency after following a Super Bowl victory with a 15-1 record last season.

It's McCarthy's job to steer clear of all that. But there's no sense in taking shots, directing hostility or playing mind games with established veterans. Most of them would have seen right through it. After all, McCarthy is entering his seventh season as the Packers' coach and his methods are well known.

The Packers' rookies? Not so much. They're easy targets. If you're the coach, you ride them and watch the resulting energy push the rest of the team. Makes sense to me.

Considering McCarthy's statements in past preseasons as well as last year's regular season success (if you look at nothing beyond the final record,) it makes perfect sense that McCarthy will "raise the temperature," in his efforts to motivate and compel the team to continue to improve and build off of past accomplishments.  It wouldn't surprise me to hear further statements like this during the remainder of camp if, say, a unit or group of players isn't meeting or exceeding expectations.  With the Packers perfectly poised for another Super Bowl run,  McCarthy will adopt, and really has already begun to adopt, a zero-tolerance policy for any sub-par effort at any point in the season, and that's exactly what this relatively young team needs.

Edit 1: 

Rob Demovsky answered my question about McCarthy's statement in his chat a few minutes after I posted this, so I thought I would add in his opinion:

That certainly stood out, didn't it? The guess here is it had a two-fold meaning. One, he wanted to send a message to the rookies they better come to camp ready to fight. Two, with all the restrictions on practice time under the new CBA, McCarthy wanted to dispel the notion -- both to rookies and vets -- that training camp will be anything but easy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Defensive Line Preview 2012

--By PWC      
Well, it’s finally here; we are mere hours away from Packers football 2012, which means it’s also time to continue with our positional previews.  Under the microscope tonight: the defensive line.

            Like most of the defense following last year’s subpar performance, the defensive line needed improvements, and Thompson obliged with a busy offseason spent remodeling the defensive front.  Bill Huber summarizes the changes:
Thompson selected Jerel Worthy in the second round and Mike Daniels in the fourth, signed unrestricted free agent Anthony Hargrove and added street free agents Phillip Merling and Daniel Muir. Free agent Howard Green was not re-signed, and there’s no guarantee returning players Mike Neal, Jarius Wynn, C.J. Wilson and Lawrence Guy will make the roster.

With twelve players in camp competing for likely half that number of spots, competition will certainly be fierce this year.  Here’s how the players stack up:

Mike Neal

With his play over the last few seasons and recent developments including a 4 game suspension for violating the substance policy, Mike Neal is edging closer and closer to bust territory.  His injuries have only permitted him to play in nearly ¼ of possible games since he was drafted, and this latest suspension only further hurts his chances with many younger, healthier players eager for a roster spot.  While he is not included in the roster during his suspension, Neal returning to the Packers in week 5 seems less and less likely.

C. J. Wilson

Among both fans and writers, C. J. Wilson has some of the highest expectations going into camp this year.  Writes Huber:

In limited playing time, he finished second among the defensive linemen with 19 run stops. His run-stop percentage of 9.6 ranked sixth among the NFL’s 3-4 defensive ends.
With these impressive numbers, I fully expect Wilson to play a large role in the run defense this season.

Anthony Hargrove

Hargrove’s performance with the Saints leaves no doubt as to the reasons why the Pack brought him on board, suspension or not.  Obviously, roster spots and other logistics might be a minor issue, but Hargrove might be a valuable asset coming in fresh at the halfway point to a position that sees a lot of wear and tear on its players.

B. J. Raji

Raji’s playing time over the last two seasons has been staggering which to some extent explains the inconsistency of his play at such a physically demanding position. Raji is certainly the best option at NT, and it’s up to McCarthy and company to balance his playing time more effectively to make use of his full potential.

Ryan Pickett

Pickett may be the best run defender on the roster this year, but his effectiveness will depend on his ability to stay health this year.  Even though the league is trending more and more towards the pass, a healthy Pickett will be an invaluable asset to the defensive line.

Jerel Worthy

As this year’s second round pick, Worthy has also been given high expectations by the fans and experts.  Worthy should be able to make his immediate contributions to the pass rush, which has the potential to become a lethal weapon once more with  Worthy, Matthews, and Perry attacking the quarterback in 2012.

Jarius Wynn

Wynn, like Neal, will face an uphill battle to make and maintain a spot on the roster due to past performances, which include only 4.5 sacks in the last three seasons.  It’s possible Wynn could be kept long enough to fill the roster until Hargrove returns from his suspension.

Johnny Jones

Jones suffered an “unspecified injury” during the offseason, which could very well make his quest for a roster spot difficult in the face of the heavy competition at defensive line this year.  Assuming this injury isn't too serious, I can see Jones being a good practice squad candidate.

Philip Merling

After a disappointing 3.5 sacks and 4 years in Miami, Merling sees his current spot
with the Packers as “a new beginning.”  Although this shows he’s in the right frame of mind to make a second run at a roster spot despite a disappointing start to his career in Miami, his past performance as well as his injury history (torn Achilles,) will make it difficult for Merling to secure a final roster spot.

Lawrence Guy

Returning from a season ending concussion will be by no means an easy feat for Guy, as such as injury could cause recurring problems throughout his career.  Like many other prospective defensive linemen this year, Guy faces a challenging battle to secure a roster spot and must have a truly stand-out camp performance in order to be considered for the job.

Mike Daniels

Daniels has a solid college resume which certainly justifies his selection in the fourth round.  In addition, his two sacks while playing through a bowl game injury show his determination and dedication—two necessary personality traits for a successful NFL career.  Daniels will likely start the season as a backup, but could definitely see significant playing time this year.

Daniel Muir

Muir, like Merling, is looking for his “second chance” with the Packers after leaving the Colts.  Like many others this year, he faces a difficult path to a roster spot, but could possibly fill a back up role at nose tackle, according to Huber this year.

I will publish my final, offensive line preview tomorrow, and then it’s time for training camp and beyond!  Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pardon The Interruption ~ My View on Penn State

I want to break in on our Packer preview to chime in on Penn State. First and foremost I hold no love for them... there is no excuse for what happened period.

Now on to this horse manure theory that because they have no bowls and cut down on scholarships they can't be competitive ? Sorry but 65 kids on a full ride is more then enough to get it done.

But no 5 star kid will want to go there ?! Big hairy deal... 60% of 5 star kids are a bust. You go get 3 star or less and kids who places like Ohio state said wasn't good enough.

Hell give them to me ! I'll take those boys with attitude and teach them fundamentals... how to tackle and baby I'll win 6 or 7 games a year !

My point is that Penn State isn't dead in fact if it has leadership it may in fact find that this endeavor leads them to prosper. I find it rather disturbing that so many want to "kill the program" and "Shut it Down".

At the end of the day that still doesn't solve the issue. At the end of the day that in no way is justice for those kids. I see a whole lot of self serving and a lot of hate.... and I see nothing really being done for the victims or to those who covered it up.

Joepa is dead. The monster is in jail. The program has been punished and PSU humiliated. Frankly it's time to let this chapter end and to heal.

It's time to close the book. Pardon The Interruption

Saturday, July 21, 2012

2012 Packers Preview : RB and FB

If there is any type of weakness that the Packers have on offense, it is definitely behind Rodgers in the backfield. When our best player has less than 1000 yards from scrimmage in his career, that is definitely a problem. Last year there were 15 running backs that topped 1000 yards, including Reggie Bush and Beanie Wells. The Packers decided that they didn't need to resign Ryan Grant, so this is our choices to run in our backfield.

Du’ane Bennett-#23 Rookie-Minnesota
(5'9" 213 lb)

It is difficult to write about someone when you are searching for them and their twitter handle is one of the only things that comes up (@Mr_UnduhDawg by the way). His best college game as a Senior was against Northwestern when he ran for 127 yards. It seems like his role on the team is going to be mostly on special teams. During his Senior season he returned a kickoff for a touchdown against the Wisconsin Badgers, and he blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown earlier in the season as well. I don't know if we will see him playing any running back this season, but the Packers could use his talents on special teams in order to develop his running skills. Grade: D

Alex Green-#20 2nd year in the NFL-Hawaii
(6'0" 225 lb)

Alex Green has some NFL experience with 17 total yards from scrimmage during his rookie season. Green was injured during week 7 of last year's NFL season and I think that he could have some promise in him. His college best was during his Senior season with 327 yards against New Mexico State. He managed to do this on only 19 carries. I think that he probably doesn't have a chance to be our starting running back, but I think he has a good chance of making the roster because we did spend our 3rd round draft pick on him in last years draft. Grade: C-

Brandon Saine-#33 2nd year in the NFL-Ohio State
(5'11" 220 lb)

Ironically Saine has both 69 rushing and receiving yards. He had a good year last year as he started getting his playing time later in the season. The reason that I'm nervous for what Green will be able to do with the team this next season is because Saine picked up at the end of the season, playing in 5 of the last 6 games of the year. I think that he has a good chance to develop and an outside chance of being the starting running back. He is definitely our backup heading into this season because he has the next most amount of experience. I just know that we need to get better in this position and it is almost difficult to write this section. Grade: C

James Starks-#44 3rd year in the NFL-Buffalo
(6'2" 218 lb)

James Starks is as good as it gets for our current crop of running backs. Unfortunately, that doesn't really mean much when it comes to our overall running back situation. Last year Starks had 162 touches and only 578 yards rushing and 216 receiving yards. It would probably be fair to argue that the Packers have so many good offensive weapons that they don't need to use the running backs very often, but it's difficult when he has less rushing yards then Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, and Michael Vick. The main positive that I have for Starks is that he is averaged 4.3 yards per carry last season. That is the same number as other high profile backs such as Beanie Wells and Frank Gore. Strangely enough, Aaron Rodgers also averaged 4.3 yards per carry last year, so it's not anything to get too excited about. He is the one that we are having to pin our hopes upon. That is not saying much for our running game as our passing game continues to improve. Grade: C+

Marc Tyler-#27 Rookie-Southern California
(5'11" 226 lb)

Marc Tyler is well known running back from a successful college program. He is probably best known for his "USC....they breaking bread" comment that was on TMZ last year. He was suspended from the team for his Senior season and we signed him as an undrafted free agent. It will be interesting to see if he makes the roster, because this may be his only chance to redeem himself. His Junior season he led USC in rushing with 913 rushing yards and averaged 5.3 yards per carry. His father, Wendell Tyler, was a former Pro Bowl running back and had a 10 year career with the Rams and 49ers. We all know how a NFL pedigree can benefit you as a player, see Clay Matthews. Grade: D-

Nic Cooper-#40 Rookie-Winston-Salem State
(5'10" 249 lb)

Personally, this is one player that I am really excited to see in the preseason and hopefully for some time to come, and he is the start of the fullbacks to be listed on here. He ran for 1,808 yards and 22 rushing td's his last season. I think that he could be quite interesting in our offense either being a lead blocker with Kuhn at RB on a 3rd down, or with him and Raji in front of Kuhn in the Full House formation/Inverted Wishbone. He is a beast and he clearly knows how to run the ball well and we have him on our team and I hope that he can make the roster. Grade: B-

Jon Hoese-#35 1 year in the NFL-Minnesota
(6'2" 238 lb)

His twitter handle is @J_Hoese. Fun fact: his birthday is on the Fourth of July, same as our Nation's birthday, but he's a little bit younger. There isn't much information that I was able to find about him as I was researching him online, but he was a college walk-on at Minnesota and was on our practice squad at the end of last season. If he's willing to grit it out to try to make the college roster and the NFL roster of the Packers, then he is a workhorse in my book. Grade C

John Kuhn-#30 7 years in the NFL-Shippensburg
(6'0" 250 lb)

John Kuhn had six touchdown's last year and 155 yards from scrimmage last season. His best game was against Oakland in week 14 when he ran for 46 of those yards. Everyone loves him, but is he really as good as we think he is? The best thing about John Kuhn is that we get to scream "KUUUUUUUHHHHHHNN" every time he touches the ball. He only had over 10 total yards in only 5 games last year. We are talking about getting a total amount of yards for a 1st down in only 5 games. I think the reason that we have 3 FB's listed on the roster right now is because Kuhn just turned 29 and the Packers are looking for a replacement because that is what we typically do. Of all of the people in our backfield though, Kuhn is the best red zone target, and he is definitely our short yardage back. Grade B+

With all of the people that are in our backfield, there is hope for the future. Despite our success with Ryan Grant, it seems like we have lacked consistency in our backfield since Ahman Green left the Packers several years ago. I'm pretty disappointed in our core group as far as NFL experience when we are hoping to repeat as NFC North Champions and head back to the Super Bowl this season. Grade: D

Friday, July 20, 2012

Packers Special Teams Preview

The Green Bay Packers special teams had been their biggest weakness for years coming into 2011. Special teams coach was lucky to survive years where special teams killed the team. Their kick coverage units gave up big returns at key times, Mason Crosby missed big kicks, they got nothing from the return game, and they had not found a good punter since the bad decision to not bring back Jon Ryan in 2008. That all changed in 2011 and the Packers finally became a solid special teams team.

The first thing that changed the special teams for the better was the drafting of Randall Cobb. The Packers finally got the elite returner that they had been lacking for so long. Cobb lead the NFC with a 27.7 kickoff return average and was 4th in the NFC with a 11.3 punt return average. Cobb wasted no time electrifying the special teams with an incredible 108 yard kick return touchdown on opening night vs. the Saints. Cobb's elusiveness and quickness should give the Packers an elite returner for many years to come.

Many people questioned the Packers when they gave Mason Crosby a 5 yr deal worth 14.75 million last offseason. The Packers gave it to him because of his big leg and potential, but he had never made above 80% of his kicks for a season and had missed some game winning kicks, although most were around 50 yards. Crosby changed all of that last year. Crosby was outstanding as he made 24 of his 28 kicks for an 85.7% and made a game winning kick in the Meadowlands against the Giants.

Tim Masthay has once again solidified the punting position for the Packers. The Packers have had a bunch of awful punters come through Green Bay since they let go of Jon Ryan. Masthay doesn't get the opportunity to punt as much as most guys, but he delivered when he did. Masthay had a 45.6 average on his punts, with a 38.6 net average, and he 23 punts downed inside the 20. Masthay's contributions in the 2010 NFC Championship game at Soldier Field should never be forgotten as he was one of the Packers' MVP's of that game.

The coverage teams were also improved as the Packers were in the middle of the pack in kickoff return average and only allowed 1 punt return for a touchdown and 0 kick returns for touchdowns. If the Packers can repeat their special teams performance from last year they should be very pleased.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Packer 2012 Preview : The Safeties

By 68MD

Safeties in GB were perhaps one of the most maligned groups of all in 2011. Poor tackling and miscommunication plagued this group all season.

It all starts with Morgan Burnett, he made some mistakes last year but also played with a broken hand and finished with 78 solo tackles and 11 pass break ups. If Burnett can get better in coverage and step up his leadership role it will go a long way.

Charlie Peprah really had an awful 2011 in coverage and at times just looked lost. I don't see him back this year.

M.D. Jennings has all the skills and desire to be a starter in GB but lacks some of the physical attributes... I would watch "Doc' close as a camp dark horse.

Rookies Jerron McMillian and Sean Richardson are pegged by some to make noise this season. I personaly didn't care for both in college. I watched Richardson at Vandy and thought he was burned too much for my liking.

McMillian has a huge upside but needs a year or 2 in the system and weight room.

Anthony Levine is in a put up or shut up camp. In all honesty he won't have a better chance to make a team.

My Safeties are Burnett and M.D. Jennings starting with Levine and McMillian backing them up. I believe Peprah gets cut and that Richardson is a PS player this season.

The staff must get communication in coverage corrected in camp. Too many times we had safeties and CB playing different coverage's last year.

Overall if they stay healthy there is no reason we can't improve at safety in 2012.
Don't be surprised if this group falters early that a guy like Levine gets let go for a solid vet after cuts.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

QBs of our 2012 Packers

By Caleb Wahlgren

We are going to take a look at each of the Quarterback's on the Green Bay Packers individually.  Give them each a grade and then an overall grade for the QB group that the Packers have.

B.J. Coleman-#9, Rookie-Chattanooga
(6'3" 231 lb)

BJ Coleman had his best season at Chattanooga during the 2010 season where he was able to throw for 26 touchdowns and ran for 4 touchdowns. He injured his throwing shoulder during his Senior season and this is the only injury he has had during his career. He had 6 300+ passing games in his career. B.J. Coleman was playing in mostly a pro-style offense at Chattanooga so it will be interesting whether or not the 7th round pick will be able to make the roster.  It seems like there should be not too much to expect from Coleman other than they wanted to ensure that Harrell would be prepared to step it up a notch in training camp.  Grade: D-

Graham Harrell-#6, 1 year in the NFL-Texas Tech
(6'2" 215 lb)

Harrell might be the most interesting backup in the NFL this season. He is more of an enigma then most backup quarterbacks in the NFL. During his only preseason appearances Harrell threw for 287 yards with 2 TD’s and 1 INT, and his QB rating was 75.7. He played almost exclusively out of the shotgun at Texas Tech. During his Senior season he finished fourth in the Heisman running.   He was an All-Academic Big 12 first team selection for 3 seasons and had a 4.0 GPA during his Senior season.  Despite his success in college, he went undrafted and spent his first professional season in the CFL with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  As far as backup quarterbacks go, it is very tough to figure out why the Packers simply went with Harrell as their number two when their top quarterback has had injury problems in the past.  They apparently decided not to trade a draft pick for Colt McCoy after the Browns drafted Brandon Weeden.  Clearly they trust Harrell more then it seems like they should given that there are so many backup quarterbacks out there with actual NFL game experience.  They did decide to let Matt Flynn go and sign with the Seahawks as well.  But the Packers have always let the backups go elsewhere and develop the talent that remained.  Our last backup to go to Seattle is Matt Hasselbeck, and the Packers were fine then.  Grade: D+

Aaron Rodgers-#12, 8 years in the NFL-California
(6'2" 225 lb)

In his 4 seasons as the starter of the Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 17,037 yards and has 131 TD's to 37 INT's in the regular season.  He is extremely accurate and then is a dual threat with 16 rushing TD's.  None of this includes his postseason play, where he has gone to the postseason 3 times and has a 4-2 W-L record in the postseason.  Everyone knows that Aaron Rodgers was highly sought after in the 2005 NFL draft where it could be either himself or Alex Smith taken at the #1 overall position.  The Packers were fortunate to draft him at #24 overall to be the then backup to Brett Favre.  We all know exactly what happened to him before his first starting season with the Favre drama of 2008.  Rodgers is a 2x Pro-Bowler, 2011 NFL MVP, Super Bowl MVP, and last year he was ridiculously efficient with 45 TD's and only 6 INT's while the Packers went 15-1.  What is there to say other then we all know and love Aaron Rodgers and he is widely considered one of the top three quarterbacks in the league by everyone who evaluates that position.  The only worry I have about Rodgers is his health.  He had 2 concussions two years ago, 1 against the Lions and Redskins.  But he has been staying healthy and our O-Line is protecting him well now.  Is there any doubt about this one?  Grade: A+

It is tough to give an overall grade to a position where only one person is sure to play at a time.  But I think that it is clear that the Packers trust Aaron Rodgers and that trust has yet to be misplaced in his 4 years as starter of the team we love.  I am going to give our quarterback class an A+ grade, because even with our backup situation and no experience behind Rodgers, virtually every team in the NFL would love to trade their quarterbacks for ours.  Rodgers is 5 years younger then both Brees and Brady.  We could easily be watching Rodgers play as our quarterback into the 2022 NFL season, something that you cannot say about the other great quarterbacks playing in the NFL today.

Go Packers!

Packers OLB Preview

The Green Bay Packers OLB group was one of the main problems with the defense last season. The Packers have had a revolving door of outside linebackers line up across Clay Matthews over the last three seasons and have had little to no success. It really came back to bite the Packers last year as even Matthews had a down year mostly because teams would not let him beat them. The Packers finished tied for 27th in the NFL in sacks and that is a number that needs to improve for the Packers to improve on defense in 2012.

The competition at OLB will be intense this year. 1st rd pick Nick Perry is the favorite to win the starting job opposite of Clay Matthews. Perry should help the pass rush immediately, as his athleticism was evident at the combine and at USC. However, he has never played OLB in a 3-4 before and his learning curve is big. Perry also may need to loose some of weight from what he was at the combine. Reporters at the Packers OTA practices said Perry did not look smooth playing inc coverage. The big standout at OTA's was undrafted free agent Dezman Moses. It will be very intriguing to see what he looks like when the pads come on. However, with how players and reporters are talking about Moses it looks like he has a good chance to make the roster. The Packers have shown in the past that they're not afraid to give undrafted free agents a chance. Frank Zombo and Erik Walden are two examples of that.

Speaking of Zombo and Walden they will be in a battle to keep their roster spots. Walden started all the regular season games last season until the Packers had an open competition for the OLB spot in week 17. That is not exactly a ringing endorsement for Walden. Jamari Lattimire and Brad Jones are being taught ILB so the Packers may be able to save a roster spot since one of the can play inside or outside. Last year's training camp sensation Vic So'oto will also be in competition for a roster spot.

Perry's development may be the whole key to the Packers season. Yes, the defensive line needs to improve as well, but if Perry can be a suitable running mate for Matthews it will go a long way to improving the defense. That is not to say Matthews is not to blame for some of what went on last season. Matthews was solid but not the spectacular player he was the year before. Him getting double teamed was part of the problem but there were many times when Matthews had one on one opportunities against inferior tackles and he didn't take advantage. Also, according to Pro Football Focus, Matthews has the 5th most missed tackles among all OLB in the NFL. That surprised me although there are other great players on that list including Lamar Woodley, Tamba Hali, Justin Tuck, Trent Cole, and Brian Orakpo. However, if Perry can be a pass rushing force on the other side I have no doubts that Matthews can return to the 2011 version of Clay Matthews. This Packers OLB has a lot of questions, but a lot of potential that should lead to an interesting training camp.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Inside Linebacker Preview 2012

This is my first post after quite some time, and my first at our new blog. I'd like to thank for inviting me back after all this time. I look forward to contributing here throughout the season.


 The Packers have made a number of changes and additions at the Inside Linebacker position this offseason, promising that the position will see some of the fiercest competition in training camp come August. Although Desmond Bishop seems all but a lock to start at inside linebacker this year, A. J. Hawk’s position is not so secure. Two questions will be settled on the field in camp this year: who will start opposite Bishop and which players will fill out whatever spots remain on the 53 man roster. Although a constant on the defense, A. J. Hawk’s 2011 season certainly wasn’t the best. Says Tyler Dunne,
the man in the middle also regressed in 2011 -- A.J. Hawk. The former fifth overall pick didn't have any interceptions, any forced fumbles and wasn't always reliable against the run.
This fact wasn’t lost on Thompson, McCarthy, and company, who picked up Terrell Manning and gave Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore some time at ILB away from their usual OLB during OTAs. However, one major factor could still be on Hawk’s side as training camp approaches. As D.J. Smith himself acknowledged, Hawk carries major leadership responsibilities on the defensive side of the ball. In an interview, Smith explained:
You can say it's kind of minor, but it's kind of a big difference," Smith said. "It's still a middle linebacker, but one position (Hawk's) has more responsibility than the other. When it comes to A.J.'s spot, he's the signal-caller. He's the guy that runs the show. He's the quarterback of the whole thing.
In other words, talent and playmaking contributions are not the sole determining factors deciding who will start next to Bishop come September. Like all other position battles, this won’t be resolved on paper in July; we will have to wait and see throughout camp to determine whether or not Hawk will keep his current position on the team. As for the remaining spots on the roster, I expect D. J. Smith to retain a role as backup and I predict he will see significant action during the season, --all this assuming the Packers decide that Hawk is the best choice as a starter, and they may very well not take that position--and Rob Francois should also have little trouble retaining his role as well. In all likelihood, the Packers will only keep 4 inside linebackers, meaning Terrell Manning will face a steep, uphill battle to make the 53 man roster, especially considering he hasn’t played since 2010*. Whatever way things pan out this year, we can count on one thing-an intense position battle at inside linebacker during camp this year.

*Edit: Manning's bio only has information up until 2010, which mistakenly led me to assume that he had not played since then.  I will be sure to check multiple sources in the future.  Many thanks to Matt for pointing this out.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Packer 2012 Preview : The WR Group

By Matt Bove

Outside of quarterback, the wide receiver position is the strongest and the deepest position on the 2012 team. The Packers have elite receivers in Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson and guys who were on the practice squad last year who would have made most NFL rosters in Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel. Then, there is a guy in Randall Cobb who has the ability to have a breakout season. Also, you have James Jones and Donald Driver who are reliable players. These 7 wide receivers, Aaron Rodgers, and Jermichael Finley are the reasons the Packers have the most potent passing attack in the NFL.

There will be great competition among these 7 players this training camp. Other then Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson being the top two players on the depth chart nothing is set in stone. Cobb will be looking to pass Jones and Driver and move up to the #3 wide receiver position. Jones and Driver will compete with each other for targets as both finished 2011 with 54. If Gurley and Borel show the same potential that they did in camp last year the Packers will likely keep 6 wide receivers. The Vikings already tried to sign Gurley and the Bucs tried to sign Borel last season, so they almost assuredly will not make the practice squad again. Rob Demovsky, of the Green Bay Press Gazette, even suggested the Packers may keep 7 wider receivers. I would see this as unlikely, but the Packers have shown in the past they are not afraid to keep a strange number of players at one position.
Jennings is a top 10 wide receiver in the NFL. Jennings caught 67 passes last season, for 949 yards, and 9 TD’s despite missing the final 3 games of the regular season. His absence was a major factor in the only loss of the 2011 regular season at Kansas City, as Nelson struggled with the extra attention he received. Jennings does not have great size or elite speed but he is perhaps the best route runner in the NFL. His routes are as smooth and crisp as they come, and his chemistry with Rodgers is outstanding. Jennings shiftiness and elusiveness also helps him excel in yards after the catch. He will be playing for a new contract this season so expect Jennings to be at the top of his game yet again.
Nelson had his breakout season last year. Nelson had 68 catches for 1,263 yards, and 15 touchdowns. Nelson started to break out during the Packers’ playoff run in 2010 and did not look back in 2011. Nelson took advantage of other teams double teaming Jennings and Jermichael Finley, but that does not take away from Nelson’s talents. Nelson’s ball skills are exceptional, as he is the team’s best jump ball catcher by far. He is excellent at using his body to shield defenders off and make adjustments when the ball is in the air. Nelson may not be able to repeat 15 touchdowns again, but he should have another solid season.

It will be extremely interesting to see how Randall Cobb is used this season. Cobb was only targeted 31 times last year, a number that is surely to go up. Cobb was brought along slowly last year because of the depth and talent of the Packers wide receivers. It will also go up because Cobb could move up to #3 on the depth chart with a solid training camp. Aaron Rodgers loves to pick out the best matchup on the field to throw to. If Cobb is in the slot with Jennings, Nelson, and Finley in the game he is likely to have a great matchup. Cobb will be used most often with slants and screens to take advantage of his athleticism, but maybe he will evolve to the point to where they play him outside more where he can beat his defenders deep running streaks with his speed.

James Jones has been mentioned in some trade rumors. I don’t expect him to be traded nor should he be. Jones is a guy who I still believe has the talent to be a #2 receiver on a bad team. He provides great depth in case Jennings or Nelson gets hurt. Jones is known for dropping passes but actually Donald Driver, who is seen as a reliable receiver, dropped 2 more passes than Jones last season. Jones always seems to get open and is very good after the catch posting a 7.7 YAC last season. He also posted 7 TD’s, which is great for being the 4th option behind Jennings, Nelson, and Finley. I was a little surprised the Packers brought Driver back, but it certainly isn’t a bad move. His playing time may diminish again, but he is a solid veteran presence to have around a team that still is pretty young. Gurley and Borel are most likely battling for one roster spot this training camp. Both will have to build off what they did last camp to secure a spot. I think Gurley has a little advantage because he is 6-4. The Packers do not have another wide receiver with his height, which should help him. He also blocked punts with regularity in training camp and the Packers value special teams highly. However, Aaron Rodgers was very complimentary of Borel during OTA’s.
“Diondre Borel is a guy that gives us a different look because he plays a similar position of that of Randall Cobb,” Rodgers said in an interview with “Diondre has made as big of jump as anybody from year 1 to year 2. He really made the most of his reps on the scout team last year.”
Borel is very different from Gurley. He is only 6 feet tall, slightly less than 200 pounds, and does not have blazing speed. He does not have great physical tools so why is he highly regarded? His football IQ is a big reason why. Rodgers likes the fact that Borel was a quarterback in college at Utah St.
“He’s a great teammate, hard worker and he really understands the game,” Rodgers said. “I think he has the luxury of being a quarterback in college. He sees the game through a quarterback’s eyes and that gives him a slight advantage over guys who he’s competing with because he understands timing and progression maybe a little quicker some of the than the other guys.”
It will be interesting to see if their chemistry can get Borel a roster spot. All in all the Packers are set at the wide receiver position. They have a great variety of guys with different skills. This group and Aaron Rodgers was the reason they went 15-1 last year and the reason that the Packers are one of the Super Bowl favorites again.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Countdown To Kickoff 2012, Packer Preview

Welcome back to another season of Packer football ! Over the course of the next 2 weeks we will break down the team and preview the 2012 season.

At the end of the preview are writers will give you their thoughts on 2012. We hope to bring some unique insight to you this season but without any of the politically correct bull your seeing elsewhere.

I urge everyone to come on over and talk packers with us at the forum :

Are plan for is simple, talk packer football in a fun carefree environment free. Enjoy are preview and please feel free to give us feedback and or ideas at

Let's get this party started !

Go Pack GO !