Friday, August 31, 2012

Counting Down to 53

Predicting the Packers 53 man roster this year is just as hard as always. The Packers have some great depth in most places making for some very tough cuts. Here is my best crack at predicting the 53 man roster.

QB: (2)
Aaron Rodgers
Graham Harrell

Cedric Benson
Alex Green
James Starks
John Kuhn

Greg Jennings
Jordy Nelson
James Jones
Randall Cobb
Donald Driver
Tori Gurley

TE: (4)
Jermichael Finley
Ryan Taylor
D.J Williams
Tom Crabtree

Marshall  Newhouse
T.J. Lang
Jeff Saturday
Josh Sitton
Bryan Bulaga
Evan Deitrich-Smith
Reggie Wells
Don Barclay

DL: (7)
Ryan Pickett
B.J. Raji
C.J. Wilson
Jerel Worthy
Mike Daniels
Daniel Muir
Phillip Merling

LB: (9)
Clay Matthews
A.J. Hawk
D.J. Smith
Nick Perry
Dezman Moses
Erik Walden
Brad Jones
Robert Francois
Jamari Lattimore

CB: (5)
Tramon Williams
Sam Shields
Davon House
Casey Heyward
Jarrett Bush

Charles Woodson
Morgan Burnett
Jerron McMillian
M.D. Jennings
Sean Richardson

Specialists: (3)
Mason Crosby
Tim Masthay
Brett Goode

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pack At 75 , What's Next ?

By 68md

In case you missed it the Packers made the following moves to get to 75 players the last 3 days :

Released 7 players: WR Andrew Brewer, DE Anthony Hargrove, S Micah Pellerin, T Herb Taylor , CB Dion Turner, FB Jon Hoese and DE Jarius Wynn.

The Packers placed RB Du’ane Bennett, LB Desmond Bishop, TE DeMarco Cosby, G Ray Dominguez, DE Johnny Jones and WR Shaky Smithson on injured reserve. TE Andrew Quarless and LB Frank Zombo were placed on reserve/physically unable to perform.

Several spots remain in question including the defensive backfield and depth in the offensive line.

I would not be surprised to see GB make a couple extra cuts and shore up those areas via waivers or even a trade.

I think Thursday night will answer questions about Graham Harrell and what they decide to do there. I would watch Borel/Gurely close someone has to step up or they both are gone.

The fact Wynn is gone gives us a battle between Merling and Mike Daniels for the last DE spot.

Coach's will be looking for the players who are consistent on the practice field and on game day... do they constantly get better ? Can the player contribute on ST as well as their normal position ?

I think the DB battle is the most unsettled and again don't be surprised if both CB and or OT are not helped by a waiver pick up.

The time is approaching to finalize our 2012 Green Bay Packers. Who do you think makes this team ?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Scouting the Bears

By Matt Bove

Yesterday, I had the privilege of sitting 10 rows from the field in the end zone for the Bears vs. Giants game yesterday. Those seats are great because you can see everything and anything. It was a less than inspiring performance from the Bears as the Bears lost the 1st half 17-7 when the starters played despite coming back to win 20-17. Here are some of my observations from the game:

- J'Marcus Webb and Chris Spencer seem like they will be the starters on the left side of the line as they played the first four series with the starters before giving way to Chris Williams and Chilo Rachal.

- The Bears did not allow Jay Cutler to be sacked, but it was just an average performance by the line. Cutler had to escape from a lot of pressure, which partially led to him being completing only 9-of-21 passes on the night. Jason Pierre-Paul did not play for the Giants but Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck are still a dynamic pass rushing duo and they did a decent job on them. Webb received help a lot though dealing with Umenyiora.

- The Bears run blocking was absolutely brutal. Matt Forte rushed for 39 yards on 10 carries, which on the surface does not seem bad. However, 35 of those yards came on 2 plays in the first series of the 3rd quarter against the Giants' 2nd string defense. So in the first half against the first team defense Forte had 8 carries for 4 yards. The Bears line opened up no holes for him. This has been a problem for the Bears all preseason and unlike the Packers they want to be a balanced offense.

- At the other end of the spectrum the Bears run defense was almost as bad as their run offense. If Brian Urlacher has to miss any regular season time they will be in big trouble against the run. Replacement Nick Roach was blocked on consecutive runs of 20 and 15 yards by Giants rookie running back David Wilson. On those plays the Bears made tackling attempts that would have made the Packers defense from last season look good. Wilson rushed for 49 yards on five carries. The Giants were ranked 32nd in the NFL in rushing and were missing starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw, so it was not a good sign for the Bears that they had so much success.

- And as bad as the run defense was Charles Tillman was just as bad in coverage. Tillman got schooled by Giants scrub Ramses Barden especially. Barden, entering his 4th year with the Giants, has only 15 career receptions with a grand total of zero touchdowns. Yet against Tillman Barden drew a pass interference and scored a touchdown on an 11 yard slant. Tillman had 2 pass interference penalties on the night and recorded 10 tackles in the first half. When a corner back has that many tackles it usually means he is getting beat a lot. Tillman gets the benefit of the doubt because of his pro bowl season last year, but if he declines at all it would be a huge problem for the Bears.

- On the other hand Tim Jennings made a nice tackle on Wilson on a screen play and played perfect coverage the very next play on a 3rd and long. Jennings is usually a guy Aaron Rodgers likes to pick on.

- Julius Peppers showed his ability when he tackled Dominic Hixon for a loss of 13 on an end around play, but was otherwise quiet.

- Jay Cutler missed high on a lot of throws but his decision making was pretty good.

It was just a preseason game but the Bears looked pretty bad. I still think they will be the Packers' biggest competition in the division though.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thompson Changes His Approach This Year

By: Matt Bove

If you have been following Green Bay Packers General Manager Ted Thompson's tenure closely you may not recognize some the moves he has made this offseason. Even Thompson himself, who seldom gives much insight on personnel decisions, admitted to reporters during his weekly Tuesday PC that he has changed things in the off season.

"I think you have to be willing to (evolve), yeah," Thompson said. "I think we're all continuing to evolve and trying to get better at our craft. What you do roster-wise with a team depends on where that team is. So we try to apply that to now and not what I have done in 2006 or 2007."

The Packers are a Super Bowl ready team this year and Thompson has done a great job of recognizing that. The Packers no longer need to rebuilt with young talent like when Thompson took over, but they need to fill some holes with veterans to give them the best chance to win. He has done a great job of filling holes without giving out big money to free agents, but rather by signing a bunch of cost friendly players and hoping some stick.

Thompson started changing his approach in the 2012 NFL Draft when he uncharacteristically traded up in second round twice for defensive lineman Jerel Worthy and cornerback Casey Hayward. He also traded up for linebacker Terrell Manning in the fifth round. The three times that Thompson traded up in this years draft are the same amount of times that Thompson has traded up during his first seven drafts as Packers general manager. He recognized that the Packers' 32nd ranked defense needed major help, and he not only traded up for three players, but he spend his first six draft picks on defensive players. He was always known for drafting the best player of available of need, so this was a big change for him.

Thompson continued his more aggressive approach after the draft and into free agency. He was never known to get involved in free agency, as his only two major free agent acquisitions during his tenure have been cornerback Charles Woodson and defensive lineman Ryan Pickett. Thomspon did not make any big money signings like those guys, but he did sign more cost friendly guys than he has in the past.

Thompson's biggest move was signing long time Colts center Jeff Saturday to a two-year contract to replace Scott Wells. The Packers could not afford to start an inexperienced player at center in their complex offense, so signing Saturday was a big move. Thompson also added to the defensive line depth by signing Anthony Hargrove, Daniel Muir and Phillip Merling.

Thompson was not done adding veterans once training camp began. The Packers' offensive line depth started to become and has continued to be a big problem. Derek Sherrod is still on the PUP list recovering from a broken leg and once Marshall Newhouse was out with a concussion it became clear the Herb Taylor could not be counted on as the number three left tackle. Normally he would just sign a young player but instead he signed a proven veteran in Reggie Wells. Wells has started 91 games at three different spots across the offensive line (79 at left guard, 10 at right tackle and two at left guard).

Running back was also a major concern coming into the season and even more so as training camp went on. Alex Green is still on a snap count coming off his torn ACL, Brandon Saine has been out with a hamstring injury and James Starks had an awful game in San Diego while suffering a turf toe injury in the process. Thompson responded by signing former Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson. Benson is an older running back at 29 years old and has a history of off the field problems, so this move went way against what he used to do as well. Thompson made it clear on Tuesday as well that Benson was not just brought in on a trial basis despite his minimum salary.

"We needed another guy to add to the group for the season," Thompson said. I'm not talking about a training camp body."

Benson is a definite talent upgrade over what the Packers had at the position previously. Benson has ran for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons for Cincinnati. He also brings 1,529 carries worth of experience with him, while the current running backs on the roster outside of Starks have only 21. With opposing defenses geared up to stop the Packers' lethal pass offense, Benson should be able to find running lanes in Green Bay that he never found in Cincinnati.

Thompson has set the Packers up with yet another championship caliber team. After last season's home playoff flop against the Giants nothing short of a championship will be considered a success for the Packers this season. Thompson has done a great job of putting the Packers in a position to meet those lofty expectations and is still filling holes as they pop up in training camp.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

How Much Does Bishop's Injury Hurt?

By Matt Bove

Once Desmond Bishop was helped off the field and carted into the locker everybody involved with the Green Bay Packers feared the worst. Those fears came to reality Saturday night when Mike McCarthy announced that Bishop would be getting surgery on his hamstring and that his season was in jeopardy. D.J. Smith is a very capable replacement, but loosing Bishop is a big blow to the Packers defense.

Bishop was one of the few players on the defense last year who had a very good season. Bishop led the team with 115 tackles and was 2nd on the team with 5 sacks. Bishop was one of the few sure tacklers on the team and always seemed to fly to the ball. Smith should be fine in that area because he is an excellent tackler. Smith, like Bishop, always seems to be around the ball. He is only 5-foot-11and 239- pounds, but that is not a detriment to him in terms of tackling. In the three games that Smith replaced Bishop last season he recorded 8 tackles against the Giants, 10 against the Raiders, and 9 against the Chiefs.

Where Smith's size is an issue is in blitzing, as he was not an effective blitzer. He usually got sucked to the outside and away from the play. Bishop is a very underrated blitzer and with the Packers needing every ounce of pass rush they can get loosing him hurts. However, if the Packers can get pass rush from rookies Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy that can help mitigate the loss of Bishop. If Perry can be another threat opposite of Clay Matthews and record about 7 sacks, with Worthy getting some push up the middle, the Packers can replace Bishop's blitzing.

The Packers will certainly miss Bishop, but they can win a Super Bowl without him. The inside linebacker position in a 3-4 defense is not a premium position. If the defensive line can take up more blockers, like they are supposed to, life is a lot easier for the inside linebackers. Bishop was one of the best young players on the defense who had a great shot at making the Pro Bowl this season. However, if young players like Smith, Perry, and Worthy step up the Packers can fill his void.

Pardon The Interruption ~ Odds and Ends

by 68MD

Several issues going on in Packerland I want to touch on this evening. First and foremost it's the amount of injuries in camp.
This has been an issue on and off for MM since he took over. The only logical explanation to me is failure to get players warmed up properly and not controlling the tone of those practices.

Regarding the Packers Signing Cedric Benson, it was a must move due to the lack of healthy bodies as well as poor production by young backs.
James Starks is just what he was coming out of college an injury prone back with upside that may or may not blossom. Right now it's not looking great.

Let's see what Benson brings to the table and go from there.

Do not expect a lot from Green Bay on Thursday night with 18 or so not practicing. If Newhouse returns we could get 2-3 nice offensive series but after that my expectations won't be high.

My biggest concern remains the depth at OL, a couple of upgrades may be needed for depth.

That's my odds and ends.... Pardon The Interruption.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Sign Cedric

Usually the Packers don't do much in free agency.  I think that the Packers shouldn't normally do a lot in free agency as well, because too many teams overspend and get horrible contracts.  Mario Williams getting a $100 million contract could be great for the Bills.  But it also could be horrible.

When I look at the running back situation for the Packers, which I evaluated a few weeks ago.  It was pretty gruesome.  Marc Tyler was the leading rusher with 32 yards.  But with him fumbling and no one else on the team doing anything on the ground I am pleading that the Packers go through with the report that we might sign Cedric Benson.  Usually I don't care for any former players of the Bears or the Bengals, or players who have been in trouble with the law, but I want Benson on our team so badly.  He has rushed for over 1000 yards each of the last 3 seasons.  If he can get over the legal issues, then he will be great.  Please Packers, get him for a good price and we'll all be okay.  If nothing else, I bet we give him a one year contract so he can try to get a better contract for next season.  Besides, he is better than Ryan Grant ever was.  And he only lost two fumbles all of last year.

Please Green Bay, sign Cedric.

Do it quickly.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

2012 Season Prediction

By 68md

I know we haven't played a preseason game yet but for years I have predicted our season before this game and not doing so would be bad luck.

Predicted weakness :
1. OL Depth, LT is really thin and frankly our 2nd string is not great. Watch this group close.
2.Secondary depth and tackling, Big drop off from the first tier to second. I still see some of the lazy tackling... watch carefully
3. RB This may work out but right now still a concern

Predicted Strength :
1. Starting Offense, in my book the most dangerous group in the NFL. Teams will have to score 30 plus to beat us.
2. PK/P/PR, If Cobb stays healthy and our specialist have last years numbers we should be solid on ST. Dictating field position with our offense is huge.
3. Coaching, Best staff in the North and top 5 in the NFL is a big plus.

With the improvements in the division and looking at the schedule my prediction is.... 12-4 North Champs and return to the NFC Championship game.

Let's get the season started ! GO Pack GO !

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Offensive Line Depth An Issue

When people discuss potential problems for the 2012 Green Bay Packers most people focus on the defense side of the ball. This is with good reason because the Packers ranked 32nd in the NFL in giving up 6,585 yards last season. However, the depth on the offensive line is one of the few issues on the offensive side of the ball.

If the Packers' offensive line stays healthy the whole season they will not have an issue. Their starting line of Bryan Bulaga, Josh Sitton, Jeff Saturday, T.J. Lang, and Marshall Newhouse is one of the best groups in the NFL. However, the chances off all five of them staying healthy for all sixteen games are not good. The Packers have gotten an early glimpse of this as Marshall Newhouse suffered a concussion at the Family Night Scrimmage and Derek Sherrod is still on the PUP list recovering from a broken right leg. Herb Taylor was working with the No. 1 offensive unit at practice and may have to during the first preseason game at San Diego.

If it were a regular season game the Packers might kick Lang out to LT and put in Evan Dietrich-Smith at LG. Dietrich-Smith started three games in place of Sitton last season and filled in capably and is their top backup at guard and center. The Packers can really use somebody like him to fill in at tackle in for a pinch at least. Taylor does not seem cabale of being that guy. He entered the NFL out of TCU in 2007 as a sixth-round draft choice out of TCU and started one game for them in 2008. He only spent one game on an NFL roster from 2009 until the Packers signed him off the street as a free agent.

Sherrod cannot be counted on until he proves he is healthy and seventh- round draft choice Andrew Datko has looked terrible in practice by most people's accounts. Datko also got beat repeatedly by Nick Perry in the Family Night scrimmage. He missed most of his senior season at Florida State because of a shoulder injury, which caused him to slip down draft boards, but if healthy was thought to have a chance to be a player. However, he is supposedly healthy and has shown little to nothing thus far.

At the Family Night scrimmage the 2nd offensive line unit struggled in pass protection. Many times Graham Harrell had little to no chance to look down field. The Packers cannot leave their franchise quarterback in the hands of Herb Taylor, so if Newhouse gets hurt in the regular season the Packers need to come up with a better plan.

Friday, August 3, 2012

kdiggs74 Season Preview/Predictions

Preseason games start on Sunday with the Hall of Fame game between the Cardinals and the Saints.  You've all had an opportunity to look at what the Packers are doing at all of our positions this offseason.  So let's take a look at the Packer's schedule and break down what we are going to get ourselves into this year.

Our season starts with a flurry of games in September, hosting the 49ers, Bears, and Saints and going to Seattle.  I think that we will definitely beat the Bears and Seahawks, but games will probably be closer then they are expected.  I will also predict a split between the 49ers and Saints just because it will be a difficult month, one of our worst months for our schedule this season.  This means that we are 3-1 after September.

October is mostly easy games, but 3 road games in a row to start it off at Indianapolis, Houston, & St. Louis.  Then we host Jacksonville.  Most of these teams are not remotely at the Packers level, the only game that we should have to worry about here is at Houston, because they are talented and seem to be putting things together.  I'm going to be conservative and say that we lose that game too.  This means that we are 6-2 after October.

November is the month in which we have our bye, host the Cardinals, and go to Detroit & New York (Giants).  This will be the first month in which I will predict a clean sweep.  I think that Detroit got a bad draw to play us after we get an extra week to rest and prepare, and then you know that all of the players are going to be extra focused to beat the Giants again after what happened in the Divisional game last year.  Packers record is now at 9-2 after November.

December is loaded with games within our own division, in which we went 6-0 last year.  I will predict that with both games against Minnesota, hosting the Titans and Lions, and visiting Chicago, that the only game I am concerned about is playing at Soldier Field.  Chicago always plays us well in the cold and come up with some plays that they don't do against anyone else, like an Urlacher INT, or a Peppers blocked field goal.  They tend to beat us in bizarre ways, and so I will have us lose that game this month, meaning that we are 13-3 and clinch home field for the playoffs.

My other division winners are New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons, and San Fransisco 49ers.  My wild card teams go to Philadelphia and Chicago.  AFC division winners are New England, Baltimore, Houston, and Denver.  Wild card teams are Buffalo and Kansas City.

Wild Card Round:  Chiefs over Ravens, Broncos over Bills, Eagles over Falcons, Giants over Bears.

Divisional Round:  Texans over Chiefs, Patriots over Broncos, Packers over Eagles, 49ers over Giants.

Championship Round: Texans over Patriots, Packers over 49ers.

Super Bowl:  Packers 38, Texans 24.

Hopefully I'm not just dreaming, but I think that there is a real chance that this comes true this year.  Plus it is nice that the Packers get to beat the self-proclaimed dream team from last year and now Vick's dynasty, and then probably two of our regular season losses in the 49ers and the Texans.  I definitely think if the Texans can stay healthy then they can go to the Super Bowl.  It's definitely been a health question for them though because Foster, Andre Johnson, and Matt Schaub were all hurt last season.  That doesn't help anyone out.  Packers would like to have 1 for the thumb as well, let's get it this season.