Monday, December 30, 2013

Packers Overcome All Odds to Win NFC North

It certainly wasn't Aaron Rodgers' prettiest game ever, but with the season on the line he showed everybody why he is a legend.

Rodgers' 48-yard touchdown to Randall Cobb on fourth-and-eight with the NFC North hanging in the balance will go down as one the greatest plays in Packers history. Other than winning Super Bowl XLV it might have been Rodgers' greatest moment of his career to date.

"Those two making that great, great play will be running on the highlight reel for the rest of my time on this earth," said head coach Mike McCarthy.

The Bears sent a seven-man rush with a cover-zero look behind it on the touchdown. The Packers were not set up well to block this blitz, as they only had six guys blocking, and fullback John Kuhn tried to make a line adjustment before the snap.

"I can't really really recall what the first protection call was," said guard T.J. Lang, 'but John Kuhn was coming up and telling us to change the protection. I think only half the guys ended up getting the call."

The protection left Julius Peppers unblocked for an instant, as left tackle David Bahktiari blocked down on blitzing nickel back Isaiah Frey. Kuhn came across the formation and was able to cut Peppers just enough so that Rodgers could escape out of the pocket to his left and find Cobb. Cobb flew right by safety Chris Conte on a vertical route after Conte got caught playing the first down marker and peaking in the backfield.

That play showed just how special Rodgers is. Not every quarterback in the league has the awareness and athleticism to elude Peppers like Rodgers did. Also, the throw may seem simple because of how open Cobb was, but it isn't that easy.

A lot of quarterbacks struggle rolling to their left and firing a deep ball like that. Rodgers set his hips beautifully and fired a perfect strike to Cobb right in stride. The weather conditions and game situation made the throw even more incredible.

The touchdown gave the Packers a 33-28 that won them the NFC North Championship with a 8-7-1 record. This was an amazing accomplishment for everything that the Packers had to go through this season.

Rodgers returned from his seven week broken collarbone layoff just a little bit off. He orchestrated a beautiful opening drive until he was intercepted by Conte in the end zone on third down. Conte came off covering tight end Andrew Quarless, and Rodgers never saw him as he stepped right in front of Jarrett Boykin for the interception.

On the second possession Rodgers moved the ball again, but threw high and wide to Jordy Nelson, and the ball deflected off his hands for another interception. However, while Rodgers was finding his way, the Packers defense stepped up. They forced three first half three-and-outs and a fumble by Alshon Jeffrey.

Rodgers made yet another mistake when he didn't feel the oncoming pressure by Peppers and held on to the ball too long. He was stripped by Peppers, but the ball propelled forward and looked like an incomplete pass to everybody on the field. Boykin casually picked up the ball and did not look like he was going to do anything with it until the sideline told him to. He took into the end zone to give the Packers a 10-7 lead.

"I was throwing the ball the way I wanted to," Rodgers said. "I missed some, but I think the weather and the cold and the wind had something to do with it. I didn't feel any of the rust. I just missed a couple of passes and unfortunately they went for interceptions."

Rodgers looked more like himself in the second half and guided the Packers to touchdowns on three of their last four possessions. Still, the Packers were down 28-27 and need at least a field goal on their final possession to take the lead because McCarthy failed to go for a two-point conversion after Eddie Lacy's fourth quarter touchdown. McCarthy was very fortunate the Packers did not lose by one.

The Packers faced three fourth downs on the final drive and converted all of them. The first was a fourth and 1 from their own 28-yard line. McCarthy almost made another awful decision and initially sent out the punt team before being convinced by the offense to change his mind. Kuhn easily picked up the first down.

Rodgers converted a key third and 3 by faking Lance Briggs out of his shoes on a run. Another fourth and 1 came up, and Rodgers found Nelson on a quick hitch along the sideline in which Nelson made a great diving catch.

This all lead up to the 48-yard touchdown pass to Cobb. Rodgers had been knocked in the past for his lack of come from behind wins. He should never have to hear about that again.

Think about what had to happen for the Packers to be at this point. The Packers had to make a big comeback to tie the lowly Vikings. Robbie Gould had to miss 47-yard game winning field goal indoors in OT that is usually automatic for him. Justin Tucker had to hit a 61-yard field goal. Matt Bryant had to miss a 52-yard field foal against the Packers. Tony Romo had to throw two fourth quarter interceptions. The Lions had to finish 1-6 in their last 7 games.

If one of those things does not happen the Packers season is likely over. That gets you thinking that they could be a team of destiny.

They now have a home playoff game with their nemesis the San Francisco 49ers. This will be a huge redemption opportunity for the Packers after losing three games to them in the last two years. With Rodgers back at quarterback and everything that has happened to this point you can never say never at this point.

"That's all we play for, we play to get in and then all the records, you're 0-0," said defensive lineman Ryan Pickett. "We get a chance to play for our goal. We want to win another Super Bowl. We get to continue our journey. But I like our chances. I like this team. I think this team is mentally tough. We're wired to play 60 minutes. I feel good about our chances."

Friday, December 27, 2013

Rodgers Makes Packers a Contender

After eight very long games Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers finally got the medical clearance he was looking for and will return to the field on Sunday in Chicago.

With the return of Rodgers the Packers went from four point underdogs to three point favorites in the matchup that will decide the winner of the NFC North. The Packers have gone through three quarterbacks since Rodgers got hurt in Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn. They went 2-4-1 in games without Rodgers, but managed to stay in the division race due to major help form the Lions and Bears.

Rodgers' return as perhaps the best quarterback in the NFL should be a huge boost for the Packers. Rodgers' backups have been able to move the ball pretty well in his absence, but the major problems have been turnovers, red zone efficiency and third down efficiency.

Wallace, Tolzien and Flynn combined to throw for 8 touchdown to 10 interceptions and a 78.0 passer rating. Rodgers hasn't thrown more than 10 interceptions in a full season since 2010 when he only threw 11.

The Packers have only scored 21.7 points per game without Rodgers as compared to 28.7 points per game with him. The red zone is a place where having a backup quarterback really shows. There is not as much space in the red zone, so the throws have to be made into tighter windows, and that is where Flynn really struggled. Also, the Packers only converted on less than 35% of third downs without Rodgers.

The Packers are averaging a full more yard per play (6.4) with Rodgers than without him (5.4). Also, according to ESPN Stats & Info the Packers average 2.63 points per drive with Rodgers and 1.67 without him. With an average off 11.7 drives per game that equates to 11.2 points more with Rodgers than without him.

Rodgers comes back to face the perfect opponent for him. He has historically owned the Bears even when they had a good defense, and now they have a deplorable defense. Rodgers is 8-1 in his career against the Bears, with 19 touchdown passes and a passer rating of 102.1.

Rodgers should also be getting Randall Cobb back in the slot and Eddie Lacy should be good to go as well. Lacy should have a field day if healthy, as the Bears rank 32nd in the NFL allowing 161.5 rushing yards per game. He had a career-high 151 yards rushing in the first meeting after Rodgers went down in the first series.

Lacy should be able to take the pressure off Rodgers in his first game back. If he is not healthy enough than James Starks should be able to do the same, as he is averaging 5.2 yards per carry this season.

The offensive line has been a concern for some people, but other than Don Barclay they have been performing fine. Josh Sitton an T.J. Lang have combined to form one of the top guard duos in the NFL this season and David Bahktiari has been a revelation at left tackle.

The line was being hurt by Flynn holding the ball way too long and locking into receivers. A perfect example of that was on the last play of the game against Pittsburgh when Flynn had Jordy Nelson wide open on a slant in the slot, but he never looked at him and threw the slant on the outside incomplete to Jarrett Boykin. Rodgers does hold onto the ball too long at times, but at least he goes through all his progressions.

With Rodgers back the team needs to keep the same sense of urgency. They cannot relax just because he is back. Any team with Rodgers is a contender because he can get hot at any time and carry a team. The biggest concern for the Packers right now is the pass rush without Clay Matthews and with Nick Perry and Mike Neal banged up. The run defense also must improve in a major way.

Usually there has been a "hot" team that gets on a roll and wins the Super Bowl lately. Teams playing on Wild Card Weekend have had much more success than the top seeds lately. Rodgers gives the Packers the opportunity to be that "hot" team. The Seahawks and 49ers, the perceived two best teams in the NFC, looked very beatable last week. You just never know.

The Packers are very fortunate to be where they are right now. They are not big favorites to get to the Super Bowl, but all the NFC teams have showed that they have flaws. Rodgers gives the team hope that anything is possible again. That is all you can ask for with what the Packers have had to go through this season.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Should Aaron Rodgers Be Playing?

By: Matt Bove

The Green Bay Packers have been getting a lot of gifts lately.

They have seen Minnesota, Atlanta and Dallas choke three huge leads against them. The Packers had a lot to do with it as well, but the ineptitude of those teams certainly helped. They also saw Justin Tucker hit an improbable game winning 61 yard field goal against Detroit, and Detroit also contributed to the Packers' cause by choking as well.

Somehow, after not winning a game for over a month, the Packers find themselves controlling their own destiny in the NFC North. It was thought that after seemingly being so close last week that quarterback Aaron Rodgers would finally be able to return from his broke collarbone Sunday against Pittsburgh. However, after still not being medically cleared yesterday and after watching practice in the media portion this afternoon, that would not appear to be the case.

I am certainly in no position to challenge Dr. Pat McKenzie's medical rulings. I am not a doctor and do not pretend to be one, so it would completely be unfair. However, I am allowed to have my own opinion, so I am going to do it anyways. I may be wrong, but I have also been wrong before of course.

If Aaron Rodgers think he can play and can physically do everything that he is accustomed to on the football field then he should be playing. The beat writers at yesterdays practice said that Rodgers looked sharp and was throwing with great velocity. I find what Mike McCarthy said in a Jason Wilde column last week very interesting.

"Frankly, I think if Aaron was asked the question he wants to play. He feels ready to play," said McCarthy. "Based on what he's accomplished physically and what he was able to do at practice on Wednesday and Thursday, he's ready to go. The hurdle that I know Aaron wanted to get over, he achieved it this week. He feels really good."

This was from last week too, so Rodgers has had even more rest time. So, if Rodgers is physically ready how on earth is he not out there for a season deciding game? Obviously, it is because Dr. McKenzie fears Rodgers breaking it again. Sorry, but every time Rodgers or anybody steps out on the field they have a chance to suffer an injury. They all know this and you cannot play scared.

Rodgers has been playing football since he was a little kid and this was the first time that he took a hit at the perfect spot to break his collarbone. How much risk is there of Rodgers re-breaking his collarbone? We obviously do not know, but if McKenzie is holding Rodgers out because say there is like a 10% chance of him re-breaking it that is being too conservative.

Rodgers is an extremely smart guy and knows his body and risks better than anybody. I completely understand taking the long term approach and get it. However, you have no idea if the Packers will be in a position to make a run at the Super Bowl next year or beyond. You would like to think that they will be able to with Rodgers, but you never know in the NFL.

The Packers find themselves in a position to be playing their best football at the bets time of the year and ride a huge wave of momentum into the playoffs. Other than Seattle, I do not see anybody in the NFC who doesn't have big weaknesses. the Packers have an opportunity to get the third seed and void them until the NFC Championship game. Also, the Packers should have beaten Seattle in the famous "Fail Mary" game in Seattle last year, so they're not incapable of winning there either.

This has been a very frustrating process for everybody involved and it continues to get even worse. As the Packers learned with Brett Favre you never know if you're going to get back to another Super Bowl. Wasting opportunities if there is little risk is a decision that deserves to be at least questioned.

Kdiggs74's Keys to the Game 12/22/13

What an odd weekend.  From Romo throwing 2 INT after being up 12 points in the 4th quarter, to Justin Tucker kicking a 61 yard FG as time expired, I just don't think anyone could have predicted this weekend.  Now we are riding a 2 game winning streak and face the Steelers at home in what is still a must win situation for the playoffs. 

Here are some of the matchups that I think the Packers need to win to win the game. 

--Win the turnover battle

We fell behind big time against the Cowboys by giving them a few opportunities in the first half, and without Rodgers on the field, we simply cannot afford that.  Lacy needs to hold the ball tight, and Flynn needs to make smart decisions with the football. 

--Our OL vs Steelers DL

I would like to see us have a balanced run/pass attack against the Steelers.  Sometimes our line is strong, and other times it looks like swiss cheese.  We can't afford any injuries here because our backups are not good enough to play against NFL quality talent.  I won't say Lacy has to run for 150 yards for us to win, but if he got there I would be fairly certain that the win is imminent. 

--Shields/Williams vs Brown

Antonio Brown has been having a great season.  He is fast and elusive.  Obviously he had the great punt return against the Bengals, and almost had the long touchdown late against the Dolphins (but he ironically stepped out).  I just am worried about the matchup, and don't think we can double team since we need to stop Bell too. 

--Red zone victories

Whether on offense or defense, I think scoring is going to be coming at a premium in what looks like it will be a snow bowl game.  When we are in the red zone, we cannot settle for FG.  When we are on defense, we need to force turnovers or make them settle for FG.  It's a tall task, but it's highly urgent this week. 

Those are my thoughts, if you have any others you can post them in the comments below or back in the forum. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Wild Ride, Ending to be Determined

I'm pretty certain, that nobody expected us to be at 6-6-1 after 13 games.  Even if that had happened, I doubt that they would think that we would have a good chance at the division, because the Bears and Lions were both expected to bounce back.  So here are a few thoughts on the season so far and then looking forward to the end of the season.

Considering what a carousel we have had at QB for the past 6 weeks, I'm counting the whole Bears game as a game without Rodgers, since he was hurt in the first quarter, we could be doing a lot worse.  When I look at teams who have played multiple QB's this year, like Browns and the Vikings, we have a much better record.  As far as yards per game is concerned, the Packers are still 5th in the NFL with 394.5 YPG.  We are in a 3 way tie for scoring per game, 24.3 PPG, tied with the Chargers and 49ers.  Lacy has been doing great, but with a lot of injuries, especially on offense, McCarthy is still doing a great job there.

Defensively, we are around the middle of the pack for yards per game overall, rushing, and passing defense yards.  Our defense has 39 Sacks, which is only 5 behind the NFL leader which is Buffalo.  But our defense is at it's best when it is forcing turnovers, an issue that our defense has always had in the 3-4 under Dom Capers.  When we won the Super Bowl in 2010, Tramon Williams had a pick to guarantee the victory against the Eagles at the end of the game.  Everyone remembers the pick 6 right before the half by Williams against Atlanta.  BJ Raji had a pick 6 against the Bears.  Collins had another pick 6 against the Steelers, and Clay was able to force a fumble in the 4th quarter also.  But only 7 INT this year, is horrible.  The Tampa Bay Bucs have 21 INT on defense this year.

Crosby and Masthay have been at the top of their game all year.  Probably been a difference maker in some of the closer games we have had this year.  But I don't think we can blame much on our current special teams players from this year (Jeremy Ross, that is completely different).

So here are some rooting interests for the rest of the year.

As much as it pains me to say it.  I will be rooting for the Cowboys tonight, but only because then we would be second in the division.  We need the Bears to lose, and technically if we both win out until week 17, and then we beat them in week 17, we would finish ahead of them.  But you can't blame me for wanting to make this a two horse race instead of 3.

Week 15
--Ravens over Lions (MNF)
--Browns over Bears
--Packers over Cowboys

Of course, right after I have us cheering for the Cowboys, I want us to turn around and beat them.  I have hope that we can win the game against the Cowboys with or without Rodgers, because their defense is miserable.  It is the worst defense in the NFL, and I think that we should be able to run and pass against them.  Browns over Bears is probably pretty wishful, but it is in Cleveland, and they almost beat the Patriots this past week, and their defense is strong, and the Bears defense is pretty rough.  Ravens over Lions is a very strong one for me.  It is probably the Lions toughest opponent left on their schedule.  If the Lions don't lose that one, and they have to lose at least one for us to pass them, then I don't know for sure where they will lose.

Week 16
--Eagles over Bears
--Giants over Lions
--Packers over Steelers

Eagles over Bears would be a likely result in my opinion.  Giants have been very inconsistent, but they might be able to beat the Lions if they can avoid turnovers.  Steelers are still a tough team and have been improving later in the year since they have Le'Veon Bell.

Week 17
--Packers over Bears
--Vikings over Lions

Let's be honest, the Packers beating the Bears is the only likely result listed above here.  I just don't trust the Vikings to do anything right, and the Bears are going to do everything they can to knock us out of the playoffs and put themselves in.  Right now I think that the Packers probably have about a 20% chance of winning the division.  Both the Panthers and 49ers would have to lose out and have some other things happen for us to win a wild card, that's why I didn't bring up that possibility.  I don't claim to know what will happen by the end of the year.  But I'm hanging onto my seat, wearing my green and yellow with pride, and hoping and cheering for the best.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Lions 40, Packers 10: What Happened and Where Do We Go From Here?

By: Matt Bove

The beat down that took place at Ford Field yesterday is only supposed to take place on Fridays at high school fields and Saturdays at college stadiums. The talent is so close in the NFL that it is very rare to see an ass whooping like that take place on a Sunday, or a Thursday in this case.

How many times can you say that a score of 40-10 does not do justice for how awful the performance really was? This would be one of those times because the Packers are lucky the score wasn't 57-0.

The Packers scored because of a strip sack by Nick Perry and an out of bounds kickoff by Lions punter Sam Martin. The Lions missed opportunities to score because of a Reggie Bush fumble near the end zone, an interception by Sam Shields in the end zone and a missed 30-yard field goal by David Akers.

The Lions had a grand total of 561 yards of offense and 40:26 time of possession to only 102 yards and 19:34 for the Packers. The Lions had seven sacks, as the Packers could not block the Lions front four, especially after Evan Dietrich-Smith went out. The Lions gashed the Packers up front for 241 yards, and it was embarrassing.  BJ Raji and Ryan Pickett were killed by double teams and never got any penetration, while Brad Jones and AJ Hawk could not get off blocks or make tackles when they actually had a chance to.

The Packers averaged a grand total of 1.6 yards per rush. They had only seven first down to the Lions 30. I can go on all day about this game, but really everybody knows and saw what happened. I am more interested in how we got here and how we move forward. The Packers' entire organization got utterly embarrassed in front of a national television audience on Thanksgiving. Maybe this will finally wake them up that there needs to be changes.

First off all let me say this, if Aaron Rodgers was healthy this team would probably be 9-3. No, it is not an excuse, it is reality. The Packers were 5-2 and rolling with Rodgers going into the Monday Night game against Chicago. Their opening series vs. Chicago was an absolute clinic and you cannot convince me that they were not going to drop 40 points on that pitiful defense.

They then moved the ball evenly with Philadelphia and lost because of turnovers from Scott Tolzien. Then in New York the defense actually put together a decent performance and allowed only 20 points themselves, and the Giants flat out are a terrible team. Obviously, a home game against the Vikings is an obvious win with Rodgers when they tied without him. There are your nine wins.

That is not to say that there aren't major problems with the team or that they were going to win the Super Bowl with Rodgers. They just would be 9-3 and cruising to a division title in a horrible division like they do every year with Rodgers. That is a testament to Rodgers and not anybody else.

The big question is why has this team gone from a rock solid playoff team with Rodgers to the Jacksonville Jaguars without him? There has been lots of blame going around, but lets focus on the three men that have taken the brunt of it.

Ted Thompson:

Thompson remains one of the best and most successful general managers in the NFL. However, that does not mean he is flawless, and I'm sure he will tell you that he needs to do a better job. He said in an interview with the Green Bay Press Gazette to blame him if the backup quarterback situation failed. Well it has failed, so here ya go Ted.

Thompson's first mistake was putting his trust into Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman. I never saw anything in Harrell's Green Bay tenure that suggested he was an NFL quarterback, yet the Packers stuck with him for two years and another training camp. Harrell has no future in this league, as he is currently not on a team. Ditto for Coleman, although he does have an NFL arm unlike Harrell, but he was just much too erratic.

Thompson had a failed experiment with Vince Young before bringing in Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien after training camp. That did not give them a sufficient enough time to learn the system, and it showed when they had to play. What a mess.

Thompson left this team barren of talent and depth in a few key areas this season, and it has hurt the team. The obvious one is safety, as Morgan Burnett has been a huge disappointment after signing a $24 million extension, and MD Jennings and Jerron McMillian do not belong on an NFL team. Inside linebacker is another. I do not think the Packers can ever have an elite defense with A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones starting. Yes, the defensive line is not keeping offensive linemen off of them, but that does not excuse them from not getting off blocks, missing tons of tackles, never making an impact play and not being able to cover anybody. I said they needed to be replaced last offseason, and here were are again with the same problem.

The depth at outside linebacker and along the offensive line was not good enough coming out of camp, and that has proved to be true this season. Sure, losing Clay Matthews and Nick Perry is very tough to overcome, but Nate Palmer and Andy Mulumba have shown next to nothing. Obviously, having Marshall Newhouse as your first offensive lineman off the bench has been an abomination. Also, if you're going to insert Newhouse at right guard when he has no experience there, then why on earth is Lane Taylor even on the roster?

Those are positions where Thompson has missed drastically. A veteran offensive lineman needed to be signed this offseason for depth, and how on earth Thompson ignored safety in a rich safety draft class is beyond me. Also, Thompson has not had drafted a real key contributor other than Micah Hyde (jury still out though) in the 5th round or later since Brad Jones in 2009. That is completely unacceptable for a guy who relies solely on the draft to build the team. If he is not going to get contributors late in the draft then he needs to sign some free agents.

Mike McCarthy:

Like Thompson, McCarthy is one of the most successful coaches in the NFL and one of the best in the business. Please spare me he is only successful because of just Rodgers. Rodgers was far from a finished product coming out of Cal and McCarthy developed him greatly. Also, look at what McCarthy did in New Orleans with Aaron Brooks of all people.

However, like Thompson, McCarthy has also lost his way a little way a little bit. He kept Dom Capers a year too long, just like he did with Bob Sanders, and it has cost the defense again this year. The attitude of the team reflects the coach, and the fact that it looks like this team has flat out quit a couple of times now reflects poorly of him. Instead of fighting and stepping up their games without Rodgers they just folded the tent in. Inexcusable.

A few of McCarthy's comments have also been weird. The fact that he praised the team for the way they battled in a loss to the Giants was baffling. Also, the big one was when he talked about the "reoccurring issue" after the Philadelphia game, and then insulted everybody's intelligence by saying that he never said it.

McCarthy's offensive scheme has also gone a little stale. Opposing players on defense have been commenting on how they know what is coming from the Packers offense. Not good. McCarthy's style of staying patient has been good in the past, but now is working against him.

Dom Capers: 

How anybody still defends this man is beyond me. The talent isn't the greatest, but he is working with six first round picks in the front seven and solid cornerbacks. Sure, the safeties suck, but not every position on a team can be great. I think a coordinator with fresh schemes and and a new attitude can make it work with this defense.

I don't want to here squat from the players defending Dom either. Of course they are going to back him up when he never holds any of them accountable. It is like a country club playing for him and that is a huge part of what needs to change other than the scheme. How is Chris Banjo not playing instead of Jennings or Jamari Latimore not playing for Jones? No accountability.

After allowing 45 points in the playoff loss to Arizona, having one of the worst defenses in NFL history in 2011, allowing 579 yards against San Francisco in the 2012 playoffs and this years epic collapse it is clear that Capers needs to go and be replaced with another 3-4 coordinator. I would not go with a 4-3 guy because Clay Matthews is a 3-4 player, and that is who you build around. Of course this was also clear last year, so who knows what will happen.

Talk of firing McCarthy or Thompson is very far fetched. If either were fired they would be out of a job for like 10 minutes before being hired elsewhere. McCarthy and Thompson have bought themselves time to fix this mess because of their track records, but it is clear that status quo will no longer be good enough.

This may actually be a good thing in the end. In the NFL it is very hard to stay at the top for long unless you are the Patriots, and even they have not won a Super Bowl since 2006.

With a laundry list of free agents and a potential high draft pick the Packers will have a chance to reload this offseason. The only player on that list who they must bring back is Sam Shields. Everybody else is replaceable. This type of stretch of bad play may be what the organization needed to recognize the problems instead of having the quarterback cover them up. Lets hope so.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Ravings of A Forty Something Cheesehead ~ Team Issues Raw Perspective

by 68md

Too many times the past 24 to 30 months we have heard the sugar coated version of what's wrong in Green bay. We have had consistent problems with multiple issues only to have bloggers and reporters put on their green and gold glass's and whisk it away.

So today I'll lay it out for you very simply and honestly. The first big issue and it's elephant in the room is the talent. That's right except for a handful of players the talent level isn't there anymore.

You see players who had "huge potential " and "upside"  getting run over and around each week. All the scheme and coaching in the world can't overcome that.  Stop drafting prospects and bodies and inject some high level talent into the team.

Sorry Ted but ever UDFA and low draft pick can't be a stud.

To further complicate that your stuck in a 3-4  defensive scheme and drafting 4-3 ends you want to convert to 3/4 OLB. How's that working for you ? Enough !

Our OL is a mess from top to bottom. Ever since the switch to ZBS it's been a mess.  Time for MM to pull up his pants and dump this disaster of a system and hire a new OL coach and system.

Really what it boils down to is the system and beliefs TT/MM have built the team around need adjusting. They have grown stale and other teams know what we are bringing to the table.

The winds of change need to blow in Titletown. Time for Mike and Ted to look in the mirror and say we have a problem.

That's my raw perspective. Until next time Go Pack Go !

Friday, November 15, 2013

Packers @ Giants: Keys to the Game

The Packers will visit the Meadowlands to take on the Giants and I will be attendance, as I always am when the Packers visit the Meadowlands, which seems like every year now. I will be paying close attention to the secondary to see what is going on there. I should be able to give a recap and my thoughts watching the team live on Monday. Anyways, lets get to the keys to beating the Giants Sunday.

1. Marshall Newhouse performing: Newhouse has been an abomination so far in two chances that he has had to play this year. Somehow, he has been even worse than he was last year, and his confidence may be completely shot. Newhouse will have to step up with Don Barclay not practicing all week and looking like a long shot to play. Newhouse got toasted by Jason Pierre-Paul last year against the Giants, but will have an easier matchup against Justin Tuck this time around. Tuck has been on a downward slope for a few years now, but he has had three straight games with six quarterback pressures, so he might have found an extra gear. Going from Barlcay to Newhouse with the Packers needing to run the ball well is a huge downgrade in the running game.

2. Creating Turnovers: Something has to give in this game in the turnover battle. Eli Manning has had a horrific year, as he has thrown 16 interceptions, even with a solid wide receiver core of Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle. Meanwhile, the Packers have an embarrassing three interceptions in nine games this year. Manning's play has been baffling this year, even though he has always thrown a lot of picks he has never been this bad. Green Bay's lack of interceptions is also puzzling because even though the defense has rarely been great under Dom Capers they always made interceptions. Manning has been awful when under pressure this year, and that has been when he has made his worst decisions.Capers has been reluctant to blitz recently, but this should be the week to do it. Manning will surely give the Packers opportunities for interceptions, and they will have to catch them to win the game.

3. Control the Line of Scrimmage: I already touched on Newhouse, but controlling the line of scrimmage will be key to winning without Aaron Rodgers. Even when Rodgers was healthy that was a huge part of why the Packers were 5-2. The Giants have been an awful running team all season, but Andre Brown played for the first time last week and ran for 115 yards on 15 carries. He does not have the shiftiness that the Packers have seen with Matt Forte and LeSean McCoy over the last two weeks, but if they do not feel like tackling he can run through tackles. The interior line of the Giants is weak and they may have a tough time moving Johnny Jolly, Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji. The Giants defense has been great against the run, as they rank 7th in the NFL allowing 3.7 yards per attempt. Without Rodgers it will be a challenge for Eddie Lacy to find many holes on the ground.

4. Tolzien Getting Defenders Out of the Box: The Giants have a very solid run defense as I just stated. If they are able to keep extra men in the box to stop Lacy the Packers will have a tough time running the ball. Tolzien showed an ability to get the ball down field with an improved arm that he showed at Wisconsin. He tried a lot of the back shoulder throws that the Packers are accustomed to with Rodgers, while Seneca Wallace showed no ability to throw outside of the numbers. Tolzien also showed an innate ability to get the ball out quickly, although the Giants are not a big blitzing team. With a week of practice to feel even more comfortable hopefully Tolzien can build off his solid performance last week.

5. Having A Sense of Urgency: This is a huge game for the Packers and a winnable one. The Giants have gone on a three game winning streak to get back to 3-6, but in reality they have played no better than when they were 0-6. They were unable to blow out three teams whose quarterbacks were Josh Freeman, Matt Barkley and Terrelle Pryor. The Packers have two winnable games before Rodgers hopefully returns and they cans ave their season by winning them. However, if the defense feels no urgency to pick up the slack for the offense like it hasn't for the last two weeks then. Having two drives start from inside the opponents' five yard and let them have drives to essentially end the game in your own stadium is unacceptable and embarrassing.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ravings of A Forty Something Cheesehead

By 68md

Back again after 8 games to find the Packers in a slightly tougher spot then I had anticipated at this point. Several issues need to addressed and I want to forewarn anyone reading this I don't sugar coat my opinion so if your on edge better wait before reading.

First the big elephant in the room Aaron Rodgers injury. No the season is not over. No team anywhere just folds after losing the star to injury.

However I will make 2 points, First part of the struggle at back up QB lies squarely on staff and the front office in not seeing that we had issues at back up earlier in camp. Wallace and VY were really never given a whole camp or off season to learn a very complex offense.

Second I don't agree with the Tolzien signing and or keeping him on PS for more $. The man has never thrown a regular season pass or taken a snap in the NFL. All his limited work was in preseason. Big gamble on a hunch. Mark me down as skeptical.

Moving on J. Finley was placed on IR this week. A very smart move giving Fin a chance to really think things through. If he clears from a medical stand point I expect Green Bay to offer a 1 year deal and give Finley a chance to "redo" last year. It's the Packer way !

I want too quickly address the offensive line which has improved in run blocking but the pass pro is still too hot/cold with your franchise out there every snap. This issue continues to be an Achilles to the team. Please TT no more tweeners... draft a solid pass pro OT !

Defensively I went back over two weeks on NFL rewind and watched a ton of film. Two things stand out.
We still out think our selves at times... meaning you have to go out and play aggressively and have confidence and we sporadically just tend to brain fart and go soft.
I really can't say if it's scheme or coaching or just a product of a young football team  but it's glaring.

Second the Packers play worse every time MM goes low numbers on DL for ST.  We have 3 or 4 big boys but when our O struggles they get gassed and then gashed rather quickly.

The defensive must step up the next 3 weeks and say " it's on us" play with pride and play mad.

I want to remind everyone that we are all Packer fans. That injuries happen to every team and that win lose or draw we stand together as packer nation. When folks get passionate don't get angry, allow them to vent and lift them up.

Well that's enough crazy rant for now. Let's go get ready for Philly and as always Go Pack Go !

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Packers Chances Without Rodgers

By: Matt Bove

Last night the Packers' worst nightmare became a reality. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone on a sack by Shea McCellin of the Bears. The timetable for his return is unknown at this point, but it seems like a return in three weeks would be the best case scenario.

The Packers' "next man up" mantra will be push to its limits over the next few weeks and there is a chance it can reach its breaking point.

The Packers have proved that they can survive without any player other than Rodgers this season after losing Morgan Burnett, Clay Matthews, Brad Jones, Casey Heyward, Randall Cobb, Jermicahel Finley, Bryan Bulaga and James Jones at different points this season. However, losing Rodgers is just a different thing all together.

Rodgers just elevates everybody on the offense so much. He has thrived with a receiving core that has included the likes of Myles White, Jarrett Boykin and Andrew Quarless recently. He has made an offensive line with average talent look solid. The threat of his passing ability has opened up space for Eddie Lacy to run through eight man boxes. All of that will be no more.

Ted Thompson has built and outstanding roster in Green Bay, but if the Packers flounder without Rodgers he deserves heavy criticism for not addressing the backup quarterback spot last offseason. Thompson got very lucky that Graham Harrell did not have to see the field the last two seasons, but his luck finally ran out.

Thompson has hitched his wagon to 11-year veteran Seneca Wallace. It did not go well for Wallace at all last night, as he completed 11 of 19 passes for 114 yards and an interception. He did not have a full week of practice and may have been rusty, but he also did not look like an NFL quarterback.

The Packers are unlikely to look outside the organization for quarterback options because it is just not their way. Matt Flynn is a nice thought, but getting beat out by Jeff Tuel, who is one of the worst quarterbacks I have ever seen, in Buffalo is not a promising sign. The Packers will stick with Wallace and promote former Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien from the practice squad.

The Packers ran for 199 yards, had a blocked punt and a recovered onsides kick, and Wallace still could not lead them to a victory at home against a terrible defense. That is not a good sign. At 5'11", Wallace had trouble finding throwing lanes and was wildly inaccurate. Also, he did not even attempt a pass over 20 yards down the field, which is always a stable of the Packers' offense with Rodgers.

Wallace's trademark skill has always been his athleticism and his ability to make plays outside of the pocket, but that was nowhere to be found last night. Wallace folded under pressure and did not look like he had a clue what to do once a guy was in his face.

The Packers have had an amazing year running the football, as they have averaged 148.6 yards per game, which ranks 2nd in the NFL. Eddie Lacy is a special running back and the Packers offense will now be built around him. However, Lacy will have to deal with loaded fronts on the majority of plays, which has not been the case this season.

The extra men in the box did not bother Lacy last night, as he ran for 150 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Lacy showed incredible patience again waiting for holes to open up and has such light feet for a big running back. Obviously, he ran over and through tackles like he always does.

To survive without Rodgers the Packers are going to need a much greater defensive effort that the pitiful one they gave last night. Dom Capers was simply owned by Marc Trestman all night long. Capers played Josh McCown like he was Rodgers, and McCown picked the Packers to shreds.

Capers played way too many four man rush with zone behind it schemes, especially without Clay Matthews and Nick Perry being there to generate pressure without blitzing. The Bears had receivers running open all night long, and Matt Forte ran for over 100 yards against the Packers' vaunted defensive line.

The consecutive missed tackles by Casey Heyward and A.J. Hawk on the Bears' final drive were embarrassing and eliminated any chance the Packers had of winning. The Packers once again created zero turnovers, and that was the fourth game without a takeaway this season. That will have to change quickly if the Packers want to win games without Rodgers.

The one saving grace for the Packers is their weak upcoming schedule. They play home against Philadelphia, at New York and home against Minnesota before traveling to Detroit for Thanksgiving. The first three games are all winnable.

The ideal scenario would be to go 2-1 over the next three games and have Rodgers come back for Thanksgiving. Is that possible? Yes it is, but the Packers will have to play a helluva lot better than they did last night and have a much better game plan going forward. It just sucks so much that a team that had real Super Bowl chances could have it blown because of a situation like this, especially with so many free agents this offseason.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Packers Winning A New Way

By: Matt Bove

The style of football that the Green Bay Packers are playing has definitely changed this season. They are winning with defense and physical play on offense.

"Our big guys are where it starts," McCarthy said. "We talked about it earlier. We talked about it Saturday night in the team meeting. We're going to lean on our big dogs. That will definitely be a apart of our focus going forward."

Going into the season the Packers planned on being a bigger and more physical football team. With the additions of Nick Perry, Johnny Jolly and Mike Neal at OLB on defense the front seven was a much more physically imposing group than last season.

With Clay Matthews out, Perry and Neal were doing an exceptional job of setting the edge against the run and rushing the passer. Amazingly, both of them got injured, and the Packers did not really miss a beat with Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer at outside linebacker. Brandon Weeden had a lot to do with it, but for two guys who were never supposed to be on the field this year the fact that the defense was functional was a great sign.

It was also a testament to AJ Hawk, Jamari Lattimore and the defensive line rotation that the defense has been able to survive. Hawk has been playing better this season than any other in his career thanks to a new offseason training program that has improved his athleticism. He has been making more impact plays, including his three sacks at Baltimore. Lattimore had 12 tackles against Cleveland and he really packed a punch with his hits. Lattimore is also very solid in coverage with his athleticism. He will be hard to take off the field even with Brad Jones returning.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

NFL Injury Outbreak.... The Real Issues

By 68md

As we all know the NFL again this year is seeing an uptick in injuries. Specifically head injuries and knees.

I have sat back yet again and heard from the talking head and couch potato experts whom point fingers at everything, the nasty ...dirty player all the way to the "stupid” NFL and rule committee.

The issue is/was and continues to be the degrading fundamental skills of the pro football player in general. My colleagues don't dis spell this but want to look at college football as an issue.

Sadly it goes way down to the pop warner level. Quietly the NFL sees it thus your new "heads up” football program. For the last 10-15 years we have coaches at youth level up that have stopped coaching fundamental football. Proper tackling and blocking are harder and harder to find.

The issue has been compounded by the emergence of the "spread” offense system which leaves players specifically QB lacking skills.

I would use the analogy of trying to teach algebra to someone who hasn't learned multiplication or division. You have to have the basics to be solid long term. 

Let's look at some recent hits by Safeties, first understand something. If a player commits to a hit or tackle full speed he can't stop 3/4 in. Once he is moving that fast it's done.... gravity. That's were the rule part of the problem is a factor but here is where you see the other glaring issue.

A lot of guys are dropping their heads and spearing because that's what they were taught. They just don't understand the concept of breaking down square up and tackle.... they were never taught.

Yes I know your saying "come on" watch... watch HS watch college and on Sunday. Take one whole weekend and just watch fundamentals and you will see just how bad it is.
We have been so busy making the game "fun" and watchable we forgot about basic bread and butter football fundamentals.

Just last week I watched a rec dept. game with a coach screaming "lower your head and stick      “ him” This coach is considered a king because his teams "win" just one example of how players are being taught the behavior that leads to our issues.

In closing let me summarize for you in reality what is really causing this as a whole:

1. Bigger /stronger players
2. Lack of fundamentals at all levels ( the big elephant in the room)
3. New helmets and pads that give a false sense of security "helps prevent concussions” (crap)
4. New CBA rules that cut down on practice time and coaching as well as strength and conditioning.

The rest is smoke and mirrors and haphazard finger pointing. Until the league address' the above issues and the players want to accept it those issues will continue to degrade the game and make it more dangerous.

Many will again disagree with my thoughts but I strongly believe them.

Until next time Go Pack GO!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Clay Matthews Injury Impact

According to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews underwent surgery on Monday to heal a Bennett fracture on his thumb, meaning that the thumb is dislocated and will require pins. The pins will come out in four weeks and Matthews will need some additional time to heal. The Packers have yet to confirm this, but Glazer is always on the money and the Packers never are when it comes to injuries.  

First of all let me get this out of the way. If you are one of those people whining about how Matthews is a pansy, and that Brett Favre played with a broken thumb, just shut up. Stop it. This man played on a frekin broken leg in 2010, but you are questioning his toughness? Matthews cannot play with pins in his thumb, and Favre's injury was not a Bennett fracture. Rant over. 

Matthews is obviously a huge loss for the Packers. He makes plays that not very many players in the NFL can make and is one of the best defensive players in the league. Matthews currently leads the team with three sacks and he record 13.5 sacks in only 12 games last season. 

"Clay's one of those guys who's going to make two or three plays a game," said Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers. "You've seen every game this year, there's been two or three plays that he makes."

The Packers will turn to former defensive lineman Mike Neal and 2012 first round pick Nick Perry to replace Matthews. That is a gigantic step up from when Erik Walden and Dezman Moses last season when the Packers went 3-1 without Matthews. 

Just because the Packers went 3-1 without Matthews last season does not mean that he was not missed. The Packers only had six sacks in those four games and five of them came on Thanksgiving at Detroit. However, Neal and Perry are much more talented players than Walden and Moses. 

Neal and Perry both played terrific games on Sunday against Detroit, and the Packers will be looking to get that kind of production out of them again. According to Pro Football Focus, Neal had one sack and five hurries, while Perry had two sacks and four hurries. They both set a mean edge against the run, as Reggie Bush only ran for 44 yards on 13 carries. 

Neal (6-3, 285) and Perry (6-3, 265) are both above the average size for a 3-4 outside linebacker, so playing the run should not be an issue without Matthews. Last season, the Packers allowed 158 yards rushing a game in those four games without Matthews. With a huge line of Johnny Jolly, B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett backed up by Neal and Perry on the edge I would be surprised if that was an issue. 

The big question will be how will Neal and Perry rush the passer? Perry was benched for Neal to start Sunday's game before Matthews got hurt because he was not producing early in the season. Perry has been known to not have much other than a bull rush, but he got around Riley Reiff quite a few times on Sunday. 

Neal was playing well, but how will he handle the increased attention he will receive? He is a freak athlete so you hope that he will only get better as he continues to learn the position. 

The schedule while the Packers are without Matthews should be favorable to them. The first three games will be against the Ravens, Browns and Vikings. None of them have quarterbacks that should be able to take big advantage of the Packers minus Matthews. 

Their next three opponents after them are the Bears, Eagles and Giants. They have better quarterbacks in Jay Cutler, Michael Vick and Eli Manning, but all three of them are turnover prone. All three of those defenses have struggled mightily. Also, for all the talk of the Giants dominating the Packers, people always leave out the Packers 45-17 domination of the Giants in a must win game in 2010 and a 38-35 victory at the Meadowlands in 2011. 

Even without Matthews the Packers still have a lot of talent on defense. They will have three solid cornerbacks when Casey Heyward returns, a very good safety in Morgan Burnett and five former first round picks in a front seven that has played well to start the season. Capers will have to come up with more creative blitzes and schemes to help his players. Even without Matthews, there are still no excuses. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

On Aaron Rodgers and 4th Quarter Comebacks

After a 34-30 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Aaron Rodgers has come under huge criticism again for failing to lead the Packers to a game winning touchdown drive with the game on the line.

Football Outsiders' Scott Kacsmar wrote a ridiculous piece on why Rodgers cannot be considered a top quarterback because of his failures in close games. It is embarrassing that a Football Outsiders writer would cling to a narrative like that, since that website is supposed to go beyond those cliche narratives.

"Clutch" is probably the most overused narrative in all of sports. A football game is 60 minutes long and plays in the first quarter can have just as big an impact as plays on the final drive. It is just lazy analysis to look at a final drive and say that is why a team won or lost.

The Packers' loss to Cincinnati on Sunday is a perfect example. The Packers did not lose that game on the final drive. The game was lost in the first half due to not taking advantage of turnovers and by Rodgers' two killer interceptions before the final drive.

The Packers' starting field position on their first six drives of the game was the 50 yard line and they got a grand total of nine points out of that. Combine that with Jeremy Ross' fumbled kickoff and that is essentially where the game was lost.

However, the Packers still managed to take a 30-14 lead in spite of all of that, but Rodgers' interceptions let them back in the game. The first was James Jones' fault, as he did not work through the defender on a slant pattern leading to an easy pick. The second one occurred with the Packers driving up 30-21 and looking to put the game away. Rodgers threw one of the worst passes I've ever seen him throw to Randall Cobb with Leon Hall draped all over him on a wheel route.

With the loss, Rodgers fell to 5-24 when trailing in the fourth quarter with a chance to take the lead. In games decided by four points or fewer, Mike McCarthy has a 9-20 record over the course of his Green Bay head coaching tenure, and Rodgers is 5-16 in those games as the starting quarterback. Of course that is an arbitrary number, as McCarthy's record is 27-27 in games decided by seven points or fewer, and Rodgers' is 18-21.

Rodgers played one of the worst games I have ever seen him play against Cincy and deserves criticism for that. However, win-loss record is a team statistic and not a quarterback statistic. Why doesn't Kacsmar write an article about Josh Sitton's record in comeback situations?

It is ridiculous to just blame the quarterback when not watching the film and the other circumstances of the whole game. So, since David Bahktiari did not execute his cut block against Michael Johnson, Rodgers is not clutch? How absurd is that?

Jason Lisk of The Big Lead, did some great research on Rodgers record in comeback situations. It is much less biased and tells the story how it should be told. Rodgers and the Packers have only won nine of the 16 games (56%) when Rodgers has led them to a go-ahead score in the fourth quarter. In comparison, Matt Ryan (88%), Tom Brady (93%), Eli Manning (80%), Jay Cutler (90%), Drew Brees (80%), Peyton Manning (96%), Tony Romo (83%), Joe Flacco (75%), Ben Roethlisberger (77%) and Phillip Rivers (85%) all have at least an 75 percent winning percentage in that situation.

If the Packers had maintained Rodgers' leads at a normal rate he would be right up there with all of those quarterbacks. A combination of defense, coaching and Rodgers not doing enough to maintain those leads have all been factors in this. It's not just Rodgers. Mason Crosby has missed four game winning kicks that would have been a comeback win for Rodgers and the defense has let up 20 game-winning drives since 2008, which is the third most in the NFL.

According to Lisk, Rodgers' numbers since 2008 when trailing by eight points or less in the final five minutes of the game are 63-104, 60% completion percentage, 868 yards, 8.3 YPA, 7 TD's to 5 INT's and an 89.7 passer rating. Of the quarterbacks I previously mentioned, Rodgers is third in completion percentage, third in TD to INT ratio and second in passer rating. His stats stack up very well with the other top quarterbacks in the NFL when trying to make a comeback in the final five minutes. His subsequent poor record in these situations is stunning when comparing his stats with the other quarterbacks.

What does this mean? Rodgers has been incredibly unlucky in those spots. The Packers' recent failures in close games has a lot more to do than Rodgers. If his leads were held at the same rate as all the other quarterbacks he would not have an "unclutch" reputation.

Anybody remember when the Packers were up 28-25 in Super Bowl XLV  and facing a 3rd-and-11 on their own 25 with under six minutes to play? The Steelers had all the momentum, and without Charles Woodson and Sam Shields they were likely to win the game if the Packers didn't convert.

Rodgers proceeded to throw an absolute dart just over Ike Taylor's fingers to Greg Jennings for the conversion. That was one of the greatest throws I have ever seen with the Super Bowl on the line. He isn't "clutch" or something though. Also, never mind the fact that he played an amazing game on that stage and was the clear Super Bowl XLV MVP. Who cares though.

All I know is that Rodgers can be the quarterback of my team in any situation and I would feel comfortable. Yes, that includes on any game winning drive.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Packers @ Bengals Preview

By: Matt Bove

The Packers and Bengals are two extremely talented teams and this is a fantastic matchup. If you take away the quarterback position the Bengals might be the most talented team in the NFL.

Andy Dalton is the clear weak link for Cincinnati. He has A.J. Green, who might be the best wide receiver in the NFL( yes including Calvin Johnson). He has two athletic tight ends in Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham and two solid offensive tackles protecting him in Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith. Now, Dalton even has a talented running back in Giovanni Bernard, who was the first running back taken in this year's NFL Draft.

Yet, Dalton could not blow out the Steelers, who were begging to be run out of the building with their egregious offense. He was missing easy throws, and he does not have the arm strength to be able to afford to be inaccurate. The Bengals should be 2-0, as they absolutely blew their Week 1 game at Chicago in which that they had a 21-10 lead in.

Here are 3 key things to watch for in Sunday's game:

1. How will the Packers cover the middle of the field? 
 This is always a question with the Packers but even more so this week due to Eifert, Gresham and Bernard. Eifert was clearly the best tight end in this year's NFL Draft and he is a nightmare matchup. Eifert is huge at 6 feet 6 inches, ran a 4.67 at the NFL Combine and has outstanding hands. Eifert will not only be lined up at tight end, but is also very effective on the outside with his size. With Morgan Burnett on the sidelines again M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian will have their hands full.

Bernard is another issue with his incredible quickness catching balls out of the backfield. Bernard caught a 27 yard touchdown after the Bengals ran four verticals with their receivers and ran Bernard out of the backfield. Brad Jones will most be in charge of keeping him in check most of the time.

2. Packers offensive line vs. Bengals defensive line

The Bengals have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL and it is a really bad matchup for Green Bay's offensive line. Carlos Dunlap (6-6, 280) and Michael Johnson ( 6-7, 270) are two very long and tall players for the undersized Don Barclay (6-4, 305) and David Bakhtiari (6-4, 300) to handle. Geno Atkins is the bets defensive tackle in the NFL and will be a load to handle inside and should require a good amount of double teaming. With Eddie Lacy and John Kuhn most likely out it will hurt the pass protection. Lacy and Kuhn are much better pass protectors than James Starks and Johnathan Franklin. Running the ball will also be much tougher in this game than it was against Washington.

3. Will Aaron Rodgers stay hot? 

Aaron Rodgers ( 813 yards, 8 touchdowns, 1 interception, 127.2 passer rating) has had a fantastic start to the 2013 season. Rodgers has been throwing more shorter passes this season and letting his fantastic wide receivers and tight end do a lot of the work for him. The Packers lead in the NFL in YAC with 423 and they have not had a single dropped pass in the first two games. Outside of Leon Hall, the weakness of the Bengals defense is in the secondary and they do not have the athletes to contain all of the Packers' weapons. It does not help them that they're banged up with Brandon Ghee out, Dre' Kirkpatrick doubtful and Adam Jones questionable.

I have been going back and forth about this game in my mind a million times. I really worry about how the Packers will protect Rodgers, run the ball and cover all of Cincinnati's weapons. However, Rodgers vs. Dalton is a huge mismatch and Cincinnati is banged up in the secondary. Also, the Bengals are coming off an emotional Monday Night Football win against arch rival Pittsburgh. For the gamblers out there, Cincinnati is 3-11 vs. the spread in their last 14 games following a Pittsburgh game. They have lost against the spread by an average of over a touchdown.

Prediction: Packers 28, Bengals 24

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Contract Year Players Performing Well

By: Matt Bove

The Green Bay Packers have a ton of important players that are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next offseason.

Among those players are B.J. Raji, Sam Shields, Jermichael Finley, James Jones, Ryan Pickett, Johnny Jolly and Evan Dietrich-Smith. All of those players have performed very well over the first two games of the season and it will be tough to keep all of them.

Raji, Pickett and Jolly for the defensive line for the base defense that has been very physical and stout against the run. Alfred Morris did gain 108 yards on Sunday, but most of that was in the second half with the game out of reach. The Packers held Frank Gore to 44 yards on 21 carries against a very physical offensive line.

Raji will command by far the most money out of the three and is said to be seeking a deal worth around $9 million or $10 million. It has been rumored that Raji is Ted Thompson's first priority and that there have been negotiations taken place.

With everything being equal Raji is the best player out of the remaining free agents, but at that high price I would be a little weary. That high of contract is for the likes of guys like Geno Atkins and Haloti Ngata and Raji just has not performed at their level consistently. Also, his work ethic has been rumored to be sketchy, and that could rear its ugly head with a big money deal. Thompson loves big body athletes and the nose tackle is a critical position in the 3-4 defense, so he might feel differently.

Pickett and Jolly are likely to welcome the opportunity to come back for little money. At age 34, Pickett is about winning and his big family, so I doubt that he would want to go anywhere else. Even at his advanced age he is still fantastic against the run taking up double teams. Considering the faith that the Packers have shown in Jolly you would figure he would reciprocate that in his contract if the Packers want to re-sign him.

Shields is pretty much essential to re-sign in my eyes. Cornerbacks are so valuable and especially corners that can cover in man because they are becoming a rare bread nowadays. Shields still gets a little lackadaisical in zone, but his man coverage has been excellent and his tackling and physicality is much improved. He may be the Packers' best corner right now.

Finely and Jones had both performed well through two games. Even though Jones was shutout against San Francisco his stats against Washington would be considered good for two games. Jones had 11 catches for 178 yards. He has developed into a very reliable receiver who may not be very fast, but he still breaks a ton of tackles after the catch and now has very good hands.

Finley seems like he has turned a corner, as he has 11 catches for 121 yards and two touchdown in the first two games. He has been a monster to try to bring down after the catch, as Aaron Rodgers has found him open in the flats and has let him run over people. 59 of Finley's 65 yards came after the catch vs. Washington.

Finley is still huge for drawing coverage and now seems to be finding the athleticism that it looked like he lost after knee surgery. Losing him in free agency would be a much bigger loss than people realize. Right now there is no proven tight end on the roster that can step up and do the things that Finley does.

The NFL's $123 million salary cap is not expected to go up much in the near future, which hurts the Packers. They will also have Rodgers and Clay Matthews taking up a combined $29 million of the cap next year.

Obviously, all of these decisions are for this offseason, but the Packers are likely to give somebody an in season extension since they are $10.89 million below the salary cap. It is also significant that all of these players are playing well this year and it should help that team this year that so many important players are playing for contracts. I am sure we will be revisiting this subject in the near future.

Monday, September 9, 2013

49ers 34, Packers 28: Random Thoughts and Musings

By: Matt Bove

It was another tough loss to the 49ers for the Packers yesterday in Candlestick Park. This was the best that the Packers have played San Francisco over the last two years, but it was still not enough. Here are my thoughts on the game:

- There were a lot of good things you can take from this game. The sky is certainly not falling and this effort would have been good enough to beat the vast majority of NFL teams. However, it is certainly a frustrating game that was winnable and makes next week a much bigger game.

- Mike McCarthy called a great game on offense. He protected Bakhtiari and Barclay very wll with his play calling that featured a lot of roll outs and quick passes for Rodgers. The plays for Finley in the flats were there all day and they took advantage. There were a lot less of the deep vertical routes yesterday that gets Rodgers sacked. Also, there were very little formations, if any, with four wide receivers on the field.

- The offensive pass blocking did not kill the offense, but was helped out by McCarthy. There were not a lot of sacks, but Rodgers did a lot of great things with pressure in his face. It does not get much easier next week with Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan coming to town.

- Speaking of Rodgers, how great is he? He sliced and diced the best defense in the NFL with no running game and a lot of pressure in his face. He made it look really easy too. Just imagine what he could do with some great protection. Hopefully we are not wasting his best years with these horrid defensive performances, but more on that later.

- Despite the slow start, which wasn't his fault, I was impressed with Eddie Lacy. When defenders weren't in his grill when he got the ball, he did a good of finding seams and is a load once he gets going. He is a perfect one cut runner for this system. McCarthy should try to get him the ball more in space more in the passing game as well because he is excellent out there.

- It was an outstanding game for the skill position players, outside of the invisible James Jones. Greg Jennings will certainly not be missed if everybody stays healthy. Jordy Nelson was outstanding and showed that his knee is 100%. Some of the catches that he made were just amazing. Randall Cobb also showed that he was 100% and showed how tough he is by standing in there against some big shots from the 49ers over the middle. Jermichael Finley also played a great game after dropping a ball that led to an interception. Finley did not pout and Rodgers showed confidence in him by going back to him. It was great to see.

- 28 points against the best defense is really a good day for the offense. The fumble by Lacy was what really killed them, but you have to give the defense credit on the strip. Lacy was not holding the ball loosely and Justin Smith did a great job of holding Lacy up while the ball got stripped.

Now onto what everybody is talking about........ the defense.

- A couple of issues that I complained about in the offseason came to fruition yesterday.

- I was one of many who advocated firing Dom Capers after last season after another complete and utter defensive embarrassment in the postseason. He did nothing to change my mind yesterday.

- I actually think Capers' initial game plan was sound. They completely stifled the read option, their whole running game and kept Kaepernick in the pocket. Great. However, by paying so much attention to Kaepernick- and by playing so much zone- the middle of the defense was open all day long. This became evident early and often but no adjustments were made. None. This has been a weakness forever with Capers and it happened again.

- Anquan Boldin is a tough and very good receiver, but there is no way he should dominate a defense like that. Boldin has very little speed and even last year in the playoffs most of his catches came with a defender near him. Yesterday, that was not the case, as he was running wide open a lot of times. As a savvy and smart veteran, Boldin found holes in Capers' zones all day long. Boldin is not a threat to run by you deep, so they should have played man more and even put some bracket coverage on him, even if it meant less eyes on the quarterback. Kaepernick seemed gun shy to taking big hits all day, so he might have been less inclined to run once he got in a passing rhythm. This is a simple adjustment that was never made. There were issues with the players in the middle of the defense(more on that next), but Capers does not get the benefit of the doubt anymore.

- However, this was not all on Capers, as the personnel at inside linebacker and safety just was not good enough this game. Morgan Burnett was a devastating loss and he could have had a huge impact on this game. Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings were flat out dreadful. McMillian missed key tackles, was out of position several times and was trailing in coverage a bunch. Jennings was in position to make some plays a few times, but was late reacting. Any time Jennings was matched up with Vernon Davis it was a huge mismatch, as he just does not have near the athleticism it takes to cover him.

- A huge part of the difference between the Packers and 49ers is the huge talent disparity at ILB. I said last offseason that an upgrade needed to be made at the position and instead the same two starters returned. The middle of the field has been wide open for years against the Packers and nothing changed yesterday. Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk just are not huge impact players.

- The Packers' last two first round picks Nick Perry and Datone Jones were largely invisible. Now, I understand that the job of the defense was not to full out rush Kaepernick, so I will give them a pass this game for not getting a great pass rush. Perry did do a very good job in containment on his side of the field. However, the bottom line is that with the Packers draft and develop system they cannot miss on these guys and they need to make a big impact. Obviously, it is only one game and I still believe that they will be good players, but they have to show it.

- However, I did see quite a few good signs on defense. I thought Tramon Williams and Sam Shields played very well on the outside at corner. The Packers do really need Casey Heyward back in the slot though.

- The defensive line was excellent against the physical San Francisco offensive line. Johnny Jolly and Ryan Pickett were huge against the run. With those two and B.J. Raji, it will be very hard to run on the Packers all season.
- Clay Matthews is an absolute animal, but you already knew that. He is a coaches dream with his talent combined with his energy and effort (the dumb penalty aside).

- The defense did not play soft. They brought it and were very physical.

- I still think this has the makings of what could be a very good defense with Hayward and Burnett back in the mix. They should be great against the run, have strong corners, an elite pass rusher, and some good supplementary pass rushers. However, I still have concerns about the coaching, which is so huge in the NFL.

There were some good things that you can take away from this game. The Packers played toe to toe with perhaps the best team in the NFL on the road. They took many punches and refused to quit, but there are no moral victories. Now, it's time to forget about it and move onto Washington. There is still a lot of hope for the rest of the season with this team.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

2013 Packers Season Preview

It's one day until the NFL seasons starts for real.  There is so much that will happen, and I am excited to see what the Packers will bring to the table each and every week.  They did finally get their 53 man roster set, and here's to hoping that the Packers go 19-0 with and get our 5th Super Bowl title, and 14th NFL Championship. 

Week 1-at San Francisco

This is the game that I have been waiting for all offseason.  I think our defense is a lot better, but obviously we have lost some talent on offense, and our offensive line is rough.  If I have to pick based off the information that we have seen already this year, then I think that Rodgers will get sacked about 4-5 times.  Kaepernick and Gore will both have a rushing touchdown against us.  My final score prediction is 49ers 34, Packers 20. 

Week 2--Washington

This is another game that will challenge us, but I think that the Redskins benefitted last year from having the worst record in the NFC East in 2011, and now they have to play each of the division winners from last year.  They are coming to Green Bay, and I don't think that we will lose back to back home openers, plus the Redskins defense is not up to par with their offense.  Lacy runs for 2 touchdowns, Finley catches another 2 touchdowns.  Final score: Packers 41, Redskins 17.

Week 3-at Cincinnati

Again I see another opportunity for a rough outing against our 3rd playoff team from last year in a row to start the season.  The Bengals haven't done much against the top teams though, and I don't expect that to change this early in the season.  The Packers are going to steal this one on the road.  Cobb is going to have a great game with 10 catches for 120 yards, 1 TD, while James Jones snags another 2 TD in the red zone.  Jonathan Franklin takes a screen pass in for a touchdown also.  Final score: Packers 37, Bengals 24.

Week 5-Detroit

I've already written about how the Packers always beat the Lions in Wisconsin, plus this is after our super early week 4 bye.  This game will probably be closer than I would like.  But the Lions are still hurting in the secondary and at the linebackers positions.  Lacy goes for over 100 yards, so we finally have a 100 yard rusher for the first time in a long time.  Finley gets hot and has over 100 yards with a touchdown also.  Final Score: Packers 34, Lions 27.

Week 6-at Baltimore

The Ravens and Packers finally meet up and it's one of the best matchups of the season.  Flacco throws a pick six to Casey Hayward, but the Ravens defense has come together well enough to get the win against us.  Flacco hits Smith on a long ball to beat us in the final minute.  Final Score: Ravens 34, Packers 31.

Week 7-Cleveland

The Browns come to visit Lambeau Field.  This is one game that I just have a hard time putting it particularly close, because I just think that as many problems as the Packers have, the Browns just have so many more.  I think that Nick Perry will record at least 2 sacks this game.  Our backups play most of the 4th quarter, because I think it will be a lot like our game against the Titans last year.  Final Score: Packers 52, Browns 13.

Week 8-at Minnesota

I think that we avenge our week 17 loss to them last year, Ponder is going to be struggling at the midpoint of the season.  Greg Jennings get 0 receptions.  Peterson gets 100 yards, but so does Lacy again as he has a touchdown run of over 50 yards.  It is close though.  Final Score: Packers 28, Vikings 17. 

Week 9-Chicago

It is difficult to know exactly what the Chicago Bears are bringing to the table this year.  They are a team that has switched quite a bit losing their captain of the defense in Brian Urlacher, which is interesting to hear about their dive technique, and Lovie Smith is no longer the head coach.  Trestman could either be great, or I think it's going to be a bust.  Similar to what I think of Chip Kelly.  But since this is a home game, and I think the Packers are a better team, then I will put us winning by the final score: Packers 27, Bears 10. 

Week 10-Philadelphia

So, speaking of Chip Kelly.  This game is either going to go really well for us, or I think it could go rather poorly, just because of how the team is doing at the mid point of the season, they could be doing great or if they are suffering, then they will likely fall apart.  The Packers have home field advantage for this game also, so we will take home this game also.  But I do think that it will be a high scoring game.  Packers 55, Eagles 31. 

Week 11-at New York

Another game in the regular season at the Meadowlands.  I swear that we play there every year.  The teams in the NFC are so close together, that it is just tough to pick someone to come clean through most of the season.  So this is a spot where I would be predicting a loss for us unfortunately.  Final Score: Giants 31, Packers 20. 

Week 12-Minnesota

Round 2 of our matchup with the Vikings.  I think the Vikings had a great year from Adrian Peterson that is not repeatable, and so I have us sweeping them in the season series this year.  Final Score: Packers 38, Vikings 17.

Week 13-at Detroit

Hopefully the Packers and Lions Thanksgiving game is entertaining for us Packers fans.  It is a game where Sitton and Lang have to step it up a notch to stop Suh and Fairley.  I just am hoping that Suh doesn't do something stupid in this game, and that's probably because I'm a Nebraska fan for college football.  Anyway, back to the Packers, we will continue to beat the Lions because that's just something that we do.  Final Score: Packers 38, Lions 20.

Week 14-Atlanta

This could be a very incredible week for the Packers.  This is the top team that I have us beating during the season.  I am thinking that this will be a shootout though, and I hope that the Packers would be able to get another pick 6 on Matt Ryan, just because that would bring back some great memories.  Final Score: Packers 44, Falcons 38.

Week 15-At Dallas

So Dallas, the place where it seems like we went without a win for so very long.  But since this game is in December, I'm assuming that Tony Romo will find a way to choke the game away.  Right now the Packers are trying to stay in the running for home field advantage with the Falcons, 49ers, and Seahawks all in the running for it.  Final Score is Packers 34, Cowboys 31. 

Week 16-Pittsburgh

Again, another tough time to beat another difficult team out of the AFC North.  Pittsburgh never gives you an easy win, as they are a tough, physical team.  But I also just want to be clear that Pittsburgh, because of the money they spent during the unlimited cap season, has limited themselves in the past few seasons because of the harder cap that we have had since the lockout, just not able to keep the talent they had the past few years.  Final Score: Packers 41, Steelers 23.

Week 17-At Chicago

I see another 6-0 finish in the NFC North for the Packers, because Rodgers is still the class of the division, and our defense looks ready to take it up a notch.  Cutler is going to get picked off a few times, just a nice finish to the season.  Final Score: Packers 31, Bears 17.

Here is how I see the final regular season standings going. 

NFC North
Green Bay Packers 13-3
Chicago Bears 8-8
Detroit Lions 8-8
Minnesota Vikings 7-9

NFC East
New York Giants 12-4
Washington Redskins 10-6
Dallas Cowboys 8-8
Philadelphia Eagles 4-12

NFC South
Atlanta Falcons 11-5
New Orleans Saints 10-6
Tampa Bay Bucs 7-9
Carolina Panthers 4-12

NFC West
San Francisco 49ers 12-4
Seattle Seahawks 11-5
St Louis Rams 10-6
Arizona Cardinals 7-9

AFC East
New England Patriots 10-6
Miami Dolphins 10-6
Buffalo Bills 4-12
New York Jets 2-14

AFC North
Cincinnati Bengals 11-5
Baltimore Ravens 10-6
Pittsburgh Steelers 8-8
Cleveland Browns 6-10

AFC South
Houston Texans 12-4
Indianapolis Colts 9-7
Tennessee Titans 3-13
Jacksonville Jaguars 2-14

AFC West
Denver Broncos 12-4
Kansas City Chiefs 10-6
San Diego Chargers 4-10
Oakland Raiders 2-14

That leaves us with these playoff matchups

Wild Card Round
Dolphins over Bengals
Patriots over Ravens
Falcons over Rams
Seahawks over Giants

Divisional Round
Packers over Seahawks
49ers over Falcons
Patriots over Broncos
Texans over Dolphins

Championship Round
49ers over Packers
Texans over Patriots

Super Bowl
49ers over Texans

Obviously, this isn't how I hope that the season will turn out.  But if the Packers found a way to get to the NFC championship, then I will be pretty happy about that.  I just want to go ahead and get another ring this year.  Hope all you Packer Addicts enjoy.  Go Pack Go!!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Bigger Issues Than Backup Quarterback

By: Matt Bove

B.J. Coleman lasted a little more than 24 hours as the backup quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.

The Green Bay Press Gazette's Wes Hodkiewicz first tweeted out this morning that the Packers had released Coleman. Shortly afterwards, ESPN's Ed Werder reported that the Packers had signed Seneca Wallace to replace Coleman.

Wallace, 33, was cut by the San Francisco 49ers after Colt McCoy beat him out for their backup quarterback job. San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh claimed that Wallace told him that he was retiring, although Werder reported that Wallace denied that claim.

Wallace has a 6-15 career record as a starting quarterback over his seven year career. He has 31 career touchdown passes, 18 interceptions, a 59.2% completion percentage and a 81.3 passer rating.

Obviously, Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy have handled the backup quarterback situation poorly going back to last season. Graham Harrell should have been cut at the end of last training camp when it was perfectly evident that he was not an NFL caliber quarterback.

However, McCarthy and Thompson banked on Harrell developing and improving. That was a huge miscalculation on their part, as Harrell just never had the arm strength and athleticism that it takes to be an NFL quarterback. Those skills cannot be taught. It is mind boggling that such smart football people in McCarthy and Thompson wasted all the time that they did on the noodled arm Harrell.

McCarthy and Thompson both missed on Coleman as well. It was clear from the start of training camp that they wanted Coleman to be the backup quarterback over Harrell. The Packers immediately signed Vince Young when Coleman threw two brutal interceptions during the Family Night Scrimmage  Harrell was actually 9-12 for 88 yards and a touchdown that night, but it was clear that his performance meant little to the Packers.

Coleman has the arm talent to succeed in the NFL, but his decision making and accuracy have not improved since he has been in Green Bay. His misses always seem to be high, which is just a recipe for disaster.

Young showed flashes but was not very consistent, and he seemed to have issues picking up the offense. Thompson admitted that he made a mistake bringing in Young so late and that it was not fair to him. So, he cut Young and brought in Wallace even later into the season, which doesn't make a ton of sense.

Wallace is a veteran so maybe he picks up the offense faster than most. However, it still won't be easy for him and at least Young has been here for a few weeks. Thompson's moves seem desperate now and it all stems from the mistake that he made last year in not cutting Harrell.

However, despite how awfully the backup quarterback position has been handled, the panic that I have seen from some fans on Twitter has been a little bit over the top. The chances are (knock on wood) that Rodgers will play every game, as he has only missed one start in his career.

The Packers are no worse at the backup quarterback spot today with Wallace than they were yesterday with Coleman or last year with Harrell because if any of those three had to play for extended time for the Packers they would be dead. In fact, if most NFL teams have to play their backup quarterback for an extended period of time they would most likely be dead as well.

There are much greater issues with the team that fans should be worried about like the offensive line and the defensive coordinator. David Bakhtiari and Don Barclay have looked good in the preseason, but how will they hold up with Justin Smith, Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks coming at them? Evan Dietrich-Smith played like the career backup that he has been during the preseason and T.J. Lang did not look very good either.

Those are just the issues with the starting group. The depth at offensive line is even scarier than the depth at quarterback because the Packers are more likely to need the offensive line depth because they are more likely to get hurt than a quarterback.

Marshall Newhouse is fine for a swing tackle, but the depth at guard is scary bad. Greg Van Roten does not belong on an NFL roster let alone being the top backup at guard and center. Lane Taylor is probably better to be developed on the practice squad. Now that backup quarterback is settled Thompson must go out and find a suitable backup at guard. The Bryan Bulaga injury alone shouldn't kill their Super Bowl chances, but now they really cannot afford another offensive line injury and that is scary.

On defense, I like the personnel as much as I have in recent years. The defensive line is as deep as it has ever been, Nick Perry should be able to compliment Clay Matthews and the the cornerback group is very solid. However, Dom Capers is still at the helm, and his scheme has not held up against the NFL's top offenses in recent years. It is hard to have a ton of confidence in him until it does.

Yes, the backup quarterback situation is bad now and was handled horribly. All you can do is hope that it never matters and the Packers draft a quarterback to develop in the 2014 NFL Draft. Just be happy that we have perhaps the best quarterback in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers. There are much greater issues that you should be concerning yourself with heading into Sunday's opener in San Francisco.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Ravings of A Forty Something Cheesehead

By 68md

Here we are with another roster and a new season in front of us. Today however I am compelled to talk about a few issues that are running about Packer nation.

Let's start with the remarkable story of Johnny Jolly. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe he could over come all the obstacles that he has. Kudos must go out to Jayme Joers Snowden of CHTV for her unwavering loyalty and proving many of us wrong about Jolly.

The next issue is going into 2013 with an OL line that is a couple injuries away from disaster. I know MM and his staff feel they have a core group but the stats say different.

Aaron Rodgers can not be subjected to another season of pounding and not addressing this falls firmly on the staff and front office. Watch this situation closely my friends.

I will address the BJ Coleman situation, it seems that we all forgot the TT/MM recipe of draft and develop. What we saw this week is no different then what the staff did with Graham Harrell a couple years ago.

Will it work out ? Time will tell but TT/MM are right more then wrong so after learning the hard way I am inclined to trust them.

In closing I want to address my little twitter spat with Mike Neal today.  First let me say I am a Green Bay Packer supporter, the team and organization.  I will and have and will continue to call things black and white. No favorites

Yes Mike Neal I would have cut you and used your spot for a OL, for reasons stated above and the fact that we let a couple other players go whom I considered having a better upside.

No Mr. Neal I don't regret saying it. I admire Mike Neals passion and wish him all the best but really maybe you should be in the film room studying the Niners tendencies... hmm.

I stand by my 11-5 prediction from last week. I do expect this team to struggle at times because all young teams do. But in the end we have to much talent and fine coaching which will help overcome adversity.

Until week 2.... GO PACK GO !

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Packers 53 Man Roster Prediction

By: Matt Bove

Well it is that time of the year again and the day that the Packers roster is announced is always one of the most interesting days on the calendar. Predicting what Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy will do is no easy task, but I will give it my best shot here.

Quarterbacks: (2)

Aaron Rodgers, Vince Young

This is an easy position. Rodgers remains one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and was solid in his limited preseason action. Young had a rough game at Kansas City, but McCarthy and Thompson remain intrigued by him. B.J. Coleman did nothing to take the job from Young.

Running Backs (5)

Eddie Lacy, Alex Green, James Starks, Jonathan Franklin, John Kuhn

Lacy is now the unquestioned #1 running back with the season ending knee injury to DuJuan Harris. Lacy is a clear cut above the running backs on the rest of the roster. Harris' injury allows both Green and Starks to stay. Also helping both Green ans Starks keep their jobs is the disappointing performance of Franklin. Franklin has been terrible in pass protection and has made no explosive plays. It does not look like he will see the field much this year.

Wide Receivers: (5)

Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Jarrett Boykin, Jeremy Ross

Cobb and Nelson overcame injuries during training camp and it appears both will be fine to go for the opening game at San Francisco. Even though the Packers are weaker at the #4 and #5 wide receiver spots this year, the top three of Cobb, Nelson and Jones is about as good as it gets in the NFL. Boykin has established himself as the clear #4 receiver. Ross did enough on Thursday with three catches for 50 yards to earn the fifth spot and he should be the Packers' kickoff and punt returner. Tyrone Walker and Myles White were impressive in camp but just miss out on a spot.

Tight Ends: (4)

Jermichael Finley, Matthew Mulligan, Ryan Taylor, Brandon Bostick

The tight end spot position is easily the toughest position to pick this year. Finley is obviously a lock, while I also think Mulligan is a lock for his blocking and Taylor is for special teams. I don't see them keeping five, so it will come down to Bostick, Andrew Quarless and D.J. Williams for one spot. I do not think the Packers would be able to sneak Bostick through waivers again and he has too much potential to risk losing. Quarless could be the second best tight end on the team if healthy, but Thompson has not shown much patience lately for players who cannot stay on the field. Williams just has not shown enough to merit a roster spot.

Offensive Line: (7)

David Bahktiari, Josh Sitton, Evan Dietrich-Smith, T.J. Lang, Don Barclay, Marshall Newhouse Greg Van Roten

Quite frankly only six offensive linemen have proven to be deserving of roster spots and keeping seven is a low number to begin with. With the injuries to Bryan Bulaga and Derrick Sherrod the depth here is egregious. Newhouse is a fine third tackle, but Van Roten should not the first backup at the guard and center positions on any team. The Packers have to be looking at offensive linemen who are cut by other teams. While everybody has been focusing on Bahktiari and Barclay this summer, they have looked a lot better than Dietrich-Smith and Lang on the inside in the preseason games.

Defensive Line (7)

Datone Jones, B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Mike Neal, C.J. Wilson, Johnny Jolly, Mike Daniels

This is the best defensive line group that the Packers have had under McCarthy and Thompson. Unfortunately, Jones has slowed down ever since his ankle injury. It would be nice to see him healthy again. I list Neal here since that is where he is on the depth chart, although he will be spending a lot of time at OLB. Despite not being a flashy player, Wilson is a great player against the run. I never in a million years thought I would be writing Jolly's name down here, but he is a lock and has earned it. Daniels has been one of the most impressive players in camp for the Packers this summer.

Outside Linebackers (4)

Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Andy Mulumba, Dezman Moses

This number is really five with Neal being the top backup. He has looked much better than I expected at OLB. As long as he is not in coverage he should be fine. Mulumba has shown some good pass rushing ability and Moses has been unimpressive, but he will get another year after a solid rookie season.

Inside Linebackers (6)

Brad Jones, A.J. Hawk, Robert Francois, Terrell Manning, Sam Barrington, Jamari Lattimore

Under normal circumstances six would be far too many for this spot but all of these players are deserving All four backups are key special teams players with potential to become to develop into better defensive players. Francois has had an excellent camp and if all things were equal he would be challenging Hawk for playing time. Manning and Barrington are extremely athletic players who are not afraid to lower the boom.

Cornerbacks: (6)

Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Heyward, Micah Hyde, Davon House, Jarrett Bush

This a very deep and talented group of cornerbacks. Williams appears healthy after his interception in Kansas City. Shields has had a very solid camp. Hopefully, Heyward can overcome his hamstring injury to get back on the field and play like he did last year. Hyde has been one of the most impressive players in camp with his instincts, ball skills and blitzing ability off the edge.

Safeties: (4)

Morgan Burnett, Jerron McMillian, M.D. Jennings, Chris Banjo

Safety is a very thin position, especially if Burnett's hamstring injury is serious. Banjo has really come on at the end of camp and has earned a spot. Neither McMillian or Jennings has separated themselves from one another.

Specialists: (3)

Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Brett Goode

Crosby survives after coming on strong at the end of camp. However, with his new restructured contract he will have a very short leash this year. The Packers will not be afraid to replace him.

Overall, this roster is much deeper on defense than on offense. That has been evident in the preseason, as the offense did not generate much of anything with Rodgers, Cobb and Nelson spending a lot of time on the bench. Part of the reason for this is that Thompson has drafted a lot more defensive players recently than offensive players. The Packers better hope that their offensive starters stay healthy. The offense will be one of the best in the league if they do, but depending on which starters go down it could be a problem.

On defense the Packers are extremely deep at defensive line, linebacker and at cornerback. The only position that is thin is safety. Offensive line and safety are really the two positions that the Packers should look to add to from other rosters, with the offensive line being almost crucial that they do.

This roster has enough talent to be a championship caliber team if things break right, which is all you can really ask for.