Thursday, January 31, 2013

Donald Driver Will Always Be a Green Bay Packer

By Bob Fox

Don't believe the rumors you are hearing about the Minnesota Vikings showing interest in Donald Driver (via Fox Sports 11). Driver should instead retire as a member of the Green Bay Packers this week.

It would be apropos for Driver to retire on Super Bowl week, as it was just two years ago when Driver finally got his first Super Bowl ring as a Packer, after first joining the Packers in 1999 as a seventh-round draft choice out of Alcorn State.

Driver started his Green Bay career slowly, as he only had 37 receptions and three touchdowns his first three seasons in the league.

But that all changed in 2002, when Driver caught 70 passes for 1,064 yards and nine touchdowns. That season, Driver was selected to the NFC Pro Bowl team, the first of four times he would be selected.

Driver was also named the team MVP in 2002, as well.

Driver has had a fabulous career in Green Bay. So much so, that he is the all-time leader in receptions for the Packers with 743, plus the all-time leader in receiving yardage as well, with 10,137 yards.

Driver was also fantastic in the postseason as well, as he is second all-time for the Packers in both receptions (49) and yardage (675).

Donald could also excel on the dance floor, as he won the Dancing with the Stars competition in 2012.

The one thing that I will always remember about Donald is what a class individual he is. Also, I think he has learned how the legacy of Brett Favre was certainly harmed in Green Bay after he became a Viking, after 16 glorious years in Green Bay.

Driver has been a Packer for 14 seasons. That number is ironic too. No. 14 was the number of wide receiver Don Hutson, who is considered the greatest Packer of all time by many. There were other great receivers in Green Bay history too, with Sterling Sharpe, James Lofton, Boyd Dowler and Greg Jennings among them.

But great things were expected of all of those receivers. That was not the case with Driver, who was drafted in the last round in 1999.

Driver far exceeded his expectations and has become a champion on and off the field.

Yes...Donald Driver will always be a Green Bay Packer.

Bob Fox contributes content  to our site, he is a featured columnist at

Monday, January 28, 2013

10 Senior Bowl Prospects the Green Bay Packers Should Love

By Bob Fox

Like the East-West Shrine game in St. Petersburg, Florida, Ted Thompson traveled to Mobile, Alabama to scout prospects at the Senior Bowl this past week.

Unlike the East-West Shrine game, the Senior Bowl has quite a few players who can be expected to be selected in the first three rounds of the draft, including a number of players who will go in the first round.

Needless to say, there were a lot of prospects who looked impressive in Mobile, as well as being very productive on the field at their respective schools this past season and in their careers overall.

I'm naming 10 players who I believe Thompson would love to have on the Green Bay Packers, knowing the needs and questions of the team going into the 2013 season.
Defensive End Margus Hunt (SMU)

Height: 6'8" Weight: 277 pounds

First, it should be noted, that the Green Bay Packers were one of a number of NFL teams who interviewed Margus Hunt at the Senior Bowl. Hunt not only has great size, but he is also quite an athlete, who also has a track background.

Hunt also has a frame which can add weight, without losing any mobility.

Hunt had a solid senior year for Southern Methodist University, as he had 28 tackles, six sacks, one interception, two pass deflections and three blocked kicks in the regular season.

Hunt followed that up with a great performance in the Hawaii Bowl against Fresno State, as he had a sack for a safety, plus two forced fumbles in a 43-10 win for the Fresno State Mustangs.
Hunt is still raw, but he just keeps improving. He has excellent speed for his size, a massive 82-inch wing span and was named to the 2012 All-Conference USA first-team.

Hunt is sort of the modern day version of Ted Hendricks with his kick-blocking ability. He blocked 17 kicks in his career at SMU.
Hunt got better as the week wore on in drills for the North team.
The Packers need someone with Hunt's height and athleticism at defensive end in their 3-4 defensive scheme.
 Hunt keeps moving up the draft boards, and could be selected as early as the first round now. Hunt definitely won't get past the second round.

Defensive End Datone Jones (UCLA)

Height: 6'4"
Weight: 280 pounds

Datone Jones played in the 3-4 quite a bit at UCLA, so he is very familiar with the scheme. Jones played both inside and outside with the UCLA Bruins on their defensive line.

Jones had 57 tackles, five sacks and 19 tackles for a loss  past year year, while he had 6.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks in 2011.

Jones missed all of the 2010 season with a fractured foot, but had a very nice year in 2009, playing next to Brian Price, when Jones had 30 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and four sacks.
Jones was named to the 2012 All-Pac-12 Second Team.

The former Bruin had a great week at the Senior Bowl, first in drills during the week for the North team, and also in the game, when he also had his moments.

Jones has the frame to add weight, and he is almost the prototypical height to be a defensive end in the 3-4 scheme.

Jones will most likely get selected late in the first round or early in the second.

Nose Tackle Brandon Williams (Missouri Southern)

Height: 6'2"
Weight: 340 pounds

Brandon Williams dominated the AFCA Division II landscape for Missouri Southern, as he was named All-American for the third straight year in 2012.

The massive Williams is very strong at the point of attack, plus he moves very well for a man his size.

Williams had 68 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks and five forced fumbles this past season. Overall in his career, Williams had 27 sacks.

Williams didn't disappoint in Mobile, as he was one of the best defensive linemen there and he played very well against BCS competition.

The Green Bay Packers should consider Williams, as Ryan Pickett is not getting any younger, and doesn't have much tread left on his tires. Williams would be a force, especially paired with B.J. Raji on run-stopping downs.

Because of his Senior Bowl performance, it would not be surprising if Williams was selected in the second round, and he certainly won't last past the third round.

Linebacker Kevin Reddick (North Carolina)
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 246 pounds

Kevin Reddick of the University of North Carolina was a four-year starter for the UNC Tarheels. He had 85 tackles in 2012, which included 18.5 tackles for losses and 6.5 sacks.

In his career, Reddick had 36 tackles for losses. What does that mean? It means that Reddick is aggressive and attacks the line of scrimmage.

Reddick was named to the 2012 All-ACC First Team (coaches and media).

Reddick can blitz effectively, plus has been decent in coverage as he broke up six passes in 2012.
The former Tarheel looked good in the practice sessions for the North team.

The Green Bay Packers definitely need to look at inside linebacker candidates in this draft. They have a number of issues at that position.

Green Bay lost both Desmond Bishop (hamstring) and D.J. Smith (knee) to season-ending injuries. Both are expected to be ready for the 2013 season, but nothing is a given.

Plus, there is the question of whether A.J. Hawk will be brought back with his $5.45 salary. Brad Jones is an unrestricted free agent. Terrell Manning has ability, but his 2012 season was marred due to illness and injuries.

It's expected that Reddick will most likely be selected in the fourth round.

Safety Phillip Thomas (Fresno State)

Height: 6'0"
Weight: 210 pounds

Phillip Thomas led the nation in interceptions this year with eight. Three of those picks were returned for touchdowns.

Thomas also had 82 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, four passes broken up and four forced fumbles.
He was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award and was named to the AP All-American first-team.

Thomas obviously has great ball skills, but he also tackles well and hits hard.The former Fresno State Bulldog didn't hurt his cause at the Senior Bowl, in coverage drills with the North team.
The Green Bay Packers love defensive backs that have a nose for the football, and Thomas certainly has that.

The ball-hawking safety looks to be selected somewhere between the second and fourth rounds of the draft.

Running Back Stepfan Taylor (Stanford)

Height: 5'9"
Weight: 216 pound

Stepfan Taylor has had a very nice senior season at Stanford, helping to lead the Stanford Cardinal to the Rose Bowl. In the Rose Bowl, Taylor rushed for 88 yards and scored a touchdown in the 20-14 win by Stanford over Wisconsin. Taylor also caught three passes for 17 yards
Taylor was named to the 2012 All-Pac-12 second-team at running back. Taylor has 1,442 yards rushing this year, and has 12 touchdowns. In addition to that, Taylor has 38 receptions for 370 yards and two more scores.

In the last three games of the Pac-12 season, Taylor had 114, 161 and 142 yards rushing against ranked opponents Oregon State, Oregon and UCLA.

Taylor had 78 yards rushing and one touchdown versus UCLA in the Pac-12 title game. Taylor also caught six passes for 55 yards.

At the Senior Bowl, Taylor stood out among running backs, along with Mike Gillislee, and he rushed for 53 yards on just nine carries in the game for the South. He also caught two passes for eight yards.

Taylor is an all-around running back, as he is also an excellent blocker. He has the the attributes to be a three-down back with the Green Bay Packers.

The Packers need to address the running back position in this draft. Ryan Grant probably won't be back, plus Cedric Benson is now a year older and coming off a foot injury that shelved his season.
James Starks can't seem to stay healthy, while Alex Green wore down as the season progressed after having an ACL injury the year before.

DuJuan Harris looked pretty good late in the season and the postseason for the Packers at running back, but he looks more like a change of pace-type back.
Taylor is expected to be selected in the third or fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft.

Running Back Mike Gillislee (Florida)

Height: 5'11"
Weight: 207 pounds

Mike Gillislee of the Florida Gators was named to the All-SEC first-team at running back by both the coaches and the media.

Gillislee had a fine senior campaign, as he had 1,104 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. Gillislee also had 15 receptions for 146 more yards and another touchdown.

The Gator running back had a great last game of the regular season, when he rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns against arch-rival Florida State.

Gillislee is one of the main reasons the Gators finished 11-2 and played in the Sugar Bowl, where he gained 48 yards on just nine carries. He also caught a pass for 13 yards in the 33-23 loss to Louisville.

At the Senior Bowl, Gillislee looked very good during practice sessions, plus had 46 yards rushing on 10 carries in the game for the South.

Gillislee has the same abilities that Stepfan Taylor has, plus is an exceptional blocker picking up blitzes.

The former Gator is also expected to be selected in either the third or fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft.

Wide Receiver Quinton Patton (Louisiana Tech)

Height: 6'0"
Weight: 202 pounds

Quinton Patton had a monster senior year for Louisiana Tech, as he caught 104 passes for 1,392 yards and 13 touchdowns.

This was after he had 79 receptions for 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns in his junior year.

Patton was named to the 2012 All-WAC first-team and the 2012 AP All-American second-team.
Patton followed that up by having a great week at the Senior Bowl. When the ball was anywhere near him on a pass attempt, he always seemed to go get it at practices.

With the expected retirement of Donald Driver, and with Greg Jennings most likely leaving via free agency, the Green Bay Packers need to address their depth at wide receiver.

Patton looks to be drafted in the third round, but could go as early as the second round after this past week.

Center/Guard Brian Schwenke (California)

Height: 6'3"
Weight: 307 pounds

The California Golden Bears didn't have a great season as a team (3-9), but center Brian Schwenke stood out with his play on the field.
In fact, Schwenke was named to the 2012 All-Pac-12 First Team.

Schwenke also stood out this week at the Senior Bowl. At least according to Mike  Mayock of NFL Network.  And Mayock definitely knows what he's talking about.

Schwenke was able to handle people like John Jenkins (Georgia) in practice, as he showed decent strength and some nice quickness. He also showed that he can use leverage to his advantage.

In addition to his prowess at center, Schwenke also has experience playing guard as well.

The Green Bay Packers need to address their quality depth on the offensive line in all areas in 2013, but especially on the inside.

Offensive Lineman David Quessenberry (San Jose State)

Height: 6'5"
Weight: 294 pounds

David Quessenberry was the first offensive linemen in San Jose State history to be selected to the Senior Bowl. He certainly played like he belonged as well in Mobile.  Quessenberry was part of an offensive line at San Jose State for a team that finished 11-2 and won the Military Bowl.
Quessenberry was also named to the 2012 All-WAC First Team (coaches).

Quessenberry stood out this week at the Senior Bowl for a couple of reasons. One, he performed very well for the North team in drills. Secondly, he did that at multiple positions, including center. He also excelled at guard and tackle.

The Green Bay Packers absolutely love offensive linemen who are versatile.

Based on his performance at Mobile, expect Quessenberry to be selected no later than the third round.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Report: Packers Interested in Revis

According to Mike Freeman of CBS Sports, multiple league sources constantly mention Green Bay as a possible trade partner for New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.

It certainly is surprising that the Packers would be interested in Revis, as Ted Thomspon treats draft picks like gold and Revis would certainly cost some high picks. However, the Packers have been involved in some in trade talks for high profile players like Marshawn Lynch, Randy Moss and Tony Gonzalez, so it's not impossible.

On the surface the move appears to make no sense for the Packers. Revis is coming off a torn ACL and will cost draft picks and the Packers would have to give him a new contract. It would seem like the total anti Ted Thompson move. However, there have been multiple reports that Thompson was in love with Revis in the 2007 draft and wanted to trade up for him. Also, the Packers have a lot of players on their roster who could be traded.

While there is probably little to no chance it happens, trading for Revis would certainly not be the worst decision the Packers ever made. I am not somebody who always advocates trading for and signing the big name player and I am certainly an advocate of Thompson's draft and develop system. However, Revis is a once in a generation player who every NFL team should be interested in trading for.

While it's true that cornerback is one of the Packers' strongest positions that should not preclude them from getting Revis. Revis is not only the best cornerback in the NFL, but he is in a class of his own. He is likely a future HOF and at only age 27 he is still in his prime. Assuming he makes a full recovery from his torn ACL, Revis would completely change the way the Packers play defense.

Revis is the true definition of a shut down corner. The fact that you can put him on an island against the opposing team's best wide receiver and not have to worry about him at all is huge. It allows you to do so many other things with your defense. You can cover up other weaknesses on your defense and can get more creative with your blitzes. The Jets were able to have a pretty good pass rush without an good pass rusher and a lot of that was because of Revis' abilities.

Another argument against Revis is that the Packers need to pay Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji and don't have the cap space for Revis. However, the Packers have plenty of ways of creating room for Revis. Jeff Saturday's retirement cut $3.75 million off the cap today. Greg Jennings' deal was worth $9.2 million and is now gone. Charles Woodson won't come back at a $10 million cap hit and AJ Hawk is a potential cap casualty at $5.45 million. Also, if Revis were to come here Tramon Williams and his $6.5 million cap hit would be easily expendable.

Making those moves would clear a lot of money off the cap. Also, if it came down to signing Revis or Raji long term I would take Revis easily. Revis is beyond elite at his position, while Raji hasn't been elite the last two seasons. Revis would have a much greater impact on the defense than Raji has.

Having Revis and Matthews on the defense would give the Packers a very good chance to be an elite defense. All they would need to do is improve the defensive line. A secondary of Revis and Sam Shields on the outside with Casey Hayward in the slot would be scary good.

One might wonder why the Jets are willing to trade Revis. The Jets are a bottom line organization who cares about money first and winning second. They have had trouble selling tickets and are in salary cap hell. They cannot afford to give Revis a big deal and want to get something for him rather than letting him walk. Just because the Jets are trading Revis does not mean something is wrong with him.

The chances of the Packers trading for Revis are slim to none, but it is still a fun possibility to talk about. All I am saying is that it is something they should consider doing. You win in the NFL with elite players and with Rodgers, Matthews and Revis on one team the Packers would surely be in contention for a Super Bowl for years to come because those players can cover so many other weaknesses.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

X & O' s Why I keep Jennings Over Finley

By 68md

I keep seeing a lot of threads about both Finley and Jennings and why they should stay or go. Here is my take and why I retain Jennings with the tag and trade Finley.

First by trading Fin I save his money and use that for the year on Jennings cap fee, I think this will upset Greg but also motivate him into a killer season.

With that said a defense has to respect Greg not only for his vertical threat but his route running and his awareness.

In my first set we line up twins left with Jennings wide and Jones in the slot... I have Nelson out to the right as a Flanker. I put Cobb in the backfield with two TE's Williams and Crabtree.

With this personal group we force the DC to make a chess move. I can use Cobb to run..throw or be a receiver. They have to respect Jennings and Nelson outside...if Rodgers gets an iso he has an instant green light to go deep.

However it gets even more interesting , I have Williams who has the speed to get open deep. I can use Crabby as a blocker or chip block and go hit the short pass. Just a ton of options.

In 4 wide with a RB we are just our loaded  with weapons and Jennings again makes a DC make a choice.

With Finley while a dynamic player he does not command the same respect anymore nor can he be as consistent as Greg Jennings.

From a X ands O's stand point keeping Jennings makes the packers a deadly passing team. Keeping Fin is a hit or miss proposition.

I would personally have no issues franchising Greg Jennings at this point.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Packers Face A Critical Offseason

By: Matt Bove
After another playoff embarrassment, the Green Bay Packers find themselves in a very interesting spot this offseason.

The 45-31 loss to the 49ers marked the third time in the last four seasons that the Packers suffered a humiliating playoff loss. The Packers have several complicated decisions to make on players and coaches. This offseason may determine the direction they go in for the next few seasons. The Packers have championship talent, but they still have holes to fill before they can raise another Lombardi trophy.

Defensice coordinator Dom Capers has come under the most heat for the humiliating performance of the defense in Saturday's loss. He has come under scrutiny by even his own players for not having a gameplan and not making adjustments to defend Collin Kaepernick. Charles Woodson did not shed Capers in the best of light after the game. 

"I think it's the right defense. I just think when the game is going that way, you've got to try something different. It's hard to do the same thing over and over again and continue to get burned," Woodson said. "That's what I was talking about going forward. "We need to figure out, could we have done something different as far as our gameplan was concerned."

I think it was a combination of personnel and scheme that was the problem against Kaepernick. The Packers should have used a spy on Kaepernick more, but the few times that they did he toasted Brad Jones and Erik Walden. When you use a spy it is one less man rushing and covering, so it puts stress on your defense. The problem was that the only spy the Packers could have used that could have matched up with Kaepernick physically was Clay Matthews. They did not want to take Matthews out of the rush, so they could not use him.

The Packers are a very good team in man coverage, but are a suspect team in zone. So they had a pick your poison dilemma  They could either play man and be vulnerable to Kaepernick's legs or play zone and be vulnerable to his arm. Also, it certainly is not Capers' fault that Walden looked like he didn't even know what the read-option was on Kaepernick's 56-yard touchdown run.

With all of that being said, Saturday's night loss falls squarely on Capers' shoulders, and the Packers should go in a different direction at defensive coordinator. I'm not usually a knee-jerk reaction kind of person, but this is not a knee-jerk reaction. This is a culmination of allowing 51, 45 and 37 points in playoff losses in the last four years, having the 32nd ranked defense a year ago and looking helpless against elite quarterbacks. The Packers getting out-schemed has become to much of a pattern.

Last year, I argued that Capers did not have the necessary personnel to succeed. However, after Ted Thomson used the first six picks in the draft on defense the talent was greatly improved. Desmond Bishop and Nick Perry were big losses, but the Packers still had a solid secondary, two huge lineman to take on blockers and one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. There are no excuses that Capers did not have an answer for Kaepernick whatsoever. According to ESPN Stats & Info Kaepernick gained 178 of his 181 yards rushing before contact, which indicates just how many times the Packers were out of position.

Unforunately, it does not appear like Capers will be going anywhere. Mike McCarthy, who is resistant to making big changes, defended Capers Tuesday in his season ending presser.  

"I think it's ridiculous that I have to answer the question, frankly. I'm appalled by it," McCarthy said. "I would not do my job, I would not fulfill my responsibility if I didn't look at the job Dom Capers has done, the job Mike McCarthy's done, what Tom Clements has done, all the way down. I can promise you that's what's going to happen."

As for the rest of the roster, there is a good chance that there will be a lot of change this offseason. Long time great Packer wide receivers Greg Jennings and Donald Driver are very likely to be gone. The Packers will have to make decisions on players with big cap figures like Charles Woodson ($10 million), AJ Hawk ($5.45 million), Jermichael Finley ($8.25 million), John Kuhn ($1.3 million) and James Starks ($1.3 million).

There is no chance Woodson will be brought back at his huge cap number. He will have to renegotiate his deal if he wants to return, and even then the Packers might not want him. Woodson has lost a few steps in coverage and the Packers might look to go with a younger player.

I think $5.25 million is way to big of a number for Hawk and I would cut him. Hawk has been known for as an assignment sure player, but that is not longer good enough. Guards getting to the second level have been a problemm but still Hawk should be better. He has not been involved in a turnover play in over two years and that is hard to do. The Packer seem to really like Hawk, which is how he has kept his job to this point, so who knows what they will do.

Jermichael Finley should and I think will be back after playing very well down the stretch. McCarthy greatly praised Finley in his presser on Tuesday, so it is a good bet that he will return. The offense just cannot afford to lose him and Jennings in one offseason. Finley is only on a one year deal, so the Packers are not committed to anything long term with him. Finley did not drop very many passes down the stretch and made numerous big catches in big spots.

The positions that the Packers need to address the most this offseason are safety, both the offensive and defensive lines and linebacker. At safety Morgan Burnett is solid, but counting on M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian if Woodson does not come back next season is an iffy proposition. The Packers can really use a big hitting and intimidating safety. The offensive line needs to improve at center and in it's overall depth since Bryan Bulaga and Derrick Sherrod are injury question marks.

The Packers need some added beef on the defensive line. Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji are great, but guys like Jerel Worthy, C.J. Wilson and Mike Neal are small for a base 3-4 end. Getting another guy like Raji and Pickett would really help in stopping the run. Also, Pickett is getting up there in age, and you do not know how long he can continue his solid play.

Also, the Packers' linebackers unit could use some better talent. Hawk and Jones just were not physical enough this year. Getting Bishop back will be huge, but the Packers should cut Hawk and look for a new starter to go along with Bishop in the draft or free agency. All you have to do is take one look at San Francisco's defense to be able to tell what great inside linebackers can do for you. Also, getting Nick Perry back will be huge, but the Packers should still look for more pass rushing talent to go along with him and Matthews at outside linebacker.

Besides all of the personnel changes, the Packers will have to decide whether to give contract extensions to Rodgers, Matthews and Raji. It will be a very interesting offseason in Green Bay and it will be very interesting to see if Thompson and McCarthy are content with how the last two seasons have ended.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Packers 2012 Report Card

By 68MD

Another season in the books, I guessed 10-6 or 11-5 so nailed the record this year, Let's break down the Packers in 2012.


OL : This group was hit with injuries early and often, fairly inconstant from game to game. I saw progress in the running this year at times but still not the Juggernaut of the NFL.

Pass pro was awful, Rodgers was hit and pummeled far too often.  Grade D

RB/FB : Another group that was banged up, Take out Benson early and Harris late and well it's the same old. Starks is an injury waiting to happen, Green is hot/cold and Kuhn despite being a fan favorite still tends to not get a yard when needed.   Grade : C

WR : Jennings was out all year and yet we still received plays and production from Cobb and Jones both lit up the scoreboard. Nelson when healthy is still dynamic and Boykin shows Promise.
Grade: A-

TE : Tough group to grade. I thought Crabtree was outstanding this year and was the A TE, Finley is still inconstant and in some games fails to show up.

Taylor is a Crabtree clone and Williams has flashed the ability to get open but not catch. Grade : B-

QB : Aaron Rodgers is still the man, not a great year but look above and it's obvious why. Aaron continues to be a top 3 QB.  Grade A


DL : The group that continues to get beat up against physical OL and power teams. To be fair they were hung out to dry by MM with lack of depth more then once. ( more on that later)
I thought Mike Neal was decent returning and Raji and Pickett flashed a few games.
Worthy played like a rookie and needs an off season to recover from injury and add some muscle.
Grade C -

OLB : Clay M is an A player BUT continues to get hit with Hammy injuries, other then Clay the line of wanna be OLB flashed here and there but who else was consistent each game ?
Really don't have the robin to our batman at OLB. Grade B -

ILB : A position hit by injury except 1, AJ Hawk like him or not just plays. He had his best season in a while. Smith showed  promise when healthy. I can't down grade this group again because the DL failed to consistently keep the OL in our second level D. Grade B

CB : Hot/Cold and at times lost. Not the best year by this group. Sam Shields was much improved and Hayward was a rookie stand out. I think there is enough talent going forward but if hang out any DB without pressure up front .... more Hot/Cold will happen.
Grade B-

Safety :  They had their issues but a much better unit as whole this year, many times our safeties had to make the tackle on big backs like AP... most times they did. Room for improvement ? Yes but still much better then last year. Grade B

K/P/ST : The place kicking issues our what they are, no arguing that. Punting and overall ST are still much much better the last 2 seasons so as a group can't complain. Another kicker should be brought in though to shore things up. Grade B +

Coaching :  Toughest thing to grade is coaching because we don't know all the variables  I do think some of the inactive moves where poor and hung our DL/OL out to dry.
I think we tend to still get pass heavy at times but I saw more running game then the last 2 years.

You have to look at the body of work, 11-5 and NFC North champs AND a home playoff win. That is in a sense an improvement. Don't se a ton of staff movement this year.

Grade B+

Summary : Not the way I wanted the year to end but still consider the circumstances. With the injuries and some the odd things early(cough Seattle cough) it still adds up positive.

We still ended up as a top team in the NFL and won our division  Yes we have issues and yes personal changes our coming.

My Grade for the 2012/13 Green Bay Packers   B +

Until Next Time  GO PACK GO !

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013 Divisional Round

Well, the wild-card round was pretty boring this year compared to normal.  The Bengals offense couldn't convert a 3rd down the entire game.  Joe Webb started at QB.  The Ravens came out and crushed the Colts.  RG3 got hurt early and everyone knew that the Seahawks were coming back for the win.  Here's hoping that the divisional round is a little better, but know that I'm absolutely fine with another Packers blowout.  Unfortunately, I did only go 2-2 in my picks last week, getting both AFC games wrong and nailing the NFC games.

First let me start off by saying that I will be shocked if the Ravens or Texans are able to win this weekend.  We are headed on another Peyton Manning vs Tom Brady showdown for the AFC Championship, and I will admit that I am quite excited about that.  I am picking both the Broncos and Patriots at home this week.

Also, I think that Seahawks at Falcons will be another great game.  Right now I would pick the Falcons to win just because I think Mike Smith and Matt Ryan have to pull one off soon.  Julio Jones and Roddy White both are excellent targets, and seeing them go against Sherman and Browner is definitely a matchup to watch.  I know that Peyton Manning lost his first 3 playoff games, and not that Ryan is Peyton Manning, but I think that they have a chance with all of their offensive weapons to beat the Seahawks, so that's who I'm going to take.

Now to the most important game of the weekend, Packers at 49ers.  This is a game that will definitely be won in the trenches.  We all know that our offensive line has improved over the course of the season.  Our pass rush is much better with Clay Matthews back, and Raji played like an absolute beast last week, tearing the Vikings up.  One thing that could be absolutely huge is if we can have Starks back this week for our running game as is being reported by Tom Silverstein.  The other major thing in this game is that we have to win the turnover battle.  Rodgers was intercepted by Navarro Bowman in the last game and that is something that cannot happen again.  Rodgers has been keeping it clean lately, but when your last few opponents have been the Vikings x2, Titans, and Bears.  That's a little bit easier said than done.  All in all, I have the Packers winning a close game over the 49ers, with the final score being 31-24.

Go Pack Go!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Will Packers vs. 49ers Rematch Be Different?

By: Matt Bove

In Week 1 of the season at Lambeau Field, the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers 30-22 in a game that was not even as close as that score idicates.

On Saturday, the scene will shift to Candlestick Park for an NFC Divisonal Round playoff game, and both teams are completly different. The 49ers physically dominated the Packers in the first matchup, but this Packers team is more than capable of turning the tables on San Francisco this time around.

The Packers have evolved as a team on both sides of the ball since Week 1. In the Week 1 loss, Cedric Benson only received nine carries and only ran for 18 yards on those carries. Mike McCarthy completly abandoned the running game and used Randall Cobb at running back a ton.

The Packers have averaged almost 30 carries per game since Week 9 and the Packers have averaged 122.5 yards per game since, which ranks 12th in the NFL. The Packers have appeared to have found a hot running back in Dujan Harris, who had over 100 total yards in the victory over Minnesota last weekend. He will find running room much tougher to find against San Francisco, but McCarthy has to keep the 49ers honest with it.

On defense, the Packers have overcome injuries and now are the healthiest that they have been all season. Charles Woodson returned last week and certianly looked like an upgrade over MD Jennings. Woodson was a key player in containing Adrian Peterson and the Packers will be calling on him to do the same against Frank Gore. Gore killed the Packers on the edges in the season opener and ran for 122 yards on only 16 carries, which comes out to a whopping seven yards per carry.

Another huge factor in the Packers' struggles on defense in Week 1 was the fact that Jarrett Bush started at corner over Sam Shields and was torched. Anytime Bush is on the field in a major role it has been a problem. When healthy this season, Shields has improved his tackling and has been very solid in coverage.

Also, Casey Heyward has greatly improved from Week 1 and has been one of the best corners in the NFL this season.  Heyward was tied for fifth in the NFL in interceptions (5). Also, according to Pro Football Focus, Heyward led all NFL cornerbacks with a 31.1 passer rating by opposing quarterbacks when throwing at him.

Ther 49ers have changed greatly since Week 1 as well. Their biggest change was replacing starting quarterback Alex Smith with Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick made his first start on Monday Night Football in Week 11 vs. Chicago and has impressed ever since.

Kaepernick is an amazing dual threat quarterback who can beat you with the read-option and by throwing down the field. He makes the 49ers much harder to prepare for, but he will offer up more chances for tunrovers than Smith would. Also, Smith has playoff experience and this will be Kaepernick's first career playoff start. He has not let the moment get to big for him in the regular season, but who knows what might happen in the postseason.

On the defensive side for San Francisco the health of Justin Smith may be the key of the whole game. Smith has torn triceps and is esxpected to play, but nobody knows how effective he can be with the injury. The 49ers looked terrible without Smith at New England and at Seattle. Without Smith in the lineup, Aldon Smith has not recorded a sack. That duo has been lethal off of stunts togther and they need that to be successful.

However, the defense approach the Packers will be seeing from San Francisco might be different from what they saw last weekend and for the majority of the season. According to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinels Tyler Dunne, an NFC scout told him that the 49ers might throw something different at the Packers.

" If they feel they can effectively take away the middle of the field, it just seems that that's been their M.O.," the scout said of San Francisco. "They take away the middle of the field because that's the easiest place for the quarterback to complete it. They"ll say, Listen, if you're going to be making 25-yard bombs on the outside, that sucks but we're going to live with it. We're not going to let you bleed us to death. That's kind of been their M.O. And when you want to throw deep, it's 'our pressure isn't going to let you get off the throw you want to."'

Teams who have blitzed Rodgers and have dared him to beat them deep have been torched. It is interesting that the 49ers would approach the Packers this way, but if any defense can stop him that way it is them.  I will be very curious to see if they come out in the looks that the scout detailed in that quote.

This is such an interesting matchup because it really tests out the theory that you have to have an elite quarterback to win. The Packers have an elite quarterback who is hot right now, but you can argue the 49ers have an advantage at every other position other than wide reciever. Rodgers and his recievers will have to be good enough to overcome the 49ers' talent advantage on the offensive and defensive lines. They're certianly capable of doing that if they play their "A" games.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Full Arsenal of Weapons Healthy For Playoffs

By: Matt Bove

Most of the talk leading up to Saturday's playoff matchup with the Vikings has been centered around the Packers trying to contain Adrian Peterson. While that will no doubt be a huge factor in the game, what also is interesting is that the Packers seem to be getting healthy and clicking of offense at just the right time.

The Vikings have just as big of a challenge in stopping Rodgers and company as the Packers do in containing Peterson. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb were both full participants in practice on Thursday and are expected to play. That means that for the first time since Week 3 at Seattle Nelson, Cobb, Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley and James Jones will all be healthy at the same time.

The Packers have an embarrassment of riches at the wide receiver position, but we have not really have had the privilege to watch them all play together this season. Jennings missed Week 2 vs. Chicago due to an abdominal muscle injury and then missed seven consecutive games during the middle of the season when he re-aggravated the injury during Week 4 vs. New Orleans. When Jennings returned Week 13 vs. Minnesota, Nelson injured his ankle and missed the next three games. They could have had everybody available last week at Minnesota, but Cobb injured his ankle vs. Tennessee and was forced to miss the game. Jones is the only player who has been available for every game.

How the Packers deploy these weapons will be one of the most intriguing aspects of the game. Since it is the playoffs, Nelson and Cobb should have no snap limitations. Where will they line up on the field is the key issue. Jennings took over Cobb's slot position and played brilliantly, as he caught a team leading eight passes and had two touchdowns.

The Packers are so deep that you can argue that Jones is their fourth best wide receiver and he leads the NFL in touchdown catches with 13. Nelson and Jones figure to line up on the outside mostly, but it will be interesting to see where Cobb and Jennings line up. Jennings is probably the more versatile player, so I would guess that he will see more time on the outside.

Whoever plays in the slot should have a significant advantage if Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield is limited or cannot play. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier told reporters at his press conference that Winfield was wearing a soft cast and was feeling better. He left the game last week at halftime because he could not tolerate the pain of his broken hand. According to Pro Football Focus, Winfield's replacement Marcus Sherels was targeted 10 times for nine receptions and allowed 162 yards. His biggest blunder was when he was caught flat-footed and Nelson ran by him for a 73-yard reception.

Also, Jermichael Finley is very versatile and he can line up at tight end, in the slot or split out wide. So it will be very intriguing to see what the plan is with him as well, since he has been playing his best football of the season down the stretch.

While the Packers have an embarrassment of riches at wide receiver, they also have a trio of running backs that the Vikings will have to prepare for. The Packers have been riding whoever has the hot hand between DuJuan Harris, Ryan Grant and Alex Green lately. It has been successful, as the Packers have averaged 118.8 yards per game on the ground over their last five games.

Against Tennessee two weeks ago, it was Grant who had the hot hand, as he rushed for  80 yards on 20 carries. Last week, Grant struggled early and Harris ended up rushing for 70 yards on 14 carries. Harris is a very interesting player who could have an impact like James Starks had in the 2010 Super Bowl run.

Harris signed with Jacksonville last year as an undrafted rookie free agent and rushed for 42 yards on nine carries in his limited playing time. The Jaguars cut him on Aug. 25 and he was claimed by the Pittsburgh Steelers off waivers before they released him on Aug. 31. Harris was out of the NFL until the Packers signed him to their practice squad on Oct. 24.

Listed at 5-foot-8 and 203 pounds, Harris is unlike any running back the Packers have had in recent memory. He may be short, but he definitely is not small and does not play small. Harris is built very strongly and is extremely powerful. He has been a violent and punishing runner despite being only 5-foot-8. Harris has also been very patient and has attacked the right holes the majority of the time.

Since, Harris came to the team so late in the season it has taken him awhile to pick up the pass protection schemes. Protecting Aaron Rodgers is paramount for any Packers running back, so the coaches were only using Harris on mostly running games in his first few games with the Packers. As he has learned more of the playbook lately, the coaches have been using him in pass protection more, which obviously makes the offense more predictable. Harris has a lot of potential and it will be interesting to see how he develops in the future as well as how he contributes this postseason.

Rodgers and this offense are playing their best football of the season at the perfect time. In their last three games the Packers have averaged 36.6 points per game and 431.6 yards of total offense. Rodgers in particular has been on fire over the last three games; he has thrown 10 touchdowns, 998 yards and has a 124.6 passer rating over that stretch. The running game has backed teams out of the Cover-2 a little bit and Rodgers has had more opportunities to take deep shots down the field.

Getting everybody back healthy should allow the Packers' offense to continue its momentum into the playoffs. When it's as hot as it is right now very few teams can keep up with the Packers. They have been solid on offense all season, but have been looking to find the greatness that they had established last season, and it appears that they may have found it. Stopping Adrian Peterson will be a monumental task, but stopping Rodgers and company is an equally tough task for Minnesota.