Author Archives: Adam Czech | About Adam Czech: Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

16

March

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football.

The following is a transcript of a hidden camera conversation from Packers GM Ted Thompson’s office on the opening day of NFL free agency.

(Knock on the door. The Packers front office team enters Thompson’s office. Thompson is watching “True Detective” on his office television)

Thompson: Why did nobody tell me about this “True Detective” show before? This is amazing. I didn’t know Woody from Cheers was such a good actor. And how about Matthew McConaughey?! The guy can actually act when he keeps his shirt on. Yellow King?! I want to change our nickname from the Packers to the Yellow Kings!

Scout: Um, sir….we didn’t tell you about the show because you only allow us to watch film of college players nobody else has ever heard of. And free agency is now officially open.

Thompson: Shhhh! This episode is more intense than the last few minutes of Super Bowl XLV.

Scout: But sir, we’ve already lost Lamarr Houston and Arthur Jones. They’re off the market.

Thompson: Really? They signed like 7 seconds after free agency officially opened? That’s some quick negotiating. Because no NFL team would ever cheat and use the three-day window to talk to agents to actually work out a contract, right?

Scout: Ummm…..

Thompson: How much did they go for?

Scout: Houston for $35 million to the Bears and Jones $30 million to the Colts.

Thompson: BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! That’s hilarious. No, seriously. How much did they sign for?

Scout: Sir, I was being serious.

Thompson: Dammit, you do this every year. You tell me who signed right after free agency opens and you make up some wild and silly number. Just tell me the real number.

Scout: But sir, that is the real number. I wasn’t kidding. Every year we have this same conversation 5 minutes after free agency opens.

Thompson: How about that other guy people want us to sign…what’s his name. Something to do with birds…

Scout: Jarius Byrd, sir. He signed with New Orleans for $54 million.

Thompson: I see. I can’t wait to see the headlines after the Super Bowl: “Jarius Byrd leads Saints to Super Bowl win.” Or maybe “Lamarr Houston makes people forget about the ’86 Bears.”

Scout: Sir, don’t you think we maybe should’ve gotten in on some of these signings? People are getting mad on Twitter.

14

March

Channeling Fire Joe Morgan about Packers GM Ted Thompson and NFL Free Agency

I decided to go all Fire Joe Morgan on this piece written by Frank Schwab at Yahoo Sports about Packers GM Ted Thompson and NFL free agency. Enjoy.

In 2006, Packers general manager Ted Thompson signed cornerback Charles Woodson in free agency, and it was one of the best moves he ever made.

Ok. A good start to this post. I agree with that statement.

You’d think that experience would give Ted Thompson the warm and fuzzies about free agency and he’d spend his time chasing the next Woodson. Instead, Thompson might be off on vacation this week. Wherever he has been, he hasn’t been signing any players.

Starting to go off the rails a bit now. Thompson didn’t “chase” Woodson. He signed him well after free agency opened. I think part of the reason Thompson doesn’t dive into the opening frenzy of free agency is because it is a “chase.” Chasing to fill this roster hole or plug that weak area. Chasing a big-name veteran who fans are familiar with. Chasing the notion that you have to “DO SOMETHING!!!!” to get better like the other teams around you. Those types of chases are from guaranteed to pay off. Oh, and the “Ted Thompson goes on vacation” thing became an eye-rolling cliche three years ago.

Green Bay didn’t sign one player, outside of retaining his (sic) own free agents, in the first three days of free agency.

Gasp!

It’s not like they don’t have needs. A stud left tackle would have been great, allowing David Bakhtiari to move inside to guard. Any of the top centers would have worked. A pass rusher would be swell. They could have spent on a big-time safety, and it’s not like Antoine Bethea, T.J. Ward, Donte Whitner or guys like that got a ridiculous amount of money.

Sign a stud left tackle and move a promising, young and inexpensive left tackle to guard when you already have one pro bowl guard and another guard coming off his best season (and Bryan Bulaga coming back from injury)? Was there a “stud left tackle” on the free-agent market this year? I didn’t see one. Stud left tackles, like stud QBs, typically don’t make it to free agency. If the Packers re-sign Evan Dietrich-Smith, that’ll meet the “any of the top centers” criteria. Yes, a pass rusher would be swell. Let’s see what the remaining days of free agency bring (yes, free agency lasts more than a couple days). Finally, none of the safeties Schwab lists are “big time.”

12

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: DL Ra’Shede Hageman

Minnesota Gophers defensive lineman Ra'Shede Hageman

Minnesota Gophers defensive lineman Ra’Shede Hageman

Packers prospect profile: DL Ra’Shede Hageman

Player Information:

Ra’Shede Hageman,  DL  Minnesota, 6-6, 310 pounds,  Hometown: Minneapolis, MN

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 5.02

Vertical jump: 35.5″

225 lb. bench: 32 reps

Broad jump: 114″

News and Notes:

Converted from tight end to defensive line during his redshirt freshman seasons. … Was two-time all-state tight end in high school … First team all Big Ten and third team All-American his senior season. … Received the Bronko Nagurski award, given to the team’s most valuable player, his senior season. … Had 13 tackles for loss senior season. … Foster child, mother was a drug addict, father died before Ra’Shede met him. … More about Hageman’s difficult childhood.

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • Mike Mayock:  The Hageman kid is really interesting and especially given his background and where he’s coming from and what he’s had to go through in life, and I think the hard part is putting the tape on in one game, you see a kid that can go as a Top 15 pick and then you put the next tape on, and then he disappears for three quarters and that’s a fifth or sixth round pick and you have to rectify the whole thing if he blows up the Combine; who are we getting. That’s the important thing is trying to understand the kid, because the talent is certainly there.
  • NFL.com: Terrific movement, flexibility and range. Loose ankles. Can work the edges. Able to redirect and chase athletically. Fierce tackler. Rare leaping ability for his size (workout all-star). Disrupts passing lanes. Has a “wow” factor at his best. Has immense upside. Team captain.

Video:

)

Video Analysis:

  • Size and length look very intimidating
  • Big-hitter
  • Good lateral movement and ability to make a tackle downfield
  • Slow to react at times
  • Extremely difficult to handle if he gains leverage

If drafted by the Packers:

Since I live in Minnesota and punish myself by watching the Gophers, I’ve followed Hageman’s entire career. Most of the scouting reports are accurate: He’s got a ton of ability, but tends to disappear for stretches. Some say his disappearing acts raise questions about his effort. Whenever I’ve observed Hageman go into hibernation, he appeared to be really tired. Hands on the hips, breathing heavy, slow of the ball — the usual signs. I wonder if conditioning was an issue for him in college and if an NFL conditioning program would fix that.

12

March

Surprise! Packers Quiet on First Day of NFL Free Agency

Jarius Byrd

Safety Jarius Byrd signed a monster NFL free agent contract on Tuesday, but not with the Packers.

C’mon, folks. You didn’t REALLY think that the Packers and general manager Ted Thompson were going to make a splash on the first day of NFL free agency, did you?

No way Thompson was going to fork over $56 million ($28 million guaranteed) like the Saints did for safety Jarius Byrd.

Give defensive linemen Lamarr Houston (5 years, $35 million, $15 million guaranteed) and/or Arthur Jones (5 years, $30 million) deals like they got from the Bears and Colts, respectively? Not on Thompson’s watch.

What about safety T.J. Ward? The Packers desperately need a safety and Ward’s deal with the Broncos (4 years, $23 million, $14 million guaranteed) is much more reasonable that Byrd’s. Sure, Ward came at decent market value, but Thompson wasn’t going to pay that much for a box safety.

The list could go on and on. Aquib Talib (6 years, $57 million, $26 million guaranteed), Linval Joseph (5 years, $31 million), Paul Soliai (5 years, $33 million, $14 million guaranteed). The prices were outrageous and the potential return on investment far from guaranteed. Hell, the Jaguars gave Toby Gerhart 3 years and $10.5 million. Toby Gerhart!

You didn’t REALLY think Thompson was going to suddenly start gambling on the high-risk game known as Day 1 of NFL free agency, did you?

If you did, hopefully you learned your lesson (again) for next time. If you’re upset that Thompson didn’t deviate from his norm and dive into Tuesday’s madness, don’t be.

There is still a long way to go in free agency. I do think Thompson is going to step outside of his comfort zone and bring in some free agents, but it sure wasn’t going to happen on day 1.

Once the chaos of the opening of free agency calms down and  the funny money goes away, Thompson’s real work begins. That’s when bargains can be found and holes on the Packers roster plugged with players who sign contracts more in line with their true value.

But isn’t now the time to take a risk and overpay for a major free agent or two? After all, Aaron Rodgers isn’t getting any younger and the Packers have a few obvious holes.

9

March

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football.

With Sam Shields locked up for the next four years, it’s time to focus on the Packers other free agents.

News of the Packers offering B.J. Raji a short-term contract to return as the team’s nose tackle brought out all kinds of reactions. Many Packers fans want nothing to do with Raji after he fell off the face of the earth midway through last season.

Other Packers fans are willing to stick with Raji if all it takes a relatively cheap, low-risk one-year deal.

I’m in the latter category. There is rarely such a thing as a bad one-year contract. If Raji flops again next season, you’re not tied to him long-term. If he’s horrible in training camp, and a good portion of the contract isn’t guaranteed, the Packers can just cut him.

That might make me sound like a Raji defender, but I am anything but. There were several times in the second half of last season where I wanted Ted Thompson to enter the Packers defensive huddle and cut Raji on the spot. He was that bad.

One talking point from Raji defenders that drives me crazy is the notion that it’s his job to “occupy blockers” so the middle linebackers can make plays. Yes, often in a 3-4 defense, it is the job of the defensive lineman to absorb double teams and sacrifice a little bit of personal glory to free up teammates.

But most people don’t understand what “occupying blockers” really means. It doesn’t mean you stand there and belly bump with other fat guys. It doesn’t mean you simply take up space. It doesn’t mean you never get to make a tackle for a loss or pressure the quarterback.

It definitely doesn’t mean you end up on your backside or blown off the ball like Raji is all too often.

The best way to “occupy blockers” is to kick their ass, to win your match-up, whether it’s against a single offensive lineman or a double team. Knock your man back a step and force the running back to alter his course, even if it’s a minor detour. Anchor yourself in the hole. Split that double team.

A 3-4 defensive lineman who does that often enough will get a tackle behind the line or a sack every now and then. He’ll also be doing a fine job of “occupying blockers.”

8

March

Packers re-sign CB Sam Shields for $39 million

Packers 2012 Cornerbacks Sam Shields and Casey Hayward

Packers CB Sam Shields re-signed with Green Bay for $39 million.

The Green Bay Packers have re-signed up-and-coming cornerback Sam Shields to a 4 year, $39 million deal. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the deal includes a $12.5 million signing bonus.

Shields’ agent Drew Rosenhaus confirmed the deal via Twitter.

That’s a lot of dough for a corner who has the talent to be one of the best, but isn’t quite there yet. But this is a deal that the Packers probably had to make.

Now it’s time for Shields to 1) stay healthy for a full 16-game season + playoffs, and 2) take the next step and become an elite cornerback.

——————

Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

——————

7

March

Dom Capers Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

dom capers

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers

1) Introduction:  Ever since the Packers won the Super Bowl in 2011, Capers’ defenses have been banged up, overmatched, pushed around and just plain lousy. The backlash against Capers has gotten so loud in Green Bay, there is actually a small backlash to the backlash going on. You know the backlash is bad when people start backlashing against the Capers backlash.

2) Profile:

Dom Capers

  • Age: 63
  • Born: 8/7/1950, in Cambridge, OH
  • NFL Coaching Experience: 28 years

Biography and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Build a more physical defense. It worked the first part of the season. Then injuries started wiping out key players and most of the middle of the defense completely disappeared.

The Packers in 2013 weren’t a complete mess on defense like they were in 2011. At times they were even better than they were in 2012. But at no point in the season did you ever feel like this defense was good enough to step up and carry the team for an extended stretch, if needed. They just weren’t good enough.

4) Season Highlights/Lowlights:  With Aaron Rodgers out and the Packers needing late defensive stops to have a shot at stealing games against Chicago and Philadelphia in weeks 9 and 10, Capers’ defense went in the tank. The Bears held the ball for almost 9 minutes to seal the game and the Eagles for 9 minutes, 32 seconds to wrap up the victory. The defense also looked absolutely helpless in a blowout loss to Detroit on Thanksgiving.

Highlights included holding the Lions (without Calvin Johnson) to nine points in week 5 and coming up with a gritty performance the following week against Baltimore to help the Packers win despite several key injuries.

5) Contribution to the overall team success:  I don’t know…do we give Capers credit for Sam Shields’ interception against the Cowboys? Do we pat Capers on the back for not allowing the Bears to score after the Rodgers-Randall Cobb miracle in Chicago?

This is where it gets tricky with Capers and why the people backlashing against the Capers backlash have a point: We get all ticked off at Capers when the Packers defense gets run over, then give credit to individual players instead of Capers when the Packers defense does something positive.