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11

April

Packers Like Odd Pairing At A Key Position

Packers Center J.C. Tretter

Despite never having played a snap at center or in a NFL game, Tretter seems like a front runner for the Packers center position in 2014

During this week’s No Huddle Radio podcast, we had the pleasure of chatting with Dan Shonka of Ourlads Scouting Services about everything draft related.

Of course, there were deep ties to the Green Bay Packers and what we might see from them in next month’s draft.  One interesting comment that Dan made about drafting players to play certain positions in the NFL.

Shonka’s example couldn’t have been more perfect for the Packers’ current situation at offensive center.  He said that if a team needs a center, they should draft a center.  He has never been a big proponent of drafting a guard or a tackle to convert to another position due to the risk of that conversion not being a success.

Sure, there are occasions where a player can develop multiple skill sets.  Guard T.J. Lang is an example there.  Lang was a left tackle in college and was immediately tried at guard in Green Bay.  Lang did also work at tackle and has even played tackle in live game action, but he’s now entrenched at guard and has proven to be very suitable there.  Still, examples such as Lang seem to be more the exception and not the rule.

During head coach Mike McCarthy’s time in Green Bay, we have seen many examples of players who were offensive tackles in college and tried at guard and/or center with the Packers.  A few that come to mind besides Lang:  Derek Sherrod, David Bakhtiari, and Bryan Bulaga to name a few.  Heading into this season, Bulaga and Bakhtiari are presumed to be the starting tackle tandem.  Sherrod is once again back at tackle as a backup.

Beyond the versatility that it can offer, it begs the question as to why McCarthy continues to try and turn tackles into interior linemen.

We know McCarthy likes players that can do multiple things.  He likes his linebackers and tight ends on special teams.  He obviously likes his linemen to be able to step in at any spot on the line and in a pinch.  But is that the best way to build that continuity that he also talks about having on the line?

9

April

Packers Preseason Opponents Announced

Green Bay Packers

The Packers 2014 preseason opponents were announced today

The NFL announced it’s preseason schedule today, with some exact dates and times still to be finalized.

The Green Bay Packers will start off with two road games and finish up with the final two games at home this year.

The Packers lead off with a trip to Tennessee to take on the Titans.  In week two, the Packers travel to face the St. Louis Rams, as they did last season.

Week three has the Packers returning home to host the Oakland Raiders in a nationally televised game on August 22nd at 7pm.  That game will potentially mark the return of former Packers James Jones and C.J. Wilson to Lambeau Field.  The third preseason game is also most like a regular season game, as starters tend to see more game action than any of the other three contests.

The Packers will finish up at home against the Kansas City Chiefs on August 28th.  The two teams were in Kansas City for last preseason’s finale.

This marks the fifth straight year that the Packers close out the preseason against the Chiefs.  It also marks the third straight preseason that the Packers won’t face any of their regular season opponents.

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.com

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9

April

Reaction to Loss: Players vs. Fans

Packers fans

Packers fans often times appear to take a loss harder than the players themselves

Can you tell it’s the NFL offseason?  As is often the case, this is that time of year where you’ll find a lot of speculation about the upcoming Green Bay Packers season and team as well as some occasional news stories that emerge.

Mixed in there are some occasional potpourri topics such as this one:  How different are fans and player reactions to a loss?

ESPN Milwaukee discussed this on last weekend’s Miller Lite Football show as well as earlier this week on the Green and Gold Today show with Jason Wilde and Bill Johnson.

One of the co-hosts of the Miller Lite show is former Packers tight end Mark Chmura and he had a few interesting things to say.  Wilde himself made a guest appearance on the show to discuss some of the player reactions that he has seen after tough losses during his time covering the Packers.  Wilde began that role in 1996, the magical season in which the Packers finally brought the Lombardi trophy back to Green Bay after nearly 30 years of mediocrity.

Before getting into the meat of this topic, I remind you all that I am not a credentialed media member nor have I ever been in a NFL locker room.  My perspective on this is just as valid as anyone else’s who has an opinion on the matter.  And that is my goal, to elicit the opinions of our great readers and followers, as is usually the case.

Rarely do I like to take the first person perspective on topics, but for this one, I think back to my days as a rabid Packers fan when the team was on the come-up in the early 1990′s.  Wins were the highest of highs and losses were cause to cancel the entire following week.  As a teenager, I thought surely that if I were as upset about a loss as I was from the comforts of my living room, that the players in the locker room had to be twice as down, right?

Over time, we have seen evidence to the contrary that reminds us that football means different things to different people, both players and fans alike.  We see players from opposing teams chatting and laughing just moments after they were trying to push and shove their way to a victory.

4

April

Brett Favre’s Return To Packers: Are Fans Ready?

Brett Favre

This is how most Packers fans prefer to remember Brett Favre

It only took me 18 months before I broke down and wrote about Brett Favre.  I joined Jersey Al’s team in August of 2012 and until recently, it was pretty easy to avoid the topic altogether.

Over the past year, however, Favre’s name has been tied more closely with the Green Bay Packers and a return to Titletown is not far off for old #4.  During that span, our team has penned a few pieces about Favre, most recently of which was done by Kris Burke last year in June.

Favre retired after the 2010 season and three seasons removed from being the Packers starting quarterback.  For many fans, those three years seemed like a decade.  The year in New York with the Jets was kind of like being at a preseason game.  The game is going on and it looks like football, but who really cares?  The last two years of Favre’s career were a much different story.

For those with some time to spare, about an hour and twenty minutes, to be exact, here is a link to the film “Last Day at Lambeau“.  It chronicles the time between Favre’s first retirement from the NFL and the Packers to his last game at Lambeau Field as a member of the Minnesota Vikings in 2010.

I remember Favre’s signing with the Vikings in August of 2009.  Whether he orchestrated his departure from New York in order to land in Minnesota or if the stars just aligned that way, I hated the football Gods.  It wasn’t that I was worried about Favre beating up on the Packers, because I honestly didn’t think he could.  I just didn’t want to deal with all of the attention and build up.

2009 came and went and the Vikings got the best of the Packers in both games that season.  Favre and the gang were within his merely falling forward to give themselves a chance to go to a Super Bowl that year.  But in true Favre fashion and almost as if it were scripted, a vintage interception ended the Vikings’ run and 2010 would turn out to be a disaster (literally, as Mall of America Field was rendered inoperable by massive snow build up).

4

April

Packers Cannot Gamble At Safety

Micah Hyde

The Packers need to finally find a solution at the safety position.  Micah Hyde is one of a few options

The Green Bay Packers have already made some moves in free agency to help bolster their roster and chances in 2014.  The addition of defensive lineman Julius Peppers made big headlines a few weeks back and indicated a shift in the team’s approach to improving on the past few seasons.

With the  addition of Peppers, the Packers Super Bowl odds dropped from 16-1 to 10-1, according to sites like FootballBettingCenter.com.

But will the addition of Peppers really have that much of an impact on this Packers team? With just one playoff victory since winning Super Bowl XLV in 2011, the Packers have lacked that spark and edge that got them over the hump during that incredible run over three years ago.

With Aaron Rodgers and quarterback and a solid stable of receivers, Green Bay has been able to maintain its production on the offensive side of the ball.  The addition of Eddie Lacy last season (NFL Rookie of the year) rounded off the offense and took it a step closer to being more complete.

The defense has been the point of emphasis in looking at the most glaring needs that the Packers have had and continue to have.  In 2011, defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins departed in free agency and the Packers struggled to get consistent production from the defensive line.  Jenkins was replaced by Jarius Wynn, and I use the term “replaced” very loosely there.

The Packers D-line has seen flashes of production since, but not consistently.  The addition of Peppers will hopefully help that unit make more of an impact on Sundays.

Prior to the start of the 2012 season, the Packers lost inside linebacker Desmond Bishop to a season-ending injury and the team released him prior to the start of the 2013 season.  Bishop’s spot has since been replaced by a combination of DJ Smith, who is no longer with the team and was released last offseason, and Brad Jones.

Jones has spurred debates about whether he is the future at inside linebacker, was worth the contract that he received last offseason (three years, $11.75 million), and most importantly,  whether he still has room to turn into the player the Packers need him to be.  That remains to be seen but there have been many rumblings that inside linebacker should be addressed relatively early in this upcoming draft by Green Bay.

3

April

Packers Re-Sign Kuhn

John Kuhn

The Packers return John Kuhn on a one-year deal

Fullback and Green Bay Packers cult hero John Kuhn is returning to the team in 2014.  Kuhn has agreed to a one-year deal worth just over $1 million with incentives included.

Kuhn has been with the Packers since 2007 and has become one of the stable veterans on a perpetually young roster.  While Kuhn reportedly had some conversations with other teams, Green Bay seems to be the best fit for him over anywhere else.

Similar to quarterback Matt Flynn, Kuhn flourishes in the Packers offense where he is needed and seems to max out his value potential.

Case in point is last season’s week 17 season finale against the Chicago Bears, when it was Kuhn’s block on defensive end Julius Peppers that allowed Aaron Rodgers to escape the pocket and find receiver Randall Cobb downfield for the go-ahead and game-winning score.  That win helped the Packers secure their third straight NFC North division title.  Now that Peppers is with the Packers, the two can likely share a laugh or two over that monumental play.

The fullback position has changed quite a bit in the NFL overall.  Gone are the days of the I-formation and the need for a bruising fullback to pave the way for the tail back.  With running backs becoming bigger and more versatile and athletic, the traditional fullback is a dying breed.  Green Bay’s offense is no exception.  With the addition of Eddie Lacy in last year’s draft, Kuhn had just 10 rushing attempts in 2013.  In 2010, Kuhn had his career high in carries with 84, mostly due to injuries to other running backs at the time.

Still, keeping Kuhn is valuable for depth purposes and also insurance that there is a wily veteran that can come in on passing downs and help keep Rodgers on his feet.  Kuhn is said to be a great presence in the team’s locker room and will surely assist in bringing the young running backs along as they mature in their early careers.

Of the current Packers backs other than Kuhn, James Starks is the most senior member with four seasons under his belt.  DuJuan Harris, Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin and Michael Hill all have just one season to their credit.  Harris was with the team last year but did not play after being placed on season-ending injured reserve during training camp.

3

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: LB Shayne Skov

 

Shayne Skov

LB Shayne Skov

Packers prospect profile:  LB  Shayne Skov

Player Information:

Shayne Skov  LB, Stanford,  6-2, 245 pounds  Hometown: Guadalajara, Mexico

STATS

NFL Combine:

Did not participate in Combine and to date, has not participated in any pre-draft drills

News and Notes:

Started nine games as a true freshman in 2009. . .led Stanford in tackles in 2010. . .lost the 2011 season to an ACL injury. . .was instrumental in Stanford’s run to the PAC-12 title and Rose Bowl run in 2013. . .2013 All PAC-12 first-team. . .very upbeat and vocal leader

What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com:  Ideal size and temperament for the inside linebacker position. Possesses broad shoulders, a trim middle and thick lower-body. Terrific instincts and physicality. A tone-setter in the middle, who frequently made big plays at key moments for the Cardinal. Demonstrated more explosiveness in 2013, in his second season removed from a torn ACL. Explodes through holes in the offensive line to make emphatic tackles in the backfield. Aggresive in taking on and shedding blockers in the hole. Displayed greater patience in 2013 when breaking down with ball-carriers in the open field because he has regained his explosive closing ability. This has led to less lunging by Skov and more secure textbook tackling. Likely limited to inside linebacker duties in a 3-4 alignment due to the fact that he does not possess ideal speed to beat backs to the edge, nor the fluidity for extensive coverage responsibilities. Working to break a bad habit of lunging. Over-aggression caused Skov to take himself out of too many plays early in his career.
  • NFL.com:  Outstanding instincts and recognition — plays much faster than he clocks on a stopwatch. Goes full throttle and plays very hard. Times up the blitz extremely well. Explosive tackler. Alert in coverage.  Intense emotional leader. Has a love for the game and it shows. Ideal special-teams temperament.  Marginal foot speed — limited twitch and agility to adjust to movement in coverage and could be exposed by NFL backs and tight ends. Can play with too much abandon and recklessly miss some tackles flying to the ball (out of control). Long-term durability is a concern — has already had multiple knee surgeries.

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • As I always disclaim, this is a “highlight” reel