Author Archives: Jason Perone | About Jason Perone:

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  Bishop’s spot has since been replaced by a combination of DJ Smith, who is no longer with the team and was released last offseason, and Brad Jones.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
27

March

Mike McCarthy Speaks at Owner’s Meetings

Mike McCarthy

McCarthy spoke about the current state of the Packers at this week’s Owner’s Meetings

As I have been doing for the past few press conferences by Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, I am sharing highlights of his comments along with some of my own thoughts.  As always, enjoy the read and feel free to agree, disagree, cheer or jeer.

Credit for this recap goes to the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Mike Vandermause for his great coverage of McCarthy’s comments today via Twitter.

On the offensive line situation heading into 2014: Bryan Bulaga moving back to right tackle. MM likes Bakhtiari at LT. Derek Sherrod will be swing tackle, start out on left side

The return of Bryan Bulaga from his ACL injury last year means more shuffling on the outside.  I have always thought putting Bulaga back at right tackle made the most sense, after watching David Bakhtiari hold his own at left tackle during his rookie season.  Bakh has plenty of room to improve and certainly needs to as he matures, but I have no qualms about his being the starting left tackle heading into this season.

As far as the departure of Evan Dietrich-Smith, the Packers will enter their fourth consecutive season with a new center.  The popular theories on who the current front runners have been second-year man J.C. Tretter and current guard T.J. Lang.  Lang stepped in at center last season in emergency relief and quickly made a case for himself to remain at guard.  Lang wasn’t horrible, but he’s been effective at guard and the Packers don’t need to tinker with a good thing there.

Simpy handing the keys to Tretter is risky for a guy who hasn’t played a single down yet.  McCarthy will need to closely evaluate what he has in Tretter throughout the offseason program.  Pre season game action will tell the biggest tale, as that is obviously the closest look to an actual game that they will have to go on.  Still, Green Bay would be wise to exhaust all remaining avenues to add some talent to the competition at center.  They have the draft in early May, undrafted free agency, and the current free agency period at their disposal.  There will also be roster cuts this summer and we never know who might be on the move.

26

March

NFL Adopts Additional Rule Changes

NFL Owners meeting

Final rulings on 2014 rule change proposals were announced today

Yesterday, we shared some of the rule changes that NFL owners had already passed at this week’s meetings in Orlando, Florida.  Today, the remaining rules were addressed.

Some passed, some were voted down and some were tabled.  As always, those that were tabled will be revisited until they are either shot down or finally passed.

Here is a quick breakdown, courtesy of ProFootballTalk.com:

PASSED

Extend the uprights to make them five feet taller

Protect players from getting the sides of their legs rolled up on

Allow the referee to consult with members of the NFL officiating department during replay reviews.

Re-organize the rules about what can be reviewed and what cannot be reviewed, including making the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play reviewable.

Don’t stop the clock on a sack.

Enforce defensive fouls behind the line of scrimmage from the previous spot, rather than from the end of the run or from the spot of the foul.

Adjust the time of the roster reduction from 53 after the fourth preseason game from 6 p.m. Eastern to 4 p.m. Eastern. All teams would have to have their list of final cuts in by 4 p.m.

FAILED

Move the kickoff to the 40-yard line. 

Permit a coach to challenge any official’s decision, except scoring plays which are automatically reviewed. 

Expand instant replay to include personal foul penalties. 

Eliminate the cut-down to 75 players during training camp and instead just have one cut-down from 90 players to 53 players. 

Permit more than one player to return to the active list from injured reserve so that any player on injured reserve could return after six weeks. 

TABLED

Eliminate overtime in the preseason. 

Move the line of scrimmage for one-point extra point kicks to the defensive team’s 25-yard line. Two-point conversion attempts would still be snapped from the 2-yard line. (League to experiment with longer extra points during preseason).

Put six cameras on all boundary lines — sideline, goal line, end line, to guarantee coverage for replay reviews.

Modify pass interference so that it can be called within one yard of the line of scrimmage.

25

March

NFL Approves Rule Changes

NFL Owners meeting

NFL Owners voted to approve rule changes at this week’s meetings

With the NFL owner’s meetings taking place this week, one of the major topics of concern are the proposed rule changes.  I’ll delve into some of those shortly.  There have already reportedly been three rule changes that have been approved to take effect immediately starting in 2014.

The first has to do with the process of instant replay.  NFL owners voted to allow referees to communicate with the officiating command center in New York during on-field reviews.  Previously, referees were afforded several angles of a play under review and then had to make a final ruling.

Now, the command center in New York will closely monitor and begin reviewing potential reviewable plays right away.

When the official contacts them, they will likely have already viewed the play and can help guide to the correct ruling.  The final call is still the referee’s to make, but the command center will ensure that all aspects of the review and play are correctly assessed.

The next is the elimination of a “roll up block” to the side of a player’s leg.  This was a modification of a previous rule that banned roll up blocks from behind.  The biggest beneficiaries of this rule are likely to be defensive players.  Many knee injuries had occurred to players who couldn’t see such a block coming.  After many rule changes that have seemingly favored the offense, the defense scores one here.

The last is the elimination of the “slam dunk” touchdown celebration.  While the exact reasoning for the rule change hasn’t been explained, it would likely be due to the few instances where the contact with the goal posts caused them to become altered or uneven.  The process to correct this is a quick one, but I think we can all live with a little added protection to the integrity of something that affects a score.

The most famous user of this touchdown celebration ironically may have just played his last down this past season: Tony Gonzalez.  When told about the rule change, Gonzalez tweeted that he is glad he got out when he did.  Another tight end who will be coming up with a new scoring celebration is Jimmy Graham.  Graham is currently negotiating with the New Orleans Saints on a long-term contract.

23

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: TE C.J. Fiedorowicz

C.J. Fiedorowicz

TE C.J. Fiedorowicz

Packers prospect profile:  TE  C.J. Fiedorowicz

Player Information:

C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE  Iowa,  6-7, 265 pounds  Hometown: Johnsburg, IL

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.76

Vertical jump: 31.5″

225 lb. bench: 25 reps

Broad jump: 9’8″

News and Notes:

Named Most Outstanding tight end at 2014 Senior Bowl. . .2013 First-team All-Big 10 by coaches. . .had a reception in 31 straight games. . .career-high six touchdown catches in 2013. . .Coaches Appreciation Award, Offense recipient

What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com:  Good versatility, showing the ability to come off a down block to get past defenders as a receiver. Good body control and soft hands for such a large man.  Fast in a straight-line and is a physical and attentive blocker.
  • NFL.com:  Has outstanding size and big hands. Has size to widen the hole or seal defensive ends. Good balance and body control for his size. Surprising lower-body flexibility to sink his hips to run sharp-angle routes. Has stature and enough speed to threaten the seam. Understands how to use his frame and physicality to create subtle separation. Makes athletic hands catches off his frame. Sizable catch radius. Shows toughness and concentration in traffic. Lowers his shoulder to deliver a blow after the catch. Can line up in-line or split out. Smart and durable. Builds to average speed. Fairly straight-linish athlete. Not elusive after the catch. Can improve as a move blocker and develop more of a mean streak to finish blocks. Average production. Could stand to adopt a more blue-collar work ethic when people aren’t watching — is not a self-starter and has been able to cruise on his rare size and natural ability.

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • As I always disclaim, this is a “highlight” reel.
  • Shows quite a bit of Fiedorowicz’s blocking abilities, which are good.  Spent more time in three-point stance than a few other TE’s I have profiled
  • Not quick getting into his routes and does not change direction well
  • Speed is not an asset, won’t pick up much yardage after the catch
  • Can make some tough grabs in traffic and uses his size well
  • Seems to be the type of receiver who needs to be in the right offensive system to thrive.  Won’t likely do it on ability alone

If drafted by the Packers: