Category Archives: Kris Burke

17

April

Brandon Bostick: The Packers’ Darkhorse at Tight End

NFL, Green Bay Packers, Brandon Bostick, Green Bay Packers tight end, Packers tight end, Packers 2014 draft

Packers TE Brandon Bostick scored his first NFL touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013

As everyone continues to wait and watch for news on the football future of Jermichael Finley, the Green Bay Packers are facing a point where they will soon have to make a decision at the tight end position.

Drafting a tight end in the upcoming NFL Draft seems like a foregone conclusion for the Packers, but they’d be wise to take a long hard look at a player currently on their roster before taking a tight end too high.

That player is not named Andrew Quarless either, though he showed some promise late last season after finally getting healthy from a 2011 knee injury.

No, the dark horse to watch is Brandon Bostick.  He saw action in 11 games in 2013 and had seven catches for 120 yards with one touchdown and three dropped passes. Those three drops all came in the Week 12 tie against the Minnesota Vikings, however.  It wasn’t an overwhelming performance, but Bostick showed enough that should warrant at a least a shot at the starting job in training camp.

The undrafted Bostick beat out former fifth round pick D.J Williams and veteran Matthew Mulligan last year in camp and had shown some flashes in practice. Bostick played wide receiver for small Newberry College and the Packers knew transitioning him to tight end would take some time.

By making the roster in 2013, Bostick must have shown he was making significant progress.  During the regular season, Bostick saw action in 11 games and scored his first NFL touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Scott Tolzien.

Looking at 2014 and beyond, Bostick could be the long term answer at tight end for Green Bay. He plays in a similar manner to Finley and having a tight end with that kind of ability does wonders for the Packers’ offense. While Finley never put up “huge” numbers for the Packers, his presence on the field alone affected how teams would attack the Green Bay offense.

By inserting Bostick, the Packers would have to do little tweaking to their style of offense.  There are going to be growing pains, but the reward in this case outweighs the risk.  It would also give Aaron Rodgers one more weapon in the passing game.

3

April

Character Still Matters for the Green Bay Packers

NFL, Green Bay Packers, Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy, Aaron Rodgers, Packer People, Packers players, Johnny Jolly, Packers character, Packers off the field

Johnny Jolly is proof that Green Bay is a very special place to play.

Another week, another story about an NFL player (allegedly) engaging in shady off-field activities.

This time it’s former Philadelphia Eagles and now-current Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson and his supposed affiliation with a gang. Jackson denies such activity, but the fact the accusation has even been made stains his reputation.

This is just the most recent in a string of stories over the past several seasons involving NFL players and criminal activities. Aaron Hernandez, currently awaiting trial on miser charges, is probably the most severe but there have been so many other instances this entire article would just be a list if all were to be mentioned.

Drunk driving, drugs, domestic violence, assault and the aforementioned murder are just some of the charges levied against NFL players the past several seasons. The league has an image problem and commissioner Roger Goodell has his hands full trying to fix it.

This is why NFL fans, regardless of what team colors they wear on Sundays, should be thankful for a team like the Green Bay Packers.

Since general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy arrived in 2005 and 2006, respectively, the Packers have been able to avoid the off field issues so many other teams have had to deal with over and over again.

The one potential exception to this for the Packers, the past drug arrests of defensive lineman Johnny Jolly, was turned into a positive this past year when Jolly was reinstated by the NFL and was named the team’s Ed Block Courage Award recipient for how he has turned his life around and became a locker room leader (per Aaron Rodgers himself) in the process.

How has Green Bay been fortunate to avoid the distractions a good chunk of the rest of the league often encounters?

Well, for one, character sometimes has to trump talent in the eyes of Thompson and McCarthy and it should. This is why the Packers have passed on players such as Randy Moss and Terrell Owens in the past, despite lobbying by fans and a certain former MVP quarterback.

They might be uber-talented on the football field, but if they cause distractions off the field or disharmony in the locker room, what’s the point? McCarthy and Thompson value a united locker room above all else and they won’t introduce any element that risks upsetting this.

27

March

Mike Holmgren vs. Mike McCarthy: By the Numbers

20140327-093503.jpg

Mike McCarthy no longer resides in Mike Holmgren’s shadow

In an earlier post, we took a look at the comparison between former Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf and current general manager Ted Thompson. Since Thompson just concluded his ninth season with the team, it was interesting to see how the two men compared.

Now we look at Thompson’s head coach, Mike McCarthy and compare him with Wolf’s, Mike Holmgren. Holmgren coached the Packers for seven years while McCarthy is about to begin his ninth. To be fair, we will be looking at only McCarthy’s first seven seasons in Green Bay meaning 2013 will be excluded.

Regular season record:

Holmgren 75-37
McCarthy 74-38

It can’t get much closer than that. This might come as a surprise to some people since McCarthy went 8-8 in year one and had the 6-10 season in 2008 and Holmgren never was below .500, but “the numbers don’t lie.

Holmgren had a consistent defense in his time to go along with a proficient offense. McCarthy has had no such luck so far.

Postseason record:

Holmgren 9-5
McCarthy 6-4

Holmgren went 2-2 in 1993 and 1994 before going 7-2 from 1995-1997. That includes the two Super Bowl runs including the victory in Super Bowl XXXI and the loss in Super Bowl XXXII. Holmgren also was “one and done” in his final game as Packers coach in the last-minute and still-controversial loss to the 49ers in January 1999.

McCarthy went 1-1 in his first playoff appearance in 2007, advancing to the NFC championship game in January 2008. His record includes the 4-0 playoff run the Packers had to win Super Bowl XLV. He has been “one and done” three times in the playoffs including the 2009 game against the Cardinals and 2011 against the Giants (this past season is not included),

Division Titles

Holmgren 3
McCarthy 3 (earned his fourth in 2013)

Both coaches are dead even here and both even has one title earned in borderline “miraculous” fashion. Many remember Yancy Thigpen’s infamous drop to give Green Bay the 1995 title and this past season saw a n incredible deep throw from Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb to give the Packers the 2013 crown.

Non-Winning Seasons

Holmgren 0
McCarthy 2

19

March

Ron Wolf vs Ted Thompson: By the Numbers

Ted Thompson and Ron Wolf

Ted Thompson and Ron Wolf

With the conclusion of the 2013 season, Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson hit a milestone of sorts with a team: he just completed his ninth season at the helm of the Packers’ football operations.

Know who else made it that long as GM in Green Bay? Thompson’s predecessor and mentor Ron Wolf.  Both men have won a Super Bowl but yet Wolf is held in legendary status with Packers fans and Thompson, to date, is not.

With the passionate debate about Thompson and his activity (or lack thereof) in free agency that consumed much of the offseason thus far until Thompson signed Julius Peppers,  ow figures a good time to compare Thompson and his mentor and how their times as Packers general manager compare and contrast.

As the saying goes, “the numbers never lie.”

Regular season record:

 Wolf: 92-52

Thompson: 86-57-1

 Wolf took over a team that was in ruins with only three winning seasons in the past 24 years.  The cupboard for talent was pretty barren and it wasn’t until Wolf traded for Brett Favre in 1992 and signed Reggie White in 1993 that marquee talent would stay in Green Bay.  Wolf also didn’t have a losing season and had only one non-winnjng (8-8) season in 1999.

Thompson meanwhile inherited a team that had an aging but still gifted Favre at quarterback and talent on offense but disastrous drafts by Mike Sherman left the defense in disarray and a team that was getting older by the day.  Thompson had to cleanse the roster and the 4-12 record in his first season as GM showed that.  Thompson had been only one other losing season in 2008 (6-10) and an 8-8 season in 2006 with rookie coach Mike McCarthy leading a young roster.

This might come as a shock to some of Thompson’s detractors but he’s pretty close to Wolf here and not many fans would have fired Wolf.

 Postseason record:

 Wolf: 9-5 (1-1 in Super Bowl) 6 playoff appearances

 Thompson: 6-5 (1-0 in Super Bowl) 6 playoff appearances

13

March

NFL Free Agency: Packers Re-Sign TE Andrew Quarless

NFL, Green Bay Packers, NFL Free Agency, Packers free agency, Packers free agents, Andrew Quarless, Andrew Quarless contract, Andrew Quarless free agentThe Green Bay Packers have announced that they have re-signed tight end Andrew Quarless.  Terms of the new deal were not disclosed, but according to Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, it is a two year deal.

The tight end position had been labeled as one of the needs for the Packers this offseason after Jermichael Finley’s neck injury and subsequent unrestricted free agency.  With Finley’s football future in doubt, many wondered if the Packers would look outside the team for a tight end or give Quarless a shot.  He played well down the stretch last season and that apparently was enough for the Packers to bring him back for a couple more seasons.

Getting Quarless back is big after reports that Jermichael Finley is still awaiting medical clearance.  He’s reportedly a favorite to land with the Seattle Seahawks once/if doctors give him the all clear. That is still far from a certainty, however.

Green Bay had also reportedly been interested in former Texans tight end Owen Daniels and even had him in for a visit.  The signing of Quarless does not necessarily exclude the Packers from adding Daniels as Quarless and Brandon Bostick are currently the only tight ends under contract. Daniels was reportedly planning on visiting with the Washington Redskins soon, so the Packers will have some competition for his services.

As for Quarless, he finally began to show promise late in 2013.  He missed all of 2012 with a knee injury he suffered late in 2011.  He caught a touchdown and had over 50 receiving yards in two of the Packers’ final four games and was earning a much bigger role in the passing game.  Along with Bostick, the Packers have a pair of solid tight ends but may still be one player away from checking tight end off their need list.

Will it be Daniels or will it be someone else? Only Ted Thompson knows for sure so stayed tuned to ALLGBP.com for all your Packers free agency news!

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

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12

March

NFL Free Agency: Green Bay Packers Re-Sign DE/OLB Mike Neal

NFL, Green Bay Packers, Mike Neal, NFL Free Agency, Packers Free Agents, Packers free agencyAccording to his Twitter feed, defensive end/linebacker Mike Neal has signed a new two-year contract with the Green Bay Packers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Neal had his most productive season in 2013, but that was mainly due to the fact he was finally able to remain healthy for a full season.  Neal had 47 combined tackles, five sacks, one forced fumble and one interception in a season where he was moved from the defensive line to a linebacker position.

A second round pick of the Packers in 2010, Neal showed flashes of being a decent pass rusher during training camp but never was able to remain healthy and only saw action for more than half a season in 2012.  Neal had been rumored to be target by the Chicago Bears and the Arizona Cardinals, but ultimately chose to remain a Green Bay Packer.

With Neal’s return, it’s becoming clear no major defensive scheme overhaul is in order for the Packers this offseason. Moving Neal back to his original position on the defensive line however would indicate Green Bay wants to get leaner at the position.   There is also the possibility Neal could be moved all over the front seven as a pass rush specialist, lining up both with his hands on the ground as well as standing up.

This move at the least sets the stage for more competition throughout the unit as training camp approaches.  Neal is still young and has a lot to contribute.  He has natural athletic ability and now that he’s proven he can stay healthy, Neal could be critical towards Green Bay finally establishing a consistent pass rush.

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

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10

March

Jared Allen and the Green Bay Packers: Crazy Enough to Work

NFL, Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers, Jared Allen, Packers free agency

Future teammates? It’s so crazy it just might work!

The Green Bay Packers have enjoyed a long run at (or near) the top of the NFC North and their divisional rivals are trying anything to knock Green Bay off of their perch, particularly the Minnesota Vikings.

It’s been a running joke amongst Packers fans for some time now that Minnesota is taking retread Green Bay Players in the hopes of passing them for supremacy in the NFC North.  History certainly makes it look that way, at least.  From Darren Sharper to Brett Favre to most recently Greg Jennings and Desmond Bishop, the Packers’ rivals to the west seem obsessed with getting as many former Green Bay players as they can.

Is it now turn for the Packers to return the favor?

With Sam Shields having recently signed a four-year contract to remain with the Packers, the team now turns its focus to improving the front seven of a defense that has fallen short of expectations three years running.  While safety seems to be the most glaring need on defense at the moment, the Packers also are still in need of improving their pass rush and allow their talented cornerbacks to get some turnovers.

That’s where a former Viking comes into play.  With the future of pretty much the entire defensive line in question (save Datone Jones), Packers general manager Ted Thompson may not be able to fill all the holes through the draft and very well may have to wade into the free agent waters.

If he does, there is one name he should consider and it’s a name that will make many Packers fans cringe: Jared Allen.

With recent reports that Allen will not be returning to Minnesota, he is set to test free agency for the first time in his career.  At the age of 31, Allen still has good years in him and would by no means be a “stop gap” solution for a team.  Adding him to the Green Bay defensive line would immediately add a pass rush and would take a lot of pressure off of Clay Matthews and the linebackers.

On the surface, Allen would not appear to be a “Packer person” and maybe that’s what the defense and the team as a whole needs.  While Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy focused strongly on toughening up their team in 2013, there is still a perception out there the Packers are not a team to bust the opposition in the mouth especially on defense.