The Past: While the last meeting between these two teams actually occurred in week 5 of the 2011 season (which the Packers won), most fans will remember the NFC divisional game in 2010 where Aaron Rodgers played perhaps the finest game of his career, going 31 for 36, 26 yards and 3 touchdowns, which even then doesn’t show the complete dominance of the performance. Rodgers simply could not be brought down, often scrambling from surefire sacks, and could not be slowed down, throwing pinpoint darts to receivers who were blanket covered.
On defense, a pivotal interception returned for a touchdown by Tramon Williams at the end of the 1st half was the catalyst that sparked the Packers to dominate the second half. With Rodgers putting up points with ease, the Falcons offense played to match the Packers point for point; however the Falcons offense buckled under the pressure, most notably with quarterback Matt Ryan making several poor decisions including 2 interceptions and a fumble which sealed the game.
During the offseason, the Packers and Falcons engaged in some more gamesmanship by bidding for the services of veteran running back Steven Jackson, who was a free agent for the first time after playing for the St. Louis Rams for nearly a decade. In the end, Ted Thompson stuck with his draft and develop and frugal free agency philosophy and let Jackson sign with the Falcons. However, Thompson perhaps got the last laugh as the Packers drafted Alabama star running back Eddie Lacy, who plays with some Steven Jacksons in him and is a candidate for rookie of the year honors while age and injury has finally caught up with Jackson, who has only started 8 games, rushing 97 times for a paltry 339 yards. Read more...(888 words + 1 image, estimated 3:33 mins reading time)
Could Tom Clements be the next Packers assistant to become a head coach?
John Schneider to Seattle. Reggie McKenzie to Oakland. John Dorsey to Kansas City.
A lot of talented executives have left the Packers front office for general manager jobs with other teams over the last three years.
Joe Philbin has been the only Packers assistant coach to land a head coaching gig in that time period. Philbin departed as offensive coordinator and took over as Miami’s head coach after the 2012 season.
There’s plenty of talent on the Packers coaching roster. Linebackers coach Winston Moss and safeties coach Darren Perry have been loosely linked to head coach openings in the past. Current offensive coordinator Tom Clements is also highly regarded for his role in the Packers’ offense and the development of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Edgar Bennett has received some publicity lately as a firey up-and-comer. Kevin Greene is also an intense guy that could catch the eye of a general manager who wants a motivator as a head coach.
It’s impossible to predict which way the wind will blow on the assistant coach open market. One season an assistant might be the next big thing and a cinch to become a head coach. Then his team falters, he doesn’t get offered a head coaching job, and we never hear from him again. Read more...(504 words + 8 images, estimated 2:01 mins reading time)
One of the more interesting stories of the 2013 NFL draft, the 25-year old native of Estonia started out in track and field in high school and ended up winning gold medals in both shot put and discuss in the 2006 World Junior Track and Field Championships in Beijing. Wanting to attend college in the United States, Hunt travelled to SMU in hopes of resurrecting the men’s track team under legendary coach Dave Wollman. Unfortunately, neither Hunt nor Wollman were able to find funding for a track team so in order to stay in the United States Hunt turned to the football field. Now 4 years later, Hunt approaches the NFL draft as one of the most intriguing prospects.
What they’re saying about him: Read more...(942 words + 1 image, estimated 3:46 mins reading time)
CBSSports.com: “Naturally powerful defender who can simply bull-rush his opponent deep into the pocket. Big, strong and reasonably active hands to fight through blockers’ attempts at grasping a hold of him. Good hand-eye coordination and times his leaps well to aid in his kick-blocking prowess. Has emerged as a player the offense must account for on virtually every snap and yet remains a better athlete than football player, which speaks to his exciting upside.”
Burnett returns as a leader of both the safety group as well as the Packers team as a whole in 2013
Packers Safeties: One of the youngest groups on the current Green Bay Packers roster, this is a position that is expected to take a big step forward in 2013. The team will be without long-time veteran Charles Woodson and will rely on Morgan Burnett to assume that leadership role. Third-year player M.D. Jennings joins second-year player Jerron McMillian opposite Burnett with Sean Richardson likely in the fold as well.
Burnett was a steady rock for the Packers in 2012, playing in all 16 regular season games and both playoff games. After missing most of his rookie season of 2010 and being hampered by a hand injury in 2011, Burnett showed that he can be counted on and durable enough to play a full season. His play improved both in coverage and run support. The assumption is that he will continue that trend in 2013 and become one of the defensive leaders on this team. Read more...(1625 words + 3 images, estimated 6:30 mins reading time)
1) Introduction: Many expected 2012 to be a rebound season for the Packers defense. The unit was the team’s Achilles heel in 2011 and it cost them a shot at a second straight Super Bowl. Ted Thompson reloaded the team with talent via the 2012 NFL Draft, so it was up to Dom Capers to turn the defense around. Capers was expected to get the unit closer to 2010 form when it was one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Ernest Dominic “Dom” Capers
Born: 08/07/1950, in Cambridge, OH
Rookie Year: 1986 (defensive backs coach with the Saints)
NFL Coaching Experience: 36 years
Biography and more
(3) Expectations coming into the season: In a word: improvement. The defense was bad in 2011, but a lot of those flaws were covered up by the record-setting offense the Packers had that year. When the offense finally had a bad game, in the playoffs of all times, how bad the defense really was became clear.
Thompson infused the defense with youth via the draft and Capers was expected to get the youngsters ready to push some of the veterans. The defense was not expected to be the liability it was in 2011.
4)Overachievements/Underachievements: If we were to go by players, Capers got a lot out of rookie Casey Hayward. In fact, Hayward has done the impossible and made it likely the team can survive without the recently released Charles Woodson and in fact maybe even thrive. Hayward also made Tramon Williams a better player and Williams improved over his atrocious 2011. Read more...(665 words + 1 image, estimated 2:40 mins reading time)
Matthews and Perry will anchor the Outside Linebacker spots in 2013
Packers Outside Linebackers: This is a group that had a lot of promise heading into 2o12 but after an injury to rookie Nick Perry and an underwhelming season from 2011 incumbent Erik Walden, there wasn’t nearly as much production as the defense needed nor wanted. The Green Bay Packers enter the 2013 offseason with some questions at this vital position.
(Note: Listen to the combined linebackers podcast at the end of this article:)
Where are we now:
Here are the current suspects:
Clay Matthews III (1st round)
Nick Perry (1st round)
Erik Walden (UDFA)
Dezman Moses (UDFA)
Frank Zombo (UDFA)
Jamari Lattimore (UDFA)
Matthews was, once again, the steady rock of this group. He had has second-best season, posting 13 sacks despite missing several games with a hamstring injury. Not much more can be said of Matthews other than he makes the entire Packers defense better and he has to be a top priority of the team to retain when his contract expires at the end of the 2013 season.
Perry had high expectations after being drafted in the first round. He showed some flash early in the season but was shelved after just six games due to an injured wrist ligament that required surgery. It’s hard to say what Perry’s impact would have been but the team will enter the 2013 season program with him slated to start at left outside linebacker. Read more...(1517 words + 3 images, estimated 6:04 mins reading time)
Next up in the AllGreenBayPackers.com’s positional group analysis is the defensive line, who while showed some improvement from their disastrous 2011 season was still probably the reason behind their playoff collapse this year.
Where Are We Now
Here are the current suspects;
BJ Raji (1st round, 2009)
Ryan Pickett (1st round, 2001)
Mike Neal (2nd round, 2010)
CJ Wilson (7th round, 2010)
Jerel Worthy (2nd round, 2012)
Mike Daniels (4th round, 2012)
Philip Merling (2nd round, 2008, cut week 4)
So that’s where we are. Thompson has made quite an effort to shore up his defensive line, with three 1st or 2nd rounders in the last four years. However, despite Thompson’s focus on the defensive line, not much good has happened. BJ Raji hasn’t been as dominant a force as he was in the 2010 Superbowl season, Mike Neal is essentially starting his sophomore campaign with all the injuries he suffered and rookie Jerel Worthy looked like a raw rookie before suffering an ACL injury. Read more...(1446 words + 1 image, estimated 5:47 mins reading time)
Raji: Raji spent considerably more time as a defensive end this year than as a nose tackle (536 snaps at DE vs. 123 at NT) and overall as I’ve written in my previous articles this is probably the best move for the Packers as defensive ends are much more important to a 3-4 defense than nose tackles. While Raji definitely had a better season than his lackluster 2011 campaign, it still pales in comparison to his 2010 season where he earned the nickname “the freezer”. One distinct possibility is that Raji is starting to wear down due to all the snaps that he’s had to take since there were no other viable DL around, but the addition of Worthy, Neal and Daniels will hopefully allow the Packers to have a decent DL rotation.