Category Archives: Cory’s Corner

15

April

Cory’s Corner: Julius Peppers is No. 56…remain excited

I’ve never seen a number unveiling get this much excitement.

And for those of you that may not know, Julius Peppers will be wearing No. 56 next season for the Packers.

Julius Peppers will be wearing No. 56 next fall as he will play a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position called the elephant.

Julius Peppers will be wearing No. 56 next fall as he will play a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position called the elephant.

That’s quite a change for someone that was consistently coming off the edge as a defensive end in a three-point stance wearing No. 90.

But Peppers isn’t just an end. Thanks to Dom Capers and his crazy names, which have brought us the ‘Psycho’ defensive package, Peppers will be playing a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker called an elephant.

Personally, I don’t care if you call it strawberry shortcake because the name of Peppers’ position is meaningless. His stats and his motor speak for themselves. He’s been under double-digit sacks in a season just four times in his 12-year career.

The thing I like about Peppers most is his drive. I realize that he’s 34 and might be reaching the final leg of a strong NFL career. But the last time he didn’t play a full 16-game season was in 2007. That really says a lot to me. Especially for a guy that has played through a sprained MCL in his left knee, a broken right hand and a right knee sprain among other things. And the season that he suffered his right knee sprain was in 2007, a season in which he tallied his lowest sack output of his career with 2½. Yet he still managed to lead the Panthers in quarterback hurries.

Peppers is a guy that the Packers desperately needed. He’s a guy that will come in and not only contribute with a pass rush that has been forgotten, but he’s a vocal veteran that wants to win.

That’s a great combination for a team that has youngsters like Nick Perry and Datone Jones, who the Packers are counting on to break out and flourish.

Is it fair to compare Peppers to the 31-year-old Reggie White when he signed with Green Bay? No way. And I’m surprised I’ve seen people even make that comparison because it’s not not even close. White was a once-in-a-lifetime pass rusher who may never be copied again.

But that doesn’t mean Peppers doesn’t have plenty to play for.

12

April

Cory’s Corner: Packers games are family reunions

The Packers have one of the thickest histories in pro football. This fall will mark the team’s 95th season.

Packers fans may look odd in the cold with strange headgear but they packed Lambeau Field last year to 106.9 percent capacity. There were an average of 77,947 fans a game in a season that had its ups and downs.

Packers fans may look odd in the cold with strange headgear but they packed Lambeau Field last year to 106.9 percent capacity. There were an average of 77,947 fans a game in a season that had its ups and downs.

Which is why what is going on in Buffalo is so sad. After the Bills owner and founder Ralph Wilson passed away March 25, questions have been swirling as to not only the next owner but also if the Bills will remain in Buffalo.

The Bills are a team that is very similar to the Packers. The Green Bay-Appleton TV market is 70th in the nation while Buffalo is 51st. Both are tiny compared to the rest of the league. After Jacksonville, which is 47th, the next highest market is Cincinnati at 34.

They both have rabid fan bases that welcome the arctic cold each winter with a smile and a brat and no matter how the team does, seats are always hard to find.

However, there is one major difference between Buffalo and Green Bay, and that’s ownership. The Packers are in a sense owned by everyone, which makes it absolutely impossible for the team to do anything like selling or moving. However, Buffalo is not. And depending on if Jon Bon Jovi’s group or Donald Trump’s group purchases the Bills, Toronto could be the next city to get an NFL franchise.

How weird and awful would it be if the Packers moved to a place like Los Angeles? The Packers not only have deep roots in the NFL but they also have strong roots in Green Bay and Wisconsin as well.

It’s actually pretty remarkable that in 2014, Green Bay with nearly 105,000 people, is able to not only have an NFL team but in large part does it better than the Giants, Jets, Bears, Eagles and Cowboys. Those coincidentally are four of the top five markets in the country — minus L.A.

Green Bay and Buffalo may not draw from large financial pockets to maintain constant inroads in an ever-changing NFL landscape. Both teams could make buckets more money if they were in a larger city. (It still baffles me that Portland, OR, which is 22nd for market size, is without an NFL team).

8

April

Cory’s Corner: Aaron Rodgers equals a capable Jarrett Boykin

The equation was proven when Greg Jennings left for Minnesota. And it’s going to be proven again when James Jones suits up for Oakland for the first time.

Jarrett Boykin will be slotted into the coveted No. 3 wide receiver next season. He's ready because of one person.

Jarrett Boykin will be slotted into the coveted No. 3 wide receiver next season. He’s ready because of one person.

I’ve heard many say that Jarrett Boykin is a question mark and cannot be counted on to truly be a No. 3 wideout in the NFL. Those are true and warranted sentiments.

However, don’t be like Jennings and Jones and forget about the most important part of the equation: Aaron Rodgers. Jones is a capable receiver but he has a tendency to grow alligator arms and forgets what route to run.

But this isn’t about Jones. It’s about how Rodgers made Jones and basically got him a three-year deal in 2011. It’s also about how Rodgers found Jones for 14 touchdowns in 2012.

Boykin has only played two seasons and only started in eight games. When the Packers open next September he could very well get the deer in the headlights and look completely confused.

However, the odds of that happening are quite slim. Why? Well, Scott Tolzien made Brandon Bostick look superhuman last year for a possession. I think it isn’t out of Rodgers’ realm to make Boykin look pretty good.

But in Boykin’s defense, he’s not that bad. He runs routes hard and has shown a willingness to learn. He will have to continue that inquisitiveness by peppering Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb — arguably the best wide receiving tandem in the game.

Wide receivers are even more critical now that NFL offenses resemble a seven-on-seven passing drill.

Yet, it all comes back to the quarterback. A subpar quarterback will make even Pro Bowl receivers look average as opposed to a preeminent quarterback that makes average pass-catchers good.

Boykin will be fine, but when you boil it down it doesn’t really matter. There are plenty of warm bodies with pass-catching experience that could be slotted into the Packers’ No. 3 job and succeed. It’s pretty hard to fail when the ball is placed on a platter and is in a tight spiral nearly every time.

This is the year that Boykin must learn and make strides. He must process plenty of information during training camp so that he can be called upon if Nelson or Cobb go down with injury.

5

April

Cory’s Corner: Solidify backup QB job and sign Matt Flynn

Last year proved just how important a backup quarterback is not for just the Packers but for any football team.

Having a bona fide star quarterback is an advantage that coach Mike McCarthy may have gotten a little too comfortable with. He got used to the 50-yard rollout passes on a dime and being able to whistle a fastball into tight windows.

Matt Flynn finished with a 2-2 starting record for the Packers last year. He is an unrestricted free agent after earning a prorated veteran minimum $715,000 by the Packers.

Matt Flynn finished with a 2-2 starting record for the Packers last year. He is an unrestricted free agent after earning a prorated veteran minimum of $715,000 by the Packers.

They say you never really know what you have until it’s gone. Well, that couldn’t have been truer for the Packers last year. With Aaron Rodgers shelved for seven games, the Packers nomadically spun their wheels until Matt Flynn was able to play good enough to fix the leaks and right the ship.

Now I realize Flynn doesn’t exactly strike anything resembling fear into opposing defenses. But he is a six-year NFL veteran and more importantly, he’s a 4½-year vet of the Packers.

Which is exactly why I am surprised that the Packers haven’t signed the unrestricted free agent yet. His 3-4 career starting record may not be anything to brag about but his ability to win over a huddle and lead a team — especially when your No. 1 option goes down — are things you want in a substitute.

Flynn turns 29 this summer and even he must realize that his days of being a starting quarterback are over. After having dreams of leading the Seattle Seahawks, he was upstaged by Russell Wilson. To make matters worse, he was upstaged by Terrelle Pryor in Oakland and the Bills barely kicked the tires before sending him on his way after just 21 days.

The opportunity to become a starting quarterback in the NFL is ever-shrinking, especially with all the dynamic college quarterbacks that are now bursting on to the scene.

The only sticky point could be money. Flynn was paid a pro-rated veteran minimum salary of $715,000 last year for Green Bay. With that money, he salvaged a 16-point deficit against Minnesota, which ended in a tie. And he orchestrated comeback wins vs. Atlanta and the thriller at Dallas.

1

April

Cory’s Corner: Shape up or ship out, just ask DeSean Jackson

The Eagles shocked the NFL when they decided to cut bait with DeSean Jackson last week.

Philadelphia was willing to just let a three-time Pro Bowler, who has the wheels to turn any game upside down, walk without getting anything in return.

DeSean Jackson is a three-time Pro Bowler and has averaged 15 yards a reception for the last five years.

DeSean Jackson is a three-time Pro Bowler and has averaged 15 yards a reception for the last five years.

And the reason was because of Jackson’s alleged connection to gangs. The Eagles won the NFC East last year mainly because of the way first-year coach Chip Kelly utilized offensive weapons like Jackson and now they’re telling him to hit the road?

It is definitely a new age in the NFL. I’m not saying that teams will not be lining up for Jackson’s sports car speed, because Jackson will be signed, and probably at a discount, to a contender like San Francisco or Seattle.

But how many times did you see teams willing to part ways with a player and not get anything in return? And here’s the kicker: Jackson didn’t do anything wrong. He was not prosecuted legally and he wasn’t in any other trouble.

Yet, the Eagles did the right thing. After the Aaron Hernandez situation blew up in the Patriots’ faces, you can bet that teams are going to use every available resource to find out dirt about their players. New England wasted a fourth round pick on a budding superstar that may end up behind bars.

The question has been asked if the Packers should go after Jackson. I really don’t see a need. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are better and more consistent. The only way the Packers even think about Jackson is if they suddenly get the feeling that they cannot sign both Nelson and Cobb — which shouldn’t happen.

The Eagles sent a strong message to the rest of the NFL when they opted to just pop the pimple and move on with the risk of scarring. As opposed to throwing ailments and other things at it, hoping that it would eventually clear up.

Most teams are willing to live with questionable off-the-field behavior as long as you continue to perform on gameday. The line between winning and losing in the NFL is that razor thin that teams would rather just look the other way.

29

March

Cory’s Corner: Packers are undervaluing the center position

Frank Winters was Brett Favre's starting center for 10 seasons and the two shared an inseparable bond.

Frank Winters was Brett Favre’s starting center for 10 seasons and the two shared an inseparable bond.

Just how important is the quarterback-center battery in the NFL?

Apparently, it’s not that overly important to the Packers because Aaron Rodgers is about to embark on his fourth different starting center to begin the season.

Think about that for a second.

Rodgers is the best quarterback on the planet. Amazingly, he has been able to average 31 touchdowns a season with a 58-29 record in six seasons. And he’s done it despite playing with a revolving door at the leadership position of the offensive line.

In 16 years with the Packers, Brett Favre had five different centers start the majority of games. But that counts James Campen for one season in 1992 and the person nobody remembers — Grey Ruegamer in 2004.

Favre’s mainstay was Frank Winters. “Bag of Doughnuts” and Favre were teammates for 11 seasons and were able to grow up together and make each other better.

Rodgers hasn’t had that yet. Right when Rodgers and Scott Wells were beginning to form a cohesive bond, the Packers didn’t bring him back after four years of working as the quarterback-center battery and thus, the process started all over again.

The next person to come on down is JC Tretter. Last year’s fourth round draft pick hasn’t started a game in the NFL but the Packers are handing him a shot to ignite one of the most dynamic offenses in the league with each snap.

Centers aren’t exactly a glory position. No kid gazes into the mirror and dreams of one day making a perfect shotgun snap to his quarterback before quickly reasserting himself as a pass blocker. Heck, Tretter was a quarterback, running back and wideout in high school.

JC Tretter is looking to become the fourth starting center to begin the season for the Packers since 2008.

JC Tretter is looking to become the fourth starting center to begin the season for the Packers since 2008.

But that doesn’t mean the job of a center should be understated. While left tackles get the money for protecting the quarterback’s blind side, it’s the center that makes the coverage adjustments. A center is the quarterback of the offensive line.

So when Rodgers comes back to camp not knowing much about his next center, he needs to spend time getting to know how things will work. If you’re Rodgers, you don’t want to learn in Week 3 that your center has a problem with a quick snap count or a pronounced loud bark in order to draw a defense offsides.

24

March

Cory’s Corner: The NFL isn’t broke, don’t fix it

The NFL has talked about moving back the point-after touchdown and adding two playoff teams.

The NFL has talked about moving back the point-after touchdown and adding two playoff teams.

First it was making extra points 43-yard kicks.

Now there’s talk about expanding the playoffs.

It should be obvious to the owners and NFL commish Roger Goodell that the National Football League is hands down the best professional sports product on the planet.

Sorry Premier League, but the NFL continues to get eyes glued to its games. For the fourth time in five years, last month’s Super Bowl has set viewership records in the U.S. And that was for a pretty much blah game with a final score of 43-8.

And so I ask you, why for all that is holy is the NFL even considering tinkering with its untouchable product? Leagues like the NHL, MLB and NBA would kill for the exposure, which allows the financial floodgates to be opened to the tune of over $39 billion just for broadcast rights.

Many might say you have to change or reinvent yourself in order to stay on top. That’s a valid argument but it doesn’t hold water when there hasn’t been any evidence of the NFL eroding. The game’s popularity has only exponentially grown thanks to things like fantasy football and the Madden video game, which continues to cultivate a younger audience.

Actually the NFL has changed. It has added things like replay challenges — even though a certain Lions coach really never understood how it worked — the two point conversion and less clutching and grabbing from defensive backfields.

The game is much more open now. The quarterback may still be protected a tad too much, but I’m willing to live with all the minor tweaks the shield has made over the years.

But seeing a kicker have to boot a 43-yard extra point in December just to secure a playoff berth seems a bit preposterous. And adding two more playoff teams into the mix sounds like a great idea right? It’s the simple math of more teams, the better.

However, all it would do is just dilute the postseason to NBA levels. How many people care or watch the 8th seed get trounced by the No. 1 seed in the NBA playoffs? Yes, I know Dikembe Mutumbo and the Nuggets bucked the trend by beating the Sonics. But that never happens — and worse yet, hardly anyone watches or cares.