Category Archives: NFC North Division

7

April

Ted Thompson Must Not Care Much About the Center Position

Packers Center J.C. Tretter

Packers Center J.C. Tretter

It seemed to me to be a no-brainer. The Packers have no one on their roster with more than minimal NFL experience as  a center.  Before yesterday, there were 19 players on the NFL Free Agent Tracker listed at the center position. Surely Ted would be looking to bring in an inexpensive player with real experience at center in case the JC Tretter conversion doesn’t work out.

Well, Ted has done nothing yet and now there are 18 centers on the market, with arguably the best of the bunch now off the board.

The NFC  North Division rival Bears signed former Saints starting center Brian De La Puente on Sunday. De La Puente was a guy I had on my radar as the best target for Ted Thompson to bring in as cheap veteran insurance. Only I had no idea how cheap.

The Bears signed De La Puente for a veteran minimum contract ($735K for a player with 4 years experience) with a $65,000 signing bonus and only $100,00 in guaranteed money. That’s quite a bargain for a player ranked as the fifth best center in the NFL over the last three seasons, according to ProFootballFocus.com.

Still young at only 28yrs old, De La Puente turned down the Lions and the Saints to join the Bears and his old offensive line coach Aaron Kromer. While that makes sense, it is odd that he joins a team where he is expected to be a backup, not a starter. Certainly a team like the Packers could have offered him a better opportunity to win a starting job.  But apparently, that offer never came.

With how inexpensively De La Puente came, one can’t say the Packers (Ted) were being cheap, a common refrain heard from many critics. So that leaves several other possibilities:

1) The Packers are dead-on convinced Tretter is their center of the present and the future.

2) The Packers are planning to draft a starting center.

2) Ted Thompson just doesn’t value the center position that highly.

Let’s take a look at the first option. I recently wrote about the state of the center position for WTMJonline.  Here’s an excerpt from that article:

21

March

What To Make Of Julius Peppers’ Contract

The poster boy of why total contract value is overrated.

For all you Packers fans that were hoping for a big name free agent splash, Ted Thompson would like to introduce you to one Julius Peppers, a guy you might have seen around on the Bears and the Panthers before.  Some of you (including a fair proportion of our dear commentors) will never be happy because Peppers has never played in a 3-4 scheme, no one really knows exactly what his role will be outside of rushing the passer, has a long injury history and he’s 34 with a motor that’s starting to get cold (you do know that experienced and old usually go hand in hand right?).  Well if you want to know what the Packers are going to do with Peppers, this isn’t the article for you. What this article will be looking into is not how Peppers will fit on the field, but how Peppers fits in the Packers salary cap.

As I’ve mentioned before in my previous article, the media and fans often fixate on the total value of the contract, which is probably the least important piece of information.  One only has to remember how Donovan McNabb’s 5-year $88 million contract with the Redskins turned out to be more $3.75 million which he actually earned.  Ironically, this is also probably the best example to use for Pepper’s contract with the Packers.

Julius Pepper signs 3-year, $30 million contract with the Packers (courtesy of Over The Cap)

2014: $1 million base salary, $2.5 million prorated signing bonus

2015: $8.5 million base salary, $2.5 million prorated signing bonus, $1 million roster/workout bonus

2016: $7 million base salary, $2.5 million prorated signing bonus, $1 million roster/workout bonus

29

December

Packers vs. Bears – Game Day First Impressions, Unfiltered: GB 33 CHI 28

Chicago Bears v Green Bay PackersGreen Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears:  2013 Game 15

Unfiltered game day blog post of comments, observations and first impressions.

GAME NOTES:

Aaron Rodgers sitting out again is of course the top story line. The Packers seem to go out of their way to prove that injury decisions are not influenced by winning or losing.

Does Matt Flynn have another week of magic left in that feeble arm?

The Steelers are playing much better of late and are a team that won’t be affected by playing in snow and/or cold weather.

Today’s game is the first time the teams have met since Super Bowl XLV.

 

Today’s captains for the Packers will be C/G Evan Dietrich-Smith (offense), S Morgan Burnett (defense) and CB Micah Hyde (special teams).

 

Inactives for today’s game:

Green Bay PackersGreen Bay Packers
13 WR Chris Harper
20 CB Jumal Rolle
52 LB Clay Matthews
59 LB Brad Jones
65 G Lane Taylor
73 C/G JC Tretter
98 DE C.J. Wilson

Starting lineup changes: 57 LB Jamari Lattimore starts for Jones, 55 LB Andy Mulumba starts for Matthews, and 96 LB Mike Neal will start for 53 LB Nick Perry, who is active.

Chicago Bears
2 QB Jordan Palmer
76 T Joe Long
78 T/G James Brown
79 T Jonathan Scott
80 WR Earl Bennett
82 WR Chris Williams
94 DE Cornelius Washington

Chicago Bears

 

 

Mike McCarthy Pregame Show on 620 WTMJ:

One game:  Everything you do throughout the whole preseason, regular season, the ups and downs, all comes down to one game. Means our whole season.

Reprieve by Bears loss: : Obviously it was a lift – it was  microcosm of our season -it’s been so up and down.

Rodgers rust?: I can’t really worry about it. He’s practiced for 3 weeks. We have great faith in him as the leader of our offense. We feel they may try to be aggressive with us.

Cobb: We’re going to ge him in on some plays and see how it goes. Not practical for Randall to play 50 plays today.

Lacy: Eddie will start the game and we’ll see how he goes. We feel good about our one-two punch with he and Starks. Khalil Bell will also get some chances today.

Cutler. Very talented…can make all the throws.  The man’s played a lot of football…he gets better and better with each opportunity in this new offense.

29

December

Packers vs. Bears Week 17 Game Predictions from ALLGBP.com

GAME PREDICTIONS
Week 17: Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 8-7 Green Bay Packers 27-24
Sure the Packers get Randall Cobb and Aaron Rodgers back but they can’t play defense. Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall go crazy as two pitiful defenses face off. It’ll probably come down to last drive so I say Green Bay by the skin of their teeth
“Jersey” Al Bracco 7-8 Green Bay Packers 31-22
 Is there anything better than this? Packers-Bears in an “elimination death match?” With all due respect to Rodgers and Cobb, Cutler at QB for the Bears is just what was needed from GB’s perspective. He doesn’t throw the end zone jump balls as well as McCown. That really hurt the Pack in the first game.
Notes
Adam Czech 9-6 Green Bay Packers 31-27
Packers fans are all fired up and cocky about the return of Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb. I got news for you folks: Sunday is going to be a damn tough game. Chicago’s WRs are huge and should have a field day against a Packers defense that tends to disappear in big games. However, I still think Rodgers makes the difference and the Packers pull this one out.
Marques Eversoll 8-7 Green Bay Packers 35-24
Aaron Rodgers is going to be Aaron Rodgers. And as long as Eddie Lacy is playing, the Chicago defense is in for a long afternoon. Sam Shields and Tramon Williams will need to bring their A-game.
Thomas Hobbes 7-8 Green Bay Packers 21-20
If I stuck with the Packers when it was Scott Tolzein, no way am I not picking them with Aaron Rodgers under center.  However, the biggest key will be Eddie Lacy and the running game.  If Rodgers can keep the defense honest (how the tides have turned), Eddie Lacy will have a shot at shredding a historically bad run defense.
Cory Jennerjohn 11-4 Green Bay Packers 27-21
29

December

Packers vs. Bears: Keys to the Game

Aaron Rodgers & Randall Cobb

Rodgers makes his return and could have another weapon at his disposal in that of Cobb

This week’s matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears already had many eyes on it.  Last game of the 2013 regular season and with the winner to take the North division title thrown into the NFL’s longest-standing rivalry was already a draw.  NBC was also vying for the game to be flexed to the Sunday night slot, according to some.

On Thursday, it was announced that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was cleared and would start against the Bears.  Now there will be exponentially more eyes on this game and it is fair to say that this is the biggest meeting between these teams since the 2010 NFC Championship game.  The setting will be Soldier Field, once again and both teams will have their primary starting quarterbacks under center.

In addition to finally getting Rodgers back after a seven week layoff, the Packers may also see the return of receiver Randall Cobb, who has been out since mid-October.  Running back Eddie Lacy has not practiced for the Packers, but head coach Mike McCarthy seemed optimistic about Lacy’s chances of playing when asked after Thursday’s practice.

Both of these teams lost their games last week and the Bears, a chance to lock up the division title.  While Chicago looked awful against the Philadelphia Eagles last week, I have warned against anyone thinking that same Bears team shows up at Soldier Field on Sunday.  I expect more of the version of the Bears who soundly beat the Dallas Cowboys a few weeks back.

Now that we know the answer to the burning question, let’s dive into this week’s keys to the game.  Hopefully, this won’t be the last “Keys” post of the season.

Avoid Too Much Rodgers

Yes, we’ve waited a long time to have Rodgers back and all that he can add to the Packers offense.  Rodgers is one of the few quarterbacks in the league who can return to form in the blink of an eye.  He’s an extremely intelligent player who prepares as well as any other in the game.  Still, the Packers need to avoid leaning too heavily on the portion of the game plan that calls for Rodgers to get fancy, at least early on.

28

December

Alshon Jeffery, Bears offense present test for Packers

Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery has developed into one of the league's top big targets in his second season.

Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery has developed into one of the league’s top big targets in his second season.

A year ago, Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was–if anything–a detriment to Chicago’s offense when the Bears and Green Bay Packers met at Soldier Field in December. As the Packers clinched the NFC North title, Jeffery was flagged for three offensive interference penalties and failed to catch a pass.

Jeffery totaled just 367 yards in 10 games last season. Four weeks ago at Minnesota, Jeffery racked up 249 yards and a pair of scores in one game alone, boosting his stat line to a near-1,000 yard spike in production up to this point of the season.

And with Jeffery on one side, Brandon Marshall on the other and Matt Forte reaping the benefits underneath, the Bears suddenly boast one of football’s more explosive offenses.

With backup Josh McCown at quarterback in the Nov. 4 meeting at Lambeau Field, Jeffery caught five passes for 60 yards and a touchdown–a marked improvement over last year’s seven total yards in two meetings. Head coach Marc Trestman and the Bears have remained consistent throughout their “quarterback controversy,” making it clear that Jay Cutler would be the starter as long as he’s healthy.

Cutler carries his 1-8 career record against the Packers into Sunday’s win-and-in scenario, while Aaron Rodgers makes his return for the Packers after a seven-game absence. And while Rodgers has tilted the game in the Packers’ favor in Vegas, Cutler and Chicago’s offense is gearing up to make Sunday’s game a shootout.

When the Packers have the ball, they’ll likely feature a heavy dose of Eddie Lacy and James Starks against Chicago’s leaky run defense. Rodgers figures to take more downfield shots than Matt Flynn in recent weeks, but the Packers’ run-heavy offense will likely continue this week.

If the Packers are able to run the ball effectively and control the clock, then Chicago’s offense, which has scored 30 points six times this season, will be limited to a certain extent.

Coming into the season, cornerback appeared to be one of the Packers’ deepest positions. Last year’s leader in interceptions, Casey Hayward, figured to help mask the loss of turnover creator Charles Woodson, while Sam Shields stepped into the No. 1 cornerback role, veteran Tramon Williams was recharged and youngsters Davon House and rookie Micah Hyde looked to build on a strong preseason.

27

December

Rodgers puts Packers back in championship contention

With Aaron Rodgers set to return, the Packers are eyeing a division championship. And perhaps more.

With Aaron Rodgers set to return, the Packers are eyeing a division championship. And perhaps more.

When news broke Thursday that quarterback Aaron Rodgers was slated to return Sunday for the regular-season finale against the Chicago Bears, the outlook for the rest of the Packers’ season changed dramatically.

Without Rodgers, the Packers went 2-4-1, not including the first Packers-Bears game in which Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone on the game’s first possession. Coming into that game, the Packers were 5-2 with a favorable schedule and perhaps the hottest quarterback in football.

But despite a newly-feared running game providing balance to their offense, the small crack in Rodgers’ collarbone looked like a death blow to the Packers’ season, as Seneca Wallace would be starting the following week against the Philadelphia Eagles and for the foreseeable future. But Wallace was forced out of the lineup after the first possession, giving way to recent practice squad call-up Scott Tolzien. Then, the Packers signed a recycled Matt Flynn, who would get his chance a few weeks later against the Minnesota Vikings.

Flynn quarterbacked the Packers to one of their most embarrassing defeats in recent memory—a 40-10 Thanksgiving thumping at the hands of the Detroit Lions. For a team who had two All-World quarterbacks for the better part of two decades, the 2013 season was a slap in the face for a (let’s face it) spoiled fan base.

But somehow, at 8-7-1 with one game to play and Rodgers ready to roll, the Packers remain in contention for the NFC North title. A week 17 win in Chicago would punch the Packers’ ticket into the postseason, and they’d host either the San Francisco 49ers or New Orleans Saints in the wild card round January 4 or 5.

And as is the case year after year in the unpredictable NFL, anything can happen in the league’s 12-team tournament.

Typically, there’s a “hot team” that hits its stride late into the season and enters the postseason with a head of steam, much like the Packers’ unlikely run to Super Bowl XLV in 2010. Last year’s Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens backed into the playoffs after losing four of their last five games, but once the regular season is over, a new season begins. The Ravens 2012 regular season didn’t end well, but their postseason ended with a flood confetti and a Vince Lombardi Trophy.