Category Archives: CheeseheadTV

23

June

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

LeBron James won his second consecutive NBA title with the Miami Heat on Thursday night and cemented his status as one of the greatest players of all time (at least among sane people).

I hated “The Decision” as much as anyone else, but I’m also over it. I don’t necessarily cheer for James now, but I make sure to appreciate him when I watch him play. James is an amazing, amazing, amazing athlete, and it’s a lot more fun to soak in what he’s able to do on the court instead of just calling him names and hating on him.

Anyway, James’ second title got me thinking: How many more titles will it take for Packers QB Aaron Rodgers to be considered an all-time great? He’s already considered great, but he’s not yet at all-time great status with the likes of Starr, Montana, Brady or Unitas.

Then I started thinking some more (always dangerous): Why do we need to attach an arbitrary number of titles to greatness? If Rodgers keeps producing like he has, but doesn’t win another title, should that significantly diminish how we view him in the context of greatness?

I suppose you have to have some criteria to separate certain great players from other great players in subjective arguments like this one, and titles might be a part of it.

You also have to factor in eras and the rules attached to each era. Defenders in today’s NFL can’t make contact with a WR beyond five yards, hit a QB too high, hit a QB too low, hit any player in the head, or fart too loudly in the direction of the quarterback. How many yards would Montana or Unitas throw for if those rules applied back when they played?

I guess I’m trying to say that while it’s sometimes fun to get into these debates about greatness and which player is greater than the other, don’t forget to actually enjoy the greatness while it’s happening.

Rodgers is on a roll right now. Soak it in.

There will be plenty of time to make comparisons down the road.

Packers News, Notes and Links

3

June

Sam Shields: A Lesson in Decision Making

Restricted free agent Sam Shields

Will we see Shields making more plays like this one in 2013 and beyond?

UPDATE:  As of early Monday afternoon, Sam Shields has signed his restricted free agent tender, valued at $2.02 million.  He and the Packers are reportedly still working on a long-term deal.

Restricted free agent cornerback Sam Shields and the Green Bay Packers have not yet been able to agree on a new contract and as a result, Shields has not participated in any of the team’s organized team activities this offseason.

Surely the missed practice time will open the door for another player to possibly unseat Shields and his starting outside cornerback slot, right?  OK, probably not.

This season will be Shields’ fourth in the NFL and he is hardly a rookie.  Furthermore, he is familiar with the team’s defensive scheme and the defensive coaching staff remains largely intact from last season.  It would be premature to say that Shields is falling behind the others because of that missed time.  If the season started today and Shields were under contract with the Packers, my bet is that he would be at one of the two starting outside cornerback spots.  If not a starter, he would see significant playing time.

Clearly, the Packers have a decision to make regarding Shields, but they aren’t the only ones facing consequences of their actions, or inactions.  Both parties have already made some moves and decisions that will impact how this scenario will play out.  Let’s examine a bit further.

During the 2010 playoff run, Shields made a crucial interception late in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game that sealed the win for the Packers and sent them to Super Bowl XLV.  In 2011, Shields continued to make plays and develop within the team’s defensive scheme.  One of the last highlights that we saw from the 2012 season was Shields’ interception of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the first drive of the Divsional playoff game.  Shields returned it for an easy touchdown and, just like that, the Packers had an early lead.  It is plays like that that have defined Shields’ value to the team.  Most of the attention that Shields has garnered has been because of what he has done on the field.

19

May

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football.

If I was creating my own perfect media universe to feed me information on the Green Bay Packers, here’s what it would look like:

Play-by-play announcer: Wayne Larrivee. No explanation needed. I could listen to Wayne all day — even if the Packers were losing by seven touchdowns — and still get enjoyment out of the game.

Color commentator: Mike Mayock. I used to have Cris Collinsworth ahead of Mayock, but not any more. Mayock made those boring Thursday night games on NFL Network tolerable last season. I’ll take substance over style from my color commentary each and every time.

Sideline reporter: Doris Burke. Ok, I’m cheating a little bit. Those of you who watch Burke work the sideline and conduct in-game interviews with coaches during NBA games know why I choose her, however. She takes the job seriously and actually tries to tell the viewer something that doesn’t insult his/her intelligence. Her questions are always light on fluff and high on substance.

Studio host: Trey Wingo. Doesn’t need catch phrases or tired schtick to be effective.

Studio analysts: LeRoy Butler and Mark Tauscher. Both guys have ties to the Packers, are extremely engaging and provide good insight.

Main beat writer: Tom Silverstein. Hard working. In-depth. No frills. Smart. Insightful. Gets a little snarky on Twitter. Everything you want out of a beat guy.

Secondary beat writer: Rob Demovsky. Doesn’t get enough credit because the talent pool of Packers reporters is deep. He’s one of the better ones.

Columnist: Bob McGinn. Years upon years of working with sources and dropping knowledge. He also tends to get people a little riled up, which a good columnist will do every now and then.

Radio talk show hosts: Jason Wilde and Bill Johnson. No need to re-create the wheel. Just keep Green and Gold Today what is already is: A show to discuss the Packers, not rant and rave incoherently like most sports talk radio shows.

Blogger: Jersey Al. One of the originals and still the best.

5 Packers people to follow on Twitter: @PackerRanter: Deep. @jrehor: Passionate. @Aaron_Nagler: NFL. @Packerpedia: Informative. @BrianCarriveau: Dedicated.

That about sums it up. I’m sure I left some good people off, but hopefully they get over it and their feelings aren’t hurt too bad by being left off such a prestigious list.

5

May

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

With NFL draft now behind us, I’ve found myself asking one question about the Packers over the last week: Do the players Ted Thompson selected make the Packers a more physical team?

The answer I come up with is…maybe?

  • First-round pick Datone Jones is 6-foot-4, 280 pounds. When you see him play, you think long and lean instead of tough and mean. But a player’s height and weight doesn’t tell you much about how physical they’ll play. I’m sure Jones will add some weight. If he doesn’t, sometimes smaller guys play with such an attitude that they might as well be 320 pounds of brute force.
  • The first thing that comes to mind when I watch Eddie Lacy run is physical. You can automatically place Mr. Lacy in the immediately-makes-the-Packers-more-physical category. The catch with Lacy is his health. One of his big toes is fused on, he’s got screws in his hand, he can barely bench press because of an old pectoral injury and he’s had hamstring issues. It’s hard to help your team be more physical while riding an exercise bike on the sideline. Let’s hope Lacy is able to use his aggression on the field instead of in the team’s rehab facility.
  • J.C. Tretter and David Bakhtiari are two offensive linemen that were not projected to be drafted because of their physicality. The Packers like drafting athletic college tackles who can play multiple positions in the NFL, and that’s what Tretter and Bakhitiari are. I suppose they could develop into maulers, but neither one makes me think they’ll immediately make the Packers more physical.
  • When you think of being physical, do you think of riding a Jetski? Probably not, but that’s the nickname given to Packers fourth-round pick Jonathan Franklin because of his ability to leave defenders in his wake. Franklin does little to make the Packers more physical, but I don’t really care. You don’t draft speedy running backs to batter the other team. You draft them to run away from the other team once they are already battered.
  • Fifth-round pick Micah Hyde probably won’t get an opportunity to make the Packers more physical on an every-down basis, but he should get his shot on special teams. The Packers could always use more physicality on their special teams. Josh Boyd, the Packers other fifth-round pick, is 6-foot-3, 310 pounds. He at least possesses the measurements to make the Packers more physical.
1

May

Reminder: Don’t sleep on Johnathan Franklin

Packers RB Johnathan Franklin

Packers RB Johnathan Franklin

Much has been made over the Packers’ running game in recent years, and this year’s draft class proves that upgrading the ground game is a top priority headed into 2013.

No, the Packers may not have landed the No. 1 running back in the draft — last Giovani Bernard mention — but they may have gotten Nos. 2 and 3.

Bernard was the first back off the board, going to the Cincinnati Bengals with the 37th pick. Former Michigan State power back Le’Veon Bell went to the Steelers at No. 48, and the Denver Broncos drafted Montee Ball ten picks later.

Prior to the draft, Eddie Lacy was expected by most to be the first back off the board. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock had Lacy as the 18th-best player in the draft.

But then draft day happened, and the Packers grabbed him with the second-to-last pick in round two.

As Bob McGinn put it, the Packers almost reluctantly turn in the card for the former Alabama standout when he was still on the board at No. 61. Most draft analysts loved the pick. Everyone (Mayock, Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, Matt Miller) had Lacy as the top running back in the draft, and the Packers — a team that lacked a running game — stole him with a late second-rond pick.

With a potential three-down back (Lacy) already in the fold, the Packers focused on the offensive line. After selecting linemen David Bakhtiari and J.C. Tretter early on Day 3, Thompson made a trade for a third fourth-round pick. They had their running back in Lacy, but Franklin was still sitting on the board.

“I’ve watched Ted Thompson enough times in the draft room that when he goes up, it’s going up for something and it’s really good and that was definitely the case,” head coach Mike McCarthy said in a post-draft press conference. “Very dynamic player, I’m excited to work with him.”

It probably means nothing, but whereas the Packers moved down and took Lacy, they felt strongly enough about Franklin to trade up for him in the fourth round.

Both players should see carries next season along with DuJuan Harris. Which isn’t bad for a team that relied almost solely on Harris as its starting running back into last year’s playoffs. It’s pretty safe to say the days of almost-desperate Ryan Grant signings are over.

1

May

Packers’ Russ Ball Works His Magic With Rodgers, Matthews

 

Green Bay Packers front office masterminds Russ Ball and Ted Thompson.

Green Bay Packers front office masterminds Russ Ball and Ted Thompson.

Despite the Green Bay Packers recently inking two big-time contract extensions for Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews, they have only suffered a net loss of . . . wait for it . . . $4.1 million in cap space. They held roughly $17.5 million in cap room prior to the contracts, and yet they still have over $13 million left to work with. And we have one major person to thank for that: Russ Ball.

His official title is Vice President of Football Administration/Player Finance, but that long moniker doesn’t even begin to honor his work (or its worth) for the Packers. According to the team’s official website, “He is responsible for negotiating player contracts and managing the salary cap, in addition to the daily supervision of football-administration departments including athletic training, equipment, video, corporate travel, player development, family programs and public relations.”

What he has accomplished, though, is allowing Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy to do their work without having to worry too much about the financial complications.

He is the wizard behind the curtain, despite being handed praise from the local media. In the early half of 2011, Brian Carriveau of CheeseheadTV examined how Ball’s work helped propel the Packers to their first Super Bowl in 14 years. Bob McGinn added to this praise a few months later with an article about Ball being “a key cog in Packers machine.”

Russ Ball even interviewed under the radar for a general manager position with the New York Jets earlier this year.

It’s not hyperbole to say that, since taking the job with the Green Bay Packers in 2008, Ball has had his biggest contract negotiations to date. Clay Matthews’ 5-year, $66 million contract extension is tops among 3-4 outside linebackers, while Aaron Rodgers now commands the biggest contract among NFL players to date.

Nevertheless, the financial control remains with the Packers organization. Russ Ball has managed to negotiate deals that don’t sacrifice the team’s salary cap for any single player. Even Rodgers’ mega-deal is, at its core, a win-win situation for both sides. Take a look at the numbers below, and you’ll see why:

rodgers_contract_ext

21

April

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Remember the moment from Super Bowl XLV when Packers assistant coach Kevin Greene looked Clay Matthews in the eyes and told him that “it is time!”

It’s one of the more memorable moments from that Super Bowl victory and something Packers fans won’t forget any time soon.

NFL history is filled with instances when coaches say something memorable or inspiring to players during a key portion of a big game. The emotion and intensity of the moment makes for compelling drama that even the best Hollywood actors could never replicate.

You don’t hear about similar moments involving general managers. In fact, thinking about someone going up to a general manager in his office, looking into his eyes, and telling him “it is time!” sounds downright silly.

Even so, I think it would be perfectly reasonable for someone to do that to Ted Thompson this week.

Not literally, of course. That would just be weird and could lead to an arrest. Without getting right in his face, this week is the perfect week to get the message to Thompson that “it is time!”

Now is the time for Thompson to put himself in the history books as one of the best general managers of all time. He’s already got a Super Bowl. He’s already highly respected. He’s already guided the Packers franchise through the Brett Favre-to-Aaron Rodgers transition. He’s already had a great career and has plenty to be proud of.

But if Thompson wants to separate himself from the pack of very good general managers and join the group of all-time great general managers, it is time for him to make his move.

Thompson talked this week about the draft being his responsibility. Even when Thompson had John Schneider, Reggie McKenzie and John Dorsey by his side, I always believed the credit for a great draft, or the blame for a lackluster draft, should be on the general manager, the man in charge.

That’s not to say that input from Schneider, McKenzie and Dorsey — all NFL general managers now — didn’t mean anything. It’s always good to have as many smart people as possible helping you make decisions.

But the Packers success or failure in the personnel departments starts and ends with Thompson. That’s especially true now that Schneider, McKenzie and Dorsey are gone.