Category Archives: JSOnline.com

16

March

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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football.

The following is a transcript of a hidden camera conversation from Packers GM Ted Thompson’s office on the opening day of NFL free agency.

(Knock on the door. The Packers front office team enters Thompson’s office. Thompson is watching “True Detective” on his office television)

Thompson: Why did nobody tell me about this “True Detective” show before? This is amazing. I didn’t know Woody from Cheers was such a good actor. And how about Matthew McConaughey?! The guy can actually act when he keeps his shirt on. Yellow King?! I want to change our nickname from the Packers to the Yellow Kings!

Scout: Um, sir….we didn’t tell you about the show because you only allow us to watch film of college players nobody else has ever heard of. And free agency is now officially open.

Thompson: Shhhh! This episode is more intense than the last few minutes of Super Bowl XLV.

Scout: But sir, we’ve already lost Lamarr Houston and Arthur Jones. They’re off the market.

Thompson: Really? They signed like 7 seconds after free agency officially opened? That’s some quick negotiating. Because no NFL team would ever cheat and use the three-day window to talk to agents to actually work out a contract, right?

Scout: Ummm…..

Thompson: How much did they go for?

Scout: Houston for $35 million to the Bears and Jones $30 million to the Colts.

Thompson: BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! That’s hilarious. No, seriously. How much did they sign for?

Scout: Sir, I was being serious.

Thompson: Dammit, you do this every year. You tell me who signed right after free agency opens and you make up some wild and silly number. Just tell me the real number.

Scout: But sir, that is the real number. I wasn’t kidding. Every year we have this same conversation 5 minutes after free agency opens.

Thompson: How about that other guy people want us to sign…what’s his name. Something to do with birds…

Scout: Jarius Byrd, sir. He signed with New Orleans for $54 million.

Thompson: I see. I can’t wait to see the headlines after the Super Bowl: “Jarius Byrd leads Saints to Super Bowl win.” Or maybe “Lamarr Houston makes people forget about the ’86 Bears.”

Scout: Sir, don’t you think we maybe should’ve gotten in on some of these signings? People are getting mad on Twitter.

14

March

Evan Dietrich-Smith Signs With The Buccaneers

Packers C Evan Dietrich-Smith

Packers C Evan Dietrich-Smith

Tom Silverstein has been a busy guy, first reporting on the resigning of defensive end/nose tackle BJ Raji and now reporting that center Evan Dietrich-Smith has signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 

 

With that, the Packers now have a big question to answer this offseason, much like they did when they let Scott Wells sign with the St. Louis Rams.   JC Tretter becomes perhaps the de facto starter, which is a little scary considering he was a left tackle in college and broke his foot during rookie orientation last year, essentially giving him a redshirt rookie season.  Other options might include Don Barclay, who practiced at center during training camp last year with somewhat disastrous results or TJ Lang, who is rumored to be the emergency center (or at least Josh Sitton jokes that he is). Luckily, the Packers have some other options on the offensive line, with both Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod likely being in the mix at tackle, either Don Barclay and/or David Bakhtiari could slide into the interior.

In terms of the draft, the Packers have never thought very highly of centers (Wells was a 6th round draft choice while EDS was a undrafted free agent), so it’s unlikely that they would draft a center high, rather they like to draft tackles who likely wouldn’t make it in the NFL and convert them to interior linemen.

The top free agent center is Alex Mack, who was designated the transition franchise tag for the Browns, likely meaning that the Packers will not try to pry Mack away from the Browns.  Again going back to Thompson’s history drafting and retaining centers, it appears as if the Packers front office views centers as largely fungible, meaning the Packers backup likely will be another low round draft pick or an undrafted free agent.  Another option might be to run the “Jeff Saturday” play, where the Packers sign a veteran center while they hope JC Tretter or Don Barclay gain enough experience at center to play next there next season.

9

March

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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football.

With Sam Shields locked up for the next four years, it’s time to focus on the Packers other free agents.

News of the Packers offering B.J. Raji a short-term contract to return as the team’s nose tackle brought out all kinds of reactions. Many Packers fans want nothing to do with Raji after he fell off the face of the earth midway through last season.

Other Packers fans are willing to stick with Raji if all it takes a relatively cheap, low-risk one-year deal.

I’m in the latter category. There is rarely such a thing as a bad one-year contract. If Raji flops again next season, you’re not tied to him long-term. If he’s horrible in training camp, and a good portion of the contract isn’t guaranteed, the Packers can just cut him.

That might make me sound like a Raji defender, but I am anything but. There were several times in the second half of last season where I wanted Ted Thompson to enter the Packers defensive huddle and cut Raji on the spot. He was that bad.

One talking point from Raji defenders that drives me crazy is the notion that it’s his job to “occupy blockers” so the middle linebackers can make plays. Yes, often in a 3-4 defense, it is the job of the defensive lineman to absorb double teams and sacrifice a little bit of personal glory to free up teammates.

But most people don’t understand what “occupying blockers” really means. It doesn’t mean you stand there and belly bump with other fat guys. It doesn’t mean you simply take up space. It doesn’t mean you never get to make a tackle for a loss or pressure the quarterback.

It definitely doesn’t mean you end up on your backside or blown off the ball like Raji is all too often.

The best way to “occupy blockers” is to kick their ass, to win your match-up, whether it’s against a single offensive lineman or a double team. Knock your man back a step and force the running back to alter his course, even if it’s a minor detour. Anchor yourself in the hole. Split that double team.

A 3-4 defensive lineman who does that often enough will get a tackle behind the line or a sack every now and then. He’ll also be doing a fine job of “occupying blockers.”

2

March

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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Foo

The WWE Network debuted on Monday and my wife immediately began filling out divorce papers.

I try to limit my classic wrestling viewing to the television in our room before bed or my iPad if I have a free minute or two in the living room. With WWE Network, I can now literally watch old (and new) wrestling whenever I want. On my phone, in the car, at church, during family dinners, or waiting to check out at the grocery story. Thousands of hours of wrestling footage is at my fingertips.

There is no way my wife is going to be able to deal with me watching wrestling when we’re supposed to be having a serious conversation about buying a new house or finding a good school for our kid.

While I’m reliving classic moments like this, my wife will be packing up her things and relocating as far away from me as possible.

I wonder if the NFL would ever give something like the WWE Network a try? On the surface, it makes sense that they would. But if you really think about it, you realize how silly the league would be to abandon the golden goose it currently has with its traditional television package.

In 2013, the WWE made about $168 million from its television deal. That’s a great deal for the networks that air WWE programming like Monday Night Raw and SmackDown, and not all that great of a deal for WWE.

Ninety-percent of WWE viewers watch shows like Raw and SmackDown live or less than a day after airing. That’s on par with professional sports like football or basketball. The majority of WWE viewership is also under 34 years old and ethnically diverse, two key components that prominent advertisers are looking for. Networks are also looking for more “DVR-proof” programming, or shows that are watched live instead of recorded and watched days or weeks later.

So why doesn’t the WWE have a more lucrative TV deal? Because it’s professional wrestling, duh! Nobody — especially fancy schmancy television executives and big corporate advertisers — has ever taken professional wrestling seriously. Sure, they might back-handedly acknowledge its solid track record of reliable TV ratings and a dedicated and loyal fanbase, but they’re not going to back it up with dollars.

23

February

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived (Bonus Edition)

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

So yesterday I accidentally scheduled my Surviving Sunday post to run on Saturday. It was a brain freeze similar to what happens when Mike McCarthy calls for the fullback dive on 3rd-and-short.

Hopefully you enjoyed your Saturday edition of Surviving Sunday. Now that it actually is Sunday, here is a bonus Sunday edition of Surviving Sunday.

Packers news, notes and links

  • Reports surfaced on Saturday that Packers free agent cornerback Sam Shields is seeking a deal similar to the 4 years, $22.4 million contract signed by the Bears’ Tim Jennings. If that’s truly the case, then the Packers need to get this deal done ASAP. I’m guessing the overall guarantee on Shields’ deal would be bigger than Jennings’, but even if that’s true, that’s a perfectly fair deal for both sides and still leaves the Packers salary cap room to make other moves this offseason.
  • Might new Giants offensive coordinator and former Packers QB coach Ben McAdoo try to sign James Starks and Evan Dietrich-Smith away from the Packers? It’d be nice to keep Starks around, but with Eddie Lacy on the roster and DuJuan Harris and Jonthan Franklin returning from injury, Starks is more of a luxury than a necessity. Then again, Starks ran at turbo speed last season. Given his injury history, a part-time role is probably best for him and he sure excelled filling in for Lacy. I don’t like playing musical chairs at center, but is Dietrich-Smith worthy overpaying if another team dumps a big offer on him? I don’t think so. I’m willing to see what J.C. Tretter can do at the position.
  • According to a study from Rick Gosselin at the Dallas Morning News, the Packers have lost a league-high 153 games by injuries to preferred starters over the last two seasons. So what are Mike McCarthy and the Packers going to do about it? Who knows. In this interview with Jason Wilde, McCarthy vowed to figure out what’s going on and make changes. He said the same things last offseason. The most logical change at this point might be to just hire the training and medical staff from Stanford University.
  • If you’re still holding out hope that the Packers will sign Jarius Byrd to fix their issues at safety, this Tweet might squash that hope.

Non-Packers links and other nonsense

22

February

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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Note: Relax, no need to go check your calendar – it’s not Sunday. Just a little scheduling snafu. Look for a bonus edition tomorrow, though…  

I’m going straight to the Packers news and commentary this week. No time for a long intro rant or rave. There is snow to shovel. More and more snow to shovel. 

By the time this winter is over, my back is going to snap in half from shoveling and Dr. Pat McKenzie will refuse to clear me in time for training camp.

Packers news, notes and links

  • Tyler Dunne at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel talked to a bunch of folks about Sam Shields. Is Shields worth a mega-contract? You might not find a faster corner in the league. But Shields also has missed games every season with various injuries. And he has a little ways to go before truly being one of the league’s top corners instead of having the potential to be one of the league’s top corners. As with any free-agent decision, it all comes down to value. I’d like to see Shields re-signed, but if he walks, the Packers still have Tramon Williams, a returning Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde and Davon House at cornerback.
  • Mike Mccarthy sounded optimistic in an interview at the NFL Scouting Combine that Jermichael Finley would play again. Finley had the same two vertebrae fused that ended Nick Collins career. I’m rooting for Finley to make it back, but I still have doubts that, if he does return, it’ll be with the Packers. Either way, I’m curious what kind of offer he gets in free agency if he is cleared.
  • Ted Thompson also spoke at the combine. As usual, he said nothing.
  • I agree with John Rehor over at Packerstalk.com: Let’s calm down about Ted Thompson preparing to go all nutso in free agency. I don’t see it happening. I do think Thompson will sign a few guys. There has been value in some under-the-radar veterans in recent years that don’t completely blow up a team’s payroll. Thompson has missed the boat on some of these guys and won’t want to miss it again. At least I hope he won’t…
  • As always, when you’re at Packerstalk.com, check out the latest podcasts from this week.
21

February

Dissecting Thompson, McCarthy’s Words at NFL Combine

Mike McCarthy & Ted Thompson

Thompson and McCarthy both spoke during Friday’s media session at the NFL Combine

Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy both spoke to the media on Friday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.  As usual, both were short and did not offer a lot of substance to what they had to say.

With three straight disappointing appearances in the postseason now behind them, following their Super Bowl championship in 2010, Thompson and McCarthy have many eyes trained on them during this offseason.  There has already been speculation on what they might do to address the needs their team has heading into the 2014 season.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport created a stir when he reported that the Packers plan to be more active in free agency than they have in years.  His report stated that the Packers could add “up to five” new players.  This raised many eyebrows, as it goes against what Thompson has done year in and year out during his time as GM:  build and develop, largely through the draft.

With Friday’s media sessions, there was hope to gain some insight into what Thompson and McCarthy said.  The Journal-Sentinel’s Packers blog provided a recap of Thompson’s comments.  Our friends over at Acme Packing Company laid out a nice recap of McCarthy’s comments.

I have the snippets below with some of my own thoughts on what was said.

 

THOMPSON

 

On cornerback Sam Shields:  “I think Sam’s been a good player for us.  He does a good job and he’s one of the fellas that we’d like to have back.” 

Shields definitely was a solid fella last season.  He led the Packers with four interceptions and was their best defensive back overall.  There have been no rumblings about a new contract for Shields yet, and with each passing day, it appears likely the team will let him hit the open market.  Thompson likely has a figure in mind for Shields but may be concerned that he and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, are looking for an inflated amount.  If Shields truly wants to break the bank, he’s not likely going to do so in Green Bay.