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)
Burnett offers a lot of promise for a young Packers secondary (Photo from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
In looking at the Pro Football Focus grades for Green Bay Packers safety Morgan Burnett’s 2012 season, something stood out to me. The longest pass that he was charged with this past season was 27 yards. It’s never good to give up long pass plays and a 27 yarder is nothing to be proud of. I also realize that it may have been one of the two tocuhdowns that Burnett was charged with. I didn’t dig that far, but I’m looking at this from a “face value” perspective.
It made me wonder if Burnett is more valuable to the Packers defense than most would think. Let’s look at this little nugget a bit further.
Of all NFL safeties who played at least 1,000 snaps in 2012, only TJ Ward of the Cleveland Browns’ 22 yard longest pass allowed was shorter than Burnett’s. Pittsburgh’s Ryan Clark played 909 snaps and his longest pass allowed was just 18 yards.
Again, there are a lot of factors that go into these stats such as defensive scheme, the other defensive backs around a player, the team’s pass rush and time opposing quarterbacks had in the pocket, etc. So with that in mind, let’s simply look at the fact that the Packers faced Detroit’s Calvin Johnson twice and Chicago’s Brandon Marshall twice. No small task and one that certainly requires safety help. Read more...(808 words + 3 images, estimated 3:14 mins reading time)
1) Introduction: Packers safety M.D. Jennings entered 2012 trying to crack the roster at safety after playing primarily on special teams in his rookie season of 2011. With Charles Woodson moving from cornerback to safety and with the team having drafted rookie Jerron McMillian in April’s draft, Jennings faced some stiff competition for reps at safety. Because of the team’s many sub packages on defense, Jennings did get on the field as early as week one. When Woodson went down midway through the season, Jennings started several games and gained valuable reps at safety.
3) Expectations coming into the season: Jennings was expected to develop and see some reps in the team’s nickel package as well as back up Burnett and Woodson. The team’s hope was that Jennings could push to eventually become a regular on the team’s defense when Woodson eventually departs. He was also there to compete with rookie McMillian. Jennings continued to be an important part of the team’s special teams coverage units. Read more...(526 words + 3 images, estimated 2:06 mins reading time)
1) Introduction: Packers safety Jerron McMillian was the second of Green Bay’s two fourth round draft picks in 2012 (133rd overall). When the team lost safety Nick Collins in 2011, it quickly became a position of need for the Packers. Charles Woodson would move back to safety, but the team needed some young talent to infuse for the future. Enter McMillian who, much like Collins, was a Packers draft pick from a small school and a guy the team was hoping was a diamond in the rough. McMillian was drafted for his football smarts and ability to be equally as effective against the pass and in run support.
3) Expectations coming into the season: The team knew they had both Woodson and Morgan Burnett as starters at safety so McMillian was not immediately expected to start. Heading into training camp, the team likely wasn’t sure what they had in the rookie from Maine. He proved a quick study and was sharing reps with M.D. Jennings on second team defense during the offseason. By the end of training camp, the team had already inserted McMillian into the defensive game planning for the upcoming regular season. Read more...(547 words + 3 images, estimated 2:11 mins reading time)
1) Introduction: Packers S Morgan Burnett was the lone holdover from 2011 as a starter and pure safety. Charles Woodson was a starter on the 2011 team, but was listed as a cornerback in addition to playing a hybrid safety role. The Packers decided to release the other starting safety, Charlie Peprah, early in training camp. Remember, Burnett missed most of his rookie season in 2010 so this was essentially his second year as a regular player in the defense. This was the first season that Burnett did not miss a game due to injury.
3) Expectations coming into the season: Burnett was the Packers’ “rock” at safety. He was on the field for more of the defensive sub packages than any other safety. He was largely responsible for making sure that youngsters M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian knew their responsibilities and, when Charles Woodson went down with a collarbone injury, he became the most experienced safety on the roster. Burnett showed flashes of being able to get after the football in 2011 and the team was hopeful that he could continue to grow in his coverage abilities and help force some turnovers in 2012. Read more...(645 words + 3 images, estimated 2:35 mins reading time)
1) Introduction: Packers outside linebacker Frank Zombo appeared in just seven games for the Packers in 2012. Zombo has battled injuries for most of his three seasons in Green Bay and started this past season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. His first game action did not come until week 11 against the Detroit Lions and he played sparingly from there. Zombo was not active for either of the team’s two playoff games.
3) Expectations coming into the season: Zombo injured his hamstring before the team entered training camp and he was eventually placed on PUP. Having been hurt for most of the 2011 season, Zombo was not slated to be a prominent part of the team’s defensive scheme in 2012. It was unknown whether the team would get Zombo’s services at all and there had been some talk that the team might put him on season-ending injured reserve.
4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Zombo did receive a game ball after the week 16 win over the Tennessee Titans but did little beyond that. Zombo did not appear for many snaps in any of the games in which he was active. In the week 17 game at the Minnesota Vikings, he played just one snap and was inactive for both playoff games. Zombo graded out below average overall and did not make any impact plays for the team this past season. Read more...(403 words + 3 images, estimated 1:37 mins reading time)
1) Introduction: Packers outside linebacker Erik Walden came into the 2012 training camp with slim odds of staying on the roster. The team had just drafted Nick Perry with their first round pick and Perry would surely get every opportunity to start opposite Clay Matthews. The team also saw undrafted rookie Dezman Moses emerge durin camp and it looked lik Walden was all but out the door. When it became apparent that the Packers would need some depth as Perry developed, they decided to hang onto Walden. When Perry went down early in the season and Moses wasn’t quite ready to be an every-down player, Walden became the starter at LOLB as he had been in 2011.
3) Expectations coming into the season: Walden’s initial expectations were low as his ability to stay on the roster was in question from day one of the Packers offseason program. When he was kept after training camp, Walden was there to serve as a veteran backup. With Frank Zombo on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, the Packers needed the depth at this vital position in its defense. When Perry went down early in the season, Walden became the starter and was expected to solidify the left side of the pass rush/run defense and improve over his 2011 performance. Walden moved to the left side when Matthews moved back to the right side. Read more...(712 words + 3 images, estimated 2:51 mins reading time)