Category Archives: Defensive Line

16

February

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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter announced this week that he will retire after the 2014 season. I’m not a Yankees fan and I usually root against the Bronx Bombers in the playoffs, but I always liked and respected Jeter.

Jeter was really good. He came across as a nice guy. He never got into legal trouble. He chased around beautiful women. And he projected an aura of coolness without coming across as overly arrogant. There really wasn’t anything to dislike about the guy.

As a Packers fan, what’s the closest comparison to Jeter in the NFL? What player caused the Packers a lot of grief over the years, but you still liked, respected, and even found yourself cheering for if he wasn’t playing the Packers?

Here are mine:

Barry Sanders
I don’t think you can call yourself a football fan if you didn’t enjoy watching Sanders. Yes, he had all the fancy footwork and juke and jive moves, but he would also put his head down and crash forward. An amazing spectacle on the field and a class act off of it.

Adrian Peterson
It’s absolutely terrorizing to watch Peterson manhandle the Packers defense. He’s a total mismatch for the light-hitting and reactionary Dom Capers D. But man, everything about Peterson just screams football. He’s the perfect package of grace, grit, explosiveness, elusiveness, resiliency and toughness.

Charles “Peanut” Tillman
It’s maddening to watch Tillman punch the ball out and force fumbles against the Packers. It’s a thing of beauty when he does it to other teams. Tillman has forced 40 fumbles in his 10-year career, including a mind-boggling 10 in 2012.

Larry Allen
This one is kind of obscure, but I always respected the Cowboys offensive line during their glory years and Allen was an absolute monster paving the way for Emmitt Smith. Allen could bench 705 pounds, squat 905 and became a hall-of-famer in 2013. He’s not the first player that comes to mind when thinking about players that gave the Packers trouble, but he deserves to be on the list.

Let me know who makes your list in the comments section.

Packers news, notes and links

13

February

Mike Daniels Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

1) Introduction:  When looking for defensive linemen for the 3-4 defense, tradition dictates you are looking for two types of players: a stout nose tackle who can command double teams with his raw power and two big and tall defensive ends who can maintain the edge for the linebackers and occasionally rush the passer.  Mike Daniels is neither.  Daniels was a surprise pick in the 2012 NFL draft as he essentially had no position, he was probably too short and light for a 4-3 defensive line, let alone a 3-4 defensive line which emphasizes size and strength to make up for losing a man.  Where does Mike Daniels actually belong and can he contribute for the Packers despite not fitting the stereotypical 3-4 defensive linemen?

2) Profile:

Mike Daniels

  • Age: 24
  • Born: 5/5/1989 in Stratford, NJ
  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 300
  • College: Iowa
  • Rookie Year: 2012
  • NFL Experience: 2

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Low.  Daniels had a pretty nondescript rookie season highlighted by a fumble returned for a touchdown against the Lions at home, but otherwise only played 280 snaps the entire season but did manage to record 2 sacks and 7 quarterback hurries but was only on the field in obvious passing situations as he only recorded 8 tackles.  Going into 2013, it was expected that Daniels would continue to get used to the 3-4 defense, probably be used a similar capacity as he was used in his rookie season, namely in the nickel package as a down defensive tackle in obvious passing downs and perhaps become part of the rotation in the base 3-4 defense as a defensive end.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Daniel’s biggest game came against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 10, where he recorded a sack, 2 quarterback hits and a hurry against the quick paced Eagles offense.  Daniel’s lowlights both involve the Minnesota Vikings and All-World running back Adrian Peterson, who embarrassed Daniels (and the rest of the defensive front 7 in all honesty), especially in week 11 when he rushed for 146 yards.

5

February

Johnny Jolly Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

Johnny-Jolly-071610T1) Introduction:  People might have forgotten but before BJ Raji’s interception against Chicago during the Packers 2010 Super Bowl run, there was another defensive linemen with soft hands and a penchant for stealing passes from the offense and that was Johnny Jolly, who ironically also intercepted a pass from a Chicago Bears quarterback in 2009 and was looking like a priority resign for the Packers.  Unfortunately, Jolly was suspended indefinitely in 2010 for a codeine addiction (i.e. “purple drank”) and had to watch the Packers win the Super Bowl without him and lose out on probably the biggest contract in his career.  Now 3 years wiser and cleaner, Jolly makes his improbably comeback into the NFL with the same team he started with, would this be a Cinderella story or just another cruel tale?

2) Profile:

Johnny Ray Jolly Jr.

  • Age: 30
  • Born: 2/21/1983 in Houston, TX
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 325
  • College: Texas A&M
  • Rookie Year: 2006
  • NFL Experience: 5

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  None.  No one really knew what to expect from Jolly and most thought it was lucky of him to even be invited back to training camp.  After 3 years of rehab and a short stint in the cooler, was Jolly physically or mentally ready to get back into the NFL?  Was his remarkable redemption story going to be short lived once he was back making good money or was it really true what Aaron Rodgers has said where the Packers could be Jolly’s support group and help him remain clean?  Realistically nothing should have been expected from Jolly in 2013 and simply making the team is a major accomplishment on its own.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Jolly’s big day came against the Atlanta Falcons in week 14 and dominated against the run, recording 4 tackles and 1 assist, a pass break up and 3 run stops.  Jolly’s lowlight was certainly injuring his neck and getting sent to IR, which further complicates his future.  The question now becomes are the Packers (or any other NFL team for the matter) willing to risk money on an aging player with a history of drug abuse and is coming off a significant injury?  Only time will tell.

4

February

BJ Raji Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

B.J. Raji

B.J. Raji

1) Introduction:  BJ Raji was once held in the same high esteem as Clay Matthews, a defensive player that the Packers could build the next decade around.  Add to that a little bit of flair moonlighting as a jumbo full back, a dance that got him a commercial with Aaron Rodgers and you had the recipe for a fan favorite.  However, Raji has quickly fallen out of favor, perhaps topped by the rumor that Raji rejected a contract extension worth $8 million annually in favor of testing free agency; a grain of salt needs to be taken with this number as annual salary says nothing most importantly about guaranteed money and could be tied heavily to incentives but Raji took a big risk by betting on himself in 2013.  Now that 2013 has come and gone and $8 million with all strings attached probably looks like a good deal, what is in future of the Packers 1st pick in 2009?

2) Profile:

Busari J Raji

  • Age: 27
  • Born: 7/11/1986 in Zephyrhills, FL
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 337
  • College: Boston College
  • Rookie Year: 2009
  • NFL Experience: 5

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  High.  Raji was the 7th best 3-4 defensive end in 2012 according to ProFootballFocus and while Raji didn’t have outstanding statistics, most notably recording 0 sacks in 2012, Raji was still the best defensive linemen for the Packers, especially against the run.  Many fans were expecting Raji to be a candidate for a mid-season extension in 2012, much like fellow 2009 1st round draft pick Clay Matthews but instead the Packers allowed Raji to finish out his contract with Raji trying to maximize his next contract with some great play.  Again while impressive number probably were never in Raji’s cards, a couple dominating games with Raji splitting double teams and getting a couple sacks was not out of the question if Raji returned to 2010 form.

21

December

Cory’s Corner: Packers’ 12 Days of Christmas

Aaron Rodgers hasn't played since Nov. 4.

Aaron Rodgers hasn’t played since Nov. 4.

On the first day of Christmas, the Packers gave to me Aaron Rodgers on the field to see.

On the second day of Christmas, the Packers gave to me two offensive linemen and Aaron Rodgers on the field to see.

On the third day of Christmas, the Packers gave to me three Festy Burgers, two offensive linemen and Aaron Rodgers on the field to see.

On the fourth day of Christmas, the Packers gave to me four healthy hamstrings and Aaron Rodgers on the field to see.

On the fifth day of Christmas, the Packers gave to me five straight playoff appearances! Four healthy hamstrings, three Festy Burgers, two offensive linemen and Aaron Rodgers on the field to see.

On the sixth day of Christmas, the Packers gave to me six retired numbers and Aaron Rodgers on the field to see.

On the seventh day of Christmas, the Packers gave to me seven sideline snags by Jordy Nelson and Aaron Rodgers on the field to see.

On the eighth day of Christmas, the Packers gave to me eight fumble recoveries and Aaron Rodgers on the field to see.

On the ninth day of Christmas, the Packers gave to me nine tackles for a loss by A.J. Hawk and Aaron Rodgers on the field to see.

On the 10th day of Christmas, the Packers gave to me 10 rushing touchdowns by Eddie Lacy and Aaron Rodgers on the field to see.

On the 11th day of Christmas, the Packers gave to me 11 new defenders from the 26th ranked defense and Aaron Rodgers on the field to see.

On the 12th day of Christmas, the Packers gave to me 12 beer brats sizzling on the grill and Aaron Rodgers on the field to see.

 

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn

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19

December

What Happened to Packers Defensive Lineman B.J. Raji?

Where have you gone, B.J. Raji?

The Green Bay Packers have desperately missed Aaron Rodgers ever since he went down with a broken collarbone in week eight. Over that same stretch, the Packers have also desperately missed B.J. Raji, even though the 337-pound defensive lineman played in every game.

Through the season’s first eight games, Raji was a force. He was energetic and explosive and spent a good amount of time in the opposing team’s backfield. It looked like the Raji of 2010 had returned and he was finally establishing himself as one of those elite defensive lineman who doesn’t put up big stats, but makes a world of difference each and every week beyond the box score.

Then Raji fell off the face of the Earth. He didn’t just regress, he disappeared.

It’s weird because there were no warning signs that Raji was about to go in the tank. He was one of the few players on the team that hasn’t battled injuries (as far as we know, anyway). He’s still young and he’s a free agent this offseason. All signs pointed to a good season becoming great for the former No. 9 overall pick out of Boston College.

Raji was credited for 11 solo defensive stops through the first eight games, according to Pro Football Focus. He only has two in the last six games. Also according to Pro Football Focus, Raji has finished with a negative run defense rating in every game since the Bears loss.

Even if you’re not into Pro Football Focus metrics, it’s painfully obvious that Raji has fallen off a cliff. He’s always been susceptible to getting completely wiped out of running plays, but it’s gone from happening every now and then to happening on a regular basis. Watch the Vikings tie or the final drive of the Eagles game. When the Packers desperately needed a run-stuffing play up front, there was Raji getting washed down the line or blown off the ball.

Rumor has it that Raji turned down an $8 million per season contract extension from the Packers earlier this season. At the time, the offer made sense. Raji is a big and athletic lineman who played well inside and was able to hold his own outside. He’s also durable, a rarity on the modern-day Packers. He wasn’t a superstar, but $8 million per year for the type of player that Raji was matched the market rate.

7

December

Cory’s Corner: Thompson must lock up Jolly from 14

There's been a spring in Johnny Jolly's step after missing three years due to a codeine addiction.

There’s been a spring in Johnny Jolly’s step after missing three years due to a codeine addiction.

As if Ted Thompson hasn’t been stressing enough about this season.

Fourteen Packers’ contracts expire in the offseason and Thompson has to make some important decisions.

This season has been one of the worst of recent memory. I’m not saying that purely based on Green Bay’s record but also based on competitiveness of the entire team. There have clearly been moments when players mailed it in and took plays off this season.

The first expiring contract that comes to mind is James Jones. He’s been stricken with alligator arms ever since he became a Packer in 2007. Despite Aaron Rodgers’ insistence that Green Bay sign Jones in 2011, Rodgers still has been known to verbally dress down Jones for running the route or not hauling in a catchable pass.

Now I realize that ever since Jones was a Packer he has had to battle for catches. When he first got here out of San Jose State it was Donald Driver and now it’s Jordy Nelson. But he’s a 6-foot-1, 208-pound wideout and I’ve always said that he has to be more assertive in the offense instead of just letting the defense or the situation dictate how he plays.

Another guy that caught my attention was Andrew Quarless. I think it’s pretty safe to say that Jermichael Finley will not be a Packer in 2014 after suffering a devastating head injury that bruised his spinal cord. Most people thought that would leave the door open for Quarless to grab the tight end reins. But he has started six games this season and in those games he has caught just 12 passes. Very underwhelming numbers for a guy that had so much promise coming out of college as the career record holder for receptions by a tight end at Penn State.

When Finley was healthy, he proved how much this offense can thrive with a solid pass-catching tight end. The Packers do not have a dynamic tight end currently on the roster, which means Thompson is going to have to address that.

The final guy that Thompson needs to think about this offseason is Johnny Jolly. Now I didn’t think Jolly was going to produce after being out of the game for three years thanks to his codeine addiction. But he has been a big part of the defensive line and has exceeded expectations by starting six games.