Category Archives: D.J. Smith

5

February

Packers D.J. Smith: 2012 Player Evaluation and Report Card

D.J. Smith

D.J. Smith

1) Introduction: D.J. Smith will forever be tagged as the undersized inside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers. Selected in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, scouts considered his height to be a significant drawback. Up until his injury this season, he has provided some solid depth for the Packers.

2) Profile:

Darryl Devon Smith, Jr.

  • Age: 23
  • Born: 02/24/1989, in Charlotte, NC
  • Height: 5’11″
  • Weight: 239
  • College: Appalachian State
  • Rookie Year: 2011
  • NFL Experience: 2 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: When D.J. Smith, as a rookie, got the opportunity to start in place of Desmond Bishop last year, he showed some flashes that instantly got fans excited. He seemed to defy the critics of his stature, showing a nose for the ball and some sure-handed tackling. When Smith became the full-time starter in 2012, again due to injury by Bishop, fans weren’t overly concerned about his ability to take over the role. They expected him to perform close to the same level, especially with a year under his belt.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: He didn’t get any sacks, fumbles, or interceptions, but D.J. Smith played his heart out against the New Orleans Saints. He defensed three passes and only allowed 30 yards on four receptions, one of which accounting for 23 of those 30. Obviously, Smith’s low point of the season was when he blew out his knee against the Houston Texans. After just six games, the Packers were suddenly down to their third-string inside linebacker.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Being on injured reserve didn’t allow D.J. Smith to contribute much for the final 10 games of the regular season, but in all fairness, he wasn’t quite the player we were expecting him to be. Smith struggled in coverage, allowing 14 of 21 targets to be caught for 145 yards and two touchdowns. He sometimes got lost in the shuffle against the run, but he was a fairly sure tackler. His blitzing was the better part of his game, though he relied more on timing and speed than overcoming individual blockers.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Absolutely nothing, due to injury.

 

Season Report Card:

(C-) Level of expectations met during the season

23

January

Packers Stock Report: End of Season, Full Roster Edition

CB Tramon Williams and S Morgan Burnett fight for an interception against the Saints

Packers CB Tramon Williams found himself in the falling category. Safety Morgan Burnett was steady.

The Packers end of season, full roster stock report is upon us. Below are over 2,300 words of insight, analysis, opinions and nonsense about every player currently on the Packers roster.

Read closely and enjoy, because many of these players likely won’t be around in 2013.

I incorporated each player’s performance from this season, and their future outlook while categorizing. Please agree or disagree in the comments.

As always, thanks for reading the weekly stock reports. Onto the last one:

Rising

Aaron Rodgers
It wasn’t as great as his MVP campaign, but it was still damn good. With chaos and injuries swirling all around, Rodgers kept the Packers offense moving forward and limited mistakes. A fine all-around performance and no reason to think it won’t continue in 2013.

Randall Cobb
With Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson hobbled most of the season, Cobb broke out and turned into the Packers most dangerous weapon. I worry a little about his durability, but his production when healthy was great. Oh, and he needs to drop fewer passes.

DuJuan Harris
Is this too much praise for the 5-foot-7, 210-pound rolling ball of butcher knives? Maybe. But if I’m buying Harris stock, I want in right now. I think he’s going to stick with the Packers and get a chance to make some noise.

Casey Hayward
Lost in the disastrous playoff loss and grumbling about the Packers lack of physicality was Hayward’s dynamic rookie season. I don’t care if the read-option sticks or not, stopping the pass will still be a defense’s top priority and Hayward can do it.

Sam Shields
He’s on the rise now. Will he remain on the rise if the Packers pay him? Or will he morph back into the timid and non-aggressive cornerback of 2011? There’s no denying his raw talent, and I’d like to see him develop that talent as a member of the Packers.

Clay Matthews
Microsoft. Apple. TRowe Price. Fidelity. With the contract that Matthews will get from the Packers, he’ll be able to buy all the stock he wants.

Nick Perry
How can a guy who was hurt most of the season land in this category? The same way Matthews landed in the rising category when he was injured. The Packers can’t afford another season with Erik Walden as the primary outside linebacker opposite Matthews. Perry is rising by default.

22

January

2013 NFL Free Agents the Packers Could Sign, but Probably Won’t

Dan Kopen

Center Dan Koppen is a free agent the Packers could possibly sign, but likely won’t.

We started the conversation about the Packers biggest draft needs by position group on Monday. Now let’s take a look at possible free-agent targets for Ted Thompson.

It’s probably best to get this discussion out of our system right away. As usual, I doubt Thompson will do much in free agency. He signed Jeff Saturday last offseason, and Saturday ended up on the bench. That’s not going to entice Thompson to run back to the free-agent pool for immediate help.

If Thompson does bring in some free agents, they will probably be system-types — role players that most of us have never heard of that may or may not even make the team. But, hey, posting a blank page probably wouldn’t generate much discussion, so let’s pretend Thompson might want to bring in a guy or two from the outside.

Who might be a good fit? Again, don’t get your hopes up, but it’s at least worth discussing.

Jason Jones, DL
The Seahawks signed Jones to a one-year deal last offseason and he finished with just three sacks in 12 games before getting hurt. Since pass rush from the defensive line is a big need, Jones could fit well with the Packers as a situational pass rusher that can play all three defensive line spots. Jones likely won’t attract a lot of attention, but is still viewed as a guy with some upside, so who knows? The Seahawks signed Jones to a one-year “prove yourself” sort of deal. If he can’t get a multi-year offer anywhere, perhaps the Packers would offer him something similar to what he got with Seattle.

Dan Koppen, C
If one guy who used to snap it to Peyton Manning doesn’t work, why not try another one? Koppen is like a younger version of Saturday, with a little bit left in his run-blocking tank. As Manning’s center in Denver this year, Koppen also is likely used to the no-huddle and setting protection while the quarterback changes things at the line of scrimage. I’m sure Koppen isn’t a realistic option for the Packers, but you never know. Falcons center Todd McClure also will be on the market, but he’s probably not a good fit, either.

21

January

Packers Draft Needs: Time to Start the Conversation

What would Ted do? - Ted Thompson

Packers GM Ted Thompson has plenty of directions he could go in the 2013 NFL draft.

The Packers lost to the 49ers in the NFL playoffs. Badly. Embarrasingly. Frustratingly. Think of some other negative adverbs and they would probably also apply.

But in the fast-paced world of the NFL, that loss is already ancient history. We’ve dissected it to death on this site and other media outlets and blogs have done the same. It’s time to move on.

In the coming weeks, the ALLGBP.com staff will have complete reviews and grades of everyone on the Packers roster for the 2012-13 season. We will also begin breaking down prospects in the the April NFL draft that may fit the Packers needs.

This post is meant to start the discussion on what the Packers needs in the draft may be.

If everything was equal, what position group should the Packers focus on when they pick 26th in the upcoming draft? If there was at least one player from each position group on the board when Ted Thompson’s turn came up, and they were all equally talented, which position group should Thompson bolster?

I realize this is a very general and broad question, but remember, we’re just starting the conversation. There will plenty of specific prospect breakdowns and more focused discussion in the coming months. For now, let’s focus on the big picture and moving on from the 49ers loss.

Here’s how I see things.

  1. Inside linebacker: Yes, Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith should be back, but will there be lingering effects from the major injuries that ended their 2012 seasons early? The NFL seems to be cyclical. Just when we think a position group isn’t as valuable as it used to be, it makes a little bit of a comeback. With the rise of spread offenses and passing attacks, inside linebackers don’t seem as important as they once were. But then you don’t have one and you realize how valuable they can be. It’d be nice to have a linebacker on the inside that can ocassaionaly cover a tight, move well enough to deal with quarterbacks like Russell Wilson and Colin Kapernick, and be a solid tackler. Another good inside linebacker would allow Thompson to cut A.J. Hawk and use Brad Jones as a versatile backup and situational player, perhaps at all four linebacker spots.
16

January

Injuries Took Their Toll on the Packers Linebacker Corps

D.J. Smith Injury 2012

The injury to D.J. Smith was one of many among the Green Bay Packers linebackers.

When the injuries started compounding for the Green Bay Packers this year, fans didn’t seem to flinch. Too fresh in their memories was the story of 2010, when the Packers overcame several key injuries to become Super Bowl champions. “Next man up” became the rally cry for the team, its fans, and the media.

The motto’s resurgence in 2012 showed the confidence of Packers Nation in Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy’s ability to add and develop depth throughout the team. While concerns still brewed in the back of our minds, they were overshadowed by what we’ve come to expect from Green Bay’s second string players.

No more Desmond Bishop? Bring in D.J. Smith. Now Smith goes down? Get Brad Jones in there. Lose Cedric Benson, James Starks, and Brandon Saine? Promote Alex Green and DuJuan Harris, then re-sign Ryan Grant from free agency. Even undrafted rookie Don Barclay surprised us with his ability to take over for Bryan Bulaga and not get Aaron Rodgers killed.

The specific team building philosophy of Thompson and McCarthy have allowed the Green Bay Packers to succeed even when some of their best players end up on injured reserve. Many other teams would struggle to handle such losses, whereas the Packers push through, fill in the holes, and still win their division.

Unfortunately, with all this confidence in the “next man up” mentality, we tend to lose sight of the fact that Green Bay’s offensive, defensive, and special teams units still lose some of their effectiveness from these starters going down.

In 2012, the position group that suffered the most was by far the linebacker corps. If you compare this season’s final roster to last year’s, the differences are striking. Clay Matthews and A.J. Hawk didn’t go anywhere, despite Matthews missing a few games; however, the losses of Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith were huge.

Yes, Brad Jones filled in admirably, but he is not the playmaker that Bishop is. (Nor is Smith.) Desmond Bishop is perhaps the biggest playmaker on the defense outside of Clay Matthews. His tough and ruthless attitude brings a punch that helps to balance out the lack of plays made by Hawk. While the “assignment sure” Hawk has been a perennial disappointment to many fans, he and Bishop complement each other extremely well. Without one, the other suffers.

14

January

Are the Green Bay Packers Still Elite?


Packers
Are the Packers still elite?

Remember when the Green Bay Packers were legitimately thought of as elite and the next NFL dynasty? All the ingredients were there: A great quarterback. Talented receivers. Young defenders on the rise. A Super Bowl win. Playoff chops. A smart coaching staff and front office.

Then the Giants and 49ers manhandled the Packers in playoff losses and all that dynasty talk seems like so long ago.

Forget dynasty. Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press Gazette says the Packers are no longer even an elite team.

Vandermause gets a little carried away early in the column when he says that Colin Kapernick is now a more feared player than Aaron Rodgers (ridiculous). But for the most part, I see where Vandermause is going. He thinks the 49ers have a lot more talent than the Packers. After watching these two teams play each other twice this season, it’s hard to argue with him.

Can a team fall from potential dynasty to less-than-elite in about one year? Sure, these last two playoff losses sting, but do they really mean the Packers are no longer elite? I can see both sides of the argument:

Packers are no longer elite

  • Did you watch the game on Saturday? There is no way to use the words “elite” and “Packers” in the same sentence after that ass whooping.
  • That’s two straight playoff losses where the Packers were dominated by a bigger, stronger and more physical team. Elite teams don’t get pushed around like that.
  • The Packers struggled against other good to great teams this season. The 49ers, Seahawks, Giants, Vikings and Colts all beat Green Bay. Houston, and maybe one of the Chicago games, were their only signature types of wins.
  • The Packers lack toughness and are not able to match other team’s physically. Teams with offensive lines that are big and mean and feature defenders that are able to tackle the Packers’ receivers can contain Rodgers and push the Packers’ defense around.
  • The scoreboard and the standings don’t lie. A team that fails to reach its conference championship game two straight seasons cannot be considered elite.

The Packers are still elite

  • Aaron Rodgers is the Packers quarterback. Enough said.
13

January

Packers Defensive Struggles Go Beyond Capers

Are Dom Capers’ days in Green Bay over?

Before you read further, I want to make one thing clear: This post is not a defense of Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers. After the Packers got shredded for almost 600 yards on Saturday night, Capers cannot be defended.

Go ahead and call for Capers’ firing and criticize him all you want. He deserves it.

However, Green Bay’s problems on defense go much deeper than Capers. I don’t think there was any magical scheme that Capers could have come up with that would have stopped the 49ers from winning Saturday. San Francisco was bigger, stronger, faster and tougher than the Packers. It’s too simple to just pin that performance solely on the guy with weird hair who sits in a booth high above the field.

Look at the Packers’ linebackers. Brad Jones, Erik Walden and A.J. Hawk are no match for a team like the 49ers. An elite offensive line combined with an athletic quarterback, bruising running back, and talented tight ends? The 49ers had to be salivating all week while watching film and preparing to face that unfearsome trio.

The Packers are built to take a lead, then play aggressive defense that relies on blitzes and creating turnovers. They’re not the type of team that is able to stand toe-to-toe against physical teams and out-tough them. That’s extremely frustrating, but true.

I suppose Capers deserves some blame for his defense’s lack of toughness, but I’m not sure what he’s supposed to do to prevent Walden from losing contain over and over or Jones looking helpless trying to chase down Colin Kaepernick.

Again, Capers’ gameplan was pathetic on Saturday (no spy on Kaepernick?). There’s no excuse for it. He probably deserves to get canned.

But even if he gameplanned better, I’m not sure if the Packers could have pulled that one off. The 49ers are a better team, a tougher team. Regardless of who is calling the plays, the Packers are not a team that is able to line up and feel confident that they’re better physically than their opponent.

Getting Desmond Bishop, Nick Perry and D.J. Smith back should make the Packers defense tougher next season. Further development from Jerron McMillian should also help.

Go ahead and vent about Capers. He deserves it. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that some magic scheme could have shut the 49ers down on Saturday.