Category Archives: Chad Clifton

22

April

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

 

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Surviving Sundays With no Packers Football

If you missed the three-hour ESPN special unveiling the NFL schedule, congratulations. I was open minded enough to give it a shot, but only managed to last about five minutes before trying to leap through my living-room window.

 

Three hours to unveil the NFL schedule?! I allow the NFL and the Green Bay Packers to monopolize my life from September through January. I can’t let them do the same in April.

 

Besides, why watch an ESPN anchor read off a cue card and a bumbling former player or two unveil the schedule in Bristol, CT, when you could just visit ALLGBP.com and find out all you need to know? Here’s a link to the NFL schedule, and below are some random thoughts on the portion of the schedule that involves the greatest franchise in the history of sports, the Packers.

 

  • I was hoping the Packers would play the Giants in the NFL’s Wednesday kickoff game. I didn’t care about exacting revenge for the playoff loss, but it would’ve been nice for the Packers to get 10 days off after the season opener. It turns out the Packers will get 10 days off early in the season, but it comes after playing the Bears on Thursday night in week two.
  • I’m mad that the Packers don’t have an early October home game. Those first three weeks in October are perfect for football at Lambeau.
  • The Packers should be shooting for 7-2 by the bye week. That’s assuming they’ll go 2-2 against San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans and Houston. I wouldn’t be surprised if they go into the bye 9-0 or 8-1 (I think San Francisco comes back down to earth a little), but 7-2 would be fine.
  • The Packers generally have at least one December clunker where they lose to a bad team. The Vikings might be the bad team that beats the Packers this season. Minnesota will have two chances, the first on Dec. 2 at Lambeau and in the finale on Dec. 30. Perhaps it’ll come on Dec. 30 when the Packers are resting starters (how’s that for confidence?).
  • Speaking of that Dec. 30 game, what if it’s the Vikings’ final game in Minnesota? Do Packers and Vikings fans hug after the game and wish each other well? Do Vikings fans become Packers fans? Do Packers fans allow Vikings fans to become Packers fans? Do Packers fans continue to hate the Vikings even if they’re in Los Angeles? So many questions…
13

April

Packers 2012 Offensive Line Scenarios

Packers offensive tackle Derek Sherrod

2012 is a big season for Packers T Derek Sherrod

Injuries to Chad Clifton, Josh Sitton and Bryan Bulaga meant that the Packers offensive line never really gelled last season. Guys like Marshall Newhouse and Evan Dietrich-Smith did a decent enough job filling in, but the line never got rolling like I thought it would.

This might be a little tricky to attempt before the draft, but let’s take a look at several offensive line scenarios for the 2012 season. If/when injuries hit, what are the Packers options and potential lineups up front?

Scenario 1
LT Chad Clifton, LG T.J. Lang, C Jeff Saturday, RG Josh Sitton, RT Bryan Bulaga.

This is the ideal scenario. In a perfect world, Clifton comes back, he’s healthy and productive, and the Packers trot out the same five guys every week. We can dream, right?

Scenario 2
LT Derek Sherrod, LG Lang, C Saturday, RG Sitton, RT Bulaga

Maybe Clifton gets cut or goes down early in the season and the Packers have to once again fill a hole at left tackle. If that happens, the ideal situation is for Sherrod to come back from his broken leg and step right in, showing improvement from his rookie season and becoming the left tackle of the future. Bulaga would stay at right tackle and the future would bright. If only it was that easy…

Scenario 3
LT Bulaga, LG Lang, C Saturday, RG Sitton, RT Newhouse

Clifton is cut or hurt and Sherrod isn’t ready to start. That makes Bulaga the major chess piece in this scenario. Do you move him from the right side over to Aaron Rodgers’ blind side on the left? I would. Newhouse was adequate on the left side in 2011, but I’m confident that Bulaga would have no trouble adjusting and would be much better than adequate. On a team with Super Bowl aspirations, adequate just isn’t good enough.

Scenario 4
LT Newhouse/Sherrod, LG Lang, C Saturday, RG Sitton, RT Bulaga

If Clifton makes the team, but gets hurt during the season, I’d be fine with keeping Bulaga on the right side. There’s no need to start playing musical chairs during the season unless absolutely necessary. But what if it is absolutely necessary?

Scenario 5
LT Lang LG Evan Dietrich-Smith/Ray Dominguez/??? C Saturday RG Sitton RT Bulaga

1

April

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

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

For those looking for Adam Czech, I’m sorry to report I am not him. I’ll be filling in for him in this edition of Surviving Sunday.

Ted Thompson continued his uncharacteristic off-season by continuing to be extremely active in free agency. The Packers signed Anthony Hargrove after the move was speculated last week. So far this off-season, the Packers have added Jeff Saturday, Daniel Muir, Anthony Hargrove, and re-signed Jermichael Finley and Jarrett Bush.

The Packers also brought in Dave Tollefson, formerly a New York Giant, for a visit that began on Thursday and continued into Saturday. Whether or not Tollefson is signed, it is clear Thompson is not playing around when it comes to revamping the Packers defense.

It was clear that the Packers defense needed reinforcements, but no one could have predicted just how active Thompson would be. It makes sense with how quickly Super Bowl windows open and close. The Packers’ window to compete for and win Super Bowls in the near future is open and Thompson’s activity shows the Packers aren’t interested in waiting around to strictly develop new talent on defense.

Brian Carriveau over at Cheesehead TVhas a great piece on the Packers’ recent activity and the possible implications of the moves. In the article Carriveau points to the Packers moving towards a hybrid defense with situational role players being shuffled in accordingly.

Packers Thoughts:

The Packers made the re-signing of Jarrett Bush official. Bringing back Bush is a great move for the Packers because of his contributions on special teams. While his cornerback play leaves much to be desired, Bush fits the mold of Woodson’s role as a hybrid corner playing in the slot, blitzing off the edge and roaming around.

The NFL announced that the Cowboys have gotten the nod to play the Giants in the season opener. Many thought it would be the last two Super Bowl champions, the reigning MVP vs. the reigning Super Bowl MVP. The ratings for Cowboys-Giants will be incredible and the NFL couldn’t pass it up. It’s disappointing for Packers fans who wanted revenge on the Giants as soon as possible, but now that will have to wait until later in the season.

12

March

Packers: Scott Wells “Appears Headed” to Free Agency

Scott Wells is likely to hit free agency, which opens Tuesday.

Barring any late change of heart or mind, Green Bay Packers center Scott Wells will get to the start of free agency without a new contract from the Packers.

According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Wells “appears headed for free agency barring a last-minute deal.” The sides are still far apart on what the value of Wells’ new contract should be.

In my opinion, the two sides are playing a game of chicken, with the Packers going low and Wells going high and waiting to see which side breaks first. My guess is that the Packers are going to have to give in some, but whether it’s enough to sign Wells, I don’t know. Wells remembers that the Packers gave up on him two years ago only to see him beat out Jason Spitz for the starting job and become one of the most valuable players on the offensive line.

It appears that Wells is wanting a contract that puts him on par with the top centers in the NFL, somewhere in the $7-8 million a year range. The Packers are almost certain not to give him that kind of money, especially considering Wells will be 32 at the end of 2012-13 season and is a touch undersized for the position.

Given that wide impasse in yearly negotiations, the Packers are likely to let Wells scour the open market. Once there, it’s possible Wells will find out a harsher truth about his real value and the Packers will be able to negotiate a more cap-friendly deal for the veteran center.

GM Ted Thompson has seen this same scenario unfold with left tackle Chad Clifton and receiver James Jones, both of which got to free agency but re-signed with the Packers once they got a better grasp at what free agency valued them at.

Clifton flirted with the Washington Redskins back in 2010 but shortly returned on a three-year deal with the Packers. Jones was widely assumed to be finding a team that would make him a more targeted receiver last offseason but found no satisfying offers. He also returned on a three-year deal.

Despite that fact, Wells still has leverage in the talks because he’s coming off a Pro Bowl season and back-to-back years when many considered him one of the NFL’s top centers.

27

February

Thomas Hobbes’ Green Bay Packers Offseason Blueprint

Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson
  1. Release LT Chad Clifton: The writing is on the wall.  Even Chad Clifton knew that it was unlikely that he would ever finish his 3 year and had most of the money guaranteed up front (which was helped by the cap-less season before the lockout).  Clifton has had issues staying healthy in the twilight of his career and this year was no different with Clifton being out for the majority of the season.  Added to that a $5.5 million salary in 2012, ascending player in Bryan Bulaga, 1st round draft choice Derek Sherrod and up and at least a serviceable backup in Marshall Newhouse and the Packers have set themselves well for life after Clifton.
  2. Renegotiate Charles Woodson and Donald Driver contracts:
    1. Charles Woodson: Woodson has undeniably lost a step and his high-risk high-reward style of play backfired a couple times last season.  Woodson currently leads the Packers roster with a salary of $11.5 million, some of which was a bonus for a NFL defensive player of the year award in 2009.  But what Woodson is still capable of is shutting down the new breed of tight end, like Jermichael Finley.  For instance, Woodson is still quick enough and physical enough to handle a Jimmy Graham, and I’m not sure who else on the defense could.  Unfortunately Woodson will turn 36 next season and at some point he’s going to have to realize that aging veterans start getting marginalized.  Hopefully Woodson doesn’t let his fiery attitude get in the way of business.
    2. Donald Driver: At 37, Driver has exceeded even the greatest expectations by still being in the NFL at all.  However, his production dropped drastically with the emergence of Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson and has Randall Cobb and James Jones breathing down his neck for more playing time.  What Driver has to his benefit is experience, he’s well versed in the offense and isn’t likely to miss an assignment or a read.  What hurts him is that he’s not player he used to be and he wouldn’t survive playing on special teams.  In my opinion Driver should be retained since consistency at wide receiver (even as the 5th wide receiver) outweighs any benefits a player has on special teams.  Furthermore, I’m not convinced that any free agent/undrafted rookie would be better than Driver.  Are Cobb and Jones better than Driver?  Probably.  Are Tori Gurely or Diondre Biorel better?  I doubt it.
26

February

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

Sundays are rough without football, especially after how the Packers season ended.

I love Sundays, but I love Sundays more when football is on. Football makes you forget about your hangover from Saturday night and the fact that you have to go back to work on Monday. Football also makes you feel less guilty for lazing around on the couch all day, eating food that raises your cholesterol and swearing at your TV.

Now we’re stuck with the NBA, NHL, MLB and golf on Sunday for the foreseeable future. I like all of those sports, but none of them makes a Sunday like football. Those other sports are for the other six days of the week.

Sunday is for football.

To kill the time on these offseason Sundays, I’m going to publish Surviving Sunday: Packers New, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived.

It’ll be a regular notebook-style column that opens with a random thought or rant (like the one you’re reading now), followed by some quick opinions on a couple of key issues related to the Packers that I didn’t have a chance to cover with a full post during the week. From there, I’ll include links to must-read/must-see stories, videos and blog posts from the previous week and a preview of possible Packers storylines for the upcoming week. I’ll close each Surviving Sunday with a few words on a subject unrelated to the Packers.

I hope you enjoy reading Surviving Sunday as much as I enjoy putting it together. Anything to get in a little football on Sunday, right?

Scott Wells, Bryan Bulaga and the NFL Combine

  • Ted Thompson needs to sign Scott Wells. Unless Wells is asking for the moon because he wants his comeuppance after the Packers were mean to him early in his career, Thompson needs to make this one work. Wells is an upper-echelon center. If there’s one thing that occasionally rattles Aaron Rodgers (or any QB), it’s pressure up the middle. Wells does a good job of setting the Packers pass protection and keeping those interior pass rushers out of No. 12′s face. For what the Packers need him to do, he’s worth a 3-year deal in the $17-20 million range.
24

February

Adam Czech’s Green Bay Packers Offseason Blueprint

1) Release LT Chad Clifton, WR Donald Driver and S Charlie Peprah.
Saying goodbye to Clifton and Driver won’t be easy, but it’s time. The Packers save over $10.5 million by releasing the two veterans, money that can be used to resign Scott Wells. Ted Thompson has a good track record when it comes to drafting WRs and I’m confident he can fill Driver’s role quickley. If Clifton was healthy for even two-thirds of last season, I’d say keep him. But with Bryan Bulaga ready to take over at left tackle and Marshall Newhouse (or someone else not yet on the roster) capable of taking over at right tackle, it’s time to move on. One more thing on Driver: I wouldn’t bother asking him to take a pay cut. It’s time to move on and give Randall Cobb a chance to fill Driver’s role. As a diehard Packers fan, I hate myself for writing that, but it’s the correct move.  
 
2.) Let free agents RB Ryan Grant, DL Howard Green, QB Matt Flynn, LB Erik Walden and CB Pat Lee sign elsewhere.
It’d be nice to keep Grant around, but only if he takes a one-year deal at a bargain price. I think someone will offer him more than that and he’ll walk. Flynn earned a chance to start, and I hope a team, preferably a team in the NFC, overpays for his services. I think Flynn has a chance to be a decent QB, but I want an NFC team to overpay him and mess up their salary cap for a few years. Green, Walden and Lee are all replacement level players whose roles can be filled by just about anybody else.
 
Of course, with Finley now signed, the franchise tag is open for Flynn. Continue reading for more of my thoughts on that issue.
 
3) Re-sign C Scott Wells (3 years, $19 million), Re-sign CB Jarrett Bush (2 years, $3 million) and franchise TE Jermichael Finley (approximately 1 year, $5.5 million).
If I had to guess, I’d guess that the only reason Wells didn’t sign an extension during the season is because Thompson totally low-balled him, going below the typical “Packers-friendly deal.”  Thompson probably thinks there won’t be much interest in giving a huge contract to a 31-year-old center once he hits the open market, thus shifting the leverage in the Packers’ favor. I don’t think Thompson is completely off-base in that assumption, but I don’t think he’s totally right, either. Three years and $19 million sounds fair for both sides. The yearly salary is comparable to other top centers in the NFL and the three-year deal doesn’t tie the Packers to a player who is already on the wrong side of 30.
 
(On the flip side, perhaps Wells refused to sign an extension because he knows the Packers don’t have a replacement center on the current roster and he’s using that as major leverage. Or he’s got a major chip on his shoulder because of how the Packers have treated him during his career. Or he just wants a boatload of money. Probably some combination of everything.)
 
Signing Bush for two years would have sounded asinine a few years ago, but he’s earned a little security. Bush has been a major boost to the Packers special teams and his play in the secondary, while not stellar, has improved. I don’t see any reason why Bush can’t fill Charlie Peprah’s role as the emergency safety.
 
About Finley: I originally wrote this blueprint on Feb. 7, and the Packers signed Finley to a 2-year deal on Feb. 22. Finley’s signing opens the franchise tag for Flynn or Wells, which forced me to amend my blueprint.
 
3a) Re-sign Wells (3 years, $19 million), re-sign Bush (2 years, $3 million) and franchise Flynn only if there’s a trade already worked out.
 
Not much changes here. I still think Wells at 3 years and $19 million is good for the Packers. Ditto for Bush. It doesn’t make any sense for the Packers to franchise Flynn unless there’s a trade worked out. I really don’t think franchising Flynn now gives the Packers much additional leverage in trade talks.
 
4) Keep Charles Woodson at CB and leave him alone if he doesn’t want to re-structure his contract.
All this talk about moving to Woodson to safety needs to stop. Woodson’s best position is cornerback and that’s where he needs to stay. Woodson is a high-risk, high-reward type of player. He excels when he has a safety behind him and is able to take a few more chances that a corner probably should. Can you imagine Woodson being the last line of defense at safety? I’m not saying it would be a disaster — Woodson is an all-time great, I’m sure he’d be competent — but I wouldn’t be comfortable with a guy in his mid-30s playing safety for the first time and taking the sort of risks Woodson does.
 
On a separate issue, if Thompson approaches Woodson about re-structuring his contract and Woodson tells him to get lost, Thompson should get lost. Yes, Woodson showed his age a bit last season, but he’s still an important member of the defense. He’s always around the ball and his instincts for playmaking remain strong. Also, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields showed no sign of being able to handle the top two corner positions last season. The Packers need Woodson.
 
5) Sign free agent DE Red Bryant (4 years, $16 million)
This is the part of the blueprint where readers laugh hysterically at the author. Free agency?! The Packers?! It’ll never happen! The readers are probably right, but in case they aren’t, Bryant is a realistic option for the Packers to pursue (sorry folks, guys like Mario Williams and Brandon Carr won’t be wearing green and gold any time soon).
 
Bryant has battled injuries most of his career, but was healthy all of last season and became a force. At 6-4, 323 pounds, Bryant would fit right in at DE in Dom Capers’ 3-4 scheme. Plus he’s only 27 years old, making him more than a one-season stopgap. I don’t see Thompson signing an older guy just to plug a hole for one season, which makes signing Bryant sound even more realistic. Bryant isn’t the dynamic pass rusher that the Packers (and just about every other team in the league) could use, but I’ll remind everyone again: Mario Willaims is not walking through the door at Lambeau Field any time soon.
 
Another note on Bryant: Most reports indicate that the Seahawks will do everything they can to keep him. Even if Thompson is interested in Bryant, I don’t think he’d engage in a major bidding war for his services. Bryant is significant part of my offseason blueprint, but he’s probably buried somewhere toward the end of Thompson’s offseason blueprint.
 
I’d also look for Thompson to shop for a bargain basement cornerback or pilfer a corner off another team’s practice squad.
 
6) Follow the best-player-available method in the draft.
Between now and when the draft finally starts in April, you’ll hear analysts and fans screaming about the Packers need to load up on pass rushers and other defensive players in the draft. Let those people scream. Thompson will draft the best player available regardless of position or perceived need. And he’s absolutely right in doing so.
 
Reaching for picks that are lower on your draft board based on need is always a dangerous proposition. The odds of that player coming in and immediately filling that need aren’t always that good. Every team has needs. Every team has areas that need fixing. The Packers are no exception. As long as Thompson continues to draft the best player available on his board, the number of areas where the Packers need fixing will remain low.
 
7) Move Bryan Bulaga to left tackle.
Bulaga has improved just about every game since starting at right tackle halfway through the 2010 season. According to Bob Mcginn of the Milwauke Journal Sentinel, Bulaga allowed only 1 1/2 sacks and had a team-low six bad run blocks. There’s something to be said for continuity on the offensive line, but in this case, I think moving Bulaga to the left side would improve the line’s continuity. The last position you want to take a chance with is left tackle. The line, and the offense as a whole, can’t function like it should if Aaron Rodgers has to constantly worry about his blindside. With Bulaga over there, I don’t think he’d have to worry so much.
 
8) After a stock sale that netted millions, the Packers should not raise ticket prices.
Guess I’m a little late on this one.
 
That wraps up my offseason blueprint. To close, here is how the Packers opening day starting lineup will look if my blueprint is followed:
 
Offense
QB Aaron Rodgers
RB James Starks*
FB John Kuhn
WR Greg Jennings
WR Jordy Nelson
TE Jermichael Finley
LT Bryan Bulaga
LG TJ Lang
C Scott Wells
RG Josh Sitton
RT Marshall Newhouse*
 
Defense
NT Ryan Pickett
DE BJ Raji
DE Red Bryant
OLB Clay Matthews
ILB Desmond Bishop
ILB AJ Hawk
OLB Brad Jones*
CB Charles Woodson
CB Tramon Williams
FS Nick Collins
SS Morgan Burnett
 
Special Teams
K Mason Crosby
P Tim Masthay
KR/PR Randall Cobb
LS Brett Good
 
*Denotes players most vulnerable to losing starting job to a yet-to-be drafted rookie.
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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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