1) Introduction: With Cullen Jenkins wearing an Eagles uniform, the Packers turned to Mike Neal to replace Jenkins’ pass rush and grasp of the 3-4 defense. It didn’t work out. Letting Jenkins go and relying so heavily on Neal turned out to be a rare miscalculation by Packers GM Ted Thompson, one that played a huge role in the Packers early exit from the postseason.
Michael Jamel Neal
Weight: 294 lbs.
3) Expectations coming into the season: Up and coming. Neal was supposed to be the next man up and fill the void left by Jenkins. After starting strong, Neal’s 2010 season was cut short due to injuries. Injuries got the best of Neal again in 2011, and the chiseled DE never came close to replacing Jenkins’ production.
4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Neal’s only highlight was finally making it onto the field. From there, everything else was a low-light. Neal manged just two tackles in seven games.
5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: The NFL allows teams to put 11 players on the field. When Neal played, it ensured that the Packers took full advantage of this rule. They probably could have put Neal on the bench and only played with 10, but that would have looked silly on TV.
6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Actually, Neal’s best game came against the Giants in the playoffs. It still wasn’t a good game, but it was his best game this season. I don’t think Neal’s knee was anywhere close to 100 percent when he returned and the playoff bye week probably helped him. I still think Neal can be a player if he’s healthy, but that’s a major if right now and Packers can’t rely on him to be a contributor.
Season Report Card:
(F) Level of expectations met during the season
(D) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(C) Contributions to team during the playoffs
Overall Grade: D-——————