Category Archives: Frank Zombo

26

July

Packers with Physical Problems on Day 1 of Training Camp – the PUP List

Packers fail training camp physicals - injuries

Packers with injuries fail their physicals

A good number of Packers players (including some surprises) failed their physicals this week and will not be able to participate in the first days of training camp. Here is a rundown on what is know about each player so far:

Charlie Peprah:  (Released by the Packers)  A lingering knee injury caused Peprah to fail his physical and the Packers quickly decided to release him. I suppose that speaks highly of the plethora of young safeties the Packers currently have on their roster and how the Packers feel about them.  For Peprah, his best time with the Packers was certainly the Super Bowl season, but his play last year was dreadful at times, and I was considering him likely to be a camp cut anyway.

Desmond Bishop: (PUP) Bishop please! Say it ain’t so!. Desmond has a calf strain suffered in his training session last week and was placed on the non-football related injury list. He’ll be back soon.

Derek Sherrod:  (PUP) Sherrod’s recovery from the broken leg has gone very well, according to Mike Mccarthy, and the Packers expect him to be ready “soon,”, which I would take to mean sometime in the next week or two.

Andrew Quarless: (PUP) No surprise here. The severity of the knee injury he suffered last Dec 4th makes him a longshot at best to even participate in camp. I’d say he’s a lock to never be activated in camp and be on the PUP list when the season starts.

Alex Green: (PUP) Didn’t initially pass his physical. All reports are that his rehab from a knee injury has gone extremely well and the only question was whether he would be ready for the first week of camp. In a late development, Green was cleared for today’s practice and participated.

John Kuhn: (PUP) A surprise (at least to me), Kuhn is not fully healed from an MCL knee injury suffered in the playoff loss to the Giants. I remember it being described as “not serious” at the time, but Kuhn recently speculated on how much he would be able to participate and Mike McCarthy indicated he is not ready at this time.

23

July

Packers Training Camp Battles: Will Anyone Stand Up to Perry at OLB?

Nick Perry

Packers OLB Nick Perry

When the Packers open training camp, we will hear plenty about Nick Perry making the shift from a hand-on-the-ground college defensive end to a stand-up NFL outside linebacker.

No doubt, there will be plenty of adjustments that Perry needs to make as he transitions. But don’t let that fool you, Perry is the player the Packers want to rush the quarterback opposite of Clay Matthews.

There is no need to be overly concerned about Perry not yet being a well-rounded OLB. The Packers should focus most of their efforts on making Perry the best possible pass rusher that he can be. What deficiencies he may have in pass coverage or other areas can be developed over time.

If Perry turns out to be the pass rusher the Packers think he can be, the other aspects of playing OLB will come to him. Meantime, Dom Capers can create sub packages and scheme as necessary to maximize Perry’s talents and mask the undeveloped portions of his game.

After Perry and Matthews, things get interesting at OLB.

Erik Walden
The Packers brought Walden back even though he disappeared down the stretch last season after getting arrested. Most people have written Walden off, but I say not so fast.

There’s a reason the Packers brought him back. If they didn’t think he was any good, they wouldn’t have resigned him. I’m not saying Walden is going to be a breakout player, but don’t immediately dismiss him.

He’s had his moments with the Packers, including three sacks in the 2010 season finale and a two-game stretch before getting arrested last season where he totaled 15 tackles and a sack.

Bringing Walden back was a good decision. If he plays like he did before the arrest, the Packers have a solid depth player. If he looks finished, the Packers can just cut him and move on with their lives.

Dezman Moses
This year’s buzz player, Moses made everybody take notice of him during OTAs. His 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone drill times at the combine were better than Perry’s, and he was a very productive college player.

Ted Thompson seems to always find an undrafted free agent or two that sticks around. A few even make a major impact (see Sam Shields in 2010).

6

June

Packers Stock Report: Offseason Edition

Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Donald Driver

Two of the three in this pictures are rising.

A little over a week ago, a few folks over at ESPN put together NFL power rankings for the 2015 season. Yes, you read that correctly, the 2015 season.

Thanks to Aaron Rodgers, a young core of talented players on both sides of the ball and a steady front office and coaching staff, the Packers finished first in the rankings. It’s silly to talk about 2015 power rankings in 2012, but that’s what NFL nerds like us talk about in June.

Perhaps a more appropriate exercise would be to examine each team’s roster and determine which players are rising and which are falling. It’s impossible to project anything clearly all the way to the 2015 season, but if you can assign a rising/falling grade to everyone currently on the roster, you at least can get a somewhat reasonable projection of the team’s future beyond the upcoming season.

All of this sounds like the perfect recipe for a Packers offseason stock report. Which players are on the rise and which are falling? This isn’t like the normal stock reports I do during the season. Those reports go week-to-week with heavy emphasis on the last game played.

For this offseason report, I’m looking more long term. Heck, I’ll use the 2015 season as a benchmark. Between now and 2015, can we reasonably expect (insert player’s name) to get better, keep playing at a consistently good level, or regress? I’m not going to label any player as steady, either. They’re either rising or falling.

Also, it doesn’t mean that a player is bad if he’s tagged with the falling label. For example, I think Charles Woodson is falling. I don’t think he’ll be playing at his current level in 2015, but that doesn’t mean he’s bad now and should be cut.

Finally, I’m just going to look at starters and I’m not touching the rookies. We don’t know enough about the first-year guys to slap any sort of label on them.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Here we go:

Aaron Rodgers, QB: Rising. Expect Rodgers to keep playing at an MVP level well into the future.

James Starks, RB: Rising. I’m giving Starks the benefit of the doubt here. I think if he stays healthy he can be the type of running back the Packers need.

30

May

Packers Draft Picks Compared to their Current Players

Jerel Worthy and the many position battles on the defensive line will be worth watching in training camp.

I’m reading Michael Holley’s War Room: The Legacy of Bill Belichick and the Art of Building the Perfect Team. It’s a great read so far and I regret not getting around to reading it until now (it was released in November). The book tells the story of how the Patriots dynasty came to be with excellent insight into modern-day NFL scouting, team building and football operations.

The Patriots evaluate college players by comparing them to a player that is already on their roster. This requires scouts to know the pro roster as well as they know the college kids they’re scouting, and ensures that scouts are looking for more than just how big, strong and fast a guy is. Factors like how a player fits into the Patriots’ overall scheme and specialized skill sets also are taken into consideration.

This strategy has proven effective for the Patriots over the years and also makes an excellent topic for a blog post. How do the Packers draftees compare to their counterparts currently on the roster? Of course, we don’t know as much about the draftees as an NFL scout might, but we can at least give this exercise a try.

Nick Perry vs. Erik Walden/Frank Zombo/Brad Jones
If a wooden fence post was compared to Walden/Zombo/Jones, most Packers fans would probably give the edge to the wooden fence post. In terms or raw talent, there’s not much comparison between Perry and the others. The only question is fit. Can Perry play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme? Or is he a better fit as a 4-3 defensive end?

The answer to this question is who cares? I know I just spent the opening paragraphs of this post talking about scheme fit and all that other stuff, but given the Packers desperate need for a pass rusher, they weren’t allowed to be too picky with their top draft choice. There’s no rule against the coaching staff adjusting the current scheme to fit the roster if needed, and that’s what Dom Capers will do if necessary with Perry.

Winner: Perry.

4

May

Brass Balls and the Packers Defense

Frank Zombo

Frank Zombo is one Packers defender that could be on the chopping block.

If using almost all of his draft picks on defensive players wasn’t enough of a warning, Ted Thompson could re-enact Alec Baldwin’s brass balls speech from Glengarry Glen Ross on the first day of training camp if he feels the Packers defense hasn’t gotten the message.

Replace Cadillac with a spot on the roster. Replace steak knives with a spot on the end of the bench. Replace getting fired with getting cut.

Message received.

Of course, this message doesn’t need to be delivered to everyone on defense. Clay Matthews is probably the Alec Baldwin of the Packers D. He can point to his $975,000 watch and automatically command respect. Desmond Bishop and Charles Woodson can point to their own watches, which aren’t quite as big as Matthews’, but are impressive nonetheless.

Because of their ineptitude last season and infusion of new blood for the upcoming season, the following defenders who received regular playing time in 2011 could be on the chopping block. They’ll have to prove during training camp that they have the “brass balls” to play in the NFL.

Jarius Wynn
After a strong start, Wynn disappeared and became just another guy (who couldn’t get to the quarterback) on the defensive line.

C.J. Wilson
Did Wilson make any memorable plays last season? He’s another guy you can add to the just-another-guy list.

Charlie Peprah
When Peprah was paired with pro-bowler Nick Collins, he did what needed to be done at safety. Without Collins, Peprah couldn’t keep up in coverage and looked a step behind on most plays.

Frank Zombo
It seems like the Packers want to give Zombo a chance, but he can’t stay healthy. Of course, when he’s been healthy, he hasn’t exactly set the world afire.

Erik Walden
Walden was adequate last season before dropping off after being arrested. The Packers resigned him this offseason, which makes me think he’s got the inside edge in making the squad. Of course, I’m sure it’s a minimal deal and the Packers wouldn’t be hurt much if they cut him, but why go through the through the trouble of resigning a replacement-level player with legal issues if you don’t think he has a shot at getting better?

19

March

2012 Packers Position Group Analysis: Linebackers

Packers Linebacker Clay Matthews III

Packers Linebacker Clay Matthews III

Packers Linebackers: We’re back with the second of this series where we’ll examine each Packers position group as it currently exists. We’ll be addressing three main points from the Packers’ perspective: where we are, where we want to go and what we need to do to get there.

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects:

Clay Matthews (1st round)
A.J. Hawk (1st round)
Desmond Bishop (6th round)
Brad Jones (7th round)
D.J. Smith (6th round)
Erik Walden (6th round – is a free agent)
Robert Francois (undrafted)
Frank Zombo (undrafted)
Vic So ‘oto (undrafted)
Jamari Lattimore (undrafted)

Much like the defensive line spot, Ted Thompson has built this position group from the bottom of the draft up. Eight out of ten players came from the 6th round or later. I suppose that’s a bit of a necessity in today’s salary-capped NFL, especially with salaries for offensive skill players going through the roof. But it’s still a bit startling when you examine a roster closely and really see how a team is built.

Let’s start with Clay Matthews: Matthews could have been nicknamed “Fast and Furious” his first two seasons, taking the league by storm with 23.5 sacks. While sacks get the attention, getting stops in the run game are almost of the same value to coaches. To that end, Matthews was certainly lacking. There’s no better evidence than the now famous sound byte from the Steelers’ sideline during the Super Bowl. A Steelers coach is heard telling his offense they’re going to run at Matthews all day, because all he wants to do is rush the passer – he doesn’t want to play the run.

2011 was a different type of year for Matthews, but it was still a success. Gone were the high sack numbers, as Matthews was double-teamed an average of 37% of the time in 2011, and had practically no pass rush help to draw attention away from him. But other parts of his game solidified. He improved both in pass coverage and against the run, intercepting three passes, leading the team in tackles for loss and was only charged with 7 missed tackles on the year (according to Bob McGinn). So while many fans asked “what’s wrong with Matthews?”, the answer of course was, “nothing.” All he did was become a more complete player.

22

February

Packers Stock Report: 2011 End of Season Full Roster Edition

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers stock fell a bit during the playoff loss to the Giants, but it remains high heading into next season.

The Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl and there will be no more meaningful football games for the next six months. That’s six months to reflect on how a team that lost twice to the Redskins during the regular season could go on to knock off the mighty Packers in the playoffs and keep rolling all the way to the Lombardi Trophy.

Depressing.

It’s hard to find a silver lining, but if you’re searching for one, take a few minutes and look over the Packers roster. It’s pretty good. Go ahead and cross off some of the players you think won’t be around next season, and it’s still pretty good. This team is going to contend again next season, and probably for the next couple of seasons after that. At least Packers fans have something to look forward to.

We’ve spent the last couple of weeks at AllGBP.com evaluating and grading every player on the Packers roster. Those report cards are done now, and it’s time to put this season in the rearview mirror.

To get started, I put together a full roster stock report based on each player’s status heading into next season. To categorize each player, I used my own opinion mixed with how I think the Packers view that player.

For example, Donald Driver played well in the playoff loss. If the Packers beat the Giants and hosted the NFC Championship, I’d probably list Driver as rising in that week’s stock report. But since the Packers season is over, and I don’t think Ted Thompson brings Driver back, I put Driver in the falling category.

You get the idea, so without further delay, here we go:

Rising

QB Aaron Rodgers
Finding motivation is never a problem for Rodgers, but the Packers early playoff exit should give the MVP even more incentive to come out fired up in 2012.

LB Desmond Bishop
Watching Bishop motor his way through games was one of the few enjoyable aspects of this season’s defense.

T Bryan Bulaga
Bulaga took a step forward in 2011 and might take a giant step sideways to play left tackle next season.

WR/KR Randall Cobb
Thanks to Cobb, kick and punt returns became fun again.