Category Archives: D.J. Williams

25

February

The Packers should choose a different flavor of tight end

At the moment there are 3 “flavors” of tight ends; everyone’s favorite at the moment is chocolate and that would be the “oversized wide receiver” tight ends like Jimmy Graham or Jordan Cameron, who are players who can take the top off of a defensive secondary while posing a size match up for cornerbacks and safeties while causing speed problems for linebackers.  These types of players are what the NFL craves right now and with the Seattle Seahawks winning the Super Bowl with bigger more physical corners, the most logical response would be for NFL offenses to counter with big and fast tight ends who can beat bigger corners at their own game.  Strawberry would be the “move” tight end, much like Aaron Hernandez or Jordan Reed, who while aren’t the biggest or fastest have the most utility of the group, being able to operate decently as a inline tight end, out in the slot or even as a fullback in some situations (the Packers in particular love this kind of tight end).  Finally, there is vanilla, the old and boring standby of inline or “complete” tight end such as Jason Witten or Todd Heap who were capable inline blockers but could also operate as a safety value for a quarterback in the short passing game.  Each flavor has its own advantages and disadvantages and that’s fluctuated over time as offenses and defenses have evolved in the NFL.

When looking at the Packers under the Mike McCarthy/Ted Thompson regime, the flavors that appeal most have definitely been chocolate (Jermichael Finley, Brandon Bostick) and strawberry (Tom Crabtree, Spencer Havner, Ryan Taylor, DJ Williams) with almost no emphasis being placed on blocking.  And it’s easy to see why, with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers at the helm, plays could be extended, wide receivers got the majority of the attention on offense and running backs, outside of a couple years of Ahman Green in his prime, took a back seat to the offensive passing game.  Add to that the aerial explosion that occurred starting around that time and it’s easy to see why the Packers, along with pretty much every other NFL team, starting looking at tight ends more as receivers than blockers.  However, we might just start to see Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson pick a different favorite flavor this coming draft.

24

October

Charting Life After Finley

Much has been made rightly so about Jermichael Finley’s injury; I won’t go too much in depth because it’s been covered by several of my fellow writers but I will add that it’s great to hear that indications point to Finley avoiding a life-changing injury; ultimately the injury may cost him his career as a professional football player but at least he will be able to live a relatively normal life afterwards.  Going back to football, the question becomes “what do the Packer do now without Cobb, Jones AND now Finley?”  Obviously Finley was more a wide receiver than a traditional inline tight end and therefore could compensate somewhat for losing both Jones and Cobb but now that Finley is also out for the foreseeable future, what does the Packers wide receiver and tight end cores look like and how will they operate?  Keep in mind tight end is the joker of the Packers offense as tight ends often play inline, in the slot, as a fullback, as a move tight end and sometimes even on the outside; a lot of the Packers’ creativity, versatility and matchup problems come from moving tight ends around so seeing what they do with their tight ends is often a good indication of what their offense will operate.

I think the simplistic view is to look at body types and try to project players into Finley’s role.  Andrew Quarless is naturally the first option as he has the most experience and receiving production of the remaining tight ends.  Quarless is also a good blocker and thus likely would have seen time on offense even with Finley playing so playing him wouldn’t arouse as many suspicions as any other player.  The second option would be Brandon Bostick, a former wide receiver in a tight end body that has been with the Packers since 2012 who might be the most athletically gifted of the backup pass catchers.  The Packers obviously see something in him by keeping him this long and keeping him on the 53 man roster and his history as a wide receiver could help compensate for the more “wide receiver” like plays that Finley often made. However, just looking at body type and playing history is often misleading, Quarless has been in this situation before in 2010 when Finley was lost for the year with a torn ACL and did nothing with it and Bostick wasn’t even able to beat DJ Williams last year for a spot on the roster.

20

August

Packers – Rams Video Second Look: Offensive Line

Packers offensive line.There were a few things I noticed while watching the first string offensive line as they were blocking for the rather impressive Eddie Lacy. I mentioned a few in my “First Impressions” post, where I give my initial observations without rewinding. It’s a little game I like to play, a way of testing if my perception of what is happening during the game is accurate or not.

I normally get the answers when I go back and watch the game a second time, this time with the benefit of rewind at will.

Time permitting, I’m going to try to pick one or two of those first impressions and look at them together with you, in video form, every week.

Today’s topic is the offensive line’s run blocking. Although Eddie Lacy had some impressive gains, I was noticing Packers offensive linemen getting pushed into the backfield on several occasions, especially Evan Dietrich Smith and TJ Lang.

In this first video, Lacy breaks off an 8 yard run, but no thanks to Evan Dietrich-Smith (EDS), who can not handle the speed of the gap-shooting DL. Lacy. Matthew Mulligan is also beat badly, and Lacy is confronted with two ST. Louis DL in his path, two yards deep in the backfield. For another running back, this is a loss of a few yards. But thanks to his much-renowned spin move, Lacy gets away from that trouble, breaks a tackle past the line of scrimmage and then plows through a few more defenders for some extra yards. It’s good to have a real running back, isn’t it?

(Note: I slowed the play down in the second part of this video. I also recommend using the pause button to stop the action at various points to get a better idea of what is happening.)

 

20

August

Packers Stock Report: It’s Still too Early to Know Much of Anything Edition

Hey No. 21, you’re not going to tackle Packers RB Eddie Lacy with one arm.

Before I get started on this week’s Packers stock report, let’s review exactly what the stock report is and why I do it:

  • The stock report is based on more than a single game or day of practice. Generally, it takes more than one good performance to become a riser and more than just one bad day to land in the falling category. Of course, there are always exceptions.
  • The stock report is also about projecting somewhat into the future. Like any good investor, you want to buy a stock before it hits its peak value so you can sell it at a profit later when it maxes out in price.
  • If a player is playing well under the radar and it looks like he could become more visible in the coming weeks, I’ll throw him in the rising category. If he’s been playing well, but slipping a bit of late, he might end up falling.
  • The stock report is not about putting my favorite players in the rising category and putting certain players I don’t care for in the falling category. Besides, I love all players who wear the green and gold, which makes all Packers players risers!
  • Stock reports after two exhibition games are tricky. See the title to this week’s stock report. Therefore, a few of these rules might get ignored because it’s so early. Actually, all of the rules might be ignored (besides rule No. 4).

Rising

Eddie Lacy
Yup, I’m already ignoring one of the rules I laid out above. After only eight carries, I have decided that Eddie Lacy is rising. Did you see him trucking defenders on Saturday?! If that carries into the regular season and all of Lacy’s body parts that are glued on stay together, I no longer will be so scared of 3rd and 1 and the Packers might have a back who can close games in the fourth quarter.

Johnny Jolly
So far, so good for Johnny Jolly. Up until Saturday’s exhibition games, Jolly had been decent, which probably wasn’t going to be good enough to make the team. Then he came up with an interception Saturday and played a great game all around — exactly the kind of playmaking performance the Packers have been lacking from a defensive lineman since Cullen Jenkins left.

18

August

Surviving Sunday: News, Notes and Analysis from Packers Preseason

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers 

Packers beat Rams
The Packers got an exhibition win over the Rams on Saturday night. I didn’t get a chance to watch the game, but here is what I gathered about the Packers’ performance from those Tweeting while watching: First-team offense looks good, Johnny Jolly took a giant step forward, Micah Hyde has promise, Eddie Lacy is big and tough, the Packers don’t have a kicker, pass-rush from players on the first-team defense not named Clay Matthews isn’t there, D.J. Williams keeps dropping passes. For a more in-depth recap of the game, be sure to check out Jersey Al’s post.

Williams ready for week 1?
Out with a knee bruise since July 30, cornerback Tramon Williams said he should be ready for the season-opener against the 49ers. Of course, in the same interview, Williams also said he thought he’d be back by now. Never trust a player’s timetable for returning from an injury. Players always claim that the injury “isn’t that bad” or “should only take a couple of days.” They’re rarely right. I’m no doctor myself, but given how cautious the Packers are with injuries, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Williams misses at least the 49ers game.

Woodson praises Rodgers
Former Packers defensive back Charles Woodson doesn’t understand why Greg Jennings and Donald Driver were questioning Aaron Rodgers’ leadership lately. As soon as Jennings started spouting off, I remembered an interview Rob Demovsky — former Packers beat writer with the Green Bay Press Gazette and now at ESPN — did on Packer Transplants where he called the Packers wide receiving corp “the biggest group of frontrunners he’s ever been around.”  It’s scary how I remembered that quote, but it’s looking more and more like Mr. Demovsky was spot on.

Grading Packers’ rookies
Here’s a nice report card of the Packers rookies’ through three weeks of training camp. If I was the teacher, I’d probably put tackle David Bakhtiari and Datone Jones at the top of the class. I don’t think any parents need to be called in for a special conference yet.

17

August

Packers vs. Rams – Game Day First Impressions, Unfiltered: GB 19 STL 7

Packers - Rams

Green Bay Packers vs. St. Louis Rams:  2013 Preseason game 2

Unfiltered game day blog post of comments, observations and first impressions.

Inactives for today:

Green Bay PackersGreen Bay Packers
16 WR Kevin Dorsey
17 WR Charles Johnson
18 WR Randall Cobb
26 RB DuJuan Harris
28 S Sean Richardson
29 CB Casey Hayward
38 CB Tramon Williams
73 T JC Tretter
75 T Bryan Bulaga
78 T Derek Sherrod
81 TE Andrew Quarless
82 TE Ryan Taylor
87 WR Jordy Nelson
95 DE Datone Jones
99 DE Jerel Worthy

St. Louis Rams
27 S Matt Giordano
30 RB Zac Stacy
54 LB Jabara Williams
57 LB Sammy Brown
64o OL Sean Hooey
76 T Rodger Saffold
97 DE Eugene Sims

 

 GAME NOTES:

All eyes will be on the Packers offense. Mike McCarthy earlier in the week said he’s looking for a much better performance from them in this game. Since Aaron Rodgers will still get limited snaps, that means one of their backup quarterbacks will actually have to look like, you know, a quarterback.

My eyes will be looking for Eddie Lacy. Want to see if he’s as good against real competition as he looked on family night…

 

 

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Mike McCarthy Pregame Show on 620 WTMJ:

Keys to 2nd preseson game:  Develop team personality.  See guys step into leadership roles.  Have a lot of guys who need to play better and need to take advantage of opportunities with guys out injured

Eddie Lacy:  Biggest thing is how he responds.  Hasn’t played since Family Night so will play rep count by ear

Kick Returner:  Big week for Jeremy Ross.  Needs to play well at both receiver and in return game.  Micah Hyde going to get a chance to return kicks in second half as well

Mike Neal at OLB:  Mike will play in some rush situations

Quarterback situation:  Vince Young’s playlist has increased and will have more opportunities than last week.  Plan is to give Rodgers twice as many snaps as last week

Preseason play calling:  Not a big believer of calling “gadget” plays in preseason.  Save those for regular season.

Adversity defense:  How the defense prepares for the game and responds after other team makes a big play.  This is a focus this season

———————-

 

16

August

Checking Up on the Packers’ Third-Year Players

Packers RB Alex Green could have the most to lose among third-year players.

Packers RB Alex Green could have the most to lose among third-year players.

At a time where rookies are looking to make an impression, sophomores are trying to make that jump, and veterans are honing their skills, it’s easy to overlook the third-year players. These guys are knee-deep into that transition between being a “young guy” and being a “veteran.” And for many of them, it’s this transition that will make or break their careers. When a football player goes looking to sign his second contract after three or four years, he’s going to know exactly what he’s worth – both to his own team and other teams.

The third-year players for the Green Bay Packers are an interesting group, to say the least. After winning the Super Bowl in 2010, the Packers picked at the 32nd spot in the 2011 NFL Draft. It’s a double-edged sword, because it represents a great achievement, but also provides a great challenge on draft day.

General Manager Ted Thompson ended up taking ten players that day, and four of them are no longer on the roster: G Caleb Schlauderaff (Round 6, No. 179), LB D.J. Smith (Round 6, No. 186), LB Ricky Elmore (Round 6, No. 197), and their final pick DE Lawrence Guy (Round 7, No. 233). Schlauderaff was traded to the New York Jets at the beginning of the regular season, Elmore was a disappointment who left with the cuts, Guy spent a year on injured reserve before being signed from the practice squad by the Indianapolis Colts, and D.J. Smith was a semi-surprising cut by the Packers last April.

The remaining six picks and two undrafted rookie free agents have made it this far, so let’s take a quick look at where they might be headed:

T Derek Sherrod (Round 1, No. 32)

  • Fate hasn’t been kind to Sherrod. No matter what people gleaned about his abilities from his short time in training and practices, there’s no avoiding the fact that his injury killed the value of Thompson’s first round pick. Sherrod’s been off the field since December 2011, and there’s no telling when he’ll get back on, not to mention how he will perform if he does. The Packers will be as patient as possible, but the outlook just isn’t promising.

WR Randall Cobb (Round 2, No. 64)