Category Archives: 2010 Preseason

2

March

Green Bay Packers 2010 Player Evaluations — Offense — Bryan Bulaga

1) Introduction: As the sixth Iowa player to be named Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year, Bryan Bulaga was one of the top prospects at his position going into the draft. That’s why many people were shocked when – despite his “dinosaur arms” – he fell to the Packers at the 23rd pick. In what seemed to be fate calling, Green Bay practically had to take him. Not only could Bulaga be considered the “best player available,” he was also filling a dire need for the team that allowed over 50 sacks in 2009. Many fans and media experts saw Bulaga as the Packers’ LT of the future, eventually replacing veteran Chad Clifton.

Bryan Bulaga2) Profile:

Bryan Joseph Bulaga

Position: T
Height: 6-5    Weight: 315 lbs.

Born: March 21, 1989 in Barrington, IL
College: Iowa (school history)
Drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 1st round (23rd overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft.

3) Expectations coming into the season: As a first round draft pick, many people expected Bryan Bulaga to be a starter at the beginning of the season. The problem was, however, that there was some uncertainty as to where along the line he should play. Since he was a LG-turned-LT in college, Bulaga was projected to take on one of those positions. Some people said he should only be trained at tackle, others said he was a superior option to Daryn Colledge and should be played at guard. And yet, despite his first round status and the paycheck that went with it, there was the thought that he should be groomed to start in 2011 and play as a backup in 2010.

As the preseason went on, the coaches clearly began to place Bulaga in competition with Colledge as the starting LG. Unfortunately, a hip injury sustained in training camp took him out of the running as a starter. He would be considered a solid backup offensive lineman at the start of the season.

4) Highlights / Lowlights: Bryan Bulaga saw his first significant playing time in Week 2 against the Buffalo Bills after Chad Clifton was pulled due to a nagging injury and poor performance. Proceeding to outshine Clifton as the LT in that game, many fans (and bloggers) started calling for Bulaga to take over the job permanently. If there was any doubt in Bulaga’s playing ability, it was seemingly quelled in that performance, and it gave fans a lot of hope for the future.

1

March

Green Bay Packers 2010 Player Evaluations — Offense — Daryn Colledge

1) Introduction: In a strange way, Daryn Colledge reminds me of all the public-sector employees protesting in Wisconsin. On the surface, you want to dislike the protestors. They pay next to nothing for healthcare and retirement benefits while the state runs a deficit and the private-sector struggles. But when you dig deeper, you realize there’s more to the story. Here we are less than a couple years after Wall Street fat cats, crooked home lenders, and clueless politicians wrecked our economy, and somehow we have now managed to blame teachers, 911 operators, garbage men and other public employees for all of our woes. I feel the same way about Colledge. We blamed him for much of the offensive line’s incompetence early in 2009. Then we got mad at him in the offseason when he had the audacity to be upset at the contract tender the Packers offered him. No, Daryn Colledge is not a standout lineman. But like the protesting public employees, he also doesn’t deserve all the angst that’s been spewed in his direction.

2) Profile:

Daryn Wayne Colledge

Position: T
Height: 6-4    Weight: 300 lbs.

Born: August 28, 1981 in North Pole, AK
College: Boise State (school history)
Drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 2nd round (47th overall) of the 2006 NFL Draft.

3) Expectations coming into the season for that player: Low. College allowed five sacks in two games filling in at left tackle in 2009 and that’s what most people remembered. What people don’t remember is that Colledge has spent most of his career hopping around at different positions on the OL. Once he settled at left guard in training camp, he seemed establish himself.

4) Player’s highlights/lowlights: It’s tough to point to specific highlights for a guard, but I recall noticing Colledge playing well in the first Vikings game and providing solid pass protection in the Super Bowl. He also grew a sweet beard for the playoff run. Lowlights include a horrible game in the regular season against the Falcons and a bad false start on the Packers final drive in the Super Bowl.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: The Packers are built to pass and Colledge provided solid protection all season. Playing exclusively at left guard seemed to help. Colledge doesn’t appear strong enough to hold off good edge rushers when he’s moved to tackle. It doesn’t look like Colledge will ever be a dominant lineman, but for what the Packers do on offense, he’s capable.

15

February

Green Bay Packers 2010 Player Evaluations – Defense – Sam Shields

 

1) Introduction: Remember back in August when Mike McCarthy and Packers management kept preaching about “improving from within?” As usual, the Packers were not buyers in the free agent market, and most of us wondered how the team’s horrendous pass defense could possibly improve after a rough end to the 2009 season. We were even more skeptical once it became apparent that Sam Shields — an undrafted rookie who played cornerback for only one season in college — was going to be Green Bay’s nickel back. However, once the 2010 season concluded and the Packers hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, everyone that originally questioned why Shields was given such a key role was pointing to the rookie as a major reason why the Packers were world champs.

2) Profile:

Sam Shields

Position: DB
Height: 5-11    Weight: 184 lbs.

Born: December 8, 1987 in Sarasota, FL
College: Miami (FL)

3) Expectations coming into the season: Not screw up too badly. While people questioned Shields’ skills as a DB, nobody questioned his raw ability. It became apparent early in practice that Shields could run with any WR in the NFL and hold his own when it came to quickness. Consistency was the major question mark. Could Shields avoid major mistakes that would cancel out any positive plays he makes?

4) Player’s highlights/lowlights: Highlights included a two interception, one sack performance in the NFC Championship, a sprawling one-handed interception on a pass from Jon Kitna early in the Cowboys game, and picking off Eli Manning early in the fourth quarter of the Giants game. Lowlights included getting burned by Mike Wallace for a touchdown in the Super Bowl and struggling to help out with perimeter run defense throughout the season.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Major. Shields’ consistency was his biggest contribution. Yes, he made the occasional (undrafted) rookie blunder, but not nearly as many as we thought he would. Shields’ consistency allowed Dom Capers to experiment with his defense and help cover up for a lack of manpower at LB. Because Capers did not have to devise schemes to help a struggling Shields, the Packers defense was able to get creative and take a major leap forward.

6) Player’s contributions during the 6-win end-of-season run: Several shining moments. Nothing can top Shields performance in the NFC Championship game. He helped knock out Jay Cutler with a sack, thrwarted a major momentum shift with his interception before halftime, and sealed a trip to the Super Bowl with his pick on the Bears’ final drive.

15

February

Green Bay Packers 2010 Player Evaluations – Defense – AJ Hawk

1) Introduction: AJ Hawk came in as a highly touted 5th overall selection in the 2006 NFL draft. Since then, his career can be described as “steady”; drafted as the most “NFL ready” player in his draft he has been just that, he usually is assignment sure and consistent in tackling and in coverage, but many people have called him out for not being the “impact player” warranting a top 5 pick. It will be interesting to see what the Packers do with perhaps their deepest position. All 4 inside linebackers have sizable contracts (with cover specialist Brandon Chillar receiving one last year and Desmond Bishop receiving one this year). Hawk’s contract included at $10 million base salary in the final year in order to stimulate an extension; he’s definitely not worth that much and it basically comes down to him or Nick Barnett (who has two years left on his contract).

2) Profile:

Aaron James Hawk

Position: LB
Height: 6-1    Weight: 245 lbs.

Born: January 6, 1984 in Centerville, OH
College: Ohio State (school history)    (Hawk college stats)
Drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 1st round (5th overall) of the 2006 NFL Draft.

3) Expectations coming into the season for that player: Significant role player – Hawk was a starter in the base 3-4 defense, but much was made by the fact that Dom Capers didn’t play any base 3-4 in the season opener and thus Hawk was on the bench the entire game. With the rise of Tramon Williams and Sam Shields, Capers took advantage of having Charles Woodson in the slot and the nickel defense became more “base” than the base 3-4.

4) Player’s highlights/lowlights: As stated earlier, Hawk’s steady game play rarely makes for highlights or lowlights. Hawk had a career 3 interceptions but none were of much note; his interception against the Lions was more because of Jahvid Best falling down on the play and his pick against Brett Farve was also a lucky interception as outside linebacker Brad Jones knocked Farve down while he was throwing. But perhaps most damning is the fact that Hawk had an interception against the Giants but the play failed to make it onto the highlights reel on NFL network. On the flip side, there aren’t many plays that show Hawk being straight off beaten due to back technique or mental errors. Overall, Hawks season is basically devoid of highlights but also lowlights.

15

January

Packers – Falcons Key Match Up: The No Huddle vs. the Defensive Line

The Atlanta Falcons could be described as the antithesis of the Packer’s last opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Eagles are often described as “explosive”; they have perhaps the greatest mobile quarterback ever in Micheal Vick and maybe the greatest “home run” threat in the league at the moment with wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Running back LeSean McCoy boasts a 5+ yards per carry and the rest of the Eagle’s skill position players are filled with speedsters.

To this end, this year’s Eagles ranked as one of the best at big plays of over 20 yards and Vick’s ability to buy time in the pocket and scramble often lead to more opportunities down the field.

On the other side of the spectrum are the Atlanta Falcons, lead by quarterback Matt Ryan who is about as pure of a pocket passer as there is.

At his disposable, running back Micheal Turner is known as a bowling ball and not as a speed demon and wide receiver Roddy White and tight end Tony Gonzalez, aren’t speedsters either but manage very good production with crisp route running and steady hands.

While the Eagles are a high-risk/high reward team, the Falcons are unspectacular, but they are efficient and error adverse and that plays into perhaps their greatest advantage for Saturday’s game: the no huddle offense.

The premise is pretty simple, by not huddling up you give the opponent’s defense less time to substitute players and get setup which hopefully leads to a lapse in personnel which will lead to either a mismatch or a blown coverage. The caveat to the no huddle offense is that it requires a smart quarterback who can call plays and read defenses and a team which is fundamentally sound. The Falcons have both.

And it will be a tough challenge particularly for the Packers defense. The Capers’ 3-4 defense is predicated on its complexity; blitzes can come from everywhere and from anyone, coverages can be rolled the moment before the snap.

But complexity has its disadvantages, one being that it takes a lot of time to set up. The other big factor is that communication is very important. One prime example of this was against the Indianapolis Colts during the pre-season; on the Colts first drive, the last play started with the Colts in the no huddle, they snapped the ball quick while the Packers defense was still in the process of calling coverages and adjusting assignments. The result? A ridiculously easy 17 yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon who blew by the confused secondary.

17

October

Dolphins 23 Packers 20, OT : First Impressions

The Green Bay Packers suffer their second straight overtime loss, this time at the hands of the Miami Dolphins at Lambeau Field.

A wide array of thoughts swirled around my brain as I watched the defense fight valiantly, and the offense fall flat. Here are some of them:

PREGAME:

Inactives:

Matthews, Chillar, Tauscher, McDonald, Newhouse, Pickett, Finley and Neal.

Typing “Matthews” was quite painful there…

Perhaps the biggest influence on the game could be both Pickett and Neal being out. The Dolphins would be smart to let their running game test the Packers DL, especially CJ Wilson. That would also limit the opportunities Chad Henne will have to make bad decisions. I expect the Dolphins to run a lot.

Barring injury (oh, God…) there will be few, if any snaps off today for BJ Raji and Cullen Jenkins. The Packers offense would be wise to try to eat up minutes today, letting the DL get it’s rest that way.

Donald Lee is active for the game, so that’s one positive surprise.

Comments by Mike McCarthy on WTMJ pregame show:

MM: Losing Finley doesn’t change our approach on offense.
MM: Aaron Rodgers is 100% ready today.
MM: Because of the injuries, special teams will definitely be a challenge today.
MM: Clay Matthews wanted to play, and I appreciated that, but he wasn’t 100%, so we’re not going to take a chance.

THE GAME:

Tom Crabtree shows some athleticism I didn’t know he had. Nice move after the catch…

On the Packers first series, Aaron Rodgers takes a couple of hits after the throw from his blind side. Looks like the Dolphins are overloading that side and hoping to beat Clifton and Colledge with speed rushes. Packers may need to provide some help.

Dolphins march down the field as Henne has plenty of time to find Brandon Marshall, who did a great job finding the open spots in the middle of the Packers’ zone.

On the Packers’ second series, the Dolphins knew exactly which running plays were coming on the first two snaps. You could see them talking and pointing to spots. Only a nice individual effort by Kuhn prevented both plays from being unsuccessful. Can we have a little imagination, please. Maybe a different look, please?

The Packers might want to keep an eye out for that Marshall guy…

9

September

Cheesehead Radio News – 9/2/10 – 9/9/10, News From the Packers Twitterverse and Beyond

Weekly Packers News from Twitter and other Sources by Al Bracco and Holly Phelps. (As heard on Cheesehead Radio 9/9/10 )

Packer News 9/2/10 – 9/9/10

Al: The big news this week, of course, were the cuts made to bring the Packers roster down to 53. Spencer Havner and Will Blackmon were the biggest names let go, which elicited a range of emotions form Packers fans. Many had trouble understanding the Havner move, but not this packer fan. I have said all along the Packers would not risk losing Quarless and Crabtree. It was going to be either Lee or Havner, and the Packers just had more faith in Lee to be a starter if something were to happen to Jermichael Finley.

Holly: That’s not a scenario we ever want to see, Al, but something I think we would all like to see is for Sam Shields to hold his own out there on the field. Especially since all indications are that Shields will be the Packers’ starting nickel cornerback come Sunday. Charles Woodson said as much this week, though Mike McCarthy refused to tip his hand. Shields is doing his part by hitting the playbook extra hard, and enlisting help from Charles Woodson can only help.

Al: Well Holly, with the roster being complete, the next big topic in the Packers Universe this week is who the hell is going to return kicks for the Packers? Everyone has an opinion and the Packers kicked the tires this week on Clifton Smith, a two-time Pro Bowl returner cut loose by Tampa Bay. That never got very far, probably because of Smith’s injury history and propensity for fumbling the football. For his part, Mike McCarthy indicated that he would be using Jordy Nelson on kickoffs and Tramon Williams to handle punts.

Holly: What’s even more interesting, Al, is that McCarthy even mentioned Greg Jennings would be an option at punt returner, something he has never done in the NFL. Jennings did return punts as a senior at Western Michigan, averaging 8.6 yards per return.  According to Bill Huber of Packer Report, Jennings showed impressive open-field skills by eluding … a gaggle of reporters following Monday’s practice.