Category Archives: 2011 – 2012 Season



Packers Schedule Analysis: The March to 16-0 (but probably 11-5 or 10-6)

Ryan Pickett

Look how happy Ryan Pickett is about the Packers 2013 schedule being released.

The 2013 NFL schedule was released Thursday night and it included three Sunday night games and a Monday night game for the Green Bay Packers.

You can view the entire Packers 2013 schedule here. You can view the entire NFL 2013 schedule here.

Here’s everything else you need to know about the Packers 2013 schedule (or at least everything I could think of and lift from other people on Twitter):

  •  The Packers once again open the season against the 49ers, this time on the road. We’ll find out right away if Dom Capers has learned how to stop Colin Kaepernick and the read-option.
  • Need an excuse to eat turkey for breakfast? The Packers play the Lions at 11:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving. I say stuff your face with food early, watch the game, then eat leftovers for dinner.
  • Let’s hope the Packers injury luck is better than last season. Green Bay’s bye comes in week four. That’s early.
  • We’ll find out a lot about the Packers right away. Their first three games are against 2012 playoff teams (@49ers, vs. Redskins and @Bengals).
  • After those first three games, the Packers get a bye, play a non-playoff team (the Lions, who are barely an NFL team, let alone a playoff team) and get right back into the grind with a week six matchup against the Super Bowl champion Ravens.
  • Plenty of variety in kickoff times. The Packers have seven noon games, four night games, four 3:25 p.m. games and 11:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving.
  • The Packers play three night games in 22 days (Oct. 27 @Vikings, Nov. 4 vs. Bears and Nov. 17 @Giants).
  • There are no back-to-back road games for the Packers.
  • Greg Jennings will return to Lambeau Field wearing a Vikings uniform in week 12 on Nov. 24.
  • The last three games could be brutal for the Packers: @Cowboys, vs. Steelers and @Bears.
  • The last seven Super Bowl champions played the NFC East. The Packers play the NFC East this season. Hmmmm….
  • Based on the schedule, it sounds like Packers training camp will open on Friday, July 26.
  • My wife and I are supposed to have our first child on Oct. 5. It looks like we may have to induce labor during the bye week to ensure that we don’t miss any Packers games.


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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Forgive me, Packers fans, I’m about to stick up for the Chicago Bears.

(*The author pauses for a moment to put on his bullet-proof vest, change the locks on his home, and take a deep breath*)

I have no problem with the Bears one year, $2 million contract offer to Brian Urlacher. I’m actually insulted that Urlacher called the offer “insulting.”

Football is a business. Good teams make roster decisions not to reward once-great players or keep local heroes around to appease the fanbase. Football has been trying to teach us this lesson over and over again, but most people will never learn it, or simply refuse to even try to learn it.

Urlacher was a free agent for the first time in 13 seasons. He’ll be 35 years old in May and he missed the last month of the 2012 season with a hamstring injury.

In the 12 games that Urlacher did play, Pro Football Focus graded him out positively in only three of them. He finished with an overall season grade of -11.3. Pro Football Focus is not the be-all, end-all of player evaluation, but from what I saw of Urlacher in 2012, a -11.3 seemed generous. I thought he was slow and a shadow of his former self.

Does a $2 million contract offer for a once-great, but now aging player coming off an injury and likely on the downswing of his career really sound that insulting to you?

It doesn’t to me.

To be fair, there are two counter-arguments to this: 1) Urlacher’s leadership means a lot and is worth more than $2 million, and 2) the Bears have next to nothing at middle linebacker now that Urlacher is gone.

I don’t know how much “leadership” is worth, especially for a player who is declining on the field. To me, not very much, but I’m not in an NFL locker room, so who knows?

Yes, it’s true that the Bears now have next to nothing at middle linebacker, but that’s still not a good enough reason to overpay for an aging player. Draft a rookie to develop. Find a younger player who could do what Urlacher did for a fraction of the price. Sign Brad Jones.



Five Options for Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley

With the NFL rumor mill ablaze during the combine, multiple sources have reported/claimed/inferred/guessed/made up/straight up fabricated news that Greg Jennings was a candidate for the franchise tag (Jennings did not receive the tag after all that) and that the Packers were getting sick of Jermichael Finley’s off the field antics and on the field inconsistency are were looking to part ways with the tight end, whether that be from trade or ultimately by cutting him.
Both situations seemed a little odd to me from a logical perspective, so what I’ve done if come up with 5 options that the Packers could choose this offseason deal with Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley.  While Jennings and Finley are almost polar opposites in terms of their play style, I think they are intertwined when it comes to the economics of the NFL as well as the well-being of the Packers according to general manager Ted Thompson
  • Option 1: Packers do nothing; Greg Jennings enters free agency and Jermichael Finley plays out his contract: This is probably the most realistic situation given Jennings’ recent comments and the historical inactivity of general manager Ted Thompson when it comes to free agent signings.  Jennings believes he’s worth $12-14 million and I’m certain the Packers disagree with that; while Jennings isn’t likely to get a contract average even close to that, he will probably get some higher offers than what the Packers are willing to offer.  On the other hand, it appears as if the Packers are still mixed on their feelings about Jermichael Finley; his up and down performance coupled with his off the field antics (such as throwing his quarterback under the bus), have apparently left some in the Packers’ front office sour.  Unfortunately, Finley also possess the capability to single-handedly break a defense and the Packers will likely give the mercurial tight end one more year to prove he’s worth the money.  Probability: Very likely

  • Option 2: Packers resign Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley plays out his contract: In essence this boils down to what sort of market Greg Jennings finds himself in once free agency starts; if it’s a very soft market, Jennings may find that playing with a star quarterback and a stable organization worth more than the slight increase in salary that another team offers.  The Packers lowball Jennings at around $5-6 million per year and he begrudgingly accepts. While it’s unlikely with a player of Jennings’ caliber, James Jones ran into the same problem when he entered free agency only to find no real interest in his services.  In this situation, Jennings’ resigning doesn’t put significant pressure on the salary cap nor the Packers’ capacity to re-sign/sign other players and the Packers let Finley play out his contract to see if he’s worth resigning next year. Probability: Likely


Packers Safety Morgan Burnett: More Valuable Than We Think?

Morgan Burnett

Burnett offers a lot of promise for a young Packers secondary (Photo from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

In looking at the Pro Football Focus grades for Green Bay Packers safety Morgan Burnett’s 2012 season, something stood out to me.  The longest pass that he was charged with this past season was 27 yards.  It’s never good to give up long pass plays and a 27 yarder is nothing to be proud of.  I also realize that it may have been one of the two tocuhdowns that Burnett was charged with.  I didn’t dig that far, but I’m looking at this from a “face value” perspective.

It made me wonder if Burnett is more valuable to the Packers defense than most would think.  Let’s look at this little nugget a bit further.

Of all NFL safeties who played at least 1,000 snaps in 2012, only TJ Ward of the Cleveland Browns’ 22 yard longest pass allowed was shorter than Burnett’s.  Pittsburgh’s Ryan Clark played 909 snaps and his longest pass allowed was just 18 yards.

Again, there are a lot of factors that go into these stats such as defensive scheme, the other defensive backs around a player, the team’s pass rush and time opposing quarterbacks had in the pocket, etc.  So with that in mind, let’s simply look at the fact that the Packers faced Detroit’s Calvin Johnson twice and Chicago’s Brandon Marshall twice.  No small task and one that certainly requires safety help.

Johnson was the league’s best wide receiver in terms of yards in 2012.  The argument can be made that defenses were more able to double and triple Johnson because there was no clear #2 receiver opposite him.  That’s true, but Johnson is the type of receiver who can still take over and get his yards anyway.  To game plan and cover him takes 60 minutes of being aware of where he is at all times.  One of the touchdowns that Burnett was charged with came against Johnson.  It should have been an interception.  Burnett let the ball slip through his hands but he was in perfect position to pick it off at the goal line.

The Packers also faced Chicago’s Brandon Marshall twice and while Burnett didn’t do it alone, he was key in nearly shutting Marshall down in week two.  While there were no deep balls to defend in that game, Burnett should be credited for not allowing any to develop also.  In the second matchup, Marshall’s longest catch was just 15 yards.



Packers Aaron Rodgers: 2012 Player Evaluation and Report Card

Aaron Rodgers

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

1) Introduction: It was a grind at times for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Things didn’t look quite as easy as they did in 2011. When injuries mounted and adversity came and went, Rodgers kept the Packers in games and came through in the end more often than not. It wasn’t an MVP season, but it wasn’t far off.

2) Profile:

Aaron Rodgers

  • Age: 29
  • Born: 12/02/1983, in Chico, CA
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 225
  • College: California
  • Rookie Year: 2005
  • NFL Experience: 8 years

Career Stats and more:

3) Expectations coming into the season: 8,000 yards, 108 touchdowns, 1 interception and a QB rating of 607.3. Seriously, I think some people honestly expected those numbers from Rodgers. His 2011 run might have been a once in a lifetime thing. It’s unfair to expect that to happen every season, maybe ever again. Rodgers ended up leading the league in passer rating for the second straight season and made several plays when he had no business making a play. It was another great season, regardless if he failed to meet some people’s unrealistic expectations.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: This was my favorite Rodgers’ throw of the season. Amazing. Other highlights include the big game against Houston, making plays down the stretch at Lambeau against the Vikings and recovering nicely from an interception to beat the Saints in a must-win early-season game. If I could change one thing about Rodgers’ season, it would be the interception against the 49ers in the playoffs. Rodgers hasn’t had a holy crap that was awesome! type of playoff game since the Super Bowl. That needs to change.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: God knows where the Packers would be without Rodgers. We get mad at him for holding the ball too long and struggling a bit against two-high safety looks. Those criticisms are valid as long as you realize that we’re holding Rodgers to a ridiculously high standard. Yes, it’s a standard he should be held at, but it can be easy to get carried away if Rodgers isn’t flawless and the Packers don’t roll to easy victory after easy victory. The Packers are mediocre at best without No. 12.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: The postseason hasn’t been Rodgers’ time since the Packers won the Super Bowl. He hasn’t been terrible, but he’s looked tentative and just a little off at times. That was the case again this season. The 49ers loss wasn’t Rodgers’ fault, but the Packers need him to play better if they want to make another Super Bowl run.



2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Defensive Line

Next up in the’s positional group analysis is the defensive line, who while showed some improvement from their disastrous 2011 season was still probably the reason behind their playoff collapse this year.

Where Are We Now

Here are the current suspects;

  • BJ Raji (1st round, 2009)
  • Ryan Pickett (1st round, 2001)
  • Mike Neal (2nd round, 2010)
  • CJ Wilson (7th round, 2010)
  • Jerel Worthy (2nd round, 2012)
  • Mike Daniels (4th round, 2012)
  • Philip Merling (2nd round, 2008, cut week 4)

So that’s where we are.  Thompson has made quite an effort to shore up his defensive line, with three 1st or 2nd rounders in the last four years.  However, despite Thompson’s focus on the defensive line, not much good has happened.  BJ Raji hasn’t been as dominant a force as he was in the 2010 Superbowl season, Mike Neal is essentially starting his sophomore campaign with all the injuries he suffered and rookie Jerel Worthy looked like a raw rookie before suffering an ACL injury.

  • Raji: Raji spent considerably more time as a defensive end this year than as a nose tackle (536 snaps at DE vs. 123 at NT) and overall as I’ve written in my previous articles this is probably the best move for the Packers as defensive ends are much more important to a 3-4 defense than nose tackles.  While Raji definitely had a better season than his lackluster 2011 campaign, it still pales in comparison to his 2010 season where he earned the nickname “the freezer”.  One distinct possibility is that Raji is starting to wear down due to all the snaps that he’s had to take since there were no other viable DL around, but the addition of Worthy, Neal and Daniels will hopefully allow the Packers to have a decent DL rotation.
  • Pickett: Pickett again was a consistent performer in the middle, while he’s never going to really get the sacks or tackles to make fans notice, he does hold up double teams and do the dirty work for the rest of the defensive linemen and linebackers.  However at 33 Pickett is certainly in the twilight of his career but surprisingly is playing more snaps ever year since 2009; this obviously can’t continue to happen for a guy at his age and size so chances are good with Raji perhaps spending the majority of time at DE, we could see the Packers look for a replacement at nose tackle.


Packers Mike Neal: 2012 Player Evaluation and Report Card

1) Introduction: With the departure of Cullen Jenkins to the Eagles via free agency after the 2010 Super Bowl campaign, the Packers drafted the Purdue lineman in the 2nd round.  After that, nothing has really gone right in his career.  Neal has constantly been hurt, often landing on IR and to make matters worse, Neal was suspended for the 1st 4 games of the season for taking a banned substance, later found out to be Adderall (which also ironically started a trend in the NFL players using Adderall).

2) Profile:

Michael Jamel Neal

  • Age: 25
  • Born: 06/26/1987, in Merrillville, IN
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 294
  • College: Purdue
  • Rookie Year: 2010
  • NFL Experience: 3 years

Career Stats and more: 

3) Expectations coming into the season: Optimistic skepticism was probably all that Neal garnered at the beginning of the year.  While Neal has the physique and strength to dominate the 3-4 DE spot, the fact that Neal could never stay on the field contributed to the Packers lack of faith in relying on Neal alone.  Added to the fact that he was banned from the 1st 4 games left many feeling that anything positive from Neal was good enough

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Neal’s best performance was definitely against the Bear in week 15 where he recorded 2 sacks, 2 quarterback hurries and 1 negative offensive play (though it should be said that Jay Cutler does seem to love getting sacked by the Packers for some reason).  His low-light was definitely getting banned for the 1st 4 games of the year and hoping that the Packers still wanted him enough to drop Philip Merling, his replacement.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: While Neal didn’t do all that much in the 1st half of the season, once he got settled down, Neal was fairly consistent as the pass rusher opposite to Clay Matthews.  Neal will have to work on his run defense (which is odd considering his massive strength), but Neal was arguably the best pass rusher on the defensive line.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Neal played fairly well against the Vikings, recording 1 quarterback hit and 4 hurries but again was part of the line that was destroyed by Colin Kaepernick in the divisional round.


Season Report Card:

(C) Level of expectations met during the season

(C-) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(C) Contributions to team during the playoffs