Category Archives: Team Units

26

March

Why Haven’t The Packers Resigned Matt Flynn?

Matt Flynn

In case anyone forgot, the 2013 Packers will always be remembered as the “oh shit, Aaron Rodgers got hurt” season.  After Rodgers broke his clavicle against the Bears, it became quite apparent that the Packers front office had been unusually caught with its collective pants off by having no viable backup to keep the team afloat.  This all started in training camp and the preseason as the Packers cut incumbent backup quarterbacks Graham Harrell and BJ Coleman, leaving former 1st round pick and overall bust Vince Young as the presumed backup, only to release him at the 53 man cut deadline.  After all that, the Packers front office signed Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien to actually backup the season.  Obviously the football gods didn’t look favorably to all this as Seneca Wallace got hurt almost immediately into his first start for the Packers and left an unproven and inexperienced Scott Tolzien to start for the Packers against the Giants and part of the Vikings game.  It was only when the Packers got to “plan F” did they get really desperate and call back old buddy Matt Flynn, who took over halfway into the Vikings game, managed to scrape a couple of tight wins against the Falcons and the Cowboys and managed to do just enough to keep the team afloat until Rodgers came back to play the Bears in the season finale with playoff hopes on the line.

This story is something that the Packers can ill afford to repeat; in all honestly the Packers did not get into the playoffs last year, the Bears and Lions were just even less deserving of a playoff berth.  So the question really becomes, why are the Packers repeating 2013 by not resigned Matt Flynn and what reason could they possibly have?

Matt Flynn would not be an expensive backup, after bombing out in Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo, its pretty apparent that the only team that has any value for Flynn is the Packers, and thus his asking price would be low due to no competition for his services.  There has been no news of Matt Flynn taking any visits with any other teams and no rumors that any other team is even interested.  Furthermore, Flynn missed out on the free agent signing rush, where some backup quarterbacks commanded as much as a $5 million average over 2-3 years.  As such, the best Flynn will likely see is a 1 year veteran minimum, which for a player with 6 years of experience means $730,000.

14

March

BJ Raji Signs 1-year, $4 million contract with Packers

B.J. Raji 2012

B.J. Raji

The Packers and Ted Thompson continue to resign their own guys (much to the dismay of Frank Schaub apparently), Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that defensive end/nose tackle BJ Raji has resigned with the team for a 1-year, $4 million contract; specifics of the deal have not been made public but this post will be updated to reflect incoming news.

 

Raji has largely been criticized for his lackluster play since teasing fans with his potential in early in his career and being dissatisfied playing in a 3-4 scheme where defensive linemen rarely get the accolades or attention of the 4-3 brethren.  The icing on the cake for fan scorn was walking away a multi-year deal that was supposed to pay him roughly $8 million yearly, naturally this is all just hearsay and the structure of the deal (i.e. the guaranteed portion) might have been poor but nevertheless, an abysmal season after betting on himself drew the ire of fans and media alike.

Free agency apparently was ice cold for Raji as no reports have surfaced of him visiting any other team and Raji has not been linked or to be of interest to any other team (there were some rumors linking Raji to Oakland and Kansas city, with obvious connections in the front offices).  Last reported news from Raji prior to his signing was that he was “mulling” over a 1-year contract offer from the Packers.  From the looks of things, Raji was forced to take a 1-year “prove it” contract with the Packers as no other suitors came calling.  Without knowing guaranteed money and incentive clauses attached to the deal, this looks like a pretty good signing for the Packers, who get an experienced defensive linemen who will be playing hard for his pay day (although why this didn’t help last season is a mystery) and when at his best can be a disruptive force in the middle.

The Packers have been reported to be looking at Raji only as a nose tackle (where he has had the most success), which likely means Ryan Pickett is now less likely to be resigned (although the Packers might still resign Pickett if the price is right), with Josh Boyd most likely as the backup nose tackle.

14

March

Channeling Fire Joe Morgan about Packers GM Ted Thompson and NFL Free Agency

I decided to go all Fire Joe Morgan on this piece written by Frank Schwab at Yahoo Sports about Packers GM Ted Thompson and NFL free agency. Enjoy.

In 2006, Packers general manager Ted Thompson signed cornerback Charles Woodson in free agency, and it was one of the best moves he ever made.

Ok. A good start to this post. I agree with that statement.

You’d think that experience would give Ted Thompson the warm and fuzzies about free agency and he’d spend his time chasing the next Woodson. Instead, Thompson might be off on vacation this week. Wherever he has been, he hasn’t been signing any players.

Starting to go off the rails a bit now. Thompson didn’t “chase” Woodson. He signed him well after free agency opened. I think part of the reason Thompson doesn’t dive into the opening frenzy of free agency is because it is a “chase.” Chasing to fill this roster hole or plug that weak area. Chasing a big-name veteran who fans are familiar with. Chasing the notion that you have to “DO SOMETHING!!!!” to get better like the other teams around you. Those types of chases are from guaranteed to pay off. Oh, and the “Ted Thompson goes on vacation” thing became an eye-rolling cliche three years ago.

Green Bay didn’t sign one player, outside of retaining his (sic) own free agents, in the first three days of free agency.

Gasp!

It’s not like they don’t have needs. A stud left tackle would have been great, allowing David Bakhtiari to move inside to guard. Any of the top centers would have worked. A pass rusher would be swell. They could have spent on a big-time safety, and it’s not like Antoine Bethea, T.J. Ward, Donte Whitner or guys like that got a ridiculous amount of money.

Sign a stud left tackle and move a promising, young and inexpensive left tackle to guard when you already have one pro bowl guard and another guard coming off his best season (and Bryan Bulaga coming back from injury)? Was there a “stud left tackle” on the free-agent market this year? I didn’t see one. Stud left tackles, like stud QBs, typically don’t make it to free agency. If the Packers re-sign Evan Dietrich-Smith, that’ll meet the “any of the top centers” criteria. Yes, a pass rusher would be swell. Let’s see what the remaining days of free agency bring (yes, free agency lasts more than a couple days). Finally, none of the safeties Schwab lists are “big time.”

12

March

NFL Free Agency: Green Bay Packers Re-Sign DE/OLB Mike Neal

NFL, Green Bay Packers, Mike Neal, NFL Free Agency, Packers Free Agents, Packers free agencyAccording to his Twitter feed, defensive end/linebacker Mike Neal has signed a new two-year contract with the Green Bay Packers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Neal had his most productive season in 2013, but that was mainly due to the fact he was finally able to remain healthy for a full season.  Neal had 47 combined tackles, five sacks, one forced fumble and one interception in a season where he was moved from the defensive line to a linebacker position.

A second round pick of the Packers in 2010, Neal showed flashes of being a decent pass rusher during training camp but never was able to remain healthy and only saw action for more than half a season in 2012.  Neal had been rumored to be target by the Chicago Bears and the Arizona Cardinals, but ultimately chose to remain a Green Bay Packer.

With Neal’s return, it’s becoming clear no major defensive scheme overhaul is in order for the Packers this offseason. Moving Neal back to his original position on the defensive line however would indicate Green Bay wants to get leaner at the position.   There is also the possibility Neal could be moved all over the front seven as a pass rush specialist, lining up both with his hands on the ground as well as standing up.

This move at the least sets the stage for more competition throughout the unit as training camp approaches.  Neal is still young and has a lot to contribute.  He has natural athletic ability and now that he’s proven he can stay healthy, Neal could be critical towards Green Bay finally establishing a consistent pass rush.

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

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11

March

Packers Free Agent Receives Medical Clearance

Packers DL Johnny Jolly

Free agent defensive lineman Johnny Jolly takes the first step to a return to football following neck surgery

Free agent defensive lineman Johnny Jolly sent out a tweet early Tuesday that indicated that he has been medically cleared to start working out following neck fusion surgery in early January.

Jolly needed the procedure to repair a bulging disc in his neck between the C-5 and C-6 vertebrae.  Currently, he is a free agent and as of 4pm EST today, is free to sign with any team.  No reports about any interest from the Packers, or any team, for that matter, have surfaced so far.

It is not yet known when Jolly would potentially receive clearance to return to football activity.  Whenever that is will likely be when we start to hear about teams’ interest in Jolly.

Here we are again, talking about a neck fusion procedure on a one-time Packers player who could potentially return, if he is cleared.  Besides Jolly, Jermichael Finley and Sean Richardson have both undergone neck fusion surgeries of their own in the past few years.

Finley has not yet been cleared to return to football activity but is expected to meet with interested teams soon.  Richardson returned late last season.  Former Packers safety Nick Collins had neck surgery in 2011 and is still trying to return to the game he loves.

By now, the Packers should be experts in the timeline and recovery of football players from such a procedure.  Still, every player is unique in how they heal.  Finley’s injury was to the same area of the neck as Collins.  The Packers felt it was too risky to bring Collins back and he was released shortly thereafter.  Jolly’s surgery was lower on his neck, which would seemingly increase his chances of being cleared and reduce his risk of re-injury.  This was the case with Richardson as well.

Jolly’s return to the NFL and the Packers last season was one of the bigger “feel good” stories of the 2013 season.  After missing three full seasons due to a suspension for drug use, Jolly cracked the Packers roster and provided valuable depth on the defensive line.

With the Packers potentially parting ways with some of their other defensive linemen, Jolly could become a viable option to bring back if he does, in fact, gain clearance to play again.  B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett and C.J. Wilson are all currently unrestricted free agents and their return to the Packers is not certain.

7

March

Dom Capers Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

dom capers

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers

1) Introduction:  Ever since the Packers won the Super Bowl in 2011, Capers’ defenses have been banged up, overmatched, pushed around and just plain lousy. The backlash against Capers has gotten so loud in Green Bay, there is actually a small backlash to the backlash going on. You know the backlash is bad when people start backlashing against the Capers backlash.

2) Profile:

Dom Capers

  • Age: 63
  • Born: 8/7/1950, in Cambridge, OH
  • NFL Coaching Experience: 28 years

Biography and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Build a more physical defense. It worked the first part of the season. Then injuries started wiping out key players and most of the middle of the defense completely disappeared.

The Packers in 2013 weren’t a complete mess on defense like they were in 2011. At times they were even better than they were in 2012. But at no point in the season did you ever feel like this defense was good enough to step up and carry the team for an extended stretch, if needed. They just weren’t good enough.

4) Season Highlights/Lowlights:  With Aaron Rodgers out and the Packers needing late defensive stops to have a shot at stealing games against Chicago and Philadelphia in weeks 9 and 10, Capers’ defense went in the tank. The Bears held the ball for almost 9 minutes to seal the game and the Eagles for 9 minutes, 32 seconds to wrap up the victory. The defense also looked absolutely helpless in a blowout loss to Detroit on Thanksgiving.

Highlights included holding the Lions (without Calvin Johnson) to nine points in week 5 and coming up with a gritty performance the following week against Baltimore to help the Packers win despite several key injuries.

5) Contribution to the overall team success:  I don’t know…do we give Capers credit for Sam Shields’ interception against the Cowboys? Do we pat Capers on the back for not allowing the Bears to score after the Rodgers-Randall Cobb miracle in Chicago?

This is where it gets tricky with Capers and why the people backlashing against the Capers backlash have a point: We get all ticked off at Capers when the Packers defense gets run over, then give credit to individual players instead of Capers when the Packers defense does something positive.

6

March

Packers Reportedly Nearing Deal with Free Agent D-Lineman

B.J. Raji

The return of Raji would maintain some continuity on a defensive line that stands to see many changes this season

The Green Bay Packers are reportedly closing in on a one-year deal with free-agent-to-be and defensive lineman B.J. Raji.  This news came according to Adam Schefter at ESPN and via Jason Wilde at ESPN Milwaukee:

This news comes as a bit of a surprise to some, as the talk about Raji seemed to center around his wanting to possibly play in a different type of defense.  There was also talk about the Packers wanting to get more athletic on the defensive line, something that may not bode well for a lineman tipping the scales at close to 340 pounds.

No figures have been announced or released yet, but the fact that Raji would be taking a one-year deal in Green Bay versus testing the free agent market likely signals that he may not have felt that he would receive the type of offer he wanted.

Statistically speaking, Raji had one of his poorest seasons in 2013, tallying just 17 tackles and only three for a loss of yardage.

Another signal of this potential Raji deal could be the Packers intentions early in May’s draft.  With Raji returning, there would seem to be less chance that the Packers would be looking at a defensive lineman in round one.  Anything is possible under Ted so don’t rule it out, but it would at least appear that Green Bay has their eyes on another position early on.

Stay tuned for contract details if and when they are announced.

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.com

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