5

February

Packers Running Backs: Present and Future?

DuJuan Harris - Packers Running Back

DuJuan Harris – Packers Running Back

I dig into every article I can find about the Packers and the draft, including here at Al’s site.  There is a wide range of opinions on the subject of Packers running backs.  Lets look at my views on running backs,  those with the team, and in the draft.

The Packers currently have six running backs and one full back listed on their roster.  Those include running backs Cedric Benson, Alex Green, James Starks, Brandon Saine, Dujuan Harris, Ryan Grant and John Kuhn at full back.  Grant filled a spot caused by injuries, showed he can still do a little, but like last year, just say thank you and good luck.   The question on Benson would be is he even worth bringing back?  He did ok at best. He is a talented back with mileage and age, he just turned 30 and is coming back from a foot injury that required surgery.   I don’t see any compelling reason to bring him back other then competition.

Harris looks like a very good 3rd down back that can fill in nicely when needed to start, but not a “featured back”.  He does it all pretty well.  Has a decent jump cut, might need to be a bit more patient looking for cut back lanes.  He needs to be brought back and coached up over the off season.  Starks has shown he can be productive as a runner, is a good receiver out of the back field, but needs to work on blitz pickup.  How much time do you put into a talented 6th round RB that can’t stay healthy?  I think he should be brought back, but with any additional injuries he would get a quick hook from me.

Saine, another UDFA like Harris, has good straight line speed, is a decent receiver out of the back field and quite good in blitz pickup.  His ability in Pass Protection might have been his best asset. Not a great fit for the Packers running game.  He lacks lateral agility, but has quickness and speed.

3

February

Super Bowl XLVII Predictions: AllGreenBayPackers.com

GAME PREDICTIONS
2012 NFL Playoffs: Super Bowl XLVII
Name Straight Up Against the Spread
San Francisco 49ers vs. Baltimore Ravens (+4)
Kris Burke 49ers Ravens
“Jersey” Al Bracco 49ers Ravens
Adam Czech 49ers 49ers
Marques Eversoll 49ers 49ers
Thomas Hobbes 49ers 49ers
Jason Perone Ravens Ravens
Chad Toporski Ravens Ravens

Current Standings:

Chad Toporski, 14-5
“Jersey” Al Bracco, 13-6
Kris Burke, 12-7
Adam Czech, 10-9
Marques Eversoll, 10-9
Jason Perone, 10-9
Thomas Hobbes, 8-11

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Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

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20

January

2012 NFL Playoffs Predictions, Conference Championships: AllGreenBayPackers.com

GAME PREDICTIONS
2012 NFL Playoffs: Conference Championships
Name Straight Up Against the Spread
San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons (+4)
Kris Burke 49ers Falcons
“Jersey” Al Bracco 49ers Falcons
Adam Czech 49ers Falcons
Marques Eversoll 49ers Falcons
Thomas Hobbes 49ers 49ers
Jason Perone Falcons Falcons
Chad Toporski 49ers 49ers
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots (-8)
Kris Burke Ravens Ravens
“Jersey” Al Bracco Patriots Ravens
Adam Czech Patriots Ravens
Marques Eversoll Patriots Ravens
Thomas Hobbes Patriots Ravens
Jason Perone Patriots Ravens
Chad Toporski Ravens Ravens

Current Standings:

Kris Burke, 9-7
“Jersey” Al Bracco, 11-5
Adam Czech, 8-8
Marques Eversoll, 8-8
Thomas Hobbes, 6-10
Jason Perone, 9-7
Chad Toporski, 11-5

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Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

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19

January

What Route Will Packers Take at Running Back?

Packers RB DuJuan Harris

Packers RB DuJuan Harris

For the third consecutive season, the Green Bay Packers failed to have a 1,000-yard running back.

To start the season, the Packers surprised many by signing veteran Cedric Benson and making him the starter. Benson was supposed to be “the guy” in the backfield. And while he added another dimension to the offense, he suffered a Lisfranc injury Oct. 7 against Indianapolis and was sidelined for the rest of the season.

In all likelihood, Benson will not return next season.

Second-year running back Alex Green stepped in and filled Benson’s shoes as the starter. Green showed flashes but failed to make the most of his opportunity.

So when James Starks was ready to return, the team gave him a shot as the primary ball carrier. Starks was more effective than Green, but a late-season knee injury threatened his season. Facing the possibility of putting Starks on injured reserve, the team needed a backup plan.

In comes Ryan Grant–the guy the Packers showed no interest in re-signing when he was an unrestricted free agent last summer. But desperate times called for desperate measures. Grant carried the ball 20 times for 80 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Tennessee Titans, perhaps the best game by a Packers running back all season.

But ultimately, the Packers went with second-year player DuJuan Harris, whom they called up from the practice squad Dec. 1. Harris was likely the team’s most consistent option in the backfield but may be best-suited for a change-of-pace role within the offense.

This begs the question–Who will be the Packers’ starting running back next season?

Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel suggests that the Packers are “seeking (a) leading man at running back.” There are several veteran runners scheduled to become free agents.

Among the unrestricted free agents the Packers could go after are St. Louis’ Steven Jackson, Miami’s Reggie Bush, Dallas’ Felix Jones and the New York Jets’ Shonn Greene. Jackson would be ideal, but the Packers would probably only be interested in him in the secondary market given he will be 30 in July.

The Packers have been tied to Jackson for some time, but he’s certainly declining athletically. Bush fell 14 yards short of his second-straight 1,000-yard season, and he’ll likely be too expensive for the Packers. Jones and Greene both have shown flashes, but neither player has lived up to their draft position.

18

January

Packers Drive Rewind: Good-Bye Running Game?

Mason Crosby Packers-49ers

Mason Crosby ties the game at 24-24 when the Green Bay Packers settle for a field goal on a third quarter drive.

Hopefully we’ve let enough time pass to take a look at this game again. The embarrassing effort by the defense shouldn’t overshadow some of the positive things that happened on offense. Though even they let mistakes get in their way at the most inopportune times…

The Situation

It’s the second half of the Divisional Round game, and both teams have started the third quarter with a three-and-out drive each. The Packers are trailing the 49ers by a field goal (21-24) and are looking to gain back the momentum they lost in the first half. They start their drive at their own 11-yard line after Randall Cobb fails to advance the punt.

The Result

Mike McCarthy calls his first drive of the game sans DuJuan Harris. Looking to get something going, he puts his five best receivers on the field for Aaron Rodgers to work with: Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Jermichael Finley. They drive down the field in a no-huddle offense, gaining 76 yards and eating up only 3 minutes and 31 seconds on the clock. Their efforts stall in 49ers territory, however, and the Packers are forced to attempt a field goal. Crosby ties the game at 24-24.

Play 1: Rodgers to Jennings for 2 yards

Despite being on their own 11-yard line, the Packers show their hand immediately on this first play. McCarthy has Rodgers alone in the backfield with his five receivers taking off at the snap. They run some short-route concepts here with Cobb an option for a bubble screen. San Francisco is content to keep things in front of them, running (mostly) a zone scheme. Safety Dashon Goldson has his sights set on Cobb, though, forcing Rodgers to hit Jennings on the out route to his right.

If nothing else, this play gets the engine primed for the upcoming drive.

Play 2: Rodgers to Jennings for 30 yards

Give Rodgers a nice clean pocket with time to spare and he’ll make these plays just about every time. Cobb starts out in the backfield, but motions to the left slot. On the right side, Jennings runs a deep fly route to stretch the defense. With the corner playing inside leverage and the safety running deep, Rodgers is able to connect with Jennings on the back shoulder throw. The safety is in position to make the immediate tackle, but it’s not enough to stop a 30-yard gain that really gets the offense’s motor going.

12

January

Game Predictions: Packers vs. 49ers Divisional Round from AllGBP.COM (with Podcast)

GAME PREDICTIONS
Divisional Round: Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 12-5 San Francisco 49ers 28-35
I waffled more than Brett Favre over retirement on this one. Make me the one trying for some reverse psychology this week, but the game could go either way. I think Rodgers plays outstanding but the defense learns quickly Kaepernick is no Joe Webb. 49ers won the game on a TD as time expires.
“Jersey” Al Bracco 11-6 Green Bay Packers 20-17
While all the talk about the 49ers defense is the front seven, it’s the secondary that beat the Packers the first time around. YAC were non-existent for the Packers wide receivers that day. With the Packers defense much improved since week one, I consider this a dead-even game. Can’t pick against the Packers now. Go Pack!
Adam Czech 13-4 Green Bay Packers 28-24
I’ve switched my pick at least 37 times this week. I’ve finally decided that I can’t pick against Aaron Rodgers when the other QB is Colin Kapernick. The first-year starter is dangerous, but he’s no Rodgers. Look for Rodgers to have one of those MVP-type of games, making plays through the air and running for first downs. If he doesn’t have one of those types of games, well, let’s not talk about that…
Marques Eversoll 13-4 Green Bay Packers 31-27
This has all the makings of an instant classic. I really think the winner of this game will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, and ultimately I think Aaron Rodgers outshines Colin Kaepernick in the first playoff start of his young career. The Packers are running the ball better and playing better defense than they were against the 49ers in the season opener. It will be a close game, but I’ll side with McCarthy and Rodgers over Harbaugh and Kaepernick. Packers to the NFC Championship.
Thomas Hobbes 12-5 Green Bay Packers 24-21
12

January

2012 NFL Playoffs Predictions, Divisional Round: AllGreenBayPackers.com

GAME PREDICTIONS
2012 NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round
Name Straight Up Against the Spread
Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos (-9)
Kris Burke Broncos Broncos
“Jersey” Al Bracco Broncos Ravens
Adam Czech Broncos Broncos
Marques Eversoll Broncos Broncos
Thomas Hobbes Broncos Broncos
Jason Perone Broncos Ravens
Chad Toporski Ravens Ravens
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (-3)
Kris Burke 49ers 49ers
“Jersey” Al Bracco Packers Packers
Adam Czech Packers Packers
Marques Eversoll Packers Packers
Thomas Hobbes Packers Packers
Jason Perone 49ers 49ers
Chad Toporski 49ers Packers
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons (-2.5)
Kris Burke Falcons Falcons
“Jersey” Al Bracco Falcons Falcons
Adam Czech Seachickens Seachickens
Marques Eversoll Seahawks Seahawks
Thomas Hobbes Falcons Falcons
Jason Perone Falcons Falcons
Chad Toporski Seahawks Seahawks
Houston Texans at New England Patriots (-9.5)
Kris Burke Patriots Texans
“Jersey” Al Bracco Patriots Texans
Adam Czech Patriots Texans
Marques Eversoll Patriots Patriots
Thomas Hobbes Patriots Patriots
Jason Perone Patriots Patriots
Chad Toporski Patriots Texans

Current Standings:

Kris Burke, 5-3
“Jersey” Al Bracco, 8-0
Adam Czech, 6-2
Marques Eversoll, 5-3
Thomas Hobbes, 3-5
Jason Perone, 3-5
Chad Toporski, 6-2

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Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

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