12

August

Word of Hobbes: Marshall Newhouse and David Bakhtiari

One of the best football writers out there is Ben Muth; many people claim not to know much about offensive line play, but this man obviously is not one of them.  If you don’t follow or read his stuff, stop reading this article and head over there now,  you’ll thank me later.  In a little bit of a homage, I’ve decided to do a “Word of Hobbes” on the Packers preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals.  I choose Aaron Rodgers’ 50 yard bomb to James Jones not because it was a big play, but because Rodger’s held on to the ball longer than he probably should have, thus forcing the offensive linemen to hold their blocks a lot longer, which exposes technique and athleticism.

Screen shot 2013-08-11 at 8.10.11 AM

The Packers are in a 3-1-1 personnel group (3 WR-1TE-1RB), although since we are looking at offensive tackle play this is largely unimportant; perhaps the most important thing to note about the receivers is that neither the tight end nor the running back are responsible for any blocking assignment, both immediately go out on their routes without chipping or really trying to influence the defensive line.  So for all intents and purposes this is a straight 5 OL vs 4 DL battle. As this is the preseason, you aren’t going to see many complicated stunts or exotic blitzes, so really it’s a 1 on 1 battle with rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari vs. Matt Shaughnessy and right tackle Marshall Newhouse vs. Calais Campbell.  Also keep in mind Newhouse has the bigger issue on his hands as Campbell is a considerably better pass rusher than Shaughnessy and is also huge at 6’8″

Untitled1_0000_Screen shot 2013-08-11 at 8.13.46 AM.png

Immediately after the snap Campbell goes for a swim move, and Newhouse makes matters worse by completely whiffing on his initial punch with his right arm (which you can see is at Campbell’s left arm instead of on his frame).  Shaughnessy on the other hand opts to go with a pure speed pass rush, either hoping to outrun or outturn Bakhtiari to the quarterback.  However Bakhtiari easily matches Shaughnessy with his kick slide.  Also notice how much lower Bakhtiari and how much more his hips are sinked compared to Newhouse, who due to his whiffed punch now is up close with Campbell

Untitled-2a

11

August

Surviving Sunday: News, Notes and Analysis from Packers Preseason

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

If you missed the Packer’s preseason game on Friday Night, good for you! It was about as ugly a display of football as we’ve seen around here for a while.

Luckily, it was the only the first preseason game.  Realistically, when talking about anything that happened in this game, one must start with, “It was only the first preseason game, but…”

So that’s what I’ll do.

It was only the first preseason game, but, the secondary was just awful.

The depth at cornerback we’ve all been talking about might be a mirage. One thing I’ve learned over the last five years, those of us that follow the Packers close enough to know about all 90 players on the training camp roster tend to overvalue the guys on the backend of the roster. We all read articles about this guy or that guy who might be the “unheralded diamond in the rough,” that we tend to convince ourselves that they are better than they really are.  We especially see it every year with the final round of cuts as we try to predict the roster and practice squads. Every year there are players put on the practice squad that we all figured would get snapped up by another team. And you know what, it hardly ever happens. So when it comes to Davon House, Micah Hyde, James Nixon, Loyce Means, Brandon Smith, David Fulton, Chaz Powell and Chris Banjo, they have yet to show they are as good as their press clippings make them out to be.

It was only the first preseason game, but, it became perfectly clear why the Packers felt they needed to bring in another quarterback. Graham Harrell does not have the tools to be anything more than what he’s been, a below-average quarterback who still looks like the game is too fast for him. BJ Coleman, who has the tools, has not made the jump we kept reading about in his second year, at least during game action. Pperhaps in practice he has looked good, but in real game action so far, he has been shockingly bad. I had high hopes for Coleman when the Packers drafted him, and from what I’ve seen so far, he seems to have regressed. Some of his passes were so off the mark, you were left wondering who he was throwing to. Perhaps he was betrayed by a WR running the wrong pattern at times, but overall, he was putrid.

10

August

Rooting for Johnny Jolly and Rehabilitation

Johnny Jolly vs. Arizona Cardinals

Johnny Jolly displays some playmaking ability against the Arizona Cardinals in preseason action.

I have never had first-hand experiences with drugs or drug abuse. I’m proud to say that not once in my life have I ever used tobacco products, smoked pot, or used illegal drugs. I’m also thankful to say that I am surrounded by family and friends who don’t abuse drugs or alcohol. So on a personal level, I don’t fully understand the struggles that drug addicts in PA, NJ or any state deal with on a daily basis; however, I do know about them. And I understand it’s not an easy battle to fight.

Johnny Jolly’s story is well known among Green Bay Packers fans and most NFL fans. He was drafted by the Packers in 2006 during the sixth round, and it didn’t take long for him to prove that he was a steal at that spot. Unfortunately, he was arrested for codeine possession on July 8, 2008. Charges were dismissed soon after, stemming from the police obtaining new drug measuring equipment, yet they were refiled in December 2009.

Two years after his initial arrest, with Jolly’s trial finally approaching, the NFL suspended him indefinitely. Jolly was arrested again on Match 25, 2011, for possession of and intent to distribute 600 grams of codeine. That November he was sentenced to six years of prison for violation of his probation.

Six months later, Johnny Jolly was granted early release with a1 0-year shock probation, and almost a year later he was granted reinstatement to the NFL. Now, three years after his suspension, he is back with the Green Bay Packers, rehabilitated and fighting for his career.

Fans have responded to his personal and legal problems with a wide mixture of opinion and support. There was plenty of initial frustration with him throwing his life and promising career away simply for drugs and “purple drank.” There was compassion by some for his addiction, because they knew it’s not an easy thing to deal with. There was rejection by those who felt Jolly wasn’t taking responsibility for his actions, especially after the second arrest.

But now there seems to be a lot of growing support for his rehabilitation and a spot on the team.

FIGHTING DRUG ADDICTION

9

August

Packers vs. Cardinals – Game Day First Impressions, Unfiltered: AZ 17 GB 0

Packers Coach Mike McCarthy

I think we might need some better brainwashing…

Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals:  2013 Preseason game 1

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

Inactive for Packers today: 

16 WR Kevin Dorsey
17 WR Charles Johnson
18 WR Randall Cobb
26 RB DuJuan Harris
27 RB Eddie Lacy
28 S Sean Richardson
29 CB Casey Hayward
38 CB Tramon Williams
73 T JC Tretter
75 T Bryan Bulaga
77 T Andrew Datko
78 T Derek Sherrod
81 TE Andrew Quarless
82 TE Ryan Taylor
87 WR Jordy Nelson
96 DE Mike Neal
99 DE Jerel Worthy

Inactive for Cardinals today:

10 WR Robert Gill
18 WR Kerry Taylor
23 CB Jamell Fleming
34 RB Ryan Williams
48 LB Dan Giordano
55 LB Karlos Dansby
57 LB Alex Okafor
71 G Daryn Colledge
83 TE Kory Sperry
87 TE Jeff King
92 DT Dan Williams
95 DT Ricky Lumpkin
— DE Cordian Hagans

 GAME NOTES:

All eyes will be on Davis Baktiari, entrusted with protecting Aaron Rodgers’ blind side with Bryan Bulaga lost for the season. Can the fourth round draft pick step right in to a starter’s role as a rookie? First test is tonight.

You never could have convinced me that Giorgio Tavecchio had a snowballs’ chance of unseating Mason Crosby as the Packers placekicker. Until Family Night happened. While I’d still be shocked is Crosby lost this battle, this has actually gotten interesting and might just be a real competition, not the sham I thought it was.

Vince Young is slated to see some time in this game, running I’m sure, a very limited offense. By all accounts, he’s been awful in practice. Should be interesting…

 

———————————————

 

Mike McCarthy Pregame Show on 620 WTMJ:

Ready for another team: You get to this point every year when you are competing against your teammates in the dog days of August…

Game Priorities: From an offensive standpoint, calling plays. I’m basically going to call four different games tonight.

Bulaga: We’re giving David a chance to play left tackle, Marshall Newhouse has experience there, so I have confidence in him at that spot. Don Barclay is also a fine player that we can use at either tackle spot.

8

August

Thursday 8/8 Packers practice: Calm before the storm

What I learned at Thursday's practice: Aaron Rodgers can throw a football.

What I learned at Thursday’s practice: Aaron Rodgers can throw a football. Pretty well.

The Packers will kick off the 2013 preseason tomorrow night at home against the Arizona Cardinals.

On Thursday morning at Ray Nitschke Field–the final practice before exhibition games start–the team opted to practice in shells, despite the fact that it was originally scheduled to be in full pads.

It was a slow-paced practice without many memorable plays, highlighted by a mid-practice pep talk from head coach Mike McCarthy. The skipper was dissatisfied with the pace of practice, so he paused the action to get his team going.

In the last couple drills of practice, the pace picked up and guys seemed to be playing with more energy.

Eddie Lacy (sort of) returned to practice

Yesterday, Packers running back Eddie Lacy was in flip-flops at practice. Today, he walked onto the practice field wearing cleats and carrying his helmet. But the walk from Armed Forces Drive to Ray Nitschke Field would be the most action Lacy would get all morning.

Lacy didn’t play a single rep at Thursday’s practice and looks highly unlikely to play in the preseason opener against the Cardinals.

At this point, it’s pretty clear that the coaching staff views Lacy as their No. 1 back. And if that’s the case, it makes sense to keep Lacy off the field in an effort to prevent his hamstring injury from lingering.

Vince Young continued to struggle

In my practice summary from yesterday, I suggested Young is not currently ready for game action. I came away from Thursday morning’s practice thinking the same thing.

During the team portion of practice, Young was intercepted multiple times and sailed a couple more passes well above the receiver’s head. Young did make a nice deep throw to Jeremy Ross, but the receiver couldn’t hang on in the endzone.

According to McCarthy, the Packers would like to get Young into Friday’s game at some point. A brief preseason appearance is one thing, but right now, Young is not ready for regular-season action. What’s the next step after rusty? That’s Vince Young right now.

Johnathan Franklin is quick, crafty in space

With Lacy on the sideline, James Starks and Alex Green got the most snaps with the No. 1 offense. But the most impressive back during Thursday’s (half-speed and unpadded) practice was rookie Johnathan Franklin.

27

December

Around the NFC North in Week 17

Around the NFC North

Around the NFC North in week 17

In week 17, The NFL is getting what it always hopes for when they create the schedule each spring.  Each of this week’s NFC North matchups have playoff implications and there is another NFL record in jeopardy.

After the Detroit Lions’ Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving yardage record last week, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has the single-season rushing record in his sights.  Peterson needs just 208 yards to break Eric Dickerson’s record of 2,105 yards.

Peterson’s Vikings host the Green Bay Packers and that game has been flexed by the NFL to the 3pm CDT time slot.  It is setting up to be one of the better matchups around the league.  Green Bay can secure the second seed with a victory or both a San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks loss.  For the Vikings, it’s simple:  win and they’re in.

The Chicago Bears are still alive in the wild card race after beating the Arizona Cardinals.  Chicago travels to Detroit and must win to keep any hopes alive of securing the last wild card spot.  The Bears also are in the precarious position of having to cheer for their arch enemy Packers.  Should Bears win and the Packers beat the Vikings, the Bears would claim the sixth and final seed in the NFC.

Let’s look at the matchups and playoff scenarios a bit more closely.

Chicago Bears (9-6) at Detroit Lions (4-11)

The Lions got pounded by the Atlanta Falcons this past Saturday to make official what we already knew:  Detroit is horrible.  The only bright spot in the game, and really their entire season, was Johnson  surpassing Rice’s previous total.  Rice established the record of 1,848 yards with the San Francisco 49ers in 1995.

Johnson and the Lions can deliver a huge jab to the gut of Chicago by pulling off the upset this week.  A Chicago loss would eliminate the Bears from playoff contention.  While it’s not likely given the recently level of play by both teams, crazy things have happened this season and Detroit has at least an outside shot of pulling off the win.

19

December

Around the NFC North in Week 16

Around the NFC North

Around the NFC North in week 16

With just two games left in the 2012 regular season, there is a full slate in the NFC North this week.  Each game carries its own significance as far as the playoff race is concerned as at least one team in each matchup is fighting for better playoff seeding and some are fighting to just get in, period.

Let’s take a look at the implications in each matchup.

Atlanta Falcons (12-2) at Detroit Lions (4-10)

The only reason this game is listed first is because it is the lone Saturday game and takes place before all others.  Beyond that, it all comes down to a very complete Falcons team coming into Detroit to face arguably the most disappointing team in the NFL this season.

Last weekend, Detroit was manhandled by the Arizona Cardinals 38-10.  Arizona had previously lost their last nine straight games.  The Lions have succeeded in one thing this season:  finding many ways to lose a game.  While they won’t be appearing in the postseason this year, they will have plenty of time during the offseason to figure out why.

The biggest question in Detroit right now is who will still be with the team in 2013?  Head coach Jim Schwartz will surely be the topic of those conversations during the winter.

While Atlanta has wrapped up the NFC South and currently has the best record in the NFC, they have yet to secure the first or second seed in the postseason.  They have their eyes set on being the top seed and therefore also securing home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  The Falcons can do so by winning their last two games, regardless of what any of the other contenders do.

However, a loss by Atlanta would begin to open a door for both the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers, who currently hold the second and third seeds, respectively.

While the Lions have pride to play for and certainly fit the bill of a team that could be pesky during these last two weeks, I don’t expect that pride to get them anywhere near Atlanta’s level this week.  Detroit’s best chance of success this week will probably be the 50% odds they have in winning the opening coin toss.