31

July

Green Bay Packers Free Agent Tracker

Green Bay Packers 2011 free agency tracker:

 

FB John Kuhn: RE-SIGNED WITH PACKERS

The Packers re-signed fullback John Kuhn on a three-year contract worth $7.5 million. The deal puts Kuhn amongst the highest paid NFL fullbacks.

While you may raise your eyebrows a bit at that, I think it actually makes sense. Kuhn contributed in multiple ways beyond blocking last season, including shouldering some of the running back responsibilities, catching passes, short yardage back and special teams contributor. Kuhn is also a popular player among fans and in the locker room.

Kuhn wanted back in Green Bay all along, but he played it smart and let the market set the price for him. With Houston making a strong push for Kuhn to replace the departed Vonta Leach, the Packers most likely paid Kuhn more than they would have liked. That’s not to say he’s not worth it. Kuhn is a valuable asset for the Packers to have in their hip pocket, but this does affect one of the tight ends being looked at as a possible H back.

He won’t be running the ball as much as last season, but I’d expect Kuhn to help cover for the loss of Brandon Jackson on third downs.

WR James Jones: RE-SIGNED WITH PACKERS

The Packers agreed to terms with Jones on a three-year deal worth $9.6 million.

It sounds as if Aaron Rodgers and Donald Driver went to bat for Jones, and when teams in receiver market went elsewhere, Jones decided to come back with the Packers.

We heard Rodgers say that Jones should be the Packers No. 1 priority, but I still have doubts that he swayed Thompson in any way. The more likely reason for Jones’ return to Green Bay was the fact that receiver-needy teams such as Minnesota and New York signed other players, with the Vikings acquiring Michael Jenkins and the Jets Plaxico Burress.

Now, the Packers return all their pass-catchers from 2010. With this many toys at their disposal, expectations will be sky-high for this offense.

DE Cullen Jenkins: SIGNED WITH EAGLES 

The Philadelphia Eagles have signed Cullen Jenkins to a five-year, $25 million deal.

28

July

Brandon Jackson Signs With Cleveland Browns, Spitz Goes to Jaguars

Brandon Jackson signed a two-year deal with the Cleveland Browns Thursday night.

The Green Bay Packers backfield became a little less crowded when news broke Thursday night  that Brandon Jackson signed with the Cleveland Browns. The deal was reportedly for two years and $4.5 million.

Jackson was good in pass protection and figured to see plenty of action on third downs if he remained with the Packers. Two years and $4.5 million is a reasonable deal and I’m surprised the Packers didn’t make more of an effort to keep him.

Perhaps Jackson didn’t want to battle Ryan Grant, James Starks and Alex Green for playing time and felt he would have a bigger role in Cleveland. I can’t see him overtaking Peyton Hillis anytime soon, but Cleveland’s backfield is a little less crowded than Green Bay’s.

Either way, with G Daryn Colledge gone and now Jackson, the Packers pass protection has taken a bit of a hit. Neither Colledge or Jackson is irreplaceable, but both were better players than most people gave them credit for.

Jason Spitz will not be one of the players filling the pass protection void left by Colledge or Jackson. Spitz reportedly signed a multi-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

To summarize: Colledge, Spitz, Jackson and Korey Hall have signed elsewhere. Mason Crosby resigned with the Packers. Nick Barnett, Brady Poppinga and Justin Harrell were cut. Cullen Jenkins and James Jones appear to be on their way out, but nothing is official yet. The status of Atari Bigby, John Kuhn, Anthony Smith and Matt Wilhelm is unknown.

Did I miss anyone?

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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28

June

Chasing Perfection: A Few Areas Where the Packers Can Improve in 2011

We’ve all read or heard the quote. It’s a time-honored choice of words that transcends football, or any sport for that matter, and it was uttered by the most famous coach in Packers and NFL history.

“Gentlemen, we are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it, because in the process we will catch excellence.” — Vince Lombardi

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if these words, or a variation of it, were said in each NFL locker room every season. The quote in itself  is nearly perfect, as there has only been one “perfect” team record-wise in the Super Bowl era.

Which brings me to my overall point. While the Packers accomplished the goal that every team sets out to at the beginning of the season, they weren’t a perfect team by any means. The 2010 Packers lost six games along the way, overcoming several deficiencies in the process. Every Packer fan from the Pacific to the Atlantic (and beyond, for our international readers) expects the Packers to repeat next season, but that might not be possible unless the Packers continue to chase perfection.

Listed below are several areas where the Packers can continue to improve for next season, and the ways in which they can do it.

 

Kick and Punt Returning

Could Improve:

The Packers averaged just 20.8 yards per return on kicks and 7.9 on punts, good for 26th and 22nd in the NFL, respectively. The group—which consisted of Jordy Nelson, Sam Shields, Pat Lee, James Starks and Tramon Williams—produced zero touchdowns and very few big plays. The Packers were also one of five teams that failed to produce a kick or punt return over 60 yards over the course of the season.

How it Could Improve:

The Packers made their first substantial move in the returning department in some time when they took Randall Cob in the second round of April’s draft. He’ll need to win the spot in camp, but all signs point to Cobb being the Packers primary return of kicks and punts. If that scenario does unfold, Cobb should be a marked improvement. He scored two touchdowns off punts at Kentucky, and averaged 24.7 yards on 44 career kick returns. I’d hesitate to call him the next Devin Hester, but Cobb can help turn around the Packers returning woes in a hurry.

27

June

Packing the Stats Follow-Up: Tracking Greg Jennings’ Targets

Last week we took a look at some statistics to help us answer the question, “Did Jermichael Finley Steal Attention From Greg Jennings?” During the first four games of the season, it seemed as if Jennings was losing productivity to Finley, who posted significantly more receiving yards and catches. However, after looking at the number of targets each receiver was getting in the first four weeks, we came to the conclusion that there was little evidence to support this claim.

Many of you responded positively to this presentation of data, and a couple of you – PackersRS and KS_Packer in particular – wanted to see more. Specifically, how did Greg Jennings’ targets change, if at all, during the remainder of the season after Finley was gone?

It was an interesting question, the results of which would definitely bolster our investigation into this quandary.

Let’s jump right in. Below is the raw data I collected in regards to who was targeted by Aaron Rodgers last season. As I did before, the most targets for a specific week are highlighted in green, and the most receptions are highlighted in yellow. Also, the totals for each position group are presented at the bottom of each chart to give an overall indication of how the ball was distributed.

In the interest of readability, I have broken up the data so that each chart represents four games, and they cover the regular season all the way through the Super Bowl run. You can click on each to get a higher resolution:

 

Click image for larger resolution.

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Click image for larger resolution.

 

NOTES ON GREG JENNINGS

Before we get into some other observations, let’s consider our original question: how did Greg Jennings’ targets change after Week 5? To answer this, let’s first extract his specific statistics and get rid of the extraneous information:

For each category, I highlighted both the highest (green) and lowest (red) numbers. Some extra statistical information (mean, median, and standard deviation) is also included for those categories they would help to explain the most.

29

April

Green Bay Packers 2011 NFL Draft — 3rd Round, No. 96: RB Alex Green

With the 96th overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers selected Hawaii running back Alex Green.

He measures 6-0, 225 pounds with 32″ arms. Green posted a 4.53-second 40-yard dash, 20 bench-presses, 34″ vertical leap, 114″ broad jump, 6.91-second 3 cone drill and 4.15-second 20-yard shuttle.

College History

Playing in Hawaii’s pass-happy offense, Green was able to rush for 1,199 yards on 146 carries (8.2 ypc) and 18 touchdowns his senior season. He also caught 27 passes for 363 yards and another touchdown. Green was named Second Team All-WAC in 2010.

Green was only at Hawaii for two seasons, having transferred from Butte Community College in California—the same place that produced Aaron Rodgers.

One other thing of note: Green rushed for 372 yards against New Mexico State, a performance that broke Hawaii’s single-game rushing record.

Commentary

I’ll admit to knowing little about Green when the pick was made, but I had heard from some of the talking heads that he was a sleeper candidate at the running back position.

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock certainly gave him a vote confidence when he said that “Green will be an impact player this year for the Green Bay Packers.”

After a little digging, there was plenty of other solid reviews on Green. Russ Lande of The Sporting News said that Green could develop into an “Arian Foster-type back.” Foster rushed for 1,616 yards and 16 touchdowns last season for the Texans.

It would obviously be fantastic if that scenario unfolded, but Green could be a weapon for the Packers right away. He has good vision and hits the hole hard, and his big frame fits what the Packers like in their backs. Green also has experience catching the ball out of the backfield, making him a potential replacement for Brandon Jackson in third down roles.

Video

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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24

March

2011 Draft Prep: Green Bay Packers Needs by Position – Running Backs

In this second installment of our 2011 Draft Prep series looking at the Green Bay Packers’ needs by position, we are going to analyze how the running back positions (HB and FB) currently stand. Strengths, weaknesses, depth, and uncertainties will all be examined to determine the urgency of need in regards to next season.

This series is meant to help us figure out the needs of the team and how the draft could be used to improve the weaker areas. While Ted Thompson largely uses the “best player available” (BPA) approach, his decision to trade up or down the board is affected by what position players he would prefer to have. Additionally, the picking up of players in the later rounds and in undrafted free agency is often based on need, since the talent is less defined.

CURRENT PLAYERS:

#25 Ryan Grant
28 yrs. old / 4 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2011

#44 James Starks
25 yrs. old / 1 yr. exp.
Signed through 2013

#23 Dmitri Nance
23 yrs. old / 1 yr. exp.
Signed through 2012

#45 Quinn Johnson
24 yrs. old / 2 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#32 Brandon Jackson
25 yrs. old / 4 yrs. exp.
Free Agent (tender offered)

#30 John Kuhn
28 yrs. old / 5 yrs. exp.
Free Agent (tender offered)

#35 Korey Hall
27 yrs. old / 4 yrs. exp.
Free Agent (no tender offered)

* Contract information acquired from RotoWorld.com

POSITION STRENGTHS:

Having both Ryan Grant and James “Neo” Starks in the backfield next season is an exciting situation for the Packers. Though Mike McCarthy will always run a pass heavy offense, this “one-two punch” could be just what the doctor ordered at running back.

Grant is a dependable workhorse who carried the load for the Packers before his injury, amassing 1,200 rushing yards in both 2008 and 2009. In his first year with Green Bay, he was just 44 yards shy of hitting the 1,000 mark.

Starks, meanwhile, rose to the occasion during the Packers’ playoff run this past year. He showed good vision and was often able to gain a little extra yardage after contact and in undesirable situations. Starks has the potential to be the “primary” back in the near future.

11

March

Green Bay Packers 2010 Player Evaluations — Offense — Quinn Johnson

1.)Introduction: He may not be a folk hero like fellow fullback John “Kuuuuuuuuhn” Kuhn, but Quinn Johnson is no small guy.  Drafted in the fifth round by the Green Bay Packers in 2009 out of LSU, Johnson is a beast of a man and has been a key part of bolstering the Packers’ rushing attack.  While he may not be a touchdown machine near the goal line like Kuhn, Johnson took his blocking role seriously even though he was only active for 11 games this season.

2.) Profile:

Quinn Marcus Johnson

Position: RB
Height: 6-0    Weight: 251 lbs.

Born: September 30, 1986 in New Orleans, LA
College: LSU (school history)    (Johnson college stats)
Drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 5th round (145th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft.

Weighted Career AV (100-95-…): 0 (14365th overall since 1950)

3.) Expectations entering the 2010 season: For Johnson, there were very few expectations placed on his shoulders.  With the Packers running an offense that does not feature the fullback very often, Johnson and the others played the role of lead blocker for the running back, whether it was Ryan Grant, Brandon Jackson or James Starks.

The mission for Johnson in 2010 was simple: make your blocks and help open lanes for the running backs.

4.)Player’s highlights/lowlights: Basically Non -existent.  Johnson only started four games this year and with no rushes and only 3 catches for 26 yards to his credit, it’s hard to find any noticeable ups and downs for a player.

Still, with the Packers lacking a rushing attack for the majority of the 2010 season, some of that can be thrown on Johnson, I suppose.  Holes were not being opened up and all the blockers share some responsibility.  Johnson was definitely part of that group.

On the plus side though, Johnson helped anchor a backfield that allowed James Starks to set a Packers rookie playoff rushing record in the Wild Card game against the Philadelphia Eagles.  That helped serve notice that the Packers were close to achieving offensive balance and put the Falcons on notice for the next week (not that it helped).

5.) Player’s contribution to the team’s overall success: Again, when you are only active 11 games and start four of those,   it’s hard to make a significant on-field impact.    Johnson was inactive for the Super Bowl.