23

March

Packers Defense: Who’s Still On the Way Up?

Green Bay Packers defense

Who’s Rising on Defense?

Here we are at the start of the 2013 NFL season. Let the great debates roll on!   Sign a FA?  Keep your own?  Difference maker free agent? Hole filler? Last gasp?  Which leads to next big thing, the team has to draft this position this year! { fill in your choice}.

Everyone goes nuts this time of year, I am of the use Free Agency to fill a hole in depth crowd,  but first and foremost keep your own.

From most of talk across the web, Packer fans are screaming for “DEFENSE” and I can’t disagree, but for many, players already on the team are over looked waiting for that big signing. { like that is going to happen in Green Bay in the first place}

So while many are playing fantasy GM with all the if’s, maybes, should have’s, could have’s, lets look at players on the team that are on the way up and will improve the team from the inside.

I consider C.J. Wilson on the way up. He missed games with a knee injury last year, in the eleven games he played, he was looked at as one of the Packers better run stoppers, he had 24 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Nothing to get excited about, but Wilson did improve in his second year, not bad for 7th round pick that played 4-3 DE in college. He is a better athlete then given credit for at 6-3 300# he ran a 4.83 40, 32 reps at #225, 1.67 ten yard time 4.50 shuttle and 7.65 3 cone drill. His best football is still in front of him.

Mike Neal actually stayed fairly healthy last year and flashed some of what he did as a rookie. He and Matthews got on a bit of roll before Matthews got dinged up. He has the work ethic and gained experience last year.  He now has 22 games played,  11 for 2012 with a 4 game suspension. Still on the way up.

Terrell Manning and Jamari Lattimore are the two inside linebackers I want to see most. Manning was a OLB in college and missed time with a parasite, but made his way on the field for 5 games in 2012. Lattimore was a DE in college, Packers they tried him at OLB first, he moved to ILB last year and showed promise in the preseason. Both are more athletic then Smith and Bishop.

14

February

2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Defensive Line

Next up in the AllGreenBayPackers.com’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.
31

January

Packers CJ Wilson: 2012 Player Evaluation and Report Card

1) Introduction: CJ Wilson has quietly turned into a solid run-stuffing 3-4 DE after being drafted in the 7th round in 2010.  In 2011 Wilson and Jarius Wynn where thrust into the spotlight after Mike Neal landed on IR and Wilson couldn’t produce as a full time starter.  Hopefully as part of a defensive line rotation and spot duty on running plays Wilson could be more productive in 2012.

2) Profile:

Clifford James Wilson

  • Age: 25
  • Born: 03/30/1987, in Belhaven, NC
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 300
  • College: East Carolina
  • Rookie Year: 2010
  • NFL Experience: 3 years

Career Stats and more:

 

3) Expectations coming into the season: Fair.  As one of the Packers best run defenders, Wilson was expected to see a lot of time as the defense end in the base 3-4 defense but would likely be stepping out for obviously passing players for more accomplished pass rushers like Mike Neal.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Wilson’s best performance in 2012 was against the Minnesota Vikings for the last game of the season where he recorded 1 quarterback hurry, 3 tackles and 3 offensive negative plays.  His worst performance was a leg injury that robbed him of 5 games.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Without Wilson in the lineup Adrian Peterson managed to run for 210 yards in the Packers first meeting.  In the second, Wilson was just getting settled back in after his injury, but it wasn’t until the wild card game where Wilson was an integral part of keeping Adrian Peterson from breaking free into the secondary.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: While Wilson did contribute to stopping Adrian Peterson and Joe Webb, he definitely didn’t do much against Frank Gore or Colin Kaepernick, which ultimately lead to the Packers getting knocked out of the playoffs.

 

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

Overall Grade: C-

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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3

January

Packers Playbook (aka Hobbjective Analysis): Week 17 at Minnesota Vikings

So Packers vs. Vikings part II with a definite part III coming up.  Again, if there is any play in particular you would like to see my analyze, please leave comments below.  As for this week I’ve decided to take a look at one of the times where quarterback Christian Ponder was able to beat the Packers defense through the air.  My belief is that the Packers at best can only slow down Adrian Peterson, so it becomes paramount to stop Christian Ponder and the passing since the Packers have already proven that Adrian Peterson can destroy the Packers run defense and still lose the game.

The situation: The score is tied at 27 all with the Packers surging in the 2nd half with 12 minutes left in the 4th quarter.  The Vikings know they have to make a big move soon or be on the losing end of a scoring race to the finish line.  To their advantage is that Adrian Peterson has maintained his regular season form and is playing lights out, which makes the Packers very susceptible to play-action as every Packers defender is fixated on Peterson.

The formation: The Vikings come out in a 1-2-2 formation (1WR-2TE-2RB) with WR Jarius Wright being the lone Vikings outside the core of the formation split out wide left.  The Packers respond with their base 3-4 defense.  The defensive line consists of DE Ryan Pickett (79), NT BJ Raji (90) and DE CJ Wilson (98), all three appear to be tasked with taking up blockers so for all intents and purposes do not factor into the play (unless of course they were playing “jet” and attempting to rush the passer, which they all failed to do) The linebackers are composed of LOLB Erik Walden (93), ILB AJ Hawk (50), ILB Brad Jones (59) and ROLB Clay Matthews (52).  Finally in the secondary the two cornerbacks are CB Tramon Williams (38) and CB Sam Shields (37) while the safeties are FS Morgan Burnett (42) and SS Jeron McMillian (22).

 

Pre-Snap: The Vikings motion TE John Carlson (89) from the inline to the right tackle to slightly behind left tackle in a two point stance.  In response, FS Burnett rotates from centerfield to heads up with Carlson while SS McMillian rotates off the line of scrimmage and out into centerfield, in essence TE Carlson rotating causes FS Burnett and SS McMillian to switch positions and assignments.  The move also causes OLB Matthews to wide his pass rush as TE Carlson is now over his side and could either chip or double team him with the left tackle.

30

December

Packers at Vikings: Keys To The Game

Aaron Rodgers vs. Minnesota Vikings

Rodgers in a baseball cap and waving a celebratory towel would be a welcome sight on Sunday. Green Bay can clinch a playoff bye with a win

Here we are in week 17 and another season is nearly in the books.  The Green Bay Packers end their regular season schedule with a trip to Minnesota to face the Vikings.  A few years back, the NFL changed its schedule making such that the last week of the season would be a divisional game for all teams.  This was in the hopes that the games would be meaningful and teams wouldn’t rest slews of their starters in preparation for the postseason.

The NFL has gotten its wish this year and with this game.  Each team has something on the line.  The Vikings need to win to secure a playoff spot.  The Packers can clinch the second seed in the NFC with a win.  Should the Vikings win, the Packers can still gain the #2 seed with a San Francisco and a Seattle loss.

Last week’s format was a success so I’m going stick with a “Keys to the Game” theme.  Let’s see what will likely determine the outcome of tomorrow’s contest.

Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson

I feel like a broken record with the thoughts I share about Peterson but given the season he is having, they bear some repeating.  According to ESPN, Peterson has 1,898 yards in 15 games.  102 yards shy of 2,000 yards, an accomplishment only six other running backs can claim.  Peterson is also 208 yards shy of the 28 year-old and all-time single-season rushing record set by Eric Dickerson in 1984.

Peterson is surely going to win a major award after this season.  Whether it’s the Comeback Player of the Year, Most Valuable Player award or Offensive MVP, Peterson deserves at least one of those.  I watched some of the tape of Peterson’s first game at Green Bay this season.   He is running as quickly and as hard as ever.  Many of the yards he picked up on long runs in that game came after contact.  Nowadays, we see more and more backs running out of bounds or diving to the ground before the big hit.  Peterson is a throwback and reminds me a lot of Walter Payton.

28

November

Around the NFC North in Week 13

Around the NFC North

Around the NFC North in week 13

With just five weeks remaining in the 2012 NFL season, we take a look around the NFC North at the matchups and storylines.

In week 13, a bit of Luck visits the Detroit Lions in the form of the Indianapolis Colts while the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears tangle for the third time in as many straight seasons.  The Green Bay Packers come home to host their neighbors to the west, the Minnesota Vikings for the first time in 2012.

This divisional race is starting to take shape with the Bears in first place and the Packers breathing down their necks, a close second.  The Vikings are still alive, to the surprise of many, while the Detroit Lions have made their road to a repeat playoff appearance very difficult.

Here’s the breakdown:

Indianapolis Colts (7-4) at Detroit Lions (4-7)

The surprising Indianapolis Colts come into Detroit to face the struggling Lions.  The Colts find themselves in the thick of the AFC Wild Card race.  While many knew Andrew Luck would eventually turn into a solid NFL quarterback, few would have foreseen the success that this team has had so far in 2012.

With that said, let’s also consider that only one of Indianapolis’ wins have come against a team that would currently be in this year’s playoffs (Packers in week 5).  But they are taking steps in the right direction after having won only two games last season.  At least they’re beating the teams that are struggling (Detroit falls into this category) or just plain bad.

While the Lions took the Houston Texans to overtime last week, they were unable to get the elusive Thanksgiving Day win and fell to 4-7.

Detroit’s biggest advantage in this game is that it’s at home.  While much has been made of Detroit’s offensive output this season, Indianapolis isn’t far behind.  The Lions rank 2nd in total yards while the Colts are 5th.  I expect this game to be a shootout.  An indoor game featuring two top offenses and two good quarterbacks.

Each team has had their issues on defense that have prevented them from winning some of their close games.  Both teams also have negative give/take ratios heading into this one. Detroit is at (-7) while Indianapolis is at (-14).

26

October

Packers Playbook (aka Hobbjective Analysis): Week 7 at St. Louis Rams

Like Darren Sharper and Nick Collins, there are defensive backs coming out of college that just seem to get it and can contribute right away.  This year it’s rookie cornerback Casey Hayward, who actually is tied for the lead in interceptions with 4.

Hayward has been a very good slot cornerback behind Tramon Williams, Sam Shields and Charles Woodson, but with Sam Shields out after being kicked in the shin against the Texans, Hayward was shifted out to the outside.  How would he respond in his first start and being left on a island?  Pretty good.  While fans will gush at his acrobatic interception, I would probably suggest that everyone take a step back; Hayward is solid cornerback, just not a playmaker…yet

The Situation: The score is 17-6 in favor of the Packers with 1:25 left in the 3rd quarter.  Needless to say things haven’t gone so well for the Rams in the 2nd half.  For the first 30 minutes of football, the Rams had managed to keep the game close by using a steady diet of ground control football with running backs Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson.

The Rams also managed to keep the ball out of Aaron Rodgers hands by controlling the clock and as a result the Rams had a significant advantage in the time of possession.  However, the 3rd quarter was all about the Packers, who not only managed to flip the time of possession in 1 quarter, but had managed to do it with a methodical passing game which included 3 passing first downs capped off by a touchdown.  Obviously the Rams are beginning to feel the pressure and need to answer back.  This is the first play after the kickoff.

 

The Formation: The rams come out in a 2-1-2 formation (2WR-1TE-2RB), one of the old school staples of any offense.  WR Brandon Gibson is aligned out wide to the top of the screen while WR Chris Givens is aligned out wide on the bottom of the screen.  TE Lance Kendricks is inline next to the left tackle while TE Matthew Mulligan is aligns like an offset fullback.  RB Steven Jackson rounds out the group by lining up 7 yards behind the scrimmage forming a standard offset I formation.  The look is very biased towards running and presumably the Rams hope to catch the Packers off guard with a play action pass and a shot down the field.