20

August

Packers Stock Report: It’s Still too Early to Know Much of Anything Edition

Hey No. 21, you’re not going to tackle Packers RB Eddie Lacy with one arm.

Before I get started on this week’s Packers stock report, let’s review exactly what the stock report is and why I do it:

  • The stock report is based on more than a single game or day of practice. Generally, it takes more than one good performance to become a riser and more than just one bad day to land in the falling category. Of course, there are always exceptions.
  • The stock report is also about projecting somewhat into the future. Like any good investor, you want to buy a stock before it hits its peak value so you can sell it at a profit later when it maxes out in price.
  • If a player is playing well under the radar and it looks like he could become more visible in the coming weeks, I’ll throw him in the rising category. If he’s been playing well, but slipping a bit of late, he might end up falling.
  • The stock report is not about putting my favorite players in the rising category and putting certain players I don’t care for in the falling category. Besides, I love all players who wear the green and gold, which makes all Packers players risers!
  • Stock reports after two exhibition games are tricky. See the title to this week’s stock report. Therefore, a few of these rules might get ignored because it’s so early. Actually, all of the rules might be ignored (besides rule No. 4).

Rising

Eddie Lacy
Yup, I’m already ignoring one of the rules I laid out above. After only eight carries, I have decided that Eddie Lacy is rising. Did you see him trucking defenders on Saturday?! If that carries into the regular season and all of Lacy’s body parts that are glued on stay together, I no longer will be so scared of 3rd and 1 and the Packers might have a back who can close games in the fourth quarter.

Johnny Jolly
So far, so good for Johnny Jolly. Up until Saturday’s exhibition games, Jolly had been decent, which probably wasn’t going to be good enough to make the team. Then he came up with an interception Saturday and played a great game all around — exactly the kind of playmaking performance the Packers have been lacking from a defensive lineman since Cullen Jenkins left.

16

August

Checking Up on the Packers’ Third-Year Players

Packers RB Alex Green could have the most to lose among third-year players.

Packers RB Alex Green could have the most to lose among third-year players.

At a time where rookies are looking to make an impression, sophomores are trying to make that jump, and veterans are honing their skills, it’s easy to overlook the third-year players. These guys are knee-deep into that transition between being a “young guy” and being a “veteran.” And for many of them, it’s this transition that will make or break their careers. When a football player goes looking to sign his second contract after three or four years, he’s going to know exactly what he’s worth – both to his own team and other teams.

The third-year players for the Green Bay Packers are an interesting group, to say the least. After winning the Super Bowl in 2010, the Packers picked at the 32nd spot in the 2011 NFL Draft. It’s a double-edged sword, because it represents a great achievement, but also provides a great challenge on draft day.

General Manager Ted Thompson ended up taking ten players that day, and four of them are no longer on the roster: G Caleb Schlauderaff (Round 6, No. 179), LB D.J. Smith (Round 6, No. 186), LB Ricky Elmore (Round 6, No. 197), and their final pick DE Lawrence Guy (Round 7, No. 233). Schlauderaff was traded to the New York Jets at the beginning of the regular season, Elmore was a disappointment who left with the cuts, Guy spent a year on injured reserve before being signed from the practice squad by the Indianapolis Colts, and D.J. Smith was a semi-surprising cut by the Packers last April.

The remaining six picks and two undrafted rookie free agents have made it this far, so let’s take a quick look at where they might be headed:

T Derek Sherrod (Round 1, No. 32)

  • Fate hasn’t been kind to Sherrod. No matter what people gleaned about his abilities from his short time in training and practices, there’s no avoiding the fact that his injury killed the value of Thompson’s first round pick. Sherrod’s been off the field since December 2011, and there’s no telling when he’ll get back on, not to mention how he will perform if he does. The Packers will be as patient as possible, but the outlook just isn’t promising.

WR Randall Cobb (Round 2, No. 64)

19

July

Ten Packers Training Camp Topics: #6 — Finley’s finale?

Jermichael Finley came on after the bye week last season. Will this be Finley's last season in Green Bay?

Jermichael Finley came on after the bye week last season. Will this be Finley’s last season in Green Bay?

In five years with the Packers, Jermichael Finley has gone from being the outspoken tight end to a focal point of the offense, and again, back to the outspoken tight end.

And in a circus-cautious locker room such as the one in Green Bay, Finley has been one of the most scrutinized players on the team since being drafted in 2008.

To most fans, for every positive from Finley, there’s two negatives. But to the Packers, for every negative, there’s a plethora positives. And for that reason, the team has committed to (at least) one more year from the 26-year-old tight end.

Finley enjoyed a breakout 2009 season, his second in the NFL. Finley caught 55 passes for 676 yards and five scores. His per-game averages of 4.2 catches and 52 yards are still the highest of his five-year career.

Fan perception of Finley throughout the past two seasons has been predominantly negative.

Due to dropped passes, the 2011 season was largely a disappointment. In total, Finley dropped 14 passes–the most by any tight end in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. But Finley started the season well. Through the first nine games of the season, Finley dropped just three passes and caught 33. Over the final eight games, Finley’s number of drops ballooned to 11.

Still, his season numbers were nothing to scoff at. His 55 receptions tied a career high, and he set new personal bests with 767 yards and eight touchdowns.

This past season was, again, a tale of two halves for Finley.

He dropped nine passes through the Packers’ first 12 games. But after a Week 13 win over the Vikings, Finley didn’t drop another pass the rest of the season. Over that six-game stretch, Finley caught 25 balls on 33 targets.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy took note of the improvement by praising Finley after the season.

“I really felt Jermichael Finley was a different man, a different player from the bye week on,” McCarthy said, per JSOnline.com. “I had an opportunity to talk to him about that at length in his exit interview, so I feel very good about the way he finished the year.”

2

June

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

I had an idea for a new Packers offseason gameshow while driving home from work today.

The first nine years of my adult life I had a job where I took a city bus to work. It was nice to not burn gas and spend half my salary on parking, but I always had to stay alert so I wouldn’t get stabbed. There are some, ahem, interesting people that rode the city bus on my route.

Now I have a job where I drive 30 minutes to work, in my own car. Yes, I’m burning gas (free parking, thankfully), but I don’t have to worry about getting stabbed. This frees up my brain and allows me to think of all kinds of silly things, like my idea for a Packers offseason gameshow.

I’ve already filmed the pilot episode, and am ready to share the transcript with all of you today. I brought back the ghost of Richard Dawson to host my show, mainly because I crack up whenever I see old Family Feud episodes when Dawson tries to make out with all the female contestants.

The name of the show is Will Johnny Jolly Play for the Packers Before…

Enjoy.

Richard Dawson: Welcome ladies and gentlemen to everyone’s favorite new favorite game show! The object of the game is to guess if Johnny Jolly will play a regular season snap for the Packers before another player currently on the Packers roster. It sounds confusing, but it’s not.

Even people who read Packers blogs should be able to understand it and play along at home. Let’s get started.

Female Contestant No. 1: I’m ready, Richard.

(Dawson leans in and gets a smooch)

Dawson: Will Johnny Jolly play a regular season snap for the Packers before running back James Starks?

Female Contestant No. 1: Oh, that’s a tough one. I wish Jolly participated in OTAs this week so we at least knew what kind of shape he’s in. But the injury-prone Starks could be on the chopping block with with Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin on the team. I’m going to say yes, Jolly will play for the Packers before Starks because Starks won’t make the team.

Dawson: That’s a logical answer. Time will tell if you’re right. And if you are right, you win an even longer kiss from me!

27

February

Packers Playmakers: Where Do The Chips Fall?

Aaron Rodgers and Josh Sitton

Aaron Rodgers and Josh Sitton are two of the Packers “blue chip” players.

Now that my fellow staff members and I have completed our annual player evaluations and report cards, I thought it might be fun to take a look at the Green Bay Packers’ impact players. Taking a page from Michael Lombardi, former NFL Network analyst who now works in the front office for the Cleveland Browns, I have categorized the players into representational colored chips.

I’ve added a couple more categories beyond the usual blue and red chips, but for the latter groups, I have taken some of the qualifications as used by Lombardi. While some players might have fallen short of their expectations this past season, I have attempted to look at their entire body of work and where they stand going into 2013.

One thing I did notice in this exercise was the lack of playmakers on the defense, which Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy, and Dom Capers need to work on correcting.

Feel free to chime in with any agreements, disagreements, or additions to the lists!

Blue Chip Players:

» Demonstrates rare abilities and creates mismatches that have an obvious impact on the game.
» Is a premier player in the league and a weapon on the field.
» Combines competitiveness and skill to provide a consistent championship-level performance.

  • Aaron Rodgers – One of the best quarterbacks in the modern NFL era, Rodgers is the heart of this team. His exceptional football intelligence, technique, and work ethic make everyone else around him look better.
  • Randall Cobb – Some people might want to wait another year before elevating Cobb to this status, but he proved this year what kind of a difference he makes to the offense and special teams. His skill set is unrivaled.
  • Josh Sitton – He is the biggest asset along the offensive line, and without him I shudder to think how high Rodgers’ sack number would have climbed this year. Sitton handles both pass blocking and run blocking very well.

Red Chip Players:

» Has abilities that can create mismatches vs. most opponents in the league.
» Is a featured player on his team and has an impact on the outcome of the game.
» Can’t be taken out of the game in a one-on-one matchup.
» Is consistent from week to week.

15

February

D.J. Williams: 2012 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

D.J. Williams

TE D.J. Williams

1) Introduction:  If the Packers do decide to part ways with Jermichael Finley (a “50/50” proposition at this point according to the tight end himself), his replacement as the starter could already be on the roster.  2011 fifth round draft pick D.J. Williams may very well find himself as Finley’s successor.  Despite being such a late pick, Williams intrigued the Packers enough to keep him on the roster for 2012. Williams is able to line up all over the field including the backfield.  He’s also been a part of the Packers’ special teams.

2) Profile:

David Edward Williams Jr.

  • Age: 24
  • Born: 09/10/1988, in Fort Worth, TX
  • Height: 6’2”
  • Weight: 245
  • Rookie Year: 2011
  • NFL Experience: 2 years

Career Stats and more: 

(3) Expectations coming into the season: Minimal.  With Finley as the starter and Tom Crabtree as a backup, Williams didn’t have the weight of expectations on his shoulders as he continued to develop. A strong training camp however had many thinking Williams would present a strong challenge to Finley but that never fully materialized and Finley was the starter for the season.  Other than that, Williams was expected to improve in his second season and give the Packers another viable option should Finley go down with injury.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights:  Once again, pretty much non-existent for either one given he played 240 snaps all season.  Williams was limited to mainly special teams play but did get some work in the passing game as well.  He is a decent pass blocker but he is a better receiver and had 7 receptions for 57 yards.  Williams’ best game was in the blowout victory over the Titans when he had three catches for 20 yards.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success:  If Williams did anything this season, it was consistently improve in practice enough that it perhaps pushed Finley to get his act together.  Williams’ special teams work enabled the unit to improve.  He was only active for 13 games, but perhaps his greatest contributions to the team are yet to come.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs:  None.  The Packers featured Finley more in their game plan so Williams saw very little of the field.

 Season Report Card:

(C) Level of expectations met during the season

(C) Contributions to team’s overall success.

30

October

Packers Film Study: Expanding the Running Game

Evan Dietrich-SmithWhile reviewing the game book and watching the film of the Green Bay Packers’ 24-15 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, I noticed something strange. Well, it’s not strange from a football standpoint, but it is very much out of the ordinary for Mike McCarthy’s offenses. He added backup C/G Evan Dietrich-Smith as a sixth offensive lineman on four running plays.

Someone will have to let me know if he’s done this before, but I don’t ever remember McCarthy adding an offensive lineman as an eligible receiver for the running attack. He came to this team with the idea of implementing the zone blocking scheme, and it’s been nothing but a point of contention among fans ever since. Our fearless leader, “Jersey” Al, pointed out the fact that he’s been pulling guards lately, making this new development a rather interesting expansion of the running game.

Here are the four plays where Evan Dietrich-Smith (#62) reported as eligible against the Jaguars:

 

This is the only time in the first half where EDS plays as eligible. My guess would be that, before going back to it, McCarthy wanted to get a look at not only the execution, but also how the Jaguars would respond to it.

In this instance, the Packers are lined up in a Unit Wing formation before EDS motions left and puts them into a formation that I’m not sure what to call. He’s playing a wingback role, but lined up inside behind the tackle and guard.

The results of this play is less than desirable, though it’s hard at first to tell where it went wrong without knowing the play call. EDS looks like he might initially take his block inside but continues to go outside the right tackle. Green, meanwhile, looks like he could have gained a little more yardage had he cut to the outside and followed EDS around.

Looking further, though, the culprit might really be Bryan Bulaga. Not only does he provide no help to Crabtree before moving to the next level, but he completely whiffs on the linebacker. Green initially heads towards the inside of the right tackle, leading me to believe this is where the play broke down.