6

April

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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football.

Take a look at this NFL mock draft at Drafttek.com. There are three tight ends selected before a running back is chosen with the 50th overall pick.

Last year in the actual NFL draft there were two tight ends selected before the first running back was snatched off the board (Giovani Bernard at No. 37).

When I was growing up, running back was the glamour position. When we went out for recess to play football (this was back when you could still play tackle football at recess), everyone pretended to be Barry Sanders or Emmitt Smith, not some tight end. Most teams wouldn’t dream of taking a tight end over a promising running back in the draft.

Times have changed. Running back is a de-valued position in today’s NFL. That’s not breaking news. But has the de-valuing gone too far?

The top two teams in the NFC last season, Seattle and San Francisco, based their offense around bruising running games. The Packers turned to rookie Eddie Lacy to keep their heads above water after Aaron Rodgers broke his collar bone. Even with Tom Brady at quarterback, the Patriots pounded the ball on the ground early in the season, outrushing opponents in three of the first four games and starting 4-0.

Even on pass-happy Denver, with Peyton Manning at quarterback and a stable of exceptional receivers and tight ends, running back Knowshon Moreno finished with almost 1,600 total yards from scrimmage.

For a while, the NFL also appeared to be de-valuing the safety position, but that might be changing.

Only three safeties were picked in the first round from 2008-11. In the last two drafts, four safeties have gone in the first. In the opening days of NFL free agency, the top safeties on the board flew off the shelf for big money.

I think a lot of teams are emphasizing the safety position again because they see the importance of versatility in today’s game. Safeties are often best suited to handle multiple tasks: provide coverage over the top, match up against a tight end, play the slot, stop the run, drill whoever has the ball, occasionally blitz, etc. Take a look at the Seahawks and 49ers again — both were strong at safety.

1

April

Cory’s Corner: Shape up or ship out, just ask DeSean Jackson

The Eagles shocked the NFL when they decided to cut bait with DeSean Jackson last week.

Philadelphia was willing to just let a three-time Pro Bowler, who has the wheels to turn any game upside down, walk without getting anything in return.

DeSean Jackson is a three-time Pro Bowler and has averaged 15 yards a reception for the last five years.

DeSean Jackson is a three-time Pro Bowler and has averaged 15 yards a reception for the last five years.

And the reason was because of Jackson’s alleged connection to gangs. The Eagles won the NFC East last year mainly because of the way first-year coach Chip Kelly utilized offensive weapons like Jackson and now they’re telling him to hit the road?

It is definitely a new age in the NFL. I’m not saying that teams will not be lining up for Jackson’s sports car speed, because Jackson will be signed, and probably at a discount, to a contender like San Francisco or Seattle.

But how many times did you see teams willing to part ways with a player and not get anything in return? And here’s the kicker: Jackson didn’t do anything wrong. He was not prosecuted legally and he wasn’t in any other trouble.

Yet, the Eagles did the right thing. After the Aaron Hernandez situation blew up in the Patriots’ faces, you can bet that teams are going to use every available resource to find out dirt about their players. New England wasted a fourth round pick on a budding superstar that may end up behind bars.

The question has been asked if the Packers should go after Jackson. I really don’t see a need. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are better and more consistent. The only way the Packers even think about Jackson is if they suddenly get the feeling that they cannot sign both Nelson and Cobb — which shouldn’t happen.

The Eagles sent a strong message to the rest of the NFL when they opted to just pop the pimple and move on with the risk of scarring. As opposed to throwing ailments and other things at it, hoping that it would eventually clear up.

Most teams are willing to live with questionable off-the-field behavior as long as you continue to perform on gameday. The line between winning and losing in the NFL is that razor thin that teams would rather just look the other way.

8

November

Packers Periscope: Week 10 vs. Philadelphia Eagles

The Past

Last time these two teams met was in the NFC wildcard game in 2010.  However, the Packers got to experience the beast that they themselves had created; during the season opener Clay Matthews III knocked out starting quarterback Kevin Kolb with a concussion, which paved the way for the resurgence of Michael Vick, who had been just released from jail after pleading guilty to operating a dog fighting ring.  With the more dynamic Vick leading the way with vertical receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles boasted one of the most dangerous offenses that head coach Andy Reid had ever fielded.

However, during the playoffs the Eagles failed to get much going on offense while the Packers watched as rookie James Starks, who had been hobbled by injuries all season, burst onto the scene with 123 yards rushing, a Packers record for a rookie running back in the playoffs and saw a little glimpse of what was to come in their stunning 2011 season when an unknown undrafted rookie blocking tight end named Tom Crabtree made his first touchdown reception by sneaking past a linebacker.

On special teams, the Packers didn’t make many mistakes, which couldn’t be said for the Eagles as kicker David Akers left 6 points off the board with two missed field goals.  The Packers also enjoyed several big plays on defense, notably Clay Matthews completely destroying tackle Winston Justice and a last minute end zone interception by Tramon Williams that pushed the Packers into the divisional round against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Present

A lot has changed for the Eagles since the 2010 playoff game.  13 year incumbent Andy Reid was replaced by college football phenomenon Chip Kelly, who had lead the Oregon Ducks to a 46-7 record with 4 bowl appearances with his fast-paced, spread offense.  While Kelly and his super speed offense sent shockwaves throughout the NFL after their opening game against the Redskins after calling 53 plays in the first half, the rest of the NFL adjusted and the Eagles have been the epitome of “up and down” with some thrilling victories and some crushing defeats which explains the 5-3 record.

While Michael Vick still holds the starting quarterback position in name, Nick Foles has made a case to remain under center after a record breaking 7 touchdown, 158.3 QB rating touchdown performance last week against the Oakland Raiders.  On the other side of the ball, the Eagles defense has been largely ineffective, sorting out much like the Green Bay Packers in terms of defensive efficiency.

4

June

The 10 Biggest Moments of the Packers’ 2010 Super Bowl Season

Nothing could ever tarnish the Green Bay Packers’ 2010 Super Bowl win, but does anyone else get the feeling that the NFL lockout has taken a little of the shine off?

In an offseason where most of the talk should be about the Packers chances of repeating as football champions, the news is littered with talk about a labor dispute that could take away Green Bay’s chance of even attempting it.

So, instead of looking forward in this post, we’re going to take a trip down memory lane to make sure none of the labor talk has hurt your memory of the special season Packers fans had a privilege to share. Here are the 10 biggest moments of 2010, with a few honorable mentions thrown in.

 

Honorable mentions

Rodgers to Jennings Part I: Their first touchdown connection in the Super Bowl was a thing of beauty and gave the Packers a commanding 21-3 lead.

B.J. Raji’s pick-six: His interception return for a touchdown was ultimately the game-winning points in the NFC Championship game.

Stopping a new Mike Vick: The Packers 2010 season got off to a dramatic start as the Packers defense stopped Vick on fourth down to preserve the win.

Rashard Mendenhall’s mistake: This play could almost make the top 10, but the Packers strip and recover of Mendenhall in the Super Bowl turned the tides.

Game-tying strike in Atlanta: Rodgers’ laser beam to Jordy Nelson tied the game at 17 with under two minutes to go.

Old man still has it: Donald Driver’s inspiring run-and-catch vs. the 49ers was one of the individual plays of the year for the Packers.

The 10 Biggest Moments

Collins’ seals the playoff berth

Nick Collins interception of Jay Cutler in Week 17 against the Bears ensured that the Packers would get their chance in the playoffs. Three weeks later, the Bears would regret not eliminating the Packers when they had their first opportunity to do so.

Desean Jackson’s return

Don’t forget—Jackson’s punt return for a touchdown that capped off the Eagles stunning come-from-behind win in New York allowed the Packers to get into the playoffs with two wins in the final two weeks. Without it, the Giants are playing in the postseason and not the Packers.

Sam Shields’ runs to Dallas

8

January

NFL Wild Card Weekend: Packers-Eagles Preview: Deja Vu in Philly

The Green Bay Packers defeated the Chicago Bears 10-3 last Sunday at Lambeau Field to lock down a wild card berth for the second consecutive season.

The Packers enter the playoffs as the number six seed, but in a conference that features a 7-9 division champion, any team could come out of the NFC and head to Super Bowl XLV.

The first stop for the Packers on the road to Dallas is in Philadelphia for an encore match against the Eagles. In the first game of the regular season, the Packers beat the Eagles 27-20 after knocking then-starting quarterback for the Eagles Kevin Kolb out of the game and giving Michael Vick the opportunity to write one of the great comeback stories in NFL history.

Looking back at that game, the Packers had the Eagles well under control until Vick came into the game. He nearly led the Eagles back, but a couple well-timed sacks stopped the comeback just short and the Packers held on the victory.

With an entire week to game plan for Vick, will the Packers fare better against the elusive Eagles quarterback?

Breaking down the Eagles

Vick carried the Eagles this season. You can’t argue any other way.
In a season where coach Andy Reid was under the microscope after dealing Donovan McNabb away within the division, Vick played brilliantly and leads an incredibly explosive offense. With Vick’s dual running and passing threat, the Packers will have their hands full with No. 7.

Now, Vick is reported to be a little less than fully healthy for this game with him as of early this week saying he was only at 75% but will be ready to go Sunday.

Should the Packers be able to somehow contain Vick to the pocket, they will have to take in account speedy receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Vick also can use tight end Brent Celek as a medium distance threat. Running back LeSean McCoy also is very underrated and will provide another option for Vick in the screen game. Of course, this all depends on if the iffy Eagles offensive line can hold up.

Bottom line: Do not underestimate the Eagles offense. They are one of the few units in the NFL than can keep up on the scoreboard against the Packers’ offense.