3

October

Where Are They Now: Following Former Packers

With the 2013 season now a quarter of the way over, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at all the Packers who played for the 2012 team who are now playing somewhere else.  Have the Packers really missed them?  Have they made a contribution to their new teams?  (note: snaps are only counting offense and defense, not special teams)

Alex Green (New York Jets)

  • 2012 season: 343 snaps, 135 attempts for 464 Yds, 3.4ypc, 0 TDs, 1 Fum
  • 2013 season (projected): 40 snaps, 28 rushing attempts for 60 Yds, 2.1ypc, 0 TDs, 0 Fum
  • Alex Green never really was able to overcome the ACL injury he suffered as a rookie and became one of the few high draft picks to be quickly dumped by the Ted Thompson regime.  Green quickly found a new home with the New York Jets, one of the teams that curiously have been linked to the Packers (numerous trades of picks, Caleb Schlauderaff and of course Brett Favre).  As of yet, Green hasn’t been able to make much of an impact even with an apparent opening at the running back position with the Jets; Chris Ivory has been hobbled with injuries, Mike Goodson just returned from suspension and KR/RB Joe McKnight was sent packing.  At the moment, Green is projected as the 3rd running back and is on pace for about 60 yards rushing with a 2.1 average.   For the Packers James Starks has played pretty well and Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin have both showed promise.  the Packers are fine at running back without Green.

Greg Jennings (Minnesota Vikings)

  • 2012 season: 416 snaps, 36 Rec for 366 Yds, 10.2 YPC, 4 TDs, 0 Fum
  • 2013 season (projected): 664 snaps, 56 Rec, 1,008 Yds, 18.0 ypc, 8 TD, 0 Fum
1

July

Bishop Likely Another Feather in Ted Thompson’s Cap

Desmond Bishop

Bishop’s release signals the Packers waning patience for health issues

As we are in the slower part of the 2013 NFL preseason, I thought I’d take another stab at what the Green Bay Packers’ release of linebacker Desmond Bishop is really about and what it means for the Packers in moving forward.

Bishop’s deal with the Minnesota Vikings is for one year at $750,000 with just $50,000 guaranteed.  Bishop can earn a total of $1.35 million through bonuses and incentives.  This includes $100,000 in roster bonuses, and $500,000 in incentives dependent on his playing time.

Bishop is another in an increasing line of former Packers to sign with the division-rival Vikings.  Should he defy the odds and become productive, the Packers, and specifically General Manager Ted Thompson, could face some criticism for being quick to pull the trigger on letting him go before taking a look at him in training camp.  Many fans are still riled up that another has crossed the border to the West where they could end up playing well against and sticking it to the Packers.  Still, Thompson continues to, and has marched to the beat of his own drum when it comes to doing what he sees as best for the Packers.

The deal that Bishop inked with the Vikings certainly falls into the “low risk” category.  If healthy, he would immediately upgrade Minnesota’s linebacking core and defense as a whole.  The key there is the “if healthy” part.  But if a player of Bishop’s caliber was willing to accept such a deal, why wouldn’t Thompson at least have kicked the tires a bit longer?  After all, this was one of the team’s best defensive players just two seasons ago.  Sure, he missed all of last season with the torn hamstring, but if the risk was minimal, why send Bish packing?  Some will say his ego would not allow him to take a pay cut with the Packers, but the deal he inked with the Vikings has to suggest that he would have been open to at least some discussion.

23

June

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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

LeBron James won his second consecutive NBA title with the Miami Heat on Thursday night and cemented his status as one of the greatest players of all time (at least among sane people).

I hated “The Decision” as much as anyone else, but I’m also over it. I don’t necessarily cheer for James now, but I make sure to appreciate him when I watch him play. James is an amazing, amazing, amazing athlete, and it’s a lot more fun to soak in what he’s able to do on the court instead of just calling him names and hating on him.

Anyway, James’ second title got me thinking: How many more titles will it take for Packers QB Aaron Rodgers to be considered an all-time great? He’s already considered great, but he’s not yet at all-time great status with the likes of Starr, Montana, Brady or Unitas.

Then I started thinking some more (always dangerous): Why do we need to attach an arbitrary number of titles to greatness? If Rodgers keeps producing like he has, but doesn’t win another title, should that significantly diminish how we view him in the context of greatness?

I suppose you have to have some criteria to separate certain great players from other great players in subjective arguments like this one, and titles might be a part of it.

You also have to factor in eras and the rules attached to each era. Defenders in today’s NFL can’t make contact with a WR beyond five yards, hit a QB too high, hit a QB too low, hit any player in the head, or fart too loudly in the direction of the quarterback. How many yards would Montana or Unitas throw for if those rules applied back when they played?

I guess I’m trying to say that while it’s sometimes fun to get into these debates about greatness and which player is greater than the other, don’t forget to actually enjoy the greatness while it’s happening.

Rodgers is on a roll right now. Soak it in.

There will be plenty of time to make comparisons down the road.

Packers News, Notes and Links

21

June

Who’s Next on the Packers’ Chopping Block?

tramon-picksix-atlanta

Could Tramon Williams fall victim to Ted Thompson’s axe before next season?

Packers fans have seen a lot of big names and sentimental favorites either cut or allowed to sign elsewhere in free agency over the last two seasons.

The most recent casualty was Desmond Bishop. The inside linebacker’s exit came after guys like Greg Jennings, Charles Woodson, Tom Crabtree and Scott Wells were given their walking papers or not resigned in the last two offseasons.

Of course, losing name players always gets a certain segment of Packers fans riled up. Never mind the fact that the vast majority of players cut or not resigned by Packers GM Ted Thompson have gone on to do very little once they’re picked up by another team. The initial shock of losing a player who fans have formed some type of connection with usually causes some sort of backlash.

So, who’s next? Which one of our beloved Packers will be axed by the evil Thompson or not resigned because Packers salary cap whiz Russ Ball says, “Screw the fans! This guy isn’t worthy half of what he’s asking!”

Here are some possible candidates (I tried to limit it to players that the fans generally like. Hence, Jermichael Finley was not included):

CB Tramon Williams
Throwing Williams’ name out there makes me feel like Skip Bayless, but consider: 1) Williams will be 31 next season; 2) He’s due to make $6.9 million in 2014; 3) He hasn’t been able to repeat the success he had in 2010; 4) The Packers have a lot of young talent in the secondary; 5) He’s been bothered by a bum shoulder going on two years now. Kind of sounds like a prime candidate to fall victim to Thompson’s axe, doesn’t it?

FB John Kuhn
If the Packers had any sort of confidence in the pass-blocking ability of the running backs currently on the roster, I think they would wave bye-bye to Kuhn and his $1.8 million salary today. Packers fans boo Kuhn whenever he touches the ball, anyway, so maybe they wouldn’t be too upset about this. Wait…oh, they’re saying “Kuuuuuuhn!” Never mind, fans would be pissed. But Kuhn isn’t going anywhere unless one of the young backs shows the immediate ability to read blitzes and be a shut-down pass blocker.

17

June

Packers News: Packers Officially Release LB Desmond Bishop

Desmond Bishop is now a former member of the Green Bay Packers

The first signs of trouble emerged last week and now the Green Bay Packers have made it official.

The Packers today announced that they have released LB Desmond Bishop roughly a week after speculation began about his future with the team.   Bishop missed all of the 2012 season with a torn hamstring and many have speculated that this is the reason behind his release.  Bishop for his part, however, has insisted that he was healthy.

With Bishop’s departure, this leaves linebackers A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones as the likely starters at inside linebacker in Green Bay’s base 3-4 defense.  A healthy Bishop was anticipated to help a Packers defense that struggled at times last year and was thought to be the best inside linebacker on the team.

Bishop was a sixth round draft pick of the Packers in the 2007 NFL Draft.  He enjoyed several successful preseason games before finally getting his chance as a full-time starter when Nick Barnett went down with injury during the 2010 season.  Bishop’s play exceeded all expectations that year and became a fan favorite over the next several seasons.

He finishes his Packers career with 310 tackles  (224 solo), nine sacks, seven forced fumbles, an interception and 13 passes deflected.

Green Bay meanwhile frees up approximately $3.46 million in cap room as a result of releasing Bishop.  Bishop is not subject to waivers since he has been in the league for more than four years and immediately becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Will the Minnesota Vikings come calling? Don’t be surprised if they do. Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette already tweeted that according to sources the Vikings very well could be Bishop’s first visit as a free agent.

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

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16

June

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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Profootballtalk.com asked fans to vote on their Packers Mt. Rushmore this week and it created some interesting debate on Twitter and talk radio.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept, the Packers Mt. Rushmore needs to consist of four people. It can be players, coaches, executives or whomever that you feel is one of the four most important people in Packers history.

This is a tough one. If there was an actual Packers Mt. Rushmore, it would need to go on the side of a very large mountain because four people is much too small.

As much as I love guys like Ron Wolf and Bob Harlan and acknowledge that the Packers might not be around without folks like them, I don’t know if I can put executives on a Mt. Rushmore. Isn’t putting executives on a Packers Mt. Rushmore kind of like putting Abe Lincoln’s chief of staff on the actual Mt. Rushmore instead of Abe Lincoln himself?

I’m also not sure coaches belong on a Mt. Rushmore. But that means leaving off Vince Lombardi and Curly Lambeau, which is just asinine.

If I knew that people wouldn’t burn down my house for leaving Lombardi and Lambeau off, I’d probably put Don Hutson, Bart Starr, Reggie White and Brett Favre on my Packers Mt. Rushmore. When the people arrived with torches and pitchforks to take care of me after leaving off Lombardi and Lambeau, I’d remove Hutson and White for the two legendary coaches.

Football will always be about the players to me. You absolutely have to have a good front office and coaching staff to make everything work, and I’ll say it again that the Packers are not the Packers without the executives and coaches I’ve already mentioned (along with many others).

But in the end, you have to wear a jersey and helmet instead of as suit and tie to make my Packers Mt. Rushmore.

Let us know who makes your Packers Mt. Rushmore in the comments section.

(And don’t yell at me too much for leaving Lombardi and Lambeau off my pre-torches and pitchforks Packers Mt. Rushmore.)

Packers News, Notes and Links

13

June

Packers Inside Linebackers: Now what?

Desmond Bishop, Green Bay Packers

Bye Bye Bishop?

While nothing has been officially announced yet, by many accounts Desmond Bishop’s days as a Green Bay Packer appear to be over.

Speculation is rampant as to whether it’s strictly a “numbers” decision or if the Packers don’t believe he’ll ever be the same after a very serious injury. Bishop claims to be 100%, but has not participated in the Packers OTAs or mini camp.

Whatever the real reason, the big question is, now what?

I’ve seen a lot of  fans asking, “are we supposed to be happy with AJ Hawk and Brad Jones as our starting linebackers?”

My answer to that is, you won’t have to be. What you are likely to see is a lot of situational substitutions at the ILB spots. The Packers have a cadre of linebackers with complimentary skills. Dom Capers’ task will be to pick the right player/scheme for the specific situation.

Also remember the experimentation you’re seeing with Mike Neil and Mike Daniels being used in more of a linebacker role. The Packers suddenly find themselves very deep on the defensive line, and I would not be surprised to see some brand new defensive packages with fewer linebackers and more DL & DBs in the game.

We really won’t know until they line up against San Francisco in the first game that really matters, but you can bet they will have some new looks for Colin Kaepernick.

In the meantime, let’s take a quick look at the ILBs on the Packers’ roster:

AJ Hawk:  Always the team player and good soldier, Hawk has lasted this long as  a starter thanks to his firm grasp of the defensive schemes, ability to make the right defensive calls and his own assignment assuredness. There is no argument he has not lived up to expectations as the fifth player taken in the 2006 NFL draft, but the packers have been using him wisely.

As pointed out in this interesting piece over at Acme Packing Company, the Packers started using Hawk differently in 2012. Firstly, he was in on only 67% of the defensive snaps, as compared to over 90% each of the two previous years. Secondly, he was in on a higher percentage of running plays, a lower percentage of pass plays, and a very low percentage of pass rush attempts.  Expect those trends to continue.