22

April

Cory’s Corner: Don’t underestimate Derek Carr

One of the first things that pops into people’s heads when talk turns to Derk Carr is his team’s schedule.

I thought Wichita State buried the schedule theory once and for all this past spring after becoming the first team to enter the NCAA men’s basketball tournament undefeated for the first time since 1991.

Derek Carr is rated as the seventh-best quarterback according to ESPN. He led the nation this year in total offense, passing yards, passing yards per game, passing touchdowns and completions per game.

Derek Carr is rated as the seventh-best quarterback according to ESPN. He led the nation this past year in total offense (5,199), passing yards (5,082), passing yards per game (390.9), passing touchdowns (50) and completions per game (34.85).

Don’t get me wrong, having a solid all-around schedule does help but it shouldn’t be what leads your resume. Production should.

And Carr has certainly been productive as a three-year starter for Fresno State. Carr has 25 school records and 21 Mountain West Conference records after capping off a senior campaign where he led the nation in passing yards (5,082) and passing touchdowns (50).

Carr is rated as the seventh-best quarterback in the NFL Draft according to ESPN, but what I like about Carr is how he moves the chains.

Consider that his average third-down percentage was 58 percent last year compared to his percentage on third down with 10 yards or more to go was 66 percent.

Carr’s career record of 24-15 may not look imposing. But then again, Carr wasn’t playing alongside future top NFL picks like quarterbacks that played at LSU, USC, Alabama and Notre Dame — all schools that recruited him. The last Bulldogs player to be taken in the first round was Ryan Mathews in 2010. Carr has started from 2011-2013 and the highest Fresno State player drafted in that span was the fourth round.

Another negative for Carr, fair or unfair, is that Carr’s brother David didn’t exactly have an enjoyable time in the NFL. In a six-year starting span he only tallied a 23-56 record. But a lot of that was because he played behind a sieve of an offensive line which propelled him to lead the league in number of times sacked in a season three times.

Carr says that he most admires Brett Favre because he never quits, which is why he proudly wears a No. 4 jersey. That never-say-die attitude is easy to spot in wins, but I was glad to see it in a loss. With Fresno State down by 18 with 4:46 left in the game to San Jose State this past year, Carr completed 6 of 10 passes and promptly led his Bulldogs to a touchdown and a two-point conversion.

15

February

Cory’s Corner: Ted Thompson will stick to his script

Ted Thompson is preparing for his 10th NFL Draft as general manager of the Packers.

Ted Thompson is preparing for his 10th NFL Draft as general manager of the Packers.

Now I don’t want to totally dismiss anything that NFL writer and analyst Ian Rapoport said…but I don’t believe any of it.

For those that missed it, Rapoport said that the Packers could sign as many as five free agents to take advantage of the Packers nearly $28 million in cap space.

Anyone who has been around a stale Ted Thompson press conference knows that the Packers general manager prefers to assemble his team through the lower risk, higher reward of the draft, which actually suits a small-market team just fine.

The Packers have not and are not in a position to be like the Redskins or Cowboys who routinely throw money at free agents just because they can. Washington and Dallas are more suited to sign high-priced free agents because they can absorb more mistakes than a team like the Packers.

But that doesn’t mean the draft is an exact science either. There are guys like Brian Brohm, Justin Harrell and Javon Walker in every draft. Obviously the key is finding out which one truly loves the game of football and which one just loves being the star.

The most important free agent signing Thompson has made was Charles Woodson back in 2006. That pales in comparison to Ron Wolf who brought in the hallmark free agent of a generation in Reggie White and then smartly paired him with free agents Sean Jones and Santana Dotson.

Of course Thompson could try and lure the top defensive end in Greg Hardy who has said is looking for a “crapload of money.” Hardy and agent Drew Rosenhaus have already turned down a contract for four years and $32 million. The 25-year-old wants security after netting 15 sacks, which led to his first Pro Bowl bid.

But Thompson cannot do that because dropping that much this year will severely hamper Green Bay’s chances of signing both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, whose contracts expire after the 2015 season.

Basically what Thompson has to weigh is Aaron Rodgers. The Packers’ best quarterbacking mind has a limited window of dominance. He will enter his seventh season as a starter next fall and will turn 31 next December. He has four years of being a game-changing quarterback in the NFL. In that time, the roster has to evolve. It not only has to get better around him, but also must prepare itself for Rodgers’ inevitable diminishing return.

2

March

Expect to see Jermichael Finley back with the Pack

Packers TE Jermichael Finley

Packers TE Jermichael Finley

Much has been made about the future of Packers tight end Jermichael Finley in Green Bay.

Finley, 25, is entering the final year of the two-year, $14 million contract he signed last offseason, and those close to the situation have been on both sides of the fence in regards to his return.

Longtime beat writer Bob McGinn wrote in December that the team appeared to be finished with Finley, but after the maligned tight end improved late in the season, ESPN Milwaukee’s Jason Wilde suggests it’s nearly impossible to think the team would release him.

Before the team’s bye week, Finley averaged 3.2 catches for just 30.1 yards per game in nine games. After the bye, those numbers improved to 4.5 receptions and 56.5 yards per game.

Finley is due a $3 million roster bonus next month and is owed a total of $8.25 million in 2013. In an interview with ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Finley suggested he would consider restructuring his contract but wouldn’t be willing to take a pay cut.

“I’d have to walk for sure, meaning I couldn’t take a pay cut,” Finley said. “Maybe I’d restructure if it’s a deal that I like and it makes sense, but I’m not the guy that’s just going to sign anything and let anything pass. I’m not that guy.”

Finley certainly has a unique way of wording things.

His comments to Anderson can be interpreted several different ways. The negative interpretation suggests that Finley is a me-first player unwilling to back out of a deal that he has yet to live up to. The other side of it is that Finley is willing to restructure his deal in order to remain in Green Bay beyond next season.

Early last season, his comments on the lack of chemistry between he and Aaron Rodgers elicited a similar polarizing response.

“I need the quarterback on my side, and I need to catch the ball when he throws it to me,” Finley said. “It takes two things to get that going. So, the chemistry, I feel like we need to get that going.”

One could read Finley’s quote and immediately rush to the conclusion that he’s publicly calling out his quarterback. On the other hand, Finley accepted accountability to a certain degree, citing the fact that he needed to make the most of his opportunities.

1

December

Hilarious Video: Packers Josh Sitton and TJ Lang

First off, let me apologize. I’ve been lax in bringing you entertaining Packers videos lately (been putting a lot of focus on the new Packers Talk Radio Network project I’m involved with).

But fear not… I will get back to the business of scouring Youtube for Packers-related videos you’re sure to enjoy.

So here ya’ go:

 

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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21

November

Packers’ Victory over Lions had Plenty of Style

Ryan Pickett

Packers DL Ryan Pickett made some stylish plays on Sunday against the Lions.

Kevin Seifert had the following headline on his ESPN NFC North Blog post following the Packers 24-20 win over the Lions on Sunday: “Packers: Substance of 2012 > Style of 2011.”

Kevin went on to write how the Packers grind-it-out victories over the last five weeks might be more impressive and have them better prepared for the postseason than the string of blowout wins they had en route to a 15-1 finish in 2011.

For the record, I agree with Kevin. His post was spot-on. I just didn’t care for the headline.

The Packers had plenty of substance in 2011. You don’t go 15-1 on style alone.

And the Packers have had plenty of style so far in 2012. It’s just a different style than what we saw last season.

To casual football fans, style means long passes, beautiful catches, ankle-breaking runs and exciting punt/kick returns. Those are the plays that make Sports Center and go viral on the Internet.

The more hardcore football fans appreciate those types of plays as well, but also find plenty of style in other areas of the game.

To me, this third-and-goal play from Sunday highlights the type of style that hardcore fans appreciate and the type of stylish play that the Packers have been coming up with over the last five games.

A touchdown there gives the Lions a 7-0 lead and the Packers young and beat-up defense probably hangs its head a bit. Who knows where the game goes from there.

Instead, Ryan Pickett — who is in there in case the Lions run it — busts through the line and chases Matthew Stafford right to Morgan Burnett for the sack.

The defense holds the Lions to a field goal and the defense’s confidence goes way up. That’s style, in my opinion.

Here’s another one:

Tim Masthay is punting from midfield in the first quarter and drops a perfect corner kick that gets downed by Jarrett Bush on the Lions’ 2.

Now, that seems like a simple enough play, right? Three years ago, that ball probably flys into the end zone and the Lions would get the ball at the 20. Not this year.

2

October

Did Sunday’s Victory Save the Packers’ Season?

Randall Cobb

Randall Cobb played a big role in the Packers’ emotional win over the Saints on Sunday.

I laughed when the headline to Kevin Seifert’s game story popped up on my Twitter account Sunday night: “Emotional Packers save their season.”

“Really, Kevin?” I thought. “A season cannot be saved in week four. Calm down.”

I thought Kevin was reaching for a story angle to try and be different, get people riled up and generate web traffic.

But Seifert is an excellent reporter, one that isn’t prone to hyperbole and weird narratives that attempt to push reader’s buttons just for the hell of it. So I clicked on the story, read it, and decided that Seifert might be on to something.

This passage in particular stood out:

At 1-2, the Packers were facing some long odds if they lost Sunday’s game. Since the NFL moved to its current playoff format, 85.3 percent of teams that started 1-3 missed the playoffs. In a league in which most teams have relatively equal talent, the so-called “snowball effect” is very real.

I won’t summarize Seifert’s entire post — read it for yourself — but he makes some excellent points about emotion and the toll it would have taken on the Packers to lose another emotionally-charged game, this time at home to a team that was just as desperate as they were.

Instead let’s focus on the immediate future. If the Packers lost Sunday, not only would they be facing long playoff odds at 1-3, they’d be facing them with their next three games on the road; a tough situation in any case, let alone coming off two straight heartbreaking losses.

It’s silly to project more than three games into the future during the NFL season (even three games might be too far), but there’s a common theme among the Packers next three road opponents: Hope. The next three teams the Packers face all have reasons to be hopeful, and likely view the Packers games as a chance to go from hopeful to confident.

  • The Colts are coming off a bye week armed with a phenom quarterback and Dwight Freeney returning. Their coach was also just admitted to the hospital for treatable leukemia, which means emotions will be running high in that stadium. There’s hope for a promising future in Indianapolis, and what better way to take a step forward than by beating the Packers.
12

July

Aaron Rodgers Wins ESPY for ‘Best NFL Player’

Photo Courtesy of JSOnline.com

Media giant ESPN hosted their 20th annual ESPY Awards last night.  Among “awards” such as Best Upset or Best Moment, ESPN also does tradition awards like Best NBA Player or Best MLB Player.

For Best NFL Player, the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers brought home the hardware.  I’ll wait while you recover from the complete shock that just overtook your body.

Seriously though, was there any other award that was so blatantly obvious as Best NFL Player?  Couldn’t ESPN have announced this award at about Week 12 of the 2011 season and simply dropped it from the program?

Anyways, kudos to Rodgers on another trophy to add to his growing case of hardware.  I’m sure this one will sit right next to his MVP and Super Bowl MVP trophies.