1

November

Packers Making the Most of Opponents’ Penalties

Mike McCarthy

Packer coach Mike McCarthy conversing with a pair of refs.

The Packers have had plenty of calls go against them this season, but they’ve also taken advantage of some penalties that have gone in their favor.

Remember the Packers opening drive against the Texans? Aaron Rodgers missed an open James Jones deep and we all groaned while trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with our MVP quarterback. Thankfully, the Texans lined up offside on a punt, giving the Packers a free fist down and Rodgers a re-do on a his deep pass.

This time, Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson for a 41-yard touchdown on the very next play. From there, the route was on and order was restored in the Packers universe.

Before continuing, I want to be clear that I’m not saying the Packers have gotten lucky when it comes to penalties going their way. See the Fail Mary, phantom pass interference calls on Sam Shields and various bogus roughing penalties if you think that’s been the case. All I’m doing is pointing out a few instances where the Packers have taken advantage of an opportunity created by an opponent’s penalty.

I was in the stands when Jeff “I Should be a Replacement Ref but for Some Reason I’m Actually a Real Ref” Triplette and his crew missed a key fumble on a New Orleans kick return late in the game. The Saints appeared to take the lead after a field goal on the ensuing drive, but saw those three points wiped off the board due to a holding call.

The field goal re-try was no good, probably because the wind from all the Packers fans inside Lambeau breathing a sigh of relief caused the kick to sail wide.

How about this Sunday against the Jaguars? Hanging onto a six-point lead late in the fourth quarter, the Packers faced third and 7 from their own 47. Instead of going the safe route and trying to just pick up enough yards for a first down, Rodgers launched a bomb to Jones, who held up his hands looking for a pass interference penalty as the ball fell to ground incomplete.

The official closest to the play did not throw a flag. Two of his colleagues did, however, allowing the Packers to extend the drive and eventually kick the game-clinching field goal. Replays showed it was probably the correct call, but a case could also be made that there wasn’t enough for interference.

30

October

Packers Stock Report: An Ugly Win Counts the Same as a Pretty Win Edition

Brad Jones

Packers LB Brad Jones was sharp against the Jaguars.

As I’m writing this week’s Packers stock report, I’m watching the Cardinals play the 49ers on Monday Night Football. The Cardinals look horrendous. Absolutely atrocious. They can’t do anything right.

Does this mean anything for Sunday’s Packers vs. Cardinals matchup? Who knows.

So far this season the Packers have been good and bad, lucky and unlucky, hot and cold, hurt and healthy, explosive and stagnant, emotional and dead, and everything in-between.

The same can be said about the Cardinals and just about every other team in the NFL.

There’s no use projecting what might happen week-to-week, so I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the games the rest of the way.

Rising

James Jones
When the Packers offense needed a lift in the second half on Sunday, James Jones came to life. He caught a 11-yard pass and drew a roughing penalty. He also caught a 31-yard pass that set up Donald Driver’s touchdown. No. 89 was feisty in the second half. Perhaps that aggression led to the Jacksonville defender getting a little annoyed and throwing him down on the roughing call. Too bad some of that aggression didn’t wear off on the rest of the offense.

Brad Jones
The latest next man up is Jones and he’s answered the bell so far. Playing inside linebacker for the first time, Jones hasn’t been perfect, but he’s been more than adequate. A sack on an inside blitz and a forced fumble deep in Packers territory were big plays on Sunday. As long as Jones makes the routine tackles and a big play every now and then, he’ll be fine plugging the gaping hole left by Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith.

Morgan Burnett
Someone needed to step up with Charles Woodson out and Burnett was the guy on Sunday. The third-year safety has been decent all season but really showed a nose for making plays and played with emotion against the Jags. The main thing the Packers will miss with Woodson out is his attitude. The veteran might not have the raw skills to do what he used to do, but he’s not afraid to stick his nose in there and try to make a tackle or take on a bigger offensive lineman. Burnett demonstrated the same will against Jacksonville, and made a few impact plays doing so.

28

October

It was Ugly, It was Frustrating, but the Packers Won

Morgan Burnett

Morgan Burnett helped the Packers forget about Charles Woodson, at least a little bit.

What? You thought the Jaguars would trot onto Lambeau Field, bow down in worship to the Packers, pee in their pants, and then proceed to get crushed by 35 points?

That doesn’t happen very often, and it didn’t happen on Sunday in Green Bay.

The Packers aren’t the only team with pride, you know. Other teams are more than capable of playing their best when their backs are up against the wall after injuries, bad luck, agonizing losses or whatever else.

I thought this game would be a bit closer than most people predicted (so did Kris Burke). But let’s not judge this game based on how we thought it would go. Let’s break the game down based on what actually happened.

Missing Woodson?
There seems to be two camps of people regarding Woodson:

  1. Those who think Woodson is past his prime and won’t be missed much, if at all.
  2. Those who recognize Woodson as a big name and veteran presence and think he’ll be missed a lot.

Injuries are always bad. You want your players to stay healthy, so I probably fall more in with group No. 2 than group No. 1, but losing Woodson is far from a devastating loss. I think that was obvious Sunday.

There were a few instances of miscommunication in the Packers secondary. I’d like to say that wouldn’t happen with the veteran Woodson out there, but it’s happened a lot over the last season-and-a-half, even when No. 21 was on the field.

Woodson has struggled in coverage all season, and likely would’ve been matched against TE Mercedes Lewis. Lewis had just two catches, so the other guys did a nice job on him.

How about losing Woodson’s impact on blitzes? Morgan Burnett had a sack and a couple nice tackles near the line of scrimmage. He played the blitzer role much better than Woodson has this season.

Running into a Wall
Mike McCarthy seemed to be punishing his own offensive line by continuing to call runs up the middle on first down.

“You guys can’t open up any holes?” McCarthy seemed to be saying. “Fine. I’m going to keep calling runs to see if I can shame you into actually getting some movement.”

18

September

Packers’ Chastin West Signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars

Chastin West

According to his Twitter Feed,  wide receiver Chastin West has been signed off of the Packers Practice Squad by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Stats: Attended Fresno State, (6’1”, 216lbs) WR.  Combine Stats: 4.59 40yd time, 2.64 20yd.,  1.61 10yd time, 4.42 20yd shuttle, 7.12 3-cone,  33.5” vertical, 15 reps@225lbs, and a 9’1” broad jump. Ranked 64 out of 276  Wide receivers by NFLDraftScout.com.

West had five catches for 134 yards in the preseason game against the Cardinals, but only managed three catches for 18 yards in the other three preseason games. West flashed some potential at times during camp, but never stood out. West was then signed to the Packers practice squad for the second straight year.

 

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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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