2

November

Cory’s Corner: Adversity makes Rodgers MVP worthy

Aaron Rodgers has been playing without his top weapons for two weeks and hasn't missed a beat.

Aaron Rodgers has been playing without his top weapons for two weeks and hasn’t missed a beat.

We all know that Aaron Rodgers is good.

But in the last two weeks he’s actually given us a value of how good.

With Randall Cobb and James Jones out with injury, he effortlessly beat Cleveland at home with only nine incompletions as he spread the wealth to eight different receivers.

And then last week, with Jermichael Finley out, he carved up the Vikings. He spread it around to six different receivers and of those, four were still getting used to being thrust into an increased role thanks to a rash of injuries.

Now I know the Browns and Vikings aren’t exactly the cream of any crop whatsoever, but Rodgers proved that he is the Packers’ puppet master.

In a year in which Peyton Manning is taking a machete to the passing record book, Rodgers just put himself in the NFL MVP discussion.

Everyone, including myself, didn’t think it was possible for Rodgers to jell with guys like Jarrett Boykin, a Jacksonville castoff, Myles White, a practice squad promotion, and Andrew Quarless, whose career has been truncated due to injury. The last time Quarless caught five passes in a game was Dec. 2010.

There’s a reason why these guys are backups. Obviously Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finley are exponentially more talented than this trio. There’s a reason why Rodgers gets all the reps with the No. 1’s in preseason camp so they can quickly get on the same page and develop that needed nonverbal communication that’s so important for success.

Rodgers hasn’t been given that much time with White and Boykin. It’s only been a couple weeks. Usually quarterbacks begin their critical timing at mini-camp and follow that up with more reps at training camp, which lasts five weeks.

And the nice thing about Rodgers is that he hasn’t made any excuses. He keeps plugging along — and winning games for Brett Favre’s fantasy football team.

It looks like it’s going to be the same script again for Rodgers when the Bears come to Lambeau on Monday night. Cobb and Finley are out and Jones isn’t close to making a return. Rodgers’ numbers aren’t going to be as glossy as Manning’s. With a superior running game, Eddie Lacy has been cutting into some of Rodgers’ production, but that shouldn’t detract from Rodgers playing with the Misfit Toys (plus Jordy Nelson) going on three weeks.

23

October

If Finley is out for the season, can Quarless do the job?

Andrew Quarless was visibly shaken by Jermichael Finley's injury. Should Packers fans worry about Quarless as the No. 1 tight end?

Andrew Quarless was visibly shaken by Jermichael Finley’s injury. Should Packers fans worry about Quarless as the No. 1 tight end?

Three years ago in 2010, the Green Bay Packers won a Super Bowl with a rookie Andrew Quarless as their starting tight end.

That year, Jermichael Finley suffered a knee injury in week six against Washington and was forced to miss the remainder of the season; Quarless stepped in and the role of the Packers’ tight end shrunk within the offense. Prior to going down, Finley was on pace for 84 receptions and 1,204 receiving yards–an average of five catches and 75 yards per game.

After Finley was lost for the season, Quarless caught two or fewer passes in 14 of the team’s remaining 16 games, including playoffs.

Fast forward to October 2013, and Finley, again, faces an uncertain future after suffering a bruised spinal cord Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Finley is out of intensive care and walking on his own, but he’ll undergo more tests before a decision is made on his future for this season and beyond.

According to sources via ESPN, there is “no specific timetable for Finley’s return to the field, but indications are that he likely will miss at least four to six weeks.” Ed Werder tweeted Tuesday that Finley’s injury was not believed to be career-threatening, although the Packers could consider placing him on the injured reserve sometime later this week.

Clearly, at this point, no decision has been made on Finley’s availability this season.

The most optimistic will point to 2010 and suggest that plugging Quarless into the lineup for Finley will be enough. But as things currently stand, the Packers’ group of wide receivers is certainly not as strong as it was in 2010.

Then, the Packers made up for losing Finley by featuring Greg Jennings as the No. 1 target, while Jordy Nelson was exceptional in the stretch run and into the playoffs. James Jones and Donald Driver held their own as the third and fourth options.

Right now, the Packers will likely head into their matchup in Minnesota with Nelson and Jarrett Boykin as their starting receivers. At tight end, it’ll be Quarless along with a combination of Brandon Bostick and others. Myles White will likely be the No. 3 receiver, like he was last week against Cleveland.

18

October

How will McCarthy Scheme Around Packers Injuries?

The steam is rising off of the head of Packers coach Mike McCarthy as his brain schemes ways around the loss of Randall Cobb and others.

There’s at least one person in Green Bay happy about all the injuries the Packers have suffered this season: The CEO of whichever electric utility provides power to the head coach’s office at Lambeau Field.

The lights will be on at all hours in the coming weeks as Mike McCarthy puts his mad scientist skills to work and tries to compensate for the loss of Randall Cobb, a hobbled James Jones and a slew of other injuries that threaten to disrupt the Packers offense.

If you haven’t already, read this post from Matt Bowen at Bleacher Report about how the Packers have rebuilt their running game and could incorporate more big formations and multiple tight end looks to make up for the loss of Cobb and others.

It’s a great read and makes a ton of sense, but then again, so do a lot of schematic type of things when they’re written on paper. Once the game starts and the bodies start flying, sometimes the game plan that seemed so innovative on Thursday is proven to be worthless after the first quarter of the actual game.

I have no doubt that McCarthy will incorporate a few formations and looks that maybe we haven’t seen out of the Packers recently. It’s one thing to come out with some unique looks. It’s another to use those looks to create mismatches and put players like Jarrett Boykin or Brandon Bostick — players who might be seeing a much bigger role after barely playing so far — in a position to succeed.

No matter what McCarthy comes up with, he’ll be hard-pressed to make it work unless Eddie Lacy and the running game keeps rolling. Assuming Lacy keeps doing what he’s been doing, does McCarthy have the patience to use the running game to set up his shot plays in the passing game?

McCarthy has always used the passing game to set up running plays. That mindset might have to change a little bit, at least for now.

We saw the impact an effective ground attack had in the win over the Ravens. Does the 64-yard TD to Jordy Nelson happen if Lacy hadn’t been rolling and the defense didn’t actually take the play-action fake seriously? Probably not.

16

October

Packers News: WR Tyrone Walker signed to practice squad

Packers WR Tyrone Walker had a strong preseason, and now he's back for another run with the team.

Packers WR Tyrone Walker had a strong preseason, and now he’s back for another run with the team.

According to the team’s official website, the Green Bay Packers have brought back Tyrone Walker to the practice squad.

The move was announced Wednesday by Packers general manager Ted Thompson.

Walker, 5’10″ 191 pounds, spent training camp with the Packers before being released as part of the team’s final cuts. He signed with the Seattle Seahawks and remained on their practice squad for one game before he was let go.

Walker joins recently re-signed receiver Reggie Dunn, giving the team two wideouts on the eight-man practice squad.

Before signing with the Packers as an undrafted free agent, Walker left Illinois State as the school’s career leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Walker will, again, wear No. 83 with the team.

In the preseason, Walker led the Packers with 11 catches; Walker’s 86 receiving yards ranked third on the team behind Myles White and Jermichael Finley.

While certainly not the biggest or fastest receiver on the roster, Walker proved to have reliable hands throughout training camp and the preseason. Given his stature and lack of top-end speed, Walker faces long odds to make a significant impact, but the receiver-needy Packers could be his best opportunity to catch on (pun intended) with a NFL team.

Including the injured James Jones, the Packers currently have four wide receivers on the roster to go along with five tight ends. Jones’ status for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns is still up in the air, although earlier this week, head coach Mike McCarthy said Jones “might be able to play.”

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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14

October

Packers News: Cobb to miss 6-8 weeks with fractured fibula

Ravens safety Matt Elam went low and knocked Randall Cobb out of the game. And apparently, the injury will sideline him for 6-8 weeks.

Ravens safety Matt Elam went low and knocked Randall Cobb out of the game. And apparently, the injury will sideline him for 6-8 weeks.

According to Ty Dunne, of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb suffered a fractured fibula Sunday and will miss 6-8 weeks.

At Monday’s press conference, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Cobb would miss “multiple weeks” with the injury but did not go into detail. Originally, it was thought to have been a knee injury, but it turns out Cobb nearly broke entirely through his fibula.

The Packers play host to the Cleveland Browns this week. If Cobb is to miss six games, he’ll be set to return on Thanksgiving against the Detroit Lions. Following the Lions game, the Packers will host the Atlanta Falcons before traveling to Dallas to play the Cowboys.

Depending on playoff implications, it’s possible that the Packers would keep Cobb out for the remainder of the regular season. But things change, and only time will tell how long Cobb will be sidelined.

After McCarthy’s press conference, ESPN’s Adam Schefter said the thought was that Cobb would only miss two weeks. Around the same time, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport suggested Cobb could be sidelined for about a month. Turns out, the injury is more severe than Schefter and Rapoport led on, and Cobb will miss nearly two months with the injury.

In related news, the Packers have re-signed wide receiver Reggie Dunn to the practice squad. Schefter hinted at the Packers’ interest in rookie receiver Tavarres King, who is currently on the Denver Broncos’ practice squad.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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14

October

Packers News: Injury updates on Perry, Jones and Cobb

Packers receiver Randall Cobb will miss "multiple weeks," according to head coach Mike McCarthy. He offered no further details.

Packers receiver Randall Cobb will miss “multiple weeks,” according to head coach Mike McCarthy. He offered no further details.

The Packers left Baltimore with a 19-17 win over the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens, but they lost several core players to injury.

Coming into the game, the team was already shorthanded, as they were without outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who suffered a broken hand last week against the Detroit Lions.

Perry, filling in for the injured Matthews, reportedly suffered a broken foot on his sack of Joe Flacco at the end of the first half. Perry missed the final ten regular season games last season, but prior to his injury, the former first-round pick was coming into his own, as his sack of Flacco was his third in the past two games.

Head coach Mike McCarthy said at Monday’s press conference that Perry would not have a chance to play this week. He wouldn’t go into detail about any of the team’s new injuries.

The injury was first reported by WDUZ’s Chris Havel, via WDUZ’s official Twitter page.

James Jones exited Sunday’s game with a knee injury, but Adam Schefter reported Monday that the injury was merely a sprained PCL. Immediately after leaving the game, Jones returned to the sideline for the second half sporting a full leg brace.

McCarthy confirmed that Jones’ injury was the least severe of the three, saying the wide receiver did, in fact, have a chance to play this week against the Cleveland Browns.

Randall Cobb’s injury, however, sounds like it’s a bit more serious than that of Jones. After being hit low by Ravens safety Matt Elam, Cobb remained on the ground for an extended period of time before being carted into the locker room. McCarthy said Cobb would miss “multiple weeks” with his knee injury but, again, did not go into specifics.

14

October

Packers Coach Mike McCarthy Deserves Credit for Guiding Team Through Adversity

Packers coach Mike McCarthy helped the Packers pull out a gritty victory on Sunday.

I became a father on Tuesday and I am still in that stage where any topic of conversation ultimately leads back to my new son.

I swear my wife and I haven’t had a “normal” conversation since our baby was born. Everything revolves around our new little one — his feeding schedule, his body temperature, his sleeping patterns, his fussiness, play-by-play of his birth, what he’s going to wear, who’s got the next diaper change. Of course, anyone we talk to just wants to know about our new son, too. How is he doing? Is he keeping you up at night? How is your dog adjusting? Are you going insane yet? Oh, he’s so cute (and he is really cute). Things like that.

So forgive me, but my mind is firmly stuck in new parent mode, which might make this analogy a little whacky. Hear me out and let me know what you think.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy has taken a lot of grief for his playcalling this season. Fans, including myself, are second-guessing the coach when he doesn’t use running back Eddie Lacy on third-and-short or opts for a long bomb when a shorter, safer pass seems like the more logical call.

It doesn’t matter how successful a coach is; fans will always second-guess the playcalling. Always. Sometimes the criticism gets really loud and sometimes it’s somewhat muted, but it’s always there.

Second-guessing the playcalling is kind of fun. It’s part of being a fan. Yeah, the criticism is often moronic and way off-base, but who cares? This is football, not foreign policy.

What does any of this have to do with becoming a dad? Calling out McCarthy for his playcalling is similar to calling out a parent for not “controlling” his or her kid at a restaurant or properly “disciplining” a child when you think it’s warranted.

I used to be one of those people, a parent second-guesser. A screaming kid in a restaurant would drive me batty. I’d roll my eyes and mutter that the kid should be taken outside and controlled. When my little nieces and nephews ran around like crazy people, I swore that my children would never behave like that. I would instill the proper amount of discipline to ensure that they were always little angels.