8

February

Cory’s Corner: Assistant coaches don’t excite me

Ron Zook was the head coach at Florida at Illinois. And is now the Packers assistant special teams coach. How did that happen?

Ron Zook was the head coach at Florida at Illinois. And is now the Packers assistant special teams coach. How did that happen?

It’s usually pretty hard to get excited about assistant coaches.

But now the Packers have the highest number of middle management in the NFC North.

And I’m still not excited.

Granted, Mike McCarthy knows that changes need to be made, but I don’t think having 21 assistants is going to be the difference. Does Ron Zook really get anyone excited? And what exactly does an assistant special teams coach do?

That’s quite a fall from grace for a two-time major college football head coach.

But new assistants are just window dressing. This team needs personnel. It needs players that don’t give a half-hearted effort like B.J. Raji and then turn down $8 million from the Packers.

It needs Tramon Williams to play like it’s 2010 and Derek Sherrod to start his first NFL game in his fourth season.

This team needs Clay Matthews to start 16 games for the first time in his career. It needs a tight end to fill Jermichael Finley’s shoes but do it without chirping.

I think we all saw how important a mean streak is. The Seahawks and 49ers approach the game like the movie, “Slapshot.” Both teams try to blow you up on every single play and it’s about time the Packers thought the same way.

Green Bay doesn’t have that on-field sergeant that will not only impose its will but make the opposition think twice about something just because of the physical ramifications.

By the end of the first quarter of Super Bowl XLVIII, the Broncos wide receivers knew they were beaten. They knew they weren’t going to outmuscle, out tough and outwork the best secondary in football.

I need to see more out of guys like Nick Perry and Andy Mulumba to get an accurate gauge. But adding a dynamic linebacker for the 3-4 defense wouldn’t be a bad thing.

This team needs more creativity from the offensive play calling. Just because it’s first down, it doesn’t automatically mean you have to run the football. This team needs more quarterback pressure out of the front seven to ease the burden on the secondary.

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.

6

August

Packers Rookie WRs Johnson, Dorsey Running Out Of Time

Johnson and Dorsey

Injuries have forced Dorsey (left) and Johnson (right) to miss valuable time at training camp

With training camp over a week old now, the Green Bay Packers have established front-runners at most positions.  That preseason depth chart can, of course, always change.  Still, with a little over a month from the start of training camp to week one of the regular season, time is short and reps are precious.  This especially holds true  to the young and unproven.

In this year’s draft, the Packers took two wide receivers, Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey, in the seventh round.  Johnson stands 6’2″ and around 215 lbs while Dorsey comes in at 6’1″ and around 207 lbs.  While both were late-round choices, Johnson and Dorsey were garnering some attention heading into the offseason.  Johnson was especially intriguing because of his size and speed.  The word “potential” is grossly over-used in the football world, but still, the “p” word was thrown around by many when referring to Johnson.

Early during the team’s organized team activities in spring, both Johnson and Dorsey suffered injuries that limited their participation.  The team was hopeful that they would heal and be ready for training camp.  So far, neither has participated in a single practice and time is starting to tick away.

When Greg Jennings departed after last season, that left the core of Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb at wide receiver.  That conceivably leaves open at least two roster spots at wide receiver, a very critical position in the Packers’ offensive machine.  Vying for those two spots are nine players.  Among those are incumbent Jarett Boykin, Jeremy Ross, Johnson, Dorsey, Myles White, Tyrone Walker, Alex Gillett, Sederrik Cunningham, and Omarius Hines.

Last season, the Packers seemed to be planning on carrying five receivers into the 2012 season.  They had young hopefuls in that of Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel and there was quite a bit of scuttle that the team may have to carry a sixth receiver if one or both of them had a strong enough showing in training camp.  Down to the last preseason game, both Gurley and Borel were on the bubble along with the little-known Boykin.  Boykin came on strong in that contest and earned himself the sixth receiver slot, sending Gurley and Borel packing.