27

January

Jarrett Bush 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Packers CB Jarrett Bush

Packers CB Jarrett Bush

1) Introduction: Despite being a special teams ace and, along with Tramon Williams, a veteran presence among a young group of cornerbacks, Bush wasn’t necessarily a lock to make the team in 2013. The Packers spent a fifth-round pick on what they thought was a NFL-ready corner in Micah Hyde, and they were already stacked at the position with Williams, Sam Shields and Casey Hayward. But as always seems to be the case, Bush was asked to play a fairly prominent role on defense at several points throughout the season. That said, Bush’s time in Green Bay may be waning, as the veteran defensive back will turn 30 before the 2014 season kicks off.

2) Profile: Jarrett Bush

  • Age: 29
  • Born: 5/21/1984 in Vacaville , CA
  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 200
  • College: Utah State
  • Rookie Year: 2006
  • NFL Experience: 8 year

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: While probably not the most popular player among the Packers’ fan base, most, at this point, know Bush is what he is. He’s a guy who prepares as well as anyone in the locker room and can play a defensive role if need be, but his primary impact would come on special teams. Once Bush made the roster, his expectations for the upcoming season were a carbon copy of what they are every season.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: If there’s one highlight that came out of Bush’s 2013-14 season, it’s his clutch interception of Matt Ryan on the Atlanta Falcons’ final possession. The way the Packers’ season had been going at the time, it looked like the Falcons may be on the verge of a Hail Mary road win, but Bush put an end to that. The Falcons game (+1.4) was Bush’s best of the season, according to Pro Football Focus, while the Vikings game in Minnesota (-1.1) was his worst.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Jarrett Bush was Jarrett Bush. He played a lot on special teams and a little on defense; never more than 23 defensive snaps in a game and never less than zero. Bush, however, missed four games in 2013 after missing just two in his first seven seasons.

19

January

Packers, Capers really missed Casey Hayward in 2013

Casey Hayward wasn't the Packers' only missing link in 2013, but he was certainly missed. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Casey Hayward wasn’t the Packers’ only missing link in 2013, but he was certainly missed. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

As a rookie in 2012, Packers cornerback Casey Hayward was one of three finalists for the league’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ fourth-best cornerback–the second-round pick trailed only established veterans Antoine Winfield, Richard Sherman and Charles Tillman.

After Hayward intercepted a team-best six passes and holding opposing passers to an abysmal 31.1 passer rating, the Packers had high hopes for Hayward, as they cut ties with their veteran leader and turnover-creator Charles Woodson following the 2012 season.

But Hayward’s encore was disrupted by a recurring hamstring issue, limiting him to appearing in just three games. He played 88 snaps.

With Woodson playing in Oakland and Hayward on the sideline, the Packers were left searching for a solution in the slot early last season. Sam Shields and Tramon Williams had fine seasons, but both are better suited for the perimeter. Micah Hyde didn’t play like a rookie, as he took over as the primary punt returner while proving to be a reliable run defender and a versatile cover man.

All things considered, the Packers’ cornerbacks fared well, but they were seriously lacking in one area.

For as long as Dom Capers has served as defensive coordinator in Green Bay, the Packers defense has relied heavily on takeaways. Woodson intercepted 19 passes and forced 11 fumbles during Capers’ tenure, which began in 2009. When Capers served as defensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1992-1994, he had another Woodson (Rod), who intercepted 16 passes in three seasons with Capers.

But for the first time since taking over in Green Bay, Capers was without his X-Factor in 2013. He didn’t have a play-maker. He certainly didn’t have a Woodson.

For a defense that had grown accustomed to bending but not breaking, losing its turnover-creating wild card would be like throwing Capers in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean without a raft. Hayward’s 88 snaps were a makeshift life vest, but Capers and the defense remained stranded and searching for answers.

It would be foolish to assume Hayward’s career will unfold like Woodson’s, but you don’t let go of your high-school sweetheart without a winner on deck. The Packers had a plan for Life After Woodson, but that plan (Hayward) fell by the wayside thanks to the injury bug.

23

August

Pre Season Week 3 – Packers vs. Seahawks: Keys to the Game

Packers vs Seahawks

Wilson will provide the Packers with their first test with a mobile quarterback in 2013

Please forgive my hiatus for last week’s Green Bay Packers vs. St. Louis Rams contest.  I was temporarily brainwashed to think that my post would write itself.  But I digress. . .

This week’s pre season game has the Seattle Seahawks visiting Lambeau Field to face the Packers on Friday.  As John Rehor of Packers Talk has said, this is not a rematch of last year’s Monday Night Football debacle.  Dubbed the “Fail Mary” game, it incited a lot of controversy and left many Packers fans wanting vengeance against both the man (the Seahawks) and the machine (Roger Gooddell and the NFL).  But alas, as John said, it’s not a rematch.  It’s just a pre season game.

Still, week three of the NFL pre season has long been considered a dress rehearsal for the upcoming season and the starting units typically see their longest stint on the field during this game.  It’s more of a true litmus test to see how a team looks and how prepared they are for the upcoming regular season.  While there may be some chatter from the players and media, the Packers need to drown that out and focus.

During the offseason, the Seahawks got busy in acquiring more pieces to complete their team and get even better than last year when they came within inches and seconds of advancing to the NFC Championship game.  They traded a first round draft pick for receiver Percy Harvin to give quarterback Russell Wilson another solid target.  Harvin promptly injured his hip and had to have surgery, which will prevent his Seattle debut until some time in November, if at all.  Seattle also brought in former Lions defensive end Cliff Avril to help with their pass rush and former Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield to add some experience to their defensive backfield.

Seattle comes into this season as not only a favorite to win the NFC West, but they are also considered by many to be front runners for the NFC and the Super Bowl.  This should provide a solid test for the Packers, who also figure to be in the mix for a deep playoff run.  Let’s drill down on the keys for the Packers in this week’s game and also some of the position battles that are still in full swing.

18

July

Green Bay Packers What If Roster Scenarios

What if Micah Hyde can do what Jarrett Bush does, only better? Does Bush get cut?

Are you ready to really scramble the Packers portion of your brain?

Let’s go over a few “What If” Packers roster scenarios. Your head will begin spinning in 3, 2, 1…

What if a RB/FB emerges as a really good pass blocker?
Then John Kuhn — due to make $1.6 million this season — might be out of a job. Besides being the only reliable blocking back, what else does Kuhn bring to the team besides a recognizable fan chant whenever he touches the ball? He’s not a reliable option for picking up short-yardage first downs. He’s not a run blocker. He’s got decent hands, but it’s not like his receiving would be sorely missed. I know he’s tight with the quarterback, and cutting a reliable pass-blocking back in this offense would be risky, even if another back emerges as a blocker in preseason. But it wouldn’t surprise me to see Kuhn gone if Mike McCarthy is confident in having someone else out there on third downs to protect Aaron Rodgers.

What if Johnny Jolly has a great training camp and preseason?
The Packers kept six defensive lineman on the opening day roster last season. The six did not include Mike Neal, who was suspended for the first four games. Neal, Josh Boyd, Datone Jones, C.J. Wilson, B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett and Mike Daniels are probably frontrunners to secure spots this season. Jerel Worthy will likely start on the physically unable to perform list and may eventually move to injured reserve. If — and it’s a big if — Jolly is too good to cut, could Daniels go? He had a few moments in 2012, but seems too small to become a major impact player. Other than Daniels — and even he seems pretty safe — I don’t know who else would go to make room for Jolly. I guess the most likely scenario if Jolly is good is keeping eight defensive lineman and stashing Worthy on the PUP. You could probably get an extra roster spot by going with five wide receivers and eight linebackers after opening with six and nine, respectively, in 2012. The bottom line is this: Jolly is going to have to be damn good to make the team. And if he is, it’s going to lead to a lot of other roster dominos falling.

20

May

Packers Jarrett Bush has Managed to Stick Around

Jarrett Bush

Packers CB Jarrett Bush has stuck with the team since 2006.

The pitchforks were out and the torches were lit after the 2009 season. Packers fans wanted cornerback Jarrett Bush off the team.

I admit that I was one of those Packers fans holding a torch high in one hand and a pitchfork in the other. I was sick of seeing Bush stumbling three yards behind a receiver after a double move left him in the dust and led to another touchdown against the Packers.

Ted Thompson has never paid much attention to the pitchfork- and torch-wielding sector of the Packers’ fanbase, and he held true to that philosophy with Bush. Now the undrafted free agent out of Utah St. and claimed by the Packers off waivers from Carolina is one of the longest-tenured Packers, a good special teams player and, dare I say it, somewhat beloved by fans.

I say “somewhat” because if Bush ever ends up playing significantly as a defensive back again, it will probably get ugly and fans will turn on him again. But as long as he remains the blue-collar, hard-working leader of the special teams unit, the love for Bush will only get stronger.

Admit it: When Bush picked off Ben Roethlisberger in the Super Bowl, you slapped yourself and wondered aloud if you just watched Jarrett Bush intercept a pass in the Super Bowl. For the Green Bay Packers. In January of 2011.

That play sticks in my mind to this day. Bush, a player who didn’t even get love from the fanbase of the team he played for, kept plugging away and made an impact when called upon to do so on the biggest stage.

If you were paying attention throughout the 2010 season, you would have noticed Bush making an impact on special teams. On Packers teams not known for their physicality and tackling, Bush goes as hard as anyone on special teams and is never afraid to stick his nose in the middle of the action and attempt to make a tackle.

Ever since Bush has been able to focus on special teams (albeit for one start in the 2012 season opener that didn’t go well), he’s found a place in Green Bay as a veteran and emotional leader.

28

February

2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Cornerbacks

Packers 2012 Cornerbacks Sam Shields and Casey HaywardPackers Cornerbacks:  All eyes were on the cornerback group during Training Camp in 2012. This unit, above all others, had some serious competition going on for a starting job. And the result was that this competition continued throughout the season until we ended up with Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, and Casey Hayward as the clear leaders of the secondary.

For expanded coverage of this topic, listen to the podcast using the player below or download the podcast from the Packers Talk Radio Network on Itunes.

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects:

Tramon Williams (UDFA, 2006)
Jarrett Bush (UDFA, 2006)
Sam Shields (UDFA, 2010)
Davon House (4th Round, 2011)
Casey Hayward (2nd Round, 2012)
James Nixon (UDFA, 2012, Practice Squad)

How many teams can say that their top two cornerbacks went undrafted as rookies? The Packers can, though they can also say that their past two draft selections on cornerbacks are also beginning to make names for themselves.

  • Williams: After a horrible showing in 2011 thanks to an early shoulder injury, Tramon Williams was looking to get back to his championship form of 2010. Unfortunately, he only seemed to get about halfway there. He showed clear improvement but still came up short, especially in key moments. The big question is whether he’ll continue the upward trend or start falling again.
  • Bush: Can we be done with the Jarrett Bush experiment once and for all? He’s a key special teams player, but a starting cornerback he is not. His performance in Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers had the coaches quickly backpedaling in their confidence, and in Week 2 Bush was no longer starting anymore.
  • Shields: The award for most improved player of the year could easily go to Sam Shields. He went from an abysmal 2011 season to legitimate shutdown corner status in 2012. Not only that, he found the will to tackle and play with more physicality. His size doesn’t help much, but at least the right attitude is finally there.
  • House: People seemed to forget about Davon House during the offseason until he started proving his worth in training camp. From almost nowhere, he became one of the favored starters next to Tramon Williams. A shoulder injury derailed those plans, but in a short amount of time, House has initiated a lot of hope for the future.
9

February

Packers Jarrett Bush: 2012 Player Evaluation and Report Card

Jarrett Bush

Jarrett Bush

1) Introduction: There probably isn’t anyone on the Packers roster right now more infuriating to fans than Jarrett Bush. Coming onto the team as an undrafted free agent in 2006, his performance as a cornerback/safety has been frustrating, to say the least. With an uncanny ability to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (and generally doing the wrong thing), Bush was never a welcome sight on the defense. His only redeeming qualities have been a highly improved special teams play and a timely interception against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.

2) Profile:

Jarrett Lee Bush

  • Age: 28
  • Born: 05/21/1984, in Vacaville, CA
  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 200
  • College: Utah State
  • Rookie Year: 2006
  • NFL Experience: 7 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: Much to the chagrin of Packers fans, Jarrett Bush ended training camp as the starting cornerback opposite Tramon Williams. Had Davon House not injured his shoulder, there was a good chance he would have been supplanted. Despite good reports from coaches and beat writers during camp, Bush’s performance as a cornerback would always be doubted among fans. His abilities as a gunner on special teams would make him a core player in 2012 once again, but that’s the most we wanted to see from him.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Jarrett Bush’s speed and improved technique have made him a gunner that consistently gets downfield on punts, either forcing a fair catch or downing the ball at ideal field position. This year, Bush had the highlight of recovering a muffed punt by the Arizona Cardinals. While it was in the final minutes of a lopsided game, it deal seal the victory for the Packers. Bush’s low-light in 2012 was his starting cornerback performance in the opener against San Francisco. It didn’t take fans long to tell the Packers coaching staff: “I told you so.”

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: On defense, Jarrett Bush was the usual suspect. He was miserable against the 49ers, and luckily that game made up about half of his total defensive snaps on the year. During his time at cornerback, he allowed seven receptions on 10 targets for 98 yards and two touchdowns. His biggest impact, as was to be expected, came on special teams. Even then, he was responsible for eight penalties on the year.