31

May

Predicting Packers Butt Height

“There’s two main components that a center needs to have, and it’s not quickness or agility or snapping or anything. It’s two things: One, he has to have a good height, and I’m talking about where his butt rests. It can’t be too low because I don’t wanna get deep in that stance and it can’t be too high so I feel like I’m standing up. It’s gotta be just right. He’s got that.  It’s a feel. My center in college was about my height and he’s real low in his stance. So it made me have to kinda duck down a little bit. It’s hard to get out of center. Scott Wells — my previous center — [and] Jeff Saturday: great height. Great butt height.  And the second is most important, and that’s sweating. How much do they sweat? The worst thing that you can have is third, fourth quarter on an October day where it’s 65, 70 degrees and he’s sweating through his pants. Because that is not a situation you wanna be in. You gotta change pants at halftime. Our backup center — great guy — Evan Dietrich-Smith, he has major sweat issues. And when you get that ball snapped up and there’s a lot of sweat that just splashes all over you and on your hands and the ball — it’s not a good situation. So he actually has changed at halftime before. So those are the two things you look for: butt height and sweating. Jeff’s doing really well in both categories. … Low sweat ratio and solid butt height.” – Aaron Rodgers

Ah, classic Aaron Rodgers; but ironically Rodgers’ observations about centers is one of the more in-depth analysis on what it really takes to be a center in the NFL out there right now.  Fans and the media typically don’t pay much attention to offensive linemen in general, but when they do they gravitate towards the all important left tackle position.  Right tackle and guard are gaining a little steam in terms of importance (just look at how many of them were drafted this year in the 1st round), but center still remains the forgotten position.  Outside of being able to snap a ball, what makes a good center?

9

March

2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Offensive Line

The Packers can always count on Josh Sitton on the offensive line.

Packers offensive line:  The Packers have invested a significant amount of resources into their offensive line over the last three years. Two first-round draft picks (Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod), a notable free-agent signee (Jeff Saturday) and a few contract extensions (Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang). Despite all that investment, the offensive line is still nowhere near the level of the Packers’ skill position groups.

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects;

  • Bryan Bulaga (1st round)
  • Don Barclay (undrafted)
  • Josh Sitton (4th round)
  • Evan Dietrich-Smith (undrafted)
  • T.J. Lang (4th round)
  • Marshall Newhouse (5th round)
  • Derek Sherrod (1st round)
  • Greg Van Roten (undrafted)

 

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

Listen to internet radio with Packers Talk Radio Network on Blog Talk Radio

Bulaga: There are all kinds of questions swirling around Bulaga right now. Will he ever be the pro-bowler many think he’s capable of being? Will he move to left tackle in 2013? What do we make of his dismal start in 2012? Can he stay healthy? That last question is probably the most important. I don’t think Bulaga was 100 percent healthy to start 2012, and that was part of the reason he struggled so much early. Whether he moves to the left side depends on a lot of things: What is Derek Sherrod’s status? Does Mike McCarthy want a more physical line? Does Ted Thompson draft another tackle in April?

Don Barclay: Assuming Don Barclay doesn’t leave football in order to pursue a career as the next great wrestling jobber, he should get a shot at starting in 2013. Ideally, I think the Packers would like to use Barclay as the sixth man on the offensive line, sort of like Evan Dietrich-Smith has been used most of the last two seasons. But if Barclay has to start, the Packers probably won’t panic. Barclay is kind of a poor man’s version of T.J. Lang: Physical, goes all out, versatile, lacking a bit in pure talent.

Sitton: Plug him in and forget about him. As long as Sitton is healthy, he’s one of the better guards in the league.

5

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Brian Schwenke, C, California

Brian Schwenke

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: C Brian Schwenke

Player Information:

Brian Schwenke, C California
6-3, 314 pounds
Hometown: Oceanside, CA

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 yard: 4.99
Bench: 31
Vertical: 26.50″
Broad: 9’00″
Shuttle: 4.74
Cone: 7.31

News and Notes:

A relative unknown coming into the draft process, Brian Schwenke has cemented himself as a top 5 center in the 2013 NFL draft after an impressive showing in both the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine.  Schwenke started with the Cal Bears as a left guard but rotated between both sides until his senior year where he moved to the pivot.  While he lacks the experience playing center of some of the other draft prospects, Schwenke does offer good versatility being able to play anywhere in the interior offensive line but ultimately his preferred position will probably be center.   Schwenke posted some of the best combine results of any offensive linemen this year, especially by breaking the 5″ mark on the 40 yard dash and recording a remarkable 7.31 second 3 cone time (as a comparison, Nick Perry recorded a 7.25 3-cone last year)

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com: “Possesses a compact build well-suited to interior line play. Has a naturally low center of gravity and uses it, along with a wide base and excellent use of leverage to anchor against bigger, more powerful bull-rushers. Possesses an exceptional initial burst off the snap to turn and seal off defenders. Quick, active hands and shows an explosive pop on contact. Keeps his legs driving through the play to finish blocks. Alert, competitive blocker who looks to help his teammates and blocks to the whistle. Very good burst to the second level, showing improved awareness as he gained experience at the position. Made all of the line calls for Cal despite his inexperience at the position. Durable. Played in 48 of 50 possible games for Cal, including 36 starts.”
  • NFL Combine: “ Schwenke has a wealth of starting experience, both at guard and center. Schwenke comes off the ball very quickly, and is sound in his hand placement technique. He plays with a low pad level. Schwenke lacks great power, so he will be a better fit at center.”

 

Video:

 

http://www.youtube.com/embed/SQyeOUq0cVU

Video Analysis:

25

January

Packers News: Jeff Saturday will retire

 

Former Packers C Jeff Saturday will retire

Former Packers C Jeff Saturday will retire

ProFootballTalk is reporting that Jeff Saturday, a 14-year veteran, will reportedly retire after the Pro Bowl.

“We’ll finish it with sunsets in Hawaii and call it a much better career than I would have anticipated,” Saturday said on 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis.

Prior to coming to Green Bay in 2012, Saturday spent the previous 13 seasons in Indianapolis. Saturday was selected to this year’s Pro Bowl, which marks the sixth time in his career that he’s held that honor.

Before the Packers’ week 16 game against the Tennessee Titans, Saturday was benched in favor of Evan Dietrich-Smith. Saturday handled the move like a true professional, calling his benching a “passing of the torch.”

Saturday was signed to replace Scott Wells as the team’s starting center before the season.Wells signed with the St. Louis Rams as an unrestricted free agent.

Saturday started the first 14 games before being benched. He’s one of two Packers that will play in this Sunday’s Pro Bowl–guard Josh Sitton being the other. The Green Bay Packers coaching staff will coach the NFC in Sunday’s game.

This announcement is hardly a surprise. The 37-year-old Saturday wasn’t playing at a high level in 2012, and the Packers appear ready to roll with Dietrich-Smith at center.

It was a great career for an undrafted rookie out of North Carolina. Enjoy retirement, Mr. Saturday.

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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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22

January

2013 NFL Free Agents the Packers Could Sign, but Probably Won’t

Dan Kopen

Center Dan Koppen is a free agent the Packers could possibly sign, but likely won’t.

We started the conversation about the Packers biggest draft needs by position group on Monday. Now let’s take a look at possible free-agent targets for Ted Thompson.

It’s probably best to get this discussion out of our system right away. As usual, I doubt Thompson will do much in free agency. He signed Jeff Saturday last offseason, and Saturday ended up on the bench. That’s not going to entice Thompson to run back to the free-agent pool for immediate help.

If Thompson does bring in some free agents, they will probably be system-types — role players that most of us have never heard of that may or may not even make the team. But, hey, posting a blank page probably wouldn’t generate much discussion, so let’s pretend Thompson might want to bring in a guy or two from the outside.

Who might be a good fit? Again, don’t get your hopes up, but it’s at least worth discussing.

Jason Jones, DL
The Seahawks signed Jones to a one-year deal last offseason and he finished with just three sacks in 12 games before getting hurt. Since pass rush from the defensive line is a big need, Jones could fit well with the Packers as a situational pass rusher that can play all three defensive line spots. Jones likely won’t attract a lot of attention, but is still viewed as a guy with some upside, so who knows? The Seahawks signed Jones to a one-year “prove yourself” sort of deal. If he can’t get a multi-year offer anywhere, perhaps the Packers would offer him something similar to what he got with Seattle.

Dan Koppen, C
If one guy who used to snap it to Peyton Manning doesn’t work, why not try another one? Koppen is like a younger version of Saturday, with a little bit left in his run-blocking tank. As Manning’s center in Denver this year, Koppen also is likely used to the no-huddle and setting protection while the quarterback changes things at the line of scrimage. I’m sure Koppen isn’t a realistic option for the Packers, but you never know. Falcons center Todd McClure also will be on the market, but he’s probably not a good fit, either.

27

December

Pro Bowl Rosters Set: Rodgers, Matthews, Saturday Will Represent Packers

Rodgers and Matthews at Super Bowl XLV

Rodgers and Matthews are becoming Pro Bowl perennials. Rodgers will start for the NFC

The NFL Pro Bowl rosters were announced on December 26th and among them were three Green Bay Packers who were voted in outright.  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, linebacker Clay Matthews and center Jeff Saturday will represent the Packers at this year’s contest.  Here is a look at each and what got them here.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers is having yet another phenomenal season.  He is obviously the face of the team and their fate rests squarely on his shoulders.

A look at the numbers tells us all that we need to know about why Rodgers will be the NFC’s starting quarterback in this year’s Pro Bowl:  3930 yards, 67% completion percentage, 35 touchdowns (just eight interceptions) and a quarterback rating of 106.2.  And those are Rodgers’ average numbers over the course of his career as a starter.

Just when it seems that there has to be some sort of drop-off in Rodgers’ play, he comes out and puts up more great numbers and the Packers, again, find themselves strong contenders to reach another Super Bowl.  Despite the issues that the team has had with the offensive line and in pass protection, Rodgers has continued to find ways to make plays and win games for this team.  A very well deserved Pro Bowl start for #12.

Linebacker Clay Matthews III

Matthews is having another stellar season.  He has 12 sacks and needs just one and a half more to tie his career high set back in 2010.  After a bit of a dropoff last season, Matthews has re-emerged as the pass rushing threat that was so key in Green Bay’s success during their Super Bowl season.  That he has posted those numbers despite missing four games is even more noteworthy.

Matthews just continues to play with such a high motor and has elevated his run defending skills.  He is the epitome of what describes a true “difference maker”.  When he was out the Green Bay pass rush took a major step back and struggled at times.

He seems to be fully back and healthy from the hamstring injury that forced him out earlier this season and the Packers will need Matthews at 100% for the postseason push.

23

December

Keys to the Game: Green Bay Packers vs. Tennessee Titans

Chris Johnson and Tramon Williams

The Packers need to bear down on Johnson this Sunday and keep him from running free

I’m going to depart a bit from the usual Key Matchups format because the Tennessee Titans are an unfamiliar opponent of the Green Bay Packers and also due to the injuries on both sides.

We will return to our regularly scheduled “Key Matchups” next week when the Packers visit the Minnesota Vikings to round out the 2012 regular season.  For this week, it’s more of a “What to Watch For”.

Titans Running Back Chris Johnson

Johnson gets hidden, sometimes even forgotten, in Tennessee because they are one of the smaller markets.  And let’s be honest, the Titans have been very forgettable the past four seasons.  But 1,200 yards and five touchdowns is nothing to overlook this week for the Packers.

Johnson had a 94 yard touchdown run in Tennessee’s Monday night’s dismantling of the New York Jets.  With that run, Johnson set a new NFL record with six career touchdown runs over 80 yards.

He’s still a very good running back and clearly has the ability to break a long run at any time.  Green Bay struggled to contain another great running back three weeks ago when Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had a long scoring run and ran wild all day.

It’s asking a lot of any defense to contain a top back, but Green Bay has had recent success defending the run and can again this week.  It comes down to the one-one-one matchups at the line, specifically with Ryan Pickett and BJ Raji.  Each played very well last week against Chicago and Matt Forte.

Tennessee’s offensive line grades out better than does the Bears’ but with top wide receiver Kendall Wright out this week, the Titans won’t have as many options in the passing game. Green Bay may be able to focus more on loading up the box, as they say.

If all else fails, just tackle.  The Packers have had more than their fair share of tackling issues over the past two seasons and it cost them in the Vikings game.  Fortunately it didn’t cost them the game, but in a close contest, a missed tackle can be the one play that prevents them from getting the “W”.