13

April

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football.

Last season it was Mike Daniels. The season before it was Randall Cobb. If the Packers are going to contend for a Super Bowl in 2014, at least one player will have to make the leap from potential to breakout star.

Here are the top contenders:

WR Jarrett Boykin
Boykin is probably at the top of most people’s most likely to break out lists. He was successful last season and he has Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. Teams will be ready for him in 2014, though. If he’s going to make the leap, he’ll have to do a better job of getting separation.

DL Datone Jones
Unlike Boykin, Jones is probably near the bottom of most people’s lists. Fans soured on Jones late last season and, apparently, so did the coaching staff as fellow rookie Josh Boyd got more snaps down the stretch. I still have high hopes for Jones and I think he can fulfill those hopes. You need to be patient with young defensive linemen. They rarely break out in their rookie seasons. Let’s see what year two brings for Jones.

CB Davon House
We’ve been waiting for House to take the next step for a while now, haven’t we? If he doesn’t take it in 2014, he probably never will. House’s size appears to make him an ideal fit in Green Bay’s defense, but whenever he strings together some good plays, he follows it up with a couple of stinkers and winds up on the bench. With Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Micah Hyde and Casey Hayward on the roster, House doesn’t have much room for error.

LT David Bakhtiari
We all groaned when Bryan Bulaga went down and the rookie Bakhtiari ended up starting at left tackle. By the end of the season, those groans turned into “Huh. That kid can play.” Yes, it was a good debut for the kid whose last name I hate spelling, but his ceiling is higher than just a feel-good, surprising rookie playing well in a tough spot. The Packers offense can be a whole lot better if Bakhtiari transforms from promising rookie to left-tackle anchor.

TE Brandon Bostick
Based on what little I’ve seen of him, Bostick seems to do everything well except catch the ball. He especially seems to struggle with drops in traffic. If he develops his hands, especially in tight spaces, I like what he can do in the passing game.

13

February

Mike Daniels Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

1) Introduction:  When looking for defensive linemen for the 3-4 defense, tradition dictates you are looking for two types of players: a stout nose tackle who can command double teams with his raw power and two big and tall defensive ends who can maintain the edge for the linebackers and occasionally rush the passer.  Mike Daniels is neither.  Daniels was a surprise pick in the 2012 NFL draft as he essentially had no position, he was probably too short and light for a 4-3 defensive line, let alone a 3-4 defensive line which emphasizes size and strength to make up for losing a man.  Where does Mike Daniels actually belong and can he contribute for the Packers despite not fitting the stereotypical 3-4 defensive linemen?

2) Profile:

Mike Daniels

  • Age: 24
  • Born: 5/5/1989 in Stratford, NJ
  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 300
  • College: Iowa
  • Rookie Year: 2012
  • NFL Experience: 2

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Low.  Daniels had a pretty nondescript rookie season highlighted by a fumble returned for a touchdown against the Lions at home, but otherwise only played 280 snaps the entire season but did manage to record 2 sacks and 7 quarterback hurries but was only on the field in obvious passing situations as he only recorded 8 tackles.  Going into 2013, it was expected that Daniels would continue to get used to the 3-4 defense, probably be used a similar capacity as he was used in his rookie season, namely in the nickel package as a down defensive tackle in obvious passing downs and perhaps become part of the rotation in the base 3-4 defense as a defensive end.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Daniel’s biggest game came against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 10, where he recorded a sack, 2 quarterback hits and a hurry against the quick paced Eagles offense.  Daniel’s lowlights both involve the Minnesota Vikings and All-World running back Adrian Peterson, who embarrassed Daniels (and the rest of the defensive front 7 in all honesty), especially in week 11 when he rushed for 146 yards.

30

October

Packers Stock Report: The Bears (and the Vikings) Still Suck Edition

Micah Hyde’s punt return for a TD elevates the Packers rookie into this week’s rising category.

The Packers closed down the Metrodome in style Sunday night, bowling over the Vikings and filling the cavernous white bubble with the sweet sounds of Go Pack Go!

Hearing Go Pack Go echoing throughout the Metrodome as the Packers beat the Vikings is one of the best sounds in all of sports. I won’t miss the Dome, but I will miss the times when the Packers play well enough to allow Cheeseheads to take the place over.

Now that the Packers have dispensed of the Vikings and Christian Ponder, it’s on to the Bears and Jay Cutler  Josh McCown. Instead of extending this intro any further, prepare for Bears week by watching this educational and informative video:

On to the stock report:

Rising

Micah Hyde
On his Tuesday afternoon radio show, Aaron Rodgers wondered how Hyde fell to the fifth round in the draft. The rookie is a solid all-around player — a decent tackler, decent cover guy, decent slot blitzer, and now he has a punt return TD under his belt. In a secondary filled with young talent, Hyde is fitting right in.

Mike Daniels
The type of relentless pass rush and the ability to finish a sack once he gets in the backfield is just what the Packers needed this season. Many thought it would come from rookie Datone Jones, but it’s actually coming from Daniels. Daniels added two more sacks on Sunday. Christian Ponder is not a good quarterback, but he is elusive and not easy to bring down. Daniels got him twice.

T.J. Lang
What’s left to say about the interior of the Packers offensive line? Lang has been battling some bruising defensive tackles all season and keeps on winning those battles much more often than he loses. Lang might be a bit undersized, but he’s athletic and excels on combo blocks when he’s asked to get to the second level.

Steady

Jordy Nelson
It’s like Nelson and Rodgers had a devious plan on Sunday night against the Vikings:

Rodgers: “Hey Jordy, instead of getting wide open tonight, just glue yourself to the nearest defender so I can show off by whizzing a pass right by the guy’s ear hole and into your hands.”

2

October

Mike Daniels Fitting in Nicely with the Giants Along the Packers Defensive Line

Mike Daniels tries to chase down RGIII

While Packers first-round pick Datone Jones got the hype, Johnny Jolly grabbed the headlines and B.J. Raji wondered aloud about a new contract, Mike Daniels kept plugging away.

The undersized fourth-round pick out of Iowa made the team out of training camp and has been the most disruptive Packers pass rusher on the defensive line this season.

Despite playing only 74 of a possible 198 snaps Daniels leads the defensive line in QB hurries (3) and is one of only two defensive lineman to record a sack. He also has four solo stops — the same as B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett, who have played 115 and 95 snaps, respectively.

Daniels won’t overwhelm anyone with his size and strength, but he makes up for it with explosiveness, athleticism, and a motor that runs on high all the time. He’s kind of the DuJuan Harris of the defensive line — a rolling ball of butcher knives that is all over you before you know it.

Take a look at this video of Daniels sacking Andy Dalton.

Daniels didn’t dominate the offensive lineman and make a highlight-reel sack, but he stood his ground and used his quickness and burst to disengage and make a play once Dalton tried to escape the pocket.

Do Raji, Pickett or Jolly have the athleticism to make a play like that? Maybe. But Daniels for sure has it, and he’s an excellent complement to the slower behemoths that make up the rest of the Packers defensive line.

As Jones goes through the same struggles that most rookie defensive lineman go through, Daniels has stepped up and provided the pass rush and versatility that many thought Jones would provide out of the game.

Now that Daniels has put several exceptional plays on film, we’ll see if he can keep it up as more teams become aware of his ability.

Raji, Pickett and Jolly provide a nice base along the Packers defensive line. Daniels is an excellent change of pace that can provide some much-needed pass rush up front. Will Daniels become more than just a nice change of pace? You could argue that he already has.

We’ll see if he can sustain it.

27

September

Packers Stock Report: Winning the Bye Week Edition

Packers WR Jordy Nelson celebrating yet another week in the rising category of the Packers Stock Report.

The Packers went into the bye week 1-2 and so far have accomplished all of their bye-week goals:

  • Stay out of prison. No players arrested yet during the bye week. If no Packers end up in jail over the weekend, that gust of wind you’ll feel on Monday morning will be everyone in Packers management exhaling a giant sigh of relief.
  • Don’t Tweet stupid things. I haven’t been on Twitter much this week, but I haven’t heard of any Packers accidentally tweeting a naked selfie or using a homophobic slur. Packers management must cringe every time they see a Tweet pop up from one of their players during the bye week.
  • Do something really awesome. Technically, this didn’t happen during the bye week, but it deserves another mention. Major kudos to Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and the entire Packers organization for making Cody Monroe’s day.
  • Ignore the fans. Why ignore the fans? See the comments section of this post.
  • Rest heads and hamstrings. Unless they’re going skydiving or playing pickup soccer games, all the Packers with concussions or hamstring injuries should come back at least one step closer to returning to the field.
  • Read the ALLGBP.com Packers Stock Report. Without further ado:

Rising

Jordy Nelson
Remember in Varsity Blues when the QB would knock the other team’s mascot off his horse when throwing the ball away? If Rodgers tried doing something like that, Nelson would probably catch the pass. He’s that good on the sideline.

Clay Matthews
His play on the field was more than enough to move him to the rising category, but after he got hurt, his stock went up even further. Unless Dom Capers schemes an unblocked blitzing defensive back, the Packers pass rush goes bye-bye when Matthews isn’t on the field. Just in case we forget, we’re reminded of how valuable Matthews is to this team every time he goes out with his annual hamstring injury.

Mike Daniels
Daniels’ violent style of play has so far made up for him being undersized. He’s got a sack, three hurries and four defensive stops this season and might be the only defensive lineman capable of bringing a pass rush at this time. Will Daniels continue to impress now that other teams are becoming more aware of his aggression and his strengths?

18

September

Packers Stock Report: Flashback to 2011 Edition

Only this end zone pylon slowed down Packers WR James Jones on Sunday.

Anyone else have flashbacks to 2011 as the Packers cruised to an easy win over the Redskins on Sunday?

The lasers from Aaron Rodgers. Jordy, Randall, James and Jermichael making tacklers look like fools after the catch. The defense forcing a couple of turnovers. Sloppy tackling from the Packers defense. Not quite delivering the knockout punch.

Even though many of the players are different, the sentences in the previous paragraph would have summarized a lot of the Packers’ 15 wins during the 2011 season. The Packers aren’t about to rattle off 14 straight wins and repeat their run from 2011, but the overall stock of this team is rising right now.

Let’s take a closer look at exactly why that is:

Rising

James Jones
You could easily put Nelson and Cobb in the rising category as well, but they were risers last week and investors snatched up all the available shares. Investors who bought low on Jones — shutout in the season opener — are cashing in big time after his 11-catch game against Washington. The only thing that stopped Jones on Sunday was a fumble-inducing end zone pylon (hat tip to whomever I stole that joke from on Twitter).

Aaron Rodgers
I hate putting Rodgers in the rising category because it’s just assumed that the best QB in the world belongs in the rising category every week. After a game like the one Rodgers had on Sunday, though, he deserves to have someone physically take the time to type his name in the rising category. Rodgers obviously decided to take a couple of sacks early in the game just to make things a little more challenging for himself. That didn’t even slow him down.

Ryan Pickett
Now Big Grease is swatting down passes while filling gaps and squashing running backs. Nasty.

Steady

Mike Neal
I was a serious doubter about the Mike Neal at LB experiment, but I’m starting to come around. He can move a little better than I thought and he’s tough to get off the edge against the run. Raise your hand if you predicted that Neal would drop into coverage and get an interception sometime this season? Those of you that raised your hands, go sit in the corner and take a timeout for lying.

19

August

Revisiting My 10 Top Training Camp Topics for the Packers

Eddie Lacy may not get the first carry of the season, but he's the "starter" in my eyes.

Eddie Lacy may not get the first carry of the season, but he’s the “starter” in my eyes.

About three weeks into camp and halfway through the NFL preseason, many of the Packers’ key question marks are starting to take shape.

Some of such unknowns have since seen new faces (Vince Young) enter the conversation, while other questions (Jermichael Finley) are still completely up in the air.

Prior to training camp, we put ten Packers training-camp topics under the microscope for further review. Now two games into the preseason, it’s time to revisit some of these questions and predictions.

1. Who will be the Packers’ opening-day starter at running back?

Answer: Eddie Lacy, and I feel the same. Kinda.

The Packers clearly didn’t want to (literally) hand the job to a rookie running back without some competition; the team routinely gave veterans Alex Green and James Starks run with the No. 1 offense early in the offseason.

But after the “fat” Eddie Lacy thing blew over, the rookie quickly separated himself from the pack at the position. Coach McCarthy has been effusive in his praise of DuJuan Harris, who returned to practice this week, but if “Fat” is healthy, he’s going to get at least a share of the workload.

Fat was exceptional in his preseason debut against the St. Louis Rams, racking up 51 total yards on nine touches. He broke tackle after tackle, picked up the blitz and caught the ball out of the backfield. It was certainly an impressive showing for the rookie.

But if Harris and Lacy are both available on opening day, I really think both players will get a share of the load. Harris played well against the 49ers in the playoffs, but the Packers abandoned the running game in the second half.

So, in this case, the “starter” label may be a bit subjective. It could be a “starter and closer” or “thunder and lightning”-kinda situation.

2. How many defensive linemen will the Packers keep?

Answer: Six. Now, I think they’ll keep seven, including Mike Neal.

I was cautiously optimistic and mildly skeptical about the Neal-at-outside linebacker thing, but it looks like it’s working so far. Injured second-year defensive end Jerel Worthy told me and Cheesehead TV’s Zach Kruse to “look out” for Neal in his new role, and halfway through the preseason, he certainly looks like one of the team’s best pass rushers.