2

August

Pigskin Paul’s Power Rankings: Packers are only #…

NFL Power Rankings

NFL Power Rankings: Packers at #4

PACKERS RANK:  #4         So here’s the skinny… I still am not sure how the PACKERS went 15-1 last year. No matter how great we all think AARON RODGERS is, it is almost incomprehensible that a team whose Defense allowed an NFL record 299.8 ypg in passing lost only one game? How does a team that averages 97.4 ypg rushing at a clip of 3.9 ypc win 15 games? How do you stop NFL passing attacks when your D can muster only 29 Sacks for the League’s 32nd ranking in Sack Pct?

There are a litany of improbabilities for rationalizing the PACKERS 2011 successes, but conversely they did a lot right. They scored the most points in the League with 560, while ranking a respectable 19th in points allowed. They managed a total of 38 defensive turnovers, tied for first in the League, while only turning it over themselves 14 times. Their +24 Turnover Differential was second only to the 49‘ers. They also had one of the best teaching Coaching Staffs in football, which allowed them to once again find success with one of the youngest rosters in the League.

But enough of last year and second guessing what happened. The real question right now is how will they fare in 2012. My PACKERS readers will probably crucify me for only ranking them 4th overall, but until I see some of the promised defensive improvement I have to be somewhat skeptical. And their lack of a real running game clearly showed up in their Play-Off loss to the GIANTS, resulting in that very disappointing one and done post season.

I am also a bit concerned about the affects of the biggest coaching staff  and front office turnover since WHITEY and COACH MAC started their collaboration in Green Bay. But most of that change is in the Front Office not within the actual coaching staff. The Coaching Staff merely went through some internal shuffling and promotions. I am sure MIKE McCARTHY will have his coaching troops organized and in sync with his wishes this year, as usual.

6

June

Packers Stock Report: Offseason Edition

Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Donald Driver

Two of the three in this pictures are rising.

A little over a week ago, a few folks over at ESPN put together NFL power rankings for the 2015 season. Yes, you read that correctly, the 2015 season.

Thanks to Aaron Rodgers, a young core of talented players on both sides of the ball and a steady front office and coaching staff, the Packers finished first in the rankings. It’s silly to talk about 2015 power rankings in 2012, but that’s what NFL nerds like us talk about in June.

Perhaps a more appropriate exercise would be to examine each team’s roster and determine which players are rising and which are falling. It’s impossible to project anything clearly all the way to the 2015 season, but if you can assign a rising/falling grade to everyone currently on the roster, you at least can get a somewhat reasonable projection of the team’s future beyond the upcoming season.

All of this sounds like the perfect recipe for a Packers offseason stock report. Which players are on the rise and which are falling? This isn’t like the normal stock reports I do during the season. Those reports go week-to-week with heavy emphasis on the last game played.

For this offseason report, I’m looking more long term. Heck, I’ll use the 2015 season as a benchmark. Between now and 2015, can we reasonably expect (insert player’s name) to get better, keep playing at a consistently good level, or regress? I’m not going to label any player as steady, either. They’re either rising or falling.

Also, it doesn’t mean that a player is bad if he’s tagged with the falling label. For example, I think Charles Woodson is falling. I don’t think he’ll be playing at his current level in 2015, but that doesn’t mean he’s bad now and should be cut.

Finally, I’m just going to look at starters and I’m not touching the rookies. We don’t know enough about the first-year guys to slap any sort of label on them.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Here we go:

Aaron Rodgers, QB: Rising. Expect Rodgers to keep playing at an MVP level well into the future.

James Starks, RB: Rising. I’m giving Starks the benefit of the doubt here. I think if he stays healthy he can be the type of running back the Packers need.

29

March

Around the NFC North: Offseason Moves and Views on the Vikings, Bears and Lions

Vikings stadium

An artists's rendering of the proposed new Vikings stadium. Yes, it's another crappy dome.

What have the teams in the NFC North not named the Green Bay Packers been up to this offseason? Read on and find out.

Minnesota Vikings

Players Released: G Steve Hutchinson, G Anthony Herrera, CB Cedric Griffin, NT Remi Ayodele, TE Jim Kleinsasser (retired)

Free Agents Signed: TE John Carlson, FB Jerome Felton, RB Lex Hilliard, OL Geoff Schwartz, CB Zack Bowman

Re-Signings: DT Fred Evans, QB Sage Rosenfels, DL Letroy Guion, WR Devin Aromashodu

Holes on Roster: CB, S, LT, LG and WR

The Vikings ditched the Triangle of Authority and named Rick Spielman sole general manager not long after their 2011 season (mercifully) ended. Naturally, many Vikings fans expected Spielman to start signing free agents as soon as possible, anything to erase the memories of a 3-13 season that saw the Vikings take several steps backward while the Packers, Lions and Bears got better.

Those marquee free-agent signings never came. Instead, Spielman appears to be doing his best Ted Thompson impersonation by signing no-name free agents and talking about building through the draft. The one exception was signing TE John Carlson to a five-year, $25 million deal.

The Vikings are in a weird spot. They have a young QB that may or may not be a long-term solution. Their best offensive player tore his ACL at the end of last season. Their coach has no personality and is unproven. And their defense keeps getting older.

They’re not only rebuilding, they’re in the infant stages of rebuilding.

On top of all that, owner Zygi Wilf is in the fight of his life trying to get taxpayer funding to build a new stadium. I suppose there is a chance that 2012 may be the last season the Packers play the Vikings, the Minnesota Vikings, anyway. If had to take an educated guess, though, I’d say that Wilf eventually gets his stadium and the Vikings will blow their horns in Minnesota for many years to come.

But a new stadium might be the only good news for Vikings fans in the near future. This team is rebuilding, and it’s going to take a while before they contend in the NFC North again.

Chicago Bears

Players Released: DT Anthony Adams, OL Frank Omiyale, RB Marion Barber (retired)

Free Agents Signed: KR-PR Eric Weems, RB Michael Bush, OB Jason Campbell, LB Blake Costanzo, QB Josh McCown,

16

December

NFC Playoffs Power Rankings: Green Bay Packers Fall to No. 8

Well, that was one of the most depressing weeks of football ever. After watching the performances of the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings, I am seriously considering never watching football again. It was that bad.

This weekend made me wonder if the NFC North is really that much better than the NFC West. The entire division managed to score 20 points in week 14. 20 points!

Anyway, I guess it is time for this week’s power ratings. No, the Packers will not be ranked No. 3 like they were last week.

First, here is how the NFC teams still alive for the playoffs currently rank:

  1. Atlanta Falcons
  2. Chicago Bears
  3. Philadelphia Eagles
  4. St. Louis Rams
  5. New Orleans Saints
  6. New York Giants
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  8. Green Bay Packers
  9. Seattle Seahawks
  10. San Francisco 49ers
  11. Arizona Cardinals

Here is how I rank these teams. Please argue with me. Call me names, insult my family, do whatever. This weekend sent me into a severe state of football depression and I need something to snap me out of it (I’ve also added each team’s remaining games in parentheses).

1. Atlanta Falcons (@Seahawks, Saints, Carolina)
We know how good the Falcons are at home. Now they are winning on the road too. Since 2000, only four of 35 teams have won three consecutive road games. With a win over the Seahawks Sunday, the Falcons can become the fifth.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (@Giants, Vikings, Cowboys)
I was going to put the Eagles first this week because their offense is crazy talented, but then the injury bug hit their defense. Defensive end Brandon Graham is done for the season and linebacker Stewart Bradley might be finished too. Is the offense good enough to cover for these injuries? I think so, especially if LeSean McCoy continues playing like Brian Westbrook in his prime.

3. New Orleans Saints (@Ravens, @Falcons, Buccaneers)
The Saints have a tough schedule the rest of the way, but unlike the Packers, they have some wiggle room because they’ve taken care of business before hitting the tough home stretch. The Saints can clinch a playoff berth with a win Sunday and a losses by the Packers and Bucs. Even if the Saints win out and finish 13-3, chances are high that they still won’t win the division and will have to defend their Super Bowl title in three road playoff games.