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.

3

April

Character Still Matters for the Green Bay Packers

NFL, Green Bay Packers, Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy, Aaron Rodgers, Packer People, Packers players, Johnny Jolly, Packers character, Packers off the field

Johnny Jolly is proof that Green Bay is a very special place to play.

Another week, another story about an NFL player (allegedly) engaging in shady off-field activities.

This time it’s former Philadelphia Eagles and now-current Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson and his supposed affiliation with a gang. Jackson denies such activity, but the fact the accusation has even been made stains his reputation.

This is just the most recent in a string of stories over the past several seasons involving NFL players and criminal activities. Aaron Hernandez, currently awaiting trial on miser charges, is probably the most severe but there have been so many other instances this entire article would just be a list if all were to be mentioned.

Drunk driving, drugs, domestic violence, assault and the aforementioned murder are just some of the charges levied against NFL players the past several seasons. The league has an image problem and commissioner Roger Goodell has his hands full trying to fix it.

This is why NFL fans, regardless of what team colors they wear on Sundays, should be thankful for a team like the Green Bay Packers.

Since general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy arrived in 2005 and 2006, respectively, the Packers have been able to avoid the off field issues so many other teams have had to deal with over and over again.

The one potential exception to this for the Packers, the past drug arrests of defensive lineman Johnny Jolly, was turned into a positive this past year when Jolly was reinstated by the NFL and was named the team’s Ed Block Courage Award recipient for how he has turned his life around and became a locker room leader (per Aaron Rodgers himself) in the process.

How has Green Bay been fortunate to avoid the distractions a good chunk of the rest of the league often encounters?

Well, for one, character sometimes has to trump talent in the eyes of Thompson and McCarthy and it should. This is why the Packers have passed on players such as Randy Moss and Terrell Owens in the past, despite lobbying by fans and a certain former MVP quarterback.

They might be uber-talented on the football field, but if they cause distractions off the field or disharmony in the locker room, what’s the point? McCarthy and Thompson value a united locker room above all else and they won’t introduce any element that risks upsetting this.

29

March

Cory’s Corner: Packers are undervaluing the center position

Frank Winters was Brett Favre's starting center for 10 seasons and the two shared an inseparable bond.

Frank Winters was Brett Favre’s starting center for 10 seasons and the two shared an inseparable bond.

Just how important is the quarterback-center battery in the NFL?

Apparently, it’s not that overly important to the Packers because Aaron Rodgers is about to embark on his fourth different starting center to begin the season.

Think about that for a second.

Rodgers is the best quarterback on the planet. Amazingly, he has been able to average 31 touchdowns a season with a 58-29 record in six seasons. And he’s done it despite playing with a revolving door at the leadership position of the offensive line.

In 16 years with the Packers, Brett Favre had five different centers start the majority of games. But that counts James Campen for one season in 1992 and the person nobody remembers — Grey Ruegamer in 2004.

Favre’s mainstay was Frank Winters. “Bag of Doughnuts” and Favre were teammates for 11 seasons and were able to grow up together and make each other better.

Rodgers hasn’t had that yet. Right when Rodgers and Scott Wells were beginning to form a cohesive bond, the Packers didn’t bring him back after four years of working as the quarterback-center battery and thus, the process started all over again.

The next person to come on down is JC Tretter. Last year’s fourth round draft pick hasn’t started a game in the NFL but the Packers are handing him a shot to ignite one of the most dynamic offenses in the league with each snap.

Centers aren’t exactly a glory position. No kid gazes into the mirror and dreams of one day making a perfect shotgun snap to his quarterback before quickly reasserting himself as a pass blocker. Heck, Tretter was a quarterback, running back and wideout in high school.

JC Tretter is looking to become the fourth starting center to begin the season for the Packers since 2008.

JC Tretter is looking to become the fourth starting center to begin the season for the Packers since 2008.

But that doesn’t mean the job of a center should be understated. While left tackles get the money for protecting the quarterback’s blind side, it’s the center that makes the coverage adjustments. A center is the quarterback of the offensive line.

So when Rodgers comes back to camp not knowing much about his next center, he needs to spend time getting to know how things will work. If you’re Rodgers, you don’t want to learn in Week 3 that your center has a problem with a quick snap count or a pronounced loud bark in order to draw a defense offsides.

27

March

Mike Holmgren vs. Mike McCarthy: By the Numbers

20140327-093503.jpg

Mike McCarthy no longer resides in Mike Holmgren’s shadow

In an earlier post, we took a look at the comparison between former Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf and current general manager Ted Thompson. Since Thompson just concluded his ninth season with the team, it was interesting to see how the two men compared.

Now we look at Thompson’s head coach, Mike McCarthy and compare him with Wolf’s, Mike Holmgren. Holmgren coached the Packers for seven years while McCarthy is about to begin his ninth. To be fair, we will be looking at only McCarthy’s first seven seasons in Green Bay meaning 2013 will be excluded.

Regular season record:

Holmgren 75-37
McCarthy 74-38

It can’t get much closer than that. This might come as a surprise to some people since McCarthy went 8-8 in year one and had the 6-10 season in 2008 and Holmgren never was below .500, but “the numbers don’t lie.

Holmgren had a consistent defense in his time to go along with a proficient offense. McCarthy has had no such luck so far.

Postseason record:

Holmgren 9-5
McCarthy 6-4

Holmgren went 2-2 in 1993 and 1994 before going 7-2 from 1995-1997. That includes the two Super Bowl runs including the victory in Super Bowl XXXI and the loss in Super Bowl XXXII. Holmgren also was “one and done” in his final game as Packers coach in the last-minute and still-controversial loss to the 49ers in January 1999.

McCarthy went 1-1 in his first playoff appearance in 2007, advancing to the NFC championship game in January 2008. His record includes the 4-0 playoff run the Packers had to win Super Bowl XLV. He has been “one and done” three times in the playoffs including the 2009 game against the Cardinals and 2011 against the Giants (this past season is not included),

Division Titles

Holmgren 3
McCarthy 3 (earned his fourth in 2013)

Both coaches are dead even here and both even has one title earned in borderline “miraculous” fashion. Many remember Yancy Thigpen’s infamous drop to give Green Bay the 1995 title and this past season saw a n incredible deep throw from Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb to give the Packers the 2013 crown.

Non-Winning Seasons

Holmgren 0
McCarthy 2

25

March

NFL Approves Rule Changes

NFL Owners meeting

NFL Owners voted to approve rule changes at this week’s meetings

With the NFL owner’s meetings taking place this week, one of the major topics of concern are the proposed rule changes.  I’ll delve into some of those shortly.  There have already reportedly been three rule changes that have been approved to take effect immediately starting in 2014.

The first has to do with the process of instant replay.  NFL owners voted to allow referees to communicate with the officiating command center in New York during on-field reviews.  Previously, referees were afforded several angles of a play under review and then had to make a final ruling.

Now, the command center in New York will closely monitor and begin reviewing potential reviewable plays right away.

When the official contacts them, they will likely have already viewed the play and can help guide to the correct ruling.  The final call is still the referee’s to make, but the command center will ensure that all aspects of the review and play are correctly assessed.

The next is the elimination of a “roll up block” to the side of a player’s leg.  This was a modification of a previous rule that banned roll up blocks from behind.  The biggest beneficiaries of this rule are likely to be defensive players.  Many knee injuries had occurred to players who couldn’t see such a block coming.  After many rule changes that have seemingly favored the offense, the defense scores one here.

The last is the elimination of the “slam dunk” touchdown celebration.  While the exact reasoning for the rule change hasn’t been explained, it would likely be due to the few instances where the contact with the goal posts caused them to become altered or uneven.  The process to correct this is a quick one, but I think we can all live with a little added protection to the integrity of something that affects a score.

The most famous user of this touchdown celebration ironically may have just played his last down this past season: Tony Gonzalez.  When told about the rule change, Gonzalez tweeted that he is glad he got out when he did.  Another tight end who will be coming up with a new scoring celebration is Jimmy Graham.  Graham is currently negotiating with the New Orleans Saints on a long-term contract.

24

March

Packers are Winners in the Mysterious NFL Compensatory Draft Pick System

NFL Compensatory Picks for Packers

NFL Hands Out Compensatory Picks for Packers

If Ted Thompson ever allows himself to let out a big grin, he is surely beaming today. The NFL handed out 32 compensatory draft picks to 13 NFL teams today, with the Packers taking in the third best haul behind the Ravens and Steelers.

In addition, both picks received represented the best possible outcome for the Packers. The team was awarded a third round pick (#98 overall) for the Vikings signing Greg Jennings for $9.5M in 2013. Then, they were awarded a fifth round selection (#176 overall) for the Colts overpaying Erik Walden a whopping $4M last year.

While the exact formula used to determine compensatory picks has never officially been revealed, it’s common knowledge that several factors pertaining to the lost player are taken into account; size of contract, playing time received during the season, overall performance and post-season awards.

It’s been highly rumored that size of contract is the most heavily weighted factor, and the picks awarded the Packers would seem to reflect that notion.

The Packers will now have four picks in the top 100, a great position to be in for a draft many are calling perhaps the strongest ever in rounds 2-3.

If you’re interested, here’s the full list of picks awarded today”

 

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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24

March

Cory’s Corner: The NFL isn’t broke, don’t fix it

The NFL has talked about moving back the point-after touchdown and adding two playoff teams.

The NFL has talked about moving back the point-after touchdown and adding two playoff teams.

First it was making extra points 43-yard kicks.

Now there’s talk about expanding the playoffs.

It should be obvious to the owners and NFL commish Roger Goodell that the National Football League is hands down the best professional sports product on the planet.

Sorry Premier League, but the NFL continues to get eyes glued to its games. For the fourth time in five years, last month’s Super Bowl has set viewership records in the U.S. And that was for a pretty much blah game with a final score of 43-8.

And so I ask you, why for all that is holy is the NFL even considering tinkering with its untouchable product? Leagues like the NHL, MLB and NBA would kill for the exposure, which allows the financial floodgates to be opened to the tune of over $39 billion just for broadcast rights.

Many might say you have to change or reinvent yourself in order to stay on top. That’s a valid argument but it doesn’t hold water when there hasn’t been any evidence of the NFL eroding. The game’s popularity has only exponentially grown thanks to things like fantasy football and the Madden video game, which continues to cultivate a younger audience.

Actually the NFL has changed. It has added things like replay challenges — even though a certain Lions coach really never understood how it worked — the two point conversion and less clutching and grabbing from defensive backfields.

The game is much more open now. The quarterback may still be protected a tad too much, but I’m willing to live with all the minor tweaks the shield has made over the years.

But seeing a kicker have to boot a 43-yard extra point in December just to secure a playoff berth seems a bit preposterous. And adding two more playoff teams into the mix sounds like a great idea right? It’s the simple math of more teams, the better.

However, all it would do is just dilute the postseason to NBA levels. How many people care or watch the 8th seed get trounced by the No. 1 seed in the NBA playoffs? Yes, I know Dikembe Mutumbo and the Nuggets bucked the trend by beating the Sonics. But that never happens — and worse yet, hardly anyone watches or cares.