7

October

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Packers 22, Lions 9

Morgan Burnett and A.J. Hawk helped contain the Calvin Johnson-less Lions offense.

Morgan Burnett and A.J. Hawk helped contain the Calvin Johnson-less Lions offense.

Kickoff was scheduled for noon in Green Bay, but the game between the Packers and Detroit Lions got underway mid-morning with the surprising news that Calvin Johnson was inactive.

Johnson, regarded as the best receiver in football, may be as important to the Lions offense as any non-quarterback is to his team around the league. And although the Lions added Reggie Bush this offseason to give them a more complete offense, it’s Johnson that makes the wheels go round.

With Johnson out, the Lions were unable to get anything going against the Packers defense.

Coming into the game, Bush—whom the Lions move all over the formation and utilize him in the passing game—looked like a tough matchup for a Packers defense that struggles in the middle of the field, but Detroit’s new offensive weapon managed just 69 total yards on 17 touches.

It’s hard to say what might have been had the Lions’ offense been at full strength, as the high-flying Packers offense only posted 22 points themselves. But in the end, five Mason Crosby field goals and a James Jones touchdown was all the Packers needed to get their second win of the season.

And as things currently stand, the Packers (2-2) trail the Lions and Bears (3-2) by only one game atop the NFC North standings.

Game Balls

Mason Crosby

After a disastrous 2012 season and ugly Family Night Scrimmage, Crosby has brought his A-game so far the regular season. With the offense struggling to punch the ball into the end zone, Crosby scored 16 of the team’s 22 points and left little doubt on his five field-goal attempts. I’m no kicking expert, so I often relate kickers to golfers. And right now, Crosby is hitting the fairways with his short irons and his driver. But of course, Giorgio Tavecchio would’ve been six-for-five with a hole-in-one.

Nick Perry

Welcome to the NFL. Sunday was unquestionably (right?) the best game of Perry’s NFL career, as last year’s first-round pick registered his first multi-sack performance. The Packers were unable to come up with the football after Perry forced a fumble on a sack of Stafford, but Clay Matthews’ book end showed flashes throughout the afternoon of why the team drafted him in the first round of last year’s draft. If the Packers are getting three sacks out of Perry and Matthews, they’re going to be tough to beat.

3

October

Packers News: Matthews says he will “definitely” play vs. Lions

Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews says he will play Sunday. That's a big deal.

Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews says he will play Sunday. That’s a big deal.

Packers linebacker Clay Matthews tweaked his hamstring in Green Bay’s Week 3 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, but the four-time Pro Bowler told reporters Thursday that he will “definitely” play Sunday against the Detroit Lions.

After being a full participant at Thursday’s practice, head coach Mike McCarthy was encouraged about Matthews’ prospects for Sunday.

“He took a step today,” McCarthy said, per JSOnline.com. “I’m optimistic.”

The hamstring injury has been a recurring issue for Matthews. After playing all 16 games as a rookie in 2009, Matthews missed one games in each of the following three seasons, and he missed four last year due to the hamstring injury.

According to Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Matthews left little doubt as to whether or not he’d be able to play against the Lions.

Obviously, the news that Matthews will likely be in the lineup is big news for the Packers. Of all the elite defensive players in the NFL, Matthews may very well mean more to the Packers than any individual player means to his team’s defense. Matthews may not be the best defensive player in the NFL, but he is the Packers’ pass rush. And even more than that.

Jason Wilde, of ESPN Wisconsin, also suggested via Twitter that Matthews would play Sunday.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has only been sacked three times through four games, which is the least of any quarterback in the league. The presence of recently-acquired running back Reggie Bush has something to do with the low sack count, considering Stafford has been able to get the ball out early and find receivers on short pass patterns.

If the Packers were forced to take the field without Matthews, they likely would have struggled to get pressure on Stafford. Matthews’ bookend, Nick Perry, ranks No. 38 among 41 3-4 outside linebackers rushing the passer, according to Pro Football Focus–two spots behind former Packers linebacker Erik Walden.

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?

21

September

Reschedule on Eddie Lacy Helmets

Eddie Lacy Signed Helmets and Footballs - Autographed Memorabilia and Collectibles

Offer Expires Sep 25th,2013

 

Packers rookie running back Eddie Lacy was scheduled for his first official autograph signing of helmets and footballs this week. Ironically, because he’s recovering from the concussion he suffered from the helmet-to-helmet hit from Brandon Merriweather, Lacy had to re-schedule.

Lacy, along with Nick Perry and Jerron McMillian, will now be appearing at Waukesha Sportscards on October 1st. If you can’t make it there and would still like to buy a signed item from any of these players, no worries, ALLGBP.com can help you out.

We have an opportunity for you to pre-order and reserve any of these items on our secure online store and receive a sweet 10% DISCOUNT. (Offer is good through Sep25th).

Be sure to use offer code ALLGBP at checkout to receive the discount.

All items come with Certificate of Authenticity (COA).

Oh, one more thing, if you’re looking for tickets to a Packers game, be sure to check out this site: Green Bay Packers tickets

Go Pack!

——————

Follow Jersey Al:


                    Add to Circleson Google+

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.

——————

24

August

Cory’s Corner: Packers Defense Will Be Back This Year

Johnny Jolly could add an edge to the Packers defense.

Johnny Jolly could add an edge to the Packers defense.

There are a lot of reasons to feel optimistic about this Packers season. Aaron Rodgers is the game’s best quarterback at the most important position. A capable running game is now firmly in place after drafting Alabama bulldozer Eddie Lacy. And the leaner, stronger Jermichael Finley is keeping his tongue muzzled.

Those are great reasons. But I’m the pegging the defense to have a bounce-back season.

I understand if a lot of you are raising your eyebrows right now. Heck, the Packers were 22nd in the league in defensive yards per game (336) and tied for 30th — that’s second to last — with 123 penalties.

Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy made a bold move by bringing back defensive tackle Johnny Jolly. He hasn’t seen game action in 3 ½ years, spent six months in jail and tried to get his life back after a codeine arrest. But Jolly is looking like the left defensive end that started all 16 games in 2009. He had a sack, a pick, two fumble recoveries and 24 tackles back then.

Jolly has looked great in the preseason, showing that the fire for football never went out. His presence is even more important now that first round pick Datone Jones has been dealing with a pesky ankle injury.

Like Jolly, linebacker Nick Perry is another key cog this year. The first round pick saw his rookie campaign truncated due to nagging knee and wrist injuries. He is trimmer than last year and has a better understanding of the outside linebacker position, which was different than defensive end which is what he played at USC.

That makes two great bookend linebackers in Dom Capers’ 3-4 scheme. Clay Matthews has played out of this universe thanks to his impressive closing speed, his array of moves to get to the quarterback and his seemingly limitless energy. With a solid linebacker on the other side, Matthews will not be double-teamed nearly as often, which will open the door for Matthews to make his fifth Pro Bowl in his fifth NFL season.

The Packers front seven is better. Jolly brings a needed edge and nastiness that hasn’t been seen in awhile and A.J. Hawk brings the necessary leadership because he doesn’t care about the pay cut, he just wants to win. And as he heads into his eighth season, Hawk is like a quasi coach at inside linebacker.

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.

18

August

Surviving Sunday: News, Notes and Analysis from Packers Preseason

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers 

Packers beat Rams
The Packers got an exhibition win over the Rams on Saturday night. I didn’t get a chance to watch the game, but here is what I gathered about the Packers’ performance from those Tweeting while watching: First-team offense looks good, Johnny Jolly took a giant step forward, Micah Hyde has promise, Eddie Lacy is big and tough, the Packers don’t have a kicker, pass-rush from players on the first-team defense not named Clay Matthews isn’t there, D.J. Williams keeps dropping passes. For a more in-depth recap of the game, be sure to check out Jersey Al’s post.

Williams ready for week 1?
Out with a knee bruise since July 30, cornerback Tramon Williams said he should be ready for the season-opener against the 49ers. Of course, in the same interview, Williams also said he thought he’d be back by now. Never trust a player’s timetable for returning from an injury. Players always claim that the injury “isn’t that bad” or “should only take a couple of days.” They’re rarely right. I’m no doctor myself, but given how cautious the Packers are with injuries, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Williams misses at least the 49ers game.

Woodson praises Rodgers
Former Packers defensive back Charles Woodson doesn’t understand why Greg Jennings and Donald Driver were questioning Aaron Rodgers’ leadership lately. As soon as Jennings started spouting off, I remembered an interview Rob Demovsky — former Packers beat writer with the Green Bay Press Gazette and now at ESPN — did on Packer Transplants where he called the Packers wide receiving corp “the biggest group of frontrunners he’s ever been around.”  It’s scary how I remembered that quote, but it’s looking more and more like Mr. Demovsky was spot on.

Grading Packers’ rookies
Here’s a nice report card of the Packers rookies’ through three weeks of training camp. If I was the teacher, I’d probably put tackle David Bakhtiari and Datone Jones at the top of the class. I don’t think any parents need to be called in for a special conference yet.