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.



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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Instead of a long intro this week, I’m going to save my bloviating for the non-Packers links and other nonsense section and get right to the Packers news of the week.

I’ll be back next week with a strong opinion on something related to the Packers or the NFL. For now, we’ll just catch up on Packers news and talk about a baseball text simulation game that everybody should own.

Packers News, Notes and Links

  • Center Evan Dietrich-Smith signed his one-year restricted free-agent contract tender this week. I’m surprised no other team offered him more money to lure him away from the Packers. I’m also happy that Dietrich-Smith will be back. Should we be worried that no other team bothered to offer him more than the $1.323 million he got from the Packers? 
  • Jermichael Finley was on KFAN in Minneapolis this week with Vikings play-by-play broadcaster Paul Allen. The interview is painfully bad, but if you want to know what Finley had to say, read this summary from Jason Wilde’s ESPN Milwaukee blog. Finley says he wants to play like Tony Gonzalez. In other news, I want to write like Shakespeare.
  • Does the fact that the Packers no longer host a Fan Fest type of event mean that they have “little connection to the fans these days?” John Rehor thinks so. I don’t agree with John’s headline — saying the Packers have little connection to the fans because there is no fan fest type of event is over the top — but I agree with the entirety of John’s post (I’m one of those weird people that actually bothers to read an entire post/article instead of just reacting to the headline). Something could be done to resurrect fan fest and make it more accessible than it was before.
  • Good post here from Evan at Acme Packing Company about the Packers “needing” to draft a safety in the first round. It’s good have posts like this to help us wade through some of the nonsense that’s out there for draft coverage. When I becomePresident, I’m going to pass a law that says only people appointed to my NFL Draft Council will be able to write about and analyze the draft. Way too much draft coverage out there these days and the quality is diluted.


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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Forgive me, Packers fans, I’m about to stick up for the Chicago Bears.

(*The author pauses for a moment to put on his bullet-proof vest, change the locks on his home, and take a deep breath*)

I have no problem with the Bears one year, $2 million contract offer to Brian Urlacher. I’m actually insulted that Urlacher called the offer “insulting.”

Football is a business. Good teams make roster decisions not to reward once-great players or keep local heroes around to appease the fanbase. Football has been trying to teach us this lesson over and over again, but most people will never learn it, or simply refuse to even try to learn it.

Urlacher was a free agent for the first time in 13 seasons. He’ll be 35 years old in May and he missed the last month of the 2012 season with a hamstring injury.

In the 12 games that Urlacher did play, Pro Football Focus graded him out positively in only three of them. He finished with an overall season grade of -11.3. Pro Football Focus is not the be-all, end-all of player evaluation, but from what I saw of Urlacher in 2012, a -11.3 seemed generous. I thought he was slow and a shadow of his former self.

Does a $2 million contract offer for a once-great, but now aging player coming off an injury and likely on the downswing of his career really sound that insulting to you?

It doesn’t to me.

To be fair, there are two counter-arguments to this: 1) Urlacher’s leadership means a lot and is worth more than $2 million, and 2) the Bears have next to nothing at middle linebacker now that Urlacher is gone.

I don’t know how much “leadership” is worth, especially for a player who is declining on the field. To me, not very much, but I’m not in an NFL locker room, so who knows?

Yes, it’s true that the Bears now have next to nothing at middle linebacker, but that’s still not a good enough reason to overpay for an aging player. Draft a rookie to develop. Find a younger player who could do what Urlacher did for a fraction of the price. Sign Brad Jones.



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

Surviving Sunday with no Packers football.

Surviving Sunday with no Packers Football

It’s already July, but football and the Packers first game still feels like it’s a long ways away. Good thing it’s never too early to talk some fantasy football.

Here are my way-too-early top five at each position, along with a darkhorse candidate and some random thoughts.

1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Tom Brady
3. Drew Brees
4. Matthew Stafford
5. Michael Vick

Darkhorse: Jay Cutler

Drafting a running back early in your fantasy draft is so 2006. I’ll take Rodgers, Brady or Brees over any running back. High-end, modern-day QBs put up ridiculously good fantasy numbers, and, most importantly, they’re consistent. Thanks to injuries, you can’t make the consistency argument for Stafford or Vick, but man, it’s going to be hard to pass those guys up for a running back if either remains on the board.

1. Arian Foster
2. Ray Rice
3. Maurice Jones-Drew
4. Chris Johnson
5. Lesean McCoy

Darkhorse: Roy Helu

Running backs are a lot like closers in fantasy baseball. You can usually find good value at the end of the draft or on the waiver wire during the season. That said, it’s so hard to pass them up early in the draft. If you guess right, and pick a RB that remains healthy and gets plenty of carries near the goal line, you’re set. Picking a running back with your first selection used to be a no-brainer. Thanks the rise of the quarterback, running backs are no longer the safest bet.

1. Calvin Johnson
2. Larry Fitzgerald
3. Andre Johnson
4. A.J. Green
5. Greg Jennings

Darkhorse: Demaryius Thomas

The deepest position group in fantasy football, and it’s not even close. There’s no reliable way to project touchdowns, but I tend to stick with bigger WRs who are capable of going up in traffic in the end zone and making the catch. My top five, maybe with the exception of Jennings, fits that mold.

1. Jimmy Graham
2. Rob Gronkowski
3. Jason Witten
4. Jermichael Finley
5. Antonio Gates

Darkhorse: Brandon Pettigrew

Yes, I have Graham over Gronk. Graham was targeted about 25 percent more than Gronk last season. The Saints also have fewer weapons than the Patriots, which makes me think Graham will again be targeted more than Gronk in 2012. Also, Gronk has to regress a little bit, at least in the touchdown category, right?