21

February

Ted Thompson: 2011 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Ted Thompson

Ted Thompson

1) Introduction: Ted Thompson took over as General Manager for the Green Bay Packers in 2005, relegating Mike Sherman to the sole role of Head Coach. Thompson has met with more than his fair share of criticism through his years with the Packers. Cutting big name veterans in order to meet salary cap requirements and being the one to eventually trade away Brett Favre made him a target for a massive number of disgruntled fans. His approach has been vindicated, however, with the Super Bowl XLV Championship under his belt. The team is now built for future success, as key players and depth have been built steadily through the draft and a few select free agent signings. In fact, only 3 current players on the roster were not acquired by Thompson: Donald Driver, Chad Clifton, and Scott Wells.

2) Profile:

Ted Thompson

Position: Executive V.P., General Manager & Director of Football Operations
Years as Packers GM: 7 (2005-2012)
Age: 59

Biography

 

3) Expectations coming into the season: “In Ted We Trust” and the “Ted Thompson Way” have become hot phrases the past year. Ted Thompson proved to Green Bay fans and the NFL as a whole that his process of drafting and grooming players works; thus, he was expected to continue his success in that area. Though any rational fan could never expect him to make the big splash in free agency signings, we did expect him to deal with his upcoming free agents from the team in a cost-effective manner.

4) Highlights/low-lights: In regard to value, the best NFL contract of the year was arguably the one signed by wide receiver Jordy Nelson in October. The 3-year, $13.35 million contract extension included incentives that could take it to $15 million over that span. For some perspective, the franchise tag for this year at the wide receiver position is $9.4 million.

As for Ted Thompson’s biggest blunder, I don’t think many would dispute it being the way he handled Cullen Jenkins. Or rather, the way he handled the defensive line. With Jenkins allowed to walk, there was a rather big void to fill, and many were putting their faith into second-year defensive end Mike Neal. Unfortunately, Neal’s injury problems led to another disappointing season. Whether by retaining Jenkins, drafting a better prospect, or signing a free agent, Thompson failed to adequately plug the hole along the line.

21

February

Mike McCarthy: 2011 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Mike McCarthy

Mike McCarthy

1) Introduction: Mike McCarthy was hired as the Green Bay Packers head coach by Ted Thompson in 2006 to replace the recently fired Mike Sherman. In his first season, McCarthy led the Packers to an 8-8 record, and since then they have only produced one losing season (2008). One of his most notable decisions was to install the 3-4 defense in 2009, bringing in Dom Capers to spearhead the change. He has guided the Packers to four playoff berths, leading to a 5-3 postseason record under him and one Super Bowl championship title.

2) Profile:

Michael John McCarthy

Position: Head Coach
Years as Packers Head Coach: 6 (2006-2012)
Age: 48

Biography

 

3) Expectations coming into the season: After losing in a display of offensive fireworks to the Arizona Cardinals in the 2009 Wild Card Round, the Packers followed up with an historic run to Super Bowl XLV in 2010. Their success in bringing home the Lombardi Trophy made them early favorites to repeat in 2011, and fans really expected nothing short of that.

4) Highlights/low-lights: Mike McCarthy’s biggest highlight this season was not necessarily an individual game, but the sweeping of the NFC North division. The Packers had not accomplished that feat since 1967, when the league went to a divisional format. McCarthy’s most disappointing moment, however, was the playoff loss to the New York Giants. Based on the uncharacteristic way the offense performed, many people will continue to debate resting players vs. playing them when your team has locked up their postseason seed.

5) Regular Season Performance: Though Mike McCarthy can only lay claim to a small percentage of Aaron Rodgers’ skill level, he is largely responsible for the way Rodgers runs the offense. Their working relationship is virtually perfect, and it has allowed the offense to continue progressing. McCarthy certainly takes credit for their record-breaking 15-1 season; still, the success was in large part due to the offense. Aside from that, his play-calling and game management were rarely under fire, and “bad challenges” were few and far between.

6) Postseason Performance: What is left to say that hasn’t been said? McCarthy must have been mightily frustrated with the way his team was underperforming against the Giants. Their high turnover count was a strange anomaly that was atypical of the way their season went. How many of those miscues can be blamed on the coach is up for debate; nevertheless, he must share at least part of the poor performance.

20

February

Aaron Rodgers: 2011 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers

1) Introduction: Aaron Rodgers is the face of this franchise, and not just for his discount doub– err . . . championship belt celebration. He received this year’s Associated Press NFL MVP Award for leading his team to a 15-1 record, breaking the single-season passer rating along the way (122.5). In his fourth season as starting quarterback for the Packers, he gives fans an enormous amount of hope for more Super Bowl titles.

2) Profile:

Aaron Charles Rodgers

Position: QB
Height: 
6-2
Weight: 
225 lbs.
AGE: 
28

Career Stats:

 

3) Expectations coming into the season: As the reigning Super Bowl MVP, Aaron Rodgers was expected to lead the Packers to a return title in 2011. He obviously couldn’t do it alone, but Green Bay wouldn’t be able to do it without him at the helm. Hopes were that he could stay healthy (i.e., avoid concussions) and build upon the three previous seasons as a starter.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Aaron Rodgers’ entire season just seemed to be one long highlight reel. His consistently superior level of play made even the smallest of errors a shock to fans. He boasted a passer rating of over 140 in four separate games; however, it was his one-minute, game-winning drive against the New York Giants that really stuck out for me this season. As for lowlights, it’s hard to avoid the lone regular season loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and gut-wrenching miscues in the postseason game.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: It has been said many times before, but Aaron Rodgers makes every other player around him more successful. From the offensive line to the running back, he is the ultimate game changer. Rodgers threw for a career best 45 touchdowns and 4,643 yards as a starter in 2011, as well as a career low 6 interceptions. He is hands down the best player on the team right now.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: How much of the loss can you really put on the shoulders of Aaron Rodgers? No, he did not play his very best, but he played well enough to win. Shaky offensive line play and a plethora of dropped passes made him look worse than he actually was. He should certainly take at least partial credit for the fumble and misfire to Greg Jennings early in the game; still, Rodgers had more rushing yards (66) than any running back and couldn’t be expected to do it all on his own.

19

February

Bryan Bulaga: 2011 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Packers Offensive Tackle Bryan Bulaga

Bryan Bulaga

1) Introduction: In his rookie season, Bryan Bulaga was thrust into a starting role when Mark Tauscher was lost for the season. Only 21 years old, Bulaga started the last 12 games of 2010 and along with Chad Clifton was a big part of the Packers’ success in their playoff run and Super Bowl Championship.

2) Profile:

Bryan Joseph Bulaga

Position: OT
Height: 6-5
Weight: 314 lbs.
AGE: 22

Career Stats:

 

3) Expectations coming into the season: Expectations for Bulaga were simply for him to pick up where he had left off, avoid a sophomore slump and instead continue to show improvement in his second season.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: This seems to be a common theme among the offensive lineman, but Bulaga’s high point was game one against the Saints. (I’m going to have to go back and watch that game again, just for the OL play). Bulaga was near perfect that game, allowing only a single quarterback pressure while showing some strong blocking in the Packers 23 runs that game.  Bulaga’s low-light was the Detroit Thanksgiving game, where he gave up his only sack of the year, one of his only QB hits of the year and was called for two penalties.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: After giving up 11 sacks as a rookie, Bulaga was one sack away from a clean slate in 2011. According to ProFootballFocus,com, he also only gave up 2 QB hits all season, which is just as more impressive.  Overall, Bulaga was ranked #3 among all offensive tackles in the NFL

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Bulaga didn’t have his best game in the playoffs. Although he didn’t give up any sacks, he did allow 3 QB pressures and struggled a bit with pass protection against the Giants’ speed rushers. It also graded out as his worst game in run blocking as well.

 

Season Report Card:

(A) Level of expectations met during the season
(B+) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(C) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: B+

——————

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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.

18

February

Josh Sitton: 2011 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Packers offensive lineman Josh Sitton

Josh Sitton

1) Introduction: A fourth round draft pick in 2008, Sitton was a right offensive tackle in College that the Packers moved to guard. Sitton signed a five year contract last September, as the Green Bay moved swiftly to lock up their best offensive lineman.

2) Profile:

Josh James Sitton

Position: G
Height: 6-3
Weight: 318 lbs.
AGE: 25

Career Stats: 

3) Expectations coming into the season: Coming off being named the Offensive Lineman of the year by the NFL Alumni Assn and a Pro Bowl Alternate, expectations for Sitton in 2011 were to continue his domination of defensive linemen.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: The season highlight for Sitton was the opening game against the Saints. He was his normal dominating self, earning his highest ratings from ProFootballFocus.com in both the running game and pass protection.  His lowlight was the game against St. Louis. Playing with a very sore knee, Sitton gave up a sack, 2 QB pressures, and was beaten off the ball all game.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Despite an up and down season hampered by injuries, Sitton was still an important part of the Packers line when healthy. You can divide his season into three parts. The first four injury-free games, he played like Josh Sitton and gave up no sacks. The middle nine games he struggled with the injuries and gave up 2 sacks, 5 QB pressures and was called for 4 penalties, while missing the last two games of that stretch. Finally, the last five game portion (including the playoff game),  started when he returned from sitting out those two games, and Sitton almost looked like his old self.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Sitton was pretty much back to normal by this game. He was solid against whoever the Giants put in front of him and only allowed one play where his man got a hand on Rodgers.

Season Report Card:

(C) Level of expectations met during the season
(C+) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(B) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: C+

——————

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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.

17

February

T.J. Lang: 2011 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Packers offensive lineman TJ Lang

TJ Lang

1) Introduction: We really should call T.J. Lang by “T.V.”, because his middle name is versatility. Over his first two seasons, Lang played both tackle spots, left guard and even some defensive line in short yardage situations. Even after winning the starting left guard spot this season, Lang was moved around and filled in whenever injuries dictated. Unlike Daryn Colledge, who complained about being used in the same way, Lang seems to have handled it just fine and is no worse for wear.

2) Profile:

T.J. (Thomas John) Lang Jr.

Position: OG
Height: 6-4
Weight: 318 lbs.
AGE: 24

Career Stats:

3) Expectations coming into the season: Lang was being counted on as the primary candidate to start at left guard, taking the spot vacated by the departed free agent Daryn Colledge. Frankly, his job was only to be at least as good as Colledge was. He was also expected to continue his role as an emergency replacement at every OL position except center.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: According to ProFootballFocus.com, Lang’s best game as a Packer was week 17 against the Lions, possessors of one of the top DLs in the league. He also played very well in the playoff game, allowing just one QB pressure against the equally talented Giants’ DL. His lowlights were early in the season, when he was called for five penalties in the first five games. During that span, he also gave up five of the eleven QB pressures he allowed over 17 games.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Lang came in and won the job easily, holding off a mild challenge from Derek Sherrod. After a bit of a rough start to the season, Lang found his bearings and was a solid and consistent performer the rest of the season. His best games came late in the year against top defensive lines and he allowed only two sacks the entire season. Lang did more than just replace Daryn Colledge, he was a noticeable improvement.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Lang had no penalties, gave up no sacks, no QB hits and only 1 QB pressure against the Giants, while his run blocking was fairly solid as well. Only Josh Sitton had a better game on the offensive line, according to ProFootballFocus.com.

Season Report Card:

16

February

Scott Wells: 2011 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Packers center Scott Wells

Scott Wells

1) Introduction: 2010 was the season that Scott Wells found game to game consistency and soon after, recognition. The seventh round draft choice, who became a full-time starter at center in 2006 (his 3rd season), has steadily improved and become the second quarterback on the field, helping to set pass protection at the line of scrimmage.

2) Profile:

Scott Darvin Wells

Position: C
Height: 6-2
Weight: 300 lbs.
AGE: 31

Career Stats:

 

3) Expectations coming into the season: As Wells entered his eighth season as a Super Bowl champion in the final year of his contract,  one could expect Wells to have perhaps the best year of his career. Wells would be looked upon to solidify and guide the way for an increasingly young offensive line.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Well’s highest rated performance of the season, according to ProFootballFocus.com, was week one against the Saints.  The overall highlight for him, though, had to be being named to the Pro Bowl for the first time. The lowlight of his season was easily the playoff game against the Giants. In one game, Wells committed as many penalties as he had all season (2) and allowed a third (3) of his season’s nine QB pressures.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Undoubtedly the general of the offensive line, Well’s contributions were in his leadership and new-found consistency. He handled larger, faster, stronger defensive linemen using a combination of picture-perfect techniques that nullified any size or strength disadvantages he may have. His handling of the protection calls resulted in a more disciplined and assignment-sure offensive line in 2011.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: As mentioned above, Wells had his most difficult game in the playoffs. That’s not to say he was awful, but his play was not up to the standard that he set all year.

 

Season Report Card:

(A) Level of expectations met during the season
(A) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(B-) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: A-

——————

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.