7

March

Dom Capers Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

dom capers

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers

1) Introduction:  Ever since the Packers won the Super Bowl in 2011, Capers’ defenses have been banged up, overmatched, pushed around and just plain lousy. The backlash against Capers has gotten so loud in Green Bay, there is actually a small backlash to the backlash going on. You know the backlash is bad when people start backlashing against the Capers backlash.

2) Profile:

Dom Capers

  • Age: 63
  • Born: 8/7/1950, in Cambridge, OH
  • NFL Coaching Experience: 28 years

Biography and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Build a more physical defense. It worked the first part of the season. Then injuries started wiping out key players and most of the middle of the defense completely disappeared.

The Packers in 2013 weren’t a complete mess on defense like they were in 2011. At times they were even better than they were in 2012. But at no point in the season did you ever feel like this defense was good enough to step up and carry the team for an extended stretch, if needed. They just weren’t good enough.

4) Season Highlights/Lowlights:  With Aaron Rodgers out and the Packers needing late defensive stops to have a shot at stealing games against Chicago and Philadelphia in weeks 9 and 10, Capers’ defense went in the tank. The Bears held the ball for almost 9 minutes to seal the game and the Eagles for 9 minutes, 32 seconds to wrap up the victory. The defense also looked absolutely helpless in a blowout loss to Detroit on Thanksgiving.

Highlights included holding the Lions (without Calvin Johnson) to nine points in week 5 and coming up with a gritty performance the following week against Baltimore to help the Packers win despite several key injuries.

5) Contribution to the overall team success:  I don’t know…do we give Capers credit for Sam Shields’ interception against the Cowboys? Do we pat Capers on the back for not allowing the Bears to score after the Rodgers-Randall Cobb miracle in Chicago?

This is where it gets tricky with Capers and why the people backlashing against the Capers backlash have a point: We get all ticked off at Capers when the Packers defense gets run over, then give credit to individual players instead of Capers when the Packers defense does something positive.

5

March

Mike McCarthy Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

Mike McCarthy

Mike McCarthy

1) Introduction:  Mike McCarthy entered his eighth season as Packers head coach in 2013, having led the team to the postseason in five of his previous seven years.  McCarthy returned most the same coaching staff that he had in 2012 and following the Packers brutal exit from the playoffs at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers.

2) Profile:

Michael John McCarthy

  • Age: 50
  • Born: 11/10/1963, in Pittsburgh, PA
  • Rookie Year: 2006
  • NFL Head Coaching Experience: 8 years

Biography and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  After the 2012 season ended with a thud and resounding loss, the Packers looked to be more competitive with the top teams in the NFC.  The 49ers had become their arch enemy and an obstacle that the Packers would need to defeat in order to return to the upper echelon of the conference.  McCarthy was quoted numerous times throughout the offseason and preseason as saying that he wanted his team to be tougher and more physical.  Those changes would need to start with McCarthy and the team’s overall culture.

With McCarthy continuing to call the team’s offensive plays, there were many eyes on him as the Packers acquired running back Eddie Lacy early in the 2013 draft.  There was a lot of curiosity on how McCarthy would integrate Lacy into an offense that already featured All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his aerial assault.

4) Season Highlights/Lowlights:  While the Packers season ended well, there were some down points.  There was yet another loss to the San Francisco 49ers on opening day and while a loss can’t be placed on the head coach alone, they are ultimately responsible for preparing their team each week.  A melee broke out when Packers linebacker Clay Matthews hit 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick out of bounds.  The play showcased that the Packers weren’t totally in control of their emotions in a game where they needed to be.

There was also the sideline tiff between McCarthy and Rodgers that was shown on the television feed in week three against the Cincinnati Bengals.  While I don’t blame McCarthy completely for it, it was not his best moment on TV.

3

February

Jamari Lattimore 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

1) Introduction:  You know how the backup quarterback is the most popular player on a bad team? Angry fans want the bum of a starter bench and are convinced that the backup QB can come in and save the season. Lattimore was the backup quarterback of the Packers defense for a stretch this season. Fans thought the starters stunk, and Lattimore was the answer.

2) Profile: Jamari Lattimore

  • Age: 25
  • Born: 10/6/88 in Miami, FL
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 237
  • College: Middle Tennessee State
  • Rookie Year: 2011
  • NFL Experience: 3 years
  • Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: Play on special teams. If you’re judging Lattimore only on his special teams contribution, he had a good season.But he was forced into the starting lineup after Brad Jones got hurt in October and the results were mixed. Lattimore did look a savior early, but faded late.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: According to Pro Football Focus, Lattimore totaled 13 “stops” over a five-game stretch in October. He only managed three stops the rest of the season. Lattimore looked explosive rushing the passer and one of the few Packers defenders who could lay a hit on a running back in October. Come November and December, Lattimore looked slow to react and not nearly as explosive. He did deal with some injuries later in the season, so maybe that slowed him down.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: When Lattimore filled in for Jones in October, you never even knew Jones was gone. He looked like another Ted Thompson “who is this guy?” success story. That optimism faded later in the season, but maybe it’ll return again in 2014.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Lattimore didn’t play any snaps from scrimmage in the playoff loss to San Francisco and assisted on two tackles on special teams duty.

Season Report Card:

(C+) Level of expectations met during the season

(C) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(C-) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: C

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

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31

January

Brad Jones 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Green Bay Packers, Brad Jones, Brad Jones Packers, Brad Jones Report Card, Packers Report Card1) Introduction: After Aaron Kampman left the Packers following the 2009 season, it was thought that seventh round draft pick Brad Jones could be a suitable replacement.   Jones had four sacks his rookie season in relief of an injured Kampman and that showed the Packers enough that maybe he could be a decent linebacker. However, thanks to the emergence of Clay Matthews and Desmond Bishop, Jones was relegated to the bench in 2010 and 2011.  However, in 2012 Jones started 10 games and was rewarded with a three-year $11.75 million contract.  Bishop was released this offseason following a hamstring injury, so the Packers were all in with Jones as one of their inside linebackers.

2) Profile: Nate Palmer

  • Age: 27
  • Born: 04/01/1986 in Lansing, MI
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 242
  • College: Colorado
  • Rookie Year: 2009
  • NFL Experience: 5 years
  • Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: With Bishop gone and signing a big new contract, Jones had to perform this season.  The release of Bishop was met with a lot of skepticism at the time as was the contract Jones signed.  GM Ted Thompson had to have been convinced Jones could a difference maker at the inside linebacker spot. Jones moved to the inside spot in 2012 and had a little bit of a learning curve to go with it.  Thompson obviously was convinced Jones had the ability or he would not have offered Jones such a juicy contract.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Jones had a forced fumble and recovery in the Week 3 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and had a 12-tackle and one sack effort in a loss to the New York Giants in Week 11.  Jones’ low-light was that he missed four games due to a hamstring injury that nagged him throughout the season.  In a year where the Packers were decimated by injuries, none were hit harder than inside linebacker where AJ Hawk was the only player healthy for all 16 games.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Jones had some good moments, but he was a major liablity in coverage and was a definite downgrade from a healthy Desmond Bishop. Jones’ tackling also left a lot to be desired and he often was a liability in the run game as well.  Thanks to his hamstring, the Packers were forced to shuffle people all around in the linebacker unit and that affected how well the defense played.  Did Jones live up to the contract that was given to him before the season? No, but that was in some ways due to the hamstring injury that hindered his speed.

30

January

A.J. Hawk 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Green Bay packers, A.J. Hawk, A.J. Hawk Packers, Packers report card1) Introduction:  A.J. Hawk, the player most Packers fans love to hate. Ever since he was taken in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft, fans have come to either appreciate or despise him.  As a player taken in the top five of the draft, Hawk was immediately slapped with a label of being an immediate contributor and someone who would be a superstar in years to come.  Unfortunately,those expectations never did quite pan out for Hawk and some fans have resented him ever since.  All Hawk has become however is a consistent linebacker who comes to work every day and plays all around solid football.  Many hoped he’d become what Clay Matthews is, but Hawk doesn’t need to be that.

2) Profile: A.J. Hawk

  • Age: 30
  • Born: 01/06/1984 in Kettering, OH
  • Height: 6’1″
  • Weight: 247
  • College: Ohio State
  • Rookie Year: 2006
  • NFL Experience: 8 years
  • Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: Entering his eighth season in the league, people finally knew what to expect from Hawk.  He won’t be a stud linebacker who will put up double digit sacks every year and make the Pro Bowl year after year, but he will be someone who answers the bell every day and gets the work done as the quarterback of the defense.  Hawk has missed only two games in his entire career and with the release of Desmond Bishop during training camp, all eyes were on Hawk to anchor the middle of the linebacker unit.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: As stated above, Hawk is the model of consistency.  There was not really one game where Hawk made you want to pull your hair out.  For a unit that was basically wiped out by injury, particularly at the inside position, that’s a good thing.  He did drop off a bit after his stellar start the year had people whispering Pro Bowl, but he still was not a liability despite being surrounded by inexperienced players.  Hawk’s best game came against the Baltimore Ravens where he sacked Joe Flacco three times.  For a player who never made flashy plays, this was a huge eye opener on Hawk.

30

January

Clay Matthews 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers, Clay Matthews headshot, Clay Matthews Packers.1) Introduction:What else can be said about Clay Matthews that hasn’t already been said?  With the departure of Charles Woodson, Matthews officially became the heart and soul of the Green Bay Packers’ defense.  Aside from Aaron Rodgers, Matthews is the one player the Packers can ill afford to lose to injury.  For the past few seasons, he has been pretty much the entire Green Bay pass rush though GM Ted Thompson selected players in the past two drafts to try and alleviate some of that pressure on the Claymaker.  Unfortunately, Matthews is also usually good for one or two injuries a season, and it’s probably his hamstring.  With a brand new contract in hand that he signed before the 2013 season, Matthews is clearly the MVP of the defense and big things were expected in 2013.

2) Profile: Clay Matthews III

  • Age: 27
  • Born: 05/14/1986 in Northridge, California
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 255
  • College: USC 12.
  • Rookie Year: 2009
  • NFL Experience: 5 years
  • Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: Now that he is the richest linebacker in NFL history, Matthews was expected to carry the defense on his back.  Though Thompson had brought Nick Perry in 2012 and Datone Jones this season to aid the pass rush, Matthews still was the center of the defense. Another double digit sack season and Pro Bowl appearance is in order every year for a player of his caliber and 2013 was no different.  In fact, thanks to the presence of Perry and Jones, it was expected to be an unleashed Matthews that was on the field in 2013.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Matthews had one of his best games of the season in the 26-26 tie against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 12 which was his only multiple sack game of the season. He also had two forced fumbles in the loss to the Bengals in Week 2 and had eight tackles and a sack against the 49ers in Week 1.  It was arguably Matthews who kept the Packers in position to win the season opener at San Francisco.  His biggest low-light of 2013 was his thumb which he managed to break twice during the season.  His missed Weeks 6-9 and then broke the same thumb again in Week 16, causing him to miss the regular season finale and the wild card game against the 49ers.

29

January

Mike Neal 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Green Bay Packers, Mike Neal, Packers evaluations, Packers report card, Mike Neal report card1) Introduction: Eyebrows were raised during training camp when it was revealed that the Green Bay Packers were giving Mike Neal, formerly a defensive end in their 3-4 defense, a shot to perform at outside linebacker.  After years of showing potential only to be derailed by some sort of an injury, Neal was a man on a mission in training camp and was determined to prove what everyone thought about him (when healthy) was justified.  Moving Neal to outside linebacker seemed like a crazy move but given how badly the Packers needed a pass rush, they were willing to try anything

2) Profile: Mike Neal

  • Age: 26
  • Born: 06/26/1987 in Gary, IN
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 285
  • College: Purdue
  • Rookie Year: 2010
  • NFL Experience: 4 years
  • Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: Even before the news about moving Neal to outside linebacker, this was shaping up to be a make-or-break year for him.  He missed all but nine games his first two years in the league and was considered by many to be an injury risk.  2012 was much better as Neal saw action in 11 of the 16 games but he still missed time but this time because of a substance abuse suspension.   If he could just stay healthy, he could be the missing piece in the Packers finally establishing a consistent pass rush.  However, as he adjusts to his new role as an OLB, it was unclear how successful the move might be and what growing pains Neal might encounter.  The initial plan was to have Neal split time between linebacker and subpackage lineman.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Neal notched his first career interception in Week 2 against the Redskins and forced a critical fumble in the Packers’ come from behind 22-21 win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 14.  Neal struggled against the Vikings in the 26-26 tie in Week 12 and not stopping Adrian Peterson was a big reason the Packers couldn’t get the win against the lowly Vikings.