20

May

Packers Jarrett Bush has Managed to Stick Around

Jarrett Bush

Packers CB Jarrett Bush has stuck with the team since 2006.

The pitchforks were out and the torches were lit after the 2009 season. Packers fans wanted cornerback Jarrett Bush off the team.

I admit that I was one of those Packers fans holding a torch high in one hand and a pitchfork in the other. I was sick of seeing Bush stumbling three yards behind a receiver after a double move left him in the dust and led to another touchdown against the Packers.

Ted Thompson has never paid much attention to the pitchfork- and torch-wielding sector of the Packers’ fanbase, and he held true to that philosophy with Bush. Now the undrafted free agent out of Utah St. and claimed by the Packers off waivers from Carolina is one of the longest-tenured Packers, a good special teams player and, dare I say it, somewhat beloved by fans.

I say “somewhat” because if Bush ever ends up playing significantly as a defensive back again, it will probably get ugly and fans will turn on him again. But as long as he remains the blue-collar, hard-working leader of the special teams unit, the love for Bush will only get stronger.

Admit it: When Bush picked off Ben Roethlisberger in the Super Bowl, you slapped yourself and wondered aloud if you just watched Jarrett Bush intercept a pass in the Super Bowl. For the Green Bay Packers. In January of 2011.

That play sticks in my mind to this day. Bush, a player who didn’t even get love from the fanbase of the team he played for, kept plugging away and made an impact when called upon to do so on the biggest stage.

If you were paying attention throughout the 2010 season, you would have noticed Bush making an impact on special teams. On Packers teams not known for their physicality and tackling, Bush goes as hard as anyone on special teams and is never afraid to stick his nose in the middle of the action and attempt to make a tackle.

Ever since Bush has been able to focus on special teams (albeit for one start in the 2012 season opener that didn’t go well), he’s found a place in Green Bay as a veteran and emotional leader.

9

January

How the 49ers Started, and Ended the Holmgren Glory Years

Terrell Owens

WR Terrell Owens’ clutch catch was the dagger in the heart of the Mike Holmgren era in Green Bay

The Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers face off Saturday night in an NFC Divisional Playoff game which will be the sixth time since January 1996 that the two teams have faced each other in the playoffs.

The Packers and 49ers became quite familiar opponents in the 1990s as they played each other in the playoffs each year from 1996-1999 (note I am going by the year the playoff games were played, not the year of the ‘season’).   It was a rivalry for the ages as the Packers won the first three games and the 49ers won the fourth in dramatic fashion.

Even though the four games included an NFC Championship which the Packers won en route to Super Bowl XXXII, it’s the first and the fourth of the 1990s contests that have the highest historical importance.

They almost serve as bookends for the Mike Holmgren era.  The Packers’ 27-17 victory over San Francisco at Candlestick Park on January 6, 1996 served notice to the entire NFL that Green Bay was now one of the league’s elite teams.  The Packers lost to the Dallas Cowboys the following week in the NFC Championship, but the win over the 49ers served as a springboard for the great 1996 season.

On the other side is the 49ers’ epic 30-27 win over the Packers on January 3, 1999. Not only did it bring an end to the Packers’ reign as the kings of the NFC but it was the final game Holmgren would coach for the Packers.  Terrell Owens’ touchdown catch to win the game is forever etched in the mind of Packers fans as it marked the end of an era for the Packers that saw the team return to NFL prominence.

The Packers would have strong years afterword, but never again were they true contenders until the arrival of Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

In that first win over San Francisco in 1996, the Packers were flying high after winning the NFC Central title thanks to an incredible Yancy Thigpen drop in Week 17 and after a strong performance in the 37-20 victory at Lambeau Field over the Atlanta Falcons.  In fact, Holmgren felt so strongly about his team’s chances that he proclaimed after the win against Atlanta, “we’re going to win it all.” Packer fans were feeling it but not many outside the state of Wisconsin gave Green Bay much of a chance against the defending champion 49ers.

5

February

Super Memories in Video: The Top Five Moments in Green Bay Packers Super Bowl History

It’s not exactly the hair of the dog that bit you, but maybe a jog down memory lane will help us cure our “Super Bowl expectations that feel short” hangover that we have all been experiencing since the Green Bay Packers’ season ended three weeks ago.

There have been a lot of memorable moments in the five Super Bowls the Packers have played in, so narrowing the list to five moments was a daunting task.  This is by no means a definitive list, so you may have something else in mind. That’s fine. This was meant to be a fun post, not necessarily one for totally serious debate.

Keep in mind I am 28, so Super Bowls XXXI and XLV will be fresh in my head.  I have seen highlights of the first two Super Bowls but never viewed them in their entirety.

That said, here’s my top five:

5. Max McGee’s performance in Super Bowl I

Paul Hornung went down and McGee came in. Problem is McGee was hungover.

Thinking he wasn’t going to play much, McGee skipped curfew the night before the game and went out drinking. Personally, I would not have between so stupid with Lombardi around but it is what it is I guess.

McGee ended up catching 140 yards and likely would have been Super Bowl MVP had Bart Starr not had his great performance.

4. Vince Lombardi’s final ride

It’s an image engrained in every Packer fan’s head.

Vince Lombardi being carried off on the shoulders of Jerry Kramer after winning Super Bowl II, Lombardi’s final games as a Packer. It’s one of the great images in the storied franchise’s history.

It also signified an end of an era in Green Bay. The Packers would not win another title for 29 years and would endure mainly futility for the next 25 years until Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren came along.

3. 59 razor: Brett Favre to Andre Rison

Leading up to Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans, Favre caught a highlight reel of Joe Montana in Super Bowl XXIV. Montana at one point audibles to a play called “59 razor” and the 49ers scored.

On the second play of the drive in Super Bowl XXXI, Favre audibled to the same play and got the same result–Rison scored on a long pass play.

20

December

Week 16 Packers Stock Report: Masthay and Grant Rising, Neal and Walden Falling

Packers Marshall Newhouse Fumble Recovery

Marshall Newhouse auditioning for 3rd RB role

Welcome to the Week 16 Packers Stock Report.

Those of you familiar with the stock report here on AllGreenBayPackers.com may notice that this week’s report looks different than all the others from this season.

Changes include:

  • No Aaron Rodgers in the rising category. Last week I left Rodgers out because I was sick of trying to think of new ways to highlight how great he is. This week I left him out because he played poorly. That hasn’t happened before.
  • There are three Packers in the falling category. When the Packers win, I reserve the final spot in the falling category to mock and ridicule a player or coach from the opposing team. Since the Chiefs outplayed the Packers on Sunday, there is no mocking and ridiculing this week.
  • Only two players in the rising category. Normally I have to whittle down a long list of rising players to only three. Not this week. I suppose I could have bumped up Scott Wells from the steady category to rising, but I chose not to.
  • This is the first stock report following a Packers loss. The comments section could get a little negative. Remember Packers fans: Your team is 13-1. The Packers chances of winning the Super Bowl are still rising.

Rising

Tim Masthay
Nothing against Masthay, but you know it was a rough week when the punter is the first one listed in the rising category. Masthay averaged 53 yards on five punts Sunday. Two weeks ago against the Giants he averaged 44 on five punts. Hopefully the Packers don’t have to punt often in the playoffs, but it’s nice to have Masthay rising right now.

Ryan Grant
Who would’ve thought we’d see Grant in this category heading into Week 16? Grant probably should’ve gotten more carries on Sunday, but I’m guessing McCarthy was hesitant to use him too much because he was the only real halfback active. Either that or McCarthy was going to stubbornly stick to the gameplan of chucking it downfield no matter what. Probably the latter.

Steady

Scott Wells
Like a pitcher that takes the ball every fifth day and gives you seven solid innings, Wells takes the field every week and gives a reliable performance. It might seem weird putting an offensive lineman in this category given the Packers struggles to keep pass rushers off Rodgers, but Wells has been consistent while his linemates have struggled to remain healthy and effective (honorable mention goes to T.J. Lang).

8

March

Green Bay Packers 2010 Player Evaluations — Offense — James Jones

1) Introduction: Drafted in the third round of the 2007 draft, Packers receiver James Jones has battled through an up and down start to his NFL career. Jones started nine games in his rookie season and caught 47 passes for 676 yards, but he only managed 52 catches and 714 yards the next two seasons (2008-09). A lingering knee injury contributed to his lack of production in 2008 as he only saw the field in 10 games.

When healthy, however, Jones can be a difference maker in the passing game. He has a big frame (6’1″, 208 lbs), and underrated straight line speed that often sees him getting behind defenders. Jones might not have the ceiling of a No. 1 receiver, but he’s one of the best No. 3 receivers in the NFL today.

2) Profile:

James Deandre Jones

Position: WR
Height: 6-1    Weight: 208 lbs.

Born: March 31, 1984 in San Jose, CA
College: San Jose State (school history)    (Jones college stats)
Drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 3rd round (78th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft.

3) Expectations coming into the season for that player: Mixed. His rookie season gave us a brief glimpse of what Jones could do over the course of a season, but injuries and a frustrating lack on consistency kept Jones from breaking out in the Packers offense.

In addition, both Greg Jennings and Donald Driver were coming off 1,000 yard seasons, and Jermichael Finley figured to become a bigger part of the offense. While having a bevy of weapons is surely a luxury, there are only so many footballs to go around and it was unsure how many Jones would see in 2010.

4) Player’s highlights/lowlights: To be honest, the entire 2010 season was a mix of highlights and lowlights for Jones. The Packers bi-polar receiver was either making you say “wow!” after a sure-handed reception or causing you to throw beverages at your television screen after the easiest of drops.

Jones started his highlights in Week 3 against the Buffalo Bills, as he made a nice adjustment on a back shoulder throw from Aaron Rodgers for a 30-yard touchdown. In Weeks 7 (vs. Minnesota), 8 (vs. Dallas) amd 10 (at Minnesota), Jones caught a combined 15 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns.

8

March

Green Bay Packers 2010 Player Evaluations — Offense — Jordy Nelson

1) Introduction: A former second round pick in 2008, Packers receiver Jordy Nelson has turned in a few productive yet unspectacular seasons during his first two years in Green Bay. Nelson averaged just over 27 catches and 343 yards per season from 2008-2009—numbers un-befitting a top 40 draft selection.

Heading into the 2010 season, one could have than made the argument that Nelson was the fourth, or maybe fifth, target in the Green Bay Packers passing game. With injuries to both Donald Driver and Jermichael Finley, however, Nelson began to emerge as a potential threat and had a breakout postseason.

2) Profile:

Jordy Ray Nelson

Position: WR
Height: 6-3    Weight: 215 lbs.

Born: May 31, 1985 in Manhattan, KS
College: Kansas State (school history)    (Nelson college stats)
Drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 2nd round (36th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft.

3) Expectations coming into the season for that player: Somewhat low, but also unsure. Nelson started the season buried on the depth chart behind Greg Jennings, Driver and James Jones, and Finley was sure to become a focal point of the offense. Still, everyone knew that Nelson was capable of being a play-maker, but his lack of production in two previous seasons tempered any lofty expectations for 2010.

4) Player’s highlights/lowlights: Nelson had plenty of highlights during the season, and he capped it off with an impressive performance in the Super Bowl (9 receptions, 140 yards, 1 TD). Against the Steelers, Nelson caught the game’s first touchdown (29 yards) and set up the Packers final points with a catch-and-run play of 38 yards.

Nelson also had two important catches in the regular season. The first came in Week 12, where Nelson’s 10-yard TD catch in Atlanta tied the game at 17 with 57 seconds left in the game. His second—an 80-yard TD—opened the scoring in a must-win against the Giants in Week 16.

His season also had some low points, however. In Week 4 against the Lions, Nelson lost two fumbles that nearly cost the Packers a victory. He was promptly removed from kickoff return duties after that showing.

And despite his impressive statistical showing at the Super Bowl, Nelson also had three credited drops that potentially kept the Packers off the scoreboard. Overall, Nelson dropped more passes this season (10) than in his two previous years combined.

22

February

Clay Matthews III Super Bowl Film Study – Tracking the Packers Predator

You may not have known it from casually watching the game or reading the stat sheet, but Clay Matthews III (CM3) was the focal point of the Super Bowl. When Matthews was on the field, both the Steelers’ and the Packers’ strategies revolved directly around Clay Matthews.

As I went back and watched the TV broadcast for the first time (I had only seen the game live previously), I decided to focus in on Matthews. All the post game talk had been about how Matthews was used by the Packers, but I was also curious about what the Steelers did to counteract the potential descriptiveness of Matthews.

I’ll discuss the Steelers’ strategy and then  move on to Dom Capers evil plan for CM3. But first, here’s a tally of what Matthews did on each play.

Matthews Tracking Summary:

16: Running plays AT CM3

4:  Running plays AWAY FROM CM3

23:   Controlled Blitzes: (comes and then pulls up – making sure Roethlisberger didn’t have an escape route to his side)

10: Real Blitzes: (CM3 coming all out after the QB)

6:  Drops in coverage

8:  Plays “I Spy” with Roethlisberger.

Pittsburgh Steelers:

The next time someone criticizes Clay Matthews for not having a sack or making any big plays in a game, remember this; one way or another, opposing teams must structure their entire game plan to account for Clay Matthews.

Some teams have taken the approach of double and triple teaming him and running their offense away from his side. The 49ers tried this, and I wrote about it in a previous Matthews Film Study of the San Francisco 49ers game.

Pittsburgh, as might be expected with Mike Tomlin and Dick Lebeau as their coaches, took the opposite approach. They decided to go right at him.  Their plan was to run at him all day with good old fashioned power football. Tight ends, fullbacks, tackles, pulling guards, you name it,  they ran them head on at Matthews all day.

On NFL Network’s Sound FX (around the 2:34 mark), Steelers running back coach Kirby Wilson says to Issac Redman about Matthews, “He doesn’t want to take on the run. He’s a pass-rush specialist… We’re going to keep pounding their ass on this play and make this guy quit eventually.”