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).

19

December

The !$*?!#%! Kansas City Chiefs Ruined the Packers Opportunity for Perfection

Donald Driver, WR Green Bay Packers

Is this really happening?

The Packers lost to the Chiefs on Sunday in a complete trainwreck of a football game. Receivers dropped passes, the pass rush never entered Kyle Orton’s zip code and more Packers limped off the field with injuries.

It was a horrible way to end an amazing run. Just horrible.

There’s probably going to be some people that say it’s good for the Packers to lose a game. They’ll say that the ultimate goal is the Super Bowl and losing will build character and force the Packers to correct mistakes… or something like that.

Ignore those people. Tell them to go away.

Losing sucks. No team ever says, “Hey, lets lose this game today to build some character and increase our chances of going to the Super Bowl.” That’s not how it works.

If this Packers team goes 18-1 and repeats as Super Bowl champions, it’s going to be amazing. I’m going to be just as happy as I was for the other Super Bowl titles the Packers have won in my lifetime.

But there’s always going to be a small part of my green and gold brain that reminds me the Packers could have been 19-0 — undefeated — but they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs.

THE !$*?!#%! KANSAS CITY CHIEFS!!!!!!

We’re going to have plenty of time in the coming days to break down exactly what happened, to start sounding the alarm about the Packers’ injuries, protection issues and defensive lapses. Honestly, I’m not worried about all of that. Yeah, the Packers are banged up and looked lost on Sunday, but they’re still the best team in the NFL.

If they don’t win the Super Bowl, it’d be an upset.

Right now, I just want to vent about the fact that the Packers opportunity for perfection was ruined by THE !$*?!#%! KANSAS CITY CHIEFS!!!!!! Some day my son will ask me why the Packers did not go undefeated in 2011, and I will have to tell him that they lost to the Chiefs, a team that was 5-8 and just fired its head coach.

Now don’t get me wrong. When my son gives me a quizzical look and asks how something silly like losing to the Chiefs could ruin a perfect season, I’ll spend the next two hours telling him stories about the amazing run the Packers went on in 2010-11. I’ll tell him about not losing a game for 364 days, the amazing play of Aaron Rodgers and all of the other things this team accomplished.

14

December

A.J. Hawk vs D.J. Smith: The Brewing Battle at Inside Linebacker

When Packers fans take a break from criticizing Jermichael Finley, they usually direct their ire toward A.J. Hawk.

By now you know the drill:

  • Hawk bashers say he hasn’t come close to meeting the expectations of a No. 5 overall draft choice and that he’s undeserving of his five-year, $33.75 million contract.
  • Hawk supporters say the linebacker is a steady presence on a sometimes chaotic defense and that his value shouldn’t be judged by raw statistics or the number of SportsCenter highlight-worthy plays he makes.

Both Hawk and Desmond Bishop got hurt on Thanksgiving. D.J. Smith and Robert Francois have filled in admirably and the Packers remain undefeated. Smith has played so well that there has to be some discussions among the Packers coaching staff about Hawk’s role when he returns.

Hawk has 39 solo tackles in 11 games this season, about 3.5 per game. Since taking over for Hawk, Smith has 18 solo tackles in about three games, an average of six per game.

Smith was all over the field on Sunday against the Raiders. He picked off Carson Palmer and made the sort of tackles that get you noticed by the television cameras. In other words, Smith made plays and did things Hawk hasn’t been able to do (unless you consider flicking off your own bench getting noticed).

Smith’s play has fired up the Packers fan base — so much so that many are calling for Hawk’s role to be reduced (see the comments sections here and here).

So what’s the right answer? Should Hawk or Smith get the nod at inside linebacker down the stretch? Only Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers know.

I don’t mean to sit on the fence on this issue. I wish I saw things clearly enough to boldly proclaim that Smith should play, or that Hawk shouldn’t be relegated to backup duty quite yet. But I really think this is another instance where Packers fans need to trust McCarthy and Capers to read their team and do what’s right.

Ted Thompson gave Hawk a lot of money this offseason. The Packers don’t hand out huge contracts to just anybody. They clearly felt that Hawk could play and this defense needed him. I don’t think they’re ready to just replace him with a sixth-round draft pick during one of the most important stretches in franchise history.

13

December

Week 15 Packers Stock Report: Smith and Nelson Rising, Newhouse and Finley Falling

Remember when blowout wins were fun? The Packers destroyed the Raiders on Sunday, but a lot of the fun was ruined by various Packers hobbling off the field and the star QB taking too many hits.

This is where we’re at as Packers fans these days. Instead of basking in the glory of a 46-16 win, we’re worrying about the health of the team.

It’s kind of a weird feeling. Whenever I see Aaron Rodgers running around or another player trying to fight off tacklers for a couple extra yards, I start yelling at the TV: “Yeah! Go! Go! Go…..wait a minute! Don’t get hurt! Just go down!”

Don’t get me wrong. I want the Packers to go for 19-0 and I think they will, but damn, it sure makes for some nerve-wrecking moments in these final regular season games. Thankfully, it appears that Greg Jennings will be back for the playoffs.

Time for the stock report. I left Rodgers off this week, mostly because I was sick of always trying to come up with something new to say about how good he is.

Rising

D.J. Smith
Mike McCarthy gave game balls to Smith and fellow backup ILB Robert Francois after Sunday’s win. Smith’s 10 tackles and one interception also earned him a spot in the rising category. Smith has 24 tackles since replacing the injured Desmond Bishop on Thanksgiving.

Jordy Nelson
I’m curious to see how Nelson plays with Jennings on the sideline. With Jennings on the field, Nelson has been on fire, totaling 80 yards or more in three of his last four games. He also has three touchdowns over that span.

Donald Driver
I went to the week four game against the Broncos. Driver got carted to the locker room after getting drilled in the knee in the first half. He could barely walk and he had the towel over his head. It didn’t look good. At halftime, Vic Ketchman appeared on the Lambeau big screen and told us that Driver would not return. Literally 10 seconds later, Driver trotted onto the field and started warming up. He returned, and even caught a TD later in the game. Now Driver is heating up again and it couldn’t come at a better time.

Steady

8

December

All Aboard! Why I Will Never Again Underestimate These Green Bay Packers

Crow.  It tastes like chicken.

Or maybe bratwurst?

Anyway, as has now been logged for posterity on this fine website, last week I thought the Packers would go down 28-24 to the Giants and thus ending their 17 game winning streak dating back to last season. The final score was close (38-35) but the outcome was reverse as the Packers won in thrilling, last minute fashion.

Truthfully, I don’t think I have ever been happier to be wrong.

More importantly, I learned a very valuable lesson as I wipe egg off my face: I believe in the 2011 Green Bay Packers.  The team had not been tested quite like this and the way Aaron Rodgers imposed his will on that final drive against a good but wounded Giants defense opened my eyes as wide as saucers.

I had a fair amount of doubts that this team could go the distance due to a leaky defense and with injuries affecting the linebacking position.  I thought the law of averages would catch up with Rodgers and the offense would finally struggle.

Shame on me.  In hindsight, I made the fatal mistake of underestimating Rodgers and he made me pay for it.   I thought someday he could be stopped.  Not anymore. This offense is a juggernaut and the man at the controls won’t yield to anyone, so pedestrians had better get the hell out of the way.

To be clear, I was never “off” the Packers bandwagon so please don’t view this as me jumping back onto it.  I knew this team was great.  I had the utmost confidence in Rodgers and company to deliver when the chips were down.

Perhaps I was a bit more hardened than I thought, seeing good-to-great Packers teams  of the past flame out in big games and having the season go to waste. This had come to define the Mike Sherman era and though Mike McCarthy has a ring, it’s hard to kick the memories of those teams in the 2000s. I thought maybe we were seeing history repeat itself in the 21st century’s second decade.

Nope. Not with this team and especially not with this quarterback.

At a time when Rodgers was unbelievably facing criticism for his “lack” of fourth quarter comebacks (mainly one idiot who is on a network that starts with E and ends with SPN), the soon-to-be NFL MVP basically went “OK, watch this,” and ripped apart the Giants secondary so bad some probably crawled back crying to their mothers.

6

December

Week 14 Packers Stock Report: Rodgers and Matthews Rising, Peprah and Newhouse Falling

Great win on Sunday for the Packers. A signature win.

I’m not sure if I’d call this week’s stock report “great” or “signature,” but nonetheless, here it is:

Aaron Rodgers
After the first half, I thought this might be the week that Rodgers drops out of the rising category. Boy, than was a dumb thought. Rodgers  came to life in the second half, overcoming several dropped passes and shaky protection to keep the Packers out front and eventually put together a game-winning drive with 58 seconds left. He finished with a QB rating of 106, his lowest of the season, but I think we’ll let that slide this one time.

Clay Matthews
Can you name another player on defense that did much of anything on Sunday? Walden had a few pressures. Shields tipped away a couple of passes. Raji was active early. Otherwise, Matthews was the lone bright spot on D.

Jordy Nelson
It didn’t matter if Nelson was covered or only had a few inches to work with along the sideline, he was determined to make the catch when Rodgers threw it to him. A nice rebound game for No. 87 after a ho-hum performance against the Lions.

Steady

Greg Jennings
Not even the NFL’s silly rules about catches in the end zone could keep Jennings from scoring. After a brief slowdown in weeks nine and 10, Jennings is back on track.

Donald Driver
Two of Driver’s four catches on Sunday went for touchdowns. Not bad for an old-timer. Most importantly, Driver didn’t come down with a case of the dropsies like most of the other Packers WRs and TEs.

Falling

Charlie Peprah
Many readers pointed out in the comments section of my game summary that the loss of Nick Collins is negatively impacting Peprah. This is 100 true. Unfortunately, Collins is also not able to protect Peprah from landing in this week’s falling category.

Marshall Newhouse
I really went back and forth on including Newhouse here. The Giants front four might be the best in football. Newhouse is essentially a rookie. Rodgers dropped back to pass 50 times on Sunday. Talk bout a near-impossible task. There was bound to be some pressures allowed by the young man. However, when the goal is the Super Bowl, inexperience, quality of opponent and difficult assignments are no excuse. Newhouse needs to clean it up.

4

December

Green Bay Packers Stay Unbeaten, Knock off Giants 38-35

Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Another week. Another team throwing everything they had at the Packers. Another Packers victory.

The Packers beat the Giants 38-35 on Sunday and are now 12-0. It was a forgettable game for the Packers defense, but Aaron Rodgers and the offense came through late to secure the win.

Some quick thoughts on how it went down:

What went right

  •  Aaron Rodgers. He struggled occasionally and threw a pick that led directly to a Giants TD, but finished 28 for 46 for 369 yards, four TDs and a 106.2 passer rating. Also, the winning drive he led with 58 seconds to play was unreal.
  • Clay Matthews. Matthews was a one-man show on defense Sunday. No other defender did much of anything.
  • Jordy Nelson. It didn’t matter how covered he was or where he was on the field, Nelson was determined to come down with the ball when Rodgers threw it to him.
  • Donald Driver. The old guy still staying relevant.
What went wrong
  • Everything on defense. It didn’t matter if the Giants were running or throwing, the Packers defense struggled to stop it. Did the Packers miss AJ Hawk and Desmond Bishop that much?
  • Dropped passes. C’mon fellas! Catch the damn ball when Rodgers throws it to you. Jermichael Finley had three drops himself.
  • Marshall Newhouse. The young man has filled in admirably for Chad Clifton, but got destroyed today by Jason Pierre-Paul and Dave Tollefson. Newhouse also needs to learn how to drill a defensive lineman in the gut when they jump to try and knock down a pass from Rodgers. Just standing there and staring while they leap in the air doesn’t do any good.
  • Communication in the secondary. It appeared that Williams was expecting safety help on a couple of those deep completions. It’ll be something the beat reporters will have to ask McCarthy, Capers and the DBs this week.
What’s next
  • The Oakland Raiders at Lambeau. It’ll be another team with a good running game fighting for their playoff lives and doing everything possible to spoil the Packers run to perfection. Bring. It. On.
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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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