8

January

Packers Outplayed, Not Outcoached in Loss to 49ers

Packers 49ers Wild Card KaepernickAs we become farther and farther removed from the Super Bowl XLV championship season, the microscope on Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy, and Dom Capers becomes increasingly magnified. And for a good reason. The Green Bay Packers have arguably the best quarterback in the league on their team, yet for the past three postseasons, they have come up far short of the Super Bowl. They haven’t even reached the NFC Conference Championship in that time span.

I even wrote a controversial post back in November about how Dom Capers is under-utilizing the talent on the defense, suggesting that he be let go in the offseason in favor of someone new. And many of us were carefully scrutinizing the defense during the Wild Card game against the San Francisco 49ers, since they had been the weak link in many of the postseason failures. Could Capers redeem himself and finally put a stop to Colin Kaepernick?

The strange thing about this game, though, was that blaming the coaches for the loss just didn’t seem right. In fact, it wouldn’t be right, because this game came down to missed opportunities by the Packers. There were a number of times where they could have taken control of the game, yet failed to.

We’ll start with the final drive by the 49ers, because it’s where the biggest and most costly miscues were made.

On 2nd-and-10 at the San Francisco 31-yard line, Micah Hyde makes the most heart-wrenching drop of the game, because that interception would have easily been taken to the house. The Packers would have been up 27-20, and the final four minutes would have unraveled much differently. But even on the ensuing 3rd-and-10, Kaepernick is able to escape the pocket and hit Michael Crabtree for 17 yards.

Then, with just over a minute left, the 49ers once again convert a 3rd-and-8 when Kaepernick escapes a Cover 0 blitz and runs for the first down. Jarrett Bush fails to contain, Ryan Pickett gets pushed to the inside, and Andy Mulumba just can’t run fast enough to save the play.

Those were the missed opportunities that stick in our head the most; however, there were others throughout the game that made a difference.

19

November

Packers Defense Does Not Measure Up to Its Talent

lombardi_quoteBefore school started this year, I ordered three motivational tin posters for my music classroom. One of these posters features Babe Ruth, while the other two feature none other than Vince Lombardi, legendary Green Bay Packers coach. Each one is a black and white photo prominently displaying an inspirational quote, and I often reference them when my students need some guidance.

After the past few weeks, with the struggles of a Packers team sans Aaron Rodgers, I have been unable to get one of those quotations out of my mind:

“The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.” –Vince Lombardi

I selected this particular poster, because it suggests that measuring ourselves against others is a fool’s errand. As I have often said, there will always be people out there better than us at something, and there will always be people who are worse than us. We should be looking at success as a measure of what we’ve been able to accomplish from where we’ve started.

How does this apply to the Packers’ current situation? Like many other fans, in my frustration with this injury-riddled season, my contempt for the defense and its failures has grown. Every year since the abysmal 2011 season – and a defense that, on average, gave up over 400 yards per game – I’ve been praying that Dom Capers would turn it around.

“Just get some good players in the draft, and we’ll be set,” I told myself. “Then we can get back to the 2010 defense that allowed the second fewest points per game in the league.”

Of course, this year, I started the season with a different tune. “Just get some key players healthy, and this defense will be unmovable.” Names like Casey Hayward, Morgan Burnett, and eventually Clay Matthews and Nick Perry kept popping up in this conversation. Green Bay just needed to get over the injury bug. That’s all.

It hasn’t gotten better, though. And average quarterbacks are making the pass defense look downright silly.

Unlike some fans, I’m not going to point my finger at Ted Thompson. I believe that he is good at acquiring talent for this team. Guys like Clay Matthews, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Eddie Lacey were unbelievable draft picks. Then consider players like David Bakhtiari, Morgan Burnett, and Josh Sitton, who have been some solid acquisitions in the middle rounds. And don’t forget the undrafted diamonds like Sam Shields and DuJuan Harris that Thompson has unearthed.

27

August

Packers Cut Roster to 75 Players

Packers GM Ted Thompson

Packers GM Ted Thompson made his roster cuts on Tuesday to make the 75-player limit.

The Green Bay Packers announced on Tuesday afternoon that their roster had been reduced to 75 players, per NFL rules. Four players were placed on injured reserve, four were placed on the PUP (physically unable to perform), and one was released. The players removed from the active roster were:

  • T Bryan Bulaga (IR)
  • WR Kevin Dorsey (IR)
  • RB DuJuan Harris (IR)
  • LB Jarvis Reed (IR)
  • S Sean Richardson (PUP)
  • T Derek Sherrod (PUP)
  • T J.C. Tretter (PUP)
  • DE Jerel Worthy (PUP)
  • K Zach Ramirez (released)

This is in addition to the six players already released since Saturday:

  • QB Graham Harrell
  • WR Justin Wilson
  • WR Omarius Hines
  • WR Alex Gillett
  • DL Gilbert Peña
  • RB Angelo Pease
  • K Giorgio Tavecchio

The players placed on injured lists (PUP and IR) were largely expected to end up there. DuJuan Harris was the one surprising move reported earlier this afternoon. Zach Ramirez was somewhat surprising considering his very recent signing; however, Packers beat reporters noted that he only made 6 of 16 field goal attempts during today’s practice. Mason Crosby connected on all 14 of his, suggesting that he might have finally won the preseason battle for good.

One more important note is that players placed on injured reserve today can not be “Designated for Return” later on in the season. This means that Bryan Bulaga and DuJuan Harris are effectively done for the year. Players on the PUP, as always, will have the opportunity to return to practice six weeks into the regular season.

Ted Thompson and the Packers must further reduce the roster to 53 players by the end of business on Saturday, August 31st.

——————

Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

——————

19

August

Packers 2013 Training Camp Depth Chart: Week 4

Johnny Jolly InterceptionAs the Green Bay Packers Training Camp unfolds, I am going to do my best to track the players along the depth chart. While things will certainly change over the course of the preseason, this gives us an idea of how the coaches are valuing the players.

Please note that this is not a projection, but rather a snapshot ranking based on observations of training camp practices. Those players seen on the first team units are obviously in the running for starting jobs, while those on second team units are still working their way up the ladder. And as we should all know by know, special teams roles will continue to play a part in how each player is valued.

As a change from last year, I have separated each position into tiers. The first tier represents probable “starters,” the second tier represents probable back-ups, and the third tier represents training camp “warm bodies” (for lack of a better term). Generally speaking, the rankings within each tier are most important for second tier players, where there is more competition for a roster spot and possible starter material.

Notes are provided after each position to help you understand why players were ranked as they are. Most of my information comes from the beat writers who have been watching practice, using their Twitter feeds and articles as references.

Quarterback

Rodgers, Aaron

Harrell, Graham
Young, Vince

Coleman, B.J.

  • The quarterbacks had a better showing this week, but that’s not really saying much.

 

Running Back

Lacy, Eddie
Harris, DuJuan

Franklin, Johnathan
Green, Alex
James Starks

Pease, Angelo

  • Lacy is clearly at the head of the pack, and McCarthy has made it clear Harris is right up there with him on the depth chart.
  • Franklin started with the second team offense, but he needs to show that he can still get yards despite bad blocking.
  • Green and Starks need to step up their games.

 

Fullback

Kuhn, John

Amosa, Jonathan

  • Yawn.

 

Tight End

Finley, Jermichael

Williams, D.J.
+ Mulligan, Matthew
Bostick, Brandon
Stoneburner, Jake

+ Quarless, Andrew
+ Taylor, Ryan

  • D.J. Williams is still atop the second tier, as he did get a starting look on Saturday. He also played quite a bit with the second offense, too. How long will they continue to give him opportunities?
12

August

Packers 2013 Training Camp Depth Chart: Week 3

house-cardinalsAs the Green Bay Packers Training Camp unfolds, I am going to do my best to track the players along the depth chart. While things will certainly change over the course of the preseason, this gives us an idea of how the coaches are valuing the players.

Please note that this is not a projection, but rather a snapshot ranking based on observations of training camp practices. Those players seen on the first team units are obviously in the running for starting jobs, while those on second team units are still working their way up the ladder. And as we should all know by know, special teams roles will continue to play a part in how each player is valued.

As a change from last year, I have separated each position into tiers. The first tier represents probable “starters,” the second tier represents probable back-ups, and the third tier represents training camp “warm bodies” (for lack of a better term). Generally speaking, the rankings within each tier are most important for second tier players, where there is more competition for a roster spot and possible starter material.

Notes are provided after each position to help you understand why players were ranked as they are. Most of my information comes from the beat writers who have been watching practice, using their Twitter feeds and articles as references.

 

Quarterback

Rodgers, Aaron

Harrell, Graham
Young, Vince

Coleman, B.J.

  • Well, it looks like the back-up race isn’t any clearer even with veteran Vince Young in the mix. The only thing we know for sure is that Coleman is officially in the doghouse for his poor performances.

 

Running Back

James Starks
Franklin, Johnathan
Green, Alex

Pease, Angelo

+Lacy, Eddie
* Harris, DuJuan

  • Starks got the start against the Cardinals, with Franklin also taking a healthy dose of snaps.
  • Lacy seems to be “the guy” at running back, but his recent injury has him temporarily sidelined.

 

Fullback

Kuhn, John

Amosa, Jonathan

  • Someone wake me when something happens with the fullbacks…

 

Tight End

Finley, Jermichael

Williams, D.J.
Mulligan, Matthew

Bostick, Brandon
Stoneburner, Jake

+ Quarless, Andrew
+ Taylor, Ryan

  • Quarless and Taylor need to get back onto the field as soon as they can. Williams is still a bit uninspiring.
5

August

Packers 2013 Training Camp Depth Chart: Week 2

Packers 2013 Family NightAs the Green Bay Packers Training Camp unfolds, I am going to do my best to track the players along the depth chart. While things will certainly change over the course of the preseason, this gives us an idea of how the coaches are valuing the players.

Please note that this is not a projection, but rather a snapshot ranking based on observations of training camp practices. Those players seen on the first team units are obviously in the running for starting jobs, while those on second team units are still working their way up the ladder. And as we should all know by know, special teams roles will continue to play a part in how each player is valued.

As a change from last year, I have separated each position into tiers. The first tier represents probable “starters,” the second tier represents probable back-ups, and the third tier represents training camp “warm bodies” (for lack of a better term). Generally speaking, the rankings within each tier are most important for second tier players, where there is more competition for a roster spot and possible starter material.

Notes are provided after each position to help you understand why players were ranked as they are. Most of my information comes from the beat writers who have been watching practice, using their Twitter feeds and articles as references.

 

Quarterback

Rodgers, Aaron

Harrell, Graham
Coleman, B.J.

  • After Family Night, it’s clear Harrell still has a lead in this race. He went 9 of 12 for 88 yards and a TD, while Coleman went 9 of 18 for 100 yards and 2 INTs.

 

Running Back

Starks, James
Green, Alex
Lacy, Eddie
Franklin, Johnathan

Pease, Angelo

* Harris, DuJuan

  • Starks got the first carries on Family Night (for what it’s worth), while Lacy showed his potential for pounding the defense. Green seems to be coming back to form, but Franklin wasn’t as spectacular as hoped.

 

Fullback

Kuhn, John

Amosa, Jonathan

  • I noted the comment/suggestion of putting Mulligan here last week, but I think I’m going to hold off on that decision for now. I want to hear more about how he’s being utilized in the formations.

 

Tight End

Finley, Jermichael

Williams, D.J.
Mulligan, Matthew

Bostick, Brandon
Stoneburner, Jake

29

July

Packers 2013 Training Camp Depth Chart: Week 1

trainingcamp2013_1As the Green Bay Packers Training Camp unfolds, I am going to do my best to track the players along the depth chart. While things will certainly change over the course of the preseason, this gives us an idea of how the coaches are valuing the players.

Please note that this is not a projection, but rather a snapshot ranking based on observations of training camp practices. Those players seen on the first team units are obviously in the running for starting jobs, while those on second team units are still working their way up the ladder. And as we should all know by know, special teams roles will continue to play a part in how each player is valued.

As a change from last year, I have separated each position into tiers. The first tier represents training camp “starters,” the second tier represents back-ups or second team players, and the third tier represents training camp “warm bodies” (for lack of a better term). Generally speaking, the rankings within each tier are most important for second tier players, where there is more competition for a roster spot and possible starter material.

Notes are provided after each position to help you understand why players were ranked as they are. Most of my information comes from the beat writers who have been watching practice, using their Twitter feeds and articles as references.

 

Quarterback

Rodgers, Aaron

Harrell, Graham
Coleman, B.J.

  • If Christian Ponder were on this list, where do you think Greg Jennings would put him?

 

Running Back

Green, Alex
Starks, James
Lacy, Eddie
Franklin, Johnathan

Pease, Angelo

* Harris, DuJuan

  • Starks has been getting his touches and showing some worth, it seems. How long will it last?

 

Fullback

Kuhn, John

Amosa, Jonathan

  • Would anyone else love to hear William Shatner shout “KUUUUUUUHHHHHHNNNNN!” someday?

 

Tight End

Finley, Jermichael
Quarless, Andrew

Williams, D.J.
Mulligan, Matthew
Taylor, Ryan

Bostick, Brandon
Stoneburner, Jake

  • This seems to be one of the least talked about position groups leading up to camp, but I think it might be one of the most interesting competitions to watch.

 

Wide Receiver

Cobb, Randall
Nelson, Jordy
Jones, James

Boykin, Jarrett
Ross, Jeremy

Gillett, Alex
Walker, Tyrone
White, Myles