6

November

Packers Add Tolzien to Active Roster

Scott Tolzien

Tolzien was added to the team’s active roster on Wednesday

The Green Bay Packers reportedly promoted quarterback Scott Tolzien from the team’s practice squad to the active roster today according to Bill Huber of PackerReport.com.

The move would fill the last roster spot that was open following some additional moves the Packers made yesterday.  Among those were placing tight end Jermichael Finley and linebacker Sam Barrington on season-ending injured reserve.

Tolzien was signed to Green Bay’s practice squad just prior to the Packers week one game against the San Francisco 49ers.  When the Cleveland Browns tried to sign him to their active roster, the Packers significantly increased his salary in order to keep him.

That effort has paid off for both Tolzien, who finally makes it to the 53-man roster, and the Packers who now have a backup quarterback to Seneca Wallace.

Prior to Tolzien’s promotion, and after Aaron Rodgers was ruled out for the remainder of the game against the Chicago Bears, the Packers’ emergency quarterback was said to be receiver Jordy Nelson.

Tolzien is thought to be a smart player and finished his three-year career with the Wisconsin Badgers in 2010 with 32 touchdown passes and a 68.1% completion percentage.  He has yet to take a single snap in an NFL game.  I wouldn’t expect to see Tolzien unless Wallace is unable to play for any reason.

It was also reported today that the timetable for Rodgers’ return has expanded and could be anywhere from four to six weeks.  Rodgers status is reportedly listed as “week to week” as his collarbone injury is being allowed to heal on its own versus having surgery.  When Rodgers is able to return, it is uncertain if the Packers would plan to keep Tolzien on the active roster or move him back to the practice squad.  It would seem that there is some interest around the league for the young quarterback’s services if he were to be demoted at some point.  There’s also the fact that, if released, Tolzien would have to clear waivers before the Packers could re-sign him to their practice squad.

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.com

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28

March

Packers Contracts, the Salary Cap, and More – Part 6: Aaron Rodgers and the Big Contract

packers_piggy_bankOne of the hardest things for the average fan to comprehend is how NFL contracts work and how they apply to a team’s salary cap. There are many complicated elements, rules, and exceptions that can be hard to sort out. In this series, my goal is to help you better understand how this whole system works, plus what it means to the Green Bay Packers’ current salary cap and contract concerns.

Before reading, make sure to check out the previous article(s) in the series:

Our sixth and final article focuses on Aaron Rodgers and the “big contract.” Ted Thompson has been preparing for this moment for a long time now, and we’re going to attempt to scratch through the surface of this major negotiation.

Across this series, we’ve talked about a lot of things concerning NFL player contracts and the salary cap. Now is when the rubber meets the road, though, and we try to put this knowledge to use. I’m also going to introduce a few new things that will keep it interesting, such as general cap economics and the concept of “option bonuses.” Fair warning: there is going to be a lot to digest here.

First and foremost, we have to understand why Aaron Rodgers needs a new deal – and soon. Here is how his current contract looks:

rodgers_contract

 

This is the extension he signed in 2008, which was the first year he started after Brett Favre left. It was a very smart move by Ted Thompson, not only because it locked up their new franchise quarterback, but also because it meant very little for the Packers in the way of financial demands. After 2009, Thompson could have cut Rodgers with no dead money to worry about.

At this point, going into the contract’s sixth year, the Green Bay Packers need to give Aaron Rodgers a new deal. He is clearly the franchise’s number one quarterback for as long as he can play; plus, he won them a Super Bowl title in 2010 and earned the title of NFL MVP in 2011.

7

March

Packing the Stats: Is Aaron Rodgers’ Time Ticking Away?

Packing the StatsIn the shadow of the last two postseason losses, I’ve seen a number of Green Bay Packers fans itching for Ted Thompson to make some big roster moves. Their basic premise is that star quarterback Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have much time left to get to another Super Bowl. It’s either now or never if the team wants to make another serious run at it.

Rodgers is, after all, turning 30 this December. By the time the season is over and the playoffs are underway, he’ll have reached that magic age in the NFL when a player’s value suddenly drops like a brand new car being driven off the dealer’s lot. Sure, he hasn’t shown any physical or mental signs of decline in his performance, but time flies when you’re chasing the Lombardi Trophy.

To be perfectly clear, I have been a big skeptic of this line of thinking. This skepticism has actually led me to do a little data mining. How many quarterbacks have won the Super Bowl after they’ve turned 30? How many have even played in a Super Bowl? Is it a foregone conclusion that Rodgers will be battling the odds in the coming years?

So I went all the way back to Super Bowl XXX and compiled the ages of the starting quarterbacks since that year. Just to note, I only went back 18 years for the purposes of time management and the idea that modern rules are helping with durability. Quarterbacks are being protected from physically damaging hits, so they should theoretically have a better chance of playing into their later years.

Here is the raw data I uncovered (click to enlarge):

Super Bowl Starting Quarterback Ages - Raw Data, 1995-2013

Super Bowl Starting Quarterback Ages – Raw Data, 1995-2013

 

After compiling all the data, I went through and calculated some simple statistics to help us measure and understand what we’re seeing:

Super Bowl Starting Quarterback Ages - Statistics, 1995-2013

Super Bowl Starting Quarterback Ages – Statistics, 1995-2013

 

Looking at the numbers, Aaron Rodgers has clearly surpassed the average age for quarterbacks appearing in a Super Bowl. Losing quarterbacks tend to be about a year older than winning ones, while the median age seems to hover around 28. About 60% of all quarterbacks starting in a Super Bowl during the past 18 years were under the age of 30.

3

October

Packing the Stats: Release Times of Brees, Rodgers

As expected, the showdown between the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers on Sunday was a high-flying affair between two Super Bowl MVPs. Both defenses had a difficult time stopping the pass prowess of Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, who put up a combined 765 yards and 7 touchdowns through the air.

A lot of Packers fans were extremely frustrated with the Packers’ secondary, which seemingly regressed in soft zone coverage after two games of playing a more aggressive man-to-man style. While this has been the scapegoat for fans, Tom Silverstein of JSOnline.com had this explanation:

The big reason was because the Saints used a lot of bunch formations. The Packers had some rules for how to play them when their splits are a certain way. When the splits were narrower than usual, they went to zone so they didn’t get picked. Wider, they went to man-to-man. The Saints are really good in dissecting defenses and making them react to the Saints. With the size of their receivers, you can’t let yourself get picked all day long or you wind up giving up even bigger plays. The problem was no pass rush.

Providing some statistics to back up this claim is ProFootballFocus.com, who mentioned the following in their Re-Focused Game Review: “After being pressured on 53 drop-backs through three games, Brees faced pressure on just six of 56 drop-backs (10.7%) against the Packers.”

Now, I consider the Saints offensive line to be one of the better units in the NFL. Both guards Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks represented the NFC in the 2012 Pro Bowl, and tackle Jermon Bushrod was a reserve player. When stating this recently on a comment thread, another poster brought up the quick releases of Drew Brees.

With that as the impetus for my research, I took to NFL Rewind with my stopwatch to time the releases of both Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. While there is some human error in the process, I did time each throw at least twice. (The span of time recorded is from snap to release.)

Here is the raw data, split by drive:

BREES RODGERS
2.7 COMP
1.4 COMP
2.2 COMP
1.9 COMP
2.6 INC
1.7 COMP
2.4 INC
4.9 SCRAM TD COMP
1.2 COMP
31

May

Packers Will Be “Fine” With Current Backup Quarterbacks

Graham Harrell

Will the Packers be "fine" with Graham Harrell as the backup quarterback?

I’ve had about enough. After reading Football Outsider’s NFC North installment of their “Four Downs” series, it’s finally time to make known this humble blogger’s opinion regarding the backup quarterback situation in Green Bay. In a word, they’ll be “fine.”

For some reason, though, there are a good number of writers out there sounding the alarm. Perhaps they haven’t seen enough of Graham Harrell to put a lot of faith in him. (Of course, no one outside of the coaching staff really has.) Or perhaps they’re still clinging to the annual call for a veteran backup.

Whatever the case, it just needs to stop.

And I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’ve read some of the comments at Football Outsiders and our fellow Packers blog CheeseheadTV, and there seem to be a good number of people who all share the same opinion I do.

Look, I get it. Harrell, despite being in his third year with the team, is unproven. He’s never played a down outside of the preseason, and last year’s lockout kept him from developing in Mike McCarthy’s annual quarterback school. Now with the release of Nick Hill, seventh-round draft pick B.J. Coleman remains as the only other backup.

It’s not unreasonable to be dubious of a two-year practice squad player and a rookie. But it’s just crying wolf to say the Packers’ season might be in jeopardy without a more competent backup.

The truth of the matter is that if Aaron Rodgers goes down for the season, it’s probably over anyway. Even if you were to bring in a veteran quarterback, there’s not going to be anyone who will be able to pick up and run the Packer’s offensive system adequately. And spending a higher draft pick for someone other than B.J. Coleman is no more of a guarantee. Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm are proof enough of that.

There is little chance that anyone could carry the offense through the playoffs and to the Super Bowl other than Rodgers himself. When we get right down to it, isn’t that all that matters?

“But wait!” you might say. “What if having a backup in causes them to miss the playoffs, even if Rodgers returns from an injury?”

6

January

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and CB Charles Woodson Named to AP All-Pro Team

Charles Woodson was named to his sixth AP All-Pro team on Friday.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been named to the Associated Press 2011 NFL All-Pro Team after receiving 47.5 of the 50 total votes, the AP announced Friday. Rodgers was joined on the team by Packers cornerback Charles Woodson.

Rodgers threw for a franchise-record 4,643 yards and 45 touchdowns in leading the Packers to a 15-1 regular season record and the NFC’s No.1 seed. He also set the NFL record for passer rating in a season with a 122.5 mark, eclipsing Peyton Manning’s mark of 121.1 set in 2004.

2011 will be the first season in which Rodgers has earned All-Pro honors.

Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints record-breaking quarterback, received the other 2.5 votes. The wide discrepancy in votes almost ensures that Rodgers will also be the NFL’s MVP, which is scheduled to be announced in February on the night before the Super Bowl.

Woodson earned his sixth AP All-Pro selection of his career (1999, 2000, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’11) despite the Packers allowing the most passing yards in NFL history this season. The 35-year-old Woodson was tied for the NFL lead in interception in 2011 with seven, marking the second time in his career that he’s either led or tied in interceptions for a season. He also had two sacks and forced and recovered a fumble.

Fullback John Kuhn, receiver Jordy Nelson, right tackle Bryan Bulaga, center Scott Wells, defensive tackle B.J. Raji, and outside linebacker Clay Matthews also received votes at their respective positions.

AP 2011 NFL ALL-PROS

QB AARON RODGERS, PACKERS
RB MAURICE JONES-DREW, JAGUARS
RB LESEAN MCCOY, EAGLES
FB VONTA LEACH, RAVENS
WR CALVIN JOHNSON, LIONS
WR WES WELKER, PATRIOTS
TE ROB GRONKOWSKI, PATRIOTS
T JASON PETERS, EAGLES
T JOE THOMAS, BROWNS
G CARL NICKS, SAINTS
G JAHRI EVANS, SAINTS
C MAURKICE POUNCEY, STEELERS
DE JARED ALLEN, VIKINGS
DE JASON PIERRE-PAUL, GIANTS
DT HALOTI NGATA, RAVENS
DT JUSTIN SMITH, 49ERS
LB TERRELL SUGGS, RAVENS
LB DEMARCUS WARE, COWBOYS
LB PATRICK WILLIS, 49ERS
LB NAVARRO BOWMAN, 49ERS
LB DERRICK JOHNSON, CHIEFS
CB DARRELLE REVIS, JETS
CB CHARLES WOODSON, PACKERS
S TROY POLAMALU, STEELERS
S ERIC WEDDLE, CHARGERS
K DAVID AKERS, 49ERS
P ANDY LEE, 49ERS
KR PATRICK PETERSON, CARDINALS

21

March

2011 Draft Prep: Green Bay Packers Needs by Position – Quarterback

As we get closer to the 2011 NFL Draft, part of the analysis and speculation process is understanding the needs of the Green Bay Packers team. And even though Ted Thompson largely adheres to the “best player available” (BPA) strategy, the strengths and weaknesses at each position cannot be ignored.

Understanding the team’s needs is especially important in the later rounds and when signing undrafted free agents, since the hierarchy of talent is less defined. Additionally, the option of trading up or down the board is largely dependent on the types of players available at that moment.

Last year in the 2010 NFL Draft, for example, the Green Bay Packers traded their picks at 86 and 122 to the Eagles for the 71st pick. The subsequently used this to draft safety Morgan Burnett from Georgia Tech.

In short, Ted Thompson knew the Packers needed some depth at safety with Atari Bigby quickly fading from his career and no long-term replacements on the roster. The way the board was moving, they felt they couldn’t wait fifteen picks to grab Burnett, so they traded up.

This just goes to show how knowing your roster is as important as knowing the draft prospects.

In this article series, I will take a look at each position (or position group) on the current Green Bay Packers roster to see how each one currently stands. Strengths, weaknesses, depth, and uncertainties will all be examined to determine the urgency of need in regards to next season.

Without further ado, I present you with perhaps the easiest position to assess as of now: the quarterbacks.

CURRENT PLAYERS:

#12 Aaron Rodgers
27 yrs. old / 6 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2014

#10 Matt Flynn
25 yrs. old / 3 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2011

#6 Graham Harrell
25 yrs. old / 1 yr. exp.
Signed through 2012

* Contract information acquired from RotoWorld.com

POSITION STRENGTHS: Aaron Rodgers.

I could almost leave it at that, but I won’t. It’s clear that Rodgers is the best thing to happen to the Green Bay Packers since, well, that other guy led them to two Super Bowls.

But beyond that, the greatest strength of the position is not necessarily in the players, but in Mike McCarthy.