21

May

Questioning the “Effort” and “Motor” of the Packers’ Nick Perry

Nick Perry

It's too early to question Nick Perry's effort.

There are several words used by analysts to describe college players entering the NFL draft that drive me crazy.

Examples include:

  • Athletic. What does it mean to be athletic? Shouldn’t all athletes getting paid to play sports be considered athletic?
  • High upside. How many teams draft players because they have little or no upside?
  • Get-off. This is a newer term and it’s just weird. Am I reading about NFL prospects or porn actors?

Perhaps my least favorite words, however, are “effort” and “motor.” I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think effort has to do with how hard you try and motor has something to do with how hard you try throughout an entire play/game/season (I’m not sure about motor. It’s another one of those words, like “athletic,” that people tend to throw out there even though they really don’t know what it means).

Nearly every prospect is judged as either a max-effort guy with a high motor or someone whose effort is questionable with a motor that runs hot and cold.

Look, I get it. We all want players on our favorite teams that give 110 percent so we feel obligated to make judgments about a guy’s effort before he even gets into town. But you have to understand something when reading scouting reports and stories about a player’s effort or motor: Only the really good players get critiqued on effort.

Typically, you don’t see the mediocre linebacker or struggling-to-get-by running back called out for being lazy. Those types of players really don’t stand out in the first place, so it’s tough to tell if they’re dogging it.

The good prospects — players that are good enough to play in the NFL — are held to a different standard. NFL-caliber prospects look more impressive than everyone else. When they’re not dominating or playing at a level we feel they’re capable of, well, then they must have low motors or issues with effort.

Packers first-round pick Nick Perry has had his effort questioned.

From Bob McGinn (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel):

“Perry, who hails from Detroit, didn’t give teams pause from a character standpoint. He just didn’t play hard. In fact, one scout maintained that if (Jerel) Worthy was a 70%-30% player in terms of giving effort, Perry was 30%-70%.”

From the National Football Post:

10

August

James Jones vs. Randy Moss: Same Story, Different Ending

Aaron Rodgers and James JonesEveryone gather around and let me tell you a story:

In 2007 the story goes that Green Bay Packer franchise quarterback Brett Favre approached General Manager Ted Thompson about the possibility of signing wide receiver Randy Moss.  Thompson took to the phones but unfortunately New England offered the best deal and Moss became a Patriot.

In 2011 the story goes that Green Bay Packer franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers approached General Manager Ted Thompson about the possibility of signing wide receiver James Jones.  Thompson took to the phones and fortunately Green Bay offered the best deal and Jones remains a Packer.

Same story, different ending.

So what gives?  Jason Wilde and Bill Johnson from Green and Gold Today on ESPN Milwaukee recently brought up this question, and after admitting they couldn’t figure out an explanation, they concluded that maybe it was because Aaron Rodgers is Thompson’s “guy”, maybe it was the familiarity with the offense, Randy Moss’ history as a locker room killer, the difference in talent between Moss and Jones, etc.  All valid points to some extent, but it doesn’t answer what the difference was between Brett Favre asking for Randy Moss and Aaron Rodgers asking for James Jones.

The real story is that there was no difference.

Ted Thompson probably pays less attention to free agency than any other GM in the league.  And when he does sign a free agent, it’s always on his terms.

Andrew Brandt has previously written about his time in the Packers front office and he has written a piece on the Packers’ attempt to net Randy Moss.  Apparently, the deals that the Packers and Patriots offered Moss were very similar in terms of compensation to the Raiders and the contract offered.  The only difference was that that the Packers wanted a 2-year deal minimum while the Patriots finally caved in and offered a 1-year deal.

The reasoning was pretty simple, Moss was willing to play at a discount for an opportunity to recoup the loss the next year; Moss’ stock had fallen drastically during his time with the Raiders and he was betting on hitting it big with a successful season.  Of course the rest is history, Randy Moss had perhaps the finest season a wide receiver has ever seen in 2008, setting the single season record for touchdown receptions with 23 and a near perfect season (only to lose the New York Giants in the Super Bowl).

21

October

Packers vs. Vikings: A Matchup of Proven vs. Unproven Talent

On Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009, at about 6:30 p.m. CST, Brett Favre was on top of the world.

Looking rejuvenated in a purple and gold Vikings uniform, Favre had just defeated the Packers and his old nemesis Ted Thompson for the second time in less than a month. Old No. 4 was leading one of the most potent offenses in the league, and the Vikings were in firm control of the NFC North.

That was probably Favre’s highest peak since leaving the Green Bay Packers. After winning at Lambeau, Favre has:

  • Not lead the Vikings to another road victory
  • Threw an indefensible interception late in the NFC Championship game
  • Went through another retirement soap opera during the offseason
  • Battled nagging injuries, and
  • Became the center of an embarrassing sexting story.

Oh, and by the way, he also hasn’t played very well. After beating the Packers, Favre stayed hot and put up quarterback ratings over 100 in wins over lowly Detroit, Seattle and Chicago. Since beating Chicago, Favre has managed a rating of 100 or better in just four of 11 games, including the playoffs. He has also thrown 13 interceptions over that span.

Since beating the Packers, I would argue that Favre has led the Vikings to just three “key wins.” Obviously, every win is a key win, but wins against teams that have a similar record as your own, wins in must-win games, and playoff wins ultimately define how good your team is. Favre’s key wins since winning at Lambeau have come against the Bengals, the Cowboys in the playoffs and the Cowboys last week.

When the Vikings signed Favre midway through training camp last season, he was viewed as the final piece of the puzzle on a talented team that just needed a quarterback. The Vikings were not expecting Favre to play like he did in his prime. They didn’t think he had to. As it turned out, Favre played better than when he was in his prime, and it was almost good enough to reach the Super Bowl.

Favre strolled into Lambeau Field last season surrounded by a level of talent that almost seemed unfair. When he comes out of the visitor’s tunnel on Sunday, he will be surrounded by even more talent than he was last year.