15

April

Cory’s Corner: Julius Peppers is No. 56…remain excited

I’ve never seen a number unveiling get this much excitement.

And for those of you that may not know, Julius Peppers will be wearing No. 56 next season for the Packers.

Julius Peppers will be wearing No. 56 next fall as he will play a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position called the elephant.

Julius Peppers will be wearing No. 56 next fall as he will play a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position called the elephant.

That’s quite a change for someone that was consistently coming off the edge as a defensive end in a three-point stance wearing No. 90.

But Peppers isn’t just an end. Thanks to Dom Capers and his crazy names, which have brought us the ‘Psycho’ defensive package, Peppers will be playing a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker called an elephant.

Personally, I don’t care if you call it strawberry shortcake because the name of Peppers’ position is meaningless. His stats and his motor speak for themselves. He’s been under double-digit sacks in a season just four times in his 12-year career.

The thing I like about Peppers most is his drive. I realize that he’s 34 and might be reaching the final leg of a strong NFL career. But the last time he didn’t play a full 16-game season was in 2007. That really says a lot to me. Especially for a guy that has played through a sprained MCL in his left knee, a broken right hand and a right knee sprain among other things. And the season that he suffered his right knee sprain was in 2007, a season in which he tallied his lowest sack output of his career with 2½. Yet he still managed to lead the Panthers in quarterback hurries.

Peppers is a guy that the Packers desperately needed. He’s a guy that will come in and not only contribute with a pass rush that has been forgotten, but he’s a vocal veteran that wants to win.

That’s a great combination for a team that has youngsters like Nick Perry and Datone Jones, who the Packers are counting on to break out and flourish.

Is it fair to compare Peppers to the 31-year-old Reggie White when he signed with Green Bay? No way. And I’m surprised I’ve seen people even make that comparison because it’s not not even close. White was a once-in-a-lifetime pass rusher who may never be copied again.

But that doesn’t mean Peppers doesn’t have plenty to play for.

15

September

Redskins vs. Packers: Keys to the Game

Robert Griffin III

Despite his slow start last week, Griffin remains the Key to Washington’s success

Week two is here and many are thankful.  I know I am.  It’s time to look forward and put the loss at San Francisco and questions about the mechanics of a Clay Matthews haymaker to the head behind us.  The Green Bay Packers will host the Washington Redskins this Sunday in their 2013 home opener.

When the 2013 schedule was announced, this game appeared to be a stiff challenge to the Packers defense, who had struggled against mobile quarterbacks.  After watching Green Bay stifle San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last week, followed by a poor performance by Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III in the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles in week one, there is a bit more confidence in the air that the Packers can and should get their first win of the season.

While it’s never wise to take any opponent lightly, it’s especially unwise against a good head coach who has had much success against your franchise and with a quarterback who still has decent athletic ability, albeit on a hobbled knee.  Griffin was cleared to play late in the preseason and despite missing all of Redskins training camp and all four preseason games, he was named the week one starter.  After a wretched first half against the Eagles, Griffin stormed the ‘Skins back in the second half, only to fall short in the end.  Still, it was a sign that Griffin can still be very effective and will be a focal point of the Green Bay defense this week.

With that, let’s take a look at this week’s Keys to the Game.

Pressure RG3

The Packers need to make life difficult for Griffin on Sunday.  It is unknown how mobile he can and, more importantly, will be this week.  Griffin had just 24 yards on the ground against the Eagles and he looked hesitant, at times, when leaving the pocket.  This is a sign that his recovery from offseason ACL surgery may still be ongoing.  Griffin went under the knife back in January so we are just eight months removed from the procedure.  While he was cleared to play, that certainly doesn’t mean he is 100% at this early stage.

13

September

Packers Periscope: Eyeing the Enemy (Washington)

With the heated battle with the San Francisco 49ers behind them, the Green Bay Packers now move on to their home opener against Washington.

Last week, Washington was defeated by the Philadelphia Eagles 33-27 after their late charge fell short.  Washington was down 33-7 at one point after their defense was exhausted by the incredible pace of the new Eagles offense under head coach Chip Kelly, but quarterback Robert Griffin III was unable to bring his team all the way back.

It took Griffin a little bit to reclaim his form from last season but he finished the game 30/49 with 329 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.  His struggles early put his team in a bit of a hole while the Eagles’ high-octane offense left the Washington defense gasping for air early.

The last time we met

The last time Green Bay and Washington met was back in 2010 at FedEx Field where Washington beat Green Bay 16-13 that saw tight end Jermichael Finley go down for the year.  It was the game where the Packers’ injury problems that season really began to mount.

Green Bay was in position to win the game in the final second of regulation, but Mason Crosby’s 53-yard field goal attempt clanged off the left upright in a bit of foreshadowing for 2012. Aaron Rodgers had a pass intercepted late and it was a game no one really expected the Packers to lose.

This also was the last time the Packers had a 100 yard rusher in the game when Brandon Jackson ran for 115 yards.

What’s Up with Washington

Heading into the game against the Packers, a lot of hype will be around second-year quarterback Griffin. He had an outstanding rookie season that came to a crashing halt when he was injured in the playoff game against the Seahawks.  Coach Mike Shanahan felt it fit to run him into the ground that game anyway.

There is real concern out there that Griffin is not 100% thanks to Shanahan’s controversial decision in the playoffs. The Packers aren’t biting though, and they are preparing for Griffin based on what they see on film from last year according to the Washington post.

10

October

Around the NFC North in Week 6

Around the NFC North

Around the NFC North

Here’s a look at the Week 6 matchups around the NFC North.  The Chicago Bears are on a bye and do not play.

Detroit Lions (1-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-2)

The Lions emerge from their bye to face the Eagles in Philadelphia.  Detroit needs a win to halt a three-game losing streak.  Their last loss was at home to the Minnesota Vikings.  They haven’t won since week one.  Having been to the playoffs last season and coming into this season with high expectations, they would be digging a big hole with a loss.  It would leave them at least 3 games behind division leaders Bears and Vikings.

The Eagles dropped a close game at Pittsburgh last week.   The Eagles are looking for more consistency.  After a close week 1 win over the underdog Browns, Philadelphia came home and beat the Baltimore Ravens.  They followed that up with a loss at Arizona and then a win at home against the New York Giants.

Eagles QB Michael Vick is also looking to establish some consistency.  He has six TD’s and six INT’s on the season.  Vick has been sacked 14 times and has endured a few dings.  He is not taking off and running at will as he once did and the Eagles offensive line hasn’t been great.  They have to find a way to protect Vick against a potent Detroit defensive line.  Despite the Lions’ struggles, they still feature very good pass rushers in Ndomakong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch.

The Lions will rely on QB Matt Stafford to lead their offense.  Stafford has three TD passes to four INT’s on the season.   His top receiving target, Calvin Johnson has just one TD catch all season.  Johnson needs to make more of an impact in this game to give Detroit a chance to win.

These teams are evenly matched on defense and statistically, the Lions hold an edge on offense.  But I have to give the overall edge to the Eagles as they’re at home.  That can all shift in either direction if either team can force a takeaway or two.

 Minnesota Vikings (4-1) at Washington Redskins (2-3)

The Vikings continued to roll with a win on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.  The Titans didn’t score until the 4th quarter and the Vikes rolled over an opponent they ultimately should have.  They continue to raise eyebrows in the NFC North race and are tied for 1st place.

11

March

2012 NFL Draft Talk from Pigskin Paul

2012 NFL Draft talkI just updated my “Regardless of Position” list, and though it’s still not posted at my site, I’d like to share my 2012 Top NFL Draft Dozen, bakers’ style that is…

1)   ANDREW LUCK/QB

2)    ROBERT GRIFFIN/QB

3)    MATT KALIL/LT

4)    QUINTON COPLES/DE

5)    JUSTIN BLACKMON/WR

6)    MORRIS CLAIBORNE/CB

7)    TRENT RICHARDSON/RB

8)    MICHAEL FLOYD/WR

9)    LUKE KUECHLEY/LB

10)    DAVID DeCASTRO/OG

11)    COURTNEY UPSHAW/OLB

12)    FLETCHER COX/DT

13)    DONTARI POE/DT

This list is based on three factors:

  • My perception of their pro potential.
  • The importance of the positions they play to NFL teams in 2012.
  • Their actual physical attributes and potential.

It is not based on who I think specific teams are enamored with for their myriad of reasons. That I leave to the MOCK DRAFT process, which I guess I am about due to participate in.

 

Questions I have, some with answers, coming out of the COMBINE:

 

How high in the First Round did DONTARI POE place himself with his huge numbers at the COMBINE? Quite frankly I think the kid is somewhere between HALOTI NGATA & B. J. RAJI, when it comes to pure talent and potential NFL impact. I don’t think he’s MT. CODY at all. He’s huge, but is squarely built. AS for the rap that he seems to take plays off… welcome to the world of really big buys along the DL. On teams that don’t regularly rotate their DL all big guys get a series off here or there during a game, or they take a breather occasionally on the field. Guys that big can only be conditioned to a certain degree, which does not include running at full speed all day long.

I’d take POE in the second ten Picks of Round 1 if I needed a huge athlete to shake things out up front.

7

March

Robert Griffin III and Peyton Manning Killed Packers’ Chances at Trading Matt Flynn

Matt Flynn will hit the open market March 13th.

The deadline for franchising players has come and gone without the Packers tagging Matt Flynn. While Ted Thompson may have worked hard to complete a trade that would provide a team with exclusive negotiating rights to Flynn, it appears that Robert Griffin III and Peyton Manning ultimately killed the market for Flynn.

The four most likely suitors for Flynn’s services are the Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks. All four have also been mentioned as potential landing spots for both Griffin and Manning.

With Manning probably set to be cut later this week and the Rams officially auctioning off the second pick in the NFL Draft, it is likely that these teams were reluctant to commit trading for Flynn with decent shots at what they may consider better options. By agreeing to a trade with the Packers, the team that did so would be eliminating themselves from RGIII and Manning sweepstakes too prematurely.

It will be interesting to see which team decides to “settle” for Flynn and at what cost. Those four teams are the most quarterback-needy behind the Indianapolis Colts who will be drafting Andrew Luck with the first pick of the draft. The four teams are likely competing for the three quarterbacks, Flynn, Manning, Griffin. The market for these quarterbacks will get wild as soon as the first team makes their move, whether it be signing Manning or Flynn, or impressing the Rams enough to work out a deal pre-draft.

Many fans are upset and frustrated by the fact that the Packers didn’t tag Flynn and now the highest compensation the team could is a third rounder in 2013. These fans have been quick to blame Ted Thompson for missing an opportunity to snag more draft picks this season.

After the deadline passed, rumors circulated that the Packers were unable to work a deal with the Browns or Dolphins, forcing their decision to let Flynn hit the open market. If this is the case, it appears Thompson was working hard to get a deal done, but that the Packers didn’t feel the value they would receive was enough to take the risk of having to pay Flynn significantly more money than Aaron Rodgers.