4

March

Ted Thompson Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

Packers GM Ted Thompson

Packers GM Ted Thompson

1) Introduction:  I think the biggest mistake that fans make when criticizing front office personnel like general managers is using the same rubric and time frame as they use for for players.  Take Ted Thompson for instance, whose first pick for the Packers was a quarterback deemed too short with a weak arm when the Packers already had the best quarterback in franchise history.  Naturally, we’re having arguments now on whether Aaron Rodgers is better than Brett Favre (personally, I still think its Starr, but Farve and Rodgers should be legitimately in the conversation).

Thompson was also roundly criticized for picking a cornerback to play safety from a college no one had ever heard of or drafting another wide receiver even when the Packers had fantastic depth but Nick Collins, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb have all been fantastic players who have made Thompson look like a very smart man. Overall, Thompson should not be graded per game or even per season, but over a span of 5 years or more.

2) Profile:

Ted Thompson

  • Age: 61
  • Born: 1/17/1953 in Atlanta, Texas (There’s an Atlanta in Texas?)
  • Height: 6’1″ (man, he was a short linebacker)
  • Weight: 220
  • College: Southern Methodist
  • Rookie Year: 1975
  • NFL Experience: 10 years as a player, 22 years as a scout and front office executive

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  High.  In the last 5 years the Packers have won the Super Bowl, been in the playoffs every year and managed a 15-1 season.  Added to that the Packers have always had one of the youngest and deepest rosters in football and always have had a very healthy salary cap situation.  Thompson also has reportedly great rapport with head coach Mike McCarthy and his staff and Packer’s “system” of draft and develop has benefited all parties more often than not.  The Packers were expected to win the NFC North again and make it to the playoffs.

11

November

Green Bay Packers: From “Next Man Up” To “Now What?”

 

Casey Hayward

Hayward is just one of the latest walking wounded in Green Bay

The Green Bay Packers may single-handedly add to the very small list of certainties in life.  So far, and as I recall, it’s only ”death and taxes”.  Are we finally at a point where “injuries in Green Bay” can at least be considered for said list?

Back in 2010, the Packers lost 16 players to season-ending injured reserve (IR).  The injury bug appeared to subside in 2011 (save for the injury to Nick Collins) when Green Bay went 15-1 during the regular season.  In 2012 it was back, claiming more key players such as linebacker Desmond Bishop and tackle Bryan Bulaga.

I thought maybe it was an “even year” thing, but low and behold, 2013 has the Packers turning into a triage unit once again.  Before the regular season even began, Bulaga was lost for the year during the first scrimmage of the preseason.  Rookie offensive lineman JC Tretter went down during a non-contact drill during the team’s first practice during mini camp. . .in May.  He still has not been activated off of the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and his chances of landing on IR increase by the day, at this point.

Those should have been omens for what this season had in store.  Since then, the team has seen several players miss time or end up on IR themselves.  Prior to Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Casey Hayward, James Jones, John Kuhn, James Starks, Eddie Lacy, Jermichael Finley, Brad Jones, Jarrett Bush, Ryan Taylor, Greg Van Roten and Andy Mulumba had all missed at least the majority of one game due to injury.

Finely and Van Roten have already been placed on season-ending IR while Cobb was placed on IR-designated to return and wouldn’t be back until early December, if he is even able to return.  Rookie linebacker Sam Barrington was also placed on season-ending IR last week with a hamstring injury suffered against Chicago.

Several of the others have been able to return but the Packers just cannot seem to get over the proverbial hump with regards to their health.  During Sunday’s game, the Packers lost five more players to injury.

31

August

Meet Your 2013 Green Bay Packers

The Packers have confirmed their final roster cuts, as we’ve been tracking all day.

So, here they are, your 2013 Green Bay Packers (for now):

Offense (23)

QB (2): Rodgers, Coleman
RB (3): Lacy, Franklin, Starks
FB (1): Kuhn (6)
TE (4): Finley, Bostick, Quarless, Taylor
WR (5): Cobb, Nelson, Jones, Boykins, Ross
OT (3): Bakhtiari, Barclay, Newhouse
OG (3): Sitton, Lang, Taylor
OC (2): Dietrich-Smith, Van Roten

Defense (27)

NT (3): Raji, Pickett, Jolly
DE (4): Wilson, Daniels, Jones, Boyd
OLB (5): Matthews, Perry, Neal, Mulumba, Palmer
ILB (5): Jones, Hawk, Francois, Lattimore, Barrington
CB (6): Williams, Shields, Hayward, Hyde, House, Bush
S (4): Burnett, McMillian, Jennings, Banjo

Specialists (3):

Crosby, Masthay, Goode

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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29

August

Preseason Week 4, Packers at Chiefs: Keys to the Game

Chris Banjo

Banjo is among those who need a strong finish to the preseason

The Green Bay Packers will round out the 2013 preseason on Thursday as they take on the Kansas City Chiefs.  Despite being in different conferences, these teams are quite familiar with each other when it comes to the practice season.  This year marks the third in a row that these teams have squared off in August.

Shortly after Thursday night’s contest, the Packers will need to dwindle their roster down to the final 53 players that they will bring into week one of the regular season.  There are still quite a few players battling for their spot on the roster and on the depth chart.

Today, we started our “Initial 53-Man Roster Prediction” series in which our writers at ALLGBP.com predict who they think will end up on this year’s Packers team.  Be sure to check back regularly for each writer’s list.

This offseason and preseason has been an exciting one for the Packers.  With several veteran departures and with many new faces, the decision as to who stays and who goes will truly come down to this last game, in many cases.  Let’s take a look at some of those players who need to have a solid showing and some of the position battles as they come down to the wire.

Starks, Green or Both?

With this week’s news that DuJuan Harris will be placed on season-ending injured reserve, a huge door has opened at the running back position.  Just a few weeks earlier, Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy had declared Harris the starting back, even though he had yet to take a single snap in training camp.  Just before camp started, Harris had undergone a procedure to remove a cyst near his lung.  Finally cleared, Harris appeared in last week’s game against the Seattle Seahawks but due to a knee injury, the Packers have decided to shelf him.

With Harris out of the mix, this now becomes an interesting decision for the Packers.  Rookie Eddie Lacy seems to have entrenched himself as the starting back and is a lock to make the final roster.  Johnathan Franklin is another rookie back who figures to be in the team’s immediate plans, whether on offense or special teams.  That leaves James Starks, Alex Green, John Kuhn and Jonathan Amosa battling for the last two or three spots at running back.

22

August

Micah Hyde and Jeremy Ross Battling For a Roster Spot?

Micah Hyde Training Camp

Is Packers CB Micah Hyde pushing WR Jeremy Ross out of a roster spot?

Green Bay Packers rookie cornerback Micah Hyde and second-year wide receiver Jeremy Ross could be battling for the same roster spot, despite holding two different positions on two different units. The one thing they do have in common, however, is that they’re both getting looks as punt returners on special teams. In fact, according to JSOnline’s Wednesday camp report, both Hyde and Ross will be returning “most if not all the punts against Seattle.”

Micah Hyde has been making a lot of splashes this preseason. He has taken full advantage of the injuries to Tramon Williams and Casey Hayward by making the most of his reps during practice and exhibition games. While he has a couple things to refine in coverage, he has shown great things as a blitzing defensive back. Overall, his praise has been well-earned. ProFootballFocus.com (PFF) even highlighted his performance against the St. Louis Rams last week: “Leading that group (of young corners), in spite of being involved in Chris Givens’ 57 yard reception, was 5th round pick Micah Hyde (+2.4) who outside of that catch surrendered only six yards on five targets. He also broke up two passes and registered four stops including a sack.”

As a punt returner, Hyde has had only a few opportunities to make an impact; however, his 13-yard (and only) return against the Rams was the longest by a Packers player so far this preseason. Head coach Mike McCarthy likes his ability to field balls, too. According to Rob Demovsky at ESPN’s NFC North Blog, McCarthy recalled a drill from rookie orientation camp: “Just to see (Hyde’s) ability to catch the ball on the run and do different things, hell, I was tempted to put him on offense. I think he has that type of ball-skill ability.”

With the cornerback group as deep as it is with Williams, Shields, House, and Hayward, it might take some extra duties for Hyde to really lock down a significant role on the roster.

Then there’s Jeremy Ross. Not too long ago, I wrote about Ross’ problems with ball security, but since that time there have been few reports about dropped catches. After Jonathan Franklin’s failure to field the third-quarter punt against St. Louis that resulted in a turnover (according to special teams coach Shawn Slocum), Ross has one fewer competitor to take the main job.

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?
14

August

Jeremy Ross’ Hands Will Be His Undoing

Jeremy Ross, Training Camp DrillIn the grand scheme of the game, it might not have been the significant difference between a win and a loss, but it’s a moment Green Bay Packers fans won’t soon forget, no matter how hard they try to repress the memories.

Mike McCarthy won’t soon forget it, either. His decision to have rookie wide receiver Jeremy Ross return punts in the playoffs against the San Francisco 49ers backfired in the worst way possible. With the Packers up 14-7 and building some momentum, they managed to stop the 49ers offense at midfield to begin the second quarter. Unfortunately, the ensuing punt was muffed by Ross at the Packers’ 10-yard line, and Colin Kaepernick hit Michael Crabtree for a touchdown three plays later. The game was now tied, and all the momentum had shifted.

Make no mistake, Jeremy Ross could be an exceptional return man – maybe even better than Randall Cobb. He has the right combination of vision, speed, and elusiveness that can create substantial returns. The one ingredient that is missing, however, is ball security. And all things considered, it’s perhaps the most important ingredient. Teams can recover from poor field position, but it’s ten times harder to recover from a turnover.

Fast-forward to training camp, and Ross hasn’t shown any improvement in being able to field punts or make catches. He’s been given multiple reps as a returner, and it’s no secret that McCarthy would prefer him to be “the man” at that position. The head coach’s decision to put Ross into the Divisional Round game was, in large part, due to his desire to keep star wide receiver Cobb from unnecessary injury, and that desire hasn’t changed much. If the Packers can have a back-up wide receiver fielding punts and kickoffs, it reduces the risk of them losing a key player in the part of the game where injuries occur most often.

But so far, Jeremy Ross hasn’t done much to help the situation.

As training camp reports from the beat writers come out, we’ve seen some all-too-frequent accounts of muffed punts and dropped passes from Ross. JSOnline’s notes from Tuesday’s practice mention another pair of dropped passes by Ross, which adds to a growing list. Dropped passes obviously aren’t the same as muffed punts, and the mechanics of each type of catch are completely different; nevertheless, they both show a propensity for poor ball security. But even besides that, if he wants to make the 53-man roster, Ross will still need to show he’s valuable as both a wide receiver and a punt returner.