17

December

While We Scratch our Heads, the Packers Win Games

James Jones

James Jones and the Packers are NFC North champs. (Photo from the Associated Press.)

What was your favorite head-scratching moment from Sunday’s Packers win over the Bears? Here are your options:

  • Dropped passes from Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley on the first drive. Tough catches, yes, but catchable.
  • Aaron Rodgers getting sacked three times in the first half.
  • Cobb dropping a touchdown pass in the second quarter. The pass was slightly off, but it was catchable.
  • Mason Crosby whiffing on two more field goals.
  • Mike McCarthy going for it on fourth and 6 in the third, then trying a field goal on fourth and 1 in the fourth. Why not go for it both times?
  • McCarthy calling a throwback on a punt return up 11 points in the fourth that resulted in a turnover. Ugh.
  • Rodgers launching a bomb to Greg Jennings on third and 3 late in the fourth when a simple first down would have been fine.
  • Ryan Grant’s fumble.

That’s a lot of head-scratching moments to choose from. Oh, and by the way, the Packers won 21-13 and are NFC North champions.

The Packers have made me scratch my head a lot this season, but they keep winning. Through all the injuries, all the missed field goals, all the stalled drives and all the weird playcalling, the Packers are NFC North champions.

It’s amazing what this team has been able to accomplish so far.

Of course, there is still a lot more to accomplish. All of the perseverance and fortitude shown by the Packers will be for not if they blow their first playoff game.

How many head-scratching moments can the Packers afford in the playoffs? It’s one thing to have those moments against the Arizona Cardinals or Jay Cutler. It’s another to have them against the San Francisco 49ers or Eli Manning.

Clawing out victories and digging yourself out of holes shows that your team has mettle. Mistakes like the ones made by the Packers may also burn you big time against a good team in the playoffs.

We’ll see how this season turns out. For now, I’m going to stop scratching my head and enjoy another NFC North title.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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12

December

Packers Drive Rewind: 7 Straight Runs Give Packers the Lead

Evan Dietrich-Smith

Evan Dietrich-Smith

Packers Drive Rewind is a new weekly post I hope to do for the rest of the season. That’s the goal, anyway. With the holidays coming up, I might not have time, or I just might forget. You never know.

Anyway, I want to take one key drive from each game and break it down with some film and my own thoughts. I’m not doing this to lecture everyone or prove how much I know about X’s and O’s. I just want to talk football. I did something similar last week.

If you think my observations are off the mark, or you have additional insight to add, please do so in the comments section. We have a lot of very knowledgeable readers on this site and I always enjoy their perspective on some of the more nuanced aspects of the game.

(Note: It’s hard to see numbers on some of the Lions players. My apologies if I mix up a few players.)

Here we go:

The Situation
Fourth quarter. Packers 17, Lions 17. Packers ball on their own 41 with 14:49 to play.

The Result
The Packers run the ball seven consecutive times, capped by a 14-yard touchdown from DuJuan Harris. The powerful drive appeared to demoralize the Lions and the Packers won 27-20. Packers fans tear off their shirts and start posing like Hulk Hogan.

Play 1: Alex Green runs left for 6 yards

Alex Green says, “Give me the ball and let’s get this party started.” Kyle Vanden Bosch slants in, but gets taken out by his own momentum and Marshall Newhouse pushing him down the line. Nice job by Green to recognize this and burst through the hole after John Kuhn got in DeAndre Levy’s way. We’ve seen Green fall over himself or not see similar cuts this season. Watching him burst through a hole is a good sign of progress. Jeff Saturday and Evan Dietrich-Smith manhandle Nick Fairley. I wonder if Saturday was supposed to get off the block and try to pick up Stephen Tulloch (who eventually made the tackle)?

Play 2: Green runs right for 2 yards

9

December

Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers Key Matchups

 

Aaron Rodgers and Ndomukong Suh

The Packers are hoping Suh won’t get this close to Rodgers on Sunday

We’re back to the Detroit Lions already?  It seems like just three weeks ago I was breaking down the key matchups between these same Lions and the Green Bay Packers.  That’s because I was.  Due to the fate of the 2012 scheduling, the Green Bay Packers ended up with five divisional games in their final seven and didn’t see either the Lions nor the Vikings for the first time until week 11.  That means there will be a short time in between each matchup.  In the case of this rivalry, it was a mere 21 days.

With not many changes in the game’s key matchups, I’m going to drill down on the top three and spend more time on them.

Packers Offensive Line vs. Lions Defensive Line

No, not an earth shattering proclamation and yes, it’s a repeat from the first matchup.  But alas, it’s still a key in this game.  Since the last matchup, the Packers are dealing with yet more injuries on the line.  Starting guard/tackle T.J. Lang did not participate in practice on Wednesday and Packers head coach Mike McCarthy did not seem too optimistic with his progress early on this week.  I don’t expect Lang to play on Sunday which clears the path for rookie undrafted free agent Don Barclay to make his first NFL start at right tackle.

Barclay will be matched up against Lions left defensive end Cliff Avril.  Avril has had another solid year for the Lions and has 8.5 sacks on the season.  His quick initial burst will immediately test Barclay’s footwork and I expect the Packers offensive game plan to slide some help to that right side.  In a one-on-one matchup, I would expect Barclay to struggle.  For the football junkies out there, keep an eye on this matchup throughout the game as there will surely be a few mano-a-mano opportunities.  This will tell us a lot about what the Packers have in Barclay.

One source that may provide that much-needed assistance to the right side is newly acquired veteran running back Ryan Grant.  Grant was signed after it was determined the James Starks would miss quite some time with a knee injury.  While not the fleetest of foot, Grant is solid in his pass protection and should provide a boost there.  He knows the offense and should be able to step in and contribute right away.

8

December

Ryan Grant Signing Makes Sense for Packers

Ryan Grant

Ryan Grant is the best option for the Green Bay Packers at this point.

When Jason Wilde of ESPN Wisconsin broke the news this week that the Green Bay Packers were bringing back familiar veteran Ryan Grant, it quickly spread like wildfire across the internet. After choosing not to resign Grant in the offseason, the Packers made it clear that they were ready to move on. And to seemingly add insult to injury, Ted Thompson picked up free agent Cedric Benson during preseason to help boost their running back corps.

Now, it seems, we have come full circle. With the knee injury sustained by James Starks on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers became very thin at the position when looking at starting talent. It was obvious they needed to do something to again help the group out, and the signing of Ryan Grant was arguably the best option they had.

So after an offseason of speculating where Ryan Grant would end up, we find ourselves almost back where we began.

What I find a bit surprising, however, is the extremely mixed feedback from fans in regard to this signing. As I look across comments sections on blog posts and remarks on Twitter, it’s clear that people have very strong opinions about this move by Ted Thompson.

On Facebook, the 540 ESPN page even posted a fill-in-the-blank statement to get people’s opinions. It read: “The return of Ryan Grant is __________.” The comments made by fans were pretty stark: “desperate,” “awesome,” “necessary,” “boring,” “interesting,” “reasonable,” and even “a necessary evil.”

Does this speak to how fans feel about Ryan Grant, or does it speak more to how they feel about the situation the Packers have found themselves in? Either way, I have to disagree with anyone who says this was a bad move by Thompson.

First and foremost, Grant is someone who is extremely familiar with the Green Bay Packers offense. He made his debut with the team in 2007 and was the feature back until his ankle injury in the first game of 2010. Considering there are only four weeks left in the regular season, the Packers are serving themselves better by bringing in a player who won’t need much adjusting to the scheme. The next two games are arguably the most important for the Packers at this point, and Grant could conceivably play this Sunday if needed.

5

December

Packers Sign Ryan Grant

Ryan Grant

The Packers hope Grant can return to old form and help solidify the run game

It was announced by Jason Wilde at ESPNMilwaukee on Wednesday morning that running back Ryan Grant worked out for and then signed with the Green Bay Packers.  Terms have not been disclosed.

Grant was brought in after it was learned that James Starks suffered a knee injury in Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Vikings.  While the injury won’t require surgery, Grant’s signing means it’s very likely Starks’ season could be over.

Grant spent five seasons with the Packers from 2007 – 2011.  He was not re-signed in 2012.   Grant appeared in one game with the Washington Redskins earlier this season and had five carries for five yards.  He was courted by the Detroit Lions prior to the season and also had workouts with the New England Patriots earlier this summer and just recently, the New York Giants.

Grant will join the team later today and should be active for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions.  Ironically, Sunday is also Grant’s 30th birthday.  Grant signaled the signing with the Packers this morning via his Twitter account when he tweeted “Its’ a GO” and “I’m signing”.

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

Follow Jason at:

Jason Perone
                Add to Circleson Google+

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6

October

Packers Running Back Debate: Modern-Day Cedric Benson vs. Ryan Grant In His Prime

Cedric Benson Vs. Ryan Grant

Cedric Benson Vs. Ryan Grant

Welcome to tonight’s Packers running back debate featuring Cedric Benson and Ryan Grant.

Television stations throughout Wisconsin were very upset that the last presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney drew a 0.0 rating. That’s right, not a single person tuned in to watch the presidential debate in Wisconsin. 

Research by Nielsen suggested that most television sets were tuned to highlights of the Packers 28-27 win over the Saints, or simply turned off because the weather was nice and people would rather stare at trees and grass than either presidential candidate.

Whatever the reason, Wisconsin television stations need to recoup the ratings that were lost during the debate and the there’s only one tried and true method to make that happen: Packers talk. 

Specifically, a Packers debate.

Tonight’s debate features present-day Cedric Benson vs. Ryan Grant in his prime. They will be debating who is the better running back. Remember, this is present-day Benson and Grant in his prime (late 2007-2009). We’re not focusing on overall career arcs or anything like that. We’re only focusing present-day Benson and Grant from late 2007 through 2009. 

Without further delay, let’s turn it over to our moderator, ALLGBP.com staff writer and the only undefeated team owner in the ALLGBP.com fantasy football league, Mr. Adam Czech.

Moderator: Welcome Mr. present-day Benson and Mr. in-his-prime Grant. Here are the rules for tonight’s debate:  

  • Don’t swear. The youth of America is watching.
  • Don’t hit each other. We’re on the same team here.
  • Take your time. We bought like three kegs of beer for the audience and they’ll be mad if the debate is over before they had a chance to drink it all.

The first question: A Wisconsin newspaper recently suggested that Benson might be the best Packers running back since Ahamn Green. So, Is Benson the best running back the Packers have had since Ahman Green? Mr. Grant, you may answer first. 

Grant: Hell no!

Moderator: Language, Mr. Grant. Think of the children. 

Grant: Sorry. No bleepin’ way! Did you see me run in the snow globe playoff game? Did you watch me gain 1,200 yards in consecutive seasons? Did you see how I pass blocked for Favre and Rodgers? Our quarterbacks and receivers might have gotten all the glory, but I fit in just fine with the Packers system and did some really impressive things. Benson is just the current flavor-of-the-month.

12

June

Alex Green: Fitting Into the Packers’ Offense in 2012

Green Bay Packers Alex Green

Will Alex Green be able to contribute in 2012?

Alex Green didn’t have much of a rookie season, registering 17 yards from scrimmage on three carries and one reception before tearing his ACL. The injury that cost Green the majority of his season and the beginning of this offseason isn’t keeping Green from entering 2012 with full confidence.

While many expected the Packers to add a running back during the draft, the team stayed pat with their current stable before adding a few backs as undrafted free agents.

“Not drafting a running back showed they have some faith in me,” Green said in Pete Dougherty’s article for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “We’ll see how things turn out when training camp comes around.”

The Packers are looking to enter the 2012 season with James Starks, Brandon Saine and Alex Green as their running backs.

There is some question as to whether Green will be ready by the time training camp goes around. If Green can’t get fully back to full strength, he may start the year on the Physical Unable to Perform list, eliminating him from the first six games of the season. If it becomes clear that Green won’t be ready, the Packers should have Ryan Grant on speed dial trying to bring him back into the mix.

Regardless of when Green is fully back from the ACL injury, he should have an opportunity to be a contributor in the Packers offense. Each of these running backs has something different to offer when they step onto the field.

One thing that Green brings to the table is his size. Despite being 2-inches shorter than James Starks, Green is the heaviest of the trio of backs. He is a physical, always moving forward back, but still possess speed necessary to elude tacklers and get into open space. Starks has shown some ability to absorb contact, but his frame just doesn’t compare to Green’s. Starks is more the balanced back of the three, while Brandon Saine did a good job in the passing game last season catching 10 passes for 69 yards in his eight appearances.

Despite the record breaking season that the offense put together, they were largely one dimensional behind the incredible play of Aaron Rodgers. The running game left much to be offered, but was masked by the high point production and efficiency of the offense as a whole.