Fans could have split feelings on Mason Crosby's new 5-year deal with the Packers.
According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Online, placekicker and unrestricted free agent Mason Crosby has agreed to a new 5-year contract with the Green Bay Packers. The deal is reportedly worth $14.75 million, which includes $3 million in guaranteed money.
“The contract puts Crosby in the upper echelon of kickers in the National Football League,” noted Silverstein, “just below top-paid kicker Sebastian Janikowski of the Oakland Raiders.”
Silverstein also reminds fans that post-lockout rules prevent teams from signing unrestricted free agents until Friday a 6 p.m. Teams are, however, able to negotiate terms with free agents prior to that time.
This news will probably be received differently depending on which Packers fans you talk to.
Mason Crosby has spent his entire 4-year NFL career in Green Bay. Taken in the sixth round of the 2007 draft, he was widely considered the best college kicker that year. His main selling point has always been his strong leg, having a reputation for forcing touchbacks against his collegiate opponents.
The past few years with the Packers, however, have left something to be desired. Though some still consider his kickoff skills an essential part of his abilities, he has yet to break an 80% success rate in field goal attempts. His first two seasons in the NFL were his best in regards to his accuracy, but they have since dipped, with 2009 being Crosby’s worst season at only a 75% success rate. Read more...(445 words + 1 image, estimated 1:47 mins reading time)
We’ve all read or heard the quote. It’s a time-honored choice of words that transcends football, or any sport for that matter, and it was uttered by the most famous coach in Packers and NFL history.
“Gentlemen, we are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it, because in the process we will catch excellence.” — Vince Lombardi
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if these words, or a variation of it, were said in each NFL locker room every season. The quote in itself is nearly perfect, as there has only been one “perfect” team record-wise in the Super Bowl era.
Which brings me to my overall point. While the Packers accomplished the goal that every team sets out to at the beginning of the season, they weren’t a perfect team by any means. The 2010 Packers lost six games along the way, overcoming several deficiencies in the process. Every Packer fan from the Pacific to the Atlantic (and beyond, for our international readers) expects the Packers to repeat next season, but that might not be possible unless the Packers continue to chase perfection.
Listed below are several areas where the Packers can continue to improve for next season, and the ways in which they can do it.
Kick and Punt Returning
Could Improve: Read more...(1542 words + 1 image, estimated 6:10 mins reading time)
Lip service. That’s all we’ve gotten as Packers fans when it comes to the subject of poor special teams play. It’s not acceptable, we’ll get it fixed, blah, blah, blah.
In 2006, Mike McCarthy came to the Green Bay Packers and brought with him veteran coach Mike Stock to coach special teams. McCarthy was familiar with Stock, as they were on the same staff in Kansas City in the late 90s. They hired Shaw Slocum as Stock’s assistant and his first NFL job after 12 years coaching special teams and linebackers at the college level.
Stock stayed with the Packers through the 2008 season, suddenly deciding to retire a few days after the season and only 10 days after Mason Crosby’s 38 yard game winning field goal attempt versus the Chicago Bears was blocked. The Packers would later lose that game in overtime.
In what would be the first of many coaching changes Mike McCarthy would make that offseason, many have speculated that Stock was given the option to retire rather than be dismissed. Whatever really happened with Stock, McCarthy decided to give the Special Teams Coordinator job to Shawn Slocum.
That’s when things really started to fall apart.
As many of you probably know, Rich Gosselin of the Dallas Morning news publishes the gold standard of NFL special teams rankings. He looks at 22 different kicking game categories and compliles the individual rankings into an overall ranking. Let’s see how the Packers have done since 2006: Read more...(750 words + 3 images, estimated 3:00 mins reading time)
The following are my observations on the Packers – Browns game after re-watching the game with the benefit of rewind and slow-motion:
Bryan Bulaga is an NFL starting lineman. Right now. Bulaga won his one-on-one battles while at guard and at tackle. He also looked noticeably better than Daryn Colledge. Bulaga was a little unsure of himself at guard on a few plays, which is to be expected. But once he found his mark an locked on to someone, they did not get away. I also saw Bulaga do something I haven’t seen from a Packers guard in some time. This was one of my pet peeves last season. In pass coverage, with Wells on the tackle and Clifton taking a blitzing linebacker, as Cleveland sent a defensive back on the edge outside of Clifton, Bulaga quickly slid over behind Clifton to meet the blitzing DB and stop his rush. Simple, effective, and something I just never saw as I would watch the game films last season. I don’t know if we credit Bulaga or the coaches for that, but either way, it’s a very good thing.
Bryan Bulaga at Left Guard:
In general, the Packers did a very good job in picking up the blitzes, especially the running backs. I observed Jackson, Lumpkin and Porter each make nice pickups, with Lumpkin having the most impressive play, coming all the way from being lined up on the right side to pick up a blitzing linebacker coming off the edge on the opposite side. I now believe Packers running backs coach Edgar Bennett when he says protecting the quarterback is the primary concern for his running backs, even over effective running of the ball. Read more...(1287 words + 3 images, estimated 5:09 mins reading time)
The 2008 Packers season has been categorized in many ways. “Special” was not one of them. It was the start of a new Favre-less era, the year the defense became an absolute horror show, Aaron Rodgers showing he can put up top-10 quarterback numbers, the purging of the defensive coaching staff, etc., etc.
While the defensive struggles have been talked about ad-nauseum, I don’t believe the Packers’ special teams struggles have been emphasized enough. In the interest of fairness, lets take a look at what happened and what’s being done about it.
First, a few fun facts about 2008 to paint a picture:
The Packers were 32nd in the NFL in Kickoff return yardage.
The Packers were 20th in the NFL in Kickoff coverage.
The Packers were 26th in the NFL in field goal percentage
The Packers were 27th in the NFL in average punting yardage
However you picture “awful”, that’s what you should be seeing in your mind’s eye right now.
So how does this get fixed? Well, if you’re Mike McCarthy, you start by encouraging Mike Stock, your 69-year old special teams coordinator to “retire” (just days after he told Green Bay beat reporters how he planned to be back for another year).
“Should I be looking over my shoulder? Do you know something I don’t know?” Stock kiddingly asked following the team’s Christmas Day practice. “It all depends on one thing and one thing only: How long does he (McCarthy) want me to stay? That’s what it depends on.” Read more...(1050 words + 3 images, estimated 4:12 mins reading time)