6

December

Packers Periscope: Week 14 vs. Atlanta Falcons

The Past: While the last meeting between these two teams actually occurred in week 5 of the 2011 season (which the Packers won), most fans will remember the NFC divisional game in 2010 where Aaron Rodgers played perhaps the finest game of his career, going 31 for 36, 26 yards and 3 touchdowns, which even then doesn’t show the complete dominance of the performance.  Rodgers simply could not be brought down, often scrambling from surefire sacks, and could not be slowed down, throwing pinpoint darts to receivers who were blanket covered.

On defense, a pivotal interception returned for a touchdown by Tramon Williams at the end of the 1st half was the catalyst that sparked the Packers to dominate the second half.  With Rodgers putting up points with ease, the Falcons offense played to match the Packers point for point; however the Falcons offense buckled under the pressure, most notably with quarterback Matt Ryan making several poor decisions including 2 interceptions and a fumble which sealed the game.

During the offseason, the Packers and Falcons engaged in some more gamesmanship by bidding for the services of veteran running back Steven Jackson, who was a free agent for the first time after playing for the St. Louis Rams for nearly a decade.  In the end, Ted Thompson stuck with his draft and develop and frugal free agency philosophy and let Jackson sign with the Falcons.  However, Thompson perhaps got the last laugh as the Packers drafted Alabama star running back Eddie Lacy, who plays with some Steven Jacksons in him and is a candidate for rookie of the year honors while age and injury has finally caught up with Jackson, who has only started 8 games, rushing 97 times for a paltry 339 yards.

17

March

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Of the many things that make the NFL great, one of my personal favorites is how new trends tend to pop up out of nowhere.  Just when know-it-all types like yours truly think we have it all figured out, some new wrinkle arises that brings us crashing back down to Earth.

For example, we all understand that the NFL is a passing league these days, but it’s probably safe to say that next to nobody saw the read-option and power-running game trend that came on and played such a major factor in the league last season.

Read option? Power running? In today’s NFL? Nah! What coach is stupid enough to try that? Well, thanks to a new breed of quarterback, several coaches gave it a try and it worked. We’ll see if it continues.

In NFL free agency this offseason, thanks to a stagnant salary cap, there are a lot of usable veterans cut by teams and left on the market. In the past, many of these veterans would have signed bloated new deals with new teams on the first day or two of free agency.

These types of deals are still happening, but not quite like they used to.

Is this the new trend in free agency? It appears to be, for this offseason, anyway. More  teams are taking the Packers’ Ted Thompson approach and being patient, either because they think it’s the right thing to do, or because they have no other choice due to the stagnant salary cap.

Don’t get me wrong, few teams — if any — are taking the extreme draft and development approach that Thompson takes, but the general trend appears to be heading in that direction.

This raises several questions:

  • Will all of these unsigned veterans eventually just sign cheap one-year deals after a while?
  • Will prices for these unsigned veterans actually go up as free-agency wears on and teams realize they need to fill a few holes on their rosters?
  • Prices appear to be down for wide receivers and defensive backs this offseason. Is that because there are too many on the market? Is it becasue there are so many on the market? Is it because teams feel it makes more sense to draft and develop their own WRs and DBs?
15

March

Around the NFC North: Making Fun of the Bears, Lions and Vikings

NFC North DivisionIt’s free agency time in the NFL, also known as the the perfect opportunity for Packers fans to take a nap for two weeks.

Sure, it’s been mildly entertaining trying to figure out if the Packers did, or did not, sign Steven Jackson. And it’s been somewhat amusing following Greg Jennings and his mysterious tweets as he navigates the free agency waters, possibly back to the Packers.

But none of those things bring as much joy to my heart as mocking and ridiculing the Packers NFC North opponents for their offseason signings, roster cuts and trades.

Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings traded Percy Harvin to Seattle for a first round draft pick and a couple other draft picks. They also cut veteran defensive back Antoine Winfield and resigned right tackle Phil Loadholt.

Isn’t it cute how Vikings general manager Rick Spielman is trying to act like Ted Thompson? Suddenly the Vikings are all about the draft and getting younger.

Let’s see how long Spielman is able to stick with this philosophy. Remember that the Vikings quarterback is Christian Ponder and owner Zygi Wilf has a new stadium opening in a couple years that he’ll want filled to capacity with drooling rubes in helga horns and goldilocks braids.

What if Ponder continues to stink and the Vikings take a step backward? Is Wilf patient enough to give Spielman enough of a leash and allow this draft and develop philosphy to take shape?

I doubt it.

You know what’s going to be awesome? Watching the Vikings spend the first-rounder they got for Harvin on the next Troy Williamson.

UPDATE: The Vikings signed Matt Cassel after I wrote this, so you know what else is going to be awesome? Hearing those drooling rubes in helga horns and goldilocks braids chanting Cassel’s name after Ponder goes 7-for-16 for 49 yards with two interceptions in the first half of Minnesota’s season opener.

Chicago Bears
The Bears signed left tackle Jermon Bushrod and tight end Martellus Bennett. The futures of Brian Urlacher and Israel Idonje remain up in the air.

Pro Football Focus ranked Bushrod 24th among left tackles who started at least 10 games at the position in 2012. Bushrod got a pass blocking rating of     -3.5. For comparison, the Packers Marshall Newhouse got a 5.2.

14

March

Dirty Bird Steven Jackson Poops on Packers’ Plans

RB Steven Jackson

“Almost” Packers RB Steven Jackson

When free agency kicked off on Tuesday, Pro Football Talk suggested the Packers were the early favorite to sign running back Steven Jackson. Later, Bill Huber of Packer Report tweeted that Jackson will “likely” sign with Green Bay.

So much for speculation. ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Czar of inside NFL information, has just reported that Jackson has declined the Packers’ offer and signed a 3-year deal with the Falcons.

Jackson, 29, has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark every season since taking over as the starter in 2005. But with a great deal of production comes a lot of tread on the tires; Jackson has carried the ball 2,395 times in his nine-year NFL career.

Along with the Packers, the Falcons, Bengals, Lions and Steelers showed interest in signing the veteran running back. When Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King told Jackson that he should sign with Green Bay, Jackson responded, “It makes a lot of sense.”

Jackson would have been a short-term fix for the Packers at running back, considering he will turn 30 before the season. Green Bay signed Cedric Benson, then 29, last offseason to shoulder the load in the ground game.  Barring other developments, Benson will surely be back.

Jackson is a three-time Pro Bowl selection, making the team in 2006, 2009 and 2010. He was the 24th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, which is exactly where the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers one year later. And now he’s a Falcon.

The Packers’ contract is now lining the bottom of some Dirty Bird’s cage and Ted Thompson is left looking in the air and wiping something off his jacket.

——————

Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

——————

10

March

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Adam Czech usually puts together this post on Sunday, but he had other commitments this week, so I’ll do my best to pick up the slack.

Last Sunday, Adam called into attention the injury woes of the Packers’ recent first-round picks. Bryan Bulaga, Derek Sherrod and Nick Perry missed a combined 33 regular-season games last year. It’s a concern to a certain degree, but at the same time, all three players will be expected to compete for a major role with the team in 2013.

On the flip side, the Packers have struck gold recently in round two. This past week, the team decided not to place the franchise tag on wide receiver Greg Jennings, a second-round pick in 2006. Jennings played seven years with the Packers, made two Pro Bowls and helped the team to Super Bowl XLV.

This year’s draft may lack elite talent in the top-half of the first round, but it’s an extremely deep class in the first few rounds. The NFL went to a three-day format in 2010, featuring round one on Thursday and rounds two and three on Friday.

Let’s take a look at the Day 2 gems Ted Thompson has brought to Green Bay:

  • 2012: Casey Hayward (2nd, No. 62)
  • 2011: Randall Cobb (2nd, No. 64)
  • 2010: Mike Neal (2nd, No. 56) and Morgan Burnett (3rd, No. 71)
  • 2008: Jordy Nelson (2nd, No. 34) and Jermichael Finley (3rd, No. 91)
  • 2007: James Jones (3rd, No. 78)
  • 2006: Greg Jennings (2nd, No. 52)
  • 2005: Nick Collins (2nd, No. 51)

Every year since taking over as Packers GM in 2005, Thompson has found a starter in either the second or third round. Now, guys like Brian Brohm, Aaron Rouse and Abdul Hodge may not have lived up to their expectations, but Thompson’s track record is impressive nonetheless.

With Jennings on his way out, perhaps wide receiver is a position to consider on Day 2 this year. There will be receivers galore available on in rounds two and three.

Packers News, Notes and Links

  • Here’s a piece I wrote on Bleacher Report focusing on the depth of the wide receiver position in this year’s draft. They come in all shapes in sizes, and value will certainly be there on Day 2.
31

October

Will Packers make a move before Thursday’s trade deadline?

Rams RB Steven Jackson

Will the Packers trade for Rams RB Steven Jackson?

The NFL trade deadline usually comes with boat loads of speculation, before a whole lot of nothing actually happens.

And in the case of the Packers under general manager Ted Thompson, the trade deadline tends to be deafeningly quiet. This year, however, the Packers have a clear need at running back after losing Cedric Benson with a foot injury and there are now two proven runners available for a reasonable price.

St. Louis has been rumored to be shopping veteran running back Steven Jackson for a draft pick, and Carolina is reportedly open to trading DeAngelo Williams.

Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said Tuesday that Jackson wasn’t going anywhere. “It’s all rumors. Let’s put that to rest.” But even if St. Louis was, in fact, shopping the 29-year-old runner, he almost certainly wouldn’t say it publicly.

A trade involving Williams may more likely than one for Jackson, whether it’s the Packers or another team. The Charlotte Observer cites a team source and says, “multiple playoff-contending teams called the Panthers last week to inquire about a possible trade for Williams.”

The Denver Broncos are a logical possibility to land Williams, considering they’re coached by former Panthers head coach John Fox. With veteran Willis McGahee having a mediocre start to 2012 and rookie Ronnie Hillman still developing as a player, the Broncos may be in the market for a potential feature back. And even though Williams is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry this season, he could be a nice fit with Denver’s spread attack.

Whether the Packers are interested in trading for Williams or Jackson remains to be seen. The 2012 season is widely thought to be Jackson’s last in St. Louis, so the door could still be open for a trade despite what Fisher said Tuesday.

Age shouldn’t be much of a factor in a potential trade, considering the Packers went all-in with the 29-year-old Benson to start the season.

In order to acquire Jackson, the Packers would have to pay approximately $3 million of the $7 million he’s owed this season. And also, Thompson would have to determine that Jackson is worth parting with a draft pick, despite the fact that he’ll likely be available as an unrestricted free agent next summer.

26

October

Packers Playbook (aka Hobbjective Analysis): Week 7 at St. Louis Rams

Like Darren Sharper and Nick Collins, there are defensive backs coming out of college that just seem to get it and can contribute right away.  This year it’s rookie cornerback Casey Hayward, who actually is tied for the lead in interceptions with 4.

Hayward has been a very good slot cornerback behind Tramon Williams, Sam Shields and Charles Woodson, but with Sam Shields out after being kicked in the shin against the Texans, Hayward was shifted out to the outside.  How would he respond in his first start and being left on a island?  Pretty good.  While fans will gush at his acrobatic interception, I would probably suggest that everyone take a step back; Hayward is solid cornerback, just not a playmaker…yet

The Situation: The score is 17-6 in favor of the Packers with 1:25 left in the 3rd quarter.  Needless to say things haven’t gone so well for the Rams in the 2nd half.  For the first 30 minutes of football, the Rams had managed to keep the game close by using a steady diet of ground control football with running backs Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson.

The Rams also managed to keep the ball out of Aaron Rodgers hands by controlling the clock and as a result the Rams had a significant advantage in the time of possession.  However, the 3rd quarter was all about the Packers, who not only managed to flip the time of possession in 1 quarter, but had managed to do it with a methodical passing game which included 3 passing first downs capped off by a touchdown.  Obviously the Rams are beginning to feel the pressure and need to answer back.  This is the first play after the kickoff.

 

The Formation: The rams come out in a 2-1-2 formation (2WR-1TE-2RB), one of the old school staples of any offense.  WR Brandon Gibson is aligned out wide to the top of the screen while WR Chris Givens is aligned out wide on the bottom of the screen.  TE Lance Kendricks is inline next to the left tackle while TE Matthew Mulligan is aligns like an offset fullback.  RB Steven Jackson rounds out the group by lining up 7 yards behind the scrimmage forming a standard offset I formation.  The look is very biased towards running and presumably the Rams hope to catch the Packers off guard with a play action pass and a shot down the field.