26

December

Cory’s Corner: Time is running out for Derek Sherrod

Offensive lineman Derek Sherrod has missed over a year-and-a-half since being selected as the 32nd player in the 2011 draft.

Offensive lineman Derek Sherrod has missed over a year-and-a-half since being selected as the 32nd player in the 2011 NFL Draft.

While the rest of the nation seems affixed to the Aaron Rodgers watch, there is another injury concern that needs more attention.

Enter Derek Sherrod.

The 6-foot-6, 321-pound offensive lineman came to the Packers with a mountain of promise as the 32nd selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. He was supposed to be the next offensive line anchor that would protect franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers as long as he wore that G on the side of his helmet.

But then he broke his right leg in December 2011 causing him to miss the entire 2012 season. He began this season on the physically unable to play list and wasn’t added to the 53-man roster until Nov. 5.

He has gotten scant playing time the last four weeks but hasn’t been able to really do anything of note. The Packers have a club option for 2015 before he becomes a free agent the following season.

So that puts the Packers in a precarious situation. Over a year-and-a-half has been lost already and if he cannot crack the starting lineup against guys like T.J. Lang or Don Barclay, then the Packers should be concerned.

Bryan Bulaga will come back next season and should quickly become the best lineman that has allowed jailbreak pressure for all four quarterbacks the Packers have started this year.

I doubt it’s time to give up on Sherrod just yet, but if he continues to struggle next August and into next season, how many more chances can the Packers give and afford? Ted Thompson got lucky with David Bakhtiari as a fourth round pick this past spring. Right after Bulaga went down with an ACL tear in the Family Night scrimmage, Bakhtiari has been inserted into the starting lineup and has protected the Packers’ quarterback’s blind side each week.

Even if Sherrod cannot get back to the college player that started 35 games at tackle for Mississippi State, including all 25 his junior and seasons, the Packers must try and forecast the future. Obviously, the Packers cannot continue to pay him first round money when his time in the trainer’s room outnumbers his time on the field. But if they can come to a compromise and rework his deal that suits both parties, Sherrod could find new life in Green Bay.

22

November

Packers Stock Report: Time for a win Edition

T.J. Lang has been one of the few rising players for the Green Bay Packers recently.

My two jobs, a newborn baby and extended visits to family hours away from where we live has made it very difficult to write about the Packers this season. The way the Packers are playing also makes it difficult to write about the Packers.

I don’t have time to do the in-depth and comprehensive posts that I’d like to do, so I do what I can in the free hour I can manage to find here or there. As I type, my kid has been up screaming for the last 2 hours. Why is he screaming? Who knows.

All I know is that my wife is feeding him to see if that gets him to calm down and I got a few minutes to bang out a stock report, so let’s get to it:

Rising

Jordy Nelson
When in doubt, just launch a pass somewhere in the vicinity of Jordy Nelson. Nelson is quietly having one of the best seasons of his career. I wish some of his toughness could be transferred to the defense.

T.J. Lang
Teams have been stacking the box against the Packers with Aaron Rodgers injured, but the interior of the offensive line has held up well. Lang showed his versatility two weeks ago by taking over at center and had another solid game against New York even though the Packers couldn’t gain much traction running the ball.

Steady

Jarret Boykin
Can Boykin replace James Jones in 2014? That question doesn’t sound nearly as ridiculous as it did at the beginning of the season.

Josh Sitton
See the write-up about Lang above. The same applies to Sitton.

Mike Daniels
Daniels is the only defensive lineman who has provided some consistency in getting after the quarterback. If Datone Jones continues showing signs of life, it’s a step forward in transforming the d-line from a bunch of space eaters to a more dynamic and diverse unit.

Falling

Marshall Newhouse
Why. Is. Marshall. Newhouse. Still. On. This. Team?

B.J. Raji
Who made the worse decision: Raji turning down $8 million per year from the Packers or the kid who founded SnapChat turning down $3 billion in cash from Facebook? Raji is not worth $8 million per season. He’s way too inconsistent and he’s stuck in one of his disappearing spells again.

13

November

Packers Stock Report: Another Defensive Meltdown Edition

Packers safety MD Jennings isn’t doing much to help Dom Capers’ defense snap out of its two-week funk.

I’m fine with Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson not firing Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers after yet another defensive meltdown against the Eagles.

Would canning Capers and replacing him with a defensive position coach really make the defense tackle better or the safeties cover more ground and pick off a pass here or there? I don’t know. Maybe.

What I don’t get is the people who argue that firing Capers would be a “knee-jerk” reaction. The Packers defense has been average at best for the better part of three seasons now. In the last two weeks, when Capers and the defense had an opportunity to truly step up and cover for a banged-up offense, they failed. Miserably.

We’ve seen a steady pattern of issues from the Packers defense over the last three seasons:

  • Poor tackling
  • Confusion in the secondary
  • Minimal pass rush from the defensive line
  • Relying heavily on turnovers
  • Playoff meltdowns

That’s plenty of reason for dismissal.

I suppose you could say firing any coach midseason is a knee-jerk reaction in an of itself. But I don’t necessarily agree with that.

When it comes to Capers, the failures are consistent and prevalent enough that his dismissal would not be considered “knee jerk.” Again, I’m not saying it would be the right decision, but it would not be knee jerk.

Anyway, hopefully Capers figures it out and we can add him to the rising category once again.

On to the stock report:

Rising

T.J. Lang
All season, Lang has been clearing a patch for Eddie Lacy on the inside. When injuries struck the offensive line Sunday and claimed C Evan Dietrich-Smith, Lang stepped up and played center for the first time in his career. He never screwed up a snap and did an adequate job blocking. Bravo, Mr. Lang.

Jarrett Boykin
Lost amidst all the injury chaos is the emergence of Boykin. After looking totally lost against Baltimore trying to fill in for the injured Randall Cobb and James Jones, Boykin has come to life and turned into a confident and reliable receiver for the Packers rotating stable of quarterbacks.

30

October

Packers Stock Report: The Bears (and the Vikings) Still Suck Edition

Micah Hyde’s punt return for a TD elevates the Packers rookie into this week’s rising category.

The Packers closed down the Metrodome in style Sunday night, bowling over the Vikings and filling the cavernous white bubble with the sweet sounds of Go Pack Go!

Hearing Go Pack Go echoing throughout the Metrodome as the Packers beat the Vikings is one of the best sounds in all of sports. I won’t miss the Dome, but I will miss the times when the Packers play well enough to allow Cheeseheads to take the place over.

Now that the Packers have dispensed of the Vikings and Christian Ponder, it’s on to the Bears and Jay Cutler  Josh McCown. Instead of extending this intro any further, prepare for Bears week by watching this educational and informative video:

On to the stock report:

Rising

Micah Hyde
On his Tuesday afternoon radio show, Aaron Rodgers wondered how Hyde fell to the fifth round in the draft. The rookie is a solid all-around player — a decent tackler, decent cover guy, decent slot blitzer, and now he has a punt return TD under his belt. In a secondary filled with young talent, Hyde is fitting right in.

Mike Daniels
The type of relentless pass rush and the ability to finish a sack once he gets in the backfield is just what the Packers needed this season. Many thought it would come from rookie Datone Jones, but it’s actually coming from Daniels. Daniels added two more sacks on Sunday. Christian Ponder is not a good quarterback, but he is elusive and not easy to bring down. Daniels got him twice.

T.J. Lang
What’s left to say about the interior of the Packers offensive line? Lang has been battling some bruising defensive tackles all season and keeps on winning those battles much more often than he loses. Lang might be a bit undersized, but he’s athletic and excels on combo blocks when he’s asked to get to the second level.

Steady

Jordy Nelson
It’s like Nelson and Rodgers had a devious plan on Sunday night against the Vikings:

Rodgers: “Hey Jordy, instead of getting wide open tonight, just glue yourself to the nearest defender so I can show off by whizzing a pass right by the guy’s ear hole and into your hands.”

10

October

Four games in, Packers have No. 5 ground game in NFL

Rookies David Bakhtiari and Eddie Lacy have helped recharge the Packers' ground game.

Rookies David Bakhtiari and Eddie Lacy have helped recharge the Packers’ ground game.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, but in the case of the Packers’ new-look backfield, the early results show significant improvement running the football.

One quarter into the 2013 season, and the pass-happy Green Bay Packers have the league’s fifth-best ground game. The Packers are currently grinding out 141 rushing yards per game and 5.3 yards per attempt; Green Bay trails only Philadelphia, Seattle, Buffalo and Indianapolis running the football.

Eddie Lacy, the team’s second-round pick and clear-cut No. 1 back, was just one yard shy of becoming the team’s third-consecutive 100-yard rusher Sunday against the Detroit Loins.

Lacy was knocked out of the Washington game after suffering a concussion, paving the way for James Starks to rush for 132 yards on 20 carries. The following week against the Bengals–with Lacy still out and Starks being forced out of the game early–fellow rookie Johnathan Franklin racked up 103 yards on just 13 carries.

Improving the running game was high on the team’s to-do list this past offseason, according to coach Mike McCarthy.

“We’ll be better,” McCarthy said of his team’s running game following the 2012 season. I promise you that. Big letters.”

And better, they are. Last season, the Packers’ rushing attack ranked 20th in the league after coming in at No. 27 in 2011 and No. 24 in 2010. The last time the Packers ranked in the top half of the league was 2009, when they came in at No. 14 after averaging 117.8 yards per game.

Starks missed the Lions game and is expected to miss “a couple weeks,” according to McCarthy. Franklin stepped in as the No. 2 back behind Lacy against Detroit, but the rookie didn’t get another backfield snap after a second-quarter fumble. Instead, McCarthy opted to use receiver Randall Cobb in the backfield for a third-quarter possession.

Cobb took his first carry and bounced it to the outside for a 67-yard gain down the left sideline. He added another five-yard carry on that hurry-up drive to give himself a modest 36-yard-per-carry average on the afternoon.

Two fumbles in as many games certainly won’t help Franklin’s case to get a share of the workload. Perhaps undrafted rookie Michael Hill will get himself some spot duty depending on the team’s health at the possession. Hill was called up from the practice squad prior to the Lions game.

27

September

Packers Stock Report: Winning the Bye Week Edition

Packers WR Jordy Nelson celebrating yet another week in the rising category of the Packers Stock Report.

The Packers went into the bye week 1-2 and so far have accomplished all of their bye-week goals:

  • Stay out of prison. No players arrested yet during the bye week. If no Packers end up in jail over the weekend, that gust of wind you’ll feel on Monday morning will be everyone in Packers management exhaling a giant sigh of relief.
  • Don’t Tweet stupid things. I haven’t been on Twitter much this week, but I haven’t heard of any Packers accidentally tweeting a naked selfie or using a homophobic slur. Packers management must cringe every time they see a Tweet pop up from one of their players during the bye week.
  • Do something really awesome. Technically, this didn’t happen during the bye week, but it deserves another mention. Major kudos to Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and the entire Packers organization for making Cody Monroe’s day.
  • Ignore the fans. Why ignore the fans? See the comments section of this post.
  • Rest heads and hamstrings. Unless they’re going skydiving or playing pickup soccer games, all the Packers with concussions or hamstring injuries should come back at least one step closer to returning to the field.
  • Read the ALLGBP.com Packers Stock Report. Without further ado:

Rising

Jordy Nelson
Remember in Varsity Blues when the QB would knock the other team’s mascot off his horse when throwing the ball away? If Rodgers tried doing something like that, Nelson would probably catch the pass. He’s that good on the sideline.

Clay Matthews
His play on the field was more than enough to move him to the rising category, but after he got hurt, his stock went up even further. Unless Dom Capers schemes an unblocked blitzing defensive back, the Packers pass rush goes bye-bye when Matthews isn’t on the field. Just in case we forget, we’re reminded of how valuable Matthews is to this team every time he goes out with his annual hamstring injury.

Mike Daniels
Daniels’ violent style of play has so far made up for him being undersized. He’s got a sack, three hurries and four defensive stops this season and might be the only defensive lineman capable of bringing a pass rush at this time. Will Daniels continue to impress now that other teams are becoming more aware of his aggression and his strengths?

20

May

Who’s to Blame for Aaron Rodgers’ Record High Sacks?

Aaron Rodgers sacked by SeahawksWe’ve all seen the numbers. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked a total of 51 times in 2012 – more than any other NFL quarterback – and 55 times if you count the playoffs. It eclipsed his previous record of 50 sacks in 2009 and brings his five-year total as a starter to 202. His lowest sack count in that span was 31 in 2010, the same year they won the Super Bowl.

Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling that Packers fans have in response to this data. Arguably the best player in the game right now is on his back way more often than he should be, and we are all left wondering why. Well, perhaps some fans are looking more for an answer to “who” than for “why.”

Who is to blame for this risk to our precious franchise quarterback? Who can we channel our anger towards when we’re yelling at the 60-inch plasma television?

Unfortunately, that’s not easily answered. But we can give you some suspects to choose from . . .

(don’t forget to cast your vote in the poll below…)

SUSPECT #1: The Blockers (Offensive Line, Running Backs, etc.)

In most cases, the offensive line is usually who we shout profanities at immediately after Aaron Rodgers gets sacked. After all, when it comes to the passing game, their number one responsibility is to protect the quarterback long enough for him to complete a pass. If he goes down, then it means they failed.

During the 2012 season, the two biggest culprits were Marshall Newhouse and T.J. Lang. They each allowed 9 sacks according to ProFootballFocus.com, which accounts for roughly 35% of the 51 total sacks. It’s not surprising that Mike McCarthy felt the need this offseason to shake up the offensive line, pointing specifically to a weakness “on the left side.”

There’s plenty of blame to go around, though. Josh Sitton, Jeff Saturday, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Bryan Bulaga, and Don Barclay combined for another 17 sacks allowed. All in all, that makes 35 sacks from the offensive line, which is a clear majority of the season total.

Let’s not forget, though, that tight ends and backs also share some responsibility for blocking pass rushers. Fullback John Kuhn allowed two sacks and tight end Tom Crabtree allowed one. (Some might be surprised that none of the halfbacks allowed a sack according to PFF, especially in recalling the major gaffes by James “Neo” Starks.)