Should the Packers Have Kept Clay Matthews at Inside Linebacker?

Don’t get me wrong. Clay Matthews is a fantastic pass rushing outside linebacker, but I was a little surprised when Mike McCarthy stated during his season wrap-up press conference that the team would be looking to move Matthews back outside. Sure Matthews puts up flashier numbers there, and, subsequently, I’m sure he’s much happier playing outside, but is the move in the best interest of the defense? I’m not sold on it.

To put it simply, I think that Clay’s skill set might be better suited to the middle. His best ability is his explosive tenacity. He flies around the field, screaming from one sideline to the other, making tackles all over the place. That’s exactly what the Packers have needed inside, which is why he was moved in the first place.

Matthews is a great pass rusher. I have little doubt that he’s the best pass rushing linebacker on the team. But I’m not convinced that he’s such an elite pass rusher that he must be put in a position primarily to collect sacks. It’s one thing if you have a once-in-a-lifetime pass rusher. You don’t forsake something like that. But in the case of Matthews, oughtn’t he to be lined up where it is most beneficial for the team?


Will the Green Bay Packers lose in 2016?

OK, I’m sure they’ll lose in 2016 – but should they?

The Packers strength of schedule based on opponents’ over/under win totals gives them the easiest 16-game season. According to CG Technology Sports Book, the opponents they’ll face in 2016 average a three percent chance of winning the Super Bowl LI, which ties the Packers with the Dallas Cowboys for the lowest level of championship-caliber teams they’ll face.

Among those facts – the Packers return Pro Bowl wide receiver Jordy Nelson, have a slimmed down Eddie Lacy after an offseason program with Tony Horton, a bolstered offensive line after moving up in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft to grab Jason Spriggs, and a defense that is another year experienced and used the draft to fill front seven voids.

All things considered, the Packers should be vastly improved from their disappointing 2015 campaign (that still left them a shovel pass away from the NFC Championship Game).

But when we examine the 2016 season, which game is a legitimate concern? According to Bovada, the Packers presumed over/under win total opened at 10.5, tying them with the Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots for the highest mark.

Let’s look at all 16 regular season games and try to form a reasonable argument that the Packers will falter.


Week 1 – Sunday, September 11 @ Jacksonville


The Packers Punting Problem

With the Green Bay Packers offense struggling for most of last season, they could ill afford to have a bad year at the Punting position. Tim Masthay’s sudden drop in distance and hang time often put the defense in difficult positions, and had a huge negative impact on last season.

The easy solution is to listen to the mob of Packers fans who want Masthay gone. However, as we’ve seen in the past with Mason Crosby, it is possible for a return to career averages after a debacle of a season. Ted Thompson prefers to go with the specialist he knows, so undrafted Peter Mortell will have to soundly beat Masthay in training camp and the preseason.

As a Green Bay native and a former Big Ten Punter, Mortell will be a fan favorite. He was an excellent holder for kicks in college, which is one of the things that helped Masthay hang on to his job the last two seasons. He has a strong leg, but will have to prove he can have the placement and hang time of a NFL punter.

Masthay’s 4.11 second hang time is not a huge obstacle for Mortell, but Special Teams Coordinator Ron Zook placed an emphasis on net average last season. Masthay actually set the franchise mark for net punt average last season, so it is possible the coaching staff does not view last year as the catastrophe fans do. However, much of that net average has to do with the excellent job Jeff Janis and Demetri Goodson did as gunners on the punt team. They made some terrific plays on low punts which could have led to huge returns.


With Preseason Approaching, It’s Brett Hundley’s Time to Shine

OTAs have begun in Green Bay, and with that training camp and preseason football are on the horizon. There is perhaps no one who stands to benefit more from the offseason program and preseason games than quarterback Brett Hundley.

Hundley was taken by the Packers in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL draft. It was a somewhat surprising move. The Packers had no glaring need at QB with two time MVP Aaron Rodgers at the helm and capable back-up Scott Tolzien as QB2. And yet, in just his first preseason, Hundley more than vindicated the pick. He finished the 2015 preseason with 630 passing yards, 7 touchdowns, and just 1 interception. Perhaps most impressive was Hundley’s demeanor in the pocket. He looked calm and confident, displaying veteran like poise as a rookie.

The result of those preseason performances that Hundley has moved up the depth chart, securing the job as Rodgers’ back-up. Tolzien hit free agency and signed with the Colts. After seeing what they had in Hundley, the Packers did not seem overly interested in retaining Tolzien’s services.

Now Hundley may stand to see more preseason action than any other QB in the league, a vital opportunity to see get game action and continue honing his skills and familiarity with the NFL game. With 5 preseason games on the slate (four regular plus the Hall of Fame game) and arguably the league’s best QB on the roster, the Packers will plan on giving him plenty of snaps.


The Future of the Green Bay Packers Offensive Line

When healthy, the Green Bay Packers offensive line has ranged from good to great over the last several years. Health has certainly been an issue, so depth needed to be addressed this offseason. The contracts of David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, TJ Lang, and JC Tretter are all set to expire at the end of next season, which shows why the Packers would invest two draft picks on the o-line this year.

Jason Spriggs certainly looks like a guy who could play Left Tackle in the future, and that puts pressure on Bakhtiari to perform this year. Kyle Murphy is a player who could have some positional versatility, which gives Ted Thompson greater flexibility in negotiations.

I don’t believe the Packers are going to be able to afford Lang, Sitton, and Bakhtiari, so they will need to make some decisions. Here is a look at a few options Ted Thompson will have in negotiations:


Option 1:  Let Bakhtiari walk and put Spriggs at Left Tackle. Obviously, they would need to be certain Spriggs is the answer before entrusting Aaron Rodgers’ blindside for the remainder of his career to the youngster. As a proven Left Tackle, Bakhtiari will likely be the most expensive offensive line free agent. By letting him leave, the Packers would have the ability to renew both Lang and Sitton. This also means JC Tretter would leave to go to a team where he has a chance to start.

LT – Jason Spriggs


Early Packers Defensive Line Preview and Prediction

For the past two seasons the Green Bay Packers have usually kept about 5 or 6 players on the defensive line. With the departure of BJ Raji and Josh Boyd, as well as the four game suspension of Mike Pennel, the Packers’ defensive front will certainly have a significantly different face in 2016.

It appears that there are four locks coming into training camp: Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion, first round rookie Kenny Clark, and fourth round rookie Dean Lowry. Daniels is often lined up at 3-technique defensive end, Clark is slated to move into the nose tackle spot vacated by Raji, Lowry is expected to play 5-technique defensive end, and Guion can play nearly anywhere on the line. That doesn’t leave any glaring holes, but the need for depth and competition is paramount with so much youth at the position.

Mike Pennel is likely to make the final roster give his familiarity with the defense, but his suspension certainly does not help his case. Behind Pennel is a bevvy of young players who’ve had little to no NFL playing experience. Christian Ringo and BJ McBryde come into their second year in the NFL after Ringo spent last season on the practice squad for Green Bay and McBryde was placed on IR for the Philadelphia Eagles before being released in October. Tyler Kuder (Idaho St.), Brian Price (University of Texas – San Antonio), and Demetris Anderson (University of Central Florida) are all undrafted rookies who will face an uphill climb to make the roster, but certainly have a shot with at least one or two roster spots up for grabs.


Video: Jodie Foster says she is a big Green Bay Packers Fan

On the Conan O’Brian show to promote a movie she directed (Money Monster), Jodie Foster professed her love for the Green and Gold.

She seems to have been influenced by a Cheesehead friend, chose the Packers because she “liked the outfits” and readily admits she’s a fair weather sports fan.

But does any of that matter? Nope.

Jodie is a Cheesehead!