Category Archives: Packers 2013 – 2014 Season

From the Benches: Ted Thompson Time

From the Benches Packers Podcast

The boys are back and better than ever. To start of the show they discuss ESPN’s Mike Sando’s column comparing the number of pro bowlers drafted by Ted Thompson as opposed to Minnesota’s Rick Spielman, and go through other tidbits of information that are circling in Packer land as the draft draws near.

After that the guys go behind the bench assessing draft needs based on Ross’ story that came out earlier in the week. Following that discussion the guys do their Packers version of a mock draft for the team’s first five rounds before Jacob has some words about extending the draft process in the show’s signature segment of You’re gonna want to cut that.

From the Benches is a part of the Packers Talk Radio Network, serving up enough weekly podcasts to satisfy the most fervent of Packer fans. Follow us on TwitterFacebook, and subscribe over at iTunes.

Find Additional Football Podcasts with Packers Talk Radio Network on BlogTalkRadio

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From The Benches is one of the family of podcasts from the Packers Talk Radio Network, featuring hosts Jacob WestendorfRoss Uglum, and Ryan Hillesland.

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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The Very Earliest Season Prediction for the Green Bay Packers

packers helmets

The NFL released the 2014-15 season schedule, and almost immediately fans began speculating what their favorite team’s record would be for the upcoming season.

Before the Draft, before OTA’s, before mini camp and loooong before Training Camp, semi-professional prognosticators put win-loss predictions on their favorite teams. Optimism runs high at this time of the year, and the schedule release is just one more reason for fans across the globe to believe that THIS is the year their team will bring the Lombardi Trophy home.

Packers fans are no different. Analysis of the schedule technically began when the 2014-15 opponents were announced last year. Now that the schedule has been released, the full dissection can take place.

With that said, here is the very earliest season prediction for the 2014-15 Green Bay Packers:

Week 1 at Seattle (9/4/14): At Seattle-no better chance to prove you deserve to be mentioned among the best teams in the league than the season kickoff against the defending Super Bowl champions. In this rematch of the Fail Mary game, the Packers are going to face one tough opponent in a hostile road enviroment. As much as I want to pick Green Bay to win this game, I just can’t do it. Loss

Week 2 vs NY Jets (9/14/14): Rex Ryan and the Jets stroll into Lambeau Field for the Packers’ home opener. And go home losers. Win

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Packers Get A Steal In Compensatory Picks

greg jennings vikings

 

Ted Thompson probably popped champagne in his office after the 2014 NFL Draft compensatory picks were announced yesterday.

The Packers received a third-round pick for losing wide receiver Greg Jennings to the Minnesota Vikings and a fifth-round pick for losing outside linebacker Erik Walden to the Indianapolis Colts. Green Bay receiving those two picks for Jennings and Walden is larceny.

Jennings received a five-year, $45 million contract with Minnesota last offseason. He caught 45 passes for 804 yards and four touchdowns. It is safe to say that the Packers did not miss his presence much, as Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Jarrett Boykin all had very solid seasons.

The Packers are getting Jennings for a third-round pick when the Philadelphia Eagles are just trying to get any pick they can for DeSean Jackson. Jackson is one of the fastest wide receivers in the NFL, is in his prime and made the Pro Bowl last season, while Jennings is 30 years old and on the downside of his career. Something doesn’t seem right there, and this is Thompson at his finest.

Thompson drafted Jennings in the second round back in 2006 and was greatly rewarded. Jennings caught 377 passes for 6,023 yards and 51 touchdowns in seven seasons for Green Bay. Now, he nearly got the draft pick that he spent on Jennings back instead of paying him big money on the downside of his career. That is pure brilliance.

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Starks Solidifies Running Back Group

Starks

The Green Bay Packers have transformed their running back position from a big weakness to a huge strength in about a year.

If somebody would have said at this time last year that the Packers would have one of the best running back groups in the NFL you would have thought that they were crazy. However, right now it is the absolute truth.

Earlier this week, Green Bay signed running back James Starks to a two-year, $3.17 million contract. The prevailing thought was that that Starks would be offered a chance at increased playing time elsewhere after performing very well as Eddie Lacy’s backup. However, that proved not to be the case and the Packers retained Starks in a steal of a deal.

Starks leaving would not have been a devastating loss with even more good depth behind him, but getting him back is a really nice luxury. You can never have too many running backs and Lacy and Starks gives them a powerful duo at the position.

Lacy received all the attention for Green Bay’s vastly improved running game, and he deserved it. However, the drop off to Starks was not huge when Lacy was having issues with his ankle at the end of the year or when he just needed a breather.

Starks had 493 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 89 carries last season. His 5.5 yards per carry would have led the NFL had he had enough attempts to qualify. Starks didn’t get a ton of carries because Lacy is such a workhorse, but he should have gotten more down the stretch when Lacy was not fully healthy.

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Packers Have Offensive Needs

Aaron Rodgers

The majority of the conversations about the Green Bay Packers this offseason have been about the defense and rightfully so.

This makes sense since the Packers ranked eighth in the NFL in points per game (26.1) and third yards per game (400.3) without Aaron Rodgers for seven games. The defense ranked 24th points allowed per game (26.8) and 25th in yards allowed per game (372.3).

The Packers have consistently had one of the best offenses in the NFL since Rodgers took over at quarterback and one of the worst defenses since Dom Capers took over at defensive coordinator. Although, the defense has had years when it has performed well, none of them have come since 2010.

However, many people are completely ignoring that the Packers do have needs on the offensive side of the ball. Sure, Rodgers will always help cover any weaknesses that the offense might have, but they still do need to be addressed. The three positions on offense that the Packers need help at are center, tight end and wide receiver.

Green Bay will have their fourth starting center in four years next season after Evan Dietrich-Smith signed a four-year, $14.25 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Packers usually sign their own free agents who they want to keep, so it appears as though they were not the biggest fans of Dietrich-Smith.

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Packers Sign Julius Peppers: Is He the Missing Piece?

Peppers

This is not a drill–the Packers have signed a big name free agent! In a move that made me spit out my coffee this morning, the Packers signed Julius Peppers to a three-year contract worth up to $30 million, as first reported by ESPN’s Josina Anderson.

Peppers will only receive $7 million guaranteed, so this is a very low risk and high reward signing. The contract is structured so that Peppers can easily be cut if he doesn’t have anything left.  He was released from Chicago after he had a down season and was carrying a $18 million cap hit for next season.

The 34-year-old Peppers is easily Green Bay’s biggest signing since Charles Woodson in 2006. The move goes against everything Ted Thompson has ever done in Green Bay. Paying an aging player big money is something he rarely has ever done. Even Woodson was only 29 when the Packers signed him. However, for a defense that was ranked 24th in total points allowed and 25th in yards allowed, he may be the missing piece to the puzzle.

Peppers has remained productive into his thirties, as he has 29.5 sacks over the last three seasons. He only had seven sacks last season, which was his lowest total since 2007. Peppers’ effort was questioned last year and his production was low, but the Packers are hoping that he will have a resurgence on a new team with a chance at a championship.

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Packers Ink B.J. Raji to Contract

B.J. Raji

As first reported by Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,  the Green Bay Packers have signed defensive lineman B.J. Raji to a one-year, $4 million contract.

Raji accepted this offer after turning down a contract from Green Bay worth $8 million during the season and after not finding a long term deal from another team on the open market.  NFL Network’s Ian Rapport tweeted that only the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders showed interest in Raji, both of whom have general managers in John Dorsey and Reggie McKenzie who worked under Ted Thompson.

Raji has been a disappointing player for Green Bay since 2010, when he was a key contributor to their championship team. He only had 17 tackles last year and has not had a sack since 2011. Raji will be moving back to nose tackle where he played in 2010, so the hope is that he will regain his 2010 form playing his most comfortable position.

The Packers are also hoping that a motivated Raji looking to get paid will lead to better production, although that did nothing for him last season.

Despite the low production recently, Thompson does not like to give up on his own draft picks, especially one who was selected with the ninth overall pick.

Raji marks the fifth of his own free agents that Thompson has signed. He had previously re-signed cornerback Sam Shields,  linebacker Mike Neal,tight end Andrew Quarless and tendered restricted free agent linebacker Jamari Lattimore.

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