Special Teams plays a much bigger role in football than it is ever given credit for. For instance, failing to block your assignment on an onside kick and trying to field the kick can cost your team a trip to the Super Bowl. Ron Zook had a successful first year as Special Teams Coordinator, and he will need to continue to improve the special teams for the Green Bay Packers to have a chance to win another Lombardi Trophy.
Mason Crosby seems locked in at Kicker after a strong year on both kicks and kickoffs. With the added emphasis on Extra Points, having a proven veteran who has hit clutch kicks in bad weather is a must for the Packers. Rick Lovato filled in nicely last season after Brett Goode was injured. Goode has not been brought back, so it looks like Lovato will be the Long Snapper.
Punter will be an intriguing matchup throughout training camp. Tim Masthay had a decent statistical year, but certainly didn’t pass the eye test. Green Bay native Peter Mortell will come in as a fan favorite, and has a chance to win the job. The winner of the punting contest will serve as the holder for kicks.
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The Best and the Wurst is a weekly series wherein I highlight just a few of the things that stuck out to me in last week’s game. They are not only or merely the best or wurst players overall, but are merely observations from the game. Sometimes the considerations aren’t even players at all, but play calls, incidents, or various nonsense.
Datone Jones: Man, Datone has really come on as of late. He’s definitely now playing like a first round pick. He accumulated two sacks and a pass defensed last night. He was basically just all around disruptive. The pairing of Jones and Mike Daniels is really starting to wreak havoc. When you throw a good performance by BJ Raji into the mix, the Packers have a formidable front.
Eddie Lacy: Lacy came back in a big way yesterday, accumulating 100 yards and averaging a nice 4.5 yards per carry. While Rodgers and the receivers still had trouble getting in-sync, Lacy provided the stability that the Packers’ offense needed to get rolling. Minnesota has a decent defense, and the Packers scored more points on them last night than anyone has all season. Credit a lot of that to Lacy’s consistency.
James Jones: Jones made some ridiculous catches in this game, including a TD pass at the far side of the endzone. While he’s been quiet in recent weeks, Jones stepped up and made some big plays. Read more... (428 words, 2 images, estimated 1:43 mins reading time)
After watching the Green Bay Packers get dismantled by the Broncos and Panthers, it was hard to imagine things could get much worse for Green Bay. A visit from the league-worst Detroit Lions seemed to be the perfect remedy for a struggling football team.
But the Packers failed yet again to get themselves rolling in a heartbreaking 18-16 loss to the Lions. It marked the first time in 24 years that Detroit won a football game in the state of Wisconsin.
In a storyline that has been too familiar so far this season, it was the defense keeping Green Bay in the game as the offense failed to get any form of momentum going. The Packers really had no business even having an opportunity to win the game, but things kept going Green Bay’s way in the fourth quarter until Mason Crosby missed a potential game-winning 52-yard field goal.
The game looked good at the beginning for the Packers. Green Bay moved the ball seemingly easily on their first possession, capped off by a field goal that gave the Packers a 3-0 lead. Meanwhile, Detroit did not score any points until they kicked a field goal of their own on their last possession of the first half.
But while the defense rendered the Detroit offense ineffective, the offense simply could not get anything going. The Packers punted on nine straight possessions following the field goal in the first quarter, and did not score again until there were less than six minutes left in the game. Read more... (914 words, estimated 3:39 mins reading time)
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Green Bay Packers Continue Free Fall in Home Loss to Lions
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After the NFL announced changes to the rules regarding PATs, the Green Bay Packers, like the rest of the league, will have to develop new strategies on what they should do after scoring a touchdown.
Kicking an extra point has almost always been what teams choose to do. In 2014, there were 1230 attempted extra points, as opposed to just 59 two-point conversions. When kickers were making extra points with a 99 percent success rate, the decision was never that hard to make.
But now, coaches will have a slightly more difficult time choosing whether or not to go for two. Extra points will now be 33 yards long. Over the last ten seasons, that field goal has been converted just under 92 percent of the time.
Packers kicker Mason Crosby is the obvious answer for the Green Bay player who will be most affected by the rule change. Over the course of his eight-year career, Crosby has converted 99 percent of his extra point attempts, missing just four. But when a field goal is between 30 and 39 yards, his career average is at just 87 percent.
While that number does not completely reflect how Crosby will fare with the new PATs (as some of his misses came from 34-39 yards, which is further than the new extra point), it is reasonable to expect that he will miss more PATs than in the past. The five blocked kicks in 2014, including two blocked extra points, could also be concerning if the Packers do not address that issue in the upcoming season. Read more... (744 words, estimated 2:59 mins reading time)
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How Will New PAT Rules Affect the Green Bay Packers?
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This is the worst time of the year for Green Bay Packers fans.
The return of football is so close. So very, very close. Less than a month away until the team takes the field for Training Camp at Nitschke Field. Yet it seems so far away.
Time just seems to stand still during this dead time of the football calendar year. Every day is one day closer to football, but it sure does not seem like it.
Because the days seem to go slower during these dog days of Summer, this allows for ample time to think about the upcoming season, and ask plenty of questions about it.
Why spend time asking questions about the season? Because they need to be asked. As much as everyone may want to believe that the Packers are prepared to go undefeated, scoring an infinite number of points while allowing zero in the process, and culminating in a Super Bowl victory, this is just not the case. The Packers have on paper made improvements, but there are still plenty of questions surrounding this team.
Optimism is high, but it does not mean that the questions should not be asked.
Here are just a few of the questions that I have thought about in the past week about the 2014 Packers:
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- Will Eddie Lacy continue to be a force on offense, or will a healthy Aaron Rodgers shift the focus on offense back to the passing game?
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20 Questions About the 2014 Green Bay Packers
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One overlooked aspect of the 2013 Green Bay Packers was how poor the special teams were. Other than Mason Crosby converting 89.2 percent of his field goals–which still didn’t put him in the top 10 in the NFL in accuracy–the Packers were brutal on special teams last year.
Special teams may not be worried about at this time of year, but it is always a key decider of NFL games. Field goals are converted at such a high rate these days that missing any is killer. The return game is so important because obviously the better field position you have the better chance you have of scoring. Field position and turnovers are often the most important factors in the NFL.
Green Bay’s return game suffered last season with the injury to Randall Cobb and release of Jeremy Ross. Micah Hyde took over the primary return duties for Cobb and was just nothing special. He did a good job of protecting the ball and had a nice 12.3 yard average on punt returns, but was unspectacular on kickoff returns.
The Packers ranked 30th in the NFL in kickoff return average last season, as they averaged 20.3 yards per return. According to Football Outsiders, the Packers average starting field position was the 22.64 yard line following a kickoff, which ranked 11th in the NFL. Read more... (562 words, estimated 2:15 mins reading time)
This is the time of year when many Green Bay Packers fans get out their pitchforks for general manager Ted Thompson.
If and when Thompson doesn’t sign an expensive free agent later today you will hear all the Thompson haters come out of their caves. The annual cries that he is cheap, arrogant and does not care about winning will fill your Twitter timeline.
Of course, none of that is remotely true. Thompson is far from a cheap general manager–he just doesn’t spend the money on the players who that particular crowd wants him too.
How can a cheap general manager make Aaron Rodgers the highest paid quarterback and Clay Matthews the highest paid outside linebacker in the same offseason? I can pretty much guarantee that those two players will do more for the Packers than any free agent they could have signed last offseason.
Former Packers Vice President of Player Finance Andrew Brandt tweeted that the Packers were 2nd in the NFL last season in cash spent. Thompson is just more comfortable spending that money on players that he drafted and is familiar with. He is willing to spend money when he sees a value, but he never sees that value in the first day of free agency when other teams are going crazy. Read more... (674 words, estimated 2:42 mins reading time)