Tag Archives: Mason Crosby

20 Questions About the 2014 Green Bay Packers

green bay packers helmets

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:

 

  • 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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Special Teams An Area To Improve

masthay

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.

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Ted Thompson Is Not Cheap

Ted Thompson

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.

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Individual Awards For the 2013 Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers helmet

As a way of wrapping up the 2013 season, the Packers Talk Radio Network writers want to hand out some individual awards to the top performers on this team.

 

Most Valuable Player

Cory Jennerjohn: This is going to sound strange, but I the best player from an up-and-down season is kicker Mason Crosby. He hit on 89 percent of his field goal attempts this year and only had one game where he missed more than one. He had over a 25 percent turnaround from last year, which deserves to be recognized.

John Rehor: David Bakhtiari deserves a ton of credit for stepping in for an injured Bryan Bulaga as a rookie. He admirably protected the blind sides of four different quarterbacks this season, allowing the passing game to continue to exist. He also opened up running lanes for Eddie Lacy and company. This season could have been much, MUCH worse if he had not played like a veteran as a rookie, forced into action. 

Ross Uglem: Never has Aaron Rodgers value been more clear to this team.  The team was a very impressive 6-2 with Rodgers starting and finishing games, with their only losses coming to playoff teams on the road.  It was an abysmal 2-5-1 without him.

 

Rookie of the Year

CJ: This should be obvious. When the Offensive Rookie of the Year resides on your team, this is automatic. Eddie Lacy wowed everyone by not just playing hard like most rookies out of Alabama, but he did it with a chip on his shoulder as the fourth running back selected.

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More Focus Should be Given To Shawn Slocum & The Special Teams

shawn slocum

As the final seconds ticked away on the game clock, all Packers could do was stand by and watch the 49ers end their season-again.

It was as much disappointing as much as it was frustrating, seeing the Packers fall short yet again the playoffs, again at the hands of their rivals to the West.

As soon as the game ended, armchair GMs began proposing their ideas about what needs to happen in order to make the Packers a Super Bowl contender again, instead of just a one and done in the playoffs as they have been three out of the past five seasons.

The most common clamor has been “Fire Dom Capers.”

Calling for the removal of Capers is warranted. Statistically, the Packers defense has deteriorated in the five seasons Capers has been in charge. But if Capers were to be replaced, the question becomes by who?

The list of potential candidates is both unimpressive and underwhelming, so odds are Capers is staying put.

While everyone is quick to jump on Capers for his coaching, there is another coach on the Packers staff who deserves equal-if not more-criticism than Capers.

Since being named Special Teams Coordinator in 2009, Shawn Slocum and his Special Teams have done little to separate themselves from being just another group in the NFL.

2013 was no different.

According to the Dallas Morning News, the unofficial ranker of NFL Special Teams, Green Bay finished 20th in the league in Special Teams this past season.

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Staying Alive: Packers 22 Falcons 21

Bush

The Green Bay Packers entered December with a simple mission. Win out, or spend the winter golfing. December got off to a good start for them as they overcame a halftime deficit, and defeated the Atlanta Falcons 22-21.

The game began with the defense on the field, as the Packers won the toss and chose to defer to the second half as they usually do. This time the defense came up with an early stop, something they were unable to do throughout the previous game against the Detroit Lions, and gave the offense the ball. The offense, which struggled mightily against the Lions marched right down the field, and delivered an early statement in the form of an 18-play 86 yard drive that ended with an Eddie Lacy touchdown as the first quarter expired. The Packers had an early 7-0 lead.

The second quarter did not go nearly as well for the Packers as the first quarter did. Atlanta struck back when Matt Ryan found Drew Davis over the middle of the field for 36 yards and a touchdown. The trouble did not end there as Matt Flynn fumbled as he was sacked by William Moore. the Falcons quickly converted the turnover into a touchdown, making it 14-7.

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What is this, Running Thing?: Packers 19 Ravens 17

Lacy

The Green Bay Packers took the field against the Baltimore Ravens looking for their first road win since Week 15 last year in Chicago. With a shift in identity, they were able to grind another game out, and pick up a big road win against a quality opponent.

The game began with promise as the Packers took the opening drive down the field and got points on their opening possession. Unfortunately, that resulted in yet another Mason Crosby field goal as self-inflicted wounds continue to plague the Packers as they move the ball down the field.  The drive opened with two good runs by Eddie Lacy, but stalled after Jordy Nelson dropped a slant from Rodgers that would have been a first down and much more.

After the field goal the Packers defense set the tone for the rest of the game. Over the offseason the Packers defense was consistently called soft, and unable to win against bigger, more physical teams. The Packers have sufficiently shed that label as they currently hold the NFL’s top ranked rushing defense. It was on display early and often, as Ravens star back Ray Rice was unable to find any room to roam, forcing Joe Flacco to throw for most of the game. Flacco was harrassed throughout the game as linebacker A.J. Hawk had a career day with three sacks. The Ravens, much like the Packers were unable to establish any offensive rhythm.

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