Tag Archives: Packers

PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Can Casey Hayward Play Outside?

Casey Hayward intercepts Andrew Luck while playing corner on the outside.

It’s no secret that the Packers lost two cornerbacks that have the ability to play outside.  Tramon Williams was the team’s #1 corner a season ago.  He has the ability to play nickel, which he might be asked to do in Cleveland.  The Browns spent a 1st round pick on Justin Gilbert a season ago and have superstar Joe Haden as their top guy.  Davon House didn’t really have the ability to slide inside but was a passable outside CB.  That leaves Green Bay with what appear to be one outside corner who didn’t play that well on a big contract in Sam Shields and two slot CBs in Micah Hyde and Casey Hayward.

That might not be completely on point.  Micah Hyde is an inside CB.  Hyde is a playmaker and a great tackler, but he’s more suited to his hybrid safety/linebacker/slot corner role.  It’s not likely that he can play as a man corner outside.  Hayward is a different story.  Hayward played outside in college, and has played outside in the pros.  Wherever he’s played, he’s been effective.

Hayward was the runner up for defensive rookie of the year in 2012.  He came in second to Luke Kuechly of the Panthers, but put together a phenomenal season.  Pro Football Focus ranked him 4th out of all cornerbacks in the NFL.  His coverage ranking was 3rd.  He only allowed a passer rating of 31.3 at passes thrown in his direction, best in the league.  His 6 interceptions caught the eyes of the national media.  He was fantastic.

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2015 NFL Draft: Packers Positional Preview: DL

Iowa vs Purdue

I’ve been pretty lucky so far with my position preview schedule.  All of the offensive positions were more or less resolved when I wrote about them.  Randall Cobb re-signed before I wrote about wide receivers.  Bulaga was back on board before the offensive line evaluation was due.  It appears, though, that that run of luck is over.

The defensive line group is still completely in flux.  The Packers have 2015 starters Mike Daniels and Datone Jones returning.  They also have rotational pieces Josh Boyd and Mike Pennel are coming back as well.  The Packers also have long-term investments in Khryi Thornton, Bruce Gaston and Luther Robinson that they hope to develop in 2015.

That’s all well and good but the big question still remains.  What do the Packers do at nose tackle?  Is BJ Raji coming back after his injury? Is Letroy Guion coming back after his arrest?  Are both players coming back to form the deep rotation at nose tackle with Pennel that they should have had a year ago?

The smart money says that with most of the big defensive tackles off the market (at very low rates) the Packers will be able to afford bringing Raji and Guion back.  The team has been reportedly working on re-signing both players.  After a marijuana-related arrest it’s possible that Guion doesn’t have any other suitors.

Class Strength: 7/10

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2015 NFL Draft: Packers Positional Preview: OL

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ESPN Milwaukee’s Bill Johnson always used to say that Ted Thompson couldn’t scout and offensive lineman if one pancake blocked him.  I always thought that was funny and for a long time it was true.  He initially failed to adequately replace Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle and the early part of Aaron Rodgers’ career was spent with him putting up video-game-like passing numbers while running for his life.

There are the ghosts of offensive line failures littered throughout Thompson’s early tenure.  Junius Coston, Will Whitticker, Jason Spitz, and Tony Moll have all washed out of the league.  Daryn Colledge, though a Super Bowl XLV starter and champion, was always a disappointment.   He, Allen Barbre, Jamon Meredith and Breno Giacomini never made it with the Packers but eventually caught on in the NFL in different role.  Most, if not all of these players were college tackles, and Thompson and McCarthy drove fans and the media insane by training all of their linemen at each position and continuing to play O-line musical chairs.  It especially made everyone nuts because in Thompson’s 10 drafts as the Packers GM he has selected an offensive lineman in each one.

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PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Fab Five 3.0?

FAB5

2007 was a true renaissance season for the Green Bay Packers.  The Packers were entering the second season of the Mike McCarthy era, with few people having ultimate confidence in the new head coach.  After all, McCarthy had been hired away from San Francisco, where he was the offensive coordinator for an offense that wasn’t very good.  The Packers had started 4-8 in 2006, but won their final 4 games and avoided a losing season.  Instead of calling for McCarthy’s head (and Thompson’s head for hiring him) the fans had reason for optimism heading into 2007.

More than any other time than I can remember as a fan the mid 2000s Green Bay Packers were defined by one player.  Brett Favre was the Green Bay Packers.  The #4 jersey was simply what you wore to Lambeau Field to watch the game.  Every passing touchdown was like a life experience as he approached all the major passing records.  Fans hung on every word at every press conference and each offseason prayed to the football gods that Favre would return.

The issue was that the QB and the team appeared that they might be in decline.  After losing the 4th and 26 game to the Eagles, Favre and the Packers had gone 22-26 in the next 3 seasons, which was unfathomable during the Favre era.  Favre was a big part of that decline.  During that 3 year stretch, Favre’s TD to INT ratio was a brutal 68-64.  In 2006 Favre only completed 56% percent of his passes, good for 26th in the league, right behind Matt Leinart and just ahead of Jake Plummer, Rex Grossman and Bruce Gradkowski.

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2015 NFL Draft: Packers Position Preview: WR

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When I decided to put together the Packer Position Preview series I actually had tight ends penciled in to this slot.  For whatever reason, my mind normally goes QB, RB, WR, TE, OL.  When I looked the schedule again I realized I couldn’t do that.  I realized that I had to wait until the Randall Cobb situation was resolved.  Resolved it was.  Cobb returned on a 4 year $40 million deal on Saturday night.

I wrote a little bit about Cobb’s value and really what his return says about the culture in Green Bay.  I’m going to expand on the wide receiver position in Green Bay during this week’s Football Friday, but it’s remarkable how much signing one player changed the outlook on the wide receiver position for the Packers in this year’s draft.  All of a sudden the top 5 receivers on the team are signed through 2017 and the top 2 options are Pro Bowl players under contract through the 2018 season.

Ron Wolf has said that one of his greatest regrets was not supplying Brett Favre with enough weapons.  Ted Thompson has always kept this in mind.  You would think that there would be some concern with the recent losses of Greg Jennings, James Jones, Donald Driver and Jermichael Finley, but Thompson’s pass catchers keep on rolling.  Aaron Rodgers has two of the top 12 receivers in the league on his team, and an ascending 2nd round pick (like all the other studs were).  Behind them are a young tight end with fantastic hands, a local legend who wowed in last year’s training camp and an athletic freak who has captivated the fan base to a level that’s borderline comical.

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Packers Team Dynamic Shines in Cobb Re-signing

cobb stiff arm

Randall Cobb re-signed with the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night.  The deal is widely reported to be for 4 years and $40 million. Cobb had reportedly garnered interest from Jacksonville, Houston, Oakland and San Diego.  Oakland and Jacksonville were using their considerable cap space and need to spend money to lure Cobb with a higher offer than the Packers could match and the Chargers and Texans offered playoff-ready rosters to join with waker climates.

There are articles that explain why state income taxes may or may not have had to do with Cobb’s decision to return to Green Bay, but this is not going to be one of them,  because at the end of the day I just don’t believe that was much of a factor.  At the end of the day, and believe me it was the end of the day, Cobb chose to stay with the TEAM.  He certainly could have taken the path of Greg Jennings and taken better money to catch fewer balls and lose more games (12 wins, 1,546 yards in 2 seasons since signing with MIN) but he didn’t.  He could have chosen to build his “brand” in a bigger market, but he didn’t.

He chose to stay with the team that drafted him.  He chose to stay with the best QB in football, 2 time MVP Aaron Rodgers.  The two combined for the best QB to WR rating in the league last year.  134.3. Which is, you know, insane.  He chose to stay with a team that has one of the best 2 or 3 shots to get to Super Bowl 50.  He chose to stay with the TEAM.

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2015 NFL Draft: Packers Position Preview: TE

Maxx

The search for a dependable, dynamic Packers tight end has been long and arduous.  Not since Bubba Franks (and I’m not even sure he counts) have the Packers been able to count on one single consistently productive tight end.  There was inconsistency and flashes of brilliance with Jermichael Finley, no question about that.  Players like Donald Lee, Andrew Quarless, and most recently Richard Rodgers have provided spotty production as well, but  at no point during the late Favre and Aaron Rodgers era have the Green Bay Packers had a consistent dynamic threat at the tight end position.

One could argue that it’s by design.  No Thompson-era Packers team that’s made a deep run in the playoffs  (2007, 2010, 2014) has had such a presence at tight end, but more a group of players capable of doing their jobs.  Ted Thompson hasn’t really invested all that highly in the position, either.  Jermichael Finley was a high upside 3rd round pick, but after him there have been only mid-to-late round investements (Andrew Quarless, DJ Williams, Ryan Taylor) all in the fifth round or later.  Richard Rodgers was the exact opposite of Finley.  Rodgers was a 3rd round selction with a high floor and a low ceiling who was able to contribute right away in 2014, but doesn’t project to ever be dynamic.

Ted Thompson’s draft history begs the question, does he care? Does he feel the need to give Aaron Rodgers a tight end in the way that the Patriots gave Gronk to Brady and the Saints gave Graham to Brees? Would a monster tight end truly make the Packers offense unstoppable or is it actually just a luxury?

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