Tag Archives: Packers

PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: The Final Piece

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The Packers offensive line has certainly been a point of discussion this offseason.  The line took a big step forward last season and is now under contract through the 2016 season.  It’s now being compared to the Chad Clifton-Mike Wahle-Mike Flanagan-Marco Rivera-Mark Tauscher offensive line that Ahman Green ran behind.  It has the chance to be the best offensive line in the Favre-Rodgers era.

The first thing I want to show you are the run blocking and pass blocking grades from Pro Football Focus for the Packers starters on the offensive line.  These numbers are derived from a group of analysts that watch each individual player on every single down.  A score of 0.0 is considered to be average:

David Bakhtiari: Pass: +7.5 Run: -13.2
Josh Sitton: Pass: +19.2 Run: +1.9
Corey Linsley: Pass: +2.5 Run: +5.4
TJ Lang: Pass: +9.9 Run: +10.7
Bryan Bulaga: Pass: +10.8 Run: +0.3

So what sticks out there? Easy. David Bakhtiari’s struggles with run blocking.  Everyone on the Packers offensive line is above average at the two main aspects of offensive line play except for Bakhtiari.  Do I hate David Bakhtiari? No.  Do I even think he’s not a good left tackle? Hell no.  David Bakhtiari stepped in at left tackle defending the blind side of the league’s most valuable asset as a rookie 4th round pick.  That is almost unprecedented.  One of the reasons that he’s so highly thought of is because he can pass block and keep Aaron Rodgers clean.

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Planning a Trip to Packers Training Camp?

training camp

The Green Bay Packers has finished minicamp and are scattered to the four corners in what is equivalent to the NFL’s summer vacation. With that, there will be little activity out of 1265 Lombardi Avenue until the team reconvenes at the end of July for Training Camp ahead of the 2015 regular season. Tickets for the annual Family Night–a night practice under the lights, mind you–were sold out within 48 hours. Fans love attending Training Camp.

But there’s still nearly a month where fans can still absorb the entire Training Camp experience and take in the events around Green Bay  without missing out any of the experiences.

Plan ahead. That’s the first and foremost rule. It may not be Mackinac Island or Disney, but Green Bay is a destination for summer travelers. The vast majority of hotels in town are with a short driving (read: not walking) distance from the stadium. But there are some a few blocks away. Call early, because those are the first to fill up.

That said, Highway 41 from Appleton to Green Bay is a complete pain in the butt. It has been so since I got my drivers license in high school in the 80’s and remains one to this day. It is constantly under construction, though I’m wondering what anyone has to show for it in the 20+ years since. Familiarize yourself with local maps and consider other ways to navigate town. Your sanity will thank you for it later.

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PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Who’s the #1 contender?

Green Bay Packers will win the Super Bowl

The Green Bay Packers have either won the Super Bowl or the NFC North in each of the last 5 seasons.  It has been an incredible run.  In Game of Thrones parlance the Packers are the Kings in the North.  The Packers are prohibitive favorites to win the North again, requiring a $300 bet to win $100.  Admitting that the Packers are the clear favorite is easy, but identifying the #1 contender for the title is a little more difficult.

Each of the Packers’ NFC North mates have finished second during this half decade of dominance.  The Vikings scrapped their way to a 10-6 record in 2012 behind a monstrous season from Adrian Peterson, the Bears fell victim to “4th and great” in 2013 and Detroit came in second during the Packers’ 15 win season of 2011 and their 12 win season last year.

2015, from what I can tell, is going to be very interesting.  Last season’s #1 contender, the Detroit Lions, have lost what defined them as a team.  Ndamakong Suh and Nick Fairley are gone.  Everything that they did on defense was predicated by those two occupying between 3 and 3.5 blockers on every play and freeing up everyone else on the defense to make plays. The 3rd place finisher in Minnesota certainly appears to have the arrow pointing up.  The Bears Still Suck.

Contender #1: Minnesota Vikings

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Best/Worse Case Scenarios for 4th Year Players

Best/Worst Case Scenario for 2012 Draft Class

With OTAs wrapping up and training camp just around the corner, the Packers look to be set. The offense looks poised to break records, and the defense looks to take another leap to the top 10. But for some players, this year is the last chance to make an impact. With their contracts up at the end of the season, they need to look at their role and what they can do to get another chance in Green Bay after this year. So, let’s look at the best and worst case scenarios for the remaining members of the 2012 Draft Class.

#53 Nick Perry, LB

An extremely talented player, Perry has shown flashes of the skill that made him the 28th pick back in 2012, but he hasn’t able to be consistent. While he hasn’t developed as a pass rusher as expected, he has been a very good run defender over the past couple of years, and last year was the best run stopping linebacker on the team. As a pass rusher, he struggled with anything that wasn’t a bull rush. Julius Peppers can really help him, and if Perry learns from him, he can be very good.

Best Case: Starts in the base, 70 tackles, 8 sacks, 4 FF.

Worst Case: Plays only 30% of snaps, 30 tackles, 3 sacks, is not offered a contract after the season.

#29 Casey Hayward, CB

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PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Aaron Rodgers Makes Everything OK

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2013 was a dark year for Packers fans. We have certainly seen darker, even those of us who didn’t live through the 70s and 80s. The Packers were without Aaron Rodgers, and mostly because of Brett Favre’s “Ironman” streak Cheeseheads had forgotten what it was like to be leaderless. We had forgotten what it was like to try and win a football game without a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback.  Green Bay was losing games on a regular basis against teams that weren’t as good as they were because of quarterback play.

Then the Dallas game happened. The Packers came back from a 26-3 deficit led by backup QB Matt Flynn who had just come off of the couch to potentially save the Packers season. After a 1 yard Eddie Lacy plunge, Tramon Williams intercepted a Tony Romo pass intended for Cole Beasley and effectively ended the game.

Matt Flynn

In one of the most powerful images of his career, Matt Flynn celebrates Eddie Lacy’s 1 yard touchdown to take the lead in Dallas in 2013.

Former PackersTalk.com writer (and From the Benches host) Jacob Westendorf and I started talking about the scene from the Dark Knight rises where a masked Bruce Wayne sneaks into Commissioner Gordon’s hospital room you see here. Commissioner Gordon pleads, barely breathing: “the Batman must come back”.

Rodgers had to come back, and come back he did. No Packers fan forgets where they were when Rodgers took the snap, Kuhn laid out to block Peppers, and Cobb ran right past Chris Conte and into the Bear end zone on “4th and great”. Though Green Bay would fall in the Wild Card round to eventual NFC Championship participant San Francisco, they wouldn’t be 4x defending NFC North champs without “4th and great”.

We tend to romanticize sports and our athletic heroes. It’s natural. It’s all the same stuff: escapist entertainment. Football is unscripted, untainted good vs. evil. Your favorite team are the protagonists and the opponents the villains, trying to ruin your Sunday (and if you’re like me your week).

Things didn’t start out so rosy for number 12. When I think of Aaron Rodgers a different line from that movie comes to mind:

“He’s not the hero we deserved, but the one that we needed.”

Packers fans didn’t really deserve what Rodgers provided them from 2008-2010.   Most pined for Brett Favre to come back for a 17th season in Green Bay, even at the expense of losing Rodgers when his contract expired. A revolting few took it to another level. In the 2010 “America’s Game” documentary Rodgers tells stories about threats (from Packers fans!) about breaking his arm, even threats against his life.

Brett Favre Aaron Rodgers

When Aaron Rodgers arrived in Green Bay, Brett Favre made it clear that it was not his job to get Rodgers ready to start. As time went on, though, the two quarterbacks formed a friendship

The truth is, Aaron Rodgers made everything OK. When the most popular player in the modern Packers era created a divide in the fan base with his on-again-off-again antics, Rodgers debuted by throwing for over 4,000 yards, providing hope for the fan base.

Neither Favre (he physically fell apart) nor Rodgers (lost a ton of close games) qualified for the playoffs that season. In the end, the Packers looked like a promising young team and Favre looked to be done.

Then everything changed. Favre’s master plan fell into place.   The Packers accused the Vikings of tampering with Favre during his waffling summer of 2008. It was clear that Vikings coach Brad Childress coveted #4’s services and that Favre himself saw Adrian Peterson and the Vikings defense as pieces to a possible Super Bowl puzzle (he was wrong).  Brett Favre managed to work his way out of his Jets contract by “retiring” again and made his way to Minnesota.

“Our” quarterback, almost everyone’s favorite Packer, a folk hero had forced Ted Thompson to trade him, faked another retirement after one season and finagled his way to the Minnesota Vikings.  Packers fans all over were crushed.  I was crushed.

Favre wanted to win the Super Bowl. Possibly more than that, if the Packers wanted to move from Favre to Rodgers, Favre wanted to beat the Packers and the best way to do that was to go to the most talented inter-division rival, the Vikings.

Brett Favre went on to have one of his finest statistical seasons in Minnesota in 2009. He set a career high in passer rating at 107.2. He and his Vikings swept the Packers and he was booed heavily in his return to Lambeau wearing enemy purple. Favre even won a playoff game in Minnesota before throwing a season-ending interception in the NFC Championship game against New Orleans.

How did Aaron Rodgers make it all better? By sweeping Favre and his Vikings in 2010, including a 31-3 embarrassment that effectively ended Minnesota’s season, Favre’s last. More importantly, Rodgers brought Coach Lombardi’s trophy home to Green Bay. He strung together the finest 4 game playoff run I’ve ever seen.

Rodgers threw 9 touchdowns and ran for 2 others against just 2 interceptions and capped it off with a Super Bowl MVP performance in a victory over the Steelers. Rodgers and the Packers were standing tall. Favre’s consecutive game streak was over and the Vikings were left in shambles.  Aaron Rodgers wasn’t the hero we deserved, but the hero that we needed.

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Ross Uglem is a writer at PackersTalk.com. You can follow Ross on twitter at RossUglem

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PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: ’15 Rosterdamus 1.0

CrockISU

Now that the Packers have drafted their 2015 class, signed college free agents and invited hopefuls to tryouts, we have a pretty good idea of the team’s plans for it’s 90 man roster.  While that’s fine and there are several position battles that excite me, it’s never too early to guess the 53 men we’ll take to Chicago.

This team has a special feel to it.  I don’t want to make any bold declarations or predictions about the season but the word is “special”.

Quarterbacks (3)

Aaron Rodgers – 12
Brett Hundley – 7
Scott Tolzien – 16

Running Backs (4)

Eddie Lacy – 27
James Starks – 44
John Crockett – 38
John Kuhn – 30

Wide Receivers (6)

Jordy Nelson – 87
Randall Cobb – 18
Davante Adams – 17
Jared Abbrederis – 84
Jeff Janis – 83
Ty Montgomery – 88

Tight Ends (4)

Richard Rodgers – 89
Andrew Quarless – 81
Kennard Backman – 86
Justin Perillo – 80
Offensive Linemen (7)

David Bakhtiari – 69
Josh Sitton – 71
Corey Linsley – 63
TJ Lang – 70
Bryan Bulaga – 75
Don Barclay – 67
JC Tretter – 73

Defensive Linemen (7)

Mike Daniels – 76
BJ Raji – 90
Datone Jones – 95
Letroy Guion – 98
Khyri Thornton -94
Josh Boyd – 93
Mike Pennel – 64

Elephant Ends (3)

Julius Peppers – 56
Nick Perry – 53
Mike Neal – 96

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2015 Draft Class NFL Player Comps

Often the easiest way to explain a draft pick to a fan is to compare a player (favorably or not) to a current NFL player.  You can take a look at how I pegged last year’s class here. As I said last year comparisons aren’t always perfect, and often they are a “poor man’s version” or a “rich man’s version” of that player.  The fact is that all these players are unique, and bring unique skill sets to the league.

By rules it seems like my comparisons are optimistic.  I often select the prototype for the playing style that I see from that player. Sometimes it leads me to compare Carl Bradford to Lamarr Woodley (whoops, maybe) and sometimes it leads me to trumpet Corey Linsley as a stronger version of Scott Wells (spot-on, maybe).

Round 1- Damarious Randall: Tyrann Mathieu, DB, Arizona Cardinals

Damarious Randall and Tyrann Mathieu

Damarious Randall, though not as famous as “The Honey Badger” is actually bigger and faster than Mathieu. Like THB, Randall is very versatile

The selection of Randall was met with a lot of confusion by Packers fans and analysts alike.  Why on earth would the Packers select a free safety with two selections in a row? HaHa Clinton-Dix certainly worked out last year and projects as a Pro Bowl caliber safety.  It certainly didn’t seem to make a lot of sense at the time and inspired a “Ted’s gonna Ted” tweet out of this writer.

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