Green Bay Packers: Numbers that Matter

After talking to some Green Bay Packers fans, it seems to me NFL fans either like the exhibition games or they could care less about these “4 meaningless scrub games.”  My first thought? “These are not 4 meaningless scrub games.”  Just ask some of the Packers players fighting for a few of those remaining Green Bay Packers vacancies.

In addition, OTA’s, training camp practices and preseason or exhibition games is a time for NFL general managers and head coaches to examine the previously signed 90 players so that they can eventually cut 37 of those guys to get down to the magic NFL roster number of 53, by September 5th.  Not an easy task.

Finally, “preseason” is a time for NFL general managers and head coaches to prove to the organization their value, worth and merit when assigning, in the best way possible, those few remaining roster spots. That’s to say, a player’s fate rests in the hands of the GM.  In other words, for some Green Bay Packers rookies, jobs hang in the balance and for some Packers veterans, careers are on the line.

It must be a gut wrenching ordeal for a GM to have to release 47 players that he signed in order to get down to the mandatory 53 players on an NFL team.

My question: Isn’t it unfortunate that there are not more roster spots to go around than the NFL mandatory number of 53 in order to make life easier on the GM–or are there?  I believe there is, when I recently pretended to be the Green Bay Packers GM.

After the preseason game against New England, which Green Bay won 22-11, it didn’t take me very long to etch out a Packers depth chart for my beloved team.  I decided to keep 3 QB’s, 6 WR’s, 8 O-Linemen, 3 TE’s, 3 RB’s, 2 FB’s, 4 Safeties, 6 CB’s, 8 LB’s, 8 D-Linemen, 1 Kicker, 1 Punter and 1 Long Snapper.  However, after adding up the numbers I was one over the magical number of 53.  As a pretend GM, I was stuck, since I wanted all of these key players on my 53 man roster.

Looking back at Packers history, I noticed in some years Green Bay kept only 1 fullback, but this year I’d like to keep two, fearing the repercussion of letting the fan favorite “go free” or being called an idiot for wasting a draft choice on a “FB rookie to be.”  Other years I observed that the Packers brain trust kept 5 WR’s, but so far this year I really like 6, which makes it really tough to get to that magic number of 53.

As a pretend GM I think to myself, “What a ‘pickle’.”  After rummaging through all of  this Packers history, an intriguing thought came to me: “Isn’t it too bad that I don’t have two players on my roster, who are ‘jacks of all trades,’ like the players of yesteryear so that I could have at least one, if not two more roster spots available. Let me explain.

For instance, if I had a punter or (as silly as it sounds) an offensive lineman who could also kick off,  kick FG’s and PAT’s, I wouldn’t need a kicker taking up a valuable roster spot intended for that 4th safety.  On the same token, if my full-time center could also serve as the long snapper for punts, FG’s and Pat’s I would now have two roster spots available so that I could keep that 6th WR as a luxury.

However, that is not reality.

Those players actually don’t exist anymore in the age of NFL specialization.  Gone are the days when guys like offensive lineman Jerry Kramer of the Green Bay Packers also kicked FG’s and PAT’s after paving the way for Jim Taylor on the infamous Packers Power Sweep.

Instead, NFL teams today have a full-time kicker, punter and long snapper taking up 3 roster spots on their football team.  Good thing WR’s, RB’s and/or CB’s can return punts and kickoffs, and QB’s or punters can hold for the kicker during field goal attempts or PAT’s, or there would be even fewer roster spots available.

The term “versatility” is often thrown around by the Green Bay Packers brass and inside Packer Nation—but the reality is that “versatile players” like the great Jerry Kramer aren’t allowed to exist anymore like they did back in the good old NFL days.  Sure would make life easier for the GM of any NFL team, if two or three more roster spots were available so that he didn’t have to cut guys he wants on the team.

But such is not the case these days.

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Todd Stelzel, a loyal Packers fan since 1966, is a contributing writer with PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @ToddStelzel for more Packer news.

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5 thoughts on “Green Bay Packers: Numbers that Matter

  1. As to how fans look at preseason games….It’s like the Thanksgiving Day meal,most don’t care how it’s prepared but how great the table looks when ready with the “We retain the right to complain” clause if anything is amiss.

    As to ‘versatility’….
    Players are already described as ‘great’ before they take one snap at the NFL level at one position….why should they be ‘versatile’ also.We still have it,somewhat,just not to levels boasted/expected as in the days of yore,or more simply, the definition has been altered in the NFL’s dictionary. 🙂

  2. I’ve always felt the ONE player on every roster who probably puts in the least time of action during the season is the punter. We’ve seen Packers games in recent years where Tim Masthay has not even entered the game to punt the ball. It would serve ALL NFL teams if the kicking positions were given “specialist” status and allow teams to replace their roster spots with players who actually provide active needs at backup positions. Unless the punter or kicker also serves at another position, their participation in the game is by far the least active of all roster players. Just raise the cap space and allow teams a couple of extra players and stop forcing them to allocate roster spots to players that participate the least during the season. Maybe it’s time to return to players like RG Jerry Kramer, HB’s Paul Hornung and Donny Anderson, Safety Willie Wood, WR’s Boyd Dowler and Max McGee–YES, those players ALL kicked for Packers under Lombardi while serving their respective positions on offense and defense.

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