Archive for May, 2008

Is Ted Thompson wide receiver mad?

May 21, 2008

An article this morning from Greg Bedard over at jsonline.com on the Packers’ overloaded receiver position reminded me that I still have a problem with TT’s approach to WRs and keeping 12 of them on the roster (at the expense of keeping other players at other positions of greater need). With Robinson gone (a move I am still uncomfortable with – could see him contributing for another team now), there are 12 players competing for 5-6 spots. As Bedard points out, Driver, Jennings, Jones and probably Nelson are all safe. I would think it would be difficult to cut Ruvell Martin too considering he contributes in some way pretty much every time he’s on the field (Martin may be one of the best WR blockers I’ve seen in a long time).

So this begs the question, why would TT set up a situation where there are essentially 7-8 guys competing most likely for just 2 spots at a position of strength? We’ve argued before that TT drafting 2 WRs in this draft was a bit questionable again, as this is not a position of need. After reading Bedard’s article and Johnny Quinn’s quote, I wondered if perhaps TT may be searching for special teams aces (not just return guys, but fliers too), and that may explain having 12 WRs on the roster. But keeping 12 guys with the hope of landing a special teams ace doesn’t quite add up. The only other mini-explanation I could come up with is that the Packers may be searching for a Wes Welker-like slot guy or another Greg Jennings yard-after-catch guy, so they’re keeping a bunch of guys on the roster to see if any have that kind of potential.

Anyway, this prompted me to do some research. Since TT took over in 2005, the Packers have drafted 8 wide receivers – which means they have used more draft picks on wide receivers than any other position (OG – 5, LB – 5, Safety – 4, and so forth). (Curiously, in these 4 years, he’s only drafted 2 RBs). Reviewing this and noting TT’s propensity for picking up WRs after the draft and keeping them on the practice squad, I’m developing a mini-theory that TT may simply be WR mad.

Unfortunately, if you examine the NFL contributions of his 6 WR draft picks (we obviously don’t have info yet on Nelson and Swain), you’d find that TT hasn’t been overly successful with his picks. Sure, Jennings was a big-time find and James Jones could really be a contributor someday. But the other 4 are either all out of the NFL or in the NFL but not playing at all (David Clowney for the NYJ). I’m not sure what percentage of success a GM should have with respect to each position, but 33% strikes me as a bit low.

Now I agree with TT’s apparent belief that in general, WRs are a critical part of the team and having a solid group there is important. I am also on record saying better teams aren’t afraid to upgrade positions that do not, on the surface, seem to need upgrades (like TT did with kicker last year and like the Patriots seem to do often). Still, my concern right now is that the Packers core group of receivers (especially when Robinson was still here) was a really, really quality group – so using up 12 roster spots is excessive. The only way I could look past this someday is if one of the group of 7 or so really competing for a spot turns out to be another Jennings-like find, a solid return guy or a Steve Tasker.

One topic man

May 20, 2008

For years, I used to pride myself on being able to talk to pretty much anyone on a variety of topics and having a reasonably lively conversation. I’ve always loved conversing – I get that from both my parents. However, over the past few years, I have noticed a bothersome trend: a growing number of acquaintances (not friends/family) with whom I seem to only have one topic conversations. Presently, I have a restaurant-review acquaintance, a small-child-of-similar-age-in-common acquaintance, an NFL-talk acquaintance, a Mexico vacation acquaintance and a PGA Tour golf acquaintance, to name a few. If we aren’t discussing THE topic, then we are simply saying hi and going on with our day (or in some cases, making fairly painful small talk about another topic neither of us care much about).

So my question is this: is this one topic problem a sign of my dwindling social skills, a product of my environment, me maturing and realizing I don’t need to engage everyone all the time – or is this just the realization that adult socializing is way more awkward as an adult (sans Pabst of course) than I thought it would be when I was younger?

Is Aaron Rodgers the next Ryan Braun?

May 20, 2008

I just read this article from ESPN on Rodgers and for some reason, it made me think of comparing Rodgers with the Milwaukee Brewers’ left fielder Ryan Braun. Over the last year or so, I have had the chance to watch interviews with them, read commentaries about them and see these guys play (though Rodgers sparingly), and I decided I just couldn’t help myself from making this comparison.

Now, there are some of you out there who are ready to rip me apart wondering how I can begin to compare a mostly unproven Rodgers to the 2007 MLB Rookie of the Year – a player who shattered many rookie records? How can I even put Rodgers in the same sentence as a major leaguer who, in his first full year now (last year through present), has a .314 average, 47 HRs, a bunch of RBIs and .622 slugging %, etc etc (unreal stats for a first year player)? Or, you might be saying “I hate baseball, why would you bring baseball into a discussion at Packergeeks”?

Well, the comparison I want to draw is more of an intangible one. These guys may look alike (which is mostly irrelevant, but it is curious – like Geoff Jenkins and Favre…in fact, check out their respective photos, Rodgers here and Braun here). And both of these guys came into the league highly touted having impressed at the lower levels. But the comparison that is most compelling to me is their confidence level. For those of you who follow the Milwaukee Brewers, you know that Ryan Braun’s confidence is well-documented. Just yesterday morning, on ESPN’s Milwaukee radio show the D-List, Tom Haudricourt (the fantastic baseball writer for the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel) and the hosts all talked about Braun’s tremendous self-confidence and more specifically, his strong belief in his own talent. Similar things have been said about Rodgers and his view of himself over the past few years.

One of the most difficult facets of developing young talent into leaders, however, can be a blurred distinction between confident leadership and potentially divisive cockiness. In fact, the discussion on the D-List yesterday morning concerned Braun’s recent calling out of teammates for having a poor approach to the weekend series in Boston. He contended that the players didn’t go in with the belief that they were going to win and this led to their demise. Some view Braun’s comments as just being cocky arguing that at 24, Braun is too young to step into such a leadership role. I believe his comments were more characteristic of an emerging leader who just wants to win.

I can see Rodgers quickly stepping up into a similar leadership role. I don’t think he has a choice considering the void Favre’s leadership leaves. However, I have to admit that I didn’t always believe he could evolve into strong leader. When cameras would flash to Rodgers on the sidelines over the past few years with goofy facial hair situations or odd haircuts, I was a bit concerned. I thought “who does he think he is? Cocky, attention-seeking, unproven goon” (despite not having used the word goon for some 2+ decades). Since then, we’ve learned that Rodgers did this to keep the mood light and to get teammates fired up – a joking quality not unlike his legendary predecessor. Reading about him more and listening to his take on things has given me a sudden feeling that he may in fact be the right guy at the right time. I think we’ll find that Rodgers’ character will slowly emerge in the media (like in this ESPN article) and as we get to know him, it won’t take long before Packer fans rally hard behind him – which will help him build even greater confidence as an NFL QB.

Like Braun, Rodgers appears to have a strong belief in his talent, a good attitude, a swagger and a strong desire to win. Though the Dallas game was one game (and though there were some concerning whining moments), we all saw his competitive spirit as he nearly pulled off an improbable comeback. During that game, he was very focused on the task at hand and did whatever he could to help the team win. He’s very bright, he had an outstanding college career, he’s talented, he’s determined, he’s learned from one of the best QBs ever and he has one of the top coaches for young QBs around in Mike McCarthy. We have reason to have confidence in Aaron Rodgers and he has reason to have confidence in himself.

So mentally, Rodgers is in a great spot – now, let’s just hope his body can handle the pounding of the NFL.

Packer odds and other tidbits from Tom Pelissero

May 19, 2008

Read here to see the projected odds for the Packers for the 2008 season. Vegas has apparently set the Pack’s likely win total (over/under bet anyway) at 9.5 wins. After reading this, I thought “how can a team win 1/2 a game?” Just kidding. Even though the Pack won 13 games last year, my initial thought is that this number may not be too far off. I think the Pack has plenty of talent to have another big season, but there are some major question marks, so I don’t think Packer fans should be discouraged by this “prediction”. (My personal prediction for the Packers win total will be posted soon, after further research on the Pack and the NFL in general).

Perhaps the most surprising Vegas stat Pelissero mentions is the Bears at 8.5 wins over/under. I don’t think so. They simply cannot continue to get by with such poor QB options. Like I said last year, the Bears will not be very good this year – lucky to get to .500.

Packergeeks back…

May 19, 2008

I just wanted to apologize for the lack of posts recently. I was on vacation visiting the east coast (and bringing Pabst Light to Brother Steve), and Brother Steve has been busy working on a writing assignment.

Stay tuned – more to come.

National Coverage of the Post-Favre Packers

May 13, 2008

We’ll be seeing a lot more of this in the coming months. The Kansas City Star takes a look at Aaron Rodgers and his role on the Packers.

Rodgers

was impressive in relief of an injured Favre last Thanksgiving in Dallas when he came off the bench and completed 18 of 26 passes for 201 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in a loss to the Cowboys.

And he has impressed the coaching staff with his presence in the locker room during the start of the offseason program.

“I’m excited for Aaron Rodgers, but I’m excited every year,” said McCarthy, who guided the Packers to a 13-3 record and a berth in the NFC championship game last season after two nonplayoff seasons. “This business is incredible because every year is so distinctly different. Every team is a different team. Every season takes on different obstacles.

“We feel like we’ve been planning for this. Personally I thought we were a year away from life after Brett, but we’re prepared for this.”

Rodgers has a three-year jump on his competition, and the organization intends to keep winning with him. Veteran Craig Nall, a backup for most of the last five years, will not be brought back.

“You hope that when the names change the foundation is set and guys come in and play the way they’re supposed to play,” Philbin said. “Our expectations are high. You hope the Green Bay Packers’ offense has somewhat of an identity and guys understand what the expectations are.”

McCarthy does not envision changing the offense to suit Rodgers.

“Our offense will be very similar to last year’s approach,” McCarthy said. “Aaron has a top-level arm in the NFL. There’s not a throw that I would not be comfortable with him making. None of that will change.

“It’s important for Aaron to take over the huddle, command it. It’s different for every quarterback, so that’s something that our players are aware of and already used to. He’ll be able to be in charge from day one. … To replace a legend like Brett Favre, I definitely feel he’s the right guy for this task.”

Bad News: Andy Looking for A New Beach Wardrobe

May 12, 2008

This sucks for him.

Jamar Hornsby — Moron

May 10, 2008

This is a serious question. A young woman dies in a tragic motorcycle accident with one of your college football teammates. You somehow come into possession of her gas credit card. Can you imagine using it for six months, not paying the bills ($3,000), and thinking that you wouldn’t be caught? That’s allegedly what Jamar Hornsby did. He is — or was — a cornerback at the University of Florida.

How did he get into college? Seriously. What could this guy’s SAT scores have been?

Best line from the story comes from the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, Stephen Maynard: “I would love to hear the explanation for utilizing the card of a deceased person.”

Me, too.

The Robinson Backstory

May 9, 2008

From Tom Silverstein, here.

General manager Ted Thompson said the way the draft fell was the main reason the Packers wound up with two receivers, but the club clearly had its eye on going young because it signed three rookie free agent receivers shortly after the draft. The Packers had 13 receivers on the roster before Robinson’s release.

On the Monday after the draft, Robinson’s agent, Alvin Keels said, the Packers told him that Robinson would be on the bubble if he came to training camp and they asked him if he would like them to release his client. Keels asked them for permission to shop Robinson around the league for a trade, which he did, but ultimately a deal couldn’t be reached.

“There are a couple of teams who are interested,” Keels said. “They just weren’t interested in trading for Koren, at least at the terms the Packers were seeking. The Packers wanted a draft pick and a couple teams were offering a player that the Packers didn’t feel fit what they wanted.”

Thompson said he felt Robinson could definitely be an asset with another team and he was fairly sure he would get a chance with another team. He said part of the reason to make the move now was so Robinson could situated with a new team quickly.

“I think a lot of Koren,” Thompson said. “I’m very proud to be able to see him turn things around. He’s a true professional. He helped us in the locker room. He helped the young guys learn to be pros.”

Keels said Robinson was not bitter over his release and credited Thompson and personnel analyst John Schneider with saving his career. Both men had a relationship with Robinson from their days in Seattle and were willing to take a chance on him despite his troubles with alcohol.

Good (and fast) reporting on his release.  I’m really pulling for the guy.

Is Koren Robinson Gone? (Updated: Yes)

May 9, 2008

Profootballtalk.com is reporting, via “league sources,” that Koren Robinson is going to be cut, maybe as soon as today. I hope they’re wrong, but it makes a certain amount of sense.

Robinson isn’t getting younger and the Packers are. With Jordy Nelson the top pick in this draft, James Jones in the third round last year, and Greg Jennings in the 2nd the year before — the Packers have invested heavily in young receivers. Robinson has helped on special teams, but aside from the one spectacular play (when he caught the ball on the ground and lunged for the first down before being touched by a defender), he has not contributed much as a receiver. I don’t think the Packers were counting on him to play to the level of his draft position — 9th overall in 2001, the pick right before the Packers took Jamal Reynolds (ouch) — but probably expected more than he’s given.

I expected him to be better and I still think under the right circumstances he can be a solid NFL receiver. And I hope he can stay sober.

UPDATE: The answer to the question posed in the headline is yes. It’s official. See Greg Bedard here and the Packers release here.

UPDATE II: Just as I was going to post some more thoughts about Robinson’s release, we got a comment from — I’m writing the entire name under protest — joshywoshybigfatposhy. As it happens JWBFP captures exactly what I’m thinking right now. Even if the move makes some sense from Ted Thompson’s perspective, it’s a bit unsettling. Something about it just doesn’t sit right with me. Anyway, I’ll let JWBFP do the talking:

I’m curious why Koren, at least at this point. I would think there are players with less value than him now, and given his circumstance, he’s never really had much consistent time to prove his worth to the Packers. I think any player would tell you that anything less than a full season w/training camp isn’t enough. He has decent size for our system as well.

I also have a sense that he’s staying on track with his treatment and at least portrayed a good attitude about things. Maybe I’m being naive, but I would think he could, at the very least, help with the other young receivers until it’s obvious he’s last in line talent-wise — as someone to show tell them where bad judgment gets you, and someone to show them how hard it is to gain back the trust of the league/players/coaches.

One of a few possibilities would make this role obsolete, and they may all be true for all I know: 1. He’s really not doing well/doesn’t work hard enough/isn’t a good leader; 2. The Packers don’t feel their receivers are at-risk enough to need an example like Robinson around; 3. They feel as if their “log-jam-competition” method is getting out of hand, and no longer applies at receiver.


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