Archive for the ‘Packers’ Category

Wanted: ROLB

December 21, 2011

Clay Matthews has 6 sacks this year…6. That is terrible. Yes, he has two picks and two forced fumbles (including 1 pick six). Those plays were definitely huge. But Clay Matthews is in there as a sack guy and he’s not getting sacks. He is getting some pressures, but he’s not getting home. So, What else is going on besides Matthews simply underperforming?

The Packers are 26th in the NFL in sacks right now. That is also terrible. I don’t think it’s possible at this point to overstate how much we miss Cullen Jenkins. (Jenkins has 5.5 sacks for Philly – and he’s not even playing DE, he’s playing DT.) While TT and MM and Capers usually do a decent job of preparing guys to step up in the case of injury/departure, they have not made the kinds of adjustments needed to fill the void left by Jenkins. Walden isn’t cutting it pressure-wise. Wynn and Wilson don’t bring enough. Zombo is injury-prone and simply not that effective anyway. We need a beast on that side to disrupt the passer.

One thought I had about 10 seconds ago, was that the Packers ought to consider moving Bishop to the right side. Hawk apparently is entrenched in the middle (despite often being ineffective), but either DJ Smith or Francois seem to be solid enough to leave in there in place of Bishop in the middle. I particularly like Francois because he appears to be better in coverage than the other 3 MLBs. Bishop is a nasty pass rusher (5 sacks from a MLB position) and if he had a few more chances to bring it opposite Matthews, I think they could end up being a very disruptive duo. We’re at that point where we might as well consider something like this because if we don’t, our secondary is going to continue to get shelled by opposing QBs because nobody can cover WRs for 10 seconds on each play.

Or – I suppose we could also look at Francois or DJ Smith at ROLB. Both of those guys would be better than Walden.

Quick thought on Mike Neal

November 22, 2011

When Neal came into the game on Sunday, I tried to focus on him to see what he brings. While the stats might indicate that he had a relatively quiet afternoon, I thought he was fairly disruptive in one of his first NFL games. There were definitely a few plays where he pushed his O-Line guy way back alarmingly fast. There was one play in particular when I got a glimpse of some of his massive strength as he pushed his guy right back toward Freeman who was throwing and it ended up forcing a bad incompletion. I think Matthews may have disrupted on that play too but it was pretty amazing just how much of a push Neal got and how quickly he got the push.

My verdict? I think Mike Neal could be a guy who improves our defense relatively quickly. Just like Starks gave us a boost at the end of last year, I think Neal might be just what this D needs to at least increase pressure on the QB and collapse the pocket. Perhaps Neal’s presence combined with So’oto’s increased opportunities might result in better pressure on the QB which would make things a bit easier for us in coverage.

Woodson weighs in – Pack’s D questionable

November 7, 2011

Read here from PFT and here from the GB Press Gazette. He’s not happy with yesterday’s defensive performance, nor was Tramon. I’m glad they’re calling it as it is. Yes, I too am happy, like McCarthy, to be 8-0. That by itself is a very impressive accomplishment in today’s NFL. But we’re bound to lose a few games, especially to better offensive opponents who manage to keep pace with our offense. Rosenthal from PFT asks which NFC team will put up the points needed to beat us. I think right now the Eagles and the Saints are two who could do it and they are 2 teams I still think will be in the mix at the end of the year.

This defense needs to improve.

Put Vic So’oto out there

October 21, 2011

Turns out Zombo is hurt again and Lattimore won’t be active Sunday either. That opens up a spot for OLB Vic So’oto Sunday. Read here from Tyler Dunne at jsonline.

As Dunne points out So’oto was absolutely dominant against KC in the final preseason game. What Dunne does NOT point out is that KC played their offensive starters for most of the game (foolishly). So’oto’s dominance was against a starting offensive unit that was very solid last year. But the KC game wasn’t his only active game in the preseason – he was pretty good in some of the others as well. The guy has moves on the outside to get home to the QB. If he’s truly healthy now, I say give him a few opportunities to bring the heat on passing downs. He’s likely not on Minnesota’s radar. They probably don’t even have film on the guy.

He’s becoming my new Desmond Bishop. You’ll see why if he gets in there.

Interesting article on Favre/Rodgers

October 21, 2011

Read here from the startribune’s Jim Souhan. (Article is titled “Rodgers surpassing Favre’s legend”).

In the article, Souhan doesn’t give enough credit to Favre for his streak (which like Cal Ripkin’s streak, truly was amazing) and how reliability at the QB position can be key to the development of a winning organization. (Though Rodgers has been fairly reliable too…despite not having a streak to speak of.) And he also doesn’t make enough of the fact that Favre does hold many NFL records – a huge accomplishment to be sure. Nor does he talk much about the league being a bit different in the 90s (as it’s more of a passing league now than it was then).

Still, his other arguments are quite sound and frankly difficult to refute. Rodgers is an astonishingly efficient QB who can make all the plays that great QBs need to be able to make in the modern game. His career passer rating of 101.2 (through I believe week 3 of this season – so it’s probably higher now) is nearly 5 points higher than anyone else in history – and the next tier includes QBs like Steve Young, Tom Brady, Tony Romo. Given how many quality QBs are within just a few points of one another in the 94-96 QB rating range, Rodgers’ 5+ point lead is simply staggering.

Some of you may recall a post I put up a few years ago after Favre retired (the 2008 retirement). I’ll admit after re-reading it, it was a rather meek/tentative post. But my general point was, just before Rodgers’ first full season as a starter, that maybe, just maybe the Pack would be OK with this guy. The title of the post was “Could Rodgers be…more effective than the recent Favre? ” He’s definitely been that.

The Packers lucked out with their schedule

October 21, 2011

Not sure why more folks aren’t talking about this (of course they could be, but I haven’t read much on it) – but the Packers have had a very easy schedule so far. Their schedule through the bye week has featured the following opponents:

  • Saints 4-2
  • Panthers 1-5
  • Bears 3-3
  • Broncos 1-4
  • Falcons 3-3
  • Rams 0-5
  • Vikings -5

So we’ve played 1 team with a winning record – yep, 1 team. And the combined records of our opponents?  13-27.

I’m excited about this season and I recognize the obvious fact that the Packers are awesome. But I just wanted to point out the fact that we have played a soft schedule so far this year. The second half of the year will feature a few tougher games (San Diego, Oakland, NYG, Det) but we still won’t be playing against any of the early powerhouse teams like NE, Balt, San Fran, etc).

Interesting read on Bishop/Hawk

October 19, 2011

Read here from Lori Nickel at jsonline.com. Nice article. However, something struck me while reading through this article.

I’ve heard it said before that Hawk is the set-up guy and Bishop then is more responsible somehow for making plays. But one thing I find peculiar is that everyone noticed Hawk’s play last weekend because he was all over the place and importantly, making plays. But in the previous 5 games, Hawk hasn’t done much at all statistically. While I understand a player can purposefully be given a role that is more position/assignment oriented in an effort to help the overall defense, I have trouble getting past the massive discrepancy in production between he and Bishop. Bishop is almost perfectly twice as productive – Bishop 57 tackles 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble; Hawk 27 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 0 forced fumbles. So this leads to the bigger point – how can Hawk make over $2million per year more than Bishop? I know he was a first round pick and I know he should get something extra if he is essentially the playcaller for the defense etc etc – but the fact is Bishop is the better player and he’s earning far less. I know Bishop is a good guy/a team player etc – but somewhere in his head he has to wonder why it is that despite being significantly more productive than Hawk, he earns significantly less.

Packers should bring in Steve Slaton

September 27, 2011

I know I’ve been calling for this now for years (actually I wanted the Pack to move up in the draft to draft the guy). But Steve Slaton has now been released from the Texans, I believe because Gary Kubiak simply hates him. (He’s been in the doghouse for a couple years.)

Anyway, all indications were that after his neck injury a few years ago, he was back to the same athletically gifted Steve Slaton he’d been before the injury. And remember how dominant he was that rookie year? I could be totally wrong about Slaton, maybe he sucks now. But it seems there is very little harm in bringing in such a versatile athlete like this for a tryout at the very least. I know we’re loaded on offense at the moment and working him in may not happen right away (and that we may need roster spots for more O-Line and D-Line depth) – but Slaton can play RB, WR, 3rd down back and return punts/kicks. He is a special player who sees the field differently than not-so-special players. (Don’t remember how good he is – watch here. The second highlight run is ridiculous.) Give him a try TT. And if he sucks at the tryout – I’ll shut up about Steve Slaton going forward.

 

 

Grant apparently in bad shape after the game

September 26, 2011

When Grant went down during the game in the 2nd half he looked awful. He came right to the sideline and crumbled to his knees putting his head on the ground. What’s worse is that I believe he went back in after that. Anyway, here is a concerning update from reader Ron L (thanks Ron) -

"Just heard via Bill Michaels (WSSP sports radio), Ryan Grant was taken to the
 hospital after the game, trouble breathing.  Initially thought it was ribs, but
that was not the reason.  The cause is still unknown."  


Packers/Saints Preview

September 8, 2011
  • Should be an exciting game. I expect both offenses to be difficult to stop – though the Packers’ defense is better than the Saints’ defense so ultimately I think the Packers offense will be harder to stop.
  • Tonight will be a big test for Mike McCarthy. The pressing question I have heading into tonight’s game is this: can McCarthy effectively organize and coordinate all of the healthy offensive talent we’ll have available? Last year, when Finley was healthy, the WRs weren’t excelling. My concern heading into tonight again is with healthy RBs, WRs, and like 15 healthy TEs – how will McCarthy balance this offense and establish rhythm while at the same time, spread the ball around and remain creative and unpredictable. Talent everywhere is definitely a nice problem to have, but balancing an offense and effectively coordinating talent can be a difficult task.
  • Sean Payton scares me. I don’t know of many coaches I’d say that about. But the guy’s guts, his planning and in-game adjustments scare me. I took particular satisfaction in the Pack winning the Super Bowl last year because it meant I no longer needed to wonder what the Pack would be like with Payton at the helm. He is an excellent coach.
  • Randall Cobb could play an important role in this game. If he can get us in better field position than we’re used to especially on punts, that could be a huge advantage for Rodgers and company.
  • One particular guy I’m concerned about on the Saints is Darren Sproles. He was good in San Diego where Norv Turner used him somewhat effectively. But I think Sean Payton is going to figure out more and better ways to use Sproles. I  worry that with Jenkins gone, Payton may figure out how to exploit that side of the D using Sproles. And once Sproles is in the open field, he’s tough to tackle.
  • TEs David Thomas and Jimmie Graham are two other guys to watch. While Brees will still throw plenty to his WRs, I can see Payton and Brees intentionally working the center of our defense in an effort to attack the second level of our defense (LBs) where we’re softest in coverage. As much as I love Bishop, he’s not an extraordinary cover guy – and Hawk is not very good in coverage either. (Actually, none of our LBs are great in coverage come to think of it.) The key to plugging up the middle and complicating this may be Nick Collins and Morgan Burnett. Of course, these two also have to be mindful of the possibility that Payton/Brees will set up short pass decoys to create space for the homerun – especially to WR Robert Meacham.
  • I don’t like the Saints’ defense very much even though they were actually ranked one spot higher than the Pack’s defense last year (they were #4 overall). I know Gregg Williams is regarded highly throughout the league but I see the Saints’ D having considerable trouble slowing down the Packers’ offense in this game.
  • A huge key to stopping the Saints’ D will be to keep Rodgers upright. If Williams can figure out a way to really harass Rodgers, the Packers could lose this game. But doing this will be extra challenging for Williams and the Saints’ D not because we have an impenetrable O-Line, but because our offense when it clicks, moves quickly and Rodgers usually doesn’t need to hang onto the ball.
  • I’ll be very interested to see how Grant and Starks are used. My guess is that they will be quite involved in the offense – and not just running the ball. I think both of these guys will be catching passes out of the backfield.
  • I’d like to see 2 things in particular tonight that I think could really cause headaches for New Orleans: the no huddle offense and screens. The Pack has worked on the no huddle a few times in the preseason and it seemed fairly apparent from interviews that Rodgers is a big fan of it. Stopping a talent-loaded, high-powered offense that is on fast forward should be virtually impossible. I also want Rodgers/McCarthy to call some screens. Against NO tonight screens could be particularly effective because the defense will already be pulling its collective hair out trying to figure out which pass target to focus on.
  • Final Score: 37 – 24 Packers.

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