2009 November : Packers Insider

Colledge’s Walk doesn’t match his Talk

November 21, 2009 by  
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By Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel
Nov. 21, 2009

Guard Daryn Colledge of the Green Bay Packers has been put on notice that his starting job would be in jeopardy if he doesn’t pick up his play starting Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field.

“He’s very well aware of his performance,” coach Mike McCarthy said Friday.

Colledge has allowed more sacks, “pressures” and “bad” runs than any other offensive lineman. McCarthy said Colledge, a four-year regular with 55 starts, counting playoffs, “has played better” in the past than now. 

Colledge has allowed more sacks, "pressures" and "bad" runs than any other offensive lineman

Colledge has allowed more sacks, "pressures" and "bad" runs than any other offensive lineman

Part of the reason for Colledge’s shaky performance, according to McCarthy, is the lineup changes around him.

“I think it’s all part of the continuity,” he said. “Players are so much a part of who’s playing next to them. It’s all tied together. As a tackle, you don’t have half the issues.

“We haven’t had two weeks in a row where the same five guys practiced and played together. I’m not making excuses, but I’ve never seen anything like this.”

If the Packers were to bench Colledge, probably their best option would be to replace him with rookie T.J. Lang. He spent most of training camp at left guard but has been mostly a tackle during the regular season.

Packers notes: Kampman has his head together

November 21, 2009 by  
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By Tom Ziemer, Madison.com
Nov. 21, 2009

Aaron Kampman knew it was in his best interest to be on the sidelines.

Still, he couldn’t help but think of the possibilities while watching the Green Bay Packers’ attacking defense key a 17-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday.

“You know, those last two drives …,” Kampman said with a grin Thursday, referring to the pass-rushing opportunities. 

Last week's win over Dallas was Kampman's first missed game since 2003.

Last week's win over Dallas was Kampman's first missed game since 2003.

The Packers sacked Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo five times while Kampman sat out, the result of a concussion suffered in the previous week’s loss at Tampa Bay.

He’s on track to be back for Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field. Kampman was cleared to return Monday, and practiced Wednesday and Thursday at his usual left outside linebacker spot.

In an era where concussions are becoming a hot-button topic, Kampman spoke glowingly about the team’s medical personnel and their patient approach.

“The great thing about the medical staff here is they’re always going to err on the side of making sure the player is taken care of,” he said. “You hear horror stories of guys being thrust out there, and that’s not the case here.”

Still, it clearly wasn’t easy for Kampman to be a spectator last Sunday.

He hadn’t missed a game because of an injury since early in the 2003 season, his second in the league.

“Difficult. But it was good,” he said of the experience. “Gave me good perspective, again, how much I enjoy playing. That was obviously good.”

RB Brandon Jackson thriving as blitz-killer

November 20, 2009 by  
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By Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel
Nov. 20, 2009

Green Bay — On those occasions when Green Bay Packers running back Brandon Jackson would get run over during training camp pass-rushing drills, there would be snickers from those who were wondering what a 5-foot-10, 210-pounder was doing trying to block the likes of Nick Barnett and Desmond Bishop.

Nobody is laughing now, least of all Dallas defensive end Anthony Spencer, who had the misfortune of getting chip-blocked all the way to the seat of his pants during the Packers’ 17-7 victory at Lambeau Field Sunday.

“That was probably one of the best chips I’ve seen in a long time – a long time,” running backs coach Edgar Bennett said. “It was picture perfect. Spencer is a good player, a really good player. Brandon was able to take him off his feet. De-cleat him.  

"That was probably one of the best chips I've seen in a long time - a long time," running backs coach Edgar Bennett said.

"That was probably one of the best chips I've seen in a long time - a long time," running backs coach Edgar Bennett said.

“We’ve had some good chips, but I’m talking about de-cleating a guy, putting him down.

“I’m serious, it was impressive.”

 

Full story here

Did QB Come of Age in Drive against Dallas

November 19, 2009 by  
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By Greg A. Bedard of the Journal Sentinel
Nov. 19th, 2009

Let’s just get this out of the way: Aaron Rodgers has done a lot more right than wrong in his 25 games as starting quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.

His statistics are gaudy. He’s fourth in the National Football League with a 101.8 passer rating. Rodgers’ 134.9 rating on third downs is far and away the best in the league. He has thrown 17 touchdowns against just five interceptions. 

Aaron Rodgers is fourth in the National Football League with a 101.8 passer rating. His 134.9 rating on third downs is far and away the best in the league. He has thrown 17 touchdowns against just five interceptions

Aaron Rodgers is fourth in the National Football League with a 101.8 passer rating. His 134.9 rating on third downs is far and away the best in the league. He has thrown 17 touchdowns against just five interceptions

And he certainly has the smarts and the physical tools needed at the position.

But has Rodgers really made the throws or the plays when the team needed him to? You know what we’re referring to: tough throws into impossible spots in gotta-have-it moments? The kinds of plays that separate the good quarterbacks from the elite?

It’s a small sample in a such a young career, to be sure, but perhaps not. It might be part of the reason, despite the stats and talent, that Rodgers owned just a 10-14 record as a starter heading into Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.

And then “The Drive” happened against the Cowboys. And it might have changed everything.

Fifteen plays. Eighty yards. Eight minutes, 36 seconds off the clock. And two throws (and catches) that were described by Rodgers’ coaches and teammates as “big-time.”

And now as a result, maybe Rodgers’ time has truly arrived.

“The two big third-down throws, you talk about your quarterback making three or four plays a game, those two right there are huge plays,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday in a Lambeau Field office right off the media auditorium. “And those kind of plays win games. Those plays can change a game. And that’s when you talk about prime-time players. Your prime-time players win big games because they make those one or two plays. Those definitely fit in that category.”

Up to that point, Rodgers had made two clutch throws that were in the same ballpark: the late third-quarter, thread-the-needle touchdown pass to Greg Jennings last year at Tampa Bay and the game-winning throw to Jennings in the season opener against Chicago.

But the Packers lost to the Buccaneers, and Jennings was wide open when the Bears busted a coverage.

There’s no denying what happened against the Cowboys, however.

 

Class of 2005: Alex Smith vs. Aaron Rodgers

November 19, 2009 by  
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By Rob Demovsky, Green Bay Press-Gazette
Nov. 19th, 2009

Back in his college days, Alex Smith used to get confused for Aaron Rodgers.

Few would mistake them now. 

Whatever slight physical resemblance they might bear, their NFL careers look almost nothing alike. The two are forever linked because they came out the same year, in the 2005 draft, when the San Francisco 49ers made Smith the No. 1 pick. That then triggered a free fall by Rodgers to No. 24, where the Green Bay Packers picked him.

Classic Draft Blunder: The 49ers made the common mistake of overrating size when choosing Smith over Rodgers in the 2005 draft, which was a gift to the Packers in the end

Classic Draft Blunder: The 49ers made the common mistake of overrating size when choosing Smith over Rodgers in the 2005 draft, which was a gift to the Packers in the end

 

The five years since have treated them much differently.

Smith went to a bad team, started immediately, struggled, dealt with shoulder injuries in 2007 and 2008, and then opened the 2009 season — one in which he had his fifth offensive coordinator in five seasons — as a backup to Shaun Hill. Smith replaced Hill halfway through the Oct. 25 game against Houston and started the next three games, going 1-2.

Though Smith has been given a second chance, it’s unclear whether he’ll ever be a franchise quarterback.

Meanwhile, Rodgers, who endured an agonizing wait on draft day and rode the bench for the first three years of his pro career, has established himself as the Packers’ quarterback of the future. 

Who knows what would have happened had Rodgers been picked first and been thrust into the same situation as Smith, and whether Smith would have fared better had he been able to ease his way into a starting job like Rodgers did. 

“It happened, and we’ve taken different paths,” Smith said Wednesday in advance of Sunday’s game between the Packers and 49ers at Lambeau Field. “Here we are meeting up five years later.”  Full story here

Capers’ Defense has been Stopping the Run

November 19, 2009 by  
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By Pete Dougherty, Green Bay Press-Gazette
Nov. 19th, 2009

Coach Mike McCarthy’s switch to a 3-4 defense with coordinator Dom Capers has shored up one of the great deficiencies for the Green Bay Packers last season — their run defense.

Last January, McCarthy fired defensive coordinator Bob Sanders because the 2008 Packers didn’t stop the run (No. 26 in the NFL in yards allowed and yards allowed per carry) or rush the passer (No. 25 in sacks percentage).

Led by Pickett, Jolly, Jenkins, and Raji up front, the Packers defense is suddenly one of the best in the NFL in stopping the run. Here comes another major test in Frank Gore, the Inconvenient Truth.

Led by Pickett, Jolly, Jenkins, and Raji up front, the Packers defense is suddenly one of the best in the NFL in stopping the run. Here comes another major test in Frank Gore, the Inconvenient Truth.

 

Capers this season has made a modest gain getting after the quarterback — the Packers rank No. 18 in sacks percentage a little past the halfway point. 

But with essentially the same personnel, he has turned one of the NFL’s worst run defenses into among its best. The Packers rank No. 4 in yards allowed and average rush per carry. 

“Going into the season, Mike asked me many times, can we stop the run?” Capers said this week. “Based off of last year (on videotape), I know we didn’t always stop the run, but I felt we would because of our people. But I was concerned after the Cincinnati game. I didn’t have a good feel after that game, but I’ve had a pretty good feel since that point in time.”

Full story here

More good news for Packers: Kampman, Finley, Chillar expected to return

November 17, 2009 by  
Filed under News

Associated Press
Nov. 17th, 2009

Reinforcements appear to be on the way for the resurgent Green Bay Packers, with three key peformers expected back from injury for this week’s game against San Francisco.

Outside linebacker Aaron Kampman, tight end Jermichael Finley and inside linebacker Brandon Chillar all figure to play against the 49ers, coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. 

LB Brandon Chillar is one of a few key players the Packers expect back this week against the 49ers

LB Brandon Chillar is one of a few key players the Packers expect back this week against the 49ers

Green Bay (5-4) managed to stun Dallas 17-7 on Sunday at Lambeau Field without that trio, transforming themselves into a playoff contender once more.

Defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins and wide receiver Greg Jennings have nagging injuries that could cost them practice time, McCarthy said. Fullback John Kuhn broke his hand and his availability is unclear.

The 49ers (4-5) snapped a four-game slide with a 10-6 victory over Chicago this past Thursday, and will have had 10 days to prepare for the visit to Lambeau Field.

Green Bay then hits the road on short rest for a Thanksgiving Day game at Detroit (1-8).

Packers Back in Playoff Picture

November 17, 2009 by  
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By Tom Ziemer, Madison.com
Nov. 17th, 2009

Suddenly, the Green Bay Packers’ fate doesn’t look so grim.

All it took was an inspired 17-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at Lambeau Field. With the victory, the Packers avoided falling below the .500 mark for the first time this season. And they also pulled themselves even in the NFC wild card race – seemingly their only viable avenue to the playoffs given NFC North-leading Minnesota’s 8-1 start – with the Eagles, Falcons and Giants also at 5-4.

“We knew 4-4, playing a very good team, it was an important time in our season to get back in this race,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “I think a lot of people were thinking this was going to be the end of the road for us and going to be a turning point for the negative for us this season. But it was a big win for our team.”  

Clay Matthews sacks Tony Romo

Clay Matthews sacks Tony Romo

Players talked openly about just how imperative the win was for the Packers – cornerback Al Harris simply said, “We had to win this game” – after two straight defeats. The season is just past its midway point, but a loss would have left Green Bay with a whole cluster of teams to pass to get into postseason contention, with San Francisco – which comes to Lambeau on Sunday – Carolina and Chicago sitting at 4-5.

“We still know we’ve got a lot of work to do,” linebacker Nick Barnett said. “Minnesota’s winning games, and we’ve got to continue to win games. The long-term goal right now is to get to the playoffs, and the short-term goal is to play San Francisco. That’s the one we have to worry about more.”

Full story here

Short passes take pressure off Green Bay Packers offensive line

November 17, 2009 by  
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By Rob Demovsky, Green Bay Press-Gazette
Nov. 17th, 2009

The Green Bay Packers aren’t ready to concede they’ll have to commit to the quick-hitting, short passing game they used to defeat the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. 

Donald Driver makes a catch against Dallas Sunday. Driver and Jennings were held in check because Rodgers was instructed to throw sooner to avoid the big sacks.

Donald Driver makes a catch against Dallas Sunday. Driver and Jennings were held in check because Rodgers was instructed to throw sooner to avoid the big sacks.

They employed that plan in Sunday’s 17-7 victory in part because they started a rookie, T.J. Lang, at right tackle for the first time and in part because they feared the Cowboys’ pass rush out of their 3-4 defense. It worked, to a degree. The Packers gave up four sacks to run their season total to 41, but pass protection wasn’t the crippling problem it had been in the first half of the season because Rodgers was getting the ball out of his hand quicker.

Full story here

Right circumstances unleash Green Bay Packers pass rush

November 17, 2009 by  
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By Rob Demovsky, Green Bay Press-Gazette
Nov. 17th, 2009

Nick Barnett is a realist. As much as he enjoyed going hog wild after Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo on Sunday and sacking him twice, the Green Bay Packers linebacker knows the stars have to align just right for defensive coordinator Dom Capers to use a similar plan game in and game out.  

Nick Barnett sacks Tony Romo

Nick Barnett sacks Tony Romo

 After the Packers battered the Cowboys with an array of inside cross blitzes and outside pressures, the simple solution seemingly would be to throw the same thing at the San Francisco 49ers this week, the Detroit Lions the following week and so on until they’re riding right into the playoffs.

That can happen, but only if the rest of the game plan works, too. Getting help from the special teams and the offense to skew the field-position battle toward the Packers is a must.

Full story here

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