2010 September : Packers Insider

USA Today: Martz, Cutler, Bears setting the offensive pace so far

September 21, 2010 by  
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Sept 21, 2010 ~ by Jarrett Bell

~The Martz effect

 Jay Cutler marked his first year in the Windy City by coughing up an NFL-high 26 interceptions last season, but two weeks into the new campaign he is the NFL’s top-rated passer. 

With just one pick. 

Perhaps that’s evidence of the bond developing between strong-armed Cutler and the Chicago Bears’ new mad scientist of a coordinator, Mike Martz. Cutler, with a 121.2 efficiency rating, is averaging 10.14 yards per attempt as he gets used to the wide-open scheme.

Beneath the numbers, Cutler demonstrated how the scheme comes to life during the victory against the Dallas Cowboys.

A stiffer test for Cutler and the third-ranked passing attack comes at Soldier Field on Monday night, against Green Bay's fourth-ranked defense. The Packers had six interceptions in two games against Cutler last season

With the Cowboys showing a blitz in the second quarter, Cutler adjusted with a flick a pass over the middle to streaking tight end Greg Olsen for a 39-yard touchdown. He later struck with a 59-yard heave to Johnny Knox on third-and-15, which set up a 9-yard TD pass to Devin Hester.

Martz adjusted, too, when Cutler was battered early and the line reshuffled after losing left tackle Chris Williams to a hamstring injury. He mixed max protection packages, quick-timing throws, screens and even formations including running backs Matt Forte and Chester Taylor

Rest of story here

Packers running game off to slow start since losing Grant

September 21, 2010 by  
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Sept 21, 2010 ~ by Tom Silverstein

~Until something better comes along, the Green Bay Packers may have to accept that their running game will consist of 3 yards and a chunk of sod in the facemask.

None of the three runners on their 53-man roster possesses the kind of breakaway ability that keeps jerseys clean or even the occasional breakaway ability that veteran Ryan Grant brought to the offense before suffering a season-ending ankle injury against Philadelphia in the opener.

FB Quinn Johnson leads the way for HB Brandon Jackson on Sunday, Sept 19 against the Buffalo Bills. The Packers running back's longest carry of the day was 12 yards, and if you take away quarterback Aaron Rodgers' 20 yards on five carries, the running game averaged just over 3.0 yards per carry.

So far, the Packers have scored 61 points in jumping out to a 2-0 record, but if the 34-7 victory Sunday over the lowly Buffalo Bills is any indication, back-breaking plays like tight end Jermichael Finley’s three long catches or James Jones’ 30-yard touchdown are going to be few and far between for the running game.

Full story here

Unsung Hero: Tom Crabtree

September 21, 2010 by  
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Sept 21, 2010 ~ by Lori Nickel

~Green Bay — Every Tuesday, win or lose, we’ll feature a Green Bay Packer who played well in the last game – and almost certainly didn’t get a whole lot of recognition for it.

Week 2: Packers beat Bills, TE Tom Crabtree

Everyone – even receivers Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson – saw how tough it will be to get their numbers when tight end Jermichael Finley has a monster game with four big receptions for 103 yards.

“He plays on five of the six special teams units,” said Packers special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum

It is obvious that receptions will be hard to come by this year and perhaps impossible for a first year tight end like Crabtree.

So the place to make a contribution is special teams. Crabtree, who was kept with three other tight ends on the roster, has excelled there.

“He plays on five of the six special teams units,” said Packers special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum. “He had two kickoff tackles and he was highly combative. He was down fast on the punts. He did an excellent job in the return game as well. He had a nice tackle on running back C.J. Spiller.

Full story here

Concerns over Chad Clifton’s health may open door for Bryan Bulaga’s first start

September 21, 2010 by  
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Sept 21, 2010 ~ by Rob Demovsky

~Everyone say it together: Chad Clifton is the Green Bay Packers’ starting left tackle.

That was the company line on Monday, a day after the 11-year veteran was taken out of Sunday’s 34-7 win over Buffalo midway through the second quarter. From coach Mike McCarthy to offensive coordinator Joe Philbin to offensive line coach James Campen, the message was the same.

Yet the reality is Clifton was removed because his sore knees wouldn’t allow him to play up to standards, and at this point, there’s reason to think the 34-year-old won’t be markedly better by the time the Packers hit Soldier Field on Monday night to play the Chicago Bears.

“The medical staff has a lot of history with Chad, and when we get him to the point where we feel he’s ready to go, he’ll go,” McCarthy said. “He’s our starting left tackle. He’s battling through a rough spot now medically.”

The Packers don’t appear inclined to put Clifton back in a game until his knee problems improve dramatically. Whether that will require surgery or rest hasn’t been determined.

Full story here

Will Clifton’s knees hold up?

September 19, 2010 by  
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Sept 19, 2010 ~ by Greg A Bedard

~Probably the biggest lingering question after the Packers’ impressive 34-7 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday is what the Packers will do at left tackle going forward.

Veteran Chad Clifton was removed halfway through the second quarter in favor of first-round pick Bryan Bulaga.

Veteran LT Chad Clifton was bothered by a sore knee Sunday against Buffalo, and was replaced in the second quarter by rookie Bryan Bulaga. Next week, Julius Peppers will be coming from that side after Rodgers.

Officially, it was a coach’s decision with an injury factor (Clifton had knee swelling all week). But there’s little doubt Clifton struggled for the second-straight week and Bulaga appeared to do a solid job when he was inserted into the lineup.

“Chad Clifton, you know, did not practice twice this week,” said coach Mike McCarthy. “He has an issue with his knee. It just didn’t look like he was fully recovered so I thought it was important to get Bryan in there.”

McCarthy didn’t close the door when asked if the switch could be permanent.

He didn’t look good today so…He didn’t look like he was healthy,” McCarthy said. “He struggled last week through the Philadelphia game. We’ll assess it in the morning and set our plan for next week.”

McCarthy did praise Bulaga.

“From the production that we accomplished in the second half, I’d say he played pretty well,” McCarthy said.    Rest of story here

Packers consolidate Bills 34-7

September 19, 2010 by  
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Sept 19, 2010 ~ Chris Jenkins, Associated Press

~Buffalo Bills quarterback Trent Edwards had grass stains on his jersey and blood on his right elbow.

Clay Matthews was here.

Matthews sacked Edwards three times and the Green Bay Packers’ defense dominated a sluggish Bills offense in a 34-7 victory at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

Packers linebacker Clay Matthews reacts to his third-quarter sack of Bills quarterback Trent Edwards during the home opener at Lambeau Field in Green Bay on Sunday. Matthews had 3 sacks for the 2nd straight game, and leads the NFL.

That’s six sacks in two games for Matthews — not bad for a guy who sat out most of training camp with a hamstring injury.

Is he getting into opposing quarterbacks’ heads?

“I hope so,” Matthews said. “That’s what we strive for, especially as pass rushers: To get there and get him off his game by hitting him early and often.”

Aaron Rodgers compared Matthews to a player the Packers (2-0) will try to fend off next Monday night, Chicago’s Julius Peppers.

“Just glad he’s on our team,” Rodgers said.  Rest of story here

Green Bay Press-Gazette Packers-Bills predictions

September 19, 2010 by  
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Sept 19, 2010 ~ by Brian E Murphy

~Being a big Vegas favorite doesn’t guarantee a blowout win. Or even a win.

Last year in this same week two, the Packers were a 9-point home favorite to the lowly Bengals, who were 0-1 at the time and still considered the Bungles.

Well the Packers lost that game at Lambeau. The Packers also lost to the winless Buccaneers later in the season as a bigger favorite.

Had the Packers just won those two cupcake games, their record would have been 13-3 instead of 11-5, giving them the division title over the Vikings and a playoff bye.

Back to today’s game versus the 0-1 Buffalo Bills. There are a few interesting side notes here due to the fact that the Packers have talked to the Bills this year about trading for Bills RB Marshawn Lynch. It will be interesting to see if that affects how often the Bills call Lynch’s number. His number, by the way, is 23, the same as the Packers new RB Dimitri Nance.

Will Nance get any opportunities? Will Brandon Jackson have a big game? Or will he go down with an injury of his own?

On to today’s predictions.

Some people already have the Bills on the clock for the #1 pick in next April's draft. If this game is even close (or a terrible upset loss), then the Packers and McCarthy will be feeling the heat this week.

Brian E Murphy (1-0)

Packers 38, Bills 14

I do expect the Packers offense to be sharper, and go on a run where they have three or four straight drives ending in touchdowns.

I also expect the Bills to make a big play on a special teams return with either CJ Spiller or Leodis McKelvin taking one back for a touchdown. But the Bills can’t pass, and the Packers are great against the run. Meanwhile, the Bills defense is not on the same scale as the Eagles is, so I expect Rodgers & Company to find the end zone at least five times today. Plenty of Lambeau Leaps.

Mike Vandermause (1-0)

Packers 31, Bills 13

As long as the Packers avoid overconfidence and maintain a killer instinct, this should be one of the easiest victories of the season. The Bills have been in rebuilding mode for the past decade and won’t come close to making the playoffs. The only way Buffalo keeps it close is by forcing turnovers and producing big plays on special teams. Otherwise, the rout will be on.

Pete Dougherty (1-0)

Packers 31, Bills 13

Upsets happen every week in the NFL, but the Packers are 14-point favorites for good reason. They have more talent, and the Bills have a new coaching staff with new offensive and defensive schemes. Not much reason to think Buffalo is ready at this early point in the season to buck long odds.

Kareem Copeland (1-0)

Packers 34, Bills 17

Things could get extremely ugly at Lambeau Field. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was outraged with his performance in a win over Philadelphia last week — and the Packers still scored 27 points. Expect more against the Bills, with a concerted effort to give new starting running back Brandon Jackson plenty of opportunities. The Bills are horrid, so expect a blowout.

Rob Demovsky (1-0)

Packers 31, Bills 3

In Week 2 last season, the Packers were a 9-point home favorite but lost to a visiting AFC team, the Cincinnati Bengals. This time the Packers are a 14-point favorite against the Buffalo Bills. The difference is the Bengals turned out to be a playoff team, and there’s no way the Bills are playoff worthy. Besides, Aaron Rodgers should be much sharper than he was in the opener at Philadelphia.

Press-Gazette story here

Brandon Jackson ready to step up

September 19, 2010 by  
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Sept 19, 2010 ~ by Kareem Copeland

~Brandon Jackson thinks about his dad on days like Sunday.

The Green Bay Packers running back will make the fourth start of his NFL career at noon inside Lambeau Field against the Buffalo Bills. It will be his first start since his rookie year in 2007.

And Charles won’t be watching, again.

“As the baby (of the family) and you don’t get to see your father, you have to depend on your brothers a lot,“ Jackson said.

“I know there’s going to be a lot of doubters. Can he pick up where Ryan left off? I’m Brandon Jackson. I’m not Ryan Grant. No disrespect to Ryan Grant. I’m going to play my game and do my best and it’ll show up.”

“There’s nothing like having a father in your life. It was still tough at times.

“When I went off to college, I wanted my father there. A lot of guys had their fathers there to watch their first college game, their first high school game.”

Charles Jackson died when Brandon was 10 from complications stemming from a car crash. He had fallen asleep while driving home after a long shift at the Saturn plant in Nashville, Tenn. Charles was paralyzed for four years and spent his final year in the hospital before passing away.

Full story here

Bills not inclined to repeat history with Marshawn Lynch

September 19, 2010 by  
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Sept 19, 2010 ~ by Bob McGinn

~Twelve years ago, Dorsey Levens went down in the second game of the Green Bay Packers’ season with ankle-leg damage that closely resembled the injury another No. 25, Ryan Grant, suffered last Sunday in Philadelphia.

The team’s brain trust at the time, Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren, tried giving the ball to Raymont Harris. Having seen enough of the former Bear for two weeks, they traded a fourth-round draft choice to the Buffalo Bills for third-stringer Darick Holmes, and he helped them reach the playoffs.

In a delicious bit of irony, the Packers probably now would like to deal a pick in the same round to the same team for the same commodity: a good back mired behind two other good backs.

This is where the comparison stops. This Bills administration doesn’t seem the least bit interested in trading Marshawn Lynch.

The Bills don’t seem interested in parting with running back Marshawn Lynch, who is now their third stringer.

Sources say the Bills have heard from the Packers several times dating to before the draft, most recently about two weeks ago. But on each occasion the Bills have closed the door on the Packers’ exploratory efforts, long before anything substantive might have taken place.

Through his assistants, Bills general manager Buddy Nix has informed the Packers he’s keeping Lynch. The Packers can’t even get to first base.

The trading deadline isn’t until Oct. 19. Certainly, the dynamics could change by then.

Yet, given the track record of running backs, it’s more than likely that one or both of the backs ahead of Lynch, C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, will have some kind of injury and Lynch will be playing more than the seven snaps he did on opening day.

Those who insist that Ted Thompson is afraid to trade for Lynch have misinterpreted the situation.

The Packers have always liked Lynch, one of the top players on their draft board in 2007. They know how much Grant will be missed. They can’t be sure how their offense will function with Brandon Jackson as lead back.

But for now, at least, they’re not going to trade a pick in the first three rounds for a player with substantial talent and also substantial risk.

In 1998, the Bills had first-round pick Antowain Smith, Thurman Thomas and Holmes, a five-year veteran. When the Packers called, the deal was completed quickly.

Ful story here

Jermichael struggles to break free from spider web

September 19, 2010 by  
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Sept 19, 2010 ~ by Tom Silverstein

~Life might be great for Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley, but it definitely isn’t easy.

Consider his plight.

Here he is lined up on the right side of the formation next to right tackle Mark Tauscher. At the snap of the ball the defensive end takes a step to his left and – boom – he smacks Finley in the chest, preventing an easy release off the line of scrimmage.

Finley clears the end, but waiting for him a few yards downfield is the middle linebacker, ever so happy to make the tight end null and void. 

"I looked back at the film (from the Eagles game) and I felt like I had some (expletive) on me with all the flies around," Finley said.

Now Finley’s lined up outside as a single receiver with a safety in front of him. At the snap of the ball, a linebacker spreads out and takes away the slant while the other safety plays over the top to prevent Finley from going deep.

Finally, Finley gets a free release off the line of scrimmage from an in-line position, only this time one linebacker plays heavy outside technique, forcing him to go to the middle, right over to the other middle linebacker, who’s waiting to greet him.

Full story here

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