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Packers should bring in Mad Maxx

March 17, 2019 by  
Filed under News

From Brian E Murphy, Packers Insider Senior Editor

~With the signing of Jake Ryan by the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, Ted Thompson’s total 2015 Draft Class has been lost. Cast away.

Draft and Develop. Remember?

Going back to that 2015 Draft, and I remember it well, the Packers needed an inside linebacker and some help at tight end. They had just used their previous first round pick on Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and it seemed like that spot was solidified.

The Packers were slated to pick at number 30 as they had just come off the heartbreaking NFC Championship Game collapse in Seattle.

Many of the Draft Experts (that is, the folks who get paid to compile data, opinions, projections, talk to NFL personnel, etc.) had the Packers taking one of the many highly-rated inside backers such as UCLA’s Eric Kendricks, Miami’s Denzel Perryman, Clemson’s Stephone Anthony, or Mississippi State’s Benardrick McKinney.

All four of those inside backers went between pick number 31 and 48. Kendricks still anchors the Vikings tough defense and Perryman in the middle for the Chargers still. Anthony and McKinney didn’t pan out.

The other common player who was mocked to the Packers at number 30 was Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams. If I remember correctly, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay each had Williams to the Packers in at least one of their mocks, and a number of people from NFL.com and CBS Sportsline had Williams to the Packers in others. It made sense.

Well four years later, a lot of players move on. The whole Packers Class of 2015 has, from Damarious Randall to Quinten Rollins, Jake Ryan to Ty Montgomery and Brett Hundley, Aaron Ripkowski, Christian Ringo, and Kennard Backman. All gone.

It wasn’t just the Packers, however, that year.

Three of the top seven picks already changed teams. Dante Fowler, Jr. (3), Amari Cooper (4), and Kevin White (7), and almost half of the rest of that first round.

By the way, new addition Preston Smith was the Redskins pick at number 38. David Johnson went at number 86, Danielle Hunter at 88, Trey Flowers at 101, new additions Za’Darius Smith at 122 and Adrian Amos 142, Stefon Diggs at 147 and Brett Hundley 148.

Anyway, to my guy, Maxx Williams.

Obviously, Williams has not flourished in Baltimore. But I am selling the fact that that offense is not conducive to receiving prominence.

Name a receiver or tight end who has done well there in the past few years. That offense, and passing game in particular, has been awful. Joe Flacco has been let go, and Raven fans aren’t even sad to see him go.

A year ago, another former highly-touted tight end, Eric Ebron, was let go by the team who drafted him as his rookie contract had expired. Ebron, remember, was selected number 10 overall, before Odell Beckham and Aaron Donald, in that 2014 NFL Draft but hadn’t come close to living up to those lofty expectations in Detroit. Even with a former number one overall draft pick at QB in Matthew Stafford. Even with a QB who had thrown for over 5,000 yards one season in his career.

Ebron signed with Indianapolis last off-season, and he promptly showed why he was graded so highly entering the NFL. Ebron led the team and NFL tight ends in touchdowns right away with 13 scores, on 66 catches. He had totaled 11 touchdowns in his four years in Detroit. See how a change of scenery and an upgrade at quarterback can boost a player to more like what scouts had predicted for the player originally?


Maxx Williams is introduced to the media by (left to right) Director of Scouting Joe Horowitz; Head Coach John Harbaugh; General Manager Ozzie Newsome; and Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta. The Ravens selected the tight end from Minnesota with their second round pick at the 2015 NFL draft. (COURTESY PHOTO/WWW.BALTIMORERAVENS.COM)

I believe Williams can be another guy like that. The video above compared him to Greg Olsen, who had left his original team Chicago after his first four years. He went to Carolina afterwards with Cam Newton his whole career, and he put up 37 touchdowns as a Panther, and back-to-back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons from 2014-2016. He was the first tight end in NFL history with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

I’m not saying Williams is going to come in and put up a thousand yards. But I do believe he can come in and upgrade the position. He could put up some Mark Chmura type production. Chmura, from 1995-1998, put up consistent numbers and was a threat on third downs and in the red zone.

Again, I know his numbers in Baltimore are nothing to tout. But I believe what I saw of him at the University of Minnesota and what most scouts thought of him entering that 2015 Draft. Trust your eyes, a long-time scout once told me. And remember it.

Williams is still just 24 years old, won’t turn 25 until April 12. He’s barely older than some rookies. The upside is still there. His talent is still clear. He still has the bloodlines.

It won’t cost much, and the potential for a nice find is there. If I’m GM Brian Gutekunst, I am definitely taking a look into Mad Maxx.

Pettine’s Defense Could Be Elite

March 16, 2019 by  
Filed under News

Forget the crapshoot of the collegiate draft. These young guys already have proven they can play in the NFL at a high level. They will help immediately and not be a ‘cross-your-fingers’ and wait and hope “project” like a Josh Jones, Oren Burks, Jeremy Thompson, Jerel Worthy, Quinten Rollins, etc.

From Brian E Murphy, Packers Insider Senior Editor

~Out with the old, in with the new.

GM Brian Gutekunst has given defensive coordinator Mike Pettine some tools in free agency that former coordinator Dom Capers could only dream of when he was in charge under then-GM Ted Thompson.

In the Smith Brothers, Za’Darius and Preston, and safety Adrian Amos, Pettine has been given three quality, yet still early in their prime years, defensive starters. Upgrades.

This is a defense that added significant talent last off-season on the back end in top two draft picks Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson, along with bringing back veteran Tramon Williams. And if 2017 first pick Kevin King ever can stay on the field, there is talent galore on the back end.

The front line is led by emerging star Kenny Clark, along with Mike Daniels. In the middle of it all is Blake Martinez, entering his contract year and coming off another season leading the team in tackles.

Free agency still isn’t over yet and I wouldn’t be surprised if Gutekunst adds another piece or two (Jake Ryan just signed with Jacksonville on Saturday).

The Packers own two first-round draft picks in next month’s NFL Draft, with one of them being the 12th overall pick. So there’s a good chance that Pettine will get another young infusion of talent in the draft.

Adrian Amos, Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith

Sure, there are still some holes to fill on the defense. Personally, I would try very hard to bring back Clay Matthews, who can play both sides outside and can slide into the middle. Versatility is great. Sometimes, loyalty is a good thing too.

Pettine is an outstanding defensive coach who has produced top-ten defenses with less talent than the Packers already have.

Of course, health will be a factor as it always is. But these additions have been durable so far. As long as the Packers training staff doesn’t overwork them and lead them into pulled hamstrings, groins, abs like Geronimo Allison last year, this defense is going to be good and could be great.

What are these new guys going to bring to Green Bay?
Here are some highlights of your new additions so you can see not only what they “can do”, but what they “do do”.

Packers should bring in veteran QB Griffin to backup Rodgers

February 10, 2019 by  
Filed under News

From Brian E Murphy, Packers Insider senior editor

~Seven years ago this Spring, four NFL teams fortunes changed with rookie quarterbacks added to guide the future of their franchises.

At the top, with the first two picks, the Colts selected Andrew Luck from Stanford, while the Redskins pinned their hopes on Robert Griffin III from Baylor. Later in the first round, the Dolphins grabbed Ryan Tannehill from Texas A&M.

Later in the draft, the Seahawks grabbed Russell Wilson from Wisconsin, mostly with the thought of being the backup to recent free agent addition Matt Flynn.

Packer fans are well aware of what has happened with Russell Wilson and Seattle.
Miami is almost set to give up on Tannehill.
Indianapolis learned immediately how good Luck was. And how bad luck to Luck would doom the Colts in 2016 and 2017.

The Redskins? Griffin, RG3, was sensational right out of the gates for Mike Shanahan’s offense. Matt LaFleur, incidentally, was the QB coach for Griffin that year.

As good as Luck was, and Wilson was, Griffin was the NFL Rookie of the Year. And he was beating the Seahawks handily in that season’s Wildcard game.
Then he hurt his knee.

He’s never been the same, and he’s been relegated to being a backup. Last season he was Joe Flacco’s backup, and then moved to the #3 QB as rookie first round pick Lamar Jackson was handed the keys to the Ravens offense.

Griffin is 28 years old, will turn 29 in the middle of February. He’s seen it all. He’s been on three teams already.

True, part of what made him such a weapon as a rookie was the Michael Vick like running ability Griffin possessed, and he lost most of that as a result of the ACL injury in 2013.

But have you seen Brett Hundley out there running the Packers? Did you see DeShone Kizer last year? His passer rating was 40.5. Griffin’s career passer rating is just south of 90. This is an immediate upgrade.

NFL reacts to Packers officially hiring Matt LaFleur

February 9, 2019 by  
Filed under News

By BRIAN JONES Jan 10

~The Packers have found a new head coach in Matt LaFleur. On Tuesday, the team announced they have hired LaFleur as the 15th head coach in team history and he was introduced to the media on Wednesday. He will take the place of Mike McCarthy who was fired on Dec. 2.

LaFleur spent the 2018 season as the offensive coordinator as the offensive coordinator of the Tennesee Titans. LaFleur has been working wonders with NFL offenses for quite some time. He spent two seasons in Atlanta as the quarterback’s coach, helping Matt Ryan lead the Falcons to an appearance in Super Bowl LI. Ryan was unstoppable during this season as he threw for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns en route to being named league MVP. However, Kyle Shanahan’s departure for San Francisco also affected LaFleur as he headed west to join Sean McVay’s staff.

LaFleur spent 2017 working with Jared Goff in a renaissance season as the Rams ranked first overall in scoring and 10th in total offense. Los Angeles made an appearance in the playoffs but ultimately lost to the Falcons in the wild-card round. LaFleur left the Rams after only one season to join Tennessee as the offensive coordinator. And while this season has been utterly bizarre, the offense has shown flashes of brilliance. Former New England running back Dion Lewis is playing extremely well and has quietly taken Derrick Henry’s job.

Marcus Mariota has found decent success as a passer despite his receivers dropping a major pass at least once every week. Although he has been more successful as a running quarterback. The Titans put a beat down on the Patriots utilizing in multiple ways. Some of his best throws even came on the run. Not many quarterbacks can rival Aaron Rodgers when it comes to throwing on the run, so it’s impossible to see Mariota succeeding in this manner and not picture the Packers quarterback.

So what do NFL fans and experts think of the move? Here’s a look at the reactions of the hire.

Ben Fennell of The Athletic and the NFL Network broke down film of teams that LaFleur has worked for and he noticed a trend that will make fans happy. He said, “Digging thru the film – you can see recurring trends in the scheme Screen game is HUGE. Certainly to the RBs but also getting the ball into your perimeter WR weapons ASAP… Easy yards!

LaFleur is good friends with the Los Angeles Rams head coach as he was the team’s OC in 2017. And when McVay heard the news, he was happy for him. McVay said, “He’s obviously one of my closest friends. So to see that for him, couldn’t be more excited. He’s a great football coach, got a great understanding from offensive football.”

Jay Glazer of FOX Sports mentions how LaFleur got the job. He said, “Matt LaFleur did something very rare this year for an offensive coaching candidate. Instead of being pass-happy to build up his name as an HC candidate, he ran the ball a ton and played more to protect the ball.”

Colin Cowherd of FS1 does not like the move. He said, “Congratulations on hiring somebody who people question whether he has the stature and gravitas to lead a coordinators meeting. Maybe you’ve heard Aaron Rodgers is aging, he ran a Super Bowl-winning coach out of town. Good luck to Matt LaFleur.”

Packers legend LeRoy Butler is very excited about the move. He said, “GREAT HIRE BY THE @packers MATT LaFleur! I’m very excited!!!” Butler was drafted by the Packers in the second round of the 1990 NFL Draft and he spent his entire career in Green Bay. During his time with the Packers, Butler put together a memorable career, recording 889 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 38 interceptions and 13 forced fumbles. Along with helping the Packers win Super Bowl 31, Butler was named to the Pro Bowl four times, was named to the All-Pro First Team four times and he’s a member of the 1990s All-Decade Team. Butler has also been inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame.

Robert Griffin III had some great things to say about LaFleur once he heard the news. He said, “Congrats to Matt Lafleur and his family! Great coach, better guy! Griffin knows LaFleur very well as he was the quarterbacks coach with the Redskins and helped Griffin win Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012.

Former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky sent a message to his former coach. He said, “Congrats to LaFleur. I’ve known the dude for 10+ years now, played for em twice. I love the hiring. Dudes very bright, very creative, knows how to attack defenses, has had great teaching and the biggest thing-he’s gonna coach the HECK out of 12 and challenge him DAILY!”

Peter Schrager of “Good Morning Football” is confident LaFleur can have success in Green Bay. He said, “I’ve been at the same table as him and McVay and Shanahan. He can hang with them – both with the Xs and Os, and with the chop busting. He worked with Vrabel, a Type-A, too. Aaron Rodgers will be intellectually challenged and will love it.”

Albert Beer of Sports Illustrated knows why the Packers went with LaFleur. He said, “Part of the deal for the Packers was finding a coach that could challenge Aaron Rodgers intellectually. I’d say that’s where the fit with Matt LaFleur is.” And let’s hope that Rodgers responds to LaFleur’s challenges.

Dan Graziano of ESPN took a look back at how LaFleur got to where he his now. He said, “LaFleur was Matt Ryan’s QB coach in 2016, Sean McVay’s offensive coordinator in 2017, the Titans’ offensive coordinator this year. Rapid ascent for one of the bright QB minds in the league. Should be a good match with Aaron Rodgers.”

Mike Clay of ESPN took a look back at LaFleur’s experience in the NFL. Here’s a look at LaFleur’s path to Green Bay.

2015-16: Kyle Shanahan’s QB coach
2017: Sean McVay’s OC
2018: Mike Vrabel’s OC
2019: Packers head coach

Will Brinson of CBS Sports noticed a trend when it comes to the Packers head coaches. Here’s a look at who the Packers hired as their head coach the last 25-plus years (except Ray Rhodes).

Matt LaFleur – 39 years old – Titans OC (1 year)
Mike McCarthy – 43 years old – 49ers OC (1 year)
Mike Sherman – 46 years old – Seahawks OC (1 year)
Mike Holmgren – 44 years old – 49ers OC (3 years)

Former NFL QB Trent Dilfer thinks LaFleur is the next Mike McCarthy which is a good thing. “He said, Matt LaFleur is Mike McCarthy before McCarthy stopped grinding. Both smart, creative offensively, great pedigrees and strong leadership traits. Most importantly HE WILL COACH AARON HARD!”

Radio host Grant Paulsen points out that LaFleur coached under two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach Mike Shanahan. He said, “With Matt LaFleur landing Packers head coaching job, the 2013 Redskins’ staff looks even more impressive. Mike Shanahan’s offensive staff had Kyle Shanahan as OC, Sean McVay leading TE’s and Matt LaFluer coaching QB’s. All three are HC’s in NFC now.”

Matt Eurich of Chicago Bears on 247Sports points out there are now three head coaches in the NFC North named Matt. Also, LaFleur is the youngest head coach in the division at 39 years old. Here’s a look at the four NFC North head coaches.

Matt Nagy (Bears) – 40
Matt Patricia (Lions) – 44
Matt LaFleur (Packers) – 39
Mike Zimmer (Vikings) 62

It’s time to part ways with McCarthy, and Montgomery

October 28, 2018 by  
Filed under News

By Brian E Murphy, Packers Insider senior analyst

~Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine turned in a great game Sunday in Los Angeles, almost shutting out the NFL’s best offense for the first half.

Unfortunately, the Packers’ head coach football IQ is not up to par.

I’ve defended Mike McCarthy for a long time. Against many people. But after three atrocious, mental mistakes today costing the Packers a very needed win, I’m done defending this coach.

I must admit, Aaron Rodgers is partly to blame too.

2018 Rams 1

There were three incredibly stupid mental errors today (plus one basic stupid mistake), from the first drive to the last kick return, and they all mattered. It wasn’t as bad as the Meltdown in Seattle in January of 2015, but like that one, many were self-inflicted and many came down to coaching at the top. Brandon Bostick simply shouldn’t have touched the ball on that onside kick. Morgan Burnett shouldn’t have slid down and ignored a possible touchdown on that interception. Rodgers shouldn’t have thrown the two ints as each were mental mistakes.

Well, today Rodgers shouldn’t have taken the sack to end the first drive of the game, which had gotten into field goal range. It was 3rd & 2, at the 37-yard line of the Rams (meaning a 54-yard field goal if you want to try for that). But against a great team like the undefeated Rams, that’s 4-down territory, and you run the ball two times with the red-hot Aaron Jones. He had just run for 28 yards on 3 carries on this opening drive.

But nope, the combination of the geniuses McCarthy and Rodgers dropped back and took a 14 yard loss and walked away with no points. Nothing to show for an opening drive where Jones averaged almost 9 yards a carry.

2018 Rams 2

Towards the end of the first half, up 10-0 with the defense playing like the 1985 Bears, the Rams had to punt yet again, and the punt was a good one. Former Packer Sam Shields downed it at the 1-yard line.

As soon as he downed it, I said we have to either QB sneak it for a yard or two, or throw a quick pass to one of the sides with the best matchup. You absolutely cannot, ever, drop back well into your own end zone and hand the ball off in there, especially against a defensive line with Donald, Suh, and Brockers. That’s common sense. But not for Corky and/or Rodgers. That was a gift of a safety for the Rams and a change in the momentum that had been 100% on the Packers’ side.

Shortly later, with field position and momentum switched, the Rams had a touchdown and the game was 10-8. The defense stopped the 2-point conversion attempt at tying the game. Instead of a possible wire-to-wire almost-easy win like the underdog Bills had at Minnesota a few weeks ago, or the underdog Lions had against the Patriots a few weeks ago, now we had a tight ballgame. This should have been a game the Packers had a 13-0 or 17-0 lead at the half. Instead, it became a nail-biter. One that you knew just one lucky bounce, or one turnover would probably decide it.

Ty Montgomery ultimately proved that thought correct, though, but before that, Rodgers made that simple mental error.
Rodgers wasted a timeout and 45-potential valuable seconds with a careless timeout at just over 5-minutes left on a 3rd & 6. There was no reason to call that timeout as the play was in plenty on time and the players were ready. After the wasted, illogical timeout, Rodgers got sacked immediately by Aaron Donald for a 10-yard loss and a punt coming. A terrible 20-yard punt, by the way. Remember, all this with the Packers clinging to a 27-26 lead. A huge W or L was at stake, in reach.

Thanks to the terrible punt by the rookie Scott, the Rams had an easy field goal and took a 2-point lead. It was a great job by the defense, and they left 2:06 on the clock for Rodgers to get Crosby into game-winning field goal range.

That :06 of time was crucial as it would be like a free timeout, as long as the kick returner took a touchback and didn’t waste the precious 6 seconds. This free timeout would allow the Packers first play to be anything, middle of the field, a surprise run, etc. and not have to worry about getting out of bounds to stop the clock.

But Montgomery didn’t get my memo, and he tried to be a hero and bring the ball out. This was dumb, to begin with, and anyone with a high-football-IQ would have known this. Now someone obviously doesn’t have that. He’s the one who did it, but what did special teams coach Ronald Zook tell him prior to the kickoff? What did McCarthy tell him? We’ll never know.

Like Brandon Bostick in 2015, obviously, the coaches did not think ahead of time and make sure all players knew their dam one job. The Packers could have been at the top of the NFL World back in 2015 had they made sure Bostick knew that his job had to be to just go smash Chris Matthews, his guy, as the other front line guys did to their guy. Jordy Nelson would have caught the ball and put the Packers into the Super Bowl.

Today, perhaps the Packers would have won had Montgomery not brought out the ball from the end zone. Or had Rodgers not gone back 4 yards into the end zone and handed the ball off, giving the Rams a safety and the ball back.

These are mental mistakes, and they have plagued the Packers since the 2011 season. What is the common denominator through all this time?

McCarthy has ridden Aaron Rodgers' coattails longer than Ted Thompson did. His time should be up tonight. Turn the team over to Mike Pettine, and at the end of the year, bring in a young, offensive guru, perhaps from the Chiefs or Rams offensive staff.

McCarthy has ridden Aaron Rodgers’ coattails longer than Ted Thompson did. His time should be up tonight. Turn the team over to Mike Pettine, and at the end of the year, bring in a young, offensive guru, perhaps from the Chiefs or Rams offensive staff.

Packers should bring in Navorro Bowman

August 2, 2018 by  
Filed under News

From Brian E Murphy, Packers Magazine

~New defensive coordinator Mike Pettine already had his work cut out for him.

His middle linebackers consisted of Blake Martinez, and Jake Ryan. Both are better against the run than they are as pass defenders.

jake ryan

But these are the Packers and injuries are always a major factor. This year, they didn’t even get out of July before losing a starting player for the season as Jake Ryan tore his ACL this week. His season is over before preseason even started. He didn’t even make it to the preseason, where Jordy Nelson’s season ended in Pittsburgh three years ago.

So who’s left?

oren burks

Rookie Oren Burks was a surprising third round draft pick, a converted safety, who is being counted on to help cover tight ends and backs. But Pettine isn’t fond of rookies playing the position that he refers to as “the nerve center” of the defense, “tieing the front end with the back end”. Ahmad Brooks is another option who has zero NFL experience. He might be good. He might never make it.

What will Pettine do?

The good thing is he has Brian Gutekunst as his GM, and not Ted Thompson. Thompson is dead set against bringing in NFL veterans. For a while, there were only three Packers on the roster who had any NFL experience with another team. That was John Kuhn, Ryan Pickett, and Charles Woodson.

Thompson would give former defensive coordinator guys like Josh Bell as in-season reinforcements. He’s the one who lost the game at Pittsburgh on the final play in 2009.

If Pettine wants someone brought in who’s done it before in the NFL, he has some player options and he has a new GM who is more willing to make it happen.

Now keep in mind, there are no in-prime Luke Kuechly, Bobby Wagner, Brian Urlacher types out there.

bowman 2

But there are a couple of guys who have been All-Pro caliber in the league in their prime, and might offer the stability with assignments and coverage that is not there with the youngsters. Remember, Blake Martinez could very well get injured too. No Packer fan would be surprised.

If he checks out medically, I would be signing Navorro Bowman tomorrow. He did play last year and played okay for the Raiders, despite coming in about a quarter through the regular season.

You have to wonder why they didn’t bring him back, but a new coach tends to do things like that.
Oakland did take Nelson from the Packers, Edgar Bennett from the Packers, already took Jared Cook, Reggie McKenzie, James Jones, and Charles Woodson back from the Packers.

Perhaps turnabout is fair play. The last time the Packers brought in a guy from Oakland, it was an oft-injured Charles Woodson. That turned out okay.

bowman lynch

Bowman is not as good and has suffered worse injuries. And he’s about a year older than Charles was when Ted Thompson signed him.

But Bowman will also be a  lot cheaper than Woodson was initially.

How was Bowman last year in Oakland?

This from last year’s final weekend of the NFL season, December 30:

“I’m known for my instincts throughout the NFL, and I haven’t been able to really use those instincts in this defense because I don’t really know it,” Bowman said Friday. “I don’t know when I can take those chances, I don’t know who’s backing me up on certain calls.

“If I’m able to come back next year and get a full training camp in and get used to really communicating with everyone out on the field, I’ll be able to do a lot more. But I’m definitely satisfied with how everything went), how (the Raiders) accepted me, and the coaches – how they trusted me going out there and playing as many snaps as I played.”

Released five games into the season by the 49ers, who were no longer using him as an every-down player, Bowman settled in immediately with the Raiders as their middle linebacker. He has played 97.8 percent of the defensive snaps since joining the team and led the Raiders in tackles in eight of his nine games.

bowman raiders

At 29, Bowman, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, has played 106 career games (including the postseason) and suffered two major injuries – a torn ACL in his right knee that caused him to miss the 2014 season and a torn Achilles in 2016.

But he has also brought stability to a key position at which the Raiders have had little in recent years. Teammates and coaches quickly recognized the effect. After his debut against the Chiefs in Week 7, head coach Jack Del Rio (later fired and replaced by Gruden) called Bowman a “settling influence” on the sideline.

Bruce Irvin in December credited Bowman as being a key part of the Raiders’ defensive improvement. “It’s obvious,” Irvin said after the Raiders’ Dec. 3 win over the Giants. “The guy flies around, takes control of the huddle. You see it, you see the difference from when he wasn’t here and how our defense performed to now. He’s a great competitor, he’s a great leader and I’m just happy to have him.”

“I don’t think guys can afford to do that, being on a team like this where we haven’t played well and changes can be made after this year,” Bowman said. “Everybody, including me and the quarterback, the coaches, we have to be preparing the way that you would prepare if you were 8-0. Because changes can be made at any time in this league and the position that we’re in, you don’t want to put any bad film out there or have any bad game.”

This sound like the exact type of player that Pettine would want and the Packers could benefit from.

He’s played in a 3-4 defense as Pettine mostly runs. He’s versatile. He’s seen it all. He just turned 30 in May, which isn’t that old. He was a four-time All-Pro, from 2011-2015. You know him. He was a big reason why they 49ers eliminated the Packers in the 2012 and 2013 season in the playoffs.

One more reason that Bowman is my top pick is that he has never tasted a Super Bowl title, although he came very close when the Baltimore Ravens edged the 49ers after the 2012 season.

bowman sack alex

I like getting hungry veterans. It worked well for the Packers in the Ron Wolf time. Don Beebe had come close. Reggie White had come close. Sean Jones, Santana Dotson, Eugene Robinson, Andre Bad Moon Rison, Keith Jackson all were hungry for a Super Bowl.

It didn’t take years for them to learn and adjust to the NFL game speed.

Last year, Bowman was fresh off an Achilles injury and he did’t have training camp and preseason to learn the Raiders defense. If the Packers act quickly, he will have about 10 more weeks than he had last year in Oakland.

Aaron Rodgers should make the phone call right now and welcome Bowman to Austin-Strobel Field tomorrow morning.

 

2-POINT CONVERSION

Raider Nation wants to keep Bowman: https://raiderswire.usatoday.com/2017/12/30/3-reasons-why-raiders-should-keep-lb-navorro-bowman/

No.1. Bowman will continue to be a force

Even though he will be 30 years old when next season starts and has suffered a couple of season-ending injuries in his career, Bowman didn’t show signs of slowing down this season even remaining stride-for-stride with Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce in the open field more than one time.

So far this season, he has 113 tackles (72 solo), one sack, one interception and is the fifteenth-ranked linebacker with a Pro Football Focus (PFF) overall grade of 82.9.

Those numbers are terrific on their face, but at 29 years old with a poor secondary behind him and a weak interior defensive line in front of him — they’re nothing short of incredible.

bowman super bowl 1

No.2. Bowman can mentor young players, be a role model

The Raiders saw an infusion of youth this year, and that should only continue with veterans such as cornerback David Amerson and safety Reggie Nelson likely to be off of the roster before 2018.

Nelson will be 35 years old, looks slow and Amerson has been one of — if not the — worst cornerbacks in the game in 2017.

Bowman is a leader by both example and vocally, and was a key part of a 49ers team that was perennial Super Bowl contender under head coach Jim Harbaugh proving he is the exact type of presence Oakland needs in their locker room as they continue to look to change their culture.

 

Packers’ Muhammad Wilkerson won’t lack motivation playing against Jets

July 17, 2018 by  
Filed under News

From Ryan Wood, USA Today Network

Muhammad Wilkerson looks forward to playing the Jets this season

Muhammad Wilkerson looks forward to playing the Jets this season

~It’s far too early to foresee whether this year’s version of the J-E-T-S will be worthy of the postseason. But with only one winning season and no playoff appearances since 2010, a stretch in which they’ve been stuck in the shadow of their big-city neighbor New York Giants, there is optimism for the future.

Here are three things to know about the Jets:

Darnold’s development

The Jets could have stood pat with their sixth overall pick and drafted a potential franchise quarterback, but instead they sold the farm to eliminate any risk of missing their target. They moved up three spots to pick third, sending their No. 6 pick along with three second-round picks (one in 2019) to the Indianapolis Colts. The power play netted USC quarterback Sam Darnold, whom many considered the top quarterback in an unprecedented class. (The Cleveland Browns, who picked Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield first overall, thought otherwise.) With Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater added this offseason, the Jets should have time to let Darnold develop. Still, there’s at least a solid chance Darnold could start by late December, especially if the Jets are out of playoff contention. The Jets placed their future on Darnold’s right shoulder. Now, it’s his turn to deliver for a franchise that has long been starved for a franchise quarterback.

Mo’s homecoming

For three seasons, Muhammad Wilkerson gave the Jets one of the top interior pass rushers in the NFL. With 28.5 sacks from 2013-15, including a pair of double-digit sack seasons, Wilkerson signed a five-year, $86 million contract in 2016. Then underperformance and off-field issues — most notably tardiness from team meetings — led the Jets to release him this offseason. Now on a one-year, prove-it deal, Wilkerson is trying to remake his career before turning 30 next year. Better believe he’ll want to prove something to the team that pushed him out the door.

Full story here

Countdown to camp: Backfield has proven options

July 17, 2018 by  
Filed under News

From Mike Spofford, Packers.com

Montgomery, Jones, Williams

Montgomery, Jones, Williams

~GREEN BAY – Running-back-by-committee wasn’t necessarily the Packers’ plan for 2017, but it worked out that way, and pretty well, too.

Amidst injuries and shifting roles, the trio of Ty Montgomery, Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams combined for 1,277 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns last season. They added 457 receiving yards and three more scores through the air.

The Packers would certainly take that level of production from their backfield again, if not more, and the top three backs are capable of delivering.

The question is who will lead the way, now that Montgomery is back from a wrist injury that landed him on injured reserve late last year, while Jones and Williams are no longer rookies but experienced pros.

Head Coach Mike McCarthy has stated he expects to begin 2018 with the by-committee approach and see where things go from there.

The Packers actually will start the season without Jones, who’s suspended for the first two games. That makes the pecking order in the early weeks less significant, because it’s practically a given both Montgomery and Williams will play, provided they’re healthy.

Last year, Jones was the big-play guy, with touchdown runs of 46 and 20 yards and a 5.5-yard average; Williams was the grinder, leading the group with 153 carries for 556 yards; and Montgomery was the veteran showing them the way, particularly with pass-protection duties.

Heading into the new year….  Full story here

Packers 2018 Mock Off-Season V1, Free Agency

December 29, 2017 by  
Filed under News

From Brian E Murphy, Packers Insider Senior Editor

~For the first time since the 2008 season, the Packers didn’t make the playoffs, thus their off-season began a lot earlier than usual.

I will be taking time to do a mock each week between now and late April, when the 2018 NFL Draft commences in Arlington, Texas at AT&T Stadium.

For this first one, I am going off the guess, assumption, that Mark Murphy will let Ted Thompson make the calls, and thus not fire himself. And I am guessing he will choose to keep his head coach, Mike McCarthy. I am assuming that Dom Capers is let go.

As to who fills Capers job, I nominate Gregg Williams, he of the BountyGate scandal in New Orleans.

A year ago, when the Rams fired everyone from Jeff Fisher on down, Williams was let go as their defensive coordinator. The Browns made him their defensive coordinator, so he’s suffered through a 0-15 season. It’s possible he wouldn’t leave Cleveland for a similar position. But Ted Thompson did try to hire Williams in 2009, but Williams’ wife didn’t want Green Bay, so he went to New Orleans, where they won the Super Bowl that first season for him. That season, of course, was famous for the Bounty Gate.

Remember, that was the playoff where Capers’ Packers defense got torched by Kurt Warner, who had more touchdown passes than incomplete passes, in the Cardinals 51-45 overtime win. The next week, Williams’ Saints’ defense battered and bruised Warner, blowing the Saints out. The next week they battered, late hit, bruised the Vikings’ Brett Favre, who had torched Capers’ Packers’ defense two times during the season.

Given a choice between Green Bay and Cleveland, perhaps now Williams’ wife will find Green Bay to be suitable. And Williams has to be smart enough to know that if he could just field a decent to good defense, he’d have a chance at a Super Bowl every year as long as Number 12 remains unbroken.

That being said, onto the players.

The biggest question in the off-season was impending free agent Davante Adams.
UPDATE: Adams has chosen to re-sign with the Packers, inking a rich 4-year deal to remain with Green Bay.

Next up will an attempt to reduce the cap numbers to Jordy Nelson and/or Randall Cobb. Those things are sensitive, but both players are unselfish, non-divas, and I expect them to make something work. Nelson has mentioned the look-ahead thought of “retirement” already, which is never good. Cobb is much younger and is a good complement to Adams.

The Packers still have a whopping 10 free agents. By salary, they are:

  • SS Morgan Burnett
  • OLB Ahmad Brooks
  • CB Davon House
  • RG Jahri Evans
  • LS Brett Goode
  • DT Quinton Dial
  • TE Richard Rodgers
  • C Corey Linsley
  • CB Demitri Goodson
  • ST Jeff Janis

All of them are in their 20’s, except Brooks, Evans, and Goode. I think those three are gone. The others will be brought back. Linsley will get a significant raise, although his play has been below average. He should not get a huge deal like the Browns gave to J.C. Tretter. But you never know.

Nobody else wants House, Dial, Rodgers, or Goodson. Someone might throw a nice offer at Janis knowing his special teams prowess. And someone like Arizona, might believe in his abilities as a receiver, since they saw it first hand in that playoff game in January, 2016.

That being said, let’s dive into FREE AGENCY before the DRAFT.
Remember, last year when the Falcons eliminated the Packers in the NFC Title game, Aaron Rodgers talked after the game about making sure we go “all in” every off-season. Whether that was the reason, or if Eliot Wolf is doing more of the personnel stuff aside from the Draft, is it a coincidence that Thompson “went wild” in free agency, signing four guys?

He signed two tight ends, the guard Evans, and the OLB Brooks. Brooks had been very durable, but of course, once he put on the mustard G, he broke down and missed all kinds of time. Still, he was decent when he did play. The Packers pass rush has been awful, with starters Clay Matthews and Nick Perry always hurt. Contrast that to Pittsburgh, where their starting linebackers Bud Dupree and rookie T.J. Watt never missed any games. That’s why James Harrison never played, and why he got mad and forced his release, ending up with the Patriots.

The Packers did okay with their free agent signings last year, but the huge miss was Martellus Bennett of course. He has always been a racist, malcontent. I saw it first-hand in Dallas where he was drafted. He didn’t get along with, nor like Jason Witten. Anyone who doesn’t like Witten has a problem. Lance Kendricks was a disappointment too. Jahri Evans stabilized the offensive line, and would be considered a decent signing. Still, he’s really getting up there in age, and I expect the Packers to go cheaper and younger there.

FREE AGENT ADDITIONS

Last year, Thompson added four, and I will keep it at four again. I will be realistic, and not dip into any guys who will be huge ticket purchases. So cross off the top five guys at each position.

I also am not adding anyone who is close to 30 years of age.

CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, Rams, age 25.

Smaller than what we’re used to seeing in Green Bay, with a new coordinator comes significan changes, and that includes the “CB criteria” that has crashed and burned too many times, from the 51-45 Arizona playoff loss of the 2009 season, to making Kaepernick look like a Hall of Famer two times, to Hai Mary allowed to Eli Manning to Hakeem Nicks in the 2011 playoff loss, to letting Larry Fitzgerald go 75 yards on the first play of overtime in the 2015 playoffs, to barely covering anyone on the Falcons in last year’s playoff loss. Things have to change, and perhaps an inch or two isn’t that significant if it means getting someone who knows how to cover and tackle.


Very interesting highlight here, from last year (2016). Play one, you’ll notice Ted Thompson’s 2nd rd pick from a few years ago, Jerel Worthy (did not know he was still in the league wow) being given a free sack, or TFL on Todd Gurley. Then the next play, NRC will take a pick to the house, off Case Keenum, now of the Vikings. 

Rams' Nickell Robey-Coleman among most underpaid veterans in NFL

With Lamarcus Joyner moving to safety in new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’s defense in Los Angeles, new addition Robey-Coleman has a chance to make a big impact as the team’s primary slot cornerback. The former Bill was a mainstay at that spot in Buffalo, where he racked up 160 tackles, five sacks, and three interceptions in 64 appearances over his first four seasons. But the undersized nickelback (who measures in at 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds) didn’t see much demand on the open market, and was forced to take a one-year prove-it deal with the Rams.

CB E.J. Gaines, Bills, age 25.

The cornerback has been a great fit in Sean McDermott’s zone coverage scheme.

In 10 games this season, Gaines has recorded 51 tackles, seven passes defended, one interception and two forced fumbles. Pro Football Focus (PFF) also has Gaines having a strong season. Gaines is currently listed as PFF’s 29th ranked cornerback with an 83.0 grade.

I like both of these cornebacks with experience from the Rams and Bills defenses. Those defenses are always better than the Packers, and they seem to know how to cover a lot better, and tackle.

TE Luke Willson, Seahawks, age 27.

Everyone else will be salivating over their other free agent tight end Jimmy Graham. Seattle was rumored to be dealing him midway through this season, then he caught fire and scored in almost ever game.

They’ll pony up to keep him, even if Russell Wilson has to chip in. Willson will add more juice than either Bennett or Kendricks offered as free agents this season, and surely more boost than the lumbering Rich Rodgers provides.

TE Troy Niklas, Cardinals, age 25.  6-6 1/2, 270

Four years ago, there were quite a few national mock drafts that had the Packers taking Niklas at the end of the first round. He ended up going to Arizona in the second round, where I thought he’d become a stud in the mold of Gronk. But he’s had a few little injuries like fingers and a hernia, and has had three or four surgeries, causing a lot of missed time. Sounds like he should have been a Packer.

None of his injuries were knees, achilles, or legs, so he should still have his legs left. And with the massive size, can be the weapon in the red zone that the Packers wanted from Bennett.

 

 

Davante Adams avoids free agency, signs multiyear extension with Packers

December 29, 2017 by  
Filed under News

Packers’ Davante Adams avoids free agency, signs multiyear extension

~

  • Rob Demovsky ESPN Staff Writer, Jan 29, 2017, 5:16 PM CT

 

GREEN BAY, Wis. — A little more than two weeks after Aaron Rodgers made a plea for the Green Bay Packers to sign wide receiver Davante Adams, general manager Ted Thompson got the deal done.

Adams, 25, signed a contract extension, the team announced Friday. The deal is for four years and $58.75 million, with $32 million guaranteed and an $18 million signing bonus, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

19 adams almost td

“He’s making a lot of money this year,” Rodgers said Dec. 12. “Hopefully we pay him sooner rather than later. He’s a talented guy who has just proven it week after week. He’s tough to guard. It’s tough to guard him one-on-one.”

At $14.7 million per season, Adams would rank fourth among all NFL receivers. He will be the third Packers receiver to average around $10 million per season; Randall Cobb has one season left on his four-year, $40 million deal, and Jordy Nelson has one season remaining on a four-year, $39 million contract. One or both players could be in danger of being released or having to take a pay cut this offseason.

Adams leads the Packers with 74 catches for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns in 14 games, surpassing Nelson as the team’s No. 1 receiver.

wc1_adams

Adams did not play last week against Minnesota because of a concussion, his second this season and third in 14 months. Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis and Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan served one-game suspensions for concussive hits on Adams.

(BY DEFINITION, based on the penalities, BOTH of those were DIRTY HITS, as illegal. Tony Barr’s hit on Aaron Rodgers was later and dirtier, with pure intent to injure, which it did, but someone the nonsensical NFL didn’t call that late hit a penalty, nor fine or suspend Barr. Payback will have to come from the Packers in 2018)

Adams won’t play in Sunday’s season finale at Detroit because of the concussion he sustained on Dec. 17 at Carolina, and he has not been available for interviews since that game. But teammates and coaches said he had wanted to come back and play this season.

Davante Adams has shown he has the ability to step up big in the biggest games. He was a key cog in big close wins over New England and over Dallas in the NFC Divisional game.

Davante Adams has shown he has the ability to step up big in the biggest games. He was a key cog in big close wins over New England and over Dallas in the NFC Divisional game, in his rookie year on the way to the NFC Championship game.

 

 

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